A Cosplay Update and a Beastly Beverage

Fear not, my dear readers: I am not dead; I have just been very, very busy. Basically life happened, there hasn’t really been an excuse and it isn’t really subject matter for this blog; hearing about my work life and my mental health isn’t really something for a blog about cosplay and nerddom, so let us just gloss over that and begin on the more relevant things.

With regards to my cosplays for 2014; not a lot has been happening. I have been playing with Worbla and cardboard which has been very, very exciting – also expensive – and I can’t wait to reveal my plans for the cosplay they are being assigned to, however the Great British Weather has been making it very difficult to get out into the garden and spray the constructions in the appropriate colours, get the details on, and then gloss. That is even before I get to enlist some help and get everything bolted together and then fabricate an appropriate covering for the ugly underside and the backpack. The backpack is not only going to be a very convenient place to carry my stuff for the day but it is also being used to hold the whole construction together.

Safe to say it is a bit of a job and the weather is just holding me back on this one.

My other planned costume is taking equally as long but this is only because I have been forced to admit that no, I do not have the tools, or the space, or the skill to fabricate a helmet and an armoured shirt. Due to this I have been forced to commission. I say “forced” but no one held me at gunpoint. It isn’t something I am against either, I think that being able to commission items and help give business to these creative masters is a great thing, I guess that I just feel a bit frustrated that I am unable to do it myself. I pride myself on being able to make things from scratch and being completely involved in all that I do so that is it completely tailored to me and all of the things I like… Still, it will only be two elements of the costume that are made by someone else, I can very easily make sure that they rest of the costume is top-notch and meets my usual standards of excellence.

Due to the nature of the commission the pieces are taking a very long time to be finished and get to me, so there isn’t really much of an update in that department either, which is very frustrating to be honest but something that can’t be avoided. I just have to sit and try to focus on what I can do so I don’t feel completely useless and stationary. I hate doing things last minute; I think that is just setting myself up for failure personally.

However I have been keeping busy!

I have recently been very lucky to have met the owner and creator of Beastly Beverages; purveyor of the finest Fandom and Fantasy teas. Yep, that is right, Fandom Tea! The tea is amazing, every blend has been designed and mixed by Mags himself, on top of each blend being completely unique and individual they are also based upon a character or a “ship” (two characters in a relationship, thus a “ship”) which inspired the blend. Each packet of tea comes with beautiful labels, ingredient lists and best of all; it is all fair-trade and as ecologically friendly as possible with regards to the packaging. Mags ships worldwide and the Etsy store is simply amazing. The best thing is that this little business has big plans; Mags intends to be branching out into coffee, new blends of tea which have been inspired by TV shows such as My Little Pony, to big movies like Rise of the Guardians and Pacific Rim, as well as merchandise. In fact the very first mug which is available in at the Beastly Beverages store is a darling Supernatural mug with Cas, Dean and Sam enjoying coffee on the hood of the Impala.

team free will mug - beastly beverages

Click the image to be taken to the Beastly Beverages Listing over at Etsy

Beastly Beverages is not only one of the friendliest businesses going, it is also an incredibly exciting one. Who else can say they have geeky tea to share with friends on Doctor Who nights, or Supernatural marathons? The best thing about Beastly Beverages is how painfully affordable it is. Mags does everything in his power as a owner and fan himself to keep everything as cost-effective and positive towards his customers. It is a great little business and the things he is selling and planning to sell are all such great items, both to enjoy on a personal level and as a daily treat, right down to ultimately unique and wonderfully thoughtful gifts for friends and family alike.

tea collection - beastly beverages

My collection of Beastly Beverages tea, minus the five packs I have gotten since

I am so passionate about Beastly Beverages that I have begun my own little social media campaign to help it; you see Beastly Beverages needs some help with funding. Through no fault of his own Mags has been force to ask for a little extra help as his business funds took a heavy blow over Christmas with some very unfortunate circumstances. On the plus side this does mean that there are some incredible perks up for grabs; just check out the Beastly Beverages Campaign over at Indiegogo to see where Mags is, what you could get, and if you can donate. Anything is so very appreciated; plus you can even get original art which has been used to the labels, and they are signed too!

Of course, if you can’t Donate, then Sharing is also a huge help, just putting a link up about the Indiegogo campaign on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, anything; it so very helpful and will help to continue getting Beastly Beverages plight out to likeminded people; nerds, geeks, fans of the odd show or movie, lovers of tea and coffee alike! It is all so, so appreciated.

Due to the fact I have really taken to pushing Beastly Beverages – if you couldn’t tell I am very much a fan and very passionate about keeping this business going (I am donating myself but payday hasn’t come yet), I flexed my fingers and made a point to contact some of my friends in high places. These included some of the photographers I have been lucky enough to meet at various conventions and know they are armed with public pages on Facebook. I also contacted some writers I have been overjoyed to meet and befriend. These included the likes of Major Jack Union and Emilly Ladybird from the Steampunk community. The lovely thing about the last two was that tea plays a huge part in the steampunk genre that it made sense to contact them and ask them nicely if they would be willing to help. I have found that most people are more than willing to give it a share if you explain yourself, are polite, and just genuinely nice to them. I am lucky to have these people as my friends and that they could empathise with being a tiny force without much power – after all, we all have to start somewhere don’t we? I am just lucky that these wonderful writers and photographers remembered what it was like to be small and relatively unknown.

While I went back to the drawing board – I still am looking for people and groups to contact as the Beastly Beverages campaign still has a month and a half left (roughly), I remembered one of the most lovely groups of people I have had the pleasure to meet at London Excel Expo/Comic Con – Geeked Magazine. In May 2013 Geeked caught a Lady Thor, Lady Fury and my Femme!Cap and grabbed a snap of us. In the same year I went to LSCC and met Geeked Magazine again, only this time I brought all the available issues of there magazine and since then I am been quite the fan of their work. I really appreciate this little publishing group and everything they are doing and achieving. It is awesome to have a feminist and female take on the nerd and geek culture. It is just everything I love about LGBT&Q awareness, gender and biological sex, the relationships between reader and media, just everything. I really recommend checking out the Geeked blog and supporting them by picking up something at their little online store found here.

When I approached Geeked and never expected the response I got; I just sent along a little message over Facebook asking if they’d be interesting in sharing Beastly Beverages, after all it is a geeky little business, it is small and fresh in appearance and take on what it is to be a fan and what a fan can do; all of the things that Geeked stands for. However the message that I got back was amazing and left me bight red and shaking. Not only did we discover throughout our conversation that Geeked would love to share Beastly Beverages as well as support and donate to it, but that they remembered my femme!Cap and the blog post my photo was featured in (this was over a year ago and I am still in a state of shock that I was remembered my costume out of all the Cap cosplayers and all the fans Geeked must have come across in that time). The very best piece of news however Geeked also wanted a Guest Blogger article written about Beastly Beverages explaining why their fans should rally around and support Beastly Beverages and they wanted me to write it!

It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to dust off my skills and it was a lovely thing to do; I was getting to support Beastly Beverages and Geeked Magazine and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. The end result can be found on the Geeked blog, WeGeekedThis. Everything went so well and we were all so excited to have the tea, the writing, but also the shared history and have found that we were all mutual fans of each other (myself to Geeked, Geeked to my Femme!Cap, both Geeked and myself to Beastly Beverages) it was just a lovely conversation and one which I hope will continue and bloom into a lovely friendship between us all.

The Geeked team are going to be receiving a very special ‘Thank You’ pack in the mail, I know this because Mags is making sure I find out what blends of tea he should send, and of course I need to fetch an address for Geeked as well.

There was yet another positive of this whole thing; I might be lucky enough to be writing for Geeked again, which I am quietly hopeful about but for now I am just focusing on really pushing Beastly Beverages and trying to think of who to contact next. It was such a thrill to see Beastly Beverages and my name up on Geeked’s Twitter, Facebook and blog though, I can’t deny that.

So now this brings me to the end of this blog post that tells you I am alive and I have been busy, but most of all I would simply love it if you could Donate, Support, Share, Like and Keep Updated with Beastly Beverages:

Support: Etsy Store and Indiegogo Campaign

Share and Like: Facebook

Keep Updated: Tumblr and Twitter

And please, please, please don’t let this completely unique and wonderful business go away, the genius behind it is just too good for that!

So now is the time to get your Beast on!

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OC Assassin’s Creed!Jack (The Ripper): London MCM Expo 2013 – October

Photo: Shinigami Photography

Photo: Shinigami Photography

Hello and welcome once again to an MCM Excel “Comic Con” review/update.

