Yoko's Rifle (Part 1)

My work on Yoko's rifle is definitely not finished at this point, but here's what's happened so far. I will not be making a tutorial about this, mostly because I can't really remember or even begin to explain exactly what I did. Click on photos to enlarge them.

I began with a few cardboard tubes left over from rolls of fabric, gift wrap, and other miscellaneous things (no toilet paper rolls though, haha!). One roll that I had was 4'11" long and was thinner than the rest. I had another roll that was the same diameter, but only 1'7" long. I cut 6" off of the shorter tube and hot-glued it to the longer one, making it 5'5". Looking back, I should have made it 5'3", but I really had no idea what I was doing (still don't!) and just sort of guessed how tall I wanted it to be. (I'm 5'4", by the way, and about 5'6" in my Yoko boots.) I originally wanted my rifle to be about an inch shorter than me, but oh well.

I didn't really have a plan for scaling here, I just guestimated how big things should be and went at it. It seemed to work out, thankfully! I think some parts are a little wide (I actually think the entire thing is a little bigger than it should be), but it's at least proportional to itself.

A majority of the pieces are cardboard, but for curved areas and some places where something attaches to the barrel (the main tube), I used craft foam.

I had, and am still having, difficulty with attaching the scope. In the anime, the scope is attached by four thin metal pieces, which doesn't really translate well into cardboard. They bend and have broken a couple of times, so the scope leans to the side sometimes. I'm not entirely sure what to do about it, but it does stay upright for photos.

The back end of the scope (where someone aiming to shoot would look) is a solid piece of cardboard painted green with the cross-hairs drawn on with pen. Of course I wanted to make it so that you could actually look through the scope, but I didn't have the right materials. Also, with the design of the scope, you wouldn't be able to aim properly anyway without some inner workings, which I am not up to the task of making.

The front of the scope is also a solid piece, the green is a piece of a 3X5 index card painted green. The shadows in the photo make the edges look rougher than they are, though they are pretty rough on their own. I'm not sure how to fix that or what I could have done differently. Cardboard is rough and difficult to cut.

The end of the barrel is indented and sealed off with orange craft foam. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to add craft foam to stick out one inch from the end of the barrel so that it can be seen from the side in order to comply with most conventions' prop firearm rules. Of course I'm disappointed that it distracts from the realism of the rifle, but I do recognize and appreciate that it's for my own safety. I would rather have a little orange piece on the end of my rifle than have the convention not require or check this and end up getting shot. Also, it's a small price (if you want to even call it that) to pay for being able to show off my hard work without issue.

Now for the fun part, the rifle comes apart for storage and transportation! I went through a few methods to make this work, and I am extremely happy with how it turned out. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to come apart at a certain spot, underneath one of the ridges so that the seam wouldn't be seen. Originally, I thought that I could hold the two pieces together with magnetic snaps that I had originally bought for Yoko's belt. (I only needed one for the belt, and they came in a package of three.) However, the end of the barrel was too heavy. I tried two magnetic snaps, a regular snap, Velcro, and various combinations of these things, but nothing seemed to work.

I'm still not sure how I came up with this, but I somehow found the perfect solution. I cut open one of my larger cardboard tubes and started rolling it in on itself, making it sort of spiral inward and get smaller. Once it was small enough, I put it halfway inside of the main part of the rifle and put the rest of the barrel on the other end of it. Basically, the smaller tube goes inside of the barrel where the barrel comes apart. Hopefully the picture explains.

I chose to paint the ends of the inner tube orange/pink along with the open ends of the rifle barrel just in case I end up taking it apart at a convention for some reason. California law states that the ends of prop firearms must be painted in a bright color. If I take apart the rifle, the back end looks like a complete gun on its own, and I didn't want to cause a problem, so I painted the end and inside pink in a way that can't be seen when it's fully assembled, but can be seen when it's taken apart. I painted the ends of everything else pink just for good measure.

