Sunday, May 30, 2010

One convention confirmed!

Here we come, Tracon! I finally got myself to book us a hotel and buy tickets to our first convention we attend together in two years. Two years, people! I think we are out with all what has been happening in the Finnish cosplay scene these past few years. Still I have spotted people who I actually recognize and whose works I admire. Couple of them has their own blogs, so spying their progress and is quite easy. I thank you, dear internet.

Needless to say, we are going as Joxter and Muddler from Moomin. Next few weeks we are far away from our costume projects and it doesn’t help that we had a small hiatus this month, because of my commissions and Yoki's entrance exam. The finishing of the costumes is pushed back near to the convention. As always. I’m so happy, that they are in good shape compared to some other late constructions. But what would cosplay be without few frustrating, long nights.

Tracon is a Finnish roleplaying and anime convention held in Tampere, Finland. It has worked its way from a year starting, one day winter con to two day summer con. As a hobbyist from both of the genres, we just can't miss it. And as on our previous cosplay excursion we are accompanied by Karan. This year, we keep snacks with us as a first aid. No more collapsing cosplayers.

Yoki as Snowtrooper, Karan as Chaplin. Pic by Hiron 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Geek pride!

Today is the official Geek Pride Day! The origins and manifesto of this great holiday can be found on all-mighty Wikipedia. There is no denial of us being geeks of some sort. Naturally we will take part of spreading the geekiness on our small corner of the community. And it shall happen with Casualty Cosplay’s own Geeky Alphabets! We loaded a video on Youtube for your enjoyment. After finishing our alphabets I ran into "The Geek Alphabet" post at Geeks are Sexy. Not a coincidence that they are partially same!

Today is also annual celebration known as
Towel Day, which is a tribute for Douglas Adams, the creator of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. To honour the work and memory of this great author keep a towel with you today where ever you go!

Embrace your geekiness, be tolerant and have fun!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nicknacks coming together

It's a pipe! No... really.

Lately we have been working with the small stuff our costumes require. Yoki started working today on a giant safety pin, as I finished Joxter's pipe. I constructed the shape from modeling material, as the package titled. In the frame I used bent aluminium stick and cork from a deodorant container as seen above. The mouth piece is modified from rubber cork and piece aluminium foil.

I must say that the "modeling material" we are using at the moment smells horrible. Yoki stated that it smells like finger paints, but I strictly disagree. Normally I would have bought modeling clay, but in a rush I purchased this current paste of continuous puking from our local craft store. I'm never making the same mistake again... I'm glad that after I painted the pipe the smell got little milder. It will be really interesting to see, if I can resist the urge of gurning while being photographed.

Joxter's pipe and tobacco pouch.

I also suffered minor casualty, when I stuck the hot glue gun straight to my thumb. Now, I has a blister. I got it when I was working on Muddler's tail, which succeeded extremely well damages taken in concideration. The material on the tail and on Joxter's tobacco pouch is recycled leather. Same stuff is used on Muddler's "head" and ears. I will add pictures of them when they are finished.

Muddler's tail.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cosplay nightmares - Pet peeves got nothing

I've had some real cosplay nightmares. They are quite the same as dreams, where you have went to school, work or any public place and you realize that you are naked or you have forgot some crucial part of your clothing. I don't get nightmares too often and I think ones including cosplay or costumes are more frustrating and embarrassing than scary.

One time I had a dream, in which I was in a convention and had a great time until somebody came up to me and asked who I was cosplaying as. I was like... And... Umm... I had no idea! There I was standing in a costume (pretty awesome, I remember) clueless who I was portraying. In another dream I was in a convention again and in cosplay, but I randomly changed parts of it to make it more interesting. I think at the beginning I knew who I was cosplaying as, but the idea was lost quite rapidly. It was truly bizarre. I even got a full body paint to "make the cosplay better".

