Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cosplay on a Budget: Using What You Have

Welcome to another cosplay on a budget article! I apologize for the long gap in between articles. I've been getting a lot of Lolita inspiration lately and not so much cosplay. Now without further ado, here's

Using What You Have

 When I first started cosplaying, I didn't have the money to buy pre-made cosplays nor to afford the fabric and other materials to make my own. And wigs? The only ones I had were cheap Halloween wigs, which don't last long and tend to look rather crummy. As such, I had to be creative and make my cosplays out of whatever I had lying around. As I mentioned in my article about my first convention experience, my costumes were both made with clothing and notions I had lying around. Granted, not everybody keeps scraps of fabric, old clothes that are too small or too worn to wear, and random pieces of lace around their house. But if you're a bit of a pack rat like me, you should have no problem. Even if you aren't you can easily find ways of turning your everyday clothes into a cosplay. So, here's part one of this article:

Make a Cosplay with Materials at Hand

You won't get the best costumes this way, but they'll be recognizable. First, pick out several characters with a hair color and style similar to yours. This will save you the grief of dying your hair temporarily or wrangling with a cheap wig. They can be characters you recognize, characters you like, or even characters you don't much care for. As long as you wouldn't be terrible against cosplaying a character, add them to your list. Now, look at the characters costumes. Would you be willing to wear that or a slightly modified, but still recognizable version of it? If no, take that character off of your list. Also keep in mind that some characters have multiple outfits, some more recognizable than others. If you wouldn't cosplay one of the character's outfits, check to see if there's others. Next step, take a look at all of the detailing and pieces of the outfit. Would you be able to simplify the details and still have the outfit be recognizable? Would you be able to make the various pieces of the outfit with what you have? Once you know the answers to these questions, choose an appropriate character and start putting together their outfit. Is the character wearing shorts? You can easily turn an old pair of jeans into shorts by cutting them slightly longer than you want them and either hemming or distressing the edges. Need a tube top or other tight fitting shirt? Cut off the legs from and old pair of stretchy pajama pants and add sleeves, collars, etc. as needed. Just make sure to cut edges longer than you need them if you plan to hem them and cut head/arm holes smaller than you want them to leave room for mistakes.

Make a Cosplay with Clothes you Already Own

 For this method you'll want to go through the same process as above for choosing a character, but you'll want to look for a character with clothing that could easily be found in your closet. If you already have school girl clothes in your closet, look for a school girl character. My Misa Amane cosplay consisted of a frilly black dress and jacket I'd bought at a previous date combined with some black tights, heels, a black ribbon worn as a choker, and my customized dog tags. This and my hair and makeup done appropriately were enough to get the character across. I'd also used the same dress and jacket for a Freya (Chobits) cosplay a few years earlier. So go look in your closet. Think of what characters you could cosplay as with what you've got in there and you'll have pieced together a cosplay before you know it.

As I mentioned earlier, I've used there methods in the past. Here's a good example of a cosplay I put together the night before a con with some help from a friend. A few cons previously, my friend had cosplayed Liz Thompson from Soul Eater and I'd decided I wanted to cosplay the same character for this con. I had the pants and shoes, but that was about it. My friend lent me the hat she'd made using a couple of blue folders, glue, an old shirt sleeve, and dental floss. Then came the problem of the shirt. It was a red, sleeveless cropped turtleneck which presented several problems to me. The first was that I didn't really have any red shirts, much less sleeveless turtlenecks. Also, I wasn't especially comfortable with the idea of bare shoulders and midriff. What was I to do? Well, my creative friend pulled out an old pair of red, stretchy pajama pants and suggested the idea of making them into a shirt for me. We cut off one of the legs, made armholes in it and hemmed the bottom, then turned the other leg into sleeves and a undershirt thing so I wouldn't have to worry about anything showing that I didn't want too. I've since gotten a better shirt for this particular cosplay, but the one my friend made worked and got the point across well enough. (My friend's outfit for the con was thrown together last minute as well, but I've cut out details on it's creation for space's sake.)

My old Liz cosplay shirt and hat

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lolita on a Budget: Classic Lolita

For some of us, we love the Lolita style, but just can't see ourselves in all of those frills, cupcakes, and bows. But what can a girl do if she's still interested in wearing Lolita? The answer is Classic Lolita which makes use of darker colors and A-line dresses to achieve a look that's more mature, but still Lolita. This look is also good for Lolitas that are getting older and realizing that their suggary rainbows and pony print dress is a little too over the top for them. This is a simple look that can be achieved with a few pieces from Bodyline! as well as some other items. The total price for the Bodyline! elements of this outfit is $127 plus shipping and handling. Here we go!

