Cosplay: 3 Ways to Tell if a Costume is “high-quality”

Cosplay: 3 Ways to Tell if a Costume is “high-quality”

There’s a lot of demand for “HQ” costumes in the local cosplay market, with “hq” meaning “high quality”. But what is “high quality”? There are a lot of shops and costume-making services claiming to have “high quality” products, but by what standards can we measure costume quality by? Read on to find out.

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Review: Crystal Titanium Brown Contact Lenses

Review: Crystal Titanium Brown Contact Lenses

Hi everyone! Today I’ll be sharing my review of Crystal’s Titanium Brown circle lenses. As a quick overview, I find these to be very appropriate and good hazel-brown/golden brown circle lenses. My lenses were purchased from gwyshop.com

I wanted lenses that can pass for characters with brown/golden eyes, and usually these characters are strong and usually mysterious and maybe a little sinister. I found the pattern on the Titanium series to represent that very well so I purchased a set. They’re P250 for a pair at GWYSHOP, and you can get them as low as P200 with their current promo code.

The Titanium lenses have a lifespan of 1year and a diameter of 14.5mm.

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Titanium Brown contact lenses in the free lense case that they come with.

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No edits or filter; Crystal Titanium brown in indoor light. The color seems like a cold-toned gold.

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In outdoor, natural light/direct sunlight (which is always best light imho). The color is a warmer toned brown/gold.

 

Here’s my overall review for these circle lenses:

  • Cheap price. P250 for a pair of lenses that last for one year is always a good deal.
  • Easy to purchase. Most online sellers often have them on stock and you can get them in a matter of days or overnight in some cases!
  • Good pattern that has a limbal ring to give the illusion of bigger eyes.
  • The lenses have a bit of firmness to them, making them easier to put on a more comfortable for me (at least in my case; i always have trouble putting on lenses that are on the softer side).
  • I would still not recommend these for long-time wear; they get uncomfortable over time (unlike the Jewel series for me which I can wear for 8-10 hours no problem). I use these lenses for cosplay or j-fashion purposes which is probably one day out of one month, so my usage of them is not often. If you must wear lenses daily, especially for prescription ones, I still highly recommend going to your optical store. photo mih_zps12811535.jpg

Hope that helps you guys! Thanks and have a good one~!

xoxo

Xarin

 

Fire Emblem Awakening : Tharja Cosplay Construction Notes

Fire Emblem Awakening : Tharja Cosplay Construction Notes

Hi there everyone! Today I’ll be writing construction notes on my Fire Emblem: Awakening Tharja cosplay. Tharja is a fairly popular character for girls to cosplay as since, apart from being sexy, the whole… lack of actual clothing lol, makes it an easy costume that needs less time to pull off. I’m quite satisfied with how my own costume turned out.

 photo 10659369_10204149157311071_573702570152599193_n_zps27b471a8.jpgWho wouldn’t want to see their digital waifu come to life in cosplay? Heh.

I myself am not very attached to Tharja, tbh. I worked on this costume out of a joke that my brother said when I got this black wig that had full bangs–he said “Ohh you look like Tharja!” I decided it looked not-bad. Cosmania was also coming up in a month, but it happens on October, when by September I usually have a surge in work so I barely have time to work on a costume. Tharja seemed like a costume that was easy project due to her, as I said, minimal clothing.

 photo 10678641_10204142188576857_8889908863875269497_n_zpsd3077091.jpg“Looks like Tharja. You should cosplay Tharja,” my brother said. One thing he should note is when he challenges me like that or jokes like that, I take it seriously. xD Black wig was bought from gwyshop.com

The only reason Tharja is a fairly easy-to-execute costume is that major parts of her outfit can be bought, not made. The bodystockings and the bra top could easily be purchased off store shelves. I bought a bra that was not-obviously-a-bra—I made sure to pick one with no embellishments and no obvious stitches for the underwire. My pet peeve in seeing Tharja cosplays is when the bra top looks too-obviously a bra… so I made an effort to look for one that was seamless and smooth.