In one photo, you can see some ink marks on the tube that goes inside, it's a star that I drew in blue permanent marker to differentiate that piece from scraps that I had lying around. I actually did this to almost all of the pieces that went into the rifle, and I highly recommend it. Before I figured out this trick, it was difficult to tell my some of rifle pieces apart from the scraps and finding things took much longer than it should have. Since the paint is black, it covers it right up.

I painted the rifle in two pieces. First I tried spraypaint, but it didn't give enough coverage. After a couple of layers of spraypaint, I ran out (it was an old can that I found in the shed), so I switched to hand-painting with acrylic. It gave a lot better coverage, but it isn't as shiny, so I'm hoping to get some kind of spray to give it some shine.

So as it stands, I still need to add the pink stripes on the barrel, the yellow stripes on the end, the orange tip, the strap to carry it, another coat of paint (in some places), and a coat of gloss. However, I feel like a majority of the work is finished, and certainly the most difficult parts of the work are all finished. Hopefully next time I want to take it somewhere, I won't have to rush to finish it.

BAC at Battery Boutelle

Battery Boutelle is essentially on old weapons storage facility in San Francisco. BAC (Bay Area Conventions) had a meetup there on September 24th, I attended as Koffing (Pokemon) with my boyfriend as Magikarp (also Pokemon) and a few friends as Evangelion characters.

Originally, we planned to leave at 10:30, but I know my boyfriend and my friends, and didn't really expect to leave until 11 (which is exactly why I told them 10:30). I was ready to leave around 10:45, and I don't know what happened, but we didn't leave until noon. So I was kind of miffed, but I put it aside. It's a long drive to and from San Francisco (at least an hour) and I didn't want to cause issues just because we left late.

On the way to San Francisco, we got lost, and then in San Francisco, we got lost. Less than half a mile away from where we were supposed to go, we got lost, and then walking to the meetup spot, we got lost! So we arrived around 2 or 2:30pm, when the gathering started at 11am.

My most vivid memory from this gathering is unfortunately the cold. It was so cold there by the Golden Gate Bridge. So cold, in fact, that my fingers turned white and stayed that way for most of the gathering. Luckily, my friend let me borrow her sweater, which I was able to put on under my shirt.

I had a photoshoot with my friend FoxBerry (who's also the founder of BAC), and then there was just general goofing off. Quite a few people were very amused by the ticking grenade props that I had brought with my cosplay (I had two of them) and asked if they could play hot potato with one. I knew that whichever I gave them would end up broken, so I let them use the one that was already sort of broken (the pin didn't go all the way in), it was only a dollar anyway. I however did not expect for the grenade to break in half. Someone said they wanted to keep it and plant flowers in it, so I just let them have it. I wouldn't say I'm mad about it, but, I mean, I spent money on that thing, haha, even if it was only a dollar.

Around 5pm, after a couple of hours of goofing off, climbing around on the battery, and freezing our butts off, we decided to head home. We said our goodbyes (the gathering was scheduled to go until 6pm) and headed out. And got lost. We were really hungry, so we used someone's GPS on their phone to track down a McDonald's. Unfortunately, that took us right past the remains of an accident that blocked two out of three lanes of traffic, and then there was no place to park by the McDonald's. We got on the freeway instead.

I feel like we got lost quite a few more times. We stopped at Sonic to get burgers, dropped off our friends, and then my boyfriend and I went back to my house. We were both exhausted, but my boyfriend stayed a little while to hang out with me. He was playing Final Fantasy 4 on his PSP (that he's letting me borrow, so he only gets to play it when he's here), and he was so tired that he accidentally saved over my save file. I only had about four and a half hours of game play on it, but I was still pretty upset, on top of the not-all-that-spectacular day that I had.

I don't necessarily regret going to the battery, but if I had known what that day would have been like, I would have stayed in bed, heh. However, from what I saw of the photos FoxBerry took, they're really nice and I can't wait to see them. So at least I have that to look forward to!

