Monday, September 14, 2015

Post-PMX and the start of Australian Movie Month!

Australian movies, here I come!

Or rather, many movies in general.

Things have been winding down since coming back from PMX! It's crazy to see that I'm finally working on my way to update and get things rolling. I think that in many ways, it was an eye-opening experience for me.

I don't really need to begin with the same old story that work, school, and life had been so overwhelmingly busy that although I have been productive with cosplaying, I really haven't sat down to reflect upon how much I work at things. The benefit to that is really living without the necessity to blog, to simply live and keep on going forward, but another beauty of life is also looking back at posts and absorbing those good spirits and remembering all of the great things you can accomplish, even against all odds.

PMX for me this year was probably one of the hardest conventions to get enough time to get things done for how I wanted them to be. For starters, I had great plans with my friends, but just as they have their own concerns, the closer you get to the con, the more realistic you see your chances of finishing your projects with them. Unfortunately one by one they had to bow down for this time. One of the biggest conflicts had been the schedule change. PMX is my autumn convention, so I usually know to get settled into school, and then when things are lukewarm, just before the holidays, I can enjoy it. Last year, I was super happy to attend that convention as an opportunity after recovering from my really horrible sciatica. This year, it was like recovering from severe overworking.

Without needing to say more on the matter, my job situation had prevented me in more ways than one from not just having time to sew, but actually have opportunities for sleep, proper rest, and other essentials. So by the beginning of August, I had begun losing hope that I wasn't going to get any time to finish anything, and I made a last minute decision to remain at the job position I am currently at.

But I did manage to get PMX off for that weekend, so I focused on finding time in between everything to start getting my projects done. My two plans had initially been Luna from Sailormoon, and Yasuho from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, with Yasuho being my masquerade cosplay.

Although I'm all for masquerade, this time around I was very nervous about joining a collaboration skit, and lacking the proper time to get anything done.

Yasuho's little progress collage.

Within a few days before, I started working on Yasuho. I had gathered materials for both early on, but to sit and sew had been a whole different ball game. Mostly everything on the top had been nearly completed by the first night however, and I managed to make it easier to apply without compromising the trims and other additionals.

The skirt as well had been a simple circle skirt, although I prepped it to hold up about thirty roses along its hem and skirt fabric, which I am super happy with. The flowers were then attached and left to dry for most of the evening in an open environment. I had to make sure they didn't fall to the force of gravity.

A busted Utena-inspired prayer circle.

I think the true highlight of this costume however had been my artsy collaboration with my sister, who helped decorate a pair of shoes for me to glitter around the convention.

I absolutely adore these things.
So about three and a half days before the convention, I thought about how I wanted to finish Luna, or at least something that brought my joy to wear. I had skimped out on cosplay events to go to this convention, in a summer of very limited days off if any, and I wanted something to show for it.

Deep down, I felt a little sad that my friends had to drop from our Sailormoon idea. Even though I'm accustomed to finishing costumes alone most of the time, I felt like maybe I had pressed my hopes solely too much on it, and I found it hard to envision me wearing my costume and not seeing my friends in theirs. The joy was sharing our trio together.

So a few posts ago, I had mentioned that I had begun rereading Fushigi Yuugi. Although I thought I would cry, I didn't, but I felt rather satisfied with myself in an odd, tranquil sort of way. I thought that of all manga, I would be overcome with nostalgia and an existential pondering of why I felt this way, but I felt actually like it soothed a part of me that had been very hurt from all of these recent experiences.

Although the manga's a far cry from what Watase's writing or any modern "classy" fiction is, the story has always been meaningful to me. I certainly interpret it in a different way now in some areas, but very similarly to my core as my twelve-year-old self did the first time she picked up the manga. And in all these years, Miaka has had a special place in my heart.

Thanks to a kind and supportive friend, I sat with my thoughts and played around with the idea of switching my cosplay to something that right now could feed into those good feelings of hope, courage, and happiness. My instant thought was Miaka, because while her Suzaku no miko outfit from the anime isn't a huge, detailed project, it's beautiful in its own way. I instantly felt this emotion to do it, and I saw myself feeling so happy in my costume, no matter what.

In about twenty minutes, I found my supplies in my fabric stash, and began working on the red robe. I felt as if someone had taken me by my shoulders and let me soar through the night with my sewing. By morning, I had worked on both cosplays, and had made a note of what materials I'd need.

My lineup (although I didn't get a chance to wear Momoko for this event!)
 I went with a darker red shantung for Miaka's robe, since I had recently seen some of the images from the Fushigi Yuugi musical. I'm digging more than anything Yutaka Kyan, but that's a different story.

Although it was kind of a risky move, I went straight into the Joann trims thinking that I would find exactly what I needed for Miaka's neckband, since I gravitate to using trims at any fun possible moment. I went ahead and found this really neat trim, which I placed an underlayer of gold satin. Then on the side added another trim, and not seen here, midnight blue ribbon to give it that contrast.

I am the queen of retarded mirror shots.
So I finished pretty much adding the neckline and then all of my ribbon. I managed to have just enough to get all of that properly sewn in, and the result was really awesome!

Where I usually hang my costumes because clearly my background sets are on point.
 Already I was beginning to get excited about wearing Miaka, but my next process would be making the under robe.

So I followed the same robe pattern I had used for her robe, but it took me a little more to figure out how I wanted it to look like and give it that billowy effect but achieving two major requirements:

  1. It needed to have some drama on the bottom.
  2. It needed to have some opaque because I'm too embarrassed to go full sheer.
So I redrafted my pattern and split it on the waist into a top and half bottom of the robe pattern. I then cut out three layers of the bottom of each skirt panel: one of chiffon, one of icy organza, and one of a cream-colored peachskin I had leftover from a previous cosplay. I sewed the three layers together, then attached the front and back of each panel. By the time I got everything done, the top was made of the same peachskin so that it wasn't sheer, but the bottoms were made of individual layers that covered from the lower waist, but had drama on the bottom. I then serged all of the pieces, and the hems.

