So 2014 is coming to a close, and it’s been an eventful year. I figured I’d do a little evaluation and share some musings so if nothing else I can look back at this next year and see how things have changed.
With regards to cosplay this year has been pretty busy and that’s entirely my own fault. I made 15 new costumes and revamped 4, biting off far more than I could chew! Regardless, I’m still quite happy with how they turned out. Here’s all of the costumes I made this year in a fancy collage;
Looking at this I can barely even remember making some of these, and despite what you might think I actually took a few breaks from cosplay this year. January-April were actually quite relaxed, and I added a lot of costumes because “why not!”. But it’s been a fun (and tiring!) year.
A lot of costumes were really easy; Colette, Maya, Karol, James, Sakura and Anna were all made in less than a week each, and while they might not be as polished as I’d normally want, I’m still quite proud of how they turned out considering the time frame they were made in, especially considering most of them didn’t use patterns. Sometimes you just don’t need them anymore.. I’m pretty sure I can make circle skirts in my sleep, haha.
I have no idea what I’m writing, so I’m going to catergorise some thoughts to try and make it a bit easier to read. I just want to put my thoughts somewhere.
☆ LEARNING CURVES ☆
☆ James was a pile of fabric one day and a costume the next, and his boots were made in an hour. I still don’t know how that happened. This was a dream costume of mine (however simple) and it was nice to mess around in a comfy, casual costume for once.
☆ Sakura was made so quickly and yet I still think I did a nice job on her for it being so thrown together. I commissioned a wand from Chompworks and put the wheels in motion. I got all of the fabric and accessories easily – all I needed was to manically make the dress, pray that 18 metres of horsehair braid from eBay would arrive in time, and put it together. It’s far from perfect and I hate that the braid pokes an extra line into the fabric, but it was still really nice to see what I could achieve in less than a week from start to finish. I also love Sakura to bits and have wanted to make her for years so it was nice to at long last!
☆ Jude was a project I started “because I was bored”, and it was really tedious doing all of the applique. Even now not all of it is exact and matches up, but it really tested my patience to plan something so thoroughly, because everything had to fit perfectly. Normally I eyeball everything, and rarely measure, so this was really tough for me! I’m hoping to do a shoot with Lex Cosplay as Milla next year.
☆ Anna was started a week before Christmas Eve – it was never about accuracy, or about being “perfect” – it was about making a Frozen costume to wear at work and to have fun with. The wig was my Nanoha wig restyled so it wasn’t accurate but was all I had at the time and the shirt was bought, but it looked like Anna and that’s all that mattered. And that in itself was a nice thing to learn, to be honest. I focus so much on making things specifically to references or that must be 100% accurate I forget it’s about having fun and get frustrated instead. It was nice being able to make something and add little details in here and there, forget a few things, and just have fun with it rather than stressing out.
☆ COMPETITIONS ☆
I aimed to enter 3 competitions this year, all of them in the space of one month. As it happens I only ended up entering 2, and in a way it’s been a blessing in disguise based on personal circumstances.
☆ Madoka was started last September and finished in February. I’m still not happy with her, but there’s always room to improve. I want to reshape the bodice and change the fastenings before I wear her again, and reshape the fitting on the skirt. The bodice is easily the worst part, and I hate how it crinkles when worn. But it paid off despite flaws, and I got 2nd Place at SunnyCon this year with her.
☆ Alisha was my biggest project this year, and because of her a lot of other things suffered. I’d never made armour before, and simply didn’t have enough time to finish her properly. The greaves still need priming properly, but for now I’m happy to leave them be. I spent time over 2 months working on her, and though I don’t like my wig or the dress fitting, I’m still kind of happy with how it all turned out. From working with around 5 reference pictures I think I did quite nicely for such a big project. And again, it paid off, getting me Runner-Up at the Tales of Ambassador Competition at Japan Expo.
☆ But then things turned sour, as I only had 3 weeks left to make two costumes for the UK qualifiers at European Cosplay Gathering (ECG). They were Lynne & Sissel/Yomiel from Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for myself and my boyfriend Arphrial, two costumes I’d actually had planned since around October 2013. But as things went I had less and less time to work on them. Japan Expo had eaten a lot of my time and Alisha took much longer than I’d expected. So by the time Japan Expo had ended and I got home, I only had 1 wig “almost finished” and pieces of a suit roughly cut out (both for Sissel). By some miracle though, and despite working tons of hours at work and busting my butt when I got home both costumes got finished in time, and are actually really well made for how little time I had. I was especially happy with the fitting of my costume, which curves in and out as Lynne herself does, using fancy pattern trickery. I’m really proud of how they turned out. It’s just a shame we don’t have many photos of them yet.
Of all of the costumes I made, these two challenged me the most. I wanted them to look cartoony and fun, but fit well and be suitable for performing. Everything was perfect, except one thing – timekeeping. By the time we arrived in London after an 8 hour coach journey and attempted to practice our performance, Arphrial hadn’t even listened to the audio. It was obvious we had no freaking idea what we were doing and we were doomed. I’d been sewing for the 3 weeks beforehand, made a set in a day, cut and fixed our audio in an afternoon and though it felt like it was finally all falling into place, we realised we couldn’t do it. We could wear them and look the part, but our performance was awful because we’d never had time to rehearse, and we didn’t know our stage prompts. Ghost Trick is a game that I absolutely adore, and I’d wanted to cosplay from it for years to share that adoration. But it deserved better than us. So after discussing our options we bailed and dropped out.
