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Diving headlong into cosplay - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 15th, 2013

09:05 am - Diving headlong into cosplay

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This weekend was supposed to be the weekend I finished the Magister Staff. But instead, first thing Saturday I dropped it and broke it - again. This is a signal to me that there's a design flaw big enough to make it not worthwhile persisting with. I haven't given up, but it needs a rethink so that's on the back burner for now.

Meanwhile, I was lamenting my midwinter lethargy, wondering why all of a sudden I'm sinking into poor discipline, bad eating habits, things I know will make me feel bad - to the point where I actually asked Dr Wheel to help me snap out of it. Then I realised, last Thursday was the anniversary of Mum's death. That winter of 2010 was one of the worst of my life, with everything spiralling out of control and my entire existence focusing around preparing for the inevitable in all those ways that you don't realise when you see the cosy pictures of family around bedside. The family around bedside is a tiny part of what goes into supporting the dying, and the rest of it ate my life and caused me enough stress so that after the funeral, I got sick enough to spend an entire week in bed. I'd been holding it together by a thread and when I didn't have to any more, that thread collapsed. I haven't been sick since, basically. So anyway, I realised that there's probably a part of me that responds to the depths of winter with a certain revisitation of that feeling now, in that way we have of nostalgically reliving things based on external inputs. I did it last winter too.

Anyway, now I've had this realisation and the anniversary's past, things should start to improve. And just to give that idea some impetus, this weekend was one of those unexpected inspirational ones.


So we were sitting around at Fidels on Friday as usual, when khaybee happened to mention that there was a scifi/fantasy con on in Wellington this weekend, and how cool it'd be if I took my staffs. I was a bit chary of this, because I'd feel dead weird wandering around a con in jeans and a shirt, carrying a magic staff. I didn't have a costume. To which khaybee replied, "Well you have 24 hours to put one together."

I don't think she realised at the time, but that was basically throwing down a gauntlet. I work best under pressure, and pulling together a Dragon Age costume in less than 24 hours sounded like just my kind of challenge. I woke up in the morning with an idea, did some googling, and by 10am I had a plan.

I originally wanted to go for Generic Ferelden Circle Mage:



But all that piping and complicated belting looks time consuming, and also I dislike that weird codpiece thing intensely. Then I thought "Hey, everyone loves the Tevinter robes!"



But well, it's winter. And nobody needs to see my undies really. Weirdly enough, the men's Tevinter robe doesn't have this skin-baringnes, instead having a long skirt underneath. So I decided to modify the Tevinter style with the double belts and brass rings and pauldrons, and be an apostate who's learned how to dress herself.

It took me about 3 hours to gather the stuff around town that I needed. Army surplus provided two belt blanks and a fantastic double leather pouch. Missy's Room (op shop) provided what could potentially be a hideous bridesmaid dress with attached train and off-the-shoulder sleeves. Global fabrics provided shot silk in gold/green and the fun fur (which is not the right colour but is the only long stuff they had), and Made on Marian provided trim, buckles, thong, leather dye, fixings and fastenings. I got home at 1:30pm and started hacking and slashing.

Sadly I didn't have time to photograph the process, but it went like this:

1. Dye all the leather dark brown and cut the buckles off the belts.
2. While that's drying, create the overtunic in gold by using a fitted, front-fastening singlet pattern and a bit of imagination. Add brown trim and buttonholes for lacing up.
3. Cut sleeves off bridesmaid dress until they are only about 2 inches wide.
4. Make belts by adding dog clips to both ends, poked through holes in the leather, which is folded back into a rectangular loop to hold it all. No sewing yay! Thread pouches onto one belt. They cross at the back and clip to a brass ring at the front and can be slipped on over the hips.
5. Make the pauldrons by cutting a half circle then draping, pinning, sewing and cutting more until they sit on the shoulders right. Add a couple of loops to a brass ring at the front. This slips on over the head.
6. Make a wee pouch from the same fun fur, ostensibly for my phone (or potions!), but mostly to add colour balance to the outfit. Plait some embroidery thread for a drawstring and hang off the belt.
7. Decide it needs bracers. Use the cut off sleeves from the bridesmaid dress and some of the silk, and some more imagination.
8. Add another pointless leather wrist wrap and an armband. Voila! Apostate mage!