As you can see, it gives out the effect of having these billowy skirts, but I'm comfy on the inside, covered, and I still achieve the same outcome I want to make it accurate.

 With more ghetto goodness, I then tested out the under-robe without the sleeves yet with the robe, and was pretty happy with how the bottom looked. It has a bit of a train, which I like, but at the convention, it wasn't too much of a hassle to bring up whenever I walked around the convention floor.

So mind that this had been in about....three hours away or so from Day 1. I was pretty much posessed to finish this cosplay to wear for Sunday (Day 2) before changing into my masquerade cosplay for that evening. I then quickly drafted my sleeves, which I had some prior experience with on Kougyoku, yet I overlayed a very glittery organza into my sleeves so that they have some sparkle and texture, but none of the glittery goodness smeared all over my cosplays. Then I made the ruffled collar by folding over long strips, basting them, and then pulling at their ends to make some gentle ruffles, and then were serged and topstitched over to hold.

 This is probably one of my favorite cosplays ever. Even just from collecting my progress shots, I was astounded at how much work I had gotten done, and much more evenly paced, than other projects.

I wrapped up most of the fabrication by completing my bow and sashes for the evening, and then got ten minutes for some shut-eye before prepping in Kaoru.

As usual, being a complete goober.

I probably had less than half an hour of sleep in on me for the past days, but I was over the moon about my cosplays and going to the con that I really just went for it. Although I had other cosplay plans beforehand, I tossed most of them out for this con to really just get what I could done in a short time, and I feel like I really made the most of my time.


 This is me being a complete goober and at a loss for words for meeting Hikami Kyoko for the first time ever, after telling her what a huge Wedding Peach fan I am. I was in near tears. She was one of my huge reasons for going to the convention. She was so sweet!

So after my hurricane of vindication and shoujo magic tears, I got home after a very fun day at the convention. Although it was a small convention, it's definitely on the relaxing side, which is much welcomed! There's not a lot of conventions who have that sort of aura just because they are located in big cities or people put so much tension on them that you forget the fun of it. After all this time, it was so great to just wind down and get to be in costume, eat yummy food, and blissfully dream about those magical grills.

So my little interlude goes to Yasuho ~ so to go fast-forward for a moment, I have yet to have a picture of me as her! I took some, but the experience was way too fast for me to stop and see what I have in my photo stash. Needless to say, masquerade was super fun, and it was great kicking it together!

So when I got home, I got back to work to finishing up Yasuho, who needed application on the flowers mostly. Then for Miaka, I had most of the fabrication done but needed my accessories, so I took a quick nap and then got to work on my crown.

I had this assortment of earrings, hairclips, pins, buttons, and a load of other gunk I collected just for this project, so one by one, I began figuring out how to make an ornate version of her crown. I also fished out my brown bun wig, which is actually a wig for my Katase Shima cosplay, but it has a new purpose now.

The crown is actually comrpised of two long, conjointed and double-backed strips of craft foam and were covered with gold bias tape I had left over from Caster, which gave it a nice, metallic effect. Then I took a hairpin (the glittery white piece) and attached the center gem over it. The hairpin has large teeth so it can stay put in my wig, and I secured it by attaching another back one just in case. I then added rows of the pink gems, and then the two side pieces are made of earrings with gems attached on them. Not featured is the front cornice, which was made of a hairpin modge-podged and then repainted in gold to complete the look.

I am shocked that it actually looks like a crown. It's very lightweight, and it's well secured on both ends.

The battle station in full swing.
Here's a little breakdown of some of the clips and pieces used. The flowers have clips and I replaced them with lighter colored ribbon, since that pink was as bright as the sun baby from the Teletubbies, and I didn't wear the matching earrings this time around because I had to change into Yasuho.

So once again, lacking any time to sleep, I got all ready in my cosplay, and got a quick but victorious snapshot of my full Miaka cosplay!

Suzaku no Miko reporting for duty!
 I have yet to have pictures of the full cosplay, but I'm beyond words happy with how much fun I had being in this cosplay. Words can't express the experience of making this and seeing it well-made, durable, and accurate to what I wanted it to look like in my dreams. Not to mention, being that gluttonous but lovable little shoujo for the day.

In many ways, she made my convention, because while masquerade happened (which I shall report as well too!), my magic was having the chance to sew something I truly loved and brought me back to why I cosplay.

Coming back from the convention, I reflected a lot that everything had happened so fast. Most cons tend to come like that, because it's so easy to be wrapped in all of the important and realize how little time you have left to sew. But it's really true when they say that you can make your lemons into lemonade, when you truly believe in it.

Because I would really like to get into plans of another convention before Anime Los Angeles, where I have a skit in the brew with the friends, I have three new plans to work for the next couple of months as I get my rhythm going. I definitely want to finish Luna, and then I am making Kururu hopefully for Akiharabara Expo, as well as my Rose Witch project! I am super excited for her, since she will blend a lot of work I have done over the past few months! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Journey to Senbonzakura no Kenshin

Today is a happy day!

And brings a week of creativity (and a lot of work!)

I got a job offer with better hours for school! Recently that had been taking a toll on me. My summertime was mostly working, which is great, but the school year brings a lot of demands. I got a job opportunity to have work while going to school, and it's closer to my interests in gaming. I'm definitely excited!

Hopefully this will bring a realm of stability I have lacked a little over the year. Like I mentioned before, I am blessed to be able to fit a lot of my interests in with my priorities, and it's a constant evolution. It is difficult due to my school hours to factor in a really heavy workload, so I hope that it will allow me to be able to care for my health too! I celebrated a year of progress on my back, and I want to keep on going!

I'm currently in progress to start my PMX cosplays just before I transition out of my old workplace. Most of my sewing will start this week, and I'm taking advantage of tomorrow's pattern sale to see if I need anything else for the while.

I've spent this week also watching Akatsuki no Yona finally, and then rereading Fushigi Yuugi! I'm so torn in wanting to do another cosplay, I may make Miaka, but I keep on thinking, "Control yourself, Kagura, you have so many designs and plans already!" Like it stops me from making things. I really love being able to catch up on some stuff over the year as the new fall anime season starts. I'm super excited for K: Return of Kings!!

