Cosplay Sewing: Notions and Thingamajigs to get you Started

Cosplay Sewing: Notions and Thingamajigs to get you Started

Hey everyone, and welcome to the second post in the Cosplay Sewing Series. In our first ever post, I discussed pointers on shopping for your sewing machine. In this post, we will be reading on about items that will get you started on your sewing adventure. I’ve only listed the bare essentials, so over time you might want to pick up more things to enhance your sewing experience, but these ones come highly recommended for me!

As a general tip these items can be bought in craft and sewing stores, and also in National Bookstores and the Notions section in SM Department Stores.

Let’s start!

 photo notions_1_zpsc9587901.jpgFor Pattern-making

In our part of the world (Philippines) you can’t buy patterns anywhere, and you only really have access to them if you are in dressmaking courses. But if you remember TLE classes starting from fifth grade, we are all taught how to draft sewing patterns from scratch. Never paid attention to all those classes until I was over with college and wanted to sew cosplay costumes, haha! For most of us here, the sewing starts with pattern-making. These are the items I have for that process.

Hip Curve – Used for marking the curves in the hips for pants, or other similar items.

French Curve – Used for making natural curves in the pattern, like for armholes and sleeves. Before I had this french curve I drew all my sleeve/sleeve holes at approximation and guess haha and let me tell you they really fit much MUCH better if you have a French Curve to measure them with. This set (along with the hip curve) was bought from National Bookstore, at their crafts section. (where they have facepaint and sewing kits, etc.)

Tailor’s Chalk – for marking on fabric; the marks easily go away with washing or ironing. There are also pencil and pen type markers in the market.

Measuring tape – for taking your own measurements. It is best to always have another person instead of yourself take your measurements.

Pattern Paper – there are different varieties sold in different countries; the ones sold her are “ribbed” and have lines to make sure your patterns are straight and equal. But you can also use any sturdy scrap paper you have on hand; I know some who prefer their patterns on a sturdier board. The pattern paper I have pictured here can also be easily bought from National Bookstore, and if you still have TLE classes your teacher may be selling it in class. =3=

Rulers (not pictured) – Clear rulers make marking easier, but out of personal preference I like metal ones.

 photo notions_2_zpsc77a00d8.jpgFor Cutting and Trimming

Fabric Shears – My shears are actually all-purpose scissors, but I dedicated them for fabric use only… mostly. xD In general, thou shall not use them to cut anything else, especially tacky things like tape (never duct tape!!). I sharpen them regularly as well.

Seam Ripper – aka your best friend. It doesn’t matter if you are a pro seamstress sewing for decades or a total newbie; mistakes happen. You sew something the wrong side up, you sew a non-straight line–it happens. And when it does, this is your bestie. Mine is a Clover brand, which is really sharp. In the Philippines however you can only easily get the super cheap ones for only like, 7PHP and I have one and believe me, it was PAINFUL to use. The thing was nothing close to sharp, and made you exert much force. If you can find and get a good seam ripper on sale, I say grab it as it is a good investment. (also don’t use it for silly things like poking glue and tape, you know.)

 photo notions_4_zps0c0faf99.jpgFor Making a Mock-up, and Hand-Finishing

There are many times, even when having the fanciest machine, that nothing beats doing something the traditional way, by handsewing.

Hand Sewing Needles – a set like this is easy to purchase anywhere. Use the thinner ones for finer fabric and bigger ones for thicker fabric.

Pins – Pearl-head pins are easier to spot, so I prefer them to the “aspile” ones which just have a flat head and is better off used for making elaborate skirting designs on a restaurant table.

Pin Cushion – the Tomato type is easily available in the market. For character the one I am using is a pumpkin. You may also want to pick up an emery cushion, usually shaped as a strawberry. You can sharpen needles and pins by pushing them in and out.

Machine Needles (not pictured as I didn’t have any spares hoho) – I didn’t have any spares (boo!) but it’s always good to have some handy. My needles just love to break just when I’m about to finish a costume haha. The “all-purpose” needle size that is recommended here in the Philippines is a “size 14”. However, for different fabrics and fabric weights, you could use a different needle.

  • For very light fabrics (chiffon, organza) use a 70/10. (In the Philippines we just say “Size 10”)
  • For light fabrics (silk, satin, lining fabrics) use a 80/12.
  • For medium-weight fabrics (cottons, cotton mixes, katrina, linen, the usual sorts you use for costuming) use a 90/14
  • For sorta-heavy coat/trouser fabrics (gabardine, tweed) use 100/16
  • For heavy fabrics (denim) use a 110/18

Fabric Glue – Sewing everything on is the “must” and the “proper” way to do things, but there are many things better solved by gluing them on. I do not recommend hot-glue for fabric as it can damage your fabric. Many people swear by Fabri-Tac, which is by far the best fabric glue I have used to even stick metal components to a costume, without damaging the fabric itself. For rhinestones I also use Jewel-It, or you can also use Gem-Tac (which is available at the Notions section of SM Department Stores for Philippine readers).

 photo notions_5_zpsbe8ebdc8.jpgThread

Thread can be easily bought anywhere, everywhere, and there are even peddlers hawking these for uber low prices at the markets. Two brands are commonly available locally–Astra and Apple. Apple is cheaper and comes in bigger spools, and Astra comes in smaller spools but their threads are of better quality and have a beautiful shine to them. You can also purchase serger thread for thread colors that you often use (in my case, white). If you want savings on thread, you can check fabric warehouses and stores for old thread–these usually have minor discoloration and are dusty, and if you don’t mind that, its a lot of savings. The blue thread here has a bit of dust and is an “old” thread.

