Category "Learning Curves"

2016 in Review

2016 is almost over, and what a year it’s been!

This year I made 9 new costumes, flew over to the Netherlands for Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup with PopcornKuma, and somehow qualified for European Cosplay Gathering. It’s been a heck of a ride! If you’d like to know more, please read on.

Continue reading…

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Learning Curves: Fixer-Upper

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Kicking things off with the first photoshoot of 2015! Felixize, Arphrial, my sister and myself went off on a castle adventure to get some photos of Alisha from Tales of Zestiria to prepare for the game’s launch in Japan on 22nd January!

This is just a glimpse of the shoot for now, I’ll be uploading a complete photoset later. But before we went off for photos, I fixed a lot on the costume. Looking back at the previous photos there was a lot I wasn’t happy with, and with no other costumes on the go I figured I’d take the time to fix her up. It’s still not perfect, but what an improvement a few hours work made to the costume. I won’t go on too long, but I wanted to write up a few improvements I made.

The original costume was very “boxy” for lack of a better term. It made me look wide. So after careful pinning, I took in the dress by a few inches at the waist, and took in the side trim on the tunic to make it more fitted. It’s not that noticeable on first glance but it makes the costume hang much nicer, too. The bodysuit had the shorts shortened and the neck taken in to help create the point on the collar. Also small changes, but ones that made a huge difference – my legs looked thinner, neck looked longer, etc.

I also remade the socks completely. Before I wore plain white socks with the suspender panels pinned to them. This time I made them from scratch and attached the suspenders with snap fasteners. The tops were made as single panels and attached to black legs. They’re much more accurate and more comfortable to wear, too!


But the biggest improvement was the wig. The wig is actually the same one as before, just with a bit of effort involved. The fringe was far too thick before, and the ponytail was too condensed. It looks like two lumps on my head instead of hair. So I thinned, trimmed and roughly styled it to match the reference. Her hair is quite messy on the reference and I hate “anime style” wigs, so I went for a more natural take on her hairstyle, but still with the different lengths. I look back on the wig before and wonder how I ever thought it looked okay… I think the updated style is a HUGE improvement, and really ties the whole costume together.

Surprisingly (and frustratingly) none of the armour needed any fixing, despite being my first attempt and not being something I’m good at. Ho hum. I was both glad and a little peeved that everything still worked and looked good, where the sewing (the bit I was most proud of) needed fixes left, right and centre. I guess I’ll know for next time!

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Still, when I made Alisha I had around 5 very rough references to hand, and despite having next to nothing to work from I don’t think the costume turned out badly at all. It’s actually kind of nice now that there is more information and references to see how it compares! The main differences are things like the bodysuit – Alisha has a blouse and shorts instead, with a suspender belt to hoist her stockings. But all of this is covered by the dress and tunic anyway, so I’m not planning to remake it.

Other little details like the front of the pink dress I guessed from previous Tales designs, and to my joy it’s pretty much spot on too. So everything worked out pretty well. Again, not everything is accurate, but from the few references I had at the time I’m pretty happy with it. And as long as I keep improving it I can’t see any reason not to be!

2015 has been a nice year of reflection and improvement so far – let’s hope it keeps up!

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2014 in Review

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. Continue reading…

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Learning Curves: Alicia, Part Two

Alicia. Why are you taking so long? Stop being so needlessly detailed and we’ll be friends. As said last time, this costume has the lovely tagline of “I have no idea what I am doing”, and this is still true. But somehow things are pulling together and she should be ready for Japan Expo this July!

Right now the costume is about 90% finished and there’s only a few things left now – some extra trimming/styling on the wig, making the belts, and finishing the gauntlets! They’re all annoying jobs but I can’t wait until they’re finished. Here’s the reference and how it’s looking so far;

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Being perfectly honest the whole costume has been kind of frustrating, even things like the dress were a bit of an ache – sorting the patterning was hard and the square details were really messy and awkward to do but it has turned out tidy and as accurate as it can be for how many references there are. But it looks tidy!