I also have to catch up on my anison collection! I haven't gotten new singles in a while, and I need to get some new music! I last bought Exist by Angela...does she have a new single already?! Also Animelo! Next year, I'll be ready for those tickets!

For starters, a recent photo of me since I don't often put one because I'm naturally a goober.
So in midst of me catching up, I need to find out who to credit for these, but I'm super happy with some of the shots taken from Fanime of us on stage! I wanted to chronicle a little bit about my journey to making Kaoru and our skit, Senbonzakura no Kenshin.

Shii and I often wonder how my brother can see through his bandana.

I'll edit this to credit the photographer, because these are delicious! I mentioned that I rewore Kaoru recently, and I may have some time for Nisei Week this upcoming weekend. Maybe I'll be able to stop by and rewear it (or have a moment of durr and make a yukata for the event lol).

The skit was really fun to do! It took a span of six months of planning to get everything going. A few years back (so some entries ago too) we had conceived the idea of a Kenshin skit for Fanime 2013. We ended up switching to xxxholic instead when plans changed, so we left Kenshin aside as an undetermined project. After Anime Los Angeles, we were really surprised and pleased with the outcome of our Angel Virus skit that we ended up brainstorming som new ideas for Fanime.

We toyed with a few other ideas until I suggested for us to revisit Kenshin. It had been on everybody's minds. One of the issues with the skit I had personally had been how intimidated I was on making kimonos. I lacked a proper pattern and I didn't really understand what happened when I was working on Yuuko, although I kind of piced some ideas up by the last half of it. But I felt compelled to challenge myself, as did everyone in the group to make a skit fitting to the spirit of Kenshin.  

I love this photo of Lyric and Shii's epic fight, which I still don't know how my brother can see.
We started planning out the basics of the skit in late January, and I designed the skeleton of the skit's choreography since we wanted to make it more of an interpretive dance with a story. We figured out our roles early, although Lyric had initially chosen Aoshi for the final fight.

During the February-March season, we began working on setting up rehearsals. We rehearsed around one to three times a week, sometimes as a duo with Shii or Lyric, while other times as a trio with my brother and Shii, or Shii and Lyric. We made the most of the hours before and after work, and even sometimes stayed up past late-night park hours, with really confused park rangers.

Around that time, we also began preparing for our costumes. I had to both make my costume for Kaoru and for my brother, who chose Sanosuke.

To begin: I have evaded making this cosplay for years, mostly because I admittedly am intimidated by kimono and lacking the necessary knowledge of making one that doesn't look like it came straight out of a cheesy 90's Halloween catalogue. But I love kimonos, and after this experience, I surely will work on more. 

My biggest challenge for Kaoru was making the flowers and the concept for the kimono. I purchased a Folkwear pattern for the kimono to modify and add a lining to, and I worked on the flowers in various test stages to get the look that I wanted.

Progess while watching Frida.

I started out with this idea to overlay a sparkly fabric to make my flowers. My first attempt at creating the appliques out of them were a little challenging for me, mostly because the organza tended to move around. I eventually dropped that idea to go in favor of more traditional flowers.

Flowers, flowers, flowers!

My machine is a little on the older side, and it doesn't have as many cool gadgets as other snazzy new machines, so my satin stitching function is actually a small crank you have to hold down as you work through each of them. I basted them onto their placements before I could get to satin stitching them down.

It was kind of nerve wracking throughout the experience, mostly because my hands suffer from carpal tunnel. Yet they became these precious things:

Overall, there were about twenty six flowers made and were then trimmed and cleaned out to prepare to place on the fabric. They contain stabilizer in the back, and and were then laid over the individual pattern pieces first before sewing everything together.

I then went off to work on my first under kimono piece (which I should apply the proper terminology). I had initially chosen some different fabrics beforehand, but I went with this taffeta I found in the proper color. It was light and airy, and it's very easy to wear. The shinier side became it's own lining in a way.

I then completed the rest of my kimono, as shown here sans the neckband. This was roughly the night before we had to head out to Fanime, so all of the flowers had been satin stitched into the pieces, the pieces were sewn, and the kimono had been lined with another fabric I previously purchased but never used. The kimono is actually made of a vivid blue doll satin, courtesy of our favorite seller at the fabric district. Although I had intended to make my kimono out of silk, it ended up going closer to my vision.

The kimono pattern I used was from Folkwear, and it's a handy pattern to make a simple kimono out of. I had previously admittedly made a really bad kimono for Yuuko two years before (for the same con, ahem), and it had been a disaster to figure out the mobius strip that is the lining. However, it came a little more naturally this time around.

By the time this was all done, I had a few hours before packing up to work on Sanosuke for my brother.

I took a karate pattern and whipped it up. It's made of a heavy bottomweight cotton to give it that sturdy feel to it. Then I satin stitched the kanji on the back:

My brother got a lot of awkward looks from the local Asian restaurant when he stopped by for directions wearing this.

When we got to San Jose, I went ahead and finished the pants for Sanosuke, which I had cut out here, and then painting the branches on Kaoru, and handstitching the neckline. For the most part, the costumes endured much of our performance, which is a huge plus!

Overall, this skit means a lot to our group and to myself. I have yet to write more on how our Angel Sanctuary skit went, as well as subsequent projects, but I am so glad that we can look at this and really experience the joy that it was to perform it.

And here are some more recent photos of where I've worn Kaoru!

Credits to American Cosplay Paradise!
I recently wore Kaoru again to PMX 2015! I enjoy this cosplay so much, and I look forward to wearing it again soon!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Because I'm lazy, I'll change the old post pictures later.

And as usual, it's 3am here and I'm completely elated to be journaling again.

I honestly feel like I own my blog a personal apology for not keeping up with it, even though not keeping up with it feels like a good sign of actually living life, yet I like chronicling things, and it's one big paradox!

And as usual, I have my portfolio site but I cannot abandon this blog at all. I won't. I decided, and it's final. If I could find an awesome way to integrate it, that would be amazing. I'm don't want to just let things go by without getting the chance to talk about them, because otherwise I feel like it just fades away in a sense.

