Q: When did you start cosplaying, and what got you started?
A: I started cosplaying in 2000, and my very first costume was Sailor Moon for my 8th grade Halloween. I officially started cosplaying at conventions in 2005 - Jafax - as Edward Elric. I remember it very well actually, surfing the web on my dial up connection - waiting patiently for a costume website I stumbled on accidentally to load because I was so amazed at what these people were making, I just had to see these costumes for myself. I was memorized. My mother had always been a seamstress, so I knew someone could teach me and I just wanted it so bad. I caught the bug at 12 years old, and it's been with me ever since.
Q: What is your favorite part of the costume-making process?
A: I would say, completion and beginning are both tied. I love the feeling of starting a new costume because it's this mentality of "that's it, I'm doing this. I'm getting it done." and I feel so proud of myself to finally taking that step forward to just throw fear and frustration to the side and just believe in myself enough to start. However completion, when it all comes together and I can look at all the work I did when I first put the costume on and look in the mirror- it makes it all worth it. It makes me believe in myself and believe that I am actually talented. It's kind of the 'awe factor' of "Wow, I made this. I actually did it. Go me."
Q: Which costume are you most proud of?
A: Hatsune Miku - World's End Dancehall. I show this thing off everywhere. Miku is my pride and joy. I have wanted to cosplay Miku since I was 17 in high school and I called her "anime me" because of her style and hair color. She's always been my dream, and then I saw this dress and my heart skipped a beat and I just knew that was the one and I had to make it. I didn't know how, I didn't know when, I didn't even think I could but I wanted to try.
So after finding some kind of self confidence I patterned out the sleeves to see if I could get them to work the way I wanted, because if I couldn't why screw up a full dress? I then mixed blue and teal dyes together until I got the color I wanted and read 15 million articles about how to gradient dye and tested it out on my sleeves. My first dye job seemed to work the way I wanted, but it dried lighter, so I tried again to see if I could get them darker, and after a few dyes of setting the dye and re-dying them I got them the way I wanted. The blue at the bottom, fabric laid over the sleeve, pinned in place, and then the pattern was drawn in with a white colored pencil. I sewed over the lines and cut out the design. I wanted nothing less than embroidery for my gold pattern, so I ended up buying an entirely new machine (i needed one anyways) for this costume. I ended up combining decorative stitches on my machine to achieve the look I wanted.
Like these: http://www.erinsayssew.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Brother-PC-210-PRW-Stitches.jpg 12n for the golden line and half of 47n for the leaves.
Every leaf was put in one at a time, and I had to follow the half million screenshot reference I took to make sure things were flowing in the correct directions. It was very time consuming - one sleeve takes me about 5 hours to complete. So after that was all in place I used ribbon at first for the white boarder, but I ended up hating it so I tore that all off and ended up using a white braid from the upholstery section in hobby lobby.
The sleeves themselves took me close to a month before I was pleased with them.
The dress was a task all it's own, because of - lack of reference and the massive size of it. I didn't have the original dye I used for the sleeves so I had to re-mix it in a bigger tub and pray it would be the same color. I'm pretty proud of myself for getting it so close. I put the blue and the gold on all the same way as the sleeves, I just had to sew the blue part on and cut out the shape of the pattern so it all stayed as one piece. Once it was done, I had to boot up my project diva game and turn the model around in the photo studio so I could reference the direction of the leaves and make sure everything flowed the correct direction. The worst part of this costume, was that I don't own a dress form, nor have a I made one.
I put the golden leaves in the dress and when it was finally done I had killed at least 7 bobbins and an entire spool of embroidery thread - that ends up measuring to a 1/2 mile of thread into that dress. The spools of white braid I used are 5 yards long and I killed about 6 of them on this dress. Once I started to stop and think about the amount of materials I put into this dress, the more impressed with myself I got. I've never been this dedicated to something before. It was a lot of firsts for me, and but in the end I was so proud of it.
I had to play around with my wig - a chibi with two clips in ocean green. I had to take the chibi out of it's purchased style and pull the pigtails up higher, because her hair is higher in this outfit, and I cut them shorter to help with the weight. The clips I actually put on smaller clips so they set on top of my head better. It makes them heavier, but the things we do for cosplay - right?
Q: Do you have a favorite Arda Wig style and/or color?
A: No, not really but I'm a sucker for multi-colored hair. So I dunno, going over the website I guess that's a lie because I am really in love with the Candy Striper in Blue Danube. It contains pretty much every single one of my favorite colors ever - and it would be perfect just to wear for my artist alley table but have I bought one yet? Of course not. I have adult things to worry about.
Honestly though, all of the wigs I've bought from Arda have bee amazing in both style and color. The Vegas is super easy to work with and I adore it. I got a blond one for my fiance's Naruto cosplay and a rose pink one for my Fem! Natsu. I've worked with the dark purple/ Eowyn for yuri lowell, and the raven / jareth for my Sasuke Uchiha. Arda is where I go before I go anywhere else, simply because the wigs are so easy to work with and the quality I'm looking for.
Q: What advice do you have for new cosplayers getting into the hobby?
A: Pace yourself. I can't stress this enough. It's always okay to get into cosplay and pick a large project - but know what your options are, what your budget is, and who you have available to help. Plan your resources. Cosplay is fun and should never upset your personal life. Con money should never come before rent, and cosplay should never come before bills. Take care of yourself first and foremost.
Don't treat cosplay like a competition. Just because someone made a costume for a character that you want to cosplay doesn't make them any 'better' than you, in fact, don't be scared to ask them for help. You never know what you might find! I know I always get excited when people want to cosplay a character I already do, and are willing to come to me in need of help. I always try to help anyway I can.
But I guess the most important thing I can say to remember is when it all comes down to it, we're doing this for fun and you should too. Make friends, talk to people, ask questions, look up tutorials, and just reach out for help when you need it. I feel in love with cosplay because it was the most open, caring, kind community I've ever found - so if you want to be part of our family, don't be afraid to ask for help.
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