20 July 2013

Daenerys Targaryen - The Dragon is Done!

...and photographed.  I'll be uploading these all the Deviantart soon enough, but I thought I'd give my reader a first look:

Sometimes after photographing a cosplay I have sort of a disappointed feeling because none of the shots *really* came out as I had hoped...not so here.  We had great weather, great wind, it turned out just as I wanted.  Now I can't wait to wear this cosplay to another convention!

Now that the attention-grabber is over, I've got a couple process photos left to show for this cosplay.  Last time I think I left off pretty early on in the process.

At the beginning of this cosplay I did think about making the cloak-thing detachable so that I wouldn't have to worry about a train if I wore this dress for a purpose other than cosplay...needless to say, I did not do that.  And I don't think that's bad at all.  The dress needs the extra layer of fabric to add, oh, volume?  Dimension?

So I did end up wishing I'd gotten more fabric so the cloak could have been wider.  As it is I just added triangular panel extensions to the main rectangular pieces.  My wallet thanked me for that.  This fabric, it ain't cheap.

Now for the "metal" bits I chose to use leather because it has the strength and durability to exist in higher-stress areas of the garment.  This did not end up being as easy as I thought.  The idea is good, but there hardly exists a sharp instrument that's small enough to cut out all the little details.

But I didn't know that when I started.  I just got to work drawing everything out with permanent marker on the back of the leather:

And then it seems that I didn't remember to take photos, because I can't find anything on iPhoto.  Perhaps I was too frustrated?  I ended up cutting everything out with a combination of exacto knives and sewing shears.  The "belt" thing closes in the back with a strip of velcro.

I achieved the gradient look along the bottom of the skirt and cloak using a dilute dyebath and a little bit of luck.  Silk dyes really easily.  I had my hands full during the actual dyebath.  Here's the result right afterward:

Damn I wish I had a mannequin.  For this I chose to use "black" RIT dye, because it's really more of a blueish purple than any of the other dyes they sell.  Anyway, it came out really dark and that scared me a little.  Turned out fine in the end: the colour lightened dramatically as the fabric dried.

Last real step was to add in the vertical wrinkles.  Silk wrinkles easily, at least, so I just wet the fabric and bunched it up in a giant twist.

Unfortunately the wrinkle also falls out really easily.  Everytime before wearing this dress it needs to be redone.

So that's that!  I am looking at a new Daenerys cosplay, just be cause I can and because she has great fashion sense.  The current design is a combo of these two outfits (which may actually be the same outfit anyway):

It needs more planning before anything happens.

Jushiro is finished and photographed--next entry will probably be about him (or some other random crap because I don't have my stuff together).

09 July 2013

Jushiro Ukitake - The Cut of Shino Academy Uniforms

Okay, I've been out of cosplay-related content for awhile.  There are excuses and there are excuses...let's not waste time on those.  Let's get to the real (or is it?) content!

I actually started planning out my new Ukitake cosplay around six months ago.  At that time it didn't seem like something I'd actually do, mostly because I've been steering away from crossplay.  The exercise was useful practice for drawing out costume designs, and that's all it really was.

Buuuuuuut...here we are.  I spent two days at Anime Boston cosplaying Ukitake, and that reminded how much I enjoy the character.  That was the first cosplay I ever completed.  It's served its purpose.  Now it's time for something a little different.

The first item I'd like to discuss is Bleach Shinigami uniforms, both for the Academy as well as commissioned officers, and why I find them so...interesting.  Let's get this started.

At first glance this thing seems pretty normal.  The differences between the Academy and Shinigami uniform are, of course, the colour and markings.  Also, it is important to note that the hakama ties are the same colour as the hakama, not white as they are on the full Shinigami uniform.

Also interesting is how Shinigami tie their hakama.  Maybe it's a concession to modern styles, but traditional hakama are tied in a complex, elegant knot:

I dunno.  I guess Shinigami are too cool for that :/

Unlike typical kimono mon (crests), these are much larger and unlike most Japanese family crests I've seen before.  I found similar, but I suppose Kubo wanted something different (if he even gave a shit...).  The other kicker is that all the blue needs to be the same colour.  That means that I need to be able to produce fabric paint in the same colour I choose for the hakama and nagajuban.

An image discrepancy is the width of the stripes on the Academy uniform sleeves.  The first image shows a wider one in front and a thin one in back.  Second image is not so clear and the above image makes them look about equal in width.  For balance I chose to use the design from the first image.