As returning readers will know I went to this October 2013 cosplaying as my OC Assassin’s Creed character, Jack (The Ripper) and I know that this update is extremely late but I have had a lot going on at the moment. I’m sorry!

Firstly let me start this one off by making it clear I had a lovely time. I met up with many of my friends and made many new ones as well. I got to take part in a number of Assassin’s Creed meet and greets, plus managed to pick up a few great items and a couple of variant comics, as well as got the Comic Con experience for another awesome six months (although I am planning to attend others this year, so watch this space). I am so pleased with the reception my costume got as well, I was approached a number of times and asked for photos but equally as flattering were the people who came up to me and took a closer look at my costume and told me how much they loved it and the details.

In true cosplay form I have already begun planning for May.

I was very lucky this year, while there were DLR closures they didn’t really affect myself or the friends I was staying at the hotel with; we were very also shockingly fortunate to have booked out hotel so early and were only staying across the river and a short walk away from the Excel Centre. We all arrived Friday and stayed late until Sunday by which time the bus replacement service was quick and incredibly well run. The weather held up nicely as well and the wind was a welcome break for me at least considering I was in five full layers plus a faux fur cape.

Friday: The day overall was great! I arrived in time for opening and missed all the “chaos” of people learning the new ticket and hall system due to the fact we’d arrived at the opening time (of the doors now, under the new system) and not before. I didn’t really enjoy dragging my suitcase and being out of costume when I got into the queue but the only way to access the rest of the building was to go through the main doors, go into the ticket hall, get your appropriate band (in my case it was a weekend ticket) and then leave that hall and into the centre as a whole. This was when I could access the toilets, change, and then put my bag into storage until time to leave and book into the hotel.

I liked this system so far as even though I couldn’t change. It was a small price to pay considering it only took me 30 minutes to get my ticket and back out into the main hall. The new system appeared to be a very good one; I was in, out and free to do as I pleased for the rest of the day, be that going into a different hall on the opposite side, or just moving around the main walk/hallway. The new system allowed for that, on top of this all three of the doors to the main warehouse/hall were open and useable as entrances and exits. This was a definite bonus and allowed for plenty of space and no mass crowds/bottlenecks in those areas which was a problem last year.

Of course it was only for a few hours but it gave me enough time to go around the hall and scout out some of the best stalls and get a good idea of how the floor plan was going to work this October.

Saturday: The morning was great as we had arrived for opening once again but by 2.00pm we had left because of the overcrowding both inside and out. This didn’t stop us having a good day and the pub was a perfect end for Saturday. My only major disappointment was because of the crowding I couldn’t get to the signings and the meets/talks of Yuri Lowenthal, Troy Baker or Roger Craig Smith which I am a bit sad about.

I did have a lovely time walking around outside and meeting up with various friends and getting a few shoots. I was also super faltered to have been approached by one of the Sneaky Zebra team and had a shot done with them for their MCM videos which was nice. Obviously no guarantee that I am going to be in it but it was lovely to have my costume appreciated enough that they wanted to give it some time. I was also lucky enough to bump into a few photographers – both new and old – who wanted to do a few shoots which was super cool and fun.

Sunday: Perhaps one of the days I enjoyed most; while I still didn’t manage to get to any signings or talks, nor did I manage to pick up any more comics simply because of crowding, I did manage to go to an awesome Assassin’s Creed Meet later in the day and make some awesome new friends, on top of watching the third spontaneous dance party to break out in the main area. I have decided that, providing my latest cosplay plans work out, I will make sure to join in next time. I wanna dance with the Deadpool’s and show off my moves.

I am also particularly pleased because even while I could not find the SFX Magazine and Manga UK photo booth which I usually get my professional white-backdrop pictures done I did find Cosplay Portraits, and after only a little pleading both myself and assassin partner in crime managed to get this beast of a photo.

Cosplay Portrait Official Photo

Cosplay Portrait Official Photo

I am so incredibly pleased with this photo for so many reasons, particularly the fact it was taken in only one shot and everything from the positioning of our arms to out expressions in perfect; this is a photo of Scarlett and Jack completely in-character. I adore it so much and am so pleased with how the costumes mesh together as well as the make up and attitude we both have going on. There is even symmetry in our arms and the weapon choices we made for that one picture.

Overall I had another very good MCM experience, I really did and I always do, problems and all. Nothing is perfect… However I did notice a few issues and feel like these need to be addressed and stated again and again until the situations that are present are resolved for the best of the MCM Staff and Hosts, as well as those who are literally paying for the services provided, or in some cases, are not provided.

The most worrying one for me is the continued issues for those that have less mobility (those on crutches, frames and in wheelchairs who were all there to enjoy the convention) but they weren’t given or offered any assistance no matter where they were in the MCM. A majority were left to rely on those in the crowd to try and give them space which, for those that did try, was a struggle enough for several reasons all related to the fact it was overcrowded.

The issue of overcrowding was only made worse by filming on Friday which blocked off the eastern entrance, plus a show on Saturday reducing the use of the eastern entrance once more – which is fine and understandable, we can’t have the whole MCM to ourselves, but to be a weekend ticket/band holder and told “you can’t go through this door, you need to go around the outside and all the way along to the western entrance for “registration”,” when I already had my wristband and other ticket holders (Sunday ticket holders at this point) were being allowed entry was, in all senses, a bit of a joke. The eastern entrance may as well have not been used at all as what little it was used/accessible for did nothing to alleviate the fact the front became a bottleneck for people to enter for tickets, enter with their bands, plus an exit. It got so bad that people were queuing to get out and being told they had to wait as “there were too many people outside”. I know this because I was one of them and literally had to shoulder my way out and squeeze through a gap about seven inches wide and climb over the slope of a glass pyramid/wall so I could avoid having a panic attack there and then.

Due to the crowding we left at 2pm on the Saturday and spent a majority of our day outside and around the MCM event instead of inside. I couldn’t face the misery that was trying to get back in, much less the trouble that I had getting out of the event again. If people are queuing to leave then surely that is a sign there is a problem with the event itself.

I truly think that the new system is actually really good – it just had some serious issues which need to be addressed, the main one being the use of entrances and exits. The fact there was more floor space and the convention was held over both sides of the hall and separate from the ticket halls once again were all vast improvements. The fact that tickets were checked on the door, not upon entry to those halls was a great idea because it did make things move smoother once inside. I also felt a lot happier in the halls knowing I had already proven I was a paying customer and could move between halls freely.

The issue of crowding however… There will never be enough floor space. That is that. There will never be enough; the MCM is just too popular for that and being popular is a good thing; it means better guests, more stalls and just a better business experience overall. Even the layout was better this year, the space was used and there was even a hall provided for just sitting/extra space which is a vast improvement over previous years where there was literally nowhere to sit and what little space we could find was branded a “fire hazard” to block with our butts.

Something I am not entirely sure about was the weapons rules; let me explain this. The rules haven’t been changed but they have been enforced. I actually agree with when all things are considered as I have been hit with metal swords and one of those “yaoi paddles” before and I can tell you that they both bruise and seriously hurt. However, I don’t understand how obviously plastic/wooden weapons can be taken away; the MCM Facebook page tells of stories where unrealistic and/or fake weapons were taken away and in some cases broken, but others where people have been allowed in with full-scale replica shotguns and blunted blades. I myself was, for some strange reason, just grabbed and hauled aside by one of the security team in their yellow jackets when I showed him my band. Literally. He just grabbed me around my middle and pulled me aside before letting me go right as my friend came up behind me with her band out. Neither of us understands why the security guard grabbed me around my middle or went to drag me away, the only thing we can think it was would be was the assassin’s hidden blade strapped just under my wristband, but I had been wearing these for three days, plus plastic polymorph syringes and scalpels and I had not been stopped once. This does not explain his behaviour completely though and it is not something I am not comfortable thinking about further as I am only left with more questions than answers.