Whew! (Days 618 - 630)

So it's been longer than I thought since I've updated my blog. I ended up not finishing Yoko before the BAC gathering at Battery Boutelle. The rifle was a bad idea to bring to Sf in the first place, and I didn't feel like finishing the cosplay just to be exhausted and freezing the next day, so I went as Koffing instead. (More on that later.)

I did end up finding the studs that I was talking about in my last update though! JoAnn's finally stocked them, so I bought two packages, just in case. At the start, I estimated that I would need about 100 studs, and each package comes with 40. I already used up my first 40, and they're not all on one side of the belt (I started in the middle-ish), so I can't tell what percentage of the belt the 40 studs covered. I didn't want to say "Oh, well I already covered half", buy one package, use it up, and then have to wait another month for more to be stocked. So I have them.

I also bought new material for the belt buckle, since the old material looks like tin foil. I bought cheap silver pleather, and I have a few ideas for turning it into a belt buckle that I really hope work. I only bought a quarter of a yard.

I did mostly complete Yoko's rifle, save for a few things. That's going to get it's own blog post though.

Studs Wanted (Day 617)

Another trip to JoAnn's, another trip ending in disappointment. I went for the same square metal studs that I went for last time, and they still didn't have them. They did however have new heart studs, which were adorable, but not what I wanted. I managed to find the costume pleather that I originally wanted to make the belt buckle out of, but of course, they didn't have silver in stock. I found a bundle of patterned fleece in the remnants bin that I thought would be cool for hats, but when I got to the register and asked to open it, it turned out that it was football-patterned, and I lost interest. I ended up with a $1 pack of mini highlighters.

I searched online for the studs I want, but I couldn't find them online. Someone else's blog, however, said that they can be found at both JoAnn's and Micheal's, so I guess I'm trying Micheal's tomorrow. For now, I'm going to attempt to work on my boots.

"My Costume Construction Arsenal"

I pulled the format for this from a cosplay forum and then altered it to fit the blogger setting a bit better. I also posted something similar to this before, but it wasn't quite so organised.


Singer Simple 23-stitch sewing machine 2263

White Superlock 534
Sunbeam Iron GCSBBV-200 (couldn't find a photo of the model I have)


Fiskar Softgrip fabric scissors

Fiskar Softgirp "regular" scissors

Birch bodkin (elastic threader, ribbon threader, etc.)
Dritz seam roll
60 inch (about 150 centimeter) measuring tape (unknown brand)
Dritz see-through drafting ruler
Surebonder glue gun LT-170 (mine is yellow)
pincushion and pins


Mainstays 5-Foot Long Center-Fold Table
ironing board with extra padding and heat-reflective cover (unknown brands)
petite Dritz Twin-Fit dress form
"Sew Cute" decorative sign

Magnavox TV and Samsung DVD and VHS player
Dell computer

Favorite Stores

JoAnn's Fabric and Craft Stores
Thrift Town

Yoko's Belt Continues (Days 615 & 616)

I'm definitely not thrilled with the current state of my belt for Yoko, to say the least. I'm sure part of it is the "fabric" that I chose for the buckle. It wasn't what I originally wanted, but it was on sale, and I couldn't find what I wanted. It's hard to describe, especially since it's not really a fabric, but it sort of behaves like one. The best thing that I can think to compare it to is rubber with a this foil outer layer. The rubber-y layer is stiff and stable. It can be bent, but it takes a lot of glue and pressure to keep it that way, and it leaves creases. The foil layer is incredibly thin, but stays somewhat strong, I can't manage to tear it with only my fingers at least, not that I tried hard. The foil layer also manages to wrinkle on top of the rubber layer, and I can't figure out a way to smooth it out. There are parts on the piece that I bought that are smooth, so I may make a new one. The current belt buckle is also cut crooked, just to top off the awful material choice.