My phone went off just as I was sewing the last bracer at 7:45pm - a text from danjite going "Can you get here in 20 mins?" Sure I can! Turns out I need help to get into this outfit because I can't lift my arms over my head properly to slip the tunic on while wearing the dress, but Dr Wheel was helpful. I got there, danjite was waiting for me in the lobby, we went up the stairs and basically straight out on stage for the costume contest. Hey Tats, welcome to cosplay! Anyway, here are some pictures of the finished article. The colour in the first one is a bit off and I'm hoping some of the many photos taken at the con will find their way to me. Or I could bat my eyelashes at pombagira again.. Anyway:





These were actually taken the next morning when I'd had time to do my hair in Ferelden plaits and put on a facial mark. I didn't have those on Saturday night and also I took the Enchanter's Staff, but apparently folks were impressed enough with my speed costuming that I won a prize!

I went back again on Sunday with Cold Blooded, and participated in several interesting lectures about medieval weaponry, characterisation in writing, and introducing people to scifi. Unfortunately my back started bothering me after all the sitting and I went home at 4pm. If I'd known there'd be a prizegiving (check your programme, duh!) I would have shown for it because I feel a bit rude getting a prize and not being there to collect it. However, the lovely and elegantly costumed danjite stood in for me (thank you!) and informed me of the goings-on - otherwise I'd be none the wiser.

Anyway, yes. Turns out I can pull off a costume in less than 24 hours, that is convincing enough that two people approached me going "Tevinter mage!" so it was recognisable. Yay again!

And for those of you who give your Warden Ferelden plaits, I thought you might be interested to see what she looks like when she takes them out at night:



Go on, admit it, you totally would.

*cough*


So that was fun, and certainly got me out of my blahs and doing something with the enthusiasm for which I'd like to be known. I enjoyed myself and ran into a bunch of like minded people. Interesting that most of the costumers were into steampunk, and most of the folks who were interested in how I made my staff were men. The con was focused mainly on writing, but I guess if I want to see more costuming related stuff there, it's probably like every other thing I've been involved in - a do-ocracy. I wouldn't know where to start, but this has certainly lit my costuming fire again.

And now I know a bit more about medieval weaponry, I plan to first make a dagger, because all mages carry a dagger and I feel a bit bare without it. Then I thought I'd have a go at the Blade of Mercy (otherwise known as the Giant Sword of Overcompensation). It glows from within - can't remember why - but I think it'd make an interesting LED project.

Damn, more projects.

Comments:

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From:khaybee
Date:July 14th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
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Yay for finding a new group of people who appreciate your artistry.

Yay for finding more people to trade how-tos with!

Yay for do-ocracies!
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:23 am (UTC)
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Just a general yay all round! Thank you for the challenge, it was just what the doctor ordered.
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From:bekitty
Date:July 14th, 2013 09:39 pm (UTC)
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I didn't go to the con, because the ex who abused me was likely to be on the concom*. And if she wasn't on the com, she would definitely be an attendee. The small amount of people who turn up to cons in Wellington means that if she was there, it would be very hard to avoid her. Especially as we have friends in common, most of whom don't know the history.

SF cons in New Zealand are not a safe space for me.

* I noticed that on the Au Contraire website, the names of the people on the convention committee were not listed at all. I think that's a real problem, which needs to be remedied for future cons.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)
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I've been thinking about how to reply to this. Like you, I tend to avoid events at which I'm likely to run into people that I know are abusive, and luckily for me that doesn't impinge much on my movements or interests. So how would I deal with it if it did - if I were in your situation? And what would I expect from event organisers in terms of creation of safe space for such a specific problem?

I know how Kiwiburn dealt with it, but that was a matter of public and widespread behaviour, rather than one that affected only me and wasn't widely known.

And after all that thinking, I came to the conclusion that your suggestion would definitely be helpful in your case, because of the likelihood of the person being on the comcon, but would be unlikely to help at other cons.