Another slight downer was my friend who was dressed as Gotham City Harley Quinn being pounced on for a photo, grabbed around the middle and then followed with open arms when she went to put her things down and humour the freak who was behaving this way to get him to go away; his arm was glued around her waist when she posed for a picture, dragging her in closer. We wrote this off as just a bit of an overly enthusiastic fan but it wasn’t until we were in front of a stall admiring the work there that I noticed an older man in his 40s just stopping and putting up his phone camera. It took me entirely too long to realise that he and his friend – who bumped into him and also put up his phone camera – weren’t taking a picture of the busy stall (there was nothing to take a picture of, we were all standing in front of it), but instead taking a picture of her backside in her costume. I stood  there in shock at what I was seeing; I actually couldn’t process what I was witnessing and I am ashamed that I did not realise what the grins on these 40-something year old men’s face were. I am furious at myself for not jumping in the way and making a scene, calling them out for what they were doing and asking them if they had any daughters and if they would like men to be taking pictures of them while they were innocently admiring some jewellery. The after-effect was that Harley became very quiet and obviously distressed and confused; “why would someone do that do me?” was all that she could ask. I have had similar experiences with people flicking up my skirts and pulling me into hugs I don’t want and I am just so angry that I didn’t react quickly enough.

These are all continuing issues, not new. While the MCM staff can’t screen for creepers it would be nice to be able to find someone to report them to without not only losing them in the crowd, but enforce some kind of security to upset cosplayers/con-goers. At least the queuing system is better though it does little for the crowds; I think it might actually be time for the MCM to consider limiting tickets on-the-day, or at least trying to get a deal with the Excel Centre where the weekend of the MCM events that the eastern entrance is also free for their use and not booked up with filming and the extra security that is needed at that end. It is just so unsafe and unfair for anyone to be treated as many were this convention, especially the more vulnerable like children and the less mobile; the MCM prides itself of being a family event and there were more children there than ever this year. I know steps have been taken to section off inappropriate content, give more space of seating and in general provide better facilities, but this October proves that there needs to be more done. If the MCM wants to keep running then it has to keep evolving and it must listen to their customers. They must listen to the con-goers and they must react accordingly. Nothing is ever perfect and it can always be improved, just like a good cosplay.

I hope that by May the MCM organisers which have taken into consideration the many positive and negative responses they are going to be flooded with and help improve the experience for everyone, be that the 2-year old in her father’s arms while he is dressed as Spiderman, the father and son dynamic duo dressed as Alfred and Batman, proving that you can be a hero and an inspiration no matter what, or a first time con-goer.

Until next May (at least for the MCM Events), I’m out. I am considering March’s LFCC and the LSCC events with both Jack and my two new projects which I will be introducing to you all very soon. Until then watch this blog – subscribe on the right hand bar if you fancy emails straight to you inbox – or just  keep an eye out on my Facebook page, Ren’s Masquerade.

20 Days and Counting

With only twenty days left until the MCM October Comic Con I have been dividing my time between sitting by the post-box and chaining myself sewing machine and costume corner of the front room. All between working fulltime hours at work.

It has been thrilling.

The good news is that my trousers and boots have arrived for my assassin costume. The trousers are a gorgeous cut of faux leather and denim skinny-fit jeans, while my boots are these amazing mid-calf lace-up boots with fur lined fronts. Seriously, I am so pleased with these two items.

(There is a reason I don’t have any pictures in this blog post just yet, bear with me.)

The very best news is that the Edward Kenway bracer that I pre-ordered from Gamestop thinking that it would arrive in November was not only dispatched mid-last week – it arrived yesterday. That was an amazing development and one that made me very happy because it means I have both of my hidden blades for the MCM Comic Con, this includes the altered Ezio hidden blade which I went over in a previous post here.

I’m not entirely sure I am happy with the item in question however; the blade it made from a bendy latex and there is no obvious way to attach the outer casing of the bracer to the hidden blade underside without having the Velcro straps visible to the world. I quickly found a fix for this though as I pulled out my scrap fabrics and begun to tear strips. I did consider making some leatherette coverings for the Velcro but having worked with leatherette so recently I didn’t think it would have the correct level of flexibility that I was looking for. Plus I wanted something that was a bit more frayed and “worn” looking.

What I am not so happy with so far is the fact I am still missing my ruffled high collar dress shirts which I ordered from Hong Kong on the 5th of September. Luckily enough I have ordered a second one which I hope will have arrived by the 25th of October, if not I did manage to dig out one of my old blouses that I had planned to use with one of my dwarf costumes. It is suitable enough for now but not exactly what I am looking for. That said it was good enough to get a first full body shot and an idea of how this costume looks…

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

As you can see I took the general approach of “all the weapons”, though each piece had been created with Jack’s origin and his expanded back-story in mind. I am also particularly pleased with how both hidden blade have turned out and how they look together;

jacks final bracers

The red strips of fabric on the black bracer don’t look out of place and the repainted Ezio one is equally unique which really pleases me. I’m so glad that I painted it and added in the shading and glossed it with matte car paint rather than leaving it plain and dulled. I also think that additionally painting the blade was a good idea and so glad that I was talked into it rather than leaving it silver and odd against the outer casing.

Bracers, trousers and holsters

It’s not a crotch shot! Honestly.

Here are both of my handmade weapon holsters, left and right respectively along with my belt and my British flag sash. This photo also shows the trousers I mentioned before and the faux leather fronts.

Obviously in the end I caved and brought one of the very popular and easily found Assassin’s Creed coats in black and red. I spent a good evening safety pinning the front of the coat away and tucking inside. Another evening I stitched the large front flaps of the hood down into the collar and secured them all in place to force the hood to keep its shape and stop flopping around once it was pulled up over my head.

Something that isn’t as clear as I would have liked in these “first look” photos is my most secret part of this costume and the reason why I have fur lined boots; my faux fur cape.

(Click to enlarge)

I am very pleased with how this finished of the project. I am still waiting on the shirts of course, and I won’t have black nails or my pentagram on for the real thing. I also hope to have dyed my hair and gelled it so that it is bright red and spiky by the time the Comic Con rolls around.

The final piece of this costume once the shirts are out of the way is going to be finding an appropriate bag that don’t stand out against this costume. Ultimately though that isn’t a huge concern for me right now as I do have a few pockets available with this costume.

And so ends this reveal really. There are just a few final pieces to be added when the time comes but for now this is Jack and I am so very, very pleased with how everything has come together, from the holsters right down to tiny skull buttons I just had to have.

Now all I just have to do is hope that the Comic Con loves this cosplay just as much as I do!

Assassin’s Creed Costume (Jack) Update:

I livvveeee~

I live and while I have been very, very busy these last few weeks I have still managed to make amazing progress with my Assassin’s Creed costume for the October MCM Comic Con. I am really looking forward to revealing this costume as a whole and getting to see what kind of interest and feedback it gets.

Templar armband:

Templar Armband

Templar Armband

Due to the nature of Jack’s origin story I really felt that there needed to be at least a tiny hint of his time with the Templar’s along with the fact he is very much an assassin. The costume as a whole is an assassin so I went through my fabric and scrap box and found some thick white cotton left over from my Fem!Cap and I had an idea.

Originally I was going to go with a blue Templar Cross; I thought this splash of “new” colour could be visually striking and effective. However when I went back over the games and realised that no, historically and canonly the Templar’s use red as their main colour so I went with that instead. That is quite simply how this little Templar armband was born. I thought it would be a very good way for the Templar forces to mark out “their” assassin in a fight, as well as marking him apart from his Order and his brothers and sisters.

All in all I am super pleased with how effective this little piece of fabric is against the rest of my costume which is primarily black and browns. The white fabric is very crisp and makes the Templar cross very obvious from all angles.

Left weapons holder:

Left Leg

Left Leg
(Click for Larger Image)

This was actually one of the few pieces I really made up as I went and had no real intention of making until I realised how much leatherette I had purchased.

Firstly I made the scalpels; these were something that I wanted incorporated with the costume simply because of the origins of Jack which I went over in a previous post found here. Due to the fact he was supposed to be more of a rogue-doctor I felt it was appropriate to keep to this theme. This meant I went to eBay and brought six scalpels minus the blades. There is simply no way it is safe for anyone to have blades on them in public, its common sense even before the tightening rules of the MCM Comic Con are considered (and rightly so).

To get over this I made some really simple little blades with polymorph plastics and took my silver and gold spray paints to the completed sets to give them a bit of colour.

Scalpels (Click for Larger Image)

Scalpels

Overall it was pretty simple once I got a handle on how to work with the leatherette. It was a case of folding each piece appropriately, taking my time with the sewing machine, and really considering just where to put the red leatherette to highlight the general design. I ended up going with a ‘V’ shape so that I could have the blades arranged in a way that I thought suggested they would/could be easily pulled out. This was because I intended them to be used as throwing knives/the weapons they are supposed to be. I did end up gluing and hand stitching these blades in though. This was so I can walk around knowing they are completely secure and practical for my prop usage all weekend.