Thread is very important; it’s a basing in costuming to match your fabric to your thread so the stitches just vanish into the fabric. Bring a swatch of your fabric when you’re out buying thread so you are sure that the color matches.

Bobbins (not pictured) are also very important. It is good to have a lot in stock for every color that you plan to use while sewing. If you buy sewing machines, they usually come with one or two free bobbins, but since I use many other colors I probably have around a dozen more. =3=

 photo notions_3_zpsc72c8019.jpgFinishing, snaps, closures, etc.

Lastly, here are items I think are great to have in-stock for the finishing parts of your costume.

Bias tapes – ready-made bias tapes are very cheap and already come in many colors. You can make your own, but if you can buy some for 10PHP why trouble yourself. =_= This is useful for many things–that thin bias strip on a costume, or for sealing in raw seams. I always have a pack in common colors (black, white, red).

Shirring Elastic – If you truly want to make your items “free size”, creating a shirring for them is the way to go, and for that you need shirring elastics. I am fond of making lolita skirts so I am practicing my shirring. For cosplay costuming, this is hardly necessary though.

Garter Elastics – I have a massive roll of garters at home. Again it comes with making lolita skirts and pettis, but I find that if I had to make something like shorts or trousers and I can decide between elastics or sewing in a zip, I would choose elastic garters 9 over 10. That one time is if the trousers really had to look tailored (say, for a black-suit set ala Final Fantasy VII Turks). But for costumes that appear more casual and certainly if the costume has “beach” spelled all over it, you are better off using garters.

Velcro (aka “Magic Tape”) – More popularly known as the strips that close your sneakers and sports shoes, Velcro is also loved by many for snapping costumes and armor parts shut. It is always a good idea to have a roll of it in white or black.

Zippers – There are regular zips and invisible zips and jacket zips available in many colors and lengths.

Hook and Eye – usually used about regular zips for added closure (meh why can I not thing of better description meh)

“Automatics” – this is what we call them locally, but I have no idea what else they are called. They are sort of like invisible buttons, and I prefer them as I dislike sewing buttonholes, haha!

An assortment of buttons (not pictured) – over the course of time I and my mom have built up quite the button collection. We take some off of old clothes we no longer use.

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So there’s everything I think you need to get started! Did I miss anything else? Hit me up in the comments if I did. Hopefully I get to demonstrate a simple, easy-to-do sewing project next time in this series. Have a nice day!

xoxo

Xarin

 

 

Cosplay DIY: Basic Sintra Armor Tutorial

Cosplay DIY: Basic Sintra Armor Tutorial

Hey everybody! To make up for not being able to blog last month, I have a jam-packed list of articles that I have here that I hope to all be able to publish this month. It’s been quite crazy for me recently, and things have been chaotic with the shop. I must admit I ended up depressed a lot of times, and stormy weather doesn’t help any. I am a gal that always prefers sunny days.

 photo sintra_lucina_zps4a09f490.jpg
But personal stuff aside, today I am posting a short DIY armor tutorial for Sintra. I got a commission for minor armor for the character Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening (pictured above). I do not often and barely accept commission for armors and weapons, except for good friends and when I actually have materials I can work with. I meant to make the armor with foam x Wonderflex before, but craft foam was sold out in every shop I went to lately. D: Until I saw that Sintra is finally available off store shelves in National Bookstore. Its the preferred material of many cosplayers overseas.

 photo sintra_0_zpsd99a4503.jpgSintra from National Bookstore costs P65 for 1/8 illustration board size, and P135 for 1/4 illustration board size. I buy the smaller ones because they are easier to carry and there’s only a P5 difference. =_=

Before I start with demonstrating how I made the armor for Lucina, here are some basic Sintra tips:

  • Sintra is heat-formable, but dont expect it to expand or flex the way thermoplastics do; if anything else it shrinks and curls up into itself when overheated. When its reached that state it is practically impossible (or possible but extremely tough) to flatten it out again to its original state, so slow-but-sure is the method to heating it up.
  • However, once its heated up, it sets and cools down again almost instantly. Okay, not instantly, but in seconds. We are talking around only less than one minute working time here. Once you heat it and its bendable, you HAVE to set it to the shape you want immediately–or else it’ll cool down and harden on you, and because of problem #1 above we don’t want to heat it too often. If you aren’t used to handling hot material, get some work gloves ready.
  • It can only curve in one direction, and its flexibility isn’t wonderflex/worbla category. Don’t expect to be able to make boob-armor out of it; however its highly recommended for armor that only has to curve in one direction, like arm guards or leg armor.
  • Sintra expands/thickens when heated, so its sturdy on its own and needs no supporting material. It also has a coating which makes it water-resist
  • Unlike wonderflex/worbla though, the scraps aren’t moldable and I can barely come up with an idea how to use them. They are just scraps. =_=
  • I assume you have a heat gun. Its a great investment if you want to work with thermoplastics and prop-making materials. They are easily bought in hardware stores in malls (ACE Hardware, Handyman, True Value) and cost between 1.3k-2k.

 photo sintra_1_zps38906199.jpg
First off, like with anything I do, I start off with a pattern. Because Sintra cannot curve in two directions, I am opting to make the raised part of the armor a separate piece from the bottom part. I’ll show how to make it look like one seamless armor piece later.

For making a pattern, just sit down and imagine how your armor would look like when its laid into a flat sheet. You can also press the pattern paper against your arm/leg/wherever you’re making armor for and draw a rough shape on the paper and then just polish it out.

I then trace the pattern onto the Sintra, and then cut it out. Use sturdy scissors as it can be a bit tough to cut through.

 photo sintra_2_zpsb4fa2060.jpg
Take out your heat gun and for the flat pieces into curved ones. I take it slooowly but surely. I first heat the middle section where the curve is at its highest, curve it there, let it set, and then gently work my way from the middle towards curving the ends.

Remember that it sets almost instantly, so be quick! Use the lower heat setting on your heat gun too, to avoid overheating it.

Once the two pieces–top and bottom are curved--I position them together at an angle and then glue them together with industrial-strength glue, also holding them in place with some clamps so they are able to dry properly while holding the shape.

One thing I like about Sintra lots is that it thick and sturdy on its own–no need to support it with foam unlike worbla or wonderflex.

 photo sintra_3_zpsa93bea6a.jpg
If you notice the parts where I glued the two pieces together is obvious, but the look we are going for is one seamless armor piece. So I fill in the seam with some wall putty.

 photo sintra_4_zps1d17c235.jpg
By this time I also make the raised details on the armor. I used molded wonderflex scraps, and flexible polymer clay for them. If you want to use polymer clay, bake it on its own; do not put the sintra in the oven with it–the sintra WILL collapse in the oven heat.

More putty over wherever I can put putty on, and then sanding.

Sintra in itself doesn’t need to be primed before painting–its already got a great finish for painting, so putty only over the areas you want to smooth out. It’s one other advantage of Sintra–no need for lots of prepping before painting it.

 photo sintra_5_zps74a66278.jpg
Bef0re I spraypaint this spraypaint-primer on it, I use Diamond Glaze over it, concentrating on the gaps and cracks that there may be in the putty. I am lazy like that haha. Diamond Glaze is a 3-Dimensional gloss/adhesive. I use it to glaze my clay creations, but since it dries with a raise/3D effect, its almost perfect for making surfaces smoother and level, and filling in cracks. Diamond Glaze can be bought in special art shops.

Then I spray it all with this grey-colored acrylic primer. I love how this primer is grey; for me it creates a better base for metallics like silver instead of a white primer. My blue spraypaint was also a little to bright for the color I need so a darker primer works great for me.

 photo sintra_6_zpsd2b6b9c2.jpg
Then I just spraypaint with gold and blue spraypaints. You know, cover the parts I don’t want painted on with masking tape so they don’t get the color, spray, rinse and repeat.

I dry brush black acrylic paint onto it afterwards to give it depth, and a more “used” look.

 photo sintra_7_zps2897b7e8.jpg Afterwards I seal it all in and gloss it using more Diamond Glaze. There are also other projects I was working on there on my table, haha.

 photo sintra_8_zps7af7a95e.jpgSo that you’re able to wear it, I sewed these black straps with Velcro, and attached them to the armor using Fabri-Tac and Wonderflex scraps to seal it in place. :3

 photo sintra_9_zpsdb7a1e8e.jpg
AND HERE IT IS.

Overall, I had a blast using Sintra, and would recommend it for basic armor DIY projects like these for those that want to get crafty. It has lots of pros going for it–its cheap, but lightweight and sturdy. Its practically as thick as an illustration board but its WAAAY much sturdier, and is waterproof even. There is less need to prime it for paintjobs.  There are limitations to what it can do, but for what it CAN do, its an excellent material. I recommend it for basic armguards or leg armor.

Apart from National Bookstore, you can also easily buy these from art shops in Recto or along España. Good luck!

How Cosplayers look Better in Photos

How Cosplayers look Better in Photos

“Why don’t you look like your photos? Why does she look so good in photos but when I met her in person she looked so bad?”

“Why do photographers edit the photos so much the people don’t even look like how they do in person anymore?”

