Thursday, March 7, 2013

One more for the bucket list: Cosplay!

Hello again!

I once more have something crafty to share with y'all, and I'm actually super proud of it. This is my first cosplay! I have always wanted to do it, and now I can finally say that I have!

Now cosplay is essentially dressing up as a character or even things from books, TV shows, movies, etc. It's pretty popular at anime and other types of conventions. However, when my friends and I decided to cosplay, we did it for school.

Sort of. You may be surprised to learn that medical school isn't always "study study study". We have time for fun things, like our belated Lunar New Year Festival that just happened last Saturday. It consists of acts performed by medical students, undergrad students, and some of the other schools on our campus (PT, OT, audiology, etc) putting together acts to perform for fellow students, faculty, and really anyone else we care to invite.

One of these acts that I participated in was a dance inspired by Avatar: the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra (I talked about them in the post about my favorite TV shows). Any fans here?

Quick introduction for those who are not familiar with the Avatar universe: in this world, some people are born with the ability to manipulate ("bend") one of the four elements: air, water, earth, and fire. The Avatar is the lone person in the world who can bend all four. Bending is commonly used in combat, so in the TV show, the animation of each type of bending is based off of a martial art.

In this dance, we correlated each of the elements with a dance style. Water was more lyrical, earthbending was step, fire was hip-hop-ish, and air was breakdancing. Two of my friends (and fellow Avatar fans) who were in the dance with me decided, "What the hey, we're gonna cosplay this!" Water, fire, and earth all have one major female character associated with them, so we went as Katara, Azula, and Toph, plus an Aang!

BUT! I'm the only one of us three (four, if you included our airbender, who we roped into cosplaying with us) who can sew. I have made from scratch a grand total of three real garments for myself: this shirt and two pairs of PJ pants. This was my first time using darts, an invisible zipper, interfacing, and inset sleeves.

But hey! Two weeks, four costumes, almost no experience? On top of rehearsals for three different acts for the Lunar New Year Festival and schoolwork? Totally doable!

That sounds sarcastic. And you know what? It was hard...but I did it! And we looked fantastic!

Sadly, our airbender had to leave the performance early, so no group picture with him. :(

Some of my preliminary doodles (with the measurements blanked out, for obvious reasons):

See more photos of the costumes after the cut!

First, I will feature Katara, the waterbender, or my friend and classmate, Cassie. Katara was the last waterbender in the southern water tribe. She's caring and responsible, and a serious BAMF.

I made her a blue tunic and sash inspired by the robe that Katara wears in warm weather. The boots were a reference to the fact that the water tribes live at the poles.

I realize this is fanart, but it was actually the best outfit reference I had.

She even figured out a way to reference Katara's little hair loopies! Also please note the necklace. :) Provided by a fellow fan.

All of these costumes were modeled off of hospital scrubs. I just traced, made some modifications as needed, and cut. With Cassie's tunic, I cut one back piece and two front pieces, all waist length. I made the appropriate slanted cuts on the front pieces to create the wrap effect and sewed it all together, then added two long panels for the split skirt.

Next up is the firebending princess, Azula. But she isn't exactly a delicate little flower. She is an extremely skilled bender and warrior and...honestly? She's merciless, manipulative, cruel, and legitimately scary. So my friend and classmate Steph, who has a black belt in taekwondo and is pretty scary herself, was a perfect fit! 

But look at that face! D'awww

You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find a close-to-full-body image of Azula in this particular outfit...she has so many different costumes in the show, it's ridiculous.

You may notice that we inverted the colors of most of her outfit. It was a lot better to have Steph provide a black undershirt and leggings and make her a red tunic rather than forcing her buy red leggings and make the tunic black. So not fully canon (meaning: it wasn't completely true to the original), but definitely still recognizable.

Steph took care of the hairpiece herself, with some handy-dandy cardboard and ribbon. Also, can we have a moment to admire how perfect the Azula-hair was?

I made two pieces for Azula's costume: the tunic and the collar.

The tunic was also originally patterned off of scrubs, but don't be fooled by those humble beginnings! This was the first time I used darts in a garment and the first time I installed an invisible zipper! The zipper, by the way, I did by hand, because my machine apparently loves to EAT zippers. I also had to cut the split skirt (SIX PIECES) and hem the whole darn thing, and let me tell you, that stuff takes for-freaking-ever!