Normally I’d have said to ad-lib or improvise, but our performance involved dancing. We had no choreography to follow, no time to practice. Last thing I wanted to do was look like an idiot. A good costume won’t save you if you make a tit of yourself. So yeah, all things considered, I learned a lot making Lynne & Sissel, probably more than I ever expected to learn. One final thing I learned was that fosshape is a bugger and I am no good with it.
It was a hard decision, but cosplay isn’t worth losing sleep over, and though I did sit and sob for a long time in the hotel room, I think it was the best thing for us to do. And if nothing else we got some kickass costumes out of it. Not that we’d have stood a chance at getting through anyway, seeing the competition on the day. If we had spent more time on ECG everything else leading up to it would have suffered too. Japan Expo was great, but more than anything I loved being involved in the Tales of events – I took part in two “stage shows” based on Tales of games. Being a big part of that with friends was much more important.
☆ MOVING INTO 2015 ☆
So what’s ahead? Well, 2015 is looking quiet so far for me, which is nice. I have a few large projects ahead, which I’m really looking forward to over making lots of small costumes.
I got really upset after ECG this year, so I’m really wanting to better myself. I kept telling myself I was the weak one, I was the one to blame when things went wrong, it was my fault if nothing got finished, but once everything fell apart I thought to myself, “maybe that’s not true”. I’m very self-critical and I always feel like a failure when things go wrong. But having to stop because of someone elses downfall was actually kind of.. refereshing..? in the strangest way possible.
I’ll admit that towards the end of the year where I made 5 costumes in 2 months it was more therapeutic than anything else. I don’t want to go into anything specific, but the last 3 months of 2014 have been very difficult, and costuming is a nice way for me to lose myself and focus on something I enjoy rather than dwelling on what was happening around me. I know this isn’t the best remedy, in fact it’s quite destructive, but it’s a way for me to cope and feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. I mean, cosplay is a hobby so it’s never really “worthwhile”, but at least I have something to show at the end of it, you know?
This leads on to money. Cosplay is a timesink and also a moneysink. And no, making so many costumes is not cheap. Sometimes I have spare fabric, but sometimes I have nothing and have to buy everything from scratch, which can cost a small fortune. So a big aim for me is to cut down and take my time and sort out my finances. I need to move house in 2015 and I want to try and get a new job, so I need to work at that instead of at my hobby. I’m also a walking wreck due to my joints, so it’ll be nice to relax a little more than work myself to the bone.
On a happier note I now have a big backlog of costumes I really want shoots for, so it’s not as if I haven’t got anything to keep me occupied! Fixing up costumes and getting photos is one of my favourite things about this hobby, and it’ll save me making anything new, so that should keep me active anyway.
☆ COSTUMES FOR 2015 ☆
So 2015 is a year of quality over quantity. No more making costumes in a week, no more “I’ll do it, why not!”. Instead I want to be more organised, and take my time with things to do them properly. So far I have 6 new costume plans, and two of them are just “maybes”. But hopefully I won’t add much more to this list. And if I do, hopefully it’ll be with rational thinking!
☆ Ramirez Skies of Arcadia – planned for ECG. A costume I have always wanted to make. So far I have the wig and materials for the shirt, cape, cincher and muffler. This is a biggie for me and I really want to take my time to make the costume and performance perfect.
☆ Marth Fire Emblem, Smash Bros Wii-U Version – planned just because, I’ve wanted to cosplay Marth for years but never have and this is as nice an excuse as any. I don’t have any materials so far, so this will probably be a project for a little later in 2015. I want to take my time on this one and goodness knows I want to make that cape.
☆ Ludger Will Kresnik Tales of Xillia 2 – planned for the Tales of Ambassador competition. I’m really hoping I haven’t made a bad choice with this one, I don’t think I suit him, but I do have a fun performance lined up. I have the wig and shoes finished, and have the majority of the materials.
☆ Anise Tatlin Tales of the Abyss, Yukata Version – a fun costume to join the Tales of Cheesia crew at Japan Expo. We’re planning some fun festival themed events and this costume will be cheap and fun to do. Already have the wig, Tokunaga and the pink fabric for the yukata.
☆ Chikane Himemiya Kannazuki no Miko – another costume I have always wanted to make, to match Yuka as Himeko. Truth be told we’ve had these planned since before WCS 2013, but they never happened. I’m hoping they will this year. I have the wig, but no materials yet.
☆ Meroko Yui Full Moon wo Sagashite – and another to go with Yuka as Takuto, and hopefully Arphrial as Izumi! This has also been planned since before WCS 2013 but never happened. So far I don’t have anything for this, but I’m waiting to see when it’s for before buying materials.
So, that’s pretty much it. Kudos if you actually read this, and all the best for 2015.