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As with many things that inspire me to write, there was a post going around from someone on Facebook about how sad/angry they were about people's attitudes about cosplay, and while I could appreciate the reasoning behind the rant, it was based in so many misconceptions that I was moved to write a rebuttal. Before I do, however, let me say this up front: mocking or bullying anyone for any reason, over cosplay, is dumb and bad. Cosplay as a hobby is for everyone no matter who they are or where they come from, and everybody enjoys their cosplay differently. Every way is the right way to cosplay, unless it's being deliberately harmful or inflammatory to someone. Anyone who thinks they have a right to police who wears what needs to sit down and shut up.

now, that said... )
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I posted this as a bit of a rant on after the 800th person asked about the best websites for buying cosplay, but the advice might have fallen on deaf ears if the poster was actually a bot. Oops. But I feel like the advice itself, overall, is worthy, if written a bit bluntly. So, view here what a commissioner feels whenever they see someone asking about where to buy the "best" cosplay sight-unseen from a bootleg overseas website...

Some background: the poster-bot specifically asked for where to buy the special clothing seen in anime/manga, or cosplay, but it had to be high quality. That was all they said.

at least I didn't swear...much? )
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I wrote this in January of 2016, to send to the president of the International Costumers Guild to explain why I was stepping down as vice-president and not renewing my membership in the guild, and in a more broad sense, what I saw as concerns about the viability of the ICG.

Since then, CC34 happened, and I was so burned out after promoting, organizing, and running it that I felt completely justified in walking out the door and never wanting to associate with the ICG again. Over the summer and fall, one or two veteran members were making a stink on Facebook and their personal (but public and shareable) blogs about how cosplay wasn't "real" costuming and getting huffy because everyone uses this word now. So, understandably, all of this came up again.

I decided to repost the letter publicly, here, so I can share it with interested parties. I don't intend for this to go viral but this is the internet, we know how this goes. I am reposting it unedited, so even if I may have rethought a thing or two since then, I want it out there as a snapshot of what was told to the President in January 2016 and how in November, it has not been addressed in any way.

my letter to Phil Gust who is a really awesome guy, actually )
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I've been asked to write an article about the community outreach events MACS has been doing, for the ICG newsletter. It's easier for me to compose in blog form than in OpenOffice (guh) so forgive the random deviation.

MACS is a chapter of the ICG )
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Pleated skirts are a staple of a large segment of anime cosplay - nearly every genre within anime as well as a bunch of video games feature school uniform designs and/or daily wear with pleated skirts. I don't get contracted often for them, maybe once a year, so every time I get a new order for something that has a pleated skirt in the design, I find I need a quick refresher on the methodology. Not the technique, no, but the math. How long of a rectangle do I need to cut and sew to fit into the waistband?

The problem is, most tutorials online are missing a tiny yet crucial piece of information: that the size of the pattern piece is entirely dependent on the quantity of pleats that will fit into the waistband. And the quantity of pleats, in turn, is entirely dependent on the size of those pleats. In some cases, there's also the extra variable of the type of pleat that throws your math completely off. Most tutorials don't take any of that into account, and thus, the math is completely wrong for most people.

Most tutorials assume you only want 1" knife pleats in your skirt. For a very basic uniform skirt, or a professional-looking daywear skirt (or a couture skirt, fashion skirt, etc), this will do. In that case, the general math of 3" of fabric per 1" of waistband is accurate enough. But what happens if you look at your character and 1" is way too tiny of a pleat? What if you need 1.5" or 2" pleats? Worse, what if you want box pleats instead of knife pleats? You're screwed, right? No you're not!

Have a better tutorial to take those variables into account! )
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I've been having a knee-jerk ARGH OLD PEOPLE reaction to someone's essay on what cosplay is - according to a book their friend wrote - and I've been trying to calm down enough to write a coherent rebuttal that isn't all rage and snark. So far, not working so well. So perhaps I'll ramble a bit to myself to see if I can make intelligent and calm phrasing out of my ideas.

kind of gutsy to write an essay on cosplay in front of cosplayers and get it wrong )

I am also going to be featured in a book about cosplay, published by the writers from Kotaku. They will be printing my essay on the history of cosplay, which is posted here as well as my own website. In it, I tell the history of geek costuming since 1939, and why it isn't uniquely Japanese, which is exactly the opposite of what a lot of veterans would like to believe. If I can educate the anime-con crowd about this stuff, maybe we can turn around and re-educate the old farts about their own hobby.
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Reposting an essay I wrote for a newsletter, on judging standards and qualifications for masquerade judges.

