Backlog (Days 843 - 861)

Alright, so here's what I've been working on as of late and haven't really posted about.

First, Kingdom Hearts Maids Group:
I'm being Aqua (far right)

Amazing fabric purchase at the thrift store
I'm doing this as part of a group that includes Kairi, Namine, and Xion, and we're wearing it on Sunday of Kin-Yoobi Con. Kairi, Namine, and Xion were all going to volunteer for the cosplay cafe, but Xion has to leave the convention before that time, so it's just Kairi and Namine. I would also volunteer, but I have to run a different event at that time.

The first thing I made was the name tags, since I had all of the materials and they were easy. They're roughly the same size, Kairi's and Namine's only look so much smaller because of the angle the photo was taken at. Just today, I found pins to put on the back. Originally I was content with sewing mine directly to my apron, but since I already own the pins, I have no reason not to use them. The name tags are felt with the lettering and outline done in white puff paint. The paint is the same paint that I used on my Pac-man pants, which puffs up when you steam it. I made a test tag and puffed it, but it looked absolutely horrible, so I decided not to do the rest. 

I've also almost finished the apron for Aqua. The color is much better in the previous picture of the fabric. The apron is too long, but it'll be easy to shorten. I already have the fabric cut for the skirt, I just haven't sewn it yet. I'm using the shirt that I used for Maid Yoko, and I'll wearing a white tank top underneath to cover the rest of my back (as Yoko's was bare midriff). I already own the petticoat and thigh-high black stockings (both of which were also used for Maid Yoko).

We're altering the designs slightly, since no one seems to like the random stripe of color on the bottom of the aprons (doesn't really bother me), we're doing colored ruffles instead. I bought ribbon for the ruffles, since it was cheaper than fabric or bias tape.

Next, Baccano! Group!

Miria from "Baccano!"
 I can't even begin to explain how excited I am for this. I live near historic Niles, the place where Charlie Chaplin shot a lot of his movies, and it's also an old train town. On weekends, they run steam trains (other times, they run diesel trains, which earn't ass exciting). So after watching Baccano!, I got the idea to go on the steam trains as the characters.

Now, normally I agree with the widely-accepted idea that cosplay in public (outside of conventions) is a bad idea, however I believe there are a few conditions that this falls under. The clothing in Baccano! is hardly conspicuous, other than being old-fashioned. Niles being the historic town that it is, people dress up to go there very frequently, I have been there on several occasions, not even during festivals or events, and seen people (both men and women) walking down the street dressed in historic clothing. In addition, there's an event going on the weekend that we chose to go, and other people will most likely be dressed up as well. When I went to the train station to get an updated steam train schedule, one of the men working there told me that people come dressed up on the trains quite frequently. I believe that as long as we are polite to other people and more or less keep to ourselves, we will have no problems and everyone will have a wonderful time.

The thrift store never fails!
I decided early on that I would cosplay Miria, as Isaac and Miria are by far my favorite characters from Baccano!. If it weren't for them, I would have stopped watching after probably the third or fourth episode. I chose to do the red dress that she wears on the train, since we're going to be on a train, and it's her most recognizable and least conspicuous outfit. (A close second choice was her Charlie Chaplin outfit because we're going to be in Niles.) I invited a couple of friends along for a group, and before I knew it, my group of four or five grew to about 8, including the photographer (we also have a lot of people saying "maybe").

My original plan was to buy a red dress from the thrift store and alter it, however, many trips proved fruitless, and I nearly gave up. I decided that if one more trip to the thrift store didn't provide anything, I'd just make the entire dress myself (I already had a pattern anyway). Well lo and behold, the perfect dress appeared. Even though it's a size 8 (and I'm like a size -5, I tiny), I tried it on, and it fit! It's a little loose around the waist, but it's doesn't even matter. I went home and discovered that the red fabric that I used for the red triangles on my White Mage robe is a perfect match for the extra ruffle. I love when a cosplay just falls directly into my lap.

The dress as it is now.
I bought black fabric from JoAnn's and long black gloves from Daiso. Also while at JoAnn's, I picket up my first pair of pinking shears, which are the best thing to ever happen to sewing ever. Seriously. I have no idea how I ever did anything without them.

I began by altering the dress adding the extra ruffle. That was super easy. My boyfriend had to hold the dress while I pinned it on though, and he didn't enjoy having pins anywhere near him.Then I took a new friend's advice and cut the top ruffle down the middle and across the top and added it to the sleeves. The black trim around the top will hide the cut edges left from the ruffle.  I cut out the black fabric that I needed for the top and the trim on the sleeves, and added the trim to the sleeves. After that, I did a strange combination of gathering and pleating to get the sleeves where I want them. In the photo, only the sleeve on the left is finished, the one on the right is only partially pinned, which is why it's hanging lower.

