Thursday, November 21, 2013

Onwards with the sound of her wings

After big projects I usually make a statement to my friends and family that I’m going to have a vacation from costume making… Who am I kidding here! Every time I make that promise, I’m back at our workshop few days later! Before I tried to redirect or suppress my urge to make something, but now I think I’m at a point that I don’t even want to fight against it. For me, creativity is just something that keeps me going and makes me happy! So yes, me and my sewing machine have had quality time together during past weekends!

Ten years ago I dressed up for penkkarit, which is a traditional masquarade when you are on your last year at upper secondary school in Finland. I didn’t know about cosplay back then, but the basic idea was the same; I was portraying a certain character from certain comic issue with clothes, props and make-up.

As a teenager I read a lot of fantasy literature and somehow found Neil Gaiman and the comics he wrote. And I totally and utterly fell in love with the character of Death in a form of perky gothic girl. Back then I dressed up as casual Death with jeans and tank top, which is her best know outfit. I was so proud of the costume, even if no one except my friends recognized me. I actually didn’t sew the clothes, because I didn’t have much experience or skills back then. Instead I bought white jeans and dyed them black, because apparently back jeans were really hard to find… Borrowed boots and tophat from my friend, altered a tank top and bought an umbrella. Sadly, I have no photos from the get up. Probably it’s better that way, since there is a high change that time plays its tricks with me and the costume was an utter disaster!

Ten years have passed since my first portrayal of a fictional character. Because I’m still in love with Neil Gaiman, The Sandman and endearing Death, I thought what would be a better idea than to take a second round with her. And now that new volumes are published, I couldn’t have chosen a better time!

Make-up test with white cream make-up and a random black wig.

This time I wanted to make more complex outfit from Death’s wardrobe and chose the formal wear from Season of Mists. The outfit includes a tulle skirts, a blouse with corset and satin gloves.

It was nice to make a corset for a change! I patterned it so that it has some traits of corsets made in 1700’s with flat bust and shoulder straps. The references I gathered shows that Death’s corset has lacing on front. I wanted to make my version so that it would be laced from the back. I wanted my corset to be more of amanipulative one and with back lacing it would be easier to tighten. As a result of this reasoning I made the lacing on the back and a fake lacing on the front. All those eyelets and my fingers… Outch!

With the shirt I made something that I have sworn not to do ever again! I layered organza with another type of fabric. I do like the look, but organza is just so annoying to sew and more so with a material that acts totally different! It’s just nerve-racking! After few seams it fortunately started to be manageable and in the end I had a sheer blouse with organza and fine dotted tulle on top. I covered some old buttons with cotton and stretch satin to match the shirt and hand-sewed the decorative sequin ribbon on the front.

The skirt is still unfinished, because I underestimated how much tulle I actually need to achieve the look from the comic. I think I've used about 6 meters now and I'm still counting.

Next to clothes I’ve made the string of pearls she has on her hip and the necklace. I actually will redo the ankh, because… Well, I tried to use Worbla to make it, but apparently I do not know how to work the material to make it look reasonably good. I probably will try my luck with Fimo. I’m positive that it will be a better choice, since I have some knowledge about it.

The wig is the only component I haven't started yet. I have a reasonably good base wig for the purpose, but Death's updo requires some drastic changes on the forehead. I will finally be able to try making a lace front wig and that is something I'm really looking forward to!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Finishing touches

After the qualifiers to ECC it was clear to me that I would definitely compete with Amira at the finals. But I also knew that I needed to upgrade the costume. I myself had found few flaws on it and after discussing with the judges, I knew what I should place under the magnifying glass.

Photograph: Yoki/ Casualty Cosplay

First thing I wanted to fix was the jewelry. I had little experience with Fimo and other polymer clays prior to Amira, so I naturally chose the wrong paints. Now I know that you shouldn’t choose paints with solvents in them, because they will soften the clay and make it feel tacky and it will never really dry out. This creates the problem at least for me, since all the nice metallic finish paints have some sort of solvent in them. I tried to look for chrome acrylic paints and then just metal acrylics, but nothing fitted my image of the final color.

Thankfully I went to an art store and after discussing with the seller, I ended up trying out something she proposed; I first paint the jewelry with gesso, then acrylic paint with metal powder in it. The gesso and the acrylic paint created a protective cocoon for the clay. And finally I applied metal miniature paint by brushing it very gently to the surface. The seller had advised me to use as little pressure as possible so that the strong miniature paint would not break through the acrylic paint. And it worked!