Additionally, real-world men's and women's kimono have several key differences.  Women's kimono are long and tucked up at the waist.  Men's aren't.  Hakamashita, which is what Shinigami wear, are shorter, about knee-length, so that they won't bunch up in the crotch of the hakama.  It's a practical fighting uniform.

HOWEVER, men's kimono (including, I assume, combat garments like hakamashita) are completely sewn up under the arm where women's kimono have slits.  And yet, take a look at this image of Dumbass Ichigo:

He clearly has a slit under the arm of his kimono.  It's a very odd feature, given traditional kimono construction.  Now I realize that Ichigo's hakamashita is a little unique in style, HOWEVER I have noticed the exact same thing on other characters like Renji and Byakuya.  This just happens to be the clearest image I could find in 540+ chapters of manga.

So what does this mean?  Quite honestly, I like making women's kimono a lot better, so I don't really mind the underarm slit.  I think that men's kimono don't hang as nice with completely sewn up sleeves.  I'm just interested in why it's there.

Okay, so, modifications.  Yes, they ARE necessary.  For one thing, Ukitake is described as being over six feet tall.  I'm only a little over five foot three and pretty narrow.  Most kimono are made out of fabric bolts between 14 and 15 inches wide, which is just too wide if I don't want to look like I'm wearing a garment made for a much larger person.  I'm starting with 13 inch strips of fabric cut from wider Western fabric bolts.  With wide seam allowances this should fit much, much nicer.  I'm also shortening the hakama a little bit because I'm sick of dragging the hem on the ground.  Let's justify this by stating that I can't imagine anyone wanting to go through intensive training if they have to worry about tripping over ill-fitting garments.

Here the outer layer of kosode is all cut out, pinned together, and painted with the blue designs.  Now that my sewing machine is serviced and back from the shop we can get started on this thing!

Backtracking just a little bit, remember I mentioned having to match the fabric paint colour to the colour of the hakama and nagajuban?  Unfortunately I couldn't get the fabric I wanted for those two garments in the right shade of blue.  I bought white fabric and threw it in a navy blue dye bath.

Now it's white...
Now it's not!

Anyhow, I couldn't get the colour quite as dark as I wanted, but the greyish shade of navy blue that came out after two dyebaths is quite appropriate I think.  The grey tint should help to make my skin look a little less pale.  Should be fine.

Placing the patterns on the garment was not difficult, and I achieved this as usual using newspaper cutous, a ruler, and some charcoal pencil.

The trouble I had with the paint was that nothing I had on hand wanted to go as grey as the hakama fabric.  The colour in the middle of the dish ended up being too blue.

The next colour I mixed was a really dark blue with a tint of white paint mixed it.  The colour match was close enough for government work, so it's what I went with.

My wig is already taken care of.  Ukitake's hair during this time was cut short.

I've always been interested that his hair is more white than grey, but I chose to go more for a grey tone because it's how Kubo verbally describes Ukitake's appearance.

More next time!

07 July 2013

Victorian and Edwardian Fashion Photos

The last time I wrote a post was a long time ago--for that I'm sorry.  It's been a busy summer and not necessarily in a good way.  Enough of that for now.  Right now I'm on a short though much-appreciated vacation.  In fact, I'm writing this post on July 4th!  Though you probably won't see it for a few days at least...

First off, as some of you may know, I really love visiting antique shops.  And I don't mean those stupid high-priced ones where all they sell is furniture made of dense wood that looks like it came straight from some rich person's house in the 1800s.  No, I like clutter.  The more the better--because that's where cool stuff hides out.  Some people honestly don't know what they have, or sometimes you get estate sales or something, and it's really wonderful to go through random bits of stuff that's old.

It is interesting to me that so many old family photos find their ways into antique stores, and yet, you can buy them for only a couple dollars.  Many are old, close to one hundred years, if not more, and the older the better.  For my purposes anyway.

Here are my finds from some Newport, OR antique stores, chosen for their value as examples of fashion from long ago.  Although I can't date any of them for certain, I have done my best and would like to put them out there for use as references by other historical costumers (or just for interest/research purposes, that's alright too).

This first one is a studio photo of a young man in a well-tailored suit.

The photo was taken by W. Griffin, an agency located at the corner of 3rd Street and Lincoln Avenue in Hebron, Nebraska.  Looks like the outfit was in business from about the 1880s to 1905ish (source).  This young man's fashion is absolutely right for this era, although I cannot date it precisely because men's fashion was less distinctive than women's fashion.  Perhaps someone with a more detailed knowledge of this time period could do better than I at narrowing down when this photo was taken.

