Monday, January 5, 2015

Tutorial: Pin in Crown Braid

Hi hi guys~

Today I'm going to show you my improved crown braid method. I did this for Diantha and this is if you need to make a hair appliance and not necessarily style a full wig (though you could use this in conjunction with a wig if you wanted something you could take apart for easy storage).

So here's the goal. Something too fluffy and large to be an actual braid.

And here's what we're going to be using:
Silky braiding hair ($1.69)
Kinky hair ($1.99)
Knee highs ($3.00 for 3 pair box)
Little braiding rubber bands ($.99)
Hot glue and glue gun.

Originally I tried this without the pantyhose/knee highs and ran into this problem. The balled up kinked hair liked to pop out. I also originally tried this with brown styrofoam balls but the rigidity actually made it unusable. Also if you have old panty hose with runs or whatever they work great for this too. If you're doing a darker color and want to cheap out with knee highs then get the off black. If you're doing a lighter color then get the tan or nude ones.

First and foremost if you're using knee highs you'll want to stretch them a bit. It's a bit close on whether they're long enough to work for a crown braid but for me it's just long enough.

Next, shove your first balled up clump of kinky hair into the very end of the hosiery. Get a good firm grip of the toe area of the hosiery to make a little handle like part though. I just reused the balls from Diantha Braid Mark 2.

Next lay out your silky hair and kind of roll the hosiery ball in it until it's evenly covered, pinching it around the little nubby toe area handle.

Now begins the tricky part. rubber banding this hair hosiery combo is a pain but you gotta do it. Also once you have this end done go ahead and trim it down and stub it with hot glue. Make sure you get the hosiery in that hot glue stub. I didn't do this in the tutorial pics and you'll see at the end the difference.

Now make sure the hair is evenly smoothed over the ball and pinch the other side. Now rubber band that too. It is a pain pulling all that hair and hosiery through but I found pinching and holding the rubber band open with one hand and pulling the hair through with the other was the easiest way.

See the difference? You can't really tell there is hosiery in there but now the ball is firmly secured in there. Also pay no mind to the color difference, that's because I bought #6 instead of #8 and riiiight after this photo ran out and got the right color.

Now gently dig into the hair, pulling the hosiery down so you can easily shove another ball in there then pinch and smooth. Lather rinse repeat.

Once done go ahead and stub the second end as well. The end on the left was the first end which I stubbed at the same time as the second end. You can see how the first ball is a bit lumpy now, a problem easily solved by stubbing the end sooner rather than later.

Now you may be wondering about how I'm going to hide those stubs and why I now have one less ball on this thing. I have really long hair. Enough that a bun of my natural hair is about the size of one of these. So I put my hair in a low bun, then pin in the crown braid with bobby pins (about 10 do the job) and tuck the stubs under the bun, using two pins on each to secure them.

On the left is the Mark 2 crown braid (no pantyhose), on the right is Mark 3 (with pantyhose). Visually not much of a difference but longevity-wise it makes one. Mark two only last one con, Mark 3 has done three and is still going strong.
The cost for this, not including derping on colors and remaking it was about $8. It could easily be $4-5 if you have old pantyhose and little rubber bands on hand. The total cost for me was about 5 packs of hair, a bag of styrofoam balls, two bags of little rubber bands and a box of knee highs so about $18-20. The full cost for Diantha's hair also includes a set of clip in bangs (the gel, hair spray, clear tiny rubber bands and razor comb I also used were left over from styling my friend's Mr. Ral wig) so about $23-25. And it's way more comfortable than a full wig.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Costume: Lolita!Reeve Tuesti (Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus

Reeve is my favorite FF guy. Like out of all of them. It's him. I know it's stupid but like out of everyone from FF7 at least he's the closest to normal, not forever brooding, actually a contributing member of society that we get. Also cat robots.