Also to add some more “real” to the jewelry, I asked my Russian friends for small change coins, Kopecks to use on the amulet and the necklace. Earlier, I had made the coins from Fimo, but I really wanted them to jingle when I move. Using real coins made the jewelry heavier, but this only meant that I had to use stronger thread on them.

Next thing I started was the boots. The first ones were made of pleather and they didn’t have a base shoe inside, which is equivalent to poorly supported feet. I still had the old shoes on at Tracon and after a day walking around in them, I really wanted to make new ones.

I had my doubts with pleather earlier, but I was running out of time before the qualifiers so I had little choice left. I chose pleather since the color scheme was close to the references and it was rather easy to work on. For the new boots I chose wool as the main material. It felt a lot more authentic and would enable same type of appliqué technique as pleather.

I found the perfect shade of jacket wool for the dark, mud colored parts. With the light blue sections I had to cheat a bit and use polyester-viscose felt, which I dyed the same way people dye their wigs. I was hesitant that regular cloth dye would not work, even if the felt was a viscose mix. We happened to hace this perfect colored tube of marker fluid lying around, which was meant to use years back to dye Clef’s wig with. The cosplay never happened, but now at least the dye served its purpose.

For the base shoe I chose a regular women’s walking shoe. I cut out the tip of the shoe and made new one from felt to make it more flat and also to give the sole a small curve. Then I took a carpet knife and started to slice to the heel to more “boot like”. The heel of the shoe was really distinctively shaped for a walking shoe, as it spread out on the bottom and was over all really bulky looking. It was also too high compared to the reference. The easy solution was to attach the boot cover so that about two centimeters of the heel was left visible and three centimeters were hidden inside as a build-on hidden heel.

I made few alterations to the boots based on the old design. For example I patterned the tip of the shoe differently and made few tweaks on the design also. I have made boot covers earlier and the problem was always how to finish the edges. I finally seemed to solve it!

After the edges of the cover were turned and glued over to the bottom of the sole, I took a piece of real leather and cut it to fit. At this point I cleaned the sole from dirt and dust, spread glue evenly and pressed the piece of leather on place. This neatens the raw edges of the boot cover, hides the modern looking pattern on the sole and is also good materials choice to use since it’s not slippery and will also look good!

I also worked on the skirt a bit to make it bit more finalized. I dug up every piece of linen I had left from the skirt and made bias tape from it. I used the bias to hide the stitch marks inside the hem of the skirt. This was really small deed to make during few evenings in front og the TV, yet it impressed few lovely people on backstage; “You even made bias!” And I was smiling stupidly and squeaking, because I was so happy that someone noticed it! Thank you for that!

Next to working with already existing pieces of clothing, I made something completely new also! I had made the underwear for the qualifiers, but if you have read the manga you painfully know that something is missing… The socks! I was ahead of the schedule at one point, so I decided to try to make them. I kind of knew that I was crazy to even start them, but then again I was so madly in love with the gossamer silk jersey I had purchased and the red and white silk threads and… Yes, it was madness!

I actually had the socks on to-do list for the qualifiers. I’m actually glad that I didn’t make them back then, since I only found the perfect material after the competition. I also think that embroidery is now lot easier for me and that if something was required for that type of fine fabric. It took me about two to three evenings to make the embroidery and few hours to put the socks together and I truly think that they are really nice touch to the costume! I could walk around in them forever, because the material is just so freaking pleasant!

This particular costume is now more or less finished. I'm still hoping that I can get a location shoot organized sometime in the future, because I would really like some sheeps to go with the costume! But for now, after a year, I can direct my attention towards new costumes which naturally have piled up now. I will surely use the costume in concentions to come, because and due to the working hours and crafting it's really comfortable and easy to wear and it's my favorite costume I've ever made... And needless to say, I love the character!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

EuroCosplay Championships and... whaaaat?!

Oh dear, I don’t even know where to start! I’m still feeling the con-lag and after a major convention like MCM ComicCon I suspect that it will last quite some time. Also to add to the confusion we happened to fly on Monday, the day the storm hit London. The situation with apocalyptic weather, with no trains and huge traffic jams it was a miracle that we got to the airport in time. It was literally matter of minutes! Thank goodness the main organizer of the EuroCosplay Championships is a man with a heart of gold! He helped us out and without him we had missed our flight for sure!