I also have a habit of buying matching underwear for a character I’m cosplaying so if anyone caught a less-than-desirable photo of me at least my underwear matches?!

 photo 1273131_10204304047103219_4235238857250481529_o_zpsf7c523b3.jpgUnderwear set was bought from the department store; bodystockings are ordered online from Yandy.com

I think the first thing I worked on was her crown/headpiece, which I figured would be an easy job. I cut out the shape in craft foam and then sandwiched it in Wonderflex. For those asking where I get Wonderflex, it’s from my personal stash I got from the US a year ago–no one sells it readily in the Philippines yet.

 photo 10355374_10204223747175771_800358879793233038_n_zpsc60b5e2c.jpgThis first version was too big, so I cropped it up a bit in the final version.

I worked on the neckpiece next, which I confessed I thought was gonna be a pain. It seems an area of difficulty other Tharja cosplayers run into, me included. Most choose to make this out of fabric, but then the fabric bunches up and to me, looks unflattering. All I had to work with was thermoplastic, so I decided to make it with wonderflex as well. I drew a pattern on craft foam and cut up ten segments of these rectangles, then piecing them together to form the neck bracer. I made them shorter than Tharja’s because I value being able to move my neck and shoulders, thank you. xD

 photo 10609504_10204329375736419_7798020196130258325_n_zpsed8a9fe7.jpgI also curled outward the top line in the final version of this, so my neck can move even more. It’s closed in the back with a toggle lock.

 photo 10670036_10204336611677313_1994270236517636641_n_zps5b9c9ae7.jpgI bought gold rhinestone-studded pumps to wear for this costume, but I ended up wearing the gold flats hahaha.

 photo 10388651_10204323486789199_2998592278782700116_n_zpsc1e9ded2.jpgThe shorts/very tiny lower-wear she was wearing was sewn by me in reverse satin and scrap katrina I had here. The gold I used for the binding was the shiny side so it looks shiny in this photo, but shows better in actual real life light.

 photo 10683642_10204347837797959_1492260755374579389_o_zps4e1cecb4.jpgMake-up test. Although this is too “dolly for Tharja and I muted it down eventually. I tried to mute down the lines on the upper lid since and just have clean thin lines in the final version, because that’s how Tharja’s make-up is.

 photo 10714054_10204698691529083_4908193077696953770_o_zpsaffed625.jpgFinished costume! The bracelets and the thingy-on-the-loincloth are all wonderflex and craftfoam/airfoam. The tome is a custom Grima’s Truth tome that is an actually sketchbook, customized with chipboard, fabric, paint and polymer clay. I think it’s my favorite prop so far in all props I made! I put in my Cosplay Cards in there too so I can hand them out easily haha. xD

 photo tharja_breakdown_zps36a6b24c.jpgHere’s the overall cost chart for Tharja, in PHP. While in the end it’s converted to USD. you shouldn’t really use this as a basis for making the costume in America because many supplies tend to be cheaper here in the PH, since we’re closer to factories (basically to China) so there are many things that are available at a cheaper price.

All I have is blurry tablet/phone photos of this costume so far, so I’m looking forward to a proper photoshoot of this costume soon!

 

Review: Crystal Jewel Blue Contact Lenses

Review: Crystal Jewel Blue Contact Lenses

Hey there everyone! Long time no blog for me! My computer died (again) and had to go back into servicing once more, so I only got it back just recently. It’s sad too as I had a line up of blog posts there that I meant to show everyone! T.T

But carrying on, today I’ll be reviewing Crystal’s Jewel Blue circle lenses. This was my first pair of lenses bought online (I got mine from GWYSHOP) and I was of course worried because I’ve often been warned by my family and told not to buy them outside of optical clinics. But I took a risk anyway because I was tired of my contact lenses expiring every three months when I didn’t use them that often anyway–I mostly only use them for cosplay purposes.

 photo jewel_blue_1_zps9fff931c.jpgI got the 15mm Crystal Jewel Blue, meant to use for lolita or j-fashion wear, and my upcoming Frozen: Anna cosplay. xD The design is VERY simple, and it comes with a very thick limbal ring.