I spent today ruminating that my work situation, which I have mentioned here before, has been extremely busy and without sugarcoating it, difficult. It is severely understaffed and I spend fifteen hour workdays alone, and while I'm blessed to be able to motivate myself, I'm definitely suffering a little creatively on the inside. Cosplay and art fuels all of that goodness in me.

All is not lost however! Despite my lack of updates since 2014, I've actually done quite a lot more productively than I have in most years. I think I'm transitioning out of some of the early struggles in my sewing, where I felt like I was doing something right, but I was really falling short in it. Costumes are always like foreign yet familiar puzzles to me, and I am getting a better sense of how things work.

I have been doing some great work in midst of 35-40 hour workdays and 4+ full-time classes in school! I chronicle some of it on Facebook, but I want to be putting it out in other places too. I definitely want to be a presence that can be helpful and supportive towards other people's creative endeavours.

I can only assume that I've survived the Great Era of Derp thanks to art! 

I'm a goober in a blue kimono.

So in summation of my crazy cosplay projects since last time:

PMX 2014: Tsukumo from Karneval, Atago from Kantai Collection, and Shiro from No Game No Life, Shindo Shuichi from Gravitation
- Con Experience: PMX started out as the, "everything will go as planned" convention, but then suddenly, things went awry and unfortunately out of our four person skit, Lyric had to sit out due to a last minute emergency and Emi was unable to attend the con at the last minute. However! Shii and I had a super fun skit experience! We dressed in our Gravi outfits and sung karaoke like goobers, performed to dat~Booty Swing, and had way too much fun with ribbons and roses. I really love my Tsukumo cosplay and probably for the best season, is that it was my first cosplay coming out of my experience with my back!

Anime LA 2015: Alexiel from Angel Sanctuary, Kinomoto Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura, Matsuoka Gou from Free, and Anzu from Indolm@ster: Cinderella Girls
- Con Experience: ALA is a special convention. It was rainy and gray, and I almost feel like the con was mourning a little that it's moving next year, but it's still so magical on its own! We performed the skit that we had been waiting to do for over a year, and we did it! We got a great reaction and I am so happy to see us in those skit videos and see our costumes for the journey we had gone through. I was super giggly all weekend for that reason, despite that I was half asleep thanks to the decision of making not one, but two 24-hour cosplay challenges. So it was like 2 in 24. Bahahahaha what is sleep!

HanadokiCon: Lacus Clyne (Final Plus) from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, then re-wore my Sailor Stars Usagi seifuku
- Con Experience: This was a last minute plan. My friend asked if I had wanted to go with her to the con for a weekend in San Diego, and I figured that I hadn't had a weekend off in a while, so I went ahead. Shii came along as well, and we had a really fun time! It was a small convention, but we got to watch the masquerade, and watch Saiyuki at the pool side. We also took really silly pictures of each other near these pretty gazebos.

Fanime 2015: Kamiya Kaoru from Rurouni Kenshin, Kusakabe Ringo/Yuka from No-Rin!, and Tadokoro Megumi from Shokugeki no Soma, and unofficially, being the Mega Milk Ane-chan
- Con Experience: This was a super fun convention! We worked super hard on our Kenshin skit, and while not perfect, we really made the most of it. The car ride is always hilarious, and I fit the convention having lots of fun doing a comfy group cosplay. I seriously love my kimono, yet the journey there brought lots and lots of carpal tunnel. But it's so pretty. *_* I also had a lot of fun wearing Ringo, and I bought my MegaMilk shirt to wear while sewing, but I ended up unofficially cosplaying from it, and it was fun!

Anime Expo: Filia Ul Copt from Slayers TRY, Caster from Fate/Stay Night, and Miyuki/Cure Happy from Smile Pretty Cure
- Con Experience: This was a tough convention to judge because I feel like I only saw mere hours of it. The crowds were better and I had fun finding fellow Cures for our Pretty Cure Event! However, I sadly had to leave early and I also couldn't wear my Caster in the heat. I finished Filia, but hours before competing, our friend had to drop out due to illness and it was a little heartbreaking for how close we were. At the same time, it was a wonderful experience to make Filia and I'm so proud of my craftsmanship on her. I'll be rewearing her for ALA!

Along with those, I made my brother and Sagara Sanosuke cosplay, a Mudo Setsuna cosplay, and fixed up Zelgadis for him (I made it two years back for my friend Justin for our Slayers skit), Syaoran to match my Sakura for Shii, and I also completed a Link commission for another friend for Comic Con. That's nearly 12 costumes for myself, 3 commissioned/pieced together, and 5.5 cosplays extra for others! My mind is blown!

Out of the four conventions I have attended, I competed in 2 and won with my group awards! We got Best Group Performance in Journeyman for our Angel Virus skit at ALA and another materials award, and at Fanime we won for Best Dramatic Skit with Senbonzakura no Kenshin!

PMX is officially known as Pink-Roses Con.

I'm slated to be attending and competing at PMX this coming year, which is actually in about, less than three or four weeks now? Eek! I haven't started on anything besides patterns. I'm currently working on Hirose Yasuho from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Shirakiin Ririchiyo from Inu x Boku SS (the actual sewing, not wearing the old commission), and Luna from Sailormoon! My best friend Lyric is also making some really amazing acccompanying costumes since the main group will be taking a short break till ALA hits, where we have a really amazing project planned (and a dream project!).

It's always this time of the year when I tend to go through the transition of where I want to be when the cosplay season hits. Where am I? In a heck of a lot better place than last year. Even with my work and school season also hitting hard, I'm pretty satisfied that I have greatly improved on my crafting in midst of these hilarious times. The next projects will be super busy but I feel much more confident about my sewing that I hope I can get into the nitty-gritty and really enjoy this!

Next post when it'll be before 3am (likely 1am), I'll be posting actual pictures of progress work I have. I'll definitely be chronicling my cosplays as well!

Forever a goober.

I literally posted this at 3AM. Am I good or what?

Friday, October 17, 2014

I'm not gone! (The Glorious Return)

Oh goodness, I'm not gone!