I am very pleased with how this part of the costume looks and I really think that it is in-keeping with the character, themes, and the practicality of con-going. It is designed to just tuck into my under belt/trousers as well so that I can forget it exists and get on with enjoying my day.

Right weapons holder:

Right Leg

Right Leg
(Click for Larger Image)

It was for the same reason that I knew Jack’s arsenal would also have syringes to accompany the scalpels. It was also in a similar fashion that I created the syringes after I managed to source some appropriately sized bases.

 

Syringes

Syringes
(Click for Larger Image)

As you’ll notice I tried to keep the syringes to a real Victorian era examples I have seen. These were not made of plastic or glass but instead metal with large barbaric looking plungers, needle caps and handles. I tried to replicate this gruesomeness with acrylic and spray paints before setting about glossing and attaching them to their bracer for my right leg.

I ended up picking a military grade gun holster, cutting off the parts I didn’t need – namely the holster – and set about covering it with leatherette. This was after I took advantage of the last of the summer sun and spent an hour masking and bagging up the straps. This was so that I could paint all of the plastic buckles and adjusters gold. It was evil but it became near-impossible when I got to the leatherette covering which is why I resorted to glue-gunning a huge amount on and making only the barest of superficial stitches both by hand and machine. I did not enjoy one part of this as it was not only very difficult to cover, but it also made the leg straps impossible to adjust so I had to measure and make sure everything fit before I completed it.

All while hoping it would still work at the end.

Right Leg (Click for Larger Image)

Right Leg
(Click for Larger Image)

The final part – as you can see – was putting on the syringes and making sure they were secure – again with more glue – as well as stitched on as best I could possibly manage by hand. While it was possibly the most difficult piece to make, it is arguably one of my favourite props because of how it fits with the costume. I don’t even mind the fact it took twice as long because I decided to put red trim on it as it really sets the whole thing off and matches it to the other leg strap.

There are parts of it I don’t like and I can see the flaws very clearly, but it did turn out much better that I expected at the worst moments when I was putting it together. I just have to hope that no one else can see the massive mistakes and the awful glue-mess it really is.

Belt Baggies:

Finally I was going to attempt to make some small drawstring baggies of leatherette. I’d seen these being sold for a fiver up town and I figured I had so much leatherette left over I could do with making them myself.

Big mistake.

What I thought was a simple square, fold over, stitch, pull into place and thread became a nightmare of glue-gunning, ripping, burns and retry-folds, right until I eventually gave up. I even had some stuffing left over which I thought would help give the bags the appearance of being full but ultimately nothing worked. I was optimistic and I decided to tie it to my belt (which can be seen in another previous entry). It didn’t take me long to decide that having these weapon/supply/ammo bags was possibly the worst thing for this costume. Not only did they look horrible and nothing like what I had seen on the market stall, but the one that I had managed to salvage made the costume look cluttered and ugly so I scrapped the idea all together.

I feel that the leg bracers are enough when coupled with the belt. This is even before I consider Jack’s sash which will go under his belt entirely. I aim to have a slash so that I can cover and hide the tops of the weapons holders as well as my actual belt which will be holding my trousers in place under the larger decorative one.

I finally sense that I am coming to the end of the tunnel with this costume and that once I have settled on a shirt and a jacket I can finally call Jack a completed costume. I can then start working on how I will fit this all into my suitcase and get it up to the Comic Con in one piece.

Until the next – and hopefully final – update on Jack’s creation don’t forget to subscribe or check out my Facebook Cosplay page Ren’s Masquerade.

Further Developments with Assassin’s Creed-inspired costume, October 2013

Since my last update to my MCM Comic Con plans there have been huge steps forward with the secondary layer of Jack’s costume as well as accessories. I still haven’t quite settled on the outer most layer (the jacket) just yet, nor have I given too much though to what kind of shirt he is going to wear, but I am getting there.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with this particular project I direct you over to this previous post which not only has the first stages of development but it also goes over the character, Jack. This project is more of an Assassin’s Creed-inspired costume, mostly because I really wanted to stretch myself and see what I could do origin and lore-wise, but also what I can physically do with the skills I have already. Since buying my sewing machine I’ve really been trying to push the boat out and I really want his costume to be an expression of what I can do and how original I can be with a character in a pre-made world. That and I didn’t want to buy a premade costume everyone has seen ten million times and it kinda baggy in unflattering places. It’s not that I think buying these costumes and wearing them is “bad”, not at all; cosplay is entirely what you make it and a choice-based hobby that you can do whatever the hell you want, and that is why I love it.

Personally however I just don’t particularly want to spend upwards of £100 on a Altair or Ezio costume when I have a perfectly good sewing machine and wanted to make a 19th century assassin, not Altair, Ezio or Connor. I also feel that if I am going to be spending that amount of money then I would like to try and make something entirely unique to me. Like I said, cosplay is a personal thing where you can do what you want and that is what makes me so passionate about each project I take on, but I – personally – take the most pleasure out of making costumes that have a little bit of my touch and personal style upon it. My fem!Captain America is one of the best examples of this, more info about that can be found in the dropdown menu at the top of this blog, under “Cosplay Projects” and the fem!Captian America tag.

Now back to Jack.

Waistcoat:

Every gentleman (even a mad one) gets one.

Before - Waistcoat

The waistcoat before I got my hands all over it.
(Click for a Larger Image)

Firstly for this endeavour I needed to pick a suitable and inexpensive waistcoat. To eBay!

I knew that my colour pallet was going to be a range of browns as I wanted to keep the whole costume rather muted down where the details are in red; something that becomes more apparent the more developed this costume becomes.

Going back to my unsuccessful attempts to alter my hidden blade’s bracer in this previous post I knew that I wanted to try and incorporate the caduceus. The caduceus is “(two snakes wrapped around a winged staff) that is traditionally seen as a medical symbol since even before the 18th century” (from the previous blog entry). This is because it is a symbol relevant to the creation of Jack as a whole; as I stated in the introductory post Jack was meant to take on a more medical theme to his assassinations, influences mostly by the multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. As the costume continues to develop and I get a real sense of Jack’s character I feel that I am getting further and further away from my original starting place. So I have begun devising ways in which I can begin bringing the medical themes back.  This has included keeping the caduceus and putting it onto the waistcoat, but also the toxins/poisons and the weapon types Jack uses. More will come on that in a later entry when I actually get onto making them with my left over plastic polymorph.

As for the caduceus I knew it was going to be an easy fix to put this onto the waistcoat; sewing it.

Collage – The Caduceus

The Caduceus – Shortened considerably, of course
(Click for Larger Image)

It was super fiddly, not only because the design itself was quite small but because it was also a difficult shape. The snakes in particular were difficult because of the coils. As you can see I also brought back in the stylised assassin’s ‘A’ which was a major part that got ruined on my bracer attempts previously.

Overall I am happy with the result and feel it looks not only like a brand for an assassin to wear, but that it also says something about Jack as a character, subtly hinting that he isn’t your “stab and run” kind of guy, but he’d no doubt invite you for a drink and slip something into it when his target isn’t looking, then watch was his victim slumps for the floor foaming. It also really suggests, to me, that Jack isn’t the kind of assassin you’d bring in if you had any doubts about who the enemy is. He’s very much a “last resort” with his use of poisons and toxins.

He’s sneaky, sly, poisonous, quick and artful with his hands; Jack is a snake, just like the caduceus.

In addition to the embroidered pattern I cut off the black buttons and painted them bronze-gold with the lighter model paint I brought for the hidden blade’s bracer. After they’d had dried I borrowed some clear coat nail varnish and put a thin layer on that just to make the buttons shiny and sewed them all back on.

Buttons!

After – Buttons

I quite liked how it was looking but I wasn’t done. I’d already ordered some chain from Hong Kong for another project so I put aside the gold spray paint I had (again from the hidden blade’s bracer) aside and picked up my sewing needle again.

Before and After – Fake Pockets

Super Simple
(Click for a Larger Image)

I added a lining to each fake-pocket (they are actually just two very narrow flaps with no pocket attached inside) that matched the caduceus but I still wasn’t done.

Turning over the waistcoat I figured, “why the hell not?” The ties were already ridiculously loose and floppy looking so anything that I did was going to be an improvement. Out came the scissors and the sewing machine was threaded up once more. Within the space of about an hour I had not only taken off a buckle and sprayed that a lovely gold-bronze but I’d covered the two flaps, stiffening and thickening them to the point where the buckle is now snugly attached and looks awesome, even if I do say so myself.

