Monday, November 29, 2010

Striping fabric with scraps

In some previous post, I wrote that I used scrap pieces of cotton to stripe fabric. I didn’t want to use fabric marker because it looked too uneven for my taste or buy ribbon because the cost would have been considerable. Now I try to explain how I made the stripes. Of course you could buy bias tape, but it doesn’t necessarily work if you’d like the width to be different from the available selection.

Depending on the base fabric, you need to cut the stripe fabric on lengthwise grain or bias; lengthwise for regular fabrics and bias for stretchy fabrics. Go through your scrap fabrics. Pick a fabric that is preferably not as thick as the base fabric. I had just the opposite and I noticed that the thicker stripes crinkled the base fabric a little. Try to find a piece to cover the length of the stripe. You can either stripe a whole fabric or already cut pieces.

Cut the fabric about three times the width you would like the stripe to be. I advice you to make some test runs with the stripes, because the width depends pretty much from your sewing habits. In my case, I made a stripe about 0.5 centimeter width and started with a piece of 1,5 centimeters width. Draw the pieces next to each other and cut them out one at a time. The larger the piece is you are handling, the easier it’s to manage. Especially the lasts pieces are hard to cut if you don’t have enough space to hold the fabric and more if it’s slippery. Use sharp-sharp scissors.

Draw lines as markings for the stripes to the base fabric. In the end the marking will probably vanish underneath the stripes, but do try that the marking pencil can easily be washed out. Tightly fitted clothes are harder to stripe than straight ones. For example straight legged trousers are really easy, while with skinny ones you need to do decisions about curving the stripes or accepting the collisions with the seams and stripes. Of course reference pictures may give you direction, which to follow.

When sewing the stripes on the fabric, line the edge next to your markings. The allowance on the inner edge depends on your sewing, but it should be less than the desirable width of the stripe. I sew the stitch little under half a centimeter from the edge. This way the allowance won’t peek under the stripe, the result being neat and tidy.

After stitching the piece on, iron the stripe to overlap the allowance. Then with iron or using your nails, fold the broader “allowance” in half so that the outer edge follows the stitch line, but doesn’t preferably go over it. The structure will be thicker if so. Then sew the stripe from the loose side.

I left my stripes with one over stitch, because they are not visible from normal distance. Black is rather forgiving color in this case. Of course the stripe can be overstitched twice if balanced look is pursued. I tried making narrower stripes also. It’s possible, but requires some finger agility and nerves to achieve.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mirroring Mireille

I’ve had these process pictures of Mireille hanging on my picture folder for quite some time... about a month. I kind of went and bought the fabrics for Mireille a day after the post, in which I announced the idea of cosplaying this assassin chick. I couldn’t resist the urge, obviously. I don’t have images from the skirt yet, it still needs to be finished.

In the picture I’m wearing a corset underneath the top. I’m bit exited to be able to wear a corset first time for cosplay. The belt is just a prop and it’s slightly too high; Mireille’s narrow belt sits, at least sometimes, little lower.

I’m still looking for nice pair of base shoes to create the footwear. I have almost dumped the idea of finding a pair of boots close to the design. The height of the ankle part is not common and the shapes on the tip of the shoe and on the heel are more likely to be found in pumps than in boots. The other thing I still need to work on is the gun. I haven’t found any toy guns, other than serif’s pistols which I could modify. I did find some nice airsoft pistols, but they were bit too expensive to be used only as prop.

But there is no hurry for me to finish this cosplay. Taking the weather and the amount of fabric in this costume in concideration, I think I’ll wait for the summer.

And the wig needs some styling. I could start with a comb. Seriously.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"WCS? I don't know what you are talking about..."

Pair who will be representing Finland in World Cosplay Summit 2011 was chosen few weeks ago. Congratulations! I don’t recall many pairs with two male representatives in the two years time Finland has been one of the competing countries. Guys are commonly the underdogs amongst roaming chick hoard when speaking of cosplay, so it’s nice that Finland stands out with this setting. And I think that the finalist will represent Finnish cosplay well, not only because of testosterone.

This year was also bit different from the previous ones in few ways. One, Finnish cosplayers blog now. Two, they bravely speak their minds. The low number of participants on the WCS preliminaries has been one of the main subjects in many, many blogs and forum entries. I do agree that four is too few. But what can you do?

Participate! After quick recovering time Finnish cosplayers started to throw challenges to various directions and generally encourage people to step up and compete. I’m really looking forward to next year, because 2011 preliminaries will possibly be toughest one ever. Regarding that, I hope that there will be some kind of prequalification round or rather monitoring for the competitors, so that the last minute cancellations could somehow be minimized. Withdrawals are the greatest curse with cosplay competitions in our country. People seem to be too keen to sign up, but not being able to conquer their shyness, stage fright or what ever.