The magnetic snaps are excellent, though they also don't match up well with the material. The ones I linked aren't the exact ones that I bought, the ones I have are more brass-colored (they won't be seen anyway), were a lot cheaper (about $2) and came in a pack of three instead of two. They have two prongs on the back that can be bent inward or outward so that they hang onto the material they're attached. I pushed the prongs into the material to make two dents then used a razor/box cutter to cut slits on the dents that the prongs would go through. I then bent the prongs inward, though I'll probably go back and bend them outward. I think they'd be more stable that way. I didn't really think about it when I was putting it together.

The issue with the metallic material is that the snap creates an awkward bulge underneath it, and further warps the outer surface. This might be lessened if I bend the prongs outward though. The snap that goes on the white part of the belt also had a little bit of an issue with the white material. The white vinyl is surprisingly fragile. While I need scissors or a razor to begin a cut in the material, any cut can be easily torn. So the prongs poking through the vinyl accompanied by the weight of the snap itself began to tear the vinyl. I put my special vinyl/plastic/fabric glue around the edges to help strengthen it, but I haven't really tested it much.

Eventually, I will definitely remake the belt buckle. I'm am 100% sure of this. It's lop-sided, lumpy, wrinkly, the edges show, and it kind of looks like duct tape. Duct tape might actually look better. However! It's wearable, and my boots are currently not wearable at all. I'd rather get the costume wearable before the next time that I want to wear it than have to come up with a new costume to wear because I don't have shoes.

Cute Coupons (Day 614)

One day, I decided that instead of cutting out my coupons with normal scissors, I was going to use scrapbooking scissors. And ever since then, it's all I've used for any coupons. I have no idea why, I just think it's cute, and cashiers seem to get a kick out of it.

Eccentric tenancies aside, I visited JoAnn's today looking for more studs. Unfortunately, there were none left, but I did manage to get magnetic snaps for my belt as well as silver/metallic fabric for the belt buckle.

Attack of the Bobbins (Days 608 - 613)

My bobbins have been attacking me. Somehow, the string from a bobbin will get wrapped around my foot or leg and start coming off of the bobbin as I walk away, and at a certain point, the bobbin will fly off of the holder at me. I guess this wouldn't happen if I kept the sewing cabinet closed.

Angry bobbins aside, I made some sort of cosplay progress today. I started by working on my Yoko boots. The first time I wore them, the boots inside of them (that I covered) didn't have laces in them because I thought that the laces would give the boot cover an awkward shape. What happened instead was that the boots were too loose, which not only gave the covers an odd shape, but also gave me blisters. So I decided to re-lace them today. It was difficult because I can't take the boot covers off (they're glued on). I got one laced, but when I went to do the other, I noticed that part of it was tearing, and trying to put the laces in made it tear more. I tried stitching it up (this is about where the bobbins attacked), but when I put the needle through the vinyl boot cover, the vinyl started ripping a ton. I stitched it as best as I could, and then put a layer of "vinyl, fabric, and plastic" glue over the stitched and around the edges of the tear.

This was my second time using this glue, the first time being when I needed to repair my Yoko jacket (the iron-on vinyl was coming off and just wouldn't stay on). When I used it on the jacket, I didn't use a brush or anything to put it on, I used a scrap piece of cardboard, haha. This time, I used a paint brush. In hindsight, I should have dug around for a cheap Crayola brush, because that would have worked just fine. Instead I used a nice paintbrush and almost ruined it. Thankfully, you can wash 'vinyl, fabric, & plastic' glue out of a paintbrush with warm water and mild soap. Whatever is left on the brush after washing it can be combed out with a very thin comb.

Because of how bad the tear in the boot was already getting, I decided to let the glue on the boots dry completely before messing with them any more, leaving one of them unlaced. Instead, I chose to work on Yoko's belt. A while back, I bought square studs to make the belt, and I'm using leftover fabric from the boots so that the belt matches them. I put on my shorts and measured around where I wanted the belt to sit. It sits in an odd spot on me because it has to cover a seam, so it's not really straight across my hips. I cut the fabric an inch longer just to be safe, and four and a half inches wide. I folded it in half inside-out the "long way" and sewed it together. I turned it right-side out, which was ridiculously difficult. About a quarter of the way through, my fingers started cramping, but I pushed through it.