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 photo jewel_blue_3_zpsd9af1ce5.jpg15mm circle lenses really give an eye-enlargening effect. I look totes different with and without them on. (But I’m just as gorgeous anyway haha) This photo is taken with an LED light directly facing me. The blue in the lenses are very natural and not very vivid. which is my preference for doll/lolita wear.

 photo jewel_blue_4_zps3f04931d.jpgOutdoors. You can wear the lenses outside with no problem and not getting weird stares from people. xD The color is only noticeable up-close. If you’re looking for lenses that are more vivid in color, this isn’t the series for you.

And now to break it down:

Comfort – these lenses are super comfy so I use them very often; If I have to dress up and go out. I’ve worn them for very extended hours. They are also very natural as I previously said so they’re good for fashion/daily wear.

Price – A pair goes for P250, and GWYSHOP sells them at probably the cheapest price in the market. They have an ongoing “Buy 2 circle lenses, Less 50 for each pair” so you can get these from them for as low as P200 a pair, which are ultra cheap! They also have an expiry of 1 year so no need to replace them often.

Color – the color is natural and is more suited to fashion wear, and probably not very good for cosplaying bright blue-eyed characters.

That’s it! Til next review!

*this review is entirely my own opinion, and is not sponsored in any way.

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Cosplay Tutorial: The Most Redundant Fabric Questions, Answered

Cosplay Tutorial: The Most Redundant Fabric Questions, Answered

Hi everyone! Let me introduce everyone to a new segment that I want to run in this blog–all about the most redundant cosplay questions. These are questions I’ve seen TIME and TIME and TIME AGAIN that you almost get sick of seeing them. ^^;; I hope to run three articles in this set–today we’re concentrating on Fabric questions.


 

Before I get onto serious business, let me give a short intro on why I felt inclined to write this.

I often see very, very redundant questions asked by newbies that are easily solved by a quick Google search or a walk right out of your house and right into the mall/shopping district. If you can bother to type out a question, how’s that any different from typing some keywords to run a search on Google? This is mostly applicable to cosplayers in my country (Philippines, which is the country with the most social media and cellphone usage in the world) where people are quicker to post a question in Facebook or in a forum before Googling.

I don’t mean to say asking some questions and asking for help is bad. By all means, go and I don’t intend to stop you. But I also wish to say that a little altruism never hurt anyone. There are SOME questions that are better solved by self-studying, Googling, and walking out of your house into the real world.

Some people are “too shy” to ask the people that are supposed to answer their questions irl face-to-face–like being too shy to ask a makeup sales personnel how much the makeup they are interested in is, and so instead rely on people online to tell them how it is when they are in perfect capability to just go to the mall/store and ask. I encourage you to just go for it, don’t be shy. You’re gonna be walking around being seen by other people in a costume, heaven’s sake! No need to be timid.

With that being said my answers to these questions will encourage an altruistic approach instead of spoon-feeding all the answers. I hope these answers help you on your journey to perfecting your cosplay!


 

“What fabric is good to use for this costume?”

  • Take a VERY close look at the costume you want made–some costumes already speak of what fabric they are made of just from the photos itself.

 photo fabric_questions_1_zps20d09a42.jpgTifa’s Advent Children costume is obviously some sort of leatherette. I cannot find photos that are HD enough, but if you watch the Advent Children movie, you’ll notice the light reflect off her costume in a way that spandex-leatherette/pleather will reflect light. Do you ever wonder why lots of Tifa cosplayers choose that fabric? That’s because that’s what Tifa’s costume was probably intended to be made out of by the original artists, based on how the fabric reacts to light.

 photo fabric_questions_zpsc660bf55.jpgAnna’s capelet is obviously some sort of wool. You can even see the wool fuzz on the details of her capelet here. Since wool is expensive, a lot of cosplayers use fabric that resembles it, like anti-pill fleece or matte-er versions of velvet.