“There’s so much Photoshop and fakery!!”

There’s a lot of editing hate going on around in our local cosplay circle recently, with lots of rants going on about how “s/he looks nothing like his/her photos!” “s/he’s fake and his/her photos are too edited!” and so on. It’s been a common rant in the anonymous confessions section, and while I have my feelings on this, I feel people are too quick to attribute it all to Photoshop.

It’s not just Photoshop that makes a photo look much better than how the person in them looks like face-to-face. From taking photos of other people and my own self, I can tell other things that make a photo instantly look better. So don’t be quick to blame it all on PS.

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MAKE-UP

I don’t think enough people observing the cosplay community know about the power of makeup.

Some of the prettiest cosplayers I know locally actually don’t have perfect skin when I meet them up close. And then, I think, like many others, “Oh, she doesn’t look exactly like her photos” but then I pull out my camera to take a photo of them and voila—their skin, for some reason, looks smooth and gorgeous on my camera.

A great concealer and foundation goes a long way in cosplay make-up, and for cosplay photos. There are makeup that are made exactly FOR photos that give off a blurring, airbrushed look or attract the light in a certain way to make you look much smoother in photos or from a good distance. It’s a powerful tool to utilise and learn about, and a lot of cosplayers invest in finding the ones that work for them.

 photo edit_article_2_zpsf3582646.jpgWig was styled and spirit gum was used to put the strands in place. I mixed a hint of white facepaint to cream based foundation to make my bro look whiter. Also my bro shaved lelz  

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DISTANCE

Remember that scenario I said earlier? Say, I met someone, she looks “different”, then I pull out my camera and she looks just like her photos online?

Another OBVIOUS thing (that isn’t so obvious to others) is my distance to the person. When I meet them for the first time, I am probably up-close face-to-face with them, and I we might even exchange kisses on the cheek as a casual greeting. OF COURSE in such an up-close scenario, I’ll probably notice every little thing on her face if I was looking—under eye circles and that concealer job.

And then, OF COURSE, I am not going to lean in THAT close to take her photo. I will probably take a good step back and include that pretty top she’s wearing or something.

If anyone is also familiar with the “living doll” trend makeup where people line their waterline beyond the normal and attach falsies beyond your actual lash lines, this look totally looks like crazy creepy shiz up-close. This is a look that is meant to be photographed from a good distance. Most cosplay make-up take elements from this makeup trend (since anime characters have big eyes and doll-like as well) so it makes sense that if you saw it in person, you’d probably not get it. (This is why I avoid that look for conventions and only use it for photoshoots.)

 photo edit_article_3_zps326ccfc7.jpgHere is a “subtler” take on the living doll make-up without the extreme lower lashes and all. It looks cute in photos and makes your eyes look more “animated” like animu but it looks pretty heavy and odd in person.

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YOUR CAMERA’S RESOLUTION

One of the reasons people are so obsessed with “selfies” is because front “selfie” cameras on mobile devices have much lower resolutions than actual cameras, thus blurring your skin out a bit when you snap that photo.

The same principle applies to taking cosplay photos. No matter how fancy-schmancy the camera is, when it takes a good step back, it won’t be able to capture exactly what your eyes see when you are face-to-face with the person. Pair it up with blurring/photo makeup, and that’s instant better skin overall.

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THE LIGHTS

For the makeup transformation that I do for fun, I do a little cheat and that is to make sure that there’s enough light hitting my face. I turn on all the lights in the room and then make sure one is hitting me from every angle lelz. There’s so many things that a good light can do to evening out your skintone.

There are so many things bad light can also do, like highlighting your under-eye bags. That’s why good photographers are always asking you to step into the light and know their light source.

Tinted light also does wonders, so now you can stop wondering why people like taking photos so much in hotel rooms where there’s yellow-orange-ish lights.

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THE ANGLE

In photos, I can totally control what angle I am presenting myself to you in. I can find an angle that suits the character I am cosplaying—or maybe the only angle that works for the character, haha.

My face is totally oval-ish and a bit fat-looking up-front. I always try to balance it out by cutting my wig in a shape or style that flatters my face shape, and even using spirit gum to make sure the strands properly frame my face. This means that characters with sharper facial features only work in certain angles of mine.

 photo edit_article_6_zps29d1b7c9.jpgI wouldn’t do a full-frontal nude angle when trying to make a transformation into a guy; I stick to angles where the lines on my face look sharper. I could jut my jaw out to make it more prominent, angle my face so my nose looks sharper, etc. I also tend to open my mouth to give the illusion that I have a longer face. 

 photo edit_article_7_zps6db771fb.jpgIf it’s a qt moe girl tho, I can face the camera a bit more directly to make my face shape look fuller, or make expressions that make my eyes bigger.

The environment and the circumstances

There’s this big thing that plays into factor for how I can’t look exactly like my photos when we meet face-to-face in conventions. Especially in Philippine conventions. There’s the environment and circumstances we are in.