I bought the blue material for a steal in July intending to make Reeve's actual coat eventually which is normally the kiss of death for actually completing a project. But winter rolled around and I wasn't feeling my then go to winter coat any more (a wool coat that has had a long, storied life even before me) so I decided why mot make that Reeve coat? And I could make it suited to lolita so I could have a coat to wear with my lolita~! And that's literally how this came to be. I use it more as an everyday coat than a cosplay item honestly but it's still fun to have.

Series: Final Fantasy 7: Dirge of Cerberus
Construction Time: ~1 week
Cost: $54.35
$40.17 Medieval blue 100% wool
$4.86 Grey dual sep zip
$4.32 Bias tape maker
$5.00 5 yd bolt of lining
On hand:
Gear charms
Grey fabric (left over from Siren lolita)
Hair clip
Cait Sith plush
Debut: Ikkicon 2012
Final Appearance: Still in Rotation

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Costume: Levy McGarden (Fairy Tail)

I really wanted to do something from Fairy Tail, I have a lot of friends who cosplay Fairy Tail and I like it so I wanted to do it. I had thought about doing Lucy as she is a precious little boo but I also knew I had this blue wig in my wig box that would be perfect for Levy and Levy is ALSO a precious boo. Originally I was going to do her white shorts and bathing suit top outfit as I thought I'd be able to find all the pieces off the rack (very wrong). This was pretty last minute before Anime Fest but I still finished her in time. I always have to have one costume I'm rushing to finish before Anime Fest. It's tradition at this point.

Construction is pretty basic, only notable things are that while stretch gets the look of the art for some reason this combo is a beast to hide undergarments beneath. Also I messed up the grain of the lining on the sleeves so they aren't very stretchy so they take a minute to put on. The wig isn't a lace front, it's a normal wig with the bangs pinned and fluffed into the bouffant. Her hair band (which is made of  a scrap of lining material) hides those bobby pins. I'm pretty happy with her, especially with how quick and cheap she was though I can't wear her for about half the year here as it's a drafty costume and it can't be worn if it's windy.

Series: Fairy Tail
Construction Time: ~1 week
Cost: $31.08
Materials and Construction:
$8.27 Blue Arda wig (won on eBay)
$3.89 1 yd Lining
$12.87 1 yd spandex
$6.05 .86 yd white rayon lycra
On hand:
Ace bandage
Black and red fabric paints
Pink and red craft foam
Bobby pins
Old glasses
Hot glue
Blue wig cap
Debut: Anime Fest 2014
Final Appearance: Still in Rotation

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tutorial: EDI's Make-up

So, EDI's make-up... How do you go from pink human face to silver robot face? Well it's not too hard or expensive but you'll need about 30 minutes and a handful of products.

I took this after I applied my make up so I'd already tossed my sponge.
First and foremost gather your products. I actually would suggest just having a set of brushes and case which then belong to EDI otherwise you'll have to thoroughly clean then every time.
1) Silver Eyeliner (I use the Ulta brand, it's okay)
2) Snazaroo Face Paint in either White (what I prefer), Silver or Grey and a sponge and water
3) Platinum Eye Shadow and Face Brush (Covergirl's Silver Lining is my fav)
4) Black Eyeliner
5) Brow Gel (I use clear)
6) Mid Grey Eye Shadow and Eye Shadow Brush (I use Jordana in Gunmetal)
7) Silver Lipstick and Lip Brush (I use Morgana Cryptoria's Silver Witch but it's discontinued)
8) Ben Nye Final Seal
9) Black Mascara (I prefer Maybelline's Falsies but I had this open. Use something which really gives you big long lashes)

Then wash and moisturize your face then line your waterline with silver. (I didn't take a pic as I don't put basically no make up pics online).

Spoiler alert: I have hella bitchy resting face. I'm actually quite happy with life this morning.
Cover your whole face with the Snazaroo, I prefer white as a base as then it matches the silver metallic material in my outfit. Grey or Silver also work, Grey give a much darker look (so if your silver is backed by black this would be good) and Silver is middle of the road. Stipple it on with a damp make up sponge, try and get it as even as possible but as you can see here it can be a liiiittle blotchy (which white has probs with). Also from this point on try not to emote. Until the Final Seal is dried you don't want to crease any part of your face if possible.