The main part of this look is an elegant floral print dress available in multiple colors to match with how you look. If you look good in deep jewel colors, the maroon dress is the one that would best suit you. But if you look better in natural colors, like tans and browns, the brown dress is the best one for you. The bright red dress would be best worn if you look good in bright colors. For the shoes, a more classical look is better as rounder toes have a more youthful look to them. These pumps are still cute, but also more mature with a slightly lower heel and a more pointed toe as opposed to the majority of Lolita heels offered. The last item from Bodyline! for this look is a simple off white headband with pearl and rose accents. As an alternative, one can wear a simple flower hair accessory in a natural color or a fresh rose if you have access to one (watch out for those thorns! be sure to remove them before putting the flower in your hair). To finish this look off, wear a pair of opaque off white tights and some off white pearl accessories such as a layered choker and bracelet. Try not to go over the top with accessories with this style of Lolita. You want to look mature and put together for this look, not drowning in a sea of plastic beads and pink kittens. Not that there's anything wrong with that as long as the rest of your outfit fits in with them. I hope you enjoy this look!

All of the items in this outfit plus more in this style can be found on the Bodyline website. No pictures due to the fact that I haven't received permission to use Bodyline!'s images. Check me out on Twitter.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Decorate a Mini Notebook (Or Any Notebook)

 Please be warned: this article has multiple images and may take a while to load fully for slower connections. I recommend stopping the page from loading once the text is visible and then individually loading the images as you get to them.

A little while back, my mom found some nice little notebooks at a crafts store and offered me one. When I first got it, I saw that it was a very plain little notebook, obviously intended to be decorated. Here's a tutorial on how I decorated my notebook. This can also be done with a full sized notebook as well if you want.

  • Notebook to decorate
  • Colorful/patterned paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Decorations such as metallic tape or rhinestones

Start by cutting out pieces from the paper that are large enough to cover the notebook covers with a bit of excess on each edge (see image below).

After cutting out the paper, glue it to the covers and trim off the excess. If your notebook is spiral bound like mine, trim the paper as close to the binding as possible, or place the paper close to the binding while gluing it on. Make sure the glue is spread evenly over the notebook surface so you don't have any bumps. I use either the tip of the glue bottle or a cheap plastic paintbrush to spread the glue around. Make sure to wipe off any excess glue before it dries.

This next step is optional for if you use a notebook with a spiral binding. Cut a rectangle of paper big enough to cover the spiral binding and overlap slightly over the paper with the part of the cover with paper on it (see image below).

Glue this in place at the edges where it overlaps. Don't glue too close to the binding since you still want to be able to open the notebook fully and flip the cover under if needed. To cover the seam between the two pieces of paper, I used a strip of metallic tape (see image below right). Make sure to measure out how much tape you'll need before cutting it and add a bit of extra tape to make sure it's not too short. You can always trim off excess tape.

Tape in place.
Measuring out the metallic tape.

Now you can decorate your notebook however you want! I used some glitter to make a little heart on the front as well as a few rhinestones, but you can do whatever you want. You can also do things like overlapping pieces of paper or even fabric if you have a larger notebook. I would have with mine, but it's so small! I still like how it turned out though. ♥

All pictures were taken by me unless otherwise noted. Please ask me for permission if you wish to use any of them. I'm on Twitter now! @animlolicouture

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Home Made Hello Kitty Skirt

A while back I made a cute pair of Hello Kitty Pajama Pants out of some left over Hello Kitty fabric I had. I still had a good amount left, so I originally planning on making a matching pajama shirt, but I decided I'd rather have something I could wear outside. So I made a cute ruffled skirt for myself using the leftover fabric and an old elastic waistband I'd saved off of another skirt. Like with my ruffled petticoat, I used a pattern plan instead of a paper pattern. I made this skirt similarly, but with only two layers and different width sections. The fabric was about 45 inches wide, so I cut three sections 6.5 inches long at the full width of the fabric for the lower portion. The top section was made out of three sections about 20 or so inches wide as I was running out of fabric. I assembled the sections in the same way as I did on the petticoat, but attaching the elastic waistband was rather difficult and different. I started by stretching out the waistband so that it matched up with the top edge of the skirt. I then pinned the skirt to the waistband every couple of inches with the help of a friend. while sewing the waistband on, I started at one of the pins, then stretched out the waistband between that one and the next pin so that the fabric wasn't gathered at all. I discovered that the elastic was strong enough to pull the fabric the wrong way through the machine if I didn't pull it through as I went. Here's how the finished skirt looks:

It ended up a little shorter than I would have liked, but I can easily wear a pair of leggings underneath to prevent any problems.

All pictures were taken by me unless otherwise noted. I'm on Twitter now: @animlolicouture