Most conventions here are held in malls, so that means I will have to do my make-up in a public restroom for around five minutes when I’d really like to take my time at it and take one hour in front of my vanity. Even if I do it at home, there’s the fact I have to travel for hours to the convention center, so my make-up isn’t fresh.

The poor ventilation probably melted off half my makeup, haha.

Most people end up not being able to sleep the day before cons, from excitement or working on a prop that still needed some touch-ups. Even the most popular cosplayers can be seen with under-eye dark circles every now and then.

I’m in the flesh and right there, so I probably don’t and can’t control what lighting or angle you see me in, and how up-close. My face may be sweaty or oily, and I can’t help it.

There are things that I can avoid or control if I was taking photos, say, at home or in a private photoshoot.

This is also why I envy the cosplayers in other countries where they book hotels that they can prepare from that are near the convention centers. Less stress getting things prepared.

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 photo edit_article_1_zps6b6121fc.jpgLeft Photo: This is how I look, edited but it does its best to stick to how I truly look, chubby cheeks and all. Right Photo: This is too much Photoshop and looks nothing like me; I slimmed down the face and gave it big eyes and made it look animu but that is NOT how I look… Oddly tho its my most faved photo of this cosplay. I guess it speaks lots of how people expect their cosplayers to look like lol

I did write down all these factors that make cosplayers or j-fashion enthusiasts look “different” from their photos, but something else I really wanted to appeal to by writing this is people’s expectations or thoughts on another person.

People are quick to label one as “fake” and judge someone for how they look outside their costumes and on simple days where they can’t be bothered to dress up. I don’t think this is healthy.

Some people rant that they no longer want to get to know or be friends with some cosplayers because they met them and they look different from what they expected. That they are “fake”.

Of course there are a lot of people there that really do edit themselves to point of unrecognizable to make themselves appear like some goddess and try to earn fame blahblahblah, but for the most part, people just want to look their best and put their best face forward.

If I was friends with or admired someone over the internet, I wouldn’t want to judge them based on how they looked when we met—rather based on the interaction that we had, and what their personality was.

And if they have amazing makeup skills or some such, I rather admire them and want to learn their techniques and the products they use rather than labeling them as fake… for putting on makeup.

It’s just the same as your graduation photos. A makeup artist puts makeup on you, a photographer takes your photo and touches you up on Photoshop. It looks much different from how you are in person but no one gets flak for it and I have no right to call you “fake” for it.

I wish the factors listed here help you take better photos, cosplay or not, as well as enlighten people over the all the “editing” hate that goes on.

xoxo

Xarin

Cosplay Sewing: Choosing your Starter Sewing Machine

Cosplay Sewing: Choosing your Starter Sewing Machine

HELLO EVERYONE! Today I bring to you a new blog series: Cosplay Sewing for N00bs! (aka newbies/beginners) When I started sewing, I made a lot of booboos and wasted a lot of time and fabric before I got to where I am now. I want to save as many people as I can from that heartache, so I decided to blog about basic sewing for cosplay.

In our first episodes, I’m going to discuss tools and equipment. If you’re looking to sew your own costumes, your first step is to go shopping! Fun! Before we go list down all the notions and fun thingamajigs you should get, we’re going to the first and primary item you need to get started–the Sewing Machine. I’ve seen a lot of people make booboos and waste money on this essential item so I will dedicate a whole blog post to it.

The Sewing Machine is the heart of sewing, and without it you’ll be stuck hand-stitching. You’ve probably browsed sewing machines on sale and are pondering which one to get. Sewing machines can be quite hefty on the pocket, so it’s important you get real value for your money.

Here are some types which are commonly available in the Philippine market:

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Traditional Sewing Machines
sewing machine traditional photo 10502042_10203891370466561_7167647879925156423_n_zps5c55b273.jpgMy cats like sitting beside my sewing machine to rest or even on top of my fabric when I’m sewing something. -___- I got this sewing machine (secondhand) for P2500. Brand new units from Singer cost P4000.

I ALWAYS recommend getting a traditional “old fashioned” sewing machine, especially for beginners. A cheap portable sewing machine may be inexpensive, but it breaks down in less than a year. A “for realz” electronic sewing machine (the ones from Brother or Singer) is expensive and may be overwhelming for the beginner since it has many functions and buttons and all that. Traditional sewing machines are at a good price range and lasts almost forever. Even if you totally suck at sewing costumes and give up (lol) your future daughter or granddaughter will at least still be able to use the machine. xD

I grew to love the simple, straightforward machines of the old times. I’m even using a secondhand basic one with only a running stitch, and I’ve never had to have it serviced! The stitches that it can’t do can be compensated with handstitching and other stitches anyway. It may take more time especially if you want your seams to be really neat, but its just an exercise in patience for me.

It doesn’t use electricity which is good for the bills and pedaling it by foot means I can control manually how fast or slow I want it to go.

