Heather from North-East England have been cosplaying since 2005, making my own costumes since 2009. She love making costumes and accessories. She have made over 80 costumes for myself and still have a lot to learn.
Outside of cosplay my life pretty much fell to bits this year, which in turn impacted my enthusiasm and productivity. But that’s how life goes isn’t it? The optimist in me thinks, “it wouldn’t be interesting if things went smoothly all the time!”, while the cynic thinks.. well, stuff I’d rather not repeat here. Hah!
Despite a rocky year, here are some of my cosplay highlights!
I attended less events than I usually do. I appeared at Anime Go! and Rai-Con Spring as a guest and attended EXP-0, SunnyCon and AmeCon for the fun of it!
Anime Go!, a lovely local library event reached its third year running! There were some hiccups behind the scenes, but it was a great success as always. Right now it’s unclear whether it will be running in 2019, but I’m hopeful it will return!
SunnyCon runs very close to home so I pop by every year. Despite some of my previous comments, it’s a great event and I always look forward to it! This year I entered their Masters Competition and won 1st Place – I’ve competed internationally and won different qualifiers before, but SunnyCon was the first time I’d actually won 1st Place overall in an competition which was pretty awesome!
AmeCon was my designated “enjoy yourself” convention. No big stressful commitments, just a nice weekend to kick back with friends! I did a shoot with Emzone Photography on Friday as Eleanor, but that’s about as serious as it got.
I turned down most guest spots I was offered this year. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love being a guest and judge, it’s a huge compliment to be asked and it’s the reason I attend most events – but this year, at times so much was stacked against me (scheduling, short notice, distance, finances..), it became impossible to commit. I’m aiming to get back into the swing of things soon!
I didn’t make many new costumes this year; most of my efforts went into upgrading older costumes this time! Sometimes it’s better to take an older project and work on polishing the bits you didn’t like to get a better result than to churn out new things for the sake of it, to be disappointed.
I wore Elize to EXP-0 locally and won a Judge’s Choice award in their contest! It was a really nice gaming-centric event at a local university, I hope it returns next year.
Prince Sakurawas revamped to wear with PopcornKuma as Princess Syaoran for a long overdue photo shoot.. we made these in 2016 and didn’t have any photos together! I redid most of the hat (at least.. as best as I could with limited materials), repainted the sword and adjusted some of the fitting on the costume.
Eleanorwas pretty much entirely remade, the only original piece left is the jacket! I got most of her ready in time for Anime Go, then finished her props and boots in time for SunnyCon ready for the contest. All that hard work paid off!
I only made two brand new costumes this year: Mikuru Asahina and Charles Boyle (Brooklyn 99). Both of which were made specifically to party and get drunk in! Even though it was a silly project, I’m really proud of how Mikuru turned out and I hope to wear her a lot more in future!
This year I also had a huge clear out of some of my older costumes and wigs that I hadn’t worn in years. I normally hold on to things because I’m very sentimental, but I’m happy that so many costumes I have neglected now have a new lease of life with people who will actually wear them once in a while! It’s nice to have extra space, too!
Because I attended less events, I had less pressure to make things if they were unlikely to be worn. I usually spend so much time stressing over details, deadlines and commitments, it was nice to take a step back for a while.
Who knows what 2019 will bring? I have a lot of unfinished projects from this year that will hopefully be completed, and a few new ones in planning too. In the UK there is no “big summer convention” in 2019, so I’m at a bit of a loss as to what events I’ll be attending next year. Only time will tell!
In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and an excellent 2019!
I’ve used applique on costumes for years now, it’s one of my favourite techniques and it’s really satisfying to look at! Even though it’s time consuming I find it much easier than patterning and top-stitching bias for complex designs like those in the Tales of series. It’s easy to sew and when it’s done well it looks really clean, avoiding any fraying or uneven edges.
All of my sewing is self taught; that means if I can learn to do it, you can too! Applique isn’t hard, it just takes practice and patience. Hopefully this tutorial will help you get started!