Even if you don’t know what that fabric is called, if you walk into the store and find fabric that LOOKS like your references, then that’s worth a look.


 

  • Check the photos/videos of how the costumes move. In that way you can get an idea of the weight of these fabrics, and keep these in mind when shopping.

 photo fabric_questions_2_zps721d0209.jpgAnna’s capelet is stiff and retains its form instead of dropping to the hollow space when she opens her arms out. It does not cling to her own body shape and retains its own shape. Your fabric, if wool, needs to be thick enough to hold its own shape, and if it’s not, you need to look for a supporting material for it to make it stiffer. Obviously I wouldn’t use a flimsy cotton or peach twill to make this.

 photo fabric_questions_3_zps12251290.jpgElsa’s skirt moves as she walks, and hugs and contours to her body. I wouldn’t use a stiff gabardine to make this of course.

With these details in mind, you can go to the fabric store with a good idea of what fabric is needed. Touch the fabric. Run your fingers through it. Pull out a section and see how it falls. Is it stiff? Does it move? Will it cling to my body? Will it stay in the shape it’s been tailored in? Is it matte? Shiny? In that way even if you don’t find the optimal fabric the costume is presumably made out of, you can still find a close match.

I don’t go by recommending X type of fabric for X sort of costume on the get-go. I always tend to advise people to go to the fabric stores themselves and feel the fabrics instead of supplying a fabric type. I think this is the best way for a newbie to familiarize him/herself with fabrics.


 

“How much yardage do I need for this costume?”

This question is easily answered by some knowledge, and some imagination. First off, know how much a yard actually is (36 inches!). And know that fabric is usually sold from 40-inch and 60-inch bolts. With just those two knowledge in mind, and maybe a tape measure, you can safely guess how much yardage you need, and add a half-yard or two for safety purposes.

When all else fails, remember that before the personnel at the fabric store cuts a yard, s/he will always show you how much your yardage is. Feel free to drape it around yourself to see if it will cover what it has to! We have different bodies, so some need more yardage and some less, so don’t expect anyone who hasn’t seen you before to know exactly how much yardage you need.

Remember that details like pleats, which is fabric folded into itself, need more fabric.

If you’re making a skirt, don’t just think if the fabric goes around your waist then it’s okay–consider the widest point of the garment (say, the hemline if you want to make a skirt that’s full on the bottom)


 

“How do I make a pattern? What’s the pattern for x type of item?”

A pattern is, essentially, the fabric when it’s laid out flat on the floor without any stitching done to it at all… yet. With some imagination, you could get a general picture of what clothing looks like before its tailored into what it is.

 photo fabric_questions_5_zpseeb6af0f.jpgMy lolita skirts start as a massive rectangle of fabric–and not the bell-shaped/a-line shape that it appears as when sewn. Ruffles also start out as rectangles that are just gathered.

For the most part, there are free patterns available online for basic shapes and classic styles of clothing. Read up on some tutorials and you’ll find exactly what you need.

Also feel free to lay out your own clothes (non-stretch ones in particular) and study their general shape and how they were stitched. Study their seams, darts, and tucks. This is how I learned to make patterns for my own clothing.

If you look closely enough at your costume reference photos–especially from newer games/movies/anime, it’s easy to study them and take a look at where the seams are and piece together what this clothing looks like when flat.

 photo fabric_questions_4_zps00ac29d0.jpgCase in point, Anna’s capelet again. You can frickin’ see where the fabric is sewn together.

