Cosplay: When they’re wearing your outfit

Posted on

I was on a podcast and got asked a question which was actually a fairly good one. While it isn’t very crafty related, I thought it would be something to address because it has been one of the reasons that I’ve stuck around in this hobby,

Cosplay- the only time when someone else showing up in the same outfit as you is awesome. Running into someone else who is wearing the same costume as me is one of my favourite things. As much as I love running into Captain America when I’m Peggy Carter or Maku when I’m Korra, I love running into people in the same outfit even more. Why is it awesome?

 

To start with, it likely means you have an instant friend. You know something they like (cause they’re advertising it by wearing it), and you probably like it already yourself. That awkward “I don’t know what to talk about” moment? Not an issue. Even if you don’t become best buddies, you can talk about the source material, the character, and why you chose to wear that costume. You might find a new perspective on something you already love.

Secondly, you can now swap horror stories. Trust me, you both have them. Making costumes is never as straight forward as it sounds, and you can bond over how georgette is the worst fabric to have to sew and you wish you’d never found that interview where it mentioned it was the fabric used in the on-screen version.

Maybe there are things about your costume that you want to improve. Maybe you will notice something they’ve done on their costume that you really like and wish you’d done and since they are right there, you can ask them. Most cosplayers are quite happy to talk about their process and how they went about things. This is the best time to ask these questions.

Lastly, what gets more attention than just being in costume? Being around someone else in a similar costume. Groups always attract a crowd if you and friends put together a cast group that is one of the best way to ensure photographers get your photo. But if you want to get noticed for lots of photos, hanging out with a fellow in the same costume is just as good. What’s better than one Wonder Woman? Three!

IMG_7768

I find that these friendship tips still work even if they’re not doing the exact same version of a costume as you are. So even when I’m not wearing my blue suit, I adore running into other Peggys, no matter what outfit they’re wearing. Its all about finding like-minded souls, and wearing a costume is the most obvious way to shout out you enjoy a fandom. Rather than fretting about your own costume or going into comparisons, enjoy the camaraderie and friendship that you can gain when you both choose the same costume.

~ eliste


File It Under A Good Idea

Posted on

Sometimes it is the little things.

I talked about props a few weeks back, and today we’re revisiting that. A lot of work goes into props that we might think nothing of. Take this scene from the Agent Carter:

Its a scene from Season 2, and while there isn’t any acting going on, the letter, the ring, it tells a story and evokes feelings for those who understand the implications.

When considering costume props, we usually think about big things- weapons, etc. But something simple like stationary can be hugely effective.

For Agent Carter, Avengers, and Captain America fans, Barton Bones Cosplay (otherwise known as Triskelion Prop Shop) has some amazing offerings. I got his Agent Carter dossier in the post yesterday and was floored.

Not only is the quality amazing, but the feelings that came up having her funeral card in hand was astounding. It is nothing more than ink and paper, but it brought me to tears.

So when you’re thinking of props, consider the lesser spotted ones. Sometimes all you need is a file folder full of paper to make your costume stand apart.

Barton Bones Cosplay can be found through Facebook or on Etsy.

~ eliste


Rolling Rolling Rolling

Posted on

Those dice they do be rolling…

It never fails. You’re in the middle of a tabletop or board game and you go to roll your dice only to end up knocking things over, pushing things out of place, or just confused as to where you can safely roll your dice.

IMG_9020

Enter the dice rolling box.

IMG_9028

The creation of a dice rolling box in our household has solved a myriad of problems for us. Everything from a safe way to transport all the party miniatures from one place to another, to actually its named purpose.

IMG_9014

Best of all, this is incredibly simple to make. Following this tutorial over on IKEA Hackers, all it takes is a cheap frame from IKEA, some felt, and we used some spray on glue meant for fabric, but any kind would do.

Happy rolling!

~ eliste


Cosplay A to Z: To Prop or Not

Posted on

For the most part in this series so far we’ve been talking about costumes in terms of what you put on your body. However, if you want to add a prop to your costume, the planning stages now is a good time to make this decision.FullSizeRender 3

Plenty of people do not bother with props, and that’s ok. They are certainly not essential to the enjoyment of wearing a costume or the impressive work that can be done on a costume. But they can push a good costume to a great one. Not convinced? Here are some reasons that props are awesome.

1. It makes the character seem more real

A character without a prop looks to most people like someone with a costume on. Add a prop, and the world in which that character inhabits suddenly becomes alive. It isn’t just a person in a costume. By picking up a prop, you begin to incorporate what a character does as well as what they look like.