Before and After - Back of Waistcoat

Back of the waistcoat
(Click for a Larger Image)

Now I suppose there is a good point in wondering why I’d take this measure if I am just going to be wearing a jacket over this… But to that I respond with “why not?” I love making costumes with details like this. It might not be obvious but the detail is what makes a “good” costume into an “amazing” costume. I already had the fabric laying around and all I needed to really contribute was a little time and effort. For that I now have no worries when I take off my jacket – because I know I can. I don’t have an ugly floppy – cheap – looking buckle on my back. I have an eye-catching splash of red that matches the rest of my costume and brings the whole piece together wonderfully.

Finally my chain arrived and I was able to take it out into the garden, cut off what I needed and sprayed it a purposefully uneven coat of gold.

Before and After – Chain

Chain
(Click for Larger Image)

All it needed was to be sewn into place inside the fake pocket and through the buttonhole of the double waistcoat and it was done. All in all about a ten minute job that gives the appearance I have a pocket watch attached but without the added weight or cost!

Completed Waistcoat

Finished!

Overall I am super happy with how this part of the costume has turned out. There is nothing more to add to it and I can now move onto other parts knowing that I have managed to create one of the best secondary layers I could have. I think the extra detail and work will really shine through on this particular project.

Gloves:

What with all the wall climbing and free running an assassin does gloves must be a “have to have” item. I was very lucky to have been wandering though a market up in town and stumbled upon the perfect set of gloves. They were an odd pair – one had studs on the back but I liked this about them. They were also brown and fingerless so absolutely perfect for Jack!

It didn’t take me long to sit at home and think “how can I make these better?” I realised that when an assassin uses their hidden blade they have to lift their hands up away and it causes the palms of their hands to be visible. With this in mind I dusted off my embroidery needle and threads and set about designing a super simple but recognisable assassin brand and the results are in.

Before and After – Gloves

Before and After – Gloves
(Click for a Larger Image)

They are so simple and so neat – just a little tiny touch which I really like. I imagine that the last thing a target would see would be the assassins brand and I think Jack would appreciate how ironic and cathartic that would be. For him anyway. Jack seems like the type who likes to know his targets saw his face or the group responsible for their deaths. Kind of like the conversations Altair, Ezio and Connor are famed for having with their dying targets where they exploit and learn of their targets motives and regrets.

Never stray too far from the fandom.

It was definitely worth the pain of going through padded leather with just a needle and fingertips. The amount of times I bent the needle was unreal but totally worth it.

Belt:

I managed to find the belt at the same time as the gloves in a different section of the market. A friend spotted a whole rack and after going through all the pretty things I found the most perfect one. Technically I will be wearing it in reverse as there are three large hoops patched into the leather at what is now the front which I can use to my advantage. I managed to talk the seller down to about £38 but it was still a lot of money which made me very, very reluctant to actually alter it…

That said I did have a lot of plastic polymorph left over, thick red thread, and a bottle of red paint… It didn’t take me long to find out a non-permanent way of making myself a belt which, like Altair, Ezio and Connor from the games, had an assassin’s ‘A’ upon it.

Before and After – Belt

Before and After – Belt
(Click for a Larger Image)

The plastic is literally just attached with a few loops of thread and very sturdy as I put notches in the symbol to try and stop it from sliding around when I walk or get into poses. I am pretty pleased with it. I don’t want to do too much more to the belt but I have been considering ways in which to attach weapons or little vials of poisons. There are also pockets on either side of the belt which I think I can find a use for if I feel the costume needs a little something more when finally near completion.

All in all I am very happy with how the costume is moving on. I am hoping that my next steps will be weaponry and experimentation into what I can achieve with plastic polymorph. It is still pretty new to me and is a great material but one you definitely need to learn about by handling and using. It has its own behaviour that you start to recognise and know when you need to reheat the water to get it back to a stage where it will stick to itself. I also need to start considering getting some kind of harness or making one up because the belt isn’t exactly made for holding throwing blades. On top of this I still need to consider that I am doing for the undershirt, the outer jacket, trousers and boots.

The next update will be as and when I have finally made some further movement on this costume, until then I am hosting the occasional teaser picture over on my shiny new cosplay page Ren’s Masquerade. If you are on Facebook then be sure to check it out and give me a like and a share, I’d really appreciate it.

Assassin’s Creed for October 2013 is Go!

The Creed

The Creed

Today I have decided to reveal my October 2013 cosplay plans for the MCM Comic Con event. He is an OC (original character) so bear with me, I promise he is going to be awesome, or at least the costume will be…

His name is Jack

Jack was born roughly around 1859 in London, England, the same year and city as Charles Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities.

There is only basic information and a lot of unanswered questions about Jack before he joined the Order officially. What is known is that he was from a previously working-class with a family who had connections as informants and low-ranking assassins, at least since their family name started turning up in England on a permanent basis at around the 1500s when King Henry VIII was causing all kinds of social upheaval (and needed to be dealt with).

He’s more of a close-and-personal assassin. His only long-range weapons are throwing knives but he relies heavily on poisons and toxins with them, the knives and darts are more-or-less a delivery system. He carries a number of syringes as well. He’s pretty much your go-to man if you need anything from a simple opium-based painkiller to something tasteless to slip into a glass of whiskey and watch the target start foaming in three seconds flat.

In 1886 (age 27) Jack goes missing; he joined the British Order in 1879 at the age of 20. He was targeted because he was known to be in regular contact with the British Order’s Master. In 1888 there are a series of murders in Whitechapel; the mastermind calls himself Jack the Ripper and his targets are reported to the general public as prostitutes and “lost women”, his MO is slashes, stabbings and mutilation as well as missing organs; in actual fact these women were informants and “eyes and ears” for the Assassins. The specific wounds on the women could have only been done with one type of weapon; a hidden blade.

Jack is very much alive but he was captured by Templars in an effort to halt and end the Assassin Order within the British Isles. Their barbaric shock treatments, solitary confinement for a majority of his two years with them and having his own poisons and toxins used against his mind drove Jack insane. He was treated with the usual “tender love and care” that the Victorian insane asylums are known for (a Templar run one, of course) before being tagged and used as a Templar Order attack dog and assassin hunter.

Jack is more of a Prowler class when it comes to character sets in Assassin’s Creed.

And really, who better to hunt the Assassin’s Order than an assassin himself?

Hidden Blade, the staple of assassinations:

Well, this seemed like a good place to start given how key it is to all assassins.

I did a bit of research with regards to what I could do with the hidden blade. I already had a design in mind which was very specific to Jack as a character; he was supposed to be based more on the Doctor avatar from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood at this stage, but obviously in a Victorian period. This meant I not only incorporated the caduceus (two snakes wrapped around a winged staff) that is traditionally seen as a medical symbol since even before the 18th century, but syringes and snakes as well as a skull and the assassin’s ‘A’.

The design with various meanings within the symbols for my OC

The design with various meanings within the symbols for my OC

As you can see from this picture I had already begun to cut and size each piece of the design in a methodical fashion; each piece was considered a layer and thus in a different colour and piece of paper so that I could fit it to the drawn out bracer plate and “size/place” it accurately. This was because I had already contacted a few different craft/prop companies but the best quote I got was almost £500 for the bracer and the design that I wanted. Obviously I don’t have this kind of money for a single item so I decided that I should give it a try myself.

After a bit of research into what materials I could use I brought Ezio’s cosplay hidden blade – which is pretty common and easy to get a hold of – and some plastic polymorph from Coscraft.

A decidedly shortened process

A decidedly shortened process
(Click to enlarge)

Everything was going to plan, I had got the largest parts of the bracer design done first and I was really pleased with how the plastic actually works. It was simply just a case of keeping the kettle boiling and working my way through a few handfuls of plastic beads at a time. The only real risk was the boiling hot water but if you pulled the lump out with tongs and gave it a few second it cooled enough to handle, dry and then begin moulding. It was kind of like working with bluetack as it had a tendency to stick together when still warm. Once it cools it begins to turn cloudy and eventually white. The more prominent the colour change the less sticky and easier to cut with scissors as well as coax into the right shape it became.

As I had planned ahead I already had paper cut and drawn to the correct size which I put under food wrap so I could mould my plastics on top. Everything was going so well until I decided to try and put the pieces onto the bracer (which I had also covered in a thin layer of plastic polymorph beforehand to give a smooth texture and base). That was when the plan went downhill.