Satin Stitch Applique
Applique is a technique that uses different stitches to “apply” one piece of fabric to another. With cosplay, it’s a great way to add fiddly details to a costume without using paint or embroidery.
For this guide I will be using satin stitch, a close stitch around the edge of a design. In basic terms, it’s a close zigzag in a thin width that finishes the edge. Most sewing machines have a zigzag stitch you can adjust so it’s very accessible too – no fancy features or modes here! You can use it on any size design, on basic shapes or on complex patterns – the only limit is your imagination!
All three costumes shown above have had applique used for contrast detail, all in varying shapes and sizes! And as you can see Tales of costumes have a lot of trims and details so for this guide I will be using my Elize jacket from Tales of Xillia. The design has a complex front and back, finished with a trim around the edge. Fun times with the sewing machine ahead!
Things you will need:
Iron & ironing board
LOTS of matching thread
Iron-on interfacing (optional)
STEP ONE Pattern your garment and cut it out. Depending on wherever your applique is going (front, back, sleeves, etc), cut a copy in your contrast fabric. This will help the applique fit more accurately. If your applique is small, you might not need a full copy, but it can help you make sure it fits properly!
For this costume the trim follows all the way around the jacket, so I cut an exact copy of the front and back. I also cut a copy for the lining.
STEP TWO Pattern your applique design. Make it roughly the size you want it to be – but keep in mind once sewn it might grow around the edge by 1-2mm. My shapes are symmetrical so I made patterns from folded paper first. There are designs on the front and back, so they were made and cut separately.
STEP THREE IRON YOUR FABRIC. Make sure your fabric is clean and ironed before you do anything else! You’ll need your contrast fabric for this part. Creases or folds will affect how the applique sits. Once ironed, iron your bondaweb where you will need it on the fabric. For this jacket, the front and back panels was needed and around the bottom edge, so I added bondaweb in parts to reduce waste.
Once your bondaweb is ironed on, transfer your design onto your bondaweb! The great thing about bondaweb is that you can draw on the removable side before you cut it out! Cut out your design and apply the bondaweb pattern to your garment. Remove the backing slowly, make sure it is smooth and iron it on!
STEP FOUR Sew around the edge with a straight stitch. Bondaweb is great stuff, but it’s not always super secure, so sew it down first! I use a 2mm stitch to sew around the edge because it makes it easier to maneuver the fabric. But you can use a longer stitch if you want to. Don’t worry about it being totally neat – your applique will cover this stitch.
Depending on your design, you can either use an identical colour thread for a subtle edge or a contrast thread to make the trim stand out. Make sure you have LOTS of thread – Elize’s design used over 300m of thread (3 100m spools of Gutermann)! I would also recommend using the same thread for the top and bottom stitches – this makes the colour more solid around the edge.
Once sewn, IRON YOUR FABRIC. Now the contrast fabric is glued and sewn down, iron it and make sure it is all smooth. Any creases/wrinkles at this stage can be disguised a little by the applique to come!
STEP FIVE Time to start your applique! Satin stitch the edges! This can take 5 minutes or 5 hours depending on your design. Elize’s jacket took me around 3 hours to complete. When sewing Elize I used a 3mm zigzag width and 0.1mm length. You can use a thinner or thicker stitch if you want, but I find 3mm usually looks tidy and covers all stitching/edges underneath comfortably!
ALWAYS test your stitch first, and make sure your machine can still feed the fabric when sewing rather than jamming – if the stitch length is too short sometimes it can chew the fabric or thread underneath.
TIPS WHEN SEWING:
Make sure you take it SLOWLY and are precise with your sewing – it is a lot to unpick and redo and might damage your fabric if you make mistakes.
Start from the “bottom” or “inside” edge when sewing – it makes any visible starting points much less distracting.
When sewing corners, lift the foot and position the needle manually. This way it won’t look jaggy and misaligned. Take your time and move the needle back and forth if needed. Also, if your design is symmetrical, try and mirror your sewing to give it a cleaner finish.