They are real value for money, so if you can buy one, please do. If you are buying a secondhand piece, make sure to bring along a friend or relative that knows what to look for and can troubleshoot small problems. So far with my machine all I had to do was replace the belt.

Fortunately I live in an area where there are still a lot of people making a living by sewing (most sew curtains and pillows and rags), so there is a shop that specializes in selling old sewing machines, servicing them, and selling spare parts. According to my mum, there are also dedicated shops in Quiapo and Divisoria for traditional sewing machines.

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Modern Electric Sewing Machines
sewing machine electric photo 10562977_10203891369346533_6582415552807868985_n_zps7a1915c0.jpgThe Singer Promise Electric sewing machine, P9,990 at Lazada.

The new electronic machines from Singer and Brother work splendidly as well! The traditional ones may no longer be available in your area (and in some countries they can only be seen in museums) so if you can’t get your hands on a traditional, your next best bet is to save up for an electric one. I have friends who use these machines and make amazing costumes.

It’s a big investment, so make sure your heart’s really in it before you take the leap. The most basic sewing machines from Brother/Singer will cost you P8000-10000 already.

The good news is there are a lot of functions and built in stitches to these machines compared to the old fashioned ones. They often have added accessories like different feet and such. There are functions for easy sewing of buttonholes and there may even be basic decorative or embroidery stitches. It may be overwhelming for a total newbie, so I recommend taking your time getting familiar with your machine and trying out all the functions. Going to the showrooms of the machine brand will also help out–have the product demo’d to you by a knowledgeable staff. Its a continuous learning process so keep reading and watching videos to make the most out of your machine.

You can also read PLENTY of reviews about the particular machine name online. If you’ve set your eyes on something, remember the model name and Google reviews on it.

If you’ve made the leap and purchased, make sure you keep your receipts and warranty and know the nearest service center. There are lots of cool functions and capabilities with these machines that you can explore, and you will probably still be finding a new thing or two about it after years of purchasing it.

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Portable Sewing Machines
sewing machine portable photo 10527626_10203891368626515_5185447372381787523_n_zpsb2943fed.jpg“Mini Electric Sewing Machine”, P879.00 on Lazada.

I’ll be frank–whatever you do, don’t buy a “portable sewing machine”. EVER.

If you want to seriously sew even just a seifuku, don’t buy these, EVER.

Don’t fall for the trap.

I call it a ‘trap’ because the cheap price reaally isn’t cheap in the long run–as the machine won’t last a “long run”. Be wary especially with cheaper models. They are often entirely made with plastic–even the parts and mechanics inside. This means that it’s more likely to wear and tear and not last long and malfunction. Basically the more lightweight something is, the more you will want to avoid it.

There is also another trap–most demos will show that these machines can sew through any fabric–leather or denim and whatnot. This isn’t true. The demos only show one layer of fabric–and what in the world can you sew with just one layer of fabric?! It’s not going to pedal through two layers of thicker fabric, so forget about hemming denim with it.

I started out with a portable sewing machine, the one often found at department stores, which cost me P3500. It’s a sturdier unit than those you see sold for less, but it just lasted a good one year. The first year it was functioning well, but by the second things kept snagging and I couldn’t stitch a straight line in peace as something would always go wrong. The most I used the machine for was alterations and accessories. I lost enthusiasm to sew because I thought I just sucked and I had no talent for it.

But then we bought a traditional machine, and BAM. I was sewing faster, neater, and more efficiently. I can finally sew a straight line -___- . I thought something was wrong with me, but nope, it was just the poor-quality machine. It’s a waste of money. Honestly had I known better then I’d just have added P500 and bought a brand-new Traditional Singer.

Another downside as these items are mostly imported from China or wherever, if you lose any of the parts, you are going to have one hell of a hard time finding new ones. They also don’t have service centers locally.

This item is most likely candidate for getting stuck in one dark corner of the house and gathering dust.

You may think I’m being harsh, but I seriously mean it.I had one. I tried it. Don’t waste your money better off put into saving for a real sewing machine and not these plastic junk. In some cases an old fashioned sewing machine is cheaper than this and lasts much much longer.

If for some reason you wish to buy one, the cheapest deals are in Quiapo and Divisoria. If you have access to those areas, avoid buying them online.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

So there’s my basic, dirty opinion on getting your first sewing machine. A sewing machine makes or breaks your sewing experience. If you end up with a crappy one, there’s going to be more swearing and pain than actual sewing, so I think you should take your time and find one that you know will be a great companion in life and your cosplay adventures. I hope the tips also helped you and will ultimately lead you to finding “the one” machine that is for you.

Next episode in the sewing saga, I’m going to discuss the rest of the notions and thingamajigs you’ll want to have to start your sewing kit. Eventually I mean to guide you through simple sewing projects, from the simple schoolgirl skirt, petticoat and blouse. Please comment if there is something you’d like to see!

Good luck!