Once it was completely right-side out, I laid it flat with the seam in the middle and ironed it. This was yet another near-impossible task. Vinyl doesn't iron, it melts, even with protective silicone paper. Luckily, since this was to be the back of the belt and the part that would go against the shorts, it didn't matter what it looked like. The front of the belt managed to stay un-melted and looks good. I couldn't get the fabric completely flat, but it's pretty flat anyway. I'm thinking that when I put it through belt loops and around my waist, it'll flatten out more.

The studs that I got are supposed to be iron-on, but I pretty much already knew that ironing them on wasn't going to work, which was the reason I bought the special glue in the first place. I tried ironing them on anyway, but I couldn't get them to stay in place under the silicone sheet. So began the tedious task of gluing every stud on individually. To apply a stud, I'd peel it off of the plastic it sticks to, hold it between my fingers, turn it upside-down, squeeze glue onto the back of it straight from the tube, and then spread the glue with the end of my elastic threader. I'd wipe the extra glue from the elastic threader onto the palm of my hand, which I later learned was a very bad idea.

The bottle of glue reads "Avoid contact with eyes and prolonged contact with skin." Of course, I didn't see that until later, after my palm started burning. So after carefully placing twenty-four studs, I had to stop. I have sixteen more studs left, but I think that covering the whole belt is going to take around 100. It might take a little less, but either way, I need at least one more package of studs. I'm thinking I'll buy those along with some silver pleather for the buckle and finish tomorrow.

Sew Cute (Day 607)

A return trip to JoAnn's today revealed that while Vogue patterns were on sale, they were not 99cents like the McCall's patterns were, they were $3.99. While that is an excellent deal, I already bought ten patterns the day before and didn't need much more, so I didn't get any. I really wanted a bunch of Butterick patterns though, they have an excellent selection of historical patterns, including Civil War era headdresses and Medieval gauntlets and shoes. I'm just waiting for those to go on sale now. Since September is apparently "National Sewing Month" I'm hoping it won't be a long week.

Thankfully, it was not a wasted trip. Anyone who knows me knows that I love puns. A lot. They're my favorite form of joke. While sitting on the floor in the clearance aisle (I wasn't feeling well) waiting for my mom to finish digging through three bins of beads, I was looking around, not really expecting to find anything, just being bored and sick. Then I saw something that completely made my day, a black sign, about two feet long, that read "Sew Cute." It was also 50% off. Of course, I had to get it. It now hangs over the entryway into my sewing area.

As I mentioned, I've been feeling really sick today. I've been having stomach pains for just over a week now, my stomach hurts and I get nauseous every time I eat, no matter what I eat or how much of it I eat. Last night also brought a migraine which I have had over 25 hours now. The migraine was the main reason for me sitting on the floor of JoAnn's. I took extra strength prescription painkillers, put ice on it, put IcyHot on it, ate (to the dismay of my stomach), and took a hot shower. This thing will not go away. Ugh.

Sales! (Day 606)

So it completely slipped my mind that I've been taking advantage of JoAnn's incredible sales lately. Namely, their sales on patterns.

A few weeks ago, JoAnn's had a sale on Simplicity patterns, 5 patterns for $5 (limit 10 per person). I bought 5 patterns, though I wish I had gotten 10.

• Two patterns for two different types of corsets/bustiers just because I really like them
• A Little Red Riding Hood pattern for a later cosplay
• An Alice In Wonderland pattern mostly for fun but also for possible lolita projects
• And a mermaid tail pattern for fun and gijinkas.

This weekend for Labor Day, all McCall patterns, 99 cents each (limit 10 per person), so I bought ten.