When sewing curves, turn the fabric gradually and lightly pull it as it turns. The foot might not always sit straight but it will make the curve smoother when sewing. It’s worth practicing curves on a separate piece of fabric if you’re new to applique – it’s tricky and practice definitely helps!
STEP SIX IRON YOUR FABRIC. Your design will look really wiggly and ugly right now. Iron it carefully and smooth out any wrinkles or wiggles and it will look MUCH better! If you added some interfacing for stability, you can remove it now.
Now your applique is finished, all that’s left is to finish the rest of the garment off!
STEP SEVEN Admire your work! Applique is time consuming and tiring but YOU DID IT!! All that effort really shows. Practice makes perfect!
World Cosplay Summit 2014 starts this weekend in Japan, and most teams will be flying out mid week! It’s a terrifying and exciting time if you’re taking part in the competition, so I figured I’d put together some last-minute advice for anyone taking part and is having a bit of a panic.
When I arrived last year there were a lot of things we were missing and locating them in Japan is tricky, so it’s easiest to make sure you’re well prepared!
Omotenashi Student Corp
With Haruno of Omotenashi
One of the best things about WCS is the Omotenashi Student Corp, who are happy to help you out while you’re in Japan. So if you have forgotten anything ask someone for help! Most of the students are locals to Nagoya and will be able to help you easily, no matter what your request might be. The hotel where WCS is hosted is surrounded by useful stores, and the students are happy to show you around.
In any case, here are a few of the things we learned before and during our stay in Japan. We made these mistakes so you don’t have to!
Packing & Preparing Costumes
So many bags!
Checklists! Even if all your costume is made up of is a wig, top, pants and shoes, write it down! It’s important to be able to pack easily know everything is accounted for. Run through your costumes head to toe and keep it tidy. Write down what makeup or accessories you might need if you have time, too.
If you’re worried, include a note in your luggage Most airports do secure bag checks, so seeing something that looks like a sword or giant screws randomly dotted around your bag might raise some eyebrows. If you have “questionable props” it’s worth including a polite note with a diagram explaining it is for a costume and what you are doing. The last thing you want is to find a major part of your costume has been confiscated or damaged by security.
Pack your finals costumes first WCS is fun throughout, but ultimately you’re there for the finals. If you can, keep everything for your finals costumes within your hand luggage so you know everything is safe. Myself and Yuka managed this for Kefka and Terra with the exception of my shoes – it does wonders for your peace of mind, and means your most important costumes are accounted for.
Don’t separate costumes between cases Last year one of Team Spain’s luggage bags went missing and so did half of the pieces for their costumes so none of them could be worn! So if you can, pack everything for each costume together and if a bag does go missing, you will still have other complete costumes ready to be worn. They might not be your first choice, but at least you have something!
Organise your costumes It’s easy to get to the hotel and veg for a day but most importantly you need to know what you’re doing each day so lay out your costumes and accessories and make sure they’re easy to access. The last thing you want is a panic every morning trying to find the last pieces for your costumes. If you’ve made checklists this should be easy.
You need lots of ‘real clothes’ Japan is hot and sticky and cosplaying in that heat is hard for people to adjust to, so pack lots of spare clothes to change into. Make sure they are small enough to pack easily into a bag to take with you to events too – it’s best to take a change of clothes. You will have a lot of downtime and cosplaying in the streets isn’t socially accepted or comfortable, so make sure you’re prepared!
If you need an iron, PACK AN IRON Most Japanese hotels do not provide ironing facilities so take a travel iron with you with adjustable voltage if possible! Failing that, you could ask fellow teams if they plan to take one and ask to share once you arrive.
CHECK YOUR VOLTAGE Myself and Yuka learned the hard way that British 230V electronics, even with a converter, do nothing in Japan as their voltage is only 120V. Our hairdryer was a feeble blow and our glue gun didn’t even get warm. If you are taking electronics, make sure you check if they’re actually going to be useful first, otherwise they’re going to be a heavy, bulky disappointment in your case.