Next up is dusting the Silver/Platinum eye shadow all over your face. Pretend you're putting on a thick layer of loose powder. If you wanted you could throw on a layer of transparent loose powder (the Ben Nye one works wonderfully) after the next step if you have worries about your face getting oily or sweaty.


There's actually a lot of steps shown in this pic since I took pics by product. This is the middle grey eye shadow level. Use this to fill in your brows (and tame said brows with brow gel if needed), then cover your eye lids (but not the part between the eyelid and the brow bone). I kind of smoke it since I've already got that platinum by the brow bone. Lastly use it to contour your face/as a blush. This is going to be different for every person but since I have a baby face I swipe it under my cheekbones at a downward angle and dust the underside of my chin as well using the face brush. Remember for contouring to use a light hand, you can build it up but it's a pain to fix it (basically dust more platinum over to fix it).

Lipstick, use a lip brush it really makes getting a nice edge much easier and since it's such an extreme color difference that matters.


Eyeliner! She has a thick winged look. I prefer pencil but liquid would also work.

Final Seal. No pic here since you can't see it. Just mist it over your face. It stings a little and is rather minty but it dries after 3-5 minutes. So maybe take a sit and listen to some nice music.


Mascara I do after Final Seal since I don't use waterproof.

And then ta-da! We're done!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Attitude is Everything: About the Importance of Being Positive

"OMG this traffic is a nightmaaaaare... You know what, why don't I take a break from driving and get some ramen? I'm passing through Austin anyways... Oh god I forgot how much I love Daruma ~<3"
Over the weekend I was reminded of the importance of not just being positive towards other cosplayers but to everyone - including yourself!

San Japan started out... bad. Just getting there was a nightmare. Anything resembling the schedule I had was out the window once the first photo shoot was done. I had three more after that and my roomies were stuck in traffic too so ended up changing in a parking garage (not my first time, so really not a big deal).

I could have easily been all "Gawd we scheduled for this time I can't believe he's not even responding to my texts!" but instead I reminded myself he's an amazing photographer and very in demand and he'd even mentioned that I, his third shoot, was the first to be timely. I was bummed because I'm really proud of how Diantha came out and that shoot just got outright cancelled. Instead I spent time with some friends and explored and reminded myself I could get pictures in the future (and the pics from the shoots we did were AMAZING). Another photographer friend ended up doing a shoot for me for that costume the next day since I asked politely (from what I saw they also look amazing). I also forgot a major piece to one costume but I reminded myself that I could wear one of the other costumes I hadn't been able to wear the night before instead. One of my contacts tore on Sunday but hey they were towards the end of their life, I'd gotten pictures the night before and it was Sunday so the chill day anyways, noone would care that Diantha didn't have blue eyes and was wandering around in glasses.

What sticks out most about the con was that I got to hang out with some good friends, get some shots in a very lovely place and was flattered when several photographers I'd never met before but heard about asked to shoot a costume of mine. Not that traffic was hellacious, parking was a challenge, I got sick Friday night or that my schedule was almost entirely a wash.

Basically what I'm saying is that even when things go wrong try and focus on what's going okay, ways you can work around the problem and not just gripe about it or accept that something just isn't going to go according to plan. You'll be happier and honestly it's more fun/comfortable to be around people who also are chill/positive so you'll be a positive energy for your friends too. I was literally told that by two of my fellow cosplayers, that because I'm so chill that they really enjoy hanging out and rooming with me. You can always reschedule a photoshoot or wear a costume another time. Your eye health is more important than accuracy. Very rarely are things the end of the world, so be chill. It maaaay have taken me almost a decade of cons and cosplay to realize this but man it's made things so much more enjoyable.