No matter how quickly my sister and I worked to heat each piece with a hairdryer and hot glue gun we could not get everything to melt and become sticky evenly. The wings were a huge problem as the ends went tacky and begun to lose their shape long before the main bulk even softened enough for me to begin bending it to the correct angle over the bracer. Neither of us could keep our hands under the hairdryer long enough to get very far either. It didn’t take long to admit defeat and melt all of the plastic back down into one big blob.

I was massively disappointed but this was a risk and I knew this might happen. I sat with my sister for a little while and we spoke about what I could do next because it was obvious this avenue was just not going to work.

I now have a kilo of plastic polymorph and a very good idea of what I am going to use it for (every assassin needs throwing knives and Jack has a very specific origin) so I am not too worried about the “waste”. I have a feeling that I could make some personalised blades and spray them silver with little to no problem whatsoever. The bonus being that they will be pretty sturdy as well as completely unique. Plus it would keep me from actually having to carry small knives/blades which, as we all know, would just be stupid. I will be coming back to this soon, equally I am sure I could attempt to make some chunky Victorian era syringes and have them strapped onto my belt or leg if I can make some kind of bracer/strap to hold them.

Off to town I went the day after and I brought some bronze spray paint and popped into my local art shop to pick up some model paint, the kind that you use on aeroplane models and little board game figurines. I set about repairing and repainting my slightly wrapped and heat-blistered bracer.

Here is the final look:

To anyone that is interested I can make a step-by step for the process but it is really long, like 50 pictures long.

To anyone that is interested I can make a step-by step for the process but it is really long, like 50 pictures long.

I’m not sure I like it yet. I went with browns because I have a feeling a majority of my costume is going to be black and browns and I thought that a massive chunky silver bracer wouldn’t quite “go” with the whole thing plus, you know, subtlety is a big part of being an assassin. I did consider painting in a skull and the caduceus but I thought better of it when I saw how well the two different paints where working on the golden base that I’d sprayed on the evening before. Lastly I took the inner “hidden blade” outside, masking taped that up and gave that a few coats of the golden spray. My main worry with this was that it would stop the locking mechanism from working but it didn’t so overall I think that the bracer is done and I will leave it as it is.

I do have a second hidden blade for Jack but it will not arrive in time for the convention as it is Edward Kenway’s bracer from Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag which I have pre-ordered from GameStop. I figured that I’d still buy it as I have a friend who would like to do assassin related photo shoots in better weather all around various locations in London. This means that for the convention I have to come up with something else for my other wrist. I have been thinking of just cheating and covering that forearm in bloody bandages as I don’t really want to buy another bracer or a leather strap/bracer as a stand-in from eBay if I am not going to use it again for this costume.

Still to do:

With the main weapon done and a good background and grasp on Jack as a character I can begin developing the rest of the costume. Already I have planned on getting a waistcoat and some form of outer garment although I haven’t settled on a jacket or a cloak just yet. I will look into more Victorian fashion and try to draw the thin line between steampunk and Victorian fashion which can be very easily blurred as I have found recently.

The basic outline for Jack as it stands:

  • Jacket/cloak
  • Waistcoat
  • Undershirt (perhaps something with ruffles or a high collar allowing for a cravat?)
  • Tight fitting trousers (so that if I do go with the leg-straps/weapon holders they can be seen.)
  • Knee-high boots of some description or very nice dress shoes.
  • Weapons (excluding Hidden Blade)

So hopefully there will be an update soon with regards to the next step! Remember if you want to keep up to date without checking back just put your email address in the bar on the righthand side, subscribe and get my next post sent directly to your email.

Super-quick update:

I have a cosplay page now, so if you have enjoyed this please don’t forget to follow me over on Facebook @ Ren’s Masquerade!

Finally just a quick update on the Fem!Cap from May 2013.

The costume has been featured on the Cosplay Movie deviantArt page from the 29/06/13.

And there is also this interview on YouTube that I did with two friends (fem!Bucky and Spider Woman) for John Gotobed.

Hope you enjoyed and check back soon!

 

London Film and Comic Con Review, July 2013

This year I decided to go to the London Film and Comic Con. It runs from the 5th to the 7th July and was held at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre this year. Due to the fact I didn’t have to travel across London to get there (like I have to with the MCM Comic Con) and the event itself doesn’t open to the general public until 11am, I decided that I would stay with a friend and commute both Saturday and Sunday. It saved me the cost of a hotel room – which given that Earl’s Court is a residential area anyway, there weren’t exactly a lot of, and it also gave me some great responses to my costume on the Underground. This included a group of international students talking about me as well as several people guessing where I was going dressed as Captain America.

The general accessibility of the venue itself is pretty good; getting to Earl’s Court isn’t exactly hard but what really interested me was the fact that the tickets were amazingly cheap. For two days I paid about £12.50 with the postage included. The downside was that you had to pay for every single signature and photo opportunity with each individual on the extensive guest list, if you want them. On top of this the photos and the signatures came under separate prices too. On the plus side this was all on the website well in advance, Showmasters Ltd (the organisers of the event) even included a price list so it was far more organised than some conventions I have been too. Plus no nasty surprises.

There was indeed a massive guest and star list, including free talks and shows throughout the day. Again this was all put up on the website and included famous actors from film and television right across the board, as well as comic writers and artists which pleased me greatly even if there wasn’t anyone in particular I was looking for. The fact that you could look all this information up weeks in advance was a great help and meant that you could plan ahead as well as collect up anything you wanted signed and get is packed and ready to go for each day. It also meant that you could buy a ticket for one specific day if you just wanted to meet and greet one particular person. I can’t fault Showmasters for their foresight on that one.

The event held a masquerade that was free to join and something you did on the day as opposed to applying online weeks in advance and then finding out if you were selected or not. The stage was all set up and the rules were clear as well as participation wasn’t regulated beforehand. This meant that anyone could join! Even the original characters and the little Batman and Robin who participated in the Sunday event. It was really nice because it felt most inclusive and less elitists like some masquerades I have watched. The only catch was that you needed two hours to spare and three poses for your character all lined up and ready to go.

The event as a whole was much more family friendly. I had a number of parents ask me to pose for photos with their child. Of course I was very flattered and happy to do so even though I managed to catch my boots on my fishnets every. single. time I knelt down to get onto their height. I made sure to spend some time with each little cosplayer and tell them how awesome their costumes were and asked if they wanted to pose with the shield. I think everyone needs encouragement, especially the youngest cosplayers out there.

The venue itself was air-conditioned though the lighting was a bizarre yellow colour that screwed with both cameras and my contact lenses, making the world considerably more blurry than it usually is when I have them in. Ironic really.

The air conditioning itself was provided throughout both the two days I was present – Saturday and Sunday – but it was still very hot in some of the more active areas. What I really liked about this venue is that they made a point to have two very large open and empty spaces in the middle and near the back which made a huge difference to crowding and general congregations. Not once did I find myself in a packed and narrow space where I felt threatened, at risk or intimidated. It was really nice to have that kind of ability to walk around and enjoy things and getting to look at various stalls and tables without crowds and mobs, or even feeling rushed. It made the whole two days far more relaxed and even the stall owners themselves were much more chatty and able to spend time talking about what they’d recommend or how business is doing. Yes, I have got to that point with some of the stall owners.

I was also really impressed by the fact that people who had pre-booked their tickets could literally just walk straight up to the door, hand over our tickets, get a little rip put in it and then walk straight into the venue. I didn’t even have to queue up once! I was literally left in a state of shock when I walked straight in and was deposited directly into the LFCC event.

Everything was within the main hall including the toilets. The main walls of the venue had built-in refreshment areas with various types of food and drink available, expensive for what you were getting but there were plenty of seats and walls to sit against, but then that is expected as it is all within the building and all pre-priced.

I did find out through friends that the cloakrooms were not that good; I think it was a small room just inside the entrance of the venue, but aside from that I can’t really fault the location. As stated before it was very easy to get to on the Underground from where we were staying but it was also very obviously signposted and accessible from the train station. Not really even a five minute walk, just quick jog over the road and up the side of the venue to the back entrance.

Sadly I missed the Marvel meet, but that was my own fault as I forgot about it completely when I realised just how many comic stalls there were.

Literally.

There were a good five or six comic stalls all with different stock, from graphic novels to collector issues. All of the stall owners were so very sweet and helpful. Resurrection Comics in particular stand out for this event. They not only did their traditional 20% off for cosplayers but they took pictures and were so helpful when they saw me struggling to make out their back displays. They didn’t hesitate when I asked to see the variants and other comics in their boxes and behind the desk either. It felt friendlier this time as they had more staff and less of a crowd around them when I last saw them in May at the MCM Comic Con. I spent a good half hour chatting to them and looking over various Deadpool comics. It was because of this extra time and general interest that they offered to bring me in some comics I was missing to another con providing I contact them through Facebook and get my order and arrange a time to pick up at the next big event. Both guys running were amazing and I will absolutely be taking them up on the offer later.