The armour is coming along quite nicely, and the boots are now complete. They’re not as tidy as the gauntlets, but they look pretty neat for my first attempt, and they’re functional! (This still amazes me). The shapes were particularly hard to do since it needed to be fitted around the ankle and wider at the top, but once I figured them out it was pretty easy to assemble. Everything is made with craft foam and worbla.

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Unfortunately a lot of the armour has been compromised because I’m running out of time, so the boots aren’t fully primed, but they will do for now and I can always smooth and respray them later if I need to. You can see them completed in the photo at the top. The plastic kind of digs into my knees… but it’s not all bad, at least it keeps my posture in check!

So now I’m on the final stretch which is awesome. The gauntlets are the only big job left, and they’re almost done too. To be honest I can’t wait until this costume is finished so I never have to look at worbla again!

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Learning Curves: Alicia

I’ve been considering using this blog for some more musings, and with my current project I figured there’s no better time. I’ve been working on Alicia from Tales of Zestiria, the newest Tales of title to be announced. The design is absolutely gorgeous and I figured it’d be a fun challenge to try and make something a bit different.

This costume has the tagline of “I have no idea what I am doing”. Quite rightly so. I am pretty confused how this costume is even working, to be honest. Not that I’m complaining!

So here’s an article with what she looks like:


I can sew things reasonably well and I usually make things with my own patterns, but this costume is different. Unlike most Tales of costumes I’ve made I don’t have a 3D model here and there are only a few references out right now, all of them with inconsistencies. There’s also armour on the costume which I’ve never tried before – I’m not very good at sculpting or making things with my hands, so it’s a pretty big costume project for me, especially considering how impatient I am.

So I figured I’d throw some progress up here to show how things are working out so far and to show the fruits of my labour so far!

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So here’s the first bits of progress on the tunic and emblem; at first I painted the emblem and frankly it was a complete mess. So I scrapped it and embroidered it instead – it was machine embroidered in 12 seperate sections and had to be aligned bit by bit, which made it a long, difficult task, but the final result is pretty snazzy!

The tunic was patterned around the embroidered panel and is cut in one long piece including the front from an original pattern. The sleeves were also originally patterned to include the cut under the arm and the piping, which was pretty challenging but worked out nicely. This time spent on this tunic is probably the longest I’ve spent on a single garment for a costume and was a huge test of patience.

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And here’s some armour progress! So far these are the bracer panels. The base skeleton is made from yoga mat foam and covered in Worbla (available in the UK from Coscraft). Worbla is a heat activated mouldable thermoplastic material that hardens as it cools and is really easy to shape for armour or accessories. It’s my first time really using it on a big scale and it’s great stuff, a bit heavy when moulded but really sturdy and easy to use. It also moulds to itself so I’ve not used any glue here!

Once the armour shapes have been shaped I’ve been finger painting polyfilla onto each piece and smoothing it with water. Because the pieces are quite big altogether it’s taking a while but it’s turning out pretty nicely. Once the polyfilla has dried, I’m going to coat everything with a few layers of gesso and sand everything to smooth down the layers before spray painting the panels. It’s annoying waiting between layers, though, since the polyfilla and gesso take 2+ hours to dry per layer, and there’s tons to go!

The black panels at the top are made from clear sheets of thin polypropylene, which was spray painted black. This was also pretty terrifying. I tried making them from 3mm acrylic which went horribly wrong, whereas this stuff bends and paints and cuts so easily.


Hopefully things are gonna continue to go smoothly here, but I guess I’ll see. So far it’s pretty frustrating having to wait but I’m really excited to see how this costume turns out. I’m due to wear it at Japan Expo, Paris, this July, so I’ve got just over a month to go!!

…That and once it’s finished, I can finally say I’ve done an ‘armoured’ costume and never have to make one again!

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