"Hey, be careful so you don't fall in lol!"
"Haha thanks guys. Now shush this takes concentration."
Oh also, side note, being adventurous about posing and positive in photoshoots leads to amazing photos. Sometimes the poses which feel the stupidest end up looking really cool (wait until you see the Glynda pics from RTX)! When Bryan asked if I might be able to pose on the spillway the first time when I was in Kirara I was like "Won't know until I try! I've gone hiking in these heels so it shouldn't be too hard and worse that happens is I go for a swim." Then when I was in EDI in much more ridiculous shoes I was able to remind myself that it hadn't been that hard in Kirara so I could probably manage it in EDI's silly shoes too. It was a bit scary (you can't tell but I was shaking like a leaf, I couldn't manage to get to the middle since it was so precarious) but I stayed positive and was also not too proud to accept a helping hand from a very nice tourist who climbed out on the rocks when he saw me nervously hopping back once we got the shots. I knew the shots would be great and everyone else seemed to have a good time watching us.

So remember, be positive and try to have fun! Even if things don't work out like you planned if you try to have fun you'll probably actually have fun.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Costume: Lolita!Labor 9 (Hatoful Kareshi)

Hatoful is one of the best written and put together stories out there. You heard me. The bird dating, it's a fine piece of literature. I know. I know. It's unexpected which is part of why it's even better. Anyways I wanted to do something from Hatoful and with the Austin lolita group Halloween party coming up this is what my mind jumped to.

Unfortunately there is only the one image of the Scarecrow to go off of so I had to get a bit create and also go off of some of the things that are in the text as well (like the blade arm she drags). Originally I was going to make the skirt myself and put my head in a jar (since there's a whole running theme of protag-chan's head being put in a jar) but I found a great skirt on the comm sales and decided I didn't want my head in a jar after all. I tried to keep the idea of a mishmash of parts going by folding down only one boot. The shoulder pauldron is made from craft foam, some cheap faux leather and various odds and ends spray painted silver. The blade arm is made from craft foam covered in metallic spandex and the blade itself is spray painted foam. The hood is made from a linen because actual burlap would have been waaaay too itchy. Overall I'm very happy with this though I'll probably line the openings of the mask with black mesh to obscure my face for when I next wear it.

Series: Hatoful Kareshi
Construction Time: A day
Cost: $50
Materials and Construction: Linen "burlap", Red yarn, thread spool, nuts and bolts, paper card, craft foam, spray paint, metallic spandex, sweater, blouse, skirt, socks, boots, gloves
Debut: Halloween 2012
Final Appearance: Still in Rotation

Costume: Unnamed Heroine (Amnesia)

I love Amnesia, it's such a good, if crazy, story and the character design and art is just candy for the eyeballs. Naturally I was stoked when the anime was announced and one day in Joann's I saw the PERFECT fabric for her dress. So I though, eh why not?

The dress is simple though the amount of pintucks meant it took this side of forever to make. I just use a black jacket I've had for years since I've always known noone was going to recognize this one in person let alone that my jacket is kinda off. It's a pretty niche show/visual novel. The flowers are actually fake ranunculus as that looks more like anime roses than actual roses. I still can't find hosiery that looks like her's but I've been experimenting with layering different types. Hoping the white fishnets and loose weave black ones I've just gotten recently will pair well with my red ones and look closer to hers. The wig actually has pink tips but they're pretty faint just like hers are.

I wish hats and wigs didn't hate each other. This beret hats staying on.
The wig actually has pink tips but they're pretty faint just like hers are. The tint of her hair is not nearly as pronounced as it is with like every other character.

Series: Amnesia (Visual Novel)
Construction Time: ~3 days
Cost: $114.36
Materials and Construction: 
$1.80 Black diamond tights
$5.00 Red heart tights
$6.50 Black lattice tights (were replaced by black diamond)
$1.73 White fishnet tights
$1.08 Black knit beret
$10.37 2 sprigs pink ranunculus
$1.95 Cruise blue thread
$3.20 22" Icy blue invis zip
$3.24 ciel zip (unused)
$5.99 White purse
$13.58 Wig
$34.62 Contacts
$25.30 Blue radiance wrinkle free cotton
On hand:
white sateen
craft foam
Debut: SDCC 2013
Final Appearance: Still in Rotation