Plus, sometimes there are things that you equate to a character. Who would think of Ripley from Aliens without also thinking about weaponry? Or Gandalf without a staff? For some characters, the props are just as much or more of who they are than the clothing they’re wearing.

2. Something to do with your hands

Let’s face it. Being in costume usually goes hand in hand with being asked to take pictures. Sometimes this is fine if your character does cool things with their hands, like Scarlet Witch or other spell caster, but for many characters that’s not part of their repertoire.

But a prop gives you something to do when you get asked to pose for a picture. Posing without props means you have to figure out what to do with your hands, and that often means something more than crossing your arms (which will hide that beautiful costume) or putting your hands in pockets (which may not exist). Whether its being imposing and threatening with weaponry, or just giving you a place to put your hands while you stand beside someone, having a prop helps when that camera comes up. Its one less thing to worry about.

3. You can incorporate the necessary into the costume.

This doesn’t always work, but sometimes you can make a part of the character’s costume work for you. For instance, nobody wants to have pictures of their costume covered in shots of an obvious bag or backpack that covers part of the costume and looks out of place. It would be strange for Spider Gwen to be carrying around a purse, but a matching backpack that she could wear while she climbs? Perfect. Likewise, carrying modern handbags with Peggy costumes make the costumes seem wrong, but pairing them with vintage looking bags works.

So if you’re short on prop ideas, you can try just figuring out how the characters would carry their wallet, keys, and a bottle of water (those convention things you can’t live without). Even if it isn’t 100% out of the source material, if it looks like its part of the costume, you can carry everything without worrying that you will have real world bags showing up in your anime or comic world.

 

How do you prepare to make props? The same way you do costumes. Every step that has been discussed so far can be applied to props. You need to research, find references, decide materials, organise yourself, and figure out if you want to purchase, commission, or make your prop. Planning at the same time as your costume will prevent you from frantically trying to match materials later if you don’t buy enough for both your costume and prop.

I’m off to finish my new prop for this weekend. Have a good one folks!

~ eliste


Photographing Costumes for Reference

Posted on

Last week I mentioned I was going to go see the Rogue One costumes at Star Wars Celebration. Several weeks ago, I mentioned what you should be looking for in terms of references. Today, I’m going to talk about how to shoot photos of costumes that are ideal for references. For your enjoyment, I’m going to be using the Rogue One costumes to illustrate my points.

IMG_4733

Meet Director Orson Krennic from Rogue One

The modern world has started to give us costume people more and more information. These days, you can buy books on favourite tv shows and movies that often have pages devoted to high quality photos of the costumes and, if you’re lucky, interviews or tips from the costuming department. If you’re really lucky, they may release sets of the design photos with notes to help along the way. However, nothing really beats being able to see it with your own eyes.

If you have the opportunity to see a costume in person, then it is worth your while thinking about what and how you need to photograph it. First off comes general photography skills.

Make sure your photos are in focus

You want sharp pictures. Slightly blurry photos will end up with you furrowing your brow, trying to decide if its just a fold or an actual pocket for hours later on.

BadGoodFocus

Second one is still not perfect, but you can see the details much better.

I actually tend to delete anything that isn’t 100% sharp simply to avoid this. This does mean you may need to check your photos as you take them so that if you only have one shot of the back and its out of focus, you can take another.

Try to represent the colour truthfully

Colour can change depending on a lot of factors, including some that are out of your control like the lighting that is on the costume. However, the biggest changer of colours is flash photography. If you can get non-flash photos, you will have a truer representation of the colour. Of course, this can be compared to images on screen, but remember that those may also have been colour washed or filtered by the video department and may not be accurate either.

Get top to bottom shots

Most people already do this. Most images you see are of about 3/4 of the costume.

IMG_4745

Another photographer demonstrating the photo most people take.

But you need full length. There’s nothing worse than realising that you’ve photographed everything in detail, but now you’re home and realise you have no idea what those shoes looked like.

Get close up detailed shots

I actually go ahead and use my zoom lens. Yes, it is designed for making that person who is an auditorium away a lot closer, but you know what? It makes those details really pop.

Detail photos

First one is what people usually take for detail shots. In this case, at that distance, it almost looked like a USB port on the bottom of the gun, but with closer detailed shots, you can see that is not the case.

 

This is your best chance to really find out the details of a costume, so take it. Is there stitching? Take photos of it. Is there a funny looking panel? Take photos of it. Is there what appear to be cape slits? You know the drill.