Panini Comics were also there with a much bigger table and super helpful as always. Also ended up being served by a very nice guy who I am beginning to have a bit of banter with I have returned to them so many times. They seem to remember me, or maybe it is just the costume? Just because I asked nicely and said “surprise me” I also go all of the free comics going at the stall which was also a wonderful surprise when I opened my bag at home to find three free comics spilling out along with my Ultimate Comic Spiderman graphic novels. It always pays to be nice to everyone at Comic Con; although you should already be nice to everyone. Normal people call it “manners” and “manners cost nothing” as my step-father likes to say in our household.

Similarly to other large comic con events there were clothing stalls and some manga/anime tables which were a nice variation, but I noticed a lot more prop costume related stalls that had much more to do with film. Obviously this mainly a film/TV media event so that is why there were so many. A lot of the displays included Terminator models and massive amounts of display cases with various famous props and costumes which were great to see. I particularly enjoyed finding a few different tables that went over costume and theatrical make up and techniques.

Importantly there was no hint of a free hug sign anywhere! Yay!

Really interesting stall was a free book table where, well, everything was free! All to raise awareness for the LonCon3 event at the ExCel centre on the 14th–18th of August. I am considering going as I ended up chatting to a man called Dave Lally who was adorable and utterly sweet when I spoke to him about the troubles I am facing about getting published and finding someone to read over my work and support me with those kinds of networking events. He gave me lots of info and things to look up so I am hoping to get in touch with him soon and begin going to more literature events in the near future. It’s these kinds of surprises you get when you are just a polite and interested party at Comic Cons. You never know who you are talking to.

Sunday ended with being introduced to two wonderful photographers who let me tag along to watch some of my friends have their photos taken. I was super excited when they got some snaps of me too. Darren Rowley Photography and Sonesh Joshi Photography were wonderful and gave me all kinds of directions and help with my poses. It was lovely to get some input and feel like the pictures were going to be really well set up and amazing quality. Hopefully I will have pictures up from those shoots soon.

A side note: I now have an official cosplay page on Facebook, Ren’s Masquerade. If you are on Facebook and like any of my costumes go check it out, hit the like button and share it. I’d really appreciate it!

Overall I really like LFCC, I found it more of a networking event as none of the signatures or photo opportunities were what I wanted this time around, plus there was also the issue of queuing and getting around on time which I didn’t really feel up to; maybe that is something to consider and have as a deciding factor the next time that I go. I really enjoyed LFCC though as I got to show off my costume again and meet up with some lovely friends. I was also very lucky to have been able to hide behind a stall and talk future costumes and trade-offs with another friend, so my most secret DC Comics project may just happen next year after all!

If you can get to the LFCC Winter event I suggest you do. It really if fun, a lot calmer and in general a bit more family friendly, although I hear that it is on the same weekend as the MCM Comic Con so I know which one I will be going to; MCM I am afraid, so I hope to see many of you there and if you end up at LFCC and not the MCM Comic Con then I hope you have a wonderful time.

Quick Update: Picture Roundup of Fem!Cap at MCM Comic Con

official  mcm comic con photo of my fem!cap cosplay

Official SFX Magazine and MangaUK Photoshoot at the MCM Comic Con Event

So as you can see I got my pictures done at the Manga UK and Sci-fi Magazine stand once again. I am super happy with how these turned out and so glad I got them done Friday when my costume was looking its very, very best!

official mcm comic con photo of my fem!cap cosplay

Official SFX Magazine and MangaUK Photoshoot at the MCM Comic Con Event

As stated before in my previous blog post about the MCM event I plan on using this costume again because of the reception it got. I am thinking of going to the LFCC event as long as I can get the time off of work to come down for the weekend. It is much closer to me as well so I can happily commute each morning and spend the day meeting other cosplayers and hopefully getting some awesome comics – something that is seriously lacking at the London MCM Comic Con event.

As promise though I have begun to roundup a few of the other places my costume have been featured and some of their glorious pictures that have been showing up.

Thor, Cap and Fem!Fury – featured on the Geeked Magazine website – I am hoping to see these awesome girls again at the LFCC, they were so sweet and were one of the first booths to ask for our pictures which really put a grin on our faces.

Photos have also been featured on:

The Intersect Project’s Facebook page

Aperture Alternative’s Facebook page

Cosplay UK’s Facebook page

ACE A.M.P Photography’s Facebook page

Sadly I haven’t heard anything back from Mahala yet (again I mention this in my previous post) who said that she would like to draw my costume and take on fem!Cap but I have emailed her and she did say she was working on it, so I will update that when I get some news.

I already have a new costume and project planned for October but there will be more on that right after I have finished up the repairs for Cap.

Not only did I have to buy new fishnets and thicker under-tights in preparation for re-using this costume at any opportunity, I also needed to fix my shield.

There were a few scratches gained over the weekend but the worst was gained in my suitcase on the way home…

The damage to the shield after the Comic Con Weekend, close up.

The damage to the shield after the Comic Con Weekend, close up.

So, of course, it was time to start on the repair. Luckily this was just a case of buying some shiny, shiny spray paint (although do you know how many shades of silver there are?!) and pulling out some standard masking tape and putting on some sunglasses on a sun day in the garden.

A Shield Repair Collage

A Shield Repair Collage

Simple as that and here are the results:

Fixed Shield

Fixed Shield

I am super pleased with how the colour matched and how the lines came out. All it took was a little time and patience, and some good advice from my Pa; leave it out in the sun and peel the tape off when it is still warmed from the sunlight. It keeps the paint more pliable and held keep it from flaking as you pull of the tape, slowly.

So, there will be more updates about my next project as they come.

For now, keep on watching the fight for survival between the Xbox One and PS4. I know I am.

Fem!Captain America: London MCM Expo 2013 – May

aperture alternative's picture of my captain america and fem!thor costume for the mcm comic con

One of Aperture Alternative’s great shots of Thor and I

Here it was: one whole year of planning, six months of hard work, begging for help from the family, and general stress at wondering if each separate piece would work and finally, finally Comic Con was here. It was time to reveal fem!Captain America.

Friday:

As I had brought an early entry ticket months in advance I was able to attend the Friday event which started from about 2pm onward. This meant that I had a morning of travel from one side of London Underground to the other, arriving two hours before the doors opened so that I could camp in a bathroom and get changed from my already stuffed and over packed suitcase.

Fem!Cap marched out of that bathroom not an hour and a half later with a Fem!Fury, who had been my company throughout our travels from home to ExCel. We threw our stuff into storage because our hotel wasn’t ready yet – one of the ways I cheapened the hotel was to have my book-in time after 3pm – and went off to begin queuing to get our weekend wristbands.

I noticed that even with early entry the event was very busy and the warehouse space which is usually reserved for queuing to get into the event was unusually full. It looks like more and more people are buying weekend tickets and starting to use the Friday entry.

The Friday is usually an amazing scouting day, this year didn’t disappoint on that matter at least. Typically I make use for the Friday as a chance to pick up a Comic Con event book and check out the layout and times of signings and theatre events. This year I was somewhat annoyed to find out they had done away with the time-graph and location planner they have been using for the past few years, and instead divided the book up into genres and stage locations. This meant that I spent ages flicking from the game page to the TV show/movie page, and then back over then to the main stage/theatre section to work out the times and locations of the talks I wanted to see. It was very frustrating as these were always separated by longwinded articles which were a good two months out of date. Obviously this was because the books need to get to print before the Comic Con but I can’t see why they got rid of the schedule-graph as it was – visually – very helpful last year.  I also noticed there was next to no mention of comic writers or the times and location of any signings short of three separate “signing areas” doted around the map.

Regardless Friday was a good time to get a feel for the layout and mark of places to go back to on the map. It was also a very good time to see how much attention my costume would get as it didn’t take long for my Lady Thor to arrive and for us to become the inseparable pair throughout the whole weekend. A weekend where we saw a lot of attention directed our way.

