Sakura from Tsubasa Chronicles was always one of those "dream costumes" that I had on my list to do one day, but always put off for fear of not doing it well enough. This year I bit the bullet though, and decided to make it my competition piece for Youmacon since I felt it was challenging enough to try finally. It took over a month for all the initial research, looking for historical garments to reference to it, and traveling to different states to buy fabric before I even started working on the dress itself which took another 4 months to finish.
Everything on Sakura I wanted to be made from scratch - the hoop skirts and corset, to all the layers of petticoats and skirts. And of course she was a princess, so everything about her had to be over the top- be it the range of fabrics in the dress, hand rhinestoned shoes, satin applique, hand dyed flowers, 41 gross of seed beads and over 8000 rhinestones and swarovski crystals sewn and glued down. The closer to the con it got though, the more work it seemed kept piling up with less and less time to get it done it. As much as I love hand beading and rhinestoning, it resulted in a couple of weeks of sleepless nights to get all the work done in time to submit it to the masquerade.
Having it all put together for the first time at the con went over really well, especially with the little kids! A quick photo shoot outside, turned into a couple hours walking around taking pictures with little kids and their parents who saw the princesses outside and stopped to talk to us. Plus all the hard work paid off for the masquerade, it won best craftsmanship! Which really helped to justify all the crazy hours and work that I put into making it.
Cinderella was on the other side of the spectrum compared to Sakura. This was a costume that I bought from my friend and decided to make it more over the top from there. I made and ruffled 100 yards of mirror chiffon for the petticoat to make the dress fluffier (both to better match the movie silhouette and help keep the skirts off the floor), and to glue just under 5000 rhinestones on the dress in the week before I had to leave for Katsucon. It was a lot less work to get her ready for the con compared to Sakura, but Cinderella turned out to be a lot more work to wear at the con. The dress wound up being so massive that it made getting into elevators and walking around the con floor quite the challenge, and all the other Cinderella's I talked to that weekend at Katsu were sharing horror stories of trying to navigate the convention. It was so big that we started trying to see how many people we could fit under the circus tent sized dress...3 people we found out later we could comfortable put under it before feet started peeking out.
A couple of my favorite cosplay moments that I've had so far would have to be when I wore Walpurgisnacht for the first time at Youmacon. This costume was so massive there was absolutely no way we were able to get it inside the building from the parking structure outside wearing it in. So a friend and myself took turns hauling stilts, gear boxes, hoop skirts, dresses, and headpieces into the building. After the 3rd trip in, people started gathering up trying to figure out what all the pieces to the costume were for. The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger as I started putting the stilts on, and the dress came together.
My other favorite moment would be making a tear-away transformation dress for Princess Serenity. The first attempt at making the tear away was a pretty bad failure, but after doing a lot of research and tests managed to make a much more successful version. Being able to go from dancing around on stage in a sailor school uniform and then have the dress unravel into her Princess dress was a great feeling. I love as an audience member being awed by great stage tricks, so being on the other side of the experience for the first time was pretty awesome.
To me, cosplay is a way for me to show my love for a character (be it their personality, their design, or their struggles they go through), and its also my creative outlet. I absolutely love challenging myself to learn new things in order to bring a design to life. Because of cosplay I've taught myself to sew from scratch, learned how to craft armor, put to practical work my electrical circuitry knowledge, and given me an excuse to pour hundreds of hours into researching a huge breadth of subjects.