I am cosplaying Rue from Princess Tutu - Specifically her Fire Festival dress from Episode 5. Princess Tutu is arguably my favorite series of all time. I love all of the characters and so many of the designs, and at the time I had plans to take a trip to Germany as visit the town that the show's setting is based off of. Originally I planned to take cosplay photos there, but I ended up just going to visit in plain clothes instead.
Like all of my costumes, I made everything from scratch --I started with a very basic pattern for the bodice, but made a TON of alterations to customize the shape, and the sleeves. the medium-pink color fabric was hand-dyed to coordinate with the other 2 fabrics I had chosen. I altered a petticoat to create the custom bell shape of the skirt, and all of the white braid trim was sewn on by hand. I created the hat, and the neck ruff completely by hand (all hand sewing), and even created a video tutorial on how to make an Elizabethan-style ruff. Even the rose on the hat was made 100% by me, so it would match the materials of my dress.
It was kind of a combination of things. I heard about it a little bit from friends online, but when I did a search online I discovered pictures of Adella dressed as Aerith from Final Fantasy VII, and that was really the tip off moment to me. I had always kind of wanted to make character costumes for Halloween, so to find out that this was actually a hobby, with a growing community, it just seemed to fit me perfectly. I didn't REALLY get into it until a few years later though, since I was so busy with School that I only made about 1 or 2 costumes per year for the first 3 or so years I attended cons.
You know, it was so long ago now (close to 15 years?), I have a hard time remembering it exactly. I do remember that my first costumes were primarily side-characters, so there was some excitement from people who didn't see many of that character. I remember how awesome it felt to get stopped for my picture. My very first convention, I had 3 costumes, because I had made one for the year before but didn't end up going. I had Nakuru Akizuki from CardCaptor Sakura, which was a character very few people recognized surprisingly. I used my own hair, too. My second costume was a thrown together Ping from "Megatokyo" because Fred Gallagher was a guest that year, and I was a big Megatokyo nerd at the time. My third costume was the one I was the most excited about, Tenjou Utena from "Revolutionary Girl Utena" -- Several of my friends didn't recognize me in that costume, and I think that was the most amazing feeling, because I felt like I must be doing a good job if my friends didn't recognize me!
Having started cosplaying back when it was way less mainstream than it is now, the response I get from it now is a lot different than when I started. When I started, I was about 17, and my parents didn't get it AT ALL. My mom thought it was a waste of time and money, and the few friends I had didn't really get it, so I made more new friends through cosplay itself. I kept it quiet from co-workers for a very long time, though now it's almost impossible to avoid, and generally I get a much more positive response now that people associate costumes with Conventions/ComicCon instead of bedroom fetishes. Around 2010, when I started winning awards in competitions, my parents realized that what I was doing was actually very creative, and that I was actually pretty good at it, and now they're EXTREMELY supportive. Like, to the point where my mom shares my photos on her facebook for all her friends to see! Back in the day, I used to explain cosplay as being sort of like Halloween, except it was year-round. Now a days, I have less explaining to do, and just show them photos, or even link them to my website. I've never had a co-worker give me a hard time for what I do, and a handful of them are actually very interested in my work, which is really awesome to get from people outside of the community!
These are questions I ask myself a LOT, actually. and the answer is always changing. I've found that as I get older, I have to re-evaluate where cosplay fits in my life, and what I want to do for it to be something that still makes me happy. After doing it for as long as I have, I've reached a point where the reason I keep cosplaying is because, I like having the opportunity to meet like-minded people, and also express my deepest, most ridiculous fangirl feelings. Through cosplay, I've met some amazing people (including my best friend of 10 years, my room-mate, and all of my international friends who make it so much easier to see the world.) It's just so much a part of my life now, that even though my approach to it keeps changing, I can't imagine my life without it.