With some imagination, we can very safely deduce that this is the pattern of this capelet, although it needs modifications and refinement as you go:
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*pattern

Pattern making is half part measurements and geometry, and half part imagination~! xD


With those questions answered, here is a wrap up of my general tips:

  • Study your reference photos closely–see how they reflect the light, how stiff/flowy they are, how them move. This helps you get a good idea of what fabric to buy.
  • In anime where colors tend to be flat, use your imagination and think of what these clothing items would be made of if they would be reproduced for a real-person counterpart of that character. No actual school uniform is made of shiny costume satin or velvet, for example unlike what cheap slutty Halloween costumes say so.
  • Get yourself off of Facebook/tumblr/wherever and go touch and feel the fabrics in your local fabric store.
  • Never be afraid to ask the personnel in the fabric shops what they think and recommend. An intelligent fabric store personnel who has been doing it for years is like a bff for costuming needs. The dude at the fabric store I go to has saved my ass more than once by recommending fabric and knowing what stuff is piled in the end-cut/scrap fabric/bargain pile of the store. He usually asks me what color I’m going for, and what fabric weight and flow. He has helped me save money by recommending fabric in the scrap pile, or saying which fabric is good for sewing what. I may even go so far to say that if the store personnel has no idea what they’re doing and talking about, don’t buy from there.  (This may be true for helpers in, say, Divisoria, who have no clue and seem reluctant to assist you; there are a hundred fabric stores along there and if one personnel has no idea what he’s talking about, just hop on to another store.)
  • Google is your best friend when it comes to patterning, sewing, looking for fabric stores, and everything else.
  • Go out there and have fun! <3

xoxo,

Xarin

All things Cute at Kawaii in Manila 2! (Event Report)

All things Cute at Kawaii in Manila 2! (Event Report)

Hello everyone! Here’s a little post about Kawaii in Manila 2, which was a much-awaited event for the local Japanophiles for months now! I’ve been very, very excited for it myself. While there are cosplay conventions popping up left and right, there isn’t really a dedicated event for Japanese Fashion and culture, so it was just about time that Kawaii in Manila 2 arrived! This blog post is more of a personal take on the event instead of a coverage. (Partly because I brought my camera but forgot the memory card, haha—Some of these photos are cross-posted on my sister’s blog at FlaringFelicity.com, since the camera we used was hers. ^^)

We arrived just in time to see local j-fashion brands La Princesse Tea Doll and Dorotee Sweetlips walk down the catwalk. 

 photo kim2_4_zps2eb1d404.jpgDorotee Sweetlips’ collection had visible gothic and punk inspiration all throughout their collection, with blacks, reds and a consistent UK flag print. It’s definitely for the edgier lolitas out there. A favorite piece of mine (not pictured because yes I forgot my memory card) was the dress that had a parasol decked with playing cards walking down the catwalk.

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La Princesse Tea Doll is a new local lolita brand and their collection in the event was mostly floral prints in Rococo-influence silhouettes that would resonate with Classic Lolita gals–or even Sweet ones with the mostly pastel pink colors. I see it as a marriage of the Classic and Sweet styles. The photo above is one of me and my sister’s favorite for the day, from La Princesse Tea Doll. It’s more inclined to my currently Classic tastes. This is just so classic and rich. I’D BUY THIS. <3

 photo kim2_10_zpsb13ab51b.jpgLocal Mori-kei brand Forestale Shop also showcased their collection, but we arrived just as it finished! D: But I got a photo together with Jeyel and Kyo, who modeled Forestale’s “Don’t Eat the Candy” collection. I first met them in 2010 and we all debuted our first cosplay the same time that year. Over the years they have just improved so much and I look forward to seeing their costumes in events. It was refreshing to see them in J-fashion this time! please feel free to crop me out my color scheme is so out of place with them xD

seeing them all the time makes me wish I had a significant other who’d dress up with me

 photo kim2_11_zps009edbcd.jpgI ran into Katz (Nekomi-Kasai on Facebook) who was in her anthro/human version of Catbus from Totoro, with Sammy as Totoro~ They’re real sweethearts. <3