For general interest, here is a scan of the studio mark on the back of the photo:

Of course the price is listed in the upper left and the family this came from has kindly labeled this photo as "don't know."  This is why it's important that you get the older members of your family to label family photos!

This next photo I have considerably less information on.  There is no maker's mark or logo, no writing at all.  It didn't even have a price tag on it.

I cannot see much of this woman's dress either, but the photo is beautifully framed and I love the decoration on her sleeves.  Sometime I would like to try a finely pleated ruffle like this.  Her bodice looks like it extends far past her waist, similar to a polonaise or similar style.  The hem of the bodice may be decorated with a lightly gathered ruffle.  I can't quite envision the effect of the garment on a standing person, but it drapes beautifully when she sits down.  Without doing a more detailed analysis, I would bet this photo was taken sometime during the last two decades of the 19th century--probably in the 1880s based on the sleeve ruffles.

Finally we reach a photo that I've got some information on.  This time it is a rather dour looking couple.

The man wears a winged shirt collar, crisp bow tie, and overcoat with wide lapels.  His waistcoat, probably made of silk, has a shawl collar.  Again, men's clothing from this time period was relatively nondynamic--there were very few drastic style changes. 

I wouldn't say the woman's dress is particularly interesting either, but like the previous photo she has beautiful decoration around her sleeve cuffs.  It is very similar in style to woman's dress in the previous photo.  Without seeing more of the back of her dress I cannot tell if she is wearing a bustle or not and that limits my ability to date the photo even though she appears middle age and may simply be sticking to fashions from when she was a younger woman.  I don't like how her bodice fits around her waist.  She's a heavier set woman--accenting her waist does not streamline the look of the dress.  I would like it better if the bodice did not button all the way down but split below the waist.  I DO like the pleats and ruffles in the overskirt.

Now, here is the information I could find about the photographer/studio.

John H. Oleson was a photographer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The Minnesota Historical Society has a photo of him and his wife Anna ca. 1875:

John married Anna in 1874 and they ran the photography business together until John's death in 1881.  Then Anna took over the business until she remarried in 1889 (source).  Throughout its existence, the Oleson photography business had several changes of address.  Based on the address on the back of the photo, I know that the photo was taken between 1876 and 1880 (source).

Final gem here is a photo of a young US Army officer, though not as old as the previous three photos.

I'm no expert on military uniforms, nevertheless I'm guesstimating that this photo was taken around World War 1--so, perhaps between 1910 and 1920.  Also, I cannot quite make out his insignia, nor can I be sure that I am interpreting it right, but here is my guess.  He appears quite young and his uniform is crisp.  Not much wear.  Rank insignia was worn on the left cuff.  With his arms crossed I can't see anything--too bad, it would have been interesting to know.  Anyhow, soldiers received chevrons on their lower right sleeve when they were wounded.  It looks like this young man was wounded once before this photo was taken, so he probably saw action in some war.  Beyond that I can't tell much...sorry.  There's not even enough detail to tell what branch he was in as his entire left side is obscured.  Someone with more detailed knowledge may be able say more. (source)

See how interesting a trip down memory lane is?

Seriously, though, if you have family photos you should keep them.  Take them to grandma and grandpa (or whoever is your oldest family member) and write dates and names on the back.  It's so amazing to look back on family members and see how times and fashions have changed.  Our generation is unique in that we can see direct images of our distant ancestors.  We have photos of my great-grandparents.  No, perhaps even farther back than that!  Really, your family will be grateful later on.  As much as I like finding old photos in antique stores, I'd much rather they remain as family keepsakes with names and memories attached to them.  Once they get to me there's nothing personal left.

Now, my next post should be about cosplay.  Both Caterina Sforza and Daenerys Targaryen are finished and ready to be photographed when I am not too tired to do so.  And that's most of the time nowadays.  It sucks to be an insomniac until 2 AM and then have to wake up a 7 AM to make it to work for an 8-hour workday T_T

The big news is that Caterina won first place in Master Division at Albuquerque Comic Expo about two weeks ago!  It was unexpected, but I am very honored to receive the recognition.

Soon enough I'll have stuff to post about Jushiro's Shino Academy uniform as well--I just need time to dye fabric for the hakama and nagajuban.  Sogyo no Kotowari's shikai form is also well into the production stage.  Sometime next week I'll have enough content to make something readable ;)

Until then!