It's unfortunate that this one person's likely presence makes all cons unsafe for you. Is there anything you would suggest to organisers that would make you more likely to attend if they implemented it?
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From:adam_0oo
Date:July 14th, 2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
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So cool! Love cosplay! And you pulled it together so well, looks really professional. Great work.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:24 am (UTC)
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Thank you, it was fun!
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From:phd_fan
Date:July 14th, 2013 11:03 pm (UTC)
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Wow, that is absolutely phenomenal tats! What an excellent job in such a short timespan, you looked great!!! :)
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC)
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Thank you! Also, I'm stoked that this was actually comfortable enough to wear for an extended period, and is probably robust enough to last a few rounds of modifications.

And, that double belt setup is flattering on any figure. So, yay Bioware for wearable designs.
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From:t_c_da
Date:July 14th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
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Where's the flaming "Like" button this ancient system???
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:28 am (UTC)
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I guess the first question is exactly how much overcompensation is really needed.

For me, I want to be able to wield (or at least carry) my overcompensation in a crowd of people. The actual sword is about the same height as Fenris, and taking a guess I'd say he's about the same height as me.

But if you want to overcompensate more than that, be my guest.

Meanwhile, I already have all the ingredients I need to make this, and by my calculations it'll weigh less than 2kg. And it's feasible, most definitely.
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From:kehleyr
Date:July 14th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
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But well, it's winter. And nobody needs to see my undies really. *giggles*

Aah man this was AWESOME! You are just beyond talented! Loved your costume... and what kind of prize did you win and for what?
Yay all around :-D
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
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The certificate says "Speed Costuming". O.o

And the prizes were:

A DVD called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
A book called Northwood"
A signed copy of A Dance With Dragons

I didn't even realise there were prizes, I thought it was a kudos thing... hehe

And, thank you! I really love creating costumes and wish I could spend more time at it and had more opportunities to wear the things I make. Or, that I could dress all my friends up as fantasy characters too...
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From:kehleyr
Date:July 15th, 2013 10:33 pm (UTC)
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Speed costuming? lol Cool :-D
Congrats again :-D
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From:pombagira
Date:July 15th, 2013 12:18 am (UTC)
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whee.. awsome costume and yes i would LOVE to take photos of it with the staff.. *is excite*

*bounces about* next time i wanna come along and be your offical photographer.. *grins*
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
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A reallyreaallyareeeeaaaalllly wanna do a photo session with you in the woods somewhere..
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From:pombagira
Date:July 15th, 2013 01:58 am (UTC)
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hooray.. yes please.. we shall hook this up soon.. adventures, picnics, woods..

also i so totally want your belt its so cool especially with the little bag thingo..

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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
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Soooooo easy to make. It took less than 15 minutes. Seriously.

You should come for cups of tea one day and I'll give you a plan.
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From:pombagira
Date:July 15th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
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Oooo.. how about wednesday??
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
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Works for me. ;-)
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From:polychrome_baby
Date:July 15th, 2013 05:30 am (UTC)
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Effing hell. Fantabulous costuming.
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From:meathiel
Date:July 15th, 2013 07:06 am (UTC)
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You did all this within a day ... oh ... just wow!
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From:danjite
Date:July 15th, 2013 07:56 am (UTC)
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You are teh awesome.

Yo.
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From:brynhilda
Date:July 15th, 2013 08:14 am (UTC)
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What a great costume, you look gorgeous! I especially love the magical quarterstaff.
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:July 15th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
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YES!

I've been meaning to flail in excitement over your recent staves - I've fallen behind. And now you do this! That's incredible work in such short time!
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From:tatjna
Date:July 15th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
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I have been flailing in excitement over the possibility that I might actually want to do cosplay after all.

Then I realise I live in completely the wrong country to be able to do it with any regularity, and don't own a big enough house for all the costumes I want to make.

I need an army of dressable minions, clearly.

;-)
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From:m_danson
Date:July 16th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
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That looks great!
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From:tatjna
Date:July 16th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm pretty pleased with it, and now I have time I'm adding the details I think will finish it off nicely.
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