Get shots from different angles

The simple fact is you can’t see everything from just one angle. If you only take photos from one angle, you will miss details.This is especially true if you’re trying to figure out how something works.

BackOpeningKrennic

This is a series of shots I took just to figure out how the slit in the back of cape worked. You can’t even really see the slit from the first picture, but by the last its pretty obvious. Is it crazy to take 8 photos of the same thing? Not if at the end of them you have a good idea how it all gets put together and works.

Take as many photos you can, in as high a resolution as you can.

There really is no such thing as too many reference photos. Sometimes the camera focus will change slightly from one to the other and you’ll notice something. Higher resolution photos mean that you can zoom in later on to answer questions.

IMG_4736

And if they are nice enough to give you a blurb about the costume, photograph it. Trust me, you won’t remember the exact combinations without some kind of reminder, and a photograph is faster than writing it down.

The best way of thinking about this is as a puzzle. How is this costume put together? How does it all come together? What are the proportions like? The more photos you have, the easier you can put it all together later. Hopefully, by the time you’re done taking photos, all your questions will be answered.

If you’re interested in more photos of Director Krennic, you can see them on Facebook or for super high quality photos on my Flickr. Other costumes from Rogue One will be uploaded later this week.

~ eliste


Celebration Time!

Posted on

It is Star Wars Celebration this weekend!! Well, for those of us in Europe and those who care to make the trip to London, that is. This is normally a crafty blog, but today its going to be a trip through nostalgia lane.

If you don’t know Star Wars Celebration, it began on a slightly rainy weekend at the end of April in 1999. I remember, because I was there. I was in college in Nebraska at the time, and myself and a group of fellow Star Wars fanatics drove the 6 hours to Denver, camped on a friend’s parent’s floor, ate too much fried food, and ruined one of my favourite pairs of shoes in the mud. It was one of my favorite weekends.

Because, yes, I am a big kid on a bouncy castle excited about this

Because, yes, I am a big kid-on-a-bouncy-castle excited about this

Celebration was made for the fans, and as a fan I could not have asked for anything better. It was at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado which reminded me of nothing more than a large high school gymnasium, probably because I barely got in past the panels going on in the marquees outside.

Back then it was small. Panels were maybe 100 people in a room, and even then it wasn’t always full. I watched Anthony Daniels become C3PO without the costume, Ray Parks do some phenomenal stunt work, and then drooled over every last one of Padme’s costumes. Skipped out on Aerosmith tickets to watch it all some more.

At this point, we had no idea what would be in the movie, but I loved every minute of it. In ways I miss the allure of not having everything mentioned, everything spoiled before we get to release. I haven’t quite gotten the bug to hear creators speak about everything in as vague ways as possible, nor do I need 5 trailers to keep me interested.

This weekend though, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the Rogue One costumes. It was what I loved most about Celebration in 1999, and I’m looking forward to it again. These kinds of exhibitions are gold mines for those of us who love to create costumes, and I am so happy that more and more exhibitions of this kind are happening. You just can’t really get a good sense of some of the delicacies of these costumes with what gets seen on screen.

The detailing done in costume shops across the globe produces some amazing pieces of absolute art. Museums are starting to cop on to this and there are some that specifically have been bringing costume exhibitions in, but fabrics can be difficult to preserve for posterity and there is always that worry that something will damage it. So if you ever have a chance to see one of these exhibitions, I highly recommend it.

The modern con scene has grown somewhat since 1999. This year’s Celebration is going to be nothing like what I experienced in Denver except for two things. Firstly, everyone there will love Star Wars. There is something about being surrounded by people who adore the same fandom you do. It infects the air, and becomes a sea of in-jokes, fun, and the occasional squabble over canon. But generally, single fandom groups tend to have an excitement about them that can’t be matched by big everything-under-the-sun cons. Secondly, it is going to be a weekend full of fun. Lightsabers everywhere, Stormtroopers ahoy. I’m looking forward to it already.

If you’re going to Celebration with me, have a wonderful time. If you’re not, tickets are out for next year’s already!

~ eliste


Sinfully Gorgeous

Posted on

A long time ago, long before Pastel Goth became a “thing,” someone described my sense of dress as goth with a colour fetish. That might be why I’m in love with 8th Sin Creations, but really, who wouldn’t be?

I ran into 8th Sin Creations at MCM Belfast two weekends ago, and I cannot stop thinking about the adorable accessories she sells.

While she does some adorable jewelry, it is her leather worked chokers, garters, and cuffs that really caught my eye. It ranges from fully dark with a hint of fun…

…to the full on cute and pastel with a hint of rock/goth.