Next to the confusion I’m feeling so, so blissful and grateful…

I received Judge’s Choice from Cathy, who is the talented and creative woman behind God Save The Queen Fashions! I was so dumbfounded that Yoki had to push me towards the stage to receive the prize!

Aah, I’m just so happy that I’m lost for words! So I’m going to get back to ComicCon and the Championships after some amount of well slept nights.

Congratulations to this year’s champion Iloon and to Zula and Sara! Also to Dulcinea and Cassidy, who also were Judge’s Choices! And best wishes to all contestant and their helpers! It was great to meet you and share the awesome experience and weekend with you all!

Photographs: Emilia Lahtinen
Cosplay and model: Hiron/ Casualty Cosplay

Thursday, October 24, 2013

London calling! And EuroCosplay!

It's only few days away! I can't believe it! But surely it will happen and I have been updating my costume with new boots, jewelry and few other things I didn't have time to make before. Over all, I'm really happy how the costume now looks and feels! I will write whole lot after ComicCon, because I think I will have so much spare time that I really don't know what to do with it...

I should be packing and panicing, but I just wanted to stop by and thank everyone who have encouraged me during this project! If I could only hug you all, I surely would!

But of course the biggest thanks goes to Yoki, my dear sister and supporter. She will carry camera around at ComicCon, so we might actually update our Youtube after long radio silence in few weeks.

I also want to send special thanks to Emilia Lahtinen and her assistant, who photographed my costume at Tracon 8. Thank you!

I got asked about the previous entries of the costume and thought it would be nice to share links to them. I announced the costume in February and made few work in progress posts from the jewelry (actually two), the first boots I made and a general one. I had a photoshoot for the underclothes before the qualifiers and also wrote a report from Desucon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Yuma photoshoot and trivial information

Last weekend I squeezed into Yuma’s costume and we headed to a nearby nature trail for a small, autumn photoshoot. Karan, who has taken our photos as FemBots and Lady Doctor was kind enough to act as a photographer and Yoki was the sword wielding, grass bending assistant.

Ideally we would have left to our shoot in the morning, but because I had to work late on Saturday we only had few hours of day time left. And it was rather chilly, but gladly no one cached a cold. The outcome was a lot of interesting facial expression and few gems in the mix.

In the shoot I wore the cape that I made, but didn’t wear at the convention few weeks ago. It was too hot to wear it at the time, which is rather hard to believe now with nights below zero. The cape is basically a circle with drapes on the back. I made it from “brushed” polyester for the weight and flow. I usually try to pick natural fibers over synthetics, but with Yuma I made all the exceptions.

With Yuma I wanted to concentrate on textures, matt versus shine and fit. The bodysuit, which is actually shirt and pants are made from polyester jersey with lycra. I remade the pants three times before I was satisfied with the fit. First version I made out of wetlook spandex, but in the end it looked too much like the fake leather I used in the armor parts.

The second version had a seam on the center both back and front, but because the references didn’t have any seam on the front I remade the pants again. The third version was a success with “hidden” seams. The stay-up socks are fake; I sew folded strips of fabric on the leggings to mimic the look. I didn’t want unnecessary moving parts and separate pieces of clothing in the costume. More so, when I had to attach the armor parts to the “socks”.

I patterned the foot piece directly to the leggings trunks and glued old canvas shoes on with hotglue. Normally hotglue is not ideal with shoe covers, but I tested it and found that it worked with the materials I was using. By the way, Yuma is the first costume I have to use a shoehorn to squeeze in.

During the photoshoot we might have spooked few joggers. One felt sorry, that she interrupted our movie shoot. Yuma is a movie star!

Photographs: Karan
Modeling and costume: Hiron/ Casualty Cosplay

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Armor from pulp board and fake leather for Yuma

We have made armor pieces for our Stormtroopers by vacuum forming and for Ivy I build a set from craft foam covered with putty. Now I wanted to try something new and ended up with pulp board-craft foam base covered with vinyl/fake leather.

I’ve seen few Claymore Ghost cosplays before and some have solved the armor issue with “leather” and some with “metal”. I ended up with the leather version, because the Ghosts are more or less never seen or heard of, so silent leather armor would be ideal to stealth and hiding as in metal one would make unwanted noises.