Now let's move on to reality. If I can form any thought about people's biggest fears with cosplay after reading many pages of forum posts and individual blog entries, I think the nightmares connect with things one can't affect and things where there is money involved. Matters of worry are for example finding trustworthy commissioners, commissioning costumes or parts of it, ordering wigs, having them styled on someone else, having things shipped to you overseas and on time arrivals. I think I personally would crawl in my skin, if I was faced with these kind of issues. More if there is little time to the deadline.

I must admit that I have been avoiding previous issues on purpose. I hate the feeling of not being in charge. And when it's passionate hobby combined with relative amounts of money, I want to know every moment how things are and where they are. I'm also touchy-feely type of a person. I need to see and be able to examine fabrics, materials and products before purchasing. I need to assure myself that I have done all the decisions, even if they later prove not to be the best on my costume. Luckily, we have been able to find the things we need locally.

All the previous has been sweet talk, now let's move on to what the topic is all about.

Some of the true nightmares are the ugly side products emerging from cosplay. I was mad and out of my mind in my little corner of the cosplay community, when I came across thread, which were written by a cosplayer who was outrageously ripped off by a "cosplay commissioner". After searching a little it came obvious that there were more than one case. I don't want to mess with my blood pressure too much, so I'm not going to all the dirty details. They can pretty much be read on the thread and on few similar ones at

Like when making the costumes yourself, I think throughout base work is also necessary when looking for commissioners and cosplay gadgets. It is a shame that opportunists have found such a narrow audience to cheat. And apparently cosplayers are rather easy to cheat. Even I didn't think year ago, when I first heard about commissioning hoaxes that they could even exist. And to the hoaxes even work in both ways! Commissioners have ended up finishing a costume, sending them to the client and then having e-mails where the client claims that the goods have not arrived and they are not going to pay for them. This is just one example from many. Ones that actually got me stunned for quite some time were the cases, where "clients" tried to use their commissioners for money scams with invalid checks.

Because of cosplay scams people have stopped cosplaying or/and stopped making costumes which is sad and a pity, but then again, understandable. Money has been lost, hours of work has been all in vain and long, painstaking battles have been fought because these nightmares. I cheer every time I read that some of the scammers have been caught one way or the other and guys on the good side wins.

Buying costumes is a hush-hush issue here in Finland. People don't speak about them much, so it's pretty unclear from where people buy their costumes. But because costumes are bought and they will be bought still, I think conversation and interaction about commissioners and online shops would be helpful for everyone. Maybe more disappointments could be avoided.

There are trustworthy commissioners, some enthusiastic hobbyists themselves who work genuinely and accurately. There are also cosplayers who will pay from job well done. Do your homework.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hiron explores: Detangling a long wig

I set myself a record few months ago in fiber length, when I bought used wig from a fellow cosplayer. The price was set low, even if the wig was ridiculously long. Long wigs equals tangling, which brought down the cost. I have a cosplay in mind in which I would use the wig, but it's not likely done in near future… Unless I magically turn into well-toned bombshell overnight. Pretty please?

I had thought of trying experimental ways to detangle the wig before and today I bumped into a thread by ChilmarkGryphon on forums and was like "Yeaaaah!". When we were vacuum forming we used silicone spray as a release agent on the molds. At the time I was too busy to think of anything else, but now I think I get inspired by "Detangling discovery: silicone spray lubricant" and start experimenting.

Here is the subject of the experiment. For peace of mind the design of the possible cosplay character will require the wig to be shredded to pieces. Normally I wouldn't go and try techniques I'm uncertain of in a pretty wig like this.
Let's see where this ends up!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Snowtrooper: Third step (Part 1)

These posts might make you think that the construction of the Snowtrooper costume was well planned ahead. But really, it wasn't. I'm just trying to make some sense to it dividing the process in a reasonable manner. It wouldn't be pleasing to read if I had described it as it really was. Maniac.

Let presume that all the ground work is done. Huge amount of references have been collected, material purchases has been done, all the patterns have been drawn and work spaces have been prepared. It’s time to start!

