Baby’s First Cosplays

I’ll admit it- I was bit by the cosplay bug when I was still very much in my weeaboo stage. I was a sophomore in college, and I was intrigued by the idea of dressing up like characters that I liked. So I headed to the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention for a…very strange weekend.

It’s been a long time, so I’ll just say that I’m no longer friends with any of the people I attended the con with, and since hindsight is 20/20 and all that jazz, I totally understand why I had an absolutely miserable time there. It also didn’t help that I knew absolutely nothing about conventions or cosplay and I was woefully unprepared. But it makes for some hilariously terrible pictures!

I tried cosplaying as Anna Kyoyama from Shaman King for the first time. It wasn’t great. I bought an ugly black dress from Goodwill and wore it with a pair of Skechers slides that were way too big and a piece of red fabric that I don’t even think I hemmed. The bracelet and rosary were all right, and I was even able to use the rosary for the second time I tried the cosplay. But overall, not great. Especially since my idea of hair and makeup at the time was…not good.

n147802893_30495256_2577_zpszf5ihtcs

I also tried cosplaying as Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket, in an attempt that can only be described as “what on earth was I thinking?” I wore a navy dress (also from Goodwill) that for some reason I thought looked exactly like Tohru’s school uniform (spoiler alert: it did not) with yellow ribbons, white knee socks, and brown mary janes. I also didn’t know anything about wigs, and while there are a lot of great cosplays that allow the cosplayer to use their own hair, this was not a good choice for me. But I was excited, and that was the most important part.

The most important part of this whole ill-fated attempt was that I finally tried sewing for the first time. One of my roommates in college had a sewing machine; she taught me the basics and set me loose. I bought McCall’s 4948, their token Alice in Wonderland pattern, and gave it a try. Overall it wasn’t the greatest construction, but it also wasn’t terrible. The fabric especially was beautiful; I honestly wish I could find it again so I could remake the whole piece. I didn’t do a horrible job, but I never added the collar, the seams weren’t finished, and the zipper was…not the best.  I also made a petticoat dress underneath using McCall’s 5095 (a sundress pattern) that didn’t offer a lot in the way of fluff but still looked pretty cute peeking out from under the skirt.

The pinafore was a little more misshapen, but again, I made a wearable garment for the first time, zipper included. As you can see I once again didn’t wear a wig and showed off my great MySpace styled hairstyle instead, but it could have been worse. And yeah, some kids made fun of me because I was more Disney/storybook Alice than American McGee’s Alice, but I was pretty happy with how the costume turned out.

I had such a negative experience with that con that I didn’t try again until Akaicon in 2015, but it turns out I do like cons when I go with the right people! And at the end of the day, all that really matters when it comes to cosplay is that you have a great time. So if you’ve thought about trying it, go for it!

Coraline

I wanted a simple Halloween costume to wear while I handed out candy, and I’m not even going to lie, I really wanted to include my cat. Luckily, I found all of the pieces for Coraline lying around my house (and also my sister’s cosplay closet).

 photo 0BD2755D-46BC-48CE-80AA-C5F3B1387892_zpsba0tjlje.jpg

The sweater was a Forever 21 find on eBay. Sure, it also has airplanes in the print, but it was close enough to Coraline’s star sweater! The jeans were just comfy jeggings (I was sitting around the house watching Hocus Pocus in between handing out candy; I wanted to be comfortable) and the boots are my actual rainboots from Target. The raincoat was also a lucky find at Target and I wore it until the day Hiccup peed on it. Because of course he didn’t pee on the water repellant outside, he peed on the fabric lining. It’s a good thing he’s cute.

 

The blue wig was in my sister’s wig storage and did not get any real styling done at all. I don’t think I even wore a wig cap with it, but really, this wasn’t a fancy costume. But it sure did look pretty cute for Halloween!

Ariel’s Blue Dress from The Little Mermaid

So confession time: I didn’t see The Little Mermaid until I was fifteen years old. Sad, isn’t it? I grew up in a very strict religious household and Little Mermaid had three strikes- Disney, witches, and bikini tops. So I didn’t see it until a friend let me borrow her VHS tape sophomore year and I watched it like a million times in one week. I fell in love with the movie in general, but I really wanted her blue dress. It was so sweet and dreamy (and that bow was killer!)