 photo kim2_12_zpsaab7b220.jpgAJ Cross Cosplay came as Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. I love how the Ghibli group came in cosplay that’s still very relevant to the event. I may even go so far as to say that Studio Ghibli works is an own subculture in itself, haha! Sese Cosplay was also there as Sophie, but their group seemed pretty busy getting together for a shoot so it was awkward to be interrupting them. ^^;;

 photo kim2_6_zps92ffb9cf.jpgWe checked the art gallery next. All the pieces were just bursting with kawaii-ness and skill. I hope next time the artworks are bigger and we have a wider space for the gallery too!

 photo kim2_3_zpsbf31b177.jpgThe kawaii life is also all about DIY–decorating and blinging out stuff is really popular among the girls of Japan! It’s nice to have live DIY workshops in events, in this photo they’re having a polymer clay workshop. I picked up some of the clay they were using, which is a fairly new brand that I haven’t used before called Flexi Clay. Will post a review of it soon. ^^

 photo kim2_13_zps59f54746.jpgLucyPop neckties! <3

There were all sorts of shops which have taken up booths in the event, and you can walk out there with your complete dose of cuteness or with a totally new look if you wanted!

 photo kim2_14_zps3878f940.jpgFrom Spring Marionette‘s shared booth. ^^

I love how you could sense the passion even from the sellers in the booths here. The great thing about booths like these is that they’re manned by the artists and owners who are also passionate about the kawaii movement, even dressing up to match! Even sellers were decked in their best kawaii outfit!

 photo kim2_9_zps753aa7bc.jpgFrom Abbey Sy’s booth–my brother attended their lettering workshops before. ^^

Kawaii in Manila also gave out “bingo cards”–flyers that get stamped whenever you visit the booths listed. If you bingo, you get a raffle entry! I like how it encourages people to go around and meet the shops and booths. The venue was just right for the number of attendants. While there’s congestion here and there which is unavoidable, it doesn’t get to “omg dying” sort of frustration which is what happens when organizers try to pack too many people into the event.

 photo kim2_7_zps7ea26365.jpgLolita with an attitude (the good sort)! I wonder what print she’s wearing? And those bags are just perfect!

 photo kim2_15_zps57eaf02e.jpgDolldelight designer Cyril with her good friend, also modeling Dolldelight.

 photo kim2_2_zps1dfaa4c0.jpgomg lolita senpais noticed me—-*fangirls* I feel so underdressed next to them! xD I’m a fan of dolldelight creations since I found them on facebook, and it’s a pleasure to meet Cyril in person! Cyril has started a group for dolldelight fans in the Philippines, so please check out the group and join if you’d like to be in the loop!

 photo kim2_16_zpsf37a48ad.jpgCute photo-op walls in the venue. ^^ A pet-peeve of mine is the wrist-stamp though, I always hate it when I’m in a nice coord or costume and then in my photos I always have some stamp on my arm showing—xD

I came in a little classic-lolita coord that was self-sewn in two days… with my sewing machine needle breaking just when I was about to finish it. D: It’s far more casual than any of the lolita coordinates in the event.  xD

I love lolita, and while I don’t dress in the other subcultures, I enjoy seeing them all the same. But I am not in close contact with other people who enjoyed Japanese fashion or culture in general and just “got it”. Kawaii in Manila 2 was a true eye-opener and experience from me in the sense that from one event, you just knew that there were others like you who were passionate about the same things. And even if the subcultures in the event were many and varying, it was refreshing and there was just a feeling of community from just being there.

I hope Kawaii in Manila becomes an annual event, and comes back bigger and better next time. It was a huge success and I’d like to congratulate all the organizers for all the passion they put into this event.

See you in Kawaii in Manila 3!

 photo kim2_0_zpsb97226c5.jpgMe and my sister. Thank you sis, and my family, for putting up with me, lace and frills and all!

xoxo

Xarin

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