My online chronicling has been rather terrible lately, even on my main website. It's been a whirlwind of a year, and yes, cosplay has been involved, but it's been so crazy...but I intend to keep updating! I'm trying really hard to get my momentum going.

So here's a recap of what's been going on:

Bahaha the Slayers Return!

Whenever life gets a little hectic, I recollect the memory of being about four or five years old and watching Pocahontas, particularly in the scene where Powhatan tells her to choose the smoothest and steadiest course. And of course, the ever-bamf Pocahontas realizes that the river isn't steady at all. It's a wild and crazy ride, with a few tranquil spots along the way, but it eventually leads to a whole new opportunity. Sometimes, it still might even have the same decisions to be made, only the experience adds a fresh perspective to it.

And my excuse for my delays in writing about my life, well, my cosplay endeavours at least. Firstly, I did end up switching over to my other site, although I have barely updated it since my classes. Unfortunately, the first barricade to my constant posting had a lot to do with the outside forces of work. Shortly after ALA, my job became short-staffed, which resulted in me having to take on more hours than usual. Coupled with school, it got extremely busy.

I have been sewing, yet chronicling each step of the way got exceptionally difficult. I think I still have half of my Facebook cosplay page even made. It's kind of embarrassing how terrible I am with updating my social media.

So work became such a prevailing chapter of the season that it overlapped my other activities. Along with that, unforeseen illnesses and the like burdened a few months in the early springtime. It really was horrid, but things are slowly better from that now.

Despite all this, I was able to make a few cosplays during the spring season. I could copy and paste about ALA, since I also left that in a cliffhanger. ~_~ But ALA was tranquil and really quite fun. I managed to finish Kougyoku to wear for Day 2, which turned out better than I had expected! I had a lot of fun working through it, and at one point some nights before, the power went out in our house! I ended up taking a makeshift light and handsewing for a few hours on the collar till the lights came back.

 Credits to Estrada Photography for this amazing shot!

The dress was made with so many lovely textiles. *_* It took about a week's worth of sewing nonstop (and when I mean nonstop I really do mean it lol). I started firstly on the pink overskirt pieces, which I pattern out myself after making some small paper mockups. Then I made the bottom skirt and decorated that with an AMAZING trim I found at our usual shop. The little hair pieces were from Taobao, which I ordered and are really well made.

The top was made of a super cool printed rayon, so it was amazingly light and cool. I made the neckline collar separate and added the trim, along with a cute gold one for some more definition. I also went with some prints instead of the anime's solid colors. I just wanted it to be super colorful and fun.

 A derp shot of me at ALA. xD

Overall, it was a joy to make. I also got a chance to catch up on a season 3 of Friends. >D

 I got to wear this not just at ALA but at the Riverside Lunar Festival, which was not far after. I had a whole lot of fun running around in it and carrying colorful flowers! I will say that the current status of the wig seems unsalvagable. D= It's sincerely a mess to take care of, and since I'm space-limited, I think the wig was way too upset to hear that.I'll probably make a full costume post about her process, since it was fun.

SO BACK TO ALA! We had a pretty doofus awesome time there. I think everyone was mostly tired and it was the one weekend everyone had off. Most of us had come out of finals and crazy holiday schedules at work so it was fun to regroup.

A shot of me, Shii, and Z having a kigu festival. xD Shii and I had bought kigurumis in our order, so we wore them for most of the first night. And we just wore our newest wigs - I had purchased an entire Mirai cosplay for ALA I didn't get to wear yet, and she got her Aladdin wig. And Z's just plain kawaii with his Quatre wig.

And we also did masquerade! It wasn't anything super serious. We just had fun and ended up with a silly colorguard skit together with our One Piece cosplays!

I started out making Nami, but I wound up making Nico Robin's safari outfit. It wasn't anything special, but it was fun to make since it's a different silhouette than my usual gowns. The furendo were all dressed in the following - my brother as Shanks, Shii as Luffy, Z as Sanji, and the ever-pensive Frye as Zoro. Not featured was Maiko as Nami! It was quite fun!

To watch the skit:
 I Just Can't Wait to be King - By Pants Your Goonies Cosplay

Overall, it was a good con. Some awesome cosplays and a fun time to see old friends.

So then came the big work wave of eversville, so my days got a little bit more limited when it came to sewing and having days off to do other things.

So in between I got to working on Scheherazade's dress from Magi. I managed to finish it but I wasn't too crazy about the silhouette last minute. I might remake parts of the costume and see what happens there. For Valentine's Day, I ended up making Shiemi from Ao no Exorcist:

Shii went as Rin and I ended up making Shiemi in about two nights. It was quite fun and really comfy! I'll probably wear it around for another event since it was pretty cool to wear.


Oh gosh, the magical tale. Fanime was such a crazy experience, mostly because the hefty working days got to the best of me. We actually had been working on a skit for Fanime the day after ALA. It was coming along when everything happened like a wave at once, and it left us little time to work on our cosplays. A similar thing occurred with this skit again at this past AX, so we've just come to the conclusion that we are okay to postpone it till next year. Hopefully this means better cosplays and a better design process since I don't remember much of it right now. x_x

So Fanime became the, "Let's rewear and make comfy cosplays" convention, and it worked out super well. We spent more time hanging out and socializing rather than sitting backstage or sewing in the hotel room. My lineup was:

- Tsukino Usagi (High School Seifuku) from Sailormoon Sailor Stars - Oh gosh, I love this seifuku. It's probably my favorite to wear still, and I even managed to buy the right shoes and everything for it. The wig I wore at Fanime was kind of horrible, but I have a newer one now that I've been using since AX. But I love this cosplay so much, and it took about a day's worth of work.

- Nepgear from Neptunia - I might remake this, since when I made it, it was around the same time as Usagi and I divided my attention to the two. I was sort of in lala-land about the whole thing. The shoes are a bit tight when I ordered them, so I might have to find a way to fix them. =_= Then I didn't finish a whole lot of the details since I simply ran out of time. I wore it briefly for an evening, but I met a lot of really awesome Neptunia fans around who liked my cosplay. =) 

- I rewore Yuuki and got some new jewelry for Belldandy, so it turned out really nice! It was a chance to bring those cosplays out after having them in the closet for a while. BUT YUKI WAS SO WARM. Oh gosh. Synthetics. In spring heat. 