I loved not only the idea and look of these, but the quality of the pieces. Real leather, wit and charm. Her stuff is just gorgeous.

8th Sin Creations can be found on Etsy.

~ eliste


Little Lady Tea Cosies

Posted on

There are very few things that we take quite as seriously over in Ireland and England as tea (and after the fact, apparently, Brexit). It is a way of life, a life saver, and the very fabric of most of our social interactions. I carry tea with me on foreign trips, because no, you cannot get good tea everywhere and it is necessary for life. Happily, today’s post is about that most marvellous of things that you get to play with when not travelling, tea cosies.

Mary Poppins tea cosy

I can’t tell you how adorable I think these are. HandMadeAwards on Etsy has patterns for these incredibly precious tea cosies.

Alice in Wonderland cosy

HandMadeAwards and their tea cosy patterns, toy patterns, and much more can be found on Etsy.

Now I need to find the time…

~ eliste


Cosplay A to Z: Commissioning Costumes

Posted on

You’re armed with where you want to get your cosplay, but I glossed over a lot of decisions you still need to make in the last post. This post is about how you decide whether something is worth you purchasing. I haven’t really talked a lot about commissioning in this series, but this post is particularly useful. It may be less useful for generally purchasing costumes, but the questions are often worth asking anyway.


Commissioning is an entirely valid way of getting costumes and can be the only way to get some costumes as plenty of the less well known characters get ignored by typical costume/cosplay shops. But there are plenty of very good costume makers out there, whether they are simply professional tailors or other cosplayers. Whether you choose to buy or commission a costume, if you are paying good money, I firmly believe that you should be able to establish a working relationship with your supplier. You can only find out if they are the right person for you with some research. So here are some questions to help with that:

 

Standard purchasing questions should be asked.
What is the refund policy? How many days from order to shipping? Do you have to pay shipping?
Read the reviews to see if a commissioner has a good reputation or has produced poorly fitting items or had lots of delays. In my opinion, you will learn a lot from reviews and it is worth looking to see what you’re getting into. Plus, you’re likely to hand over a good amount of money, and you want to be sure you’ll get something worth it.

Have you ever made something like this before?
No, they do not need to have made your exact costume before, but it helps if they have made *a* costume before based off of image references. Doing an anime character? Ask if they’ve done any costumes from anime. Doing a skin tight spandex outfit? Ask if they’ve worked with spandex before.
To be clear, the same skills to making normal clothing can absolutely be applied to making costumes. So any tailor, seamstress, or other person who knows how to sew can make a costume. However, if there are strange proportions or you are trying to mimic something precisely, it is good to know whether they have experience doing this type of work. A talented tailor can make you an amazing outfit that will fit you like a glove, but will look nothing like the costume reference because they haven’t realised that you wanted to create the illusion of a higher waist etc.
Further, you want to know if they are open to working with a 2D image. The skills to create a pattern from scratch are different than just following patterns or doing similar work all day long. There are tailors and seamstresses who specialise in certain areas (like suits or wedding dresses) and you want to check if they’ve ever done something else.

Can you see a portfolio or finished photos of what you are going to purchase?
No, seeing a photo of the character that their work is based off of is not enough. You want to know that what the seller makes is good enough for your demands. You want to see the final product, preferably also on a customer to see if they can actually make it fit something that isn’t a standard dress form model.
They won’t likely have it in a portfolio, but I like to see examples of the inside of their work. Do they finish their seams? Are they likely to leave a mess inside that may catch or fray? This speaks to the quality of their work. Nobody likes having their seams checked, and some may say that it comes fully lined in which case you may not need to, but asking is no harm.

Can you have design input?
Ideally, you’ll be able to sit down with them and have a good talk about how you want it to look before they begin work. However, to ensure it comes out as you want it, its best to also schedule a time, usually at the first fitting or when they have a mockup, to check that you two are on the same wavelength. You may need to tell them to raise the waistline to make you look taller, or adjust the size of a piece so that it looks more like the character’s.
A lot of seamstresses/tailors will try to tailor it for your body as if the character had your own proportions. Sometimes this is great, and if you want to go with that, you may not need design input. But if you want to create illusions, you may need to have a firm hand and the ability to tell him to change this or that so that your legs look longer in your Sailor Scout outfit or whatnot.