 

My senior year of college, I decided I wanted to bring that dress to life. And for some reason I decided to make it without a pattern. Why, I’ll never know, but oh well.

 

The hardest part was matching the colors. Sometimes her blouse looks white, sometimes light blue- I decided to go with light blue. I found the most magical sky blue cotton sateen and bought a bunch of it. The skirt, though, was a harder find, since the blue is just a shade or two off from the blouse color. I ended up buying a royal blue organza to layer over the cotton sateen, making it just a little bit darker and also adding a little bit more of a princess feel. For the bodice, I bought a navy blue suede and used some navy blue cotton in my stash for a lining.

 

The blouse was easy. I used McCall’s 4948, their Alice in Wonderland pattern, but cut the neckline at a deeper scoop and eliminated the collar. I also took some width out of the sleeves and lengthened them, then added an elasticized cuff. The blouse pulls right on, so no closure. Super easy!

 

The bodice…not so easy. For some unknown reason, I decided to cut the navy suede into multiple rectangular panels and then take it in to fit. Somehow…it worked. It wasn’t necessarily the most perfect construction, but it worked, right down to the notch at the top of the bodice. I didn’t want to invest a lot of time and money into making the bodice perfect (obviously) so instead of using punched metal eyelets, I used eyes from hooks and eyes and threaded the eyes with narrow blue ribbon. It wasn’t fancy, but it worked!

 

The skirt was constructed as a very full dirndl skirt. I cut the panels as rectangles and sewed them up in three separate layers- white muslin trimmed in narrow eyelet, the sky blue cotton sateen, and the royal blue organza. Then I stitched the layers together at the top and pleated them onto a waistband made of the same blue suede as the bodice, so it blended nicely. I didn’t use a zipper, just a large hook and eye, since the bottom of the bodice covered the waistband.

 

The bow was the final touch. Ariel’s bow is very large and very poofy, so I used the cotton sateen and literally stuffed it like a little pillow ! I added tails and stitched the whole thing to a comb that slid right into my hair.

 photo 9AB6E407-4B5F-49D6-9EAF-3CC5C6B38CF8_zpsfkyxxej0.jpg 

I only wore the outfit once- weirdly enough, to a rehearsal. My university was performing the musical Guys and Dolls (I played General Cartwright) and they scheduled a rehearsal for the night of Halloween. They felt sorry for us, so they let us dress up in our Halloween costumes.  So I showed up in full Ariel regalia, complete with Flounder and Sebastian!

  photo IMG_3890_zps4osfk4sh.jpg

Recently, a friend of mine needed a Halloween costume for Not So Scary, so I took in the sides of the bodice and took in the waistband and let her borrow it! It looks super cute on her.

  photo 96041254-A610-469B-808E-60D21B268F87_zpspeyt5o8q.jpg

I’d like to go back and remake this costume- at least a new bodice and a new waistband. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday!

Anna Kyoyama from Shaman King

Full disclosure- this is not the first time I attempted this cosplay. No, the first attempt happened when I was a little weeaboo attending her first con (where I had a terrible time). The dress was ill fitting, my makeup was bizarre, and it was raining heavily so my hair was an absolute wreck. It was…not good.

Since then, I’ve mostly outgrown my anime phase. But I still have some fondness for certain shows and certain characters. Shaman King and Anna Kyoyama are prime examples. I still have a special spot in my heart for that show and that character. So when I needed to come up with a quick and simple cosplay for Akaicon 2016, I decided to give Anna another try.

 photo 9997D364-9994-4998-8A57-1C2670597468_zpsdvvxiwtv.jpg

Anna’s standard outfit is very simple- black dress, red scarf (sometimes worn as a bandana), and sandals. She also wears a blue bead bracelet and a white bead rosary. The beads were the easiest- I’d gotten those together for my first version of the costume and still had them in storage. They were both purchased at Claire’s; the rosary was completed with a wooden bead painted gold and a maroon tassel from the home decor section of Joann’s. The red scarf was the sash taken from my Kristoff genderbent cosplay.

 photo IMG_1470_zpskfyq680g.jpg 

Since I was on a time crunch, I pulled the shoes from my own closet. My Blowfish Garens don’t get a lot of love- I don’t wear heels very often- but they really are surprisingly comfortable! Sure, they’re not exactly like Anna’s slide style sandals, but they worked in a pinch.