Nonetheless, I got to meet a lot of amazing cosplays at Fanime! I'm hoping to go back this coming season and have a fun time! San Joseis such a cool place to visit, and it was great to be in the area and get to visit also the Great Mall, the eateries, and a lot of the nightlife. 

And then a shot of Shii and I derpin'. We went to a little photoshoot in the springtime and ended up just us getting some shots of each other in our shoujo 90's-rific cosplays. She was Sasami from Tenchi Muyo and I rewore Belldandy. It was actually super fun, since it was also a trip to the museum next door. I'm not usually one for cosplaying in public (outside of conventions), but this was fun!

And then the Great AX approached, which resulte din being most of a blur since once again, the skit was postponed. I actually constructed my cosplay, but it's never been worn and I am unsure if I will be wearing that version by next year. ~_~

But the great miracle was me deciding that besides masquerade, I wanted to celebrate the big Sailormoon Celebration held at AX! I've often mentioned how much I love Eternal Sailormoon, so I caved in and decided to make a sailor fuku. It ended up being a huge wild ride.

Thanks to my friend Rachael for getting this shot of us. xD Her Sailor Pride was also pretty awesome!

Eternal Moon was a hectic ride, mostly because she was done in roughly three days of work nonstop and one night of hotel scurrying (and complete with sewing machine failures!). My machine got massively jammed by the last night, but I managed to take it to a repair shop and few blocks away from the hotel, which was an absolute miracle!

So there's so many firsts on this cosplay, but to be short: Besides Nanami Haruka, a cosplay I made for Day 1's Utapri happiness, this is my first serged cosplay. Thankfully, the costume is extremely clean on the inside. Usually my oher cosplays may have French seams for finishing, though it depends on the project. I used the Green Pepper Ice Skating pattern and graded it, and used a white knit that I doubled so that it wouldn't be too opaque.

The skirt, sleeves, and collar are all made of casa satin, with gold, fuchsia, and azure trims on them. The boots were barely modified with added trims and gold, glittery moons. All of her jewlery was made by me, including her choker, wing clips with pearls and feathers, her bun clips, and her little tiara.

I don't even want to remember how I survived making this.

Either way, I had so much fun wearing her around!


So this summer in late July I sustained a pretty back injury,the crescendo to all of my physical woes. I've had back back injuries before, but at this point, I was prompted to go see a doctor since the pain was extremely intolerable. I got an MRI and learned that I have an badly herniated disk. It's been like that for a while now to my surprise, but it got really inflammed and unbearable because of my physical and stressful exertion.

I spent nearly the next two months recovering and slowly regaining my ability to move. It was heartbreaking, but it's a lifechanging process. It's hard to remember that you're a person and not a machine when you're in your artistic moments sometimes, so this was a good dose of reality.

Now it's October and I've regained a lot of my strength back, although I'm super careful about myself and I'm undergoing regular treatment for it. It's limited some of my work and school time, but it's getting better. I'm sewing again but I have to take more breaks.

With PMX coming, we're working on a new set of costumes as the Pants Your Goonies return with a colorful new skit idea!

 Colorful costumes from Karneval! We're all signed up and ready to compete, so there we are, once again back to the ongoing process and in towards a successful new season!

And truthfully, I've missed chronicling my adventures, so I'm going to get back to my web work here and enjoy keeping my place to share my cosplay tips and tutorials. I love cosplay too much to just go back to the days of forgetting to get a snapshot of me in costumes.

Some other costumes in progress this upcoming season!

  1. Shiba Miyuki - Mahouka no Koukou no Rettousei 
  2. Shindou Shuichi - Gravitation 
  3. Minami Kotori - Lovelive 
  4. Mikage Aya - Ayashi no Ceres
  5. Rei - Persona Q 
  6. Creamy Mami - Ai no Tenshi Creamy Mami 
  7. BB - Fate/Extra
  8. Lina Inverse - Slayers NEXT 
  9. Sheryl Nome - Macross Frontier 
  10. Elincia - Fire Emblem 
  11. Maximillion Pegasus - Yugioh 
  12.  Hino Kahoko - La Corda D'Oro 
  13. Kohinata Kanade - La Corda D'Oro Blue Sky 
  14. Motomiya Akane - Harukanaru Toki no Naka de
  15. Kaioh Michiru - Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon
  16. Circus Madoka - Puella Magi Madoka Magica 
  17. Solaria - End Breakerz
  18. Lucrezia de Borgia - Cantarella 
  19. Kinomoto Sakura - Cardcaptor Sakura 
And of course, many more! Ideas are infinite. <3

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fabric Haul!

The glorious fabric haul begins!

Taking a break from my more recent remorseful, "My Hand Hurts Saga", which hasn't improved but I hope to get at least a day of rest this Thanksgiving before finishing towards most of what seems to be the home stretch for my classes.

Ideally once classes are done, I'd love to get started on my ALA cosplay going. I actually have two to make, and then a holiday one after buying some lovely fabric for a holiday dress. I had planned to make a Christmas Nia outfit, although I'm unsure if I can get the wig in time. I might possibly be able to do a holiday Mirai or Stocking?

So to show my homework productiveness, here's a preview of what's to come of the future of the real website I'm working on:

I've started to consider to keep this blog, but to eventually transfer it over as well to the main portion of the site. I'm quite happy with how it's all looking, and I've just completed my comps for this project and working towards adding some tweaks here and there. I'm starting on the proper coding this week early on so I can have plenty of time to get it to look the way I want it.

After the semester is over, I'm ideally hoping to transfer new projects into there, but to also keep a more organized way to get ahold of me in a more professional manner, and also see some of my work.

So derpy picture of me, but over the weekend, I managed to start getting some plans on how to make Kougyoku from Magi for my ALA cosplay. I am participating in the masquerade with another cosplay, but we haven't gotten into the nitty gritty yet with the group due to school. 