My build started from making patterns. I used regular paper for creating the shapes and fitted them before cutting the pieces from compressed pulp board. After cutting the pieces I carefully made the necessary curves and shaped the pieces so that they would sit on the body tightly. Then I secured the shapes mostly by taping the pieces on to the floor using different household items and sealed and supported the back by gluing thick fiber fabric on the back. I left the pieces to dry over night before the next phase.

Some pieces I just supported by spreading glue on the back while maintaining the wished form, but this I only did for the breast and back plates because they were constructed from two pieces and the smaller ones didn’t need that much support since all the fastenings would be on the top plate.

Then for creating a smooth surface to glue the pleather on, I covered the armor pieces with craft foam. The craft foam I cut slightly bigger than the board, so that the edges would be thin and clean looking. I used the armor piece as the template for the craft foam. The curves on the pieces made the original pattern useless, since the curves distorted some of the shapes on the pattern.

With the hip plate, also known as the butt wings I had to use more sturdy solution, because the shape was really odd and hard to maintain. And I couldn’t find a sheet of craft foam big enough to cover the whole thing. So first I covered the top of the “wings” with fiber fabric, let it dry and supported the narrow center piece from the back side. Then I cut a piece of upholstery felt and glued in on the top.

After pieces had dried completely I spread glue evenly on the piece and set the pleather with two centimeter seam allowances on the top. Needless to say, for the pleather I used the armor piece itself as the pattern. Then I smoothed the surface checking that there were no bumps or bubbles under the pleather before leaving it to dry.

When the pleather was glued and set I heated the glue gun and turned the seam allowances on the back side. The tricky parts were the pointed edges on the armor. And with corners I checked which side should be glued first to get a neat result.

I applied a black fabric on the back of the armor pieces to hide the seam allowances and to prevent the white backs flashing from certain angles. But before gluing them on I added Velcro, nylon straps and rubber bands for the fastenings.

Below you can see the whole process made with the shoulder pauldrons. The shoulders were the reason why I chose to cover the pulp board with craft foam; I was able to heat the foam and stretch it on the shoulder without having to make visible darts. And same goes with the stretch pleather I chose as the covering material.

And finally the whole armor with the sword belt. In all, armor made from pulp board is really light weight, clean looking and quite easy to make. All you need is the materials, scissors, glue and exacto knife. And palette knife! I don't know why I haven't realized earlier that palette knife is handy when you need to spread a thin and even layer of glue!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Casualty Cosplay - Costuming since 2006

Our blog has its fourth birthday today. Yay! We are at Tracon by the time this entry pops in our blog, which feels more than suitable for a cosplayer. As our blog celebrates its birthday our journey with cosplay has reached seven years! A lot has happened during those years with +30 costumes made and characters brought to life.

To celebrate our journey I decided to list all our costumes in chronological order based on their debut in a convention or a photoshoot. I will later write information about the costumes and add photo credits. This entry will also be updated with new costumes as they are debuted.


Hitsugaya Toushiro and Matsumoto Rangiku- Bleach


Kurotsuchi Mayuri and Akon- Bleach

Sasori and Deidara- Naruto
Re-making parts of the costumes in 2012

Namami Akai and Naoru Kenko- Kiyhiro (Original creation)

Jasdero and Debitto- D.Gray-man


Snufkin- The Moomins

Bubblehead Nurse- Silent Hill


Muddler and Joxter- The Moomins

Samara Morgan- The Ring


Snowtroopers- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee- Star Wars: The Phantom's Menace

Megatron and Starscream- Transformers: Generation 1

Yoshimitsu and Isabella "Ivy" Valentine- Soul Calibur 3

Baby Jane Splicer- Bioshock concept art


Lumiere and Cogsworth- Beauty and the Beast

Neva Imano- Varjella (Original creation)

Mireille Bouquet- Noir

Saya Otonashi and Diva- Blood+

Trolls- The World of Warcraft

Sio Imano- Varjella (Original creation)
Ver. 2 in 2013

Saya Otonashi- Blood+


Kirlain Fuyu Jaw're- Varjella (Original creation)

Alicia- The Moomins

Doctor- Doctor Who

Kulo Halava- Varjella (Original creation)
2 versions and counting...

Amira Halgal- Otoyomegatari

Saya Otonashi- Blood+

Yuma- Claymore

Luminara Unduli- Star Wars: The Phantom's Menace

Wednesday Friday Addams- The Addams Family


Death- The Sandman: Season of Mists

Deidara- Naruto

Zakuro- Otome Youkai Zakuro