– Xarin

Ozine Fest 2014: Jack Frost + Elsa

Ozine Fest 2014: Jack Frost + Elsa

THIS IS A VERY belated post from Ozine Fest 2014 last April! It marked my older sister’s debut into cosplay, as well as my brother cosplaying again for the first time in years. My sister or brother would often accompany my to events and conventions just to support me or cover the event. Just like me, they like seeing people play dress-up and bring characters to life.

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They came there as Elsa from Frozen and Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians!

My sister always wanted to cosplay and yet, for the longest time, wasn’t able to decide on a character she wanted. She’d often try to find costumes that were just impressive and flashy, but I encourage her to go for a character who she knew and genuinely liked. Well, when we saw Frozen together and she saw Elsa’s transformation, she suddenly burst out “I want to cosplay Elsa!!” while we were watching. So yes, that decided things. I was pretty interested in figuring out how I’d put together Elsa’s costume too anyway, so I decided it’d be a fun challenge. And I could go as Anna!

My brother has cosplayed a few times before, but he only likes to cosplay when he sees a character he is truly into and relates to in a personal level. When my sis and I agreed on our Anna + Elsa plans, we were trying to figure who to pick for my brother. Prince Hans? Kristoff? But his frame didn’t really suit either, and he said he didn’t like any of the guys in Frozen anyway. Until one day surfing the internet he remembered his fondness for Jack Frost and told me about it, and whoopeee, our trio plan was complete!

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The Jack Frost costume was a lucky find; we saw online that cosplayer AJ Cross who was selling his pre-loved set. It was very well-made too, so my brother and I were happy! All I really did for Jack was style the wig.

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 There were glitters and very accurate patterns handmade by AJ Cross Cosplay. Must’ve taken a lot of time and patience!

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And then I started the tedious process of making Elsa’s costume… And I did it in five days or so. It was a simple skirt which was a sheer dark blue with silver glitters on it lined in light blue. It was sad as the details of the fabric are lost in photos, and the photos screw up their color, so I probably should have opted for a similar color to the corset. …And my sewing skills are still amateur. xD

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For the corset-type top, I was debating of what to make the “icy-shinies” on them with–I bought some sequins, and some acrylic stones, but then I experimented and decided that my snowflake resin mix was most accurate for the frosted ice look. However the expectation was to cover it all in resin rectangles, but the reality was that there was no time given that the material takes a day to cure and that’s only for a few dozen pieces–and I needed hundreds of them. Didn’t have time to make so many. So I spaced ’em apart and added the acrylic stones.

The stone-studded snowflakes and snowflake hairpins can be bought at my Etsy shop [here].

The cape was white see-through mesh I luckily found in the clearance bin of my local fabric store for 2$ for the entire long, big thing. It’s tedious to sew and hem. The top see-through bodice is a ripped-up white pantyhose. xD

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 Anna wig, styled by me. =3=

Unfortunately my own costume, supposedly Anna, never made it. The wig was completed and styled for the character, though. I simply braided the wig, cut the bangs, and made a clip-on from the cut-up strands of my sis’ Elsa wig. I find the Milk Blonde looks better as the highlight on the Anna wig rather than pure white. :3

Jelsa 1 photo jelsa_zps8deab68d.jpgLots of kids loved Jelsa! My bro and sis were a big hit especially among the kids.

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I went instead in the lolita coord from my “How to sew a Lolita Skirt” tutorial. I haven’t had proper photos of this coord yet so I’m so happy my sister’s photographer friend, Jay, dropped by! I will sew a new skirt for myself again soon and hopefully a new top as well. They’ve got really good white/off-white fabric at the fabric store now.

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 So proud of my brother and sister! I spent all day carrying their stuff and retouching them haha but it was fun seeing them enjoy so much! I’m thankful to everyone who took time to take photos of them and compliment them on the day. Granted I still have much to improve on these costume sets, but I’m really looking forward now to finishing my Anna and taking photos with them again! We intend to have a Fire Emblem: Awakening trio soon, too!

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Of course since being in lolita freed me up lots, I had the time to shop for little stuff again in a long while! I’m in love with everything in this haul. The prints are from my beloved buddy Tsuza of Tsuza Art (who also made a lovely Olaf trade with us! We shall feature pics of it soon! bby I still owe you a necklace!) and the stickers and keychains are from artists in the artist tables. Elsa and Anna keybies (my sis now has Elsa) and a faux-cookie necklace from Pandora’s Box. Cosplay cards from AJ Cross Cosplay and Nekomi-kasai (Katz) too! <3

I look forward to when these costumes return, better and brighter! <3

Five Simple Steps to Improve your Cosplay Make-up

Five Simple Steps to Improve your Cosplay Make-up

LET’S FACE IT, guys, make-up plays a big part in completing a cosplay. Costume, wig, and make-up are what I consider the “physical” parts of cosplay, and if they look well put-together, it can give you the push to really dig into the “roleplay” part of cosplay better. I’ve decided to write today about five cosplay make-up steps that help “up” cosplay make-up into something more. These are simple things that really make a noticeable difference.