 photo 75D047DC-FA48-49CD-A1E4-CF6B2990FF8B_zpsm3lkm1iv.jpg 

The dress was ordered off of Poshmark. Anna’s dress is deceptively simple, but the skirt is definitely flared, so I scoured all my usual haunts for a possible contender- eBay, Amazon, Modcloth, Forever 21. On Poshmark I discovered this super cute scuba knit dress from Boohoo with the tags still on, got a great deal on it, and it arrived just in time! It’s slightly too big at the top, so I’m planning to take it in a little (when I remember, which, let’s be honest, I don’t until I pull the dress out of my closet to wear again).

 
I opted to go without a wig, which, yeah…usually a cosplay no-no. But this was such a simple costume and I was pretty much only wearing it on Sunday for closing ceremonies, so I didn’t mind too much!

 photo 14102378_554561121393659_2717200610236466582_n_zpsw90vfdq6.jpg 

Plus I got some pretty cute pictures with the Akaicon mascot, Jackie (who just so happens to be my sister).

Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron

So few people remember Eilonwy. It’s sad, but true. The Black Cauldron came out in 1985 and it wasn’t well-received then, and it hasn’t become a cult classic. As a sixth grader I read all of the books and loved them, and was honestly kind of disappointed in the movie. But I still loved Eilonwy, so she popped to mind when I was planning for my first Not So Scary party of the year in 2015!

 photo IMG_7161_zpsavb9urcs.jpg

I started with Simplicity’s saloon girl pattern, 2851 (now out of print) for the bodice. I’d used it once when making my short Snow White dress and thought it would be a good match. I used a sturdy black broadcloth and used red single fold bias tape for the detailing. The sleeves were from a cream cotton and I honestly can’t even tell you what pattern I used. What I can say…is that something went horribly wrong. I still can’t even describe it. One sleeve went on perfectly. The other sleeve turned out to be a demon from hell. No matter what I did, the sleeve was twisted and it made that side of the bodice twisted. I let the sleeve out, I took the sleeve in, I cut down the armscye, I cut down the shoulder…it would. not. work. It was literally an hour before I was supposed to leave, and the damn thing was unwearable. So what did I do? I ran across the street to Walmart, bought a boy’s black tee shirt and new bias tape, cut the shirt into the proper shape, stitched on bias tape, attached the sleeves from the old bodice, and bam! Wearable Eilonwy. It wasn’t fantastic, but it worked!

 photo IMG_7209_zpsghxw9z7m.jpg

The skirt, luckily, was much easier. I cut and sewed pale pink cotton into a dirndl skirt layer (with pockets) and then used a rose colored fabric cut into a circle panel over the top, leaving about a two inch gap between the edges of the panel where it was sewn over the pale pink layer. I used the rose fabric to make a casing for an elastic waistband. It works fine, but the fabric is heavy enough to make the skirt slide when it’s worn. I’m either going to remake the waistband to make it fasten with hooks and eyes, or, when I remake the bodice, add snaps so that the skirt can snap into the bodice. Honestly, I’ll probably do both just to make sure they stay in place!

 photo IMG_7110_zpsw20c0moe.jpg

I didn’t want to wear a wig for this cosplay- I’ve only worn a wig once for Not So Scary and it was the WORST (thanks for being a swamp, Florida). I bought a set of super cheap extensions on eBay instead. Are they quite the right color? No, but they’re close enough, and I’m rather fond of my cheap eBay weave. I curled the rest of my hair and brushed my hair and the extensions together to blend them a little, and pinned a length of black trim from Joann’s around my head to look like Eilonwy’s black circlet.

 photo IMG_7166_zpsfpcvrzzz.jpg

My favorite part was the bauble! I bought a clear plastic Christmas ornament from Amazon Prime (and bought another one when the first one was too small, and then forgot to cancel my subscription so after the free trial I still had Prime, oops) and painted it with sparkly yellow acrylic craft paint. On the inside I wrapped a length of battery-operated Christmas lights with yellow tulle and put the whole thing inside the ornament. It was a little bit of a hassle to pop the ornament open and closed every time I wanted to use the lights, but it was worth it!