I made a quick sketch of her as my inspiration plan of action. She seems like she'll be quite some work, although I also see it as a chance on having a colorful selection in comparison to Yuuki. I worked mostly with grays, whites, and a lot of black. Now there's a lot of colors of the rainbow!

So I am uber happy with the results from my trip. I went with Emi and two other wonderful friends, and we managed to go through some more stores than usual. For the fabric, I went through a large selection of organzas for her puffs, rayon prints, heavy cotton, taffeta, silks, and surprisingly, my first time woring with ombre!

The trims were absolutely amazing to find, and as always, the Avant Trims store is absolutely amazing in helping us find exactly what we need. I loved this trim interpretation from the start, and then that and the beautiful flower print made me too happy for words. I'm so happy I went with the print design for her, since I was inspired by some of the pre-made dresses I've seen going that direction.

Patterning everything might take a few tries, but I'm willing to be patient. I'm more than excited to get started!

For now, I'll be working slowly ad putting my school efforts on first, but keeping a good reminder of the tasks ahead always keep me on my toes.

Saturday I'll be going on another trip for my next cosplay, sot hat way I can simultaneously work on everything!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Short Update

A short update because my hands can't really do this right now.

School is pushing towards finals, so my biggest focus these upcoming weeks (as if it isn't already) is finishing up all of my classes as best as I can. I literally haven't slept in days sans the one moment my mother found me catnapping on the sofa. I think the exhaustion is getting to me though, and I'm at the point where I'm just refusing coffee.

Given that these past weeks have been hell on the moon for my hands with their popular demand, I'd really like to get through this semester with my hands in one piece and give them a little rest before the spring semester starts. All of my classes are currently online, so my computer time is maxed out and my hands are like, "Oh honey no."

The lovely news is my spring semester looks promising, and I love the classes I'll be taking. I'm planning on moving forward with classes that are career-friendly too. I've also started my trasnferring process to a new art college! I got the chance to finally doodle for the first time in like a month in between work breaks.

After school finals, Anime LA will basically become my life. I have an actual cosplay plan a month and a half ahead of schedule, but it also mainly these cosplays will be challenging my construction skills far more than Yuuki. I will still be bringing Yuuki, as I love the dress too much to just wear it once, but my Anime LA lineup seems to be very tropical and colorful.

At the moment, it also sounds like a full team reunion is going to happen too! There are some wonderful plans this holiday season and onward, but it'll take some strength and stamina to survive. More updates to come, and those pictures I promised.

Also I made an AMPLE account finally. I absolutely love the interface!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

20 Facts About Me

So I got tagged by a friend on Facebook to write facts about myself, and I've seen it going around on everyone's posts. I filled one out, and thus I also thought to post it here since they're really more about who I am and what I really do beyond cosplay.
  1.  I subconsciously think I’m eternally 17, and I apologize to anyone in the past if I’ve ever seamlessly said, “Oh, I’m 17!” I’ve been doing that every year after being 17, and I think it’s just me really just liking that age number. I’ve been carded before for saying this by accident. 
  2. My real name is Alexandra, but I’ve gone by Kagura as a nickname since I was 12 when it stuck in middle school after Fruits Basket came out. Ironically, I don’t know if I really have Kagura’s personality much, but she was also my first cosplay then too. I’ve come to love her personality more now than before as the manga made her more of a complicated person. I really love my real name though too, and I don’t usually go by Alex because that’s my brother’s name.
  3.  I’ve been cosplaying for almost 10 years, and consider the past 5 of them really focused on actual garment construction. The past years before, I basically was modifying clothing and though I rarely got commissioned items, I would try really hard to ghetto sew. It worked for appearances but I wanted to get better and really learn.
  4.  I don’t really tell people often what I’m studying, but I’m a game design major. I got inspired while working on a project that’s opened to me a whole new world of experiences. I’m transferring to a design college early next year as well to further my studies and networking, and am hoping to do more supplementary work in London in the future.
  5.  I have a huge addiction to Japanese visual novels. I’ve loved them since I was really young and confused them for anime. I’ve gotten chances to work on some projects to help and learn how to do digital illustration CG's and script work. I have my own small circle currently, and am hoping that together we can grow and push new ideas and projects in the future.
  6. I secretly obsess about Sailormoon fanfiction, and I have since I was about 15. I’ve never written any though, just love to read it! My absolute favorite is Usagi x Mamoru, which is my ideal dream OTP.
  7. I previously worked at a costume house for the film industry for a short but amazing period of time. During my time there, I was able to work on several projects and meet several film costume designers. I got to handle some classic film costumes that to this day, leave me in a surreal and grateful place.
  8.  I’m terrified of most horror movies -  I can’t even be near a TV that’s playing Jurassic Park (not even horror xD), but I adore the Alien series. I really don't know why, and I find Facehuggers absolutely adorable.
  9. Anything I cook explodes. I’m so terrible and clumsy at cooking or chemistry. At one point, my chemistry teacher told me to hand the tube to someone else while I did the calculations.
  10. I just think Europe is the place I should be at, somewhere there. I adore everything about European cultures, and hopefully I’d love to go travel and be inspired.
  11. My dream is to eventually work hard enough to compete in the World Cosplay Summit. I love cosplay, and I love the idea of being part of something that unites countries together creatively.
  12. I love classic literature and British period films. My first piece was David Copperfield when I was 10 because Daniel Radcliffe was in one of the film versions of it.
  13. I’m terrible with spoilers. I get so impatient that I spoil movie endings and shows. I also do that because I tend to get very anxious and sensitive about what I watch. Ironically, this doesn't apply to anime, but live-action violence sometimes gets to me, so I make sure it's something I can deal with.
  14. I love automatons and dolls. I think they’re fascinating, and a lot of my inspiration comes from them. And I absolutely love mannequins. I have a dress form I named Ema Heshire or Emy, after the mannequin from the film, Mannequin. (Mannequinception!)
  15. I have a homemade collage of Christian Bale magazine over my bed. It’s so outdated with The Dark Knight and Terminator Salvation photos, but I refuse to take it down. <3 
  16.  My favorite topics are usually about anything on psychology or surrealism. I’ve been a huge fan of David Lynch movies for a long time and my favorite anime of all time is Shoujo Kakumei Utena. I saw it when I was really young, but even then, I know I understood it. It’s a part of me now. I also like studying alchemy symbolism during my breaks at work. I’ve been fond also about the psychology of myths and fairy tales, and often read Jung or Von-Franz in the back room at work. 
  17.  I’m a self-taught graphic designer of 8 years, and consider myself as a trans-media artist since I like to blend all kinds of art into my work. I’ve been drawing for way longer than that too. 
  18. I’ve played the violin for over 10 years. I constantly practice and also compose my own solos and songs. I've performed and recorded before for some of my friend's local band events, and got the chance to be in their music video. My violin is actually a 200-year old custom Italian violin I named Constantine (Yeah, after the Keanu Reeves movie.).
  19. I have a huge obsession and love for Italo disco. My father introduced Italo disco to me when I was about 9, and since then I’ve seen some older bands live like Trans-X, collected and mixed dozens of songs, hear fantasy radios, and even now have my own Jupiter 8V, Cubase, and Arturia software to make my own. I dream of making my own Italo disco group and play at a crazy underground Italian disco club.
  20.  Arthurian Mythology is another huge part of my life. I love King Arthur and he is the basis of a lot of my allegorical artwork. I secretly think that I was Morgan le Fay in a past life. 