Can you get custom fitting?
No one fits “one size fits all.” Most of us don’t fit just one size perfectly. The best costumes are ones that are fit to you and your body measurements. Is this a deal breaker? That depends on how easily you can pick up an article of clothing off the rack and have it fit you well. I (with my big chest, smaller waist and big booty) cannot do such a thing. So for me, custom sizing is a must, but if you don’t need it, great.

Can you get fittings done?
Some tailors/seamstresses will insist on fittings, and if they do not allow you to have at least one, then you may need to walk away. Ideally, you’ll be able to get multiple fittings. One early in the design process to check that the details are right and the proportions are working on your body. Then one when its nearly finished so that it can be sorted. Obviously, this is only if you live close to the person you are commissioning from. You should not expect someone who is creating this to ship it across country, have you try it on, and ship back.

This is not to say that there aren’t sellers out there that are wholly trustworthy and who will get you a magnificent costume without all of these things, but if you are having to choose between a few, consider these questions and what they are worth for you. Finding someone who can give you all of the above may not be possible, or you may only be able to get parts of it done.
While I’ve specifically talked about tailors and seamstresses, these questions are just as valid for anyone who is going to be making armor, props or anything else for you. If you can’t find someone, or their price range is just outside of yours, you may need to consider making your own, which is what we’ll be focusing on for the rest of this series.

~ eliste


Cosplay A to Z: Costume Buying Sources

Posted on

If you’ve been following along this series, at this point you can take your research and go one of two ways. You can either look at purchasing supplies for a costume to create yourself or you can look in to buying a pre-made costumes. There are benefits to both, as well as downsides. I am not in a position to recommend nor do I claim to be an expert on the various costume creators out there, but if you choose to purchase a costume, then these are some guidelines.

Do note: even if you are buying a costume in its entirety, it behooves you to go through the questions we’ve been talking about in the early part of this series. Take your research with you if you go to a physical location or have it at the ready if you go shopping online. By doing so, it will help you evaluate the accuracy, quality, and suitability of anything you might purchase, and may assist you in deciding between costumes on offer as you have a standard to compare them against.

1. Costume Shops are often bastions of yuck.

Unfortunately, unless you’re very lucky with where you live, most cities do not have shops that create high quality costumes. Most costume shops or shops where you can find Halloween costumes cater to the masses. This means their costumes will be cheap, designed to be worn on Halloween once and probably thrown away. To create such cheap costumes, they cut corners on design, fit, and materials. A costume from that shop will likely require a lot of work unless you don’t care about the quality and accuracy of your costume and are often unsalvageable. Can you cosplay in a store bought costume? Of course you can, however if you are looking to up your game or you are looking for a less well known character, you may not find what you’re looking for.

This is also not to say that costume shops can’t be great resources. They often carry difficult to find accessories like goggles and faux piercings, but you should purchase these knowing that if you want a high standard costume that they may need work. A simple paint job can take a toy gun to looking amazing, so if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease, you can get a lot of stuff in these shops for not that much.

2. Costume Rental places are untapped gold dust.

Most cosplayers don’t think about Costume Rental places. These places tend to have higher quality pieces for rent, not to buy. They tend to be better quality, better materials, but also come with higher price tags. A weekend’s rental may be several times the cost of purchasing from a costume shop, but what you get is often a million times better. However, you can’t alter these to make them fit better and they may only have standard sizing. Plus these are often costumes made for stage so they might have one of something and if its not in your size you’re out of luck.

However, if you want a historical costume complete with wig? Well you might find something stellar here for half nothing. Some rental places will allow you to purchase a costume off of them, but be prepared for a much larger price tag.

3. Shopping Online

If you want your costume for more than a weekend and want it better quality than you tend to find in costume shops, you’re first port of call is likely to be the Interwebs. As with everything, purchasing online can have mixed results. This is where the Google Fu we talked about comes in.

Knowing what to search for and, more importantly, what NOT to search for is paramount. “Costume” will get different results from “cosplay.” “Fancy dress” will almost always get you low quality costumes. “Halloween” will almost always be cheap and low quality.

Beyond finding somewhere that does the costume you want, you still need to evaluate it given the research you’ve collected. Does it have the type of materials that you want? Does it have the details that you want? Will you need to supplement it with extras? Is it alterable? Does it come in custom sizes? Can you upgrade it?

Also be certain to ask the usual online questions. What is their refund policy? How long will it take to be made and shipped to you? Where is it coming from? Do their costumes run true to size? Read the reviews if they have them. If they don’t, question why that might be. And always, always remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

There are more questions to ask when purchasing, but we’ll go in more depth next week.

~ eliste