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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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:
 photo fabric_questions_6_zps8369e75e.jpg

 

*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

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.

 photo edit_article_4_zps35ac0f99.jpg

 photo edit_article_5_zps32b80753.jpg

 

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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.

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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

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