And what we are going to do? Participate! I threw the idea for Yoki last summer to chew up and we quickly came to decision that we just need to take part. After the preliminaries we were more certain that we will be there to increase the number of the competing pairs. That is, if we even fit in.

In the future there might not be as many posts here on our blog, at least costume construction updates and process pictures will decrease. I don’t want to leak precious plans to our opponents! Even if I’m really eager to do so.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sneak peek clip uploaded

We simply couldn't wait any longer, so here is little something. This is just a foretaste from things to come. We have too many ideas for these guys!

Because it's Father's Day, we want to dedicate this clip and all the future ones involving whiteys to Esa, our metal expert, who build a vacuum forming table from scratch!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Redoing takes wits

We are currently redoing some parts of Yoki’s Snowtrooper costume, completing it and making one for me. The main reason behind the reconstruction is partly new insight on the references and partly the hurry we were in last winter. Mostly we need to redo attachments and some detailing. For my outfit there is some vacuum forming ahead for the armor parts and finishing touches for the clothes. But I’m not going to write about the making in general, but my feelings towards the second take on the process. The process being preparing the vacuum forming molds, which is not really my cup of tee.

For me, beside wits, this second take acquires guts, patience and nerves. Of course it’s nice to improve and make the costume better, but getting back to things for which I have cursed for once already doesn’t appeal to me much. And when you are not actually redoing parts of the costume, but the molds for them… Aah, I don’t have words to describe the atmosphere at times. Yoki really has to bear various feelings when we are in the same room working. She suggested that we could do behind the scenes vid from making of the Snowtroopers and I immediately proposed that I could run around doing angry “bawabawa” sound while going. And that is not even exaggerated. I know what I can be alike.

We don’t even need to do a pile of molds, just one. Four or five needs tweaking and fixing. The thing is that it’s just so slow! The process of cutting, sanding, puttying, sanding, varnishing three times and taking two steps back and then continuing gets gruesome at times. It can take three days to prepare a mold. Three days and nothing new is born. Three days!

We have thought of redoing Sasori and Deidara for a while now and that actually sounds appealing. The costumes are years old and our skills have improved both in sewing and fabric selection. It also would be nice to get creative with Sasori’s puppet body after years of experience with various materials and methods. Sasori and Deidara are as well characters that I think we won't stop cosplaying for a while. They have too much to offer to be retired yet.

When thinking about redoing Sasori and Deidara, I noticed that one reason why I find it hard to work now is that I have never got to wear the Snowtrooper. I think I might be less frustrated if I had worn the costume myself already, so I could look at it subjectively. Getting out on the costume is the goal for me as a cosplayer and now the completion is missing.

Cosplay is about moods. Drastically changing moods if put more precisely. It’s almost necessary for a complete experience to go from utter desperation to giggly satisfaction. With Snowtrooper I have experienced only the negative side, which really affects the working atmosphere. That’s why the redoing this particular project feels like there is no end to it.

But gladly I have seen a ray of light. When the costumes are ready I’m sure that I will be proud of them and from the things I have learned during the project from new techniques and from myself. Cosplay is also about persistence and conquering yourself... Or that I'm trying to convince myself at least.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zombiewalk with Samara Morgan

I started with the Samara’s dress about one and a half weeks before Halloween. Patterning and sewing took little time, dyeing ate the majority. I started with the dyeing in the evening, so that I could continue on the morning, let the fabric dry when I was at work and then start the cycle again. I bended some rules with the dyeing and was quite happy with the result. There were few mishaps, but the final result was better than I had expected. Over all the material choices, technical solutions and structures worked well. I’m pleased that I chose to line the whole dress, even if I thought it would be pointless to see the effort for Halloween costume.

First I thought Samara would only be qualified as a Halloween costume. Boy, how wrong was I. Through my costume history Samara might be the one I have enjoyed the most as an event outfit. Even the fact that the make-up took approximately two hours didn’t bother me. There were no props to be handled, the costume was comfortable to wear and acting like the character didn’t require much. Mostly I just stared in front of me, face as blank as possible. Probably slightly evilishly.

I think that the happening, where I wore the costume affected the experience also. Even if Samara isn’t practically zombie, Zombiewalk might have been the best event to take part in this particular outfit. The character was recognized by many and I lost count how many people wanted to take photo WITH me. That was rather new to me. Usually there are one or two scenarios like that at conventions. Now I even got stopped during the walk itself. I must say, it was flattering and fun.

Photo taken by Tommi Joutjärvi.