• A sweater pattern for, well, sweaters
• A cloak pattern for a White Mage (Final Fantasy) cosplay
• A fairy wing pattern for fun, though I found these free instructions on making custom wings later
• A teddy bear pattern to help me learn to make plushies
• A giraffe, lamb, and pony plush pattern also to help me learn to make plushies
• A cupcake plush/bag pattern (for fun)
• A flower accessory pattern for fun and everyday accessories
• A monster plush/backpack pattern for fun (also makes tissue boxes and crayon box covers)
• A backpack/bookbag pattern (for fun and functionality)
• And a craft tote pattern so that I can make craft totes for both myself and my mom (she does beading and crocheting)

JoAnn's also had 50% off of the notions wall, which included things such as bobbins, pins, elastic, velcro, and hams, glorious, glorious, hams! Now, hams aren't expensive to begin with, but my money's running thin, so there was no way I was missing this. I ended up with a seam roll (pictured left), since it was cheaper (hams were $13, seam rolls were $10). I would describe a seam roll as a combination of a sleeve ironing board and a ham, without really being either one. In any case, I've been wanting both a sleeve board and a ham, and this was the perfect, cheap solution.

Looking at my receipt later, I saved over $120!

I later found out that Vogue patterns were on sale as well, so I'm hoping to go back and snag a few more before the sale is over.

Tutorial, Progress Photos, and Research (Days 589 - 605)

Well, I haven't updated in forever, but I did finally finish my tutorial for Yoko's bikini with iron-on vinyl. It's honestly not spectacular, but hopefully it'll help someone. The tutorial shows the process I went through to make it, with progress pictures, so that's cool on its own, since I've stopped uploading progress pictures to social networking sites as much as I used to.

Progress pictures used to clog up all of my social networking sites, and it really bothered me that they outnumbered the photos I had of finished projects. I don't know why it bothered me, but oh well. I also find it rather boring to look at progress photos without a lot of explanation as to what's going on. So putting them in a tutorial gives them context enough to make it interesting and relevant to me.

So I'd like to start updating this blog more, but I've started classes again, I'm taking a Marine Biology class. It's my favorite subject ever, and so far the teacher's been great, but there is a lot of bookwork that goes with it, so that'll be taking up a lot of my time, in addition to actually working on cosplay.

Since Kin-Yoobi, I've only worked on cosplay a little bit, especially as I've been sick this past week. However, I did find a dress to alter into a skirt for Callie Maggotbone (Ugly Americans), which I'll be debuting at Animation on Display 2012. I've also been looking at demon ears and horns to use for her. I came across this excellent site, aradanicostumes.com, that has horns and ears that I've really taken a shine too. I'm holding out until I look at Spirit Halloween stores though, even though they don't have anything that I like online, they surprisingly usually have more products in-store than they do online.

I'm really stuck on what type of body paint to get though. I've heard really good things about both Kryolan and Ben Nye, I also feel a loyalty to Ben Nye, since it's all I've ever used, and it's the makeup that I learned to do theatrical makeup with. Also, there's a theatrical supply store about a half an hour away from where I live that sells Ben Nye, and I think they'd let me sample it like they did when I went in for my first kit. I don't know where to go to sample Kryolan products.

The only thing that I have decided on as far as body paint goes is that I'm going to get a body paint that seals with a spray, not powder. For my face makeup in cosplay, I use Ben Nye and seal it with a powder, but then any extra powder rubs off on things like my cell phone. Also I sometimes miss parts when powdering. I think (I hope) it'll be easier to cover everything with a spray.

I'm also torn on whether or not to use leggings/tights for, well, my legs. The issue would definitely be matching the leggings to whatever paint I get.

In any case, I'm just hoping that this cosplay won't cost too much. I'm broke. Soon (ish?) I'll be learning to make kigurumi, and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to make some money off of those. Considering most of them that I've seen go for around $50, theoretically, all I'd have to do is lower the price by $5 - $10, and people would be willing to buy them. Theoretically. I just need money.