Take Care Of Yourself!
Don’t forget to eat!
Make sure your costumes are easy to get on and off As pictured above, eating can be hard with gloves and a white apron so when it comes to meals it’s best to have parts that are easy to remove. It’s also smart to plan costumes that are easy to get on and off by yourself for quick changes or for going to the bathroom. Never tell your team mate “don’t drop any ketchup!” … it will happen.
Don’t forget sunscreen The sun in Japan won’t burn you easily but it is HOT so prepare your skin well. Just because you don’t burn doesn’t mean you don’t need it! You can often pick up sunscreen cheap in Japan, but it doesn’t hurt to come prepared.
Take talc/baby powder Heat rash sucks and trying to find some in a Japanese pharmacy is surprisingly hard! Even if you don’t need it, someone else might.
Take multivitamins You might not have the time to eat proper meals while taking part, so multivitamins will help take care of you while you don’t have time. You will get food provided to help sustain energy and salt levels but multivitamins are a great boost too.
Take more of everything than you need Makeup, hairspray, toothpaste, toiletries, wipes, craft supplies .. whatever you need, take extras! If you don’t need it after you can always throw it out to lighten your case or offer it to other teams.
Don’t rely on “I’ll buy it there” If you need an accessory, a wig or pieces to complete your costume, don’t rely on being able to find it in a store. The stores nearby will have a lot on offer but when WCS begins you won’t have much time for shopping so it’s best to be fully prepared.
Carry drinks & snacks everywhere you go If you have an organiser or helper with you, request that they carry it for you to keep your hands free and costumes clean. Always travel prepared. Bring snacks from your own country to keep in your room, especially if you’re a picky eater – Japanese food and snacks have a higher salt content and can cause muscle ache if you’re not used to it.
Don’t be afraid to say no While you’re in Japan for WCS you’ll be in the spotlight a lot, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to do everything. Not everything is mandatory, and staff will let you know if there are optional extras you can participate in.
If a film crew wants to follow you, you can say no. If people want to interview you, you can say no. If you’re requested to attend events outside of WCS, you can say no – it is up to you as a team if you are comfortable doing extra activities. That said, I would always recommend that you do as much as possible for WCS but if you are tired or uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say no.
Stay active WCS is very intensive and you will be on your feet for most of the time you’re out there, but stay active in your downtime if you can. Lots of small things can contribute to exhaustion that you might not consider – jetlag, the heat, a change in diet, decreased water intake, etc – so stay smart and stay active!
The Fun Stuff!
With Yurai of WCS Spain
PURI-KURA It’s kind of taboo to be out in costume, but if you really want to do Puri-Kura when in Japan with friends there is an arcade across the street at the end of the block around the corner from the big Daily combini. It’s a short run in costume if you want to take some fun photos!
Praise Tokyu-Hands There is a Tokyu-Hands about 20 minutes walk from the hotel with a whole floor dedicated to craft, so if you’ve forgotten something chances are you can get it there! It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave of cosplay goodies, silicone, beads, thread, accessories etc and it’s reasonably priced too. If you ever make it to Japan – WCS or otherwise – it’s worth checking out!
Make mealtimes fun and share it with teams Don’t be lame and stay in your room. The time you spend with the other teams is the time you’ll miss the most, so enjoy your free time while it lasts! There’s a huge range of restaurants close by.
Take lots of pictures together! Even though you’re there for 10 days, time flies by so quickly. There will be thousands of photos online after your adventure has ended but the times that really matter are the ones with your new friends. Take lots of photos and make lots of new memories!
So there we have it. My thinly-veiled “we were a bit dumb last year” advice for you to behold! Above all, WCS is an incredible experience, so make the most of the time you have and enjoy it for what it is. It will feel so tiring and you’ll miss home a lot, but it’s worth every moment!
Finally, good luck to all of the teams participating this year!