Third step: Production- Soft components

I started from the shoes. The base shoes were fake-Crocs we had bought for 5 euros per pair from a local supermarket. Yoki detached the back straps, because we had no need for them. I made the patterns using scrap fabric wearing the base shoe, like making a shoe cover. This is the idea behind shoe covers by Sarcasm-hime. To make the pattern work, it is recommendable to make a trial version and try it on before cutting it out from the real fabric. Also during the process it doesn’t take too much effort to try the cover on with the base shoe just in case. You might have sewn too similar pieces together and the cover just doesn’t fit on the base. Happened.

Preparing the Crocs.

Based on the references, I chose to do the seams on front and back. Before I started sewing, I authorized Yoki to attach backcloth for each cover piece, while I hot-glued sheet cotton over the top of the sandals to cover the holes and to make them little warmer to use in the wintertime. I sew the shoe covers and linings for clean look. I cut openings on the curve seams to make them set better. To imitate the look of real Mukluk’s I topstitched the seams. This also makes the seams more durable.

Inside of the shoe.

In the back of the shoe, I sew heel tags from fiber fabric for the look, but also to make the shoes sturdy to use, because there was only a sandal as the base. I also kept durability in mind. In our experience, the heel is usually the first to suffer. Because the design for the shoes is loose and the base is a sandal they needed some attachment. We measured rubber band around our ankles and sew them on the sandals to prevent them from falling. Before I attached the cover to the base, I sew on three straps with Velcro for each cover and stitched round shapes on the tip of the shoes.

Complete shoes.

I attached the cover to the shoe with hot glue. It worked with the materials, but I don't recommend hot glue for fake leather or leather covers and base shoes. They tear easily. After the covers was attached I cut all the excessive seam allowance I had left on the bottom of the cover. I glued strips of craft foam around the base of the shoes for finished look. The hollows which were left between the foam band and the sandal I filled with hot glue. At the time I couldn't think of any other filling material which would be easy to apply in small gaps and which would be somewhat flexible. Yoki painted flat studs with metal grey miniature for the details on the back of the shoes. Note to self: buy latex paint for the soles, because spray paint will flake.

Pouches I chose to do mirrored. Some people make them identical.

Next I moved to the clothing made from flannel. In other words everything, pants not included. For the pouches I used pattern from The Definitive How To - Snowtrooper. For finished look lining was added. In the movie the gloves was originally gardening gloves, but because I like to do everything myself, I made them. Pattern I used can be found from here. I had to enlarge it about 5%, because the proto made from the original pattern was quite tight and I worked with woven cloth. Lastly, I added trimming from tricot.

Gloves with the armor plates.

The jacket was relative easy to sew. Structures were easy to accomplish, even if the corners on the front took some thinking. I seem to forget how to make strict corners, even if I have done them repeatedly in my projects. Velcro attachment I sewed in the interface of the topmost flap so that the stitches would not be visible on the bodice. For the lining I used white batiste and flannel on the hem part. I wanted it to look and feel little heavier that what it would have been with batiste and of course, because the inside of the hem is rather visible. Batiste would have looked ridiculous. I added shoulder pads for build look between the bodice and interface.

Velcro attachment.

I topstitched all the borders of the jackets few millimeters from the edge. Based on the references, I topstitched the hem about centimeter from the edge. Because there was some added looseness on the lining of the top part of the jacket, I added reinforcement stitches on the waist seam to prevent the hems flannel lining "dropping and sagging". Belt loops I added after we had our armor parts ready for right alignment.

Front view of the duster.

Back view of the duster all wrinkly.

The pants I made full length. I sew the zipper on the side of the pants for comfort. I didn't want add it under the crotch piece of the armor for obvious reasons. I thought about adding half lining on the pants, but in the end I didn't find them necessary.

Jabba approves!

I will gladly give more detailed information about making of the clothes, their structures and patterns if there's interest.