The collar I made of black felt that I basically kept cutting and trying on myself until it looked good. It's in four pieces: the collar, the two flaps that fall over the bust, and the largest piece, which drapes over the back and shoulders. If anyone is interested, I can draw up a basic schematic, but essentially, the whole shebang is held together with a single seam around the collar and a hook-and-eye closure.

But what really made this outfit pop was the gold trim, which was just gold ribbon and hot glue! In fact, Steph took care of that whole deal by herself the night before the performance! It really transformed the outfit, let me tell you!

On to my costume, for the earthbender Toph! Self-named best earthbender ever, and I believe her. Toph is a small girl and blind, but that doesn't stop her from being the coolest and toughest character on the show!

In a lot of ways, this was the most challenging costume of all, a large part of which is because I left my costume for last...I wanted to make sure everyone else's was done and fit decently and could still be danced in.

It also had the most pieces (and I didn't even make the full costume I had planned!). The green undershirt and green pants were almost directly patterned off of scrubs, again, although I made the pants cropped. 

The robe was structured similarly to Katara's, but not quite the same. I cut one long back piece, one long front piece, and one short front piece. I cut in the slants for the front and sewed the two front pieces together to get the wrap effect, then sewed on the back piece to make a tunic. Then I just had to add on the collar, and done!

This yellow fabric gave me trouble. I still can't figure out why, but for some reason, the stitching kept puckering. It drove me insane!

See the puckering all around the hem??? ARGH
The belt was a simple tube of brown felt, with two snaps sewn in. Similarly, the headband was a tube of half yellow and half green with some elastic sewn to either end. Quick and easy. :)

I apologize to the fans who have noticed I'm wearing shoes in the above shot. :( Toph sees by feeling vibrations in the earth through her feet, so she is always barefoot. However, in step dancing (which was the dance style for earthbending), it turns out that bare feet on tile doesn't really work. So I had to depart from canon a bit.

A round of applause to my friend Bing, who I am taking out in the above picture, for bringing me coffee and cereal and lots of encouragement when things were getting down to the wire!

Last but not least was our airbender, Aang, played by grad student Mike. Aang is the last airbender, hence the solo act, and the Avatar. He's only 12 or so, but a lot of responsibility weighs on his shoulders. He is a great bender (as the Avatar, he'd better be), but he is fun-loving, relaxed, and values peace.

Mike was the perfect Aang! He captured his personality brilliantly!

Aang's costume consisted of a shirt and pants modeled after (take a guess) scrubs, a sash, and his capey-thing. Yes, I consistently called it his capey-thing.

The cape was sort of a rectangle with two semicircles on each end with cuts made for the neck and the front opening. The collar is actually attached to the cape. I had to add some interfacing to the collar because it was so tall. I also made ties for it.

So the problem with capey-things and breakdancing is that the fabric inevitably ends up in your face and twisted all up around your neck and head. Not nice-looking and, more importantly, probably not safe. So last minute, I tacked down the middle of the back of the cape and the two edges to his shirt. For the most part it seemed to work....

Well, not as well as one would hope. ;)

Sorry, Mike!

If you stayed with me through this whole post, thanks! As a reward, here is a video of our dance. The angle wasn't the best, but you get to see us being awesome.

Caveat: we are (mostly) medical students and (mostly) not dancers. Most of us did this for fun, not because we are particularly skilled. You have have been warned. ;)

And for kicks, one last photo with our FANTASTIC choreographer, Annelise, who was also one of the waterbenders!

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or comment!

Thanks for reading!

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  1. You are a god among sewers. and med students.

  2. Squee! Such Bamf accomplishments and awesome post tying it al together! If I hadn't seen avatar already this would make me want to watch it. I also like that I get earth bent by toph.


      To my other readers: I know Bing IRL and I promise I'm only being weird and creepy at her because of that. I will respond like a sane person to other comments. XD

  3. Amazing costumes you made there.

    And, imho, the dances really reflected the Avatar spirit, too.

  4. Kirito own two different style main costumes in Sword Art Online as far as I know! First one, looks similar with a long black trench coat, this Kirito cosplay costume usually made of PU or uniform cloth; and the second one can be treated as the uniform for kirito in Asuna's Guild, Knights of Blood, this is so called KoB Kirito cosplay costume and also looks like a trench coat but contract with red and white color!