1. Match eyebrows to your wig color.

I think it looks like a real mismatch when your wig color is leagues different from your eyebrow color. Matching your eyebrow color to your wig color really makes you look more put-together, instead of just a version of yourself who just put on a wig. This is especially true for anime characters where their art specifically shows that their eyebrows are the same color as their wig.

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 Red hair = dark red-brown eyebrows

But I think it’s best to do it with a “realistic” touch instead of going the exact same-shade as your wig. In real life, eyebrow color tends to be darker than your hair color–so do that and color your eyebrows darker than your wig. Blondes tend to have brown eyebrows instead of yellow/blonde, and you can add a dash of browns or khaki to green, pink, or whatever your wig color is to make it look natural.

Coloring eyebrows can be done in many ways--if your brows are sparse, pigmented eyeshadow or colored eyeliners will do the trick. If you mean to conceal them, you can conceal them with a gluestick or spirit gum, and then some concealer. After it’s done, top it with some eyebrow sealer to seal the color in place.

 photo Picture0018_zps2152487b.jpgSometimes I draw on my eyebrows higher, because for the love of all things holy and true, I don’t know how to raise an eyebrow. ^^;;

Of course there are exceptions–characters with light hair but still drawn with dark eyebrows, like Jack Frost!


2. Use Spirit of Gum.

I previously mentioned Spirit of Gum, and I think it’s an investment if you mean to up your cosplay make-up. It’s pricey–usually a tiny bottle costs P299 each at Cinema Secrets–but its usefulness and the effect it has on your cosplay more than makes up for it. You can use it to conceal eyebrows are previously stated, or put on prosthetics like elven ears. However my best use for them is for keeping your wig, especially the “sideburns” in place.

If the strands of my wig are flying all over the face and not sticking close to my skin like real hair or perfect hair in the movies/games/anime does, it sort of looks like something I just plopped onto myself.

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My brother, Joey, as Jack Frost. Spirit of Gum was used to stick the “sideburns” of the wig to his face. Normally, without Spirit of Gum, that part will be awkwardly raised, not sticking to his skin.

If the wig is clinging to my face–especially the sideburns–it looks more “natural” and helps give the illusion that the wig IS your hair.

Simply brush some spirit gum onto your skin, let it dry for a bit, and then pat it to activate the tackiness. Press the wig strands onto it and it’ll stay in place.


3. Put on false eyelashes.

Of course this depends on the character, you’d probably not want to do it for male bishounens, but if you’re going for the “moe” types–or even sultry, sexy vixens–I suggest you look into getting false eyelashes.

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There are many kinds, and they have different effects. There are some that are more natural, perfect for characters that have a more natural and simple vibe. Doll-type ones are perfect for (you guessed) doll-like characters or even for lolita coords. I like the thick, voluminous sideswept ones for “sultrier” characters.

A good way to put on falsies is by curling your lashes first, then curling your falsies, putting it on, then curling them again together, and then finally sealing them with mascara. This helps ensure the falsies look “natural”.

Eyelid tape, falsies, and contact lenses do wonders for small asian eyes!


4. Seal your make-up.

I also suggest investing on a make-up sealer. There are a lot to chose from in the market, from cheaper ones to pricier ones. Since most conventions in the Philippines are done in malls where there aren’t any real dressing rooms, I prefer to put on the basic make-up at home, and then seal it, and then just retouch it when I get to the event. It helps save time! It also prevents your make-up from “melting”, and some sealers have mattifying properties to keep the shine away from your face. There are sealers for the eyebrows, for lipcolor, and for the face in general.

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Makeup Fixer from Holika Holika, the one I’m currently using. Price is P375.

Sealing can also just mean using finishing powders or even ordinary “baby powder” to set your make-up or body paint in place!


5. Consider a “gradient” lip color.

The “gradient” lip color is a trend now, made popular by the Koreans and Japanese, mostly using lip tints. Blanking the lips using concealer is popular in cosplay make-up since anime characters are draw with no lip color at all, but I’m among a minority that thinks this makes me look pale or lifeless. And I like to think of my cosplay as bringing the characters to real life, and not making myself look 2D!

So instead of blanking my lips or applying full color onto it, I may instead make a “gradient”. First, I put concealer/foundation over the lips, neutralizing the color. And then I put on a light color/stain over the lips–not all the way, I leave some nude with just the concealer. And then on the middle part of the lips, I put on a darker color/stain/lipliner and then I blend the colors for a natural look. Having a darker color in the middle makes you look like you just ate a cherry popsicle, which is cute! I prefer doing this for most characters now instead of a completely nude lipcolor. This tutorial from Rinnie Riot (click for link) can help get you started. :3

It doesn’t apply to all–male characters may be best with nude colors and sexy characters best with full-on lipcolor–so I’m just suggesting that there’s something in the middle too, as I barely see cosplayers use this technique.


That’s five simple steps I can think of to improve your cosplay make-up. Hope I helped and that some of you learned something new. Thanks for reading!

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