I think these help sum up quite a bit about me. More recently, I don't really go and share a whole lot other than cosplay photos and the occasion, "Oh my gosh, my homework is getting to me." moments, even on Facebook.
I don't really think I noticed how many different types of artsy things I like to do, I suppose. I once listened to a seminar by graphic designer April Greiman once for my graphic design class, and I not only loved her work but also felt that the term, "trans-media artist" really applies to me too. If I'm not doing one artistic thing a day, I find yet another.

When I was about 10/11, I had a teacher who really encouraged me to write down my stories. She and I still keep in contact, and she's seen a lot of my more recent work and what I'm studying, and she's pretty happy I found my way back to writing. I've kept a good record of the stories and ideas I have and it grows everyday.I love the research and inspiration part too. My friends also have great ideas, so we often sit and talk together and help one another. One of my close childhood friends is also studying creative writing after all those years of us bouncing ideas together.

I've been playing the violin since I was 12, and from there got to learn a bit more about other instruments like some basic piano, knowing the viola, and trying out the trumpet. When I was a kit, I really loved classical music. I listened to it for hours daily, and when I saw my local middle school's orchestra perform on Incoming Student Night, I immediately signed up. I'm the winner of the National School Orchestra Award for my high school too, which is still a huge honor for me.

My brother is also a drummer and plays flute, and then my younger sister is starting the piano soon. I know how to compose and transliterate music as well. I've worked with Finale for years and love adapting music to play solos or small groups. I even used to be in a small anime music quartet, except we were all students so it was a learning process.

I started graphic designing for little anime sites when I was about 14 and had started high school. It was a great hobby to have and I would spend my weekends working on something while jugglign AP classes. I moved on more towards helping school projects, local businesses, charity events, and musical sites shortly after high school. I still design, but it is more for my projects and also whenever I end up getting a burst of creative freetime to make a new wallpaper.

I started drawing since I was really little, but I don't think I really got super into it the way I am now till I was about 10/11. Right in middle school, I often drew for my classmates and then eventually that's also when anime became an even bigger part of my life and hobbies than before when I was just watching some shows. I began to practice more, and one of my friend's had a really talented older sister that inspired me too. 

In high school, I began dancing more too and learned Para Para. It's pretty easy to do, and I followed a lot of routines on Youtube from the old games and training videos. It ended up being a regular thing for a while, and while I still do it, I feel like I only can at the moment. I think the ability to perform however has helped encourage me to perform dances for skits, and I occasionally still hold panels.

I don't think anyone technically foresaw me making costumes as a huge part of my life. When I was 12, I saw an ad for Anime Los Angeles online when it was going to be first held, but they had then pushed it a year later for more time. I waited and remembered, and the very first time I went there, my family was confused but I was totally digging it. I went back on Saturday with my middle school friend Sara, and we had a pretty fun day getting to know the con, buy swag, and see all the amazing cosplayers. It inspired me to cosplay the very next year, and it became a reoccuring hobby for me to bring friends and go have fun.

From there, I really got into cosplaying because it was a pretty unique art. Granted, I was afraid of the sewing machine (an embarrassing truth) for a few years first, so I would modify things little by little, and my Kagura cosplay was commissioned by a family member. I also used to only have 1 wig, which was my pink Utena wig that I used for several other cosplays (except really Utena).

And then probably getting older in late high school, I began actually working on some of my cosplays a bit more, learning more how to sew, and actually try harder. It was a great way to also escape some of the harder times of my life back then. One summer, I just had a moment where I felt pressured to make a choice before entering senior year, so I thought because I loved cosplay, I could become a fashion designer.

It was a great idea, and it transformed into wanting to become a film costume designer. I went to college for a year and a half for it, but after my father passed away and my life was very confusing, I figured out that I lvoed costumes and cosplay, but as a hobby. I was a good student, but something was missing.

When I began getting my current circle of friends, they inspired me creatively to pursue game design, which I think is a way better fit for me and all the hard work I've put throughout the years. As an awesome byproduct, I think it also helped me see cosplay and costuming as more a hobby and has allowed it t bloom in its own way. Even as a hobby, I think it's opened so many doors for me emotionally, socially, and even professionally. It's kind of surprising that maybe just under three years ago, it was a hobby I wouldn't really talk about with people unless you were familiar with it. Nowadays, it's someting that my family members and people I know and work with are supportive of, and it means a whole lot to me.

I think cosplay in my life needed a purpose, so that's why I compete in some ways, but more than anything, it's about showcasing my art. I adore cosplay as being a way to globally communicate with others, and it's allowed me to make true and valuable friends and learn life's lessons along the way.