The walk itself went well with few interruptions on the way. I want to thank my companion, who went with me with short notice, that being a day. Weirdly and also little sadly, it wasn’t Yoki who attended with me, but my older brother. Thanks to our LARP background, it wasn’t hard for him to scrape together an outfit. On the five minute drive to the starting point of the walk, I made him a pale, sunken eye make-up. I have no idea how it really looked like. It was too dark everywhere to evaluate the result.

During the walk we had some problems keeping track of each other. My brother’s vision was blocked by a scarf and mine by hair. I was able to follow him by voice, while I myself hobbled forward without a sound. The next evening the limp walking style proved to be straining. My right calf was stiff and sore for the extent where I could not walk properly and my lower back felt little weird. Samara survived without a scratch. Keeping eye on the next wear, I only need to take off the excess glue and toilet paper from the cuffs of the “skin sleeves”.

My brother is the faceless lurker behind me on the far left. Photo was taken by Tommi Joutjärvi.

As cosplay fan video nerd, there are few additional ideas I’ve been pondering, the weather just aren't the best for them. But that is for sure that Samara will be seen in the future.

The next time Zombiewalk is organized I’m going to drag Yoki with me. Take a notice, old friend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Second moment uploaded

Second clip from series of Sasori-Deidara moments has been uploaded on our Youtube account. It's a first vid were we used separate audio clips for monologue. It's my voice, if anyone wonders. I just happened to have a flu, which made me sound like I have drinked little too much of Whisky. Half of the footage was shot over a month ago, while the other half, the diary takes were shot today. Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remember, remember the Fifth of November

Fifth of November, Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night… You name it. Even if it's an annual celebration (not in Finland though ) we don’t celebrate it for the traditional reason, but because of V for Vendetta, an awesome story, comic, movie and piece of anarchy… and because we are bit nerdy too. Long story made short; Yoki came for a visit and we decided to put up our own feast with eggs in the baskets and fake facial hair... and we are also going to get some stuff ready during this weekend. Stuff, in this case means parts of Snowtrooper costumes and one, possibly even two clips.

Until the next update enjoy this verbal and visual fireworks V-style by chrissilich!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cosplay thrill junkie

Last Friday it started in half way of my workday. It was like my stomach was replaced by whirligig. Two hours before I could leave, I was going through the steps my make-up would require and in what order to put on the different pieces of the costume. I also made a schedule for the whole process; how long did the glue take to dry, when could I eat and were there time for fix things if I screw something up. When I was free I cycled to home like I had a hole in my head and got almost hit by a car. I got home with pounding heart, excitement tossed me around my flat before I halted and said myself, “Okay, now I’m going to take advantage of you”. “You” being cosplay thrill, anxiety to dress up, curiosity to see the impact of your costume and longing for the gratification of your work.

I have performed for ten years and I’ve had only few serious stage frights. Usually I only have a nice itch before the show starts. The process of putting on the costume is like preparing to take the stage. First appearance in costume is like a launching party of an actor. My pre-costume thrill is little negative like a bad stage fright. It makes me impatient, sloppy and nervous. It takes deep breaths to harness the anxiety and turn it to positive energy. But when it’s achieved, the concentration is on its own class and it’s easy to drive determinately towards the wished result. In other words, the good cosplay thrill is starting to kick in. When at stage it works the same way. The excitement turns to a power source; it makes you more sensitive and shows you that you care of what you are doing.

Theater and cosplay aren’t so different for me; both of them keep me interested because of the atmosphere, relations between the “show” and “audience”. From acting I have learned that I want to make people feel and part of anxiety before the performance is the urge to see how you manage to do it. Finnish audience is in a way ungrateful, because it restrains reactions. As a difference between theater and cosplay, in theater you are performing an act; the audience might just be interested in the text itself or in the work of the director. Some might only be there for public relations.

In cosplay the reactions are produced by you and your creations. The audience is everywhere. You can raise feelings in people who don’t even know what cosplay is. Compliments or only long looks assure you that you have done well and that is something I’m aiming for. The best thrills I get just before stepping out in costume, where it from car to convention area or from my apartment to the staircase. The pleasant, tickly feeling makes me smile stupidly even if I try to keep a straight face.

I want to make an impact with my work and what could be better demonstration of it than horrified screams of teenage girls or tipsy young man inquiring had I bathed in well recently. It's the best reward one could have. For a moment, in random encounter at random place you feel you have something in common with that particular bar fly, who obviously likes horror movies. Your performance has been accepted and it has touched someone, raised curiosity and questions or need to stare just a moment longer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Soul Society transports Zanpakutos through Finland... Whaat?!

I had to rub my eyes this morning when I read this news title from Finnish tabloid site: Finland's exports samurai swords in secret to Russia. That and the picture included made me laugh a little. Kira Izuru, you sneaky bastard, you illegally ship your sword through here! Shame on you!