Group Cosplays

I've realized that I'm involved in a group cosplay about once a year, and it got me thinking, what are the pros and cons of group cosplay?

The most obvious advantage, I think, is that I get to enjoy my hobby with my friends, instead of by myself. Now, a majority of the time, I enjoy solitude/small groups, more people usually means more drama, but it can get lonely sometimes, so occasionally being with larger groups is really fun! We can sew (read: procrastinate) together, do photoshoots together, and we have an excuse to stick together during a convention. Sometimes it's hard to stay together with bigger groups at conventions because everyone wants to do different things, but if I'm cosplaying with someone, I tend to want to stick with them.

Another advantage is that I get recognized and photographed more! My hard work gets more attention and praise! Groups of people are easier to spot than a single person, and multiple characters together make everyone more recognizable. Also when a group is stopped for a picture, they take up more space and more people notice. In addition, it's more impressive to have a whole group for some reason. It definitely takes more work to get a group together than it does to make a cosplay by yourself.

Being in a group cosplay motivates me more to finish my project than just being by myself. I feel like I have to finish or I'll let other people down. I can live with myself if I don't meet my personal goals, because if I wasn't motivated to finish them, clearly they didn't mean that much to me in the first place, but I can't stand to let other people down. Plus, I definitely know what it's like to have cosplay group members bail, and I don't want to do that to anyone. As I mentioned earlier too, it's fun to work on things together, even if progress is usually slow, at least it's progress!

On the flip-side of things, getting a cosplay group is hard. In the past, I've tried multiple times and failed miserably to get groups together. Luckily, I have a good friend who somehow manages to keep groups together, and she's kind enough to include me in them. (She always seems to suggest really good characters for me too, but that's another story.)

To start, finding people to be in a group is hard. It's best to have people who live nearby so that you can get together to help each-other out and work on things, but cosplayers seem to be scattered pretty far apart. Then you have to keep everyone together. Some people run out of funds or time, some people lose interest, and before you know it, your group of ten has dwindled down to three, and then it just dies. Or at least that's what tended to happen to me.

When I would try to keep people on-track, I always felt like I was nagging, and things no longer became fun. Keeping track of everything and everyone felt like a chore, and I lost motivation quickly. I also ended up choosing people who needed a lot of help, which was fine, but we could never coordinate schedules, and I'm horrible at giving instructions, which resulted in me doing most of the work myself (through my own fault, really).

With a group, I feel like everyone's costume has to be made out of the same materials and in the same style so that it doesn't look like we all just ran into each-other and we look like we belong together. I find that it makes the whole group look cleaner and like it had more purpose. However, in a group, no matter how tightly-knit and skilled everyone is, there are always differing sewing and crafting styles and different ways of looking at things. For example, I choose fabrics based on what the garment is intended to be, like when I cosplayed Yoko, I chose bathing suit fabric for her top, because it's supposed to be a bathing suit. (I didn't always choose fabrics this way.) I have a friend that chooses fabrics based on the way the shine, fold, hang, and move. Both are completely valid ways to choose fabric, both are "correct", and both yield beautiful results, but put the two of us together, and we could probably argue about fabric for a good hour without any results.

Did I mention drama earlier? Because I definitely meant to. Any time you get any group together, there will be drama, cosplay-related or not, it just happens. There's really not much else to say on that.

Number-wise, the drawbacks of cosplaying in a group outweigh the advantages, but life isn't a numbers game, and whether or not cosplaying with a group is "worth it" is completely up to the individual. Personally, I enjoy it about once a year, that's frequent enough for me. The rest of the time, I enjoy cosplaying with my boyfriend, the two of us managing our costumes works out well, and I can get all of the sewing done easily. The times when I cosplay by myself are fun too, I have less to work on and less to worry about in general.

I think that everyone should give group cosplay a shot at least once, because you can't know if you don't like it if you don't try it! I don't mean start a group and then give up or drop out, I mean follow it all the way through to the event where you're wearing all of your costumes. I think it's totally worth it.

Fairs and Bazaars (Days 841 - 842)

Over the last couple of weeks, of course no progress had gotten done, I've been enjoying summer! I went to the county fair a couple of times and went to a small Japanese bazaar put together by a local Buddhist church. I had no idea what to expect from the bazaar, but it ended up being a lot of fun! I actually found the exact fabric that I wanted for my semi-secret cosplay for a great bargain! Eight yards for four bucks! Woo!