 photo IMG_7199_zps25hfm9qd.jpg

I brought back Eilonwy for Akaicon 2016 and ended up entering her in the cosplay competition. I didn’t win, but honestly I just wanted more experience with judging and walking in the contest before I entered it seriously. I had a lot of fun, and I’m planning my entry for Akaicon 2017 now!

 photo IMG_1562_zpsjrvfgvka.jpg

 photo IMG_1462_zpsf326a81y.jpg

 photo 14205925_10205371669369988_5089254478645880638_o_zps8m34ufqd.jpg

My Akaicon 2017 Lineup

I do this to myself every year. Every year I swear I’m going to get a jumpstart on my cosplays for Akaicon, and every year I wait until a month before the con and think “oh…I should probably get started.” Procrastination is my way of life, I suppose.

At least I made my selections early on, so even though I’m leaving for the con on August 2nd (yikes!) I’m not trying to pick out cosplays at the last second. It’s a nice balance of cosplays that need minor work and bigger projects, so I’m feeling mostly confident that I can get everything done. Let’s get into it, shall we?

Eleven from Stranger Things
 photo D6F51790-2037-419F-A02B-A21868962FAC_zpsmxtfgvfy.jpg
I put my Eleven cosplay together for last year’s con and loved it. It was so comfortable, but I was still immediately identifiable as Eleven. I also didn’t have to do much sewing for it either. While I’m not immediately planning to wear it at the con, I learned my first year how beneficial it is to have a back up cosplay for those days when a cosplay goes wrong or you just need to be comfortable.

General Leia from The Force Awakens
 photo 19D62641-500D-4E52-AB06-A904A7574366_zps53nzgrdv.jpg
I already wore a version of this before, but never at a con. I made it very quickly, so the tunic could use some work, and I’ll probably make a brand new vest. It’s a simple cosplay, but since the con is sci-fi themed this year I’m anticipating a lot of Kylo Rens and Han Solos to take pictures with. I’ll probably wear this one on Friday to get things started.

Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service
 photo 328F0B64-5790-4622-8ABF-45310D161EBC_zps2pfqbc0v.jpg
I’ve had this cosplay in progress for absolutely ages. Right now the dress is mostly made; it just needs some finishing touches and it’ll be ready to go. I’ve already ordered the red bow, and I have the shoes, purse, and cat plush ready to go. This one will probably be Saturday night, after the cosplay competition when I’m tired and want to be comfortable.

Party Girl Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens
 photo A42D7A14-7E37-4410-9683-B2325E3E7C93_zps508cgmgr.jpg
This is another cosplay that I planned for last year but never made. I’ve already purchased everything (including the wig and props) and all of the pieces for the dress are cut but never got around to constructing it. It’ll take a weekend of sewing, but I think I can manage it pretty easily. Party dresses are right in my wheelhouse.

Risqué Alice in Wonderland
 photo CC80FF01-3456-4BB4-BD17-A76C078FB693_zpsdn71d6qu.jpg
This is one that I may or may not do, depending on time. Akai holds a risqué competition every year, and I’ve got a half made Alice cosplay that will never be finished because I cut the bodice wrong. I’ve been toying with the idea of turning it into a tearaway outfit and participating in risqué. I’m saving this project for last, in case I run out of time, so we’ll see how this one goes.

Historically Accurate(ish) Elsa from Frozen
 photo 5C7CBCDC-5A91-44DD-A05E-15D0341EB5F4_zpsd5nsqtgk.jpg
This is it. This is the big one. I’ve entered the cosplay contest two years in a row without putting a lot of effort- I entered cosplays that I enjoyed more for the sake of getting feedback and getting the chance to walk across the stage. More like practice runs than actually competing. This year I’m determined to put my best foot forward, and my dream project is creating an Elsa cosplay that pulls from the correct time period (Frozen should be set between 1820s-1840s) and also draws from Brittney Lee’s concept art, as seen here. I want to make the ice gown as a softer, more historically accurate version. It still won’t be perfect- I’ll probably use zippers and I’m definitely not about to sew it by hand- but I have a specific look I’d like to achieve, and that includes making the proper layers of chemise, bloomers, petticoats, and stays.

So that’s my plan for Akaicon 2017! I feel like I’ll have just enough time to get it all done…as long as I start sewing right this second.