originally published in the MACS newsletter, December 2013 )
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I'm working on the prototypes for superhero armor hoodies, I've got one done and one in progress. The first one taught me a lot, I'm already changing things up for #2. If these go well, and I get some good feedback, they may be up for sale soon.

photos and further information )
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I still regularly visit in order to see what people are up to, offer advice on people's costumes, and get a read on the current trends. Having been a costumer for almost 14 years and a competitor for at least 12, with almost 20 awards under my belt - and planning to direct my first masquerade, at CostumeCon 34 in 2016 - I like to roll through the Masquerade sub-forum to help out people with genuine concerns and questions about their skill levels, complying with rules, etc. But it feels like lately I've been repeating myself a lot, the same questions keep coming up over and over. So, just in case, this post is about competitions: mainly, why we have so many problems trying to figure out The Rules. If anyone needs a permanent reference to check when they have a dilemma, here is my take on it.

Disclaimer: this blog post assumes the reader knows what a masquerade is already. If you've never been to a con before or attended the masquerade, consider doing so first and then try to figure out whether it's something you want to participate in someday.

winning is never a guarantee but the challenge is worth it )
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I've been brainstorming what I can do over the winter, when the sales on fleece are pretty much ongoing and my usual commissions drop off in volume. If I ever start vending at cons in the winter, it'll be essential to stock the table with adorable items people will realize they not only love, but need because it's cold outside and they're nerds who must show their nerdery with every piece of clothing.

brainstorming happens under here! )

Next time I can find the time to blog, I'm going to post up pictures of the Wild Tiger and Bunny hero-suit sweatshirts I've been designing. They've gone from hoodies to pullovers with detachable hoods, but I think I've got it figured out. I'm going to be looking for opinions before I sew a prototype, though. It's better than getting stuck with a hoodie I can't move!
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This is up on the SLC site as well, but the link is sort of buried and I know sometimes people have a harder time reading light text on dark backgrounds. So, repost!

I wrote this essay in order to correct some misconceptions among the newer members of the cosplay community. It is, actually, a history of hobby costuming in general, but with a slant toward connecting it to what cosplayers perceive as the state of the hobby today. Given that in some corners of fandom there are now rumblings that people need to somehow "prove" their geek cred in order to "earn" the "right" to wear a costume at a convention, a history lesson is what everyone needs right about now. And yes, I put all those words in quotes because I find them all to be ludicrous. No one needs to prove how geeky they are in order to be allowed to cosplay. As long as they're following the con rules and basic social etiquette and aren't, well, stealing the costume from a store or anything, everyone is free to do as they please with their costumes.

But now, your lesson for today: nerds have been wearing costumes to cons a lot longer than you might think!

the history of cosplay from 1939 to present )
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This is a more detailed version of the "Ten Things" panel that I have presented at cons before. It is by no means a required list, but a suggestion, though most of these techniques and tricks are pretty basic for anyone regularly building their own garments from scratch. Integrating these techniques into their repertoire is how any costumer/cosplayer can take their stuff to the next level, to start building costumes that dazzle and wow, fit and flatter. Because let's face it, we all like to look good. No matter what kind of costume it is, a well-made costume shows. Eyes pop and cameras flash, and you simply feel better when you look your best. These ten areas of sewing knowledge are crucial for anyone making cosplay a long-term hobby and wanting to improve their skills, whether for the satisfaction or the attention.

Ten Things every cosplayer should know how to do )

So there you have it. Go forth and learn and be beautiful!


Jul. 23rd, 2012 08:59 pm
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This journal is intended to serve as a working blog for Strange Land Costuming, where I can share progress photos, ideas, sketches, and blather about sewing and commissioning in general. There may be tutorials. There may be fandom opinions. There may even be mentions of my personal projects. But mostly, it's a way to keep up-to-date on what SLC is working on besides direct customer commissions.

We're happy to have discussions and take commentary! LJ users, log in using OpenID! Anon commenting is on and not screened, but we reserve the right to change that if the privilege is abused or we get a lot of spambots. Feel free to link us on blogs, tumblr, Facebook, etc, if you see a post or tutorial that may be of help to other costumers and cosplayers, just make sure to give credit where credit is due. Facebook and Etsy users, give us a Like if you see something that catches your eye or makes you think.

All photos belong to Strange Land Costuming unless otherwise noted. All ideas belong to Strange Land Costuming and permission must be requested before copying or building off of them (which is pretty easy to do, lord knows I never make 90% of the things I think up). All official images from movies, TV, animation, manga, and comics are copyright of their respective license and trademark holders, and are linked here under fair use clauses for reference purposes only.
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