As we walked around, stopping to have a look at various stalls, bypassing the Japan-centred areas and ignoring the several stalls devoted to replica swords and props, we did find out that there were next to no comic book signings and disappointingly, only about five different tables of comics – which considering this is supposedly a COMIC Con, was poor to say the least. Interestingly enough it was over the weekend and by chatting to one to the comic stall’s staff members who I get along pretty well with because of our long-standing trade at comic cons, I learnt why the MCM event is called a “Comic Con”. It is basically so that the MCM event could copyright the “Comic Con” title within the UK. I don’t know how true this is but it does seem to apply, after all there is the London Super Comic Con which does exclusive trade in comics and as the staff member said, they trade only in comics because they have to; if their event took on any similarity to the MCM Comic Con then they would be liable for action against them by the MCM Comic Con (if they believe it necessary). It is basically about pulling in the crowds; given the popularity and the connotation of a Comic Con form what we know of America’s conventions (San Diego for instance), you can understand why the title “Comic Con” is so coveted and in demand within the UK.

With that in mind and aside I used this day to met up with a few old friends and ended up skipping the demos, (even the new Deadpool game, and trust me I really want that game and the free shirts they were offering with a deposit – but there was no way I would pay £35 for a deposit only.) in favour of hunting out the comic stalls and playing some card games at the exhibit area. Let’s just say I am now a Munchkin fan and own one of the games to bring to each con and play with friends regardless. It was just a fun, non-serious game once I got over the math.

From previous experience I knew Saturday was going to be crazy-busy  so  I headed on over to the Cosplay Zone photo area, run by MangaUK and in conjunction with the SFX Magazine costume competitions, for my customary professional shot. I’ll put the pictures up as and when they are uploaded. They usually take a little while as, through chatting to the photographer again this year, I found out that he does a few touch-ups to wigs and props. This does explain the high quality of his shots and the time they take to put up. The reason that this shoot was so noteworthy was that after my first pose I managed to make the whole waiting queue and the photographer laugh with my final pose which was… Well, very Cap-ish. I can’t wait to post up the picture and illustrate just why I was called over to look at my own photo and told that it “looks exactly how it should”.

I was also very lucky to receive some massively encouraging feedback at the steampunk booth from Emilly Ladybird and Jack Union about both my costume and my writing; they both get spammed with my links for various freelance and internship writing from my Facebook page and their encouragement meant a lot.

As I didn’t really buy anything Friday that was the day done, we needed to head back to the hotel and book in officially anyway, ending the day with pizza and everyone being introduced to my very sharp angry phone voice when I had to deal with a wrong order. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t spend half hour on the phone with a receipt-email which proved that we had been sent a meat pizza when we specifically asked for a vegetarian one. If it had only been a case of picking off some pineapple because someone didn’t like it then it wouldn’t have been an issue, but to put meat on a vegetarian pizza meant that it wasn’t an option. It would have also meant two of us went hungry and wasted money. Eventually we got a free replacement after explaining myself four times to two different people, but after waiting over an hour for the first lot of pizzas to arrive, including the wrong one, and then another half our for the replacement, we all decided never to use that pizza place again.

Saturday:

A complete disaster –

We didn’t get to any of the talks or the events that we had carefully planned Friday night, including a Lego Marvel exclusive preview that was cancelled with no mention as to the fact, or even why. We went to all three theatres and asked the members of staff at each door only to be told it “they didn’t know” and “had no idea [ about what we were looking for ]”. After the second simple brush off with no attempt to help or explain what might have happened we were directed back to the theatre we just came from for a second time. When I politely told the staff member in question this fact and pointed it out in the official Comic Con time schedule I was very sharply told that it must have been cancelled. It was like the staff member in question was offended that I had checked in other places and didn’t want to play a game of hot potato with the rest of the staff.

On top of this the hall was very quickly packed to the point of nearly giving me a panic attack – we didn’t go back in after the second mad dash to get to the information booth because…

I had to try three times in one day to find out that not only did I have to pay £15 per-signature (so my plans of getting the Teen Wolf cast and co-writer to sign my first season DVD went out of the window.) but that I had to get something called a “virtual ticket” to get to the free signings that Mark Meers (the voice of Commander Shepard from Mass Effect) was part of. Not only was I told that I couldn’t have a ticket the first time but the second when I went back to double-check information that I had been given at the information booth, I was told that the afternoon tickets (which I had never been offered after the first disappointment) were now also sold out. The third time I went back to ask about when to get tickets for Sunday and their availability I was told the wrong times and also denied tickets again, even though they knew I had been there three times and been brushed off rather harshly at one point.

I think I was most upset because it wasn’t common knowledge that these limited availability tickets were “a thing” and I, like so many others, missed out because of that fact. It was just unfair. I did eventually find out that I needed to rush back to that booth as soon as the doors opened Sunday morning to be in with a chance to get a ticket, and I also discovered just how helpful and wonderful the staff were in the information booth. The two women inside that little box Saturday were stars and handled everything so well, one even checked straight away on her radio as to why I had been turned away so many times and took the time to explain what was happening and that yes, it was ridiculous but it was what that booth wanted to do.

Throughout the day we kept losing our group and became Rule 63 Thor and Cap once more. It was okay thought because we still had an amazing time calling each over other when someone pulled out a camera and admired our costumes. I gave up keeping count of the number of times I recommended my blog as I explained that I made most of my costume myself and that I was lucky enough to have a great family support group as well as a passion for what I do.

Overall it wasn’t a bad day to be with friends and for costumes, it was just very disappointing about the inability to get to anything we wanted or take advantage of the few signings that were on and that I so desperately wanted to attend.

Sunday:

Sunday was going to be a good day. We – both myself as fem!Cap and my fem!Thor didn’t even get out of the hotel lobby (at 8am, mind) before we were being asked for pictures by an American lady and a huge fan of comic cons; she told us and wanted to take a picture back home to show her sister. We agreed and had a lovely chat to her before continuing our short walk from hotel to ExCel centre.

The day continued to get better from there: as soon as we arrived we got into the queue to head into the main warehouse where tickets, stamps and general weekend queuing were hosted. Once we were in the first line someone offered to hold our place while we got coffee (they overheard our conversation about going separately up to the Costa Coffee outlet while the other person stayed in the line), after we got back we were let into the warehouse and both ended up in the first barrier to get let into the convention. It was here we met a lovely group of people (who are now friends on Facebook, and met back up with at the signings not twenty minutes after we were let into the main event hall.) and we only ended up waiting for about an hour inside the main queuing warehouse before being let in. There was the normal great roar-cheer of approval when the shutters were opened for the Comic Con to begin, by which point the warehouse and the maze of barriers and tape were absolutely packed.

As I found out on the Saturday I needed to get to the MYM stall and the Mark Meer signing stand first thing after getting out of the queue and into the event. Let’s just say I was very glad we were both wearing flat boots as I marched across the hall to get to that stand. I am also pretty sure I gave the guy on the counter a small panic attack with my “OH GOD THANK YOU” deep-voiced gratitude at being handed over a little blue raffle ticket when I asked. Apparently there had already been twenty-four people there before me which was shocking in itself as I got there first thing that morning.

With the little ticket in my wallet and safely stored away like pure gold we next ran off to go get a smiley (paid for with £15 sterling, mind you) to get a place in the queue for another signing, it was here that I found out that the Mark Meers and this second signing were going on at the same time.

Time to get desperate.

We ended up deciding to stay in the signing area because of the time; Thor wanted to go to the Capcom booth but offered to stay with me to take pictures for both signings as long as we went there after.

As we waited for the Raphael Sbarge (Kaidan from the Mass Effect franchise as well as a character in one of my favourite TV series at the moment; Once Upon A Time) we asked a staff member about etiquette with regards to photos. We were told that we could take pictures but they had to be “un-posed”, so basically we were being told to take pictures of the stars while they were signing but could not have pictures with them. This was because of a new feature at the MCM Comic Con called “Photos with the Stars”, which is basically a separate affair from signings and another excuse to get another £25 out of event goers after already charging £15 for a signing and quick chat. It was a bit disappointing for me but having already met and got a wonderful photo with Mr Sbarge I wasn’t too worried, plus I had Thor stand to the side just snapping away with the camera while Mr Sbarge signed and chatted to us both. As a bonus she caught the look of wonder on his face when he saw us in the front of the queue for his first signing of the day. A direct quote from our conversation was “excuse me for admiring your bodies but your costumes!”. I couldn’t get the grin off of my face for hours after that just because someone I admire so much said it. Trust me; we spent most of our weekend telling people never to apologise to cosplayers when asking for pictures: that is why we do it! Mr Sbarge was as sweet as last time though and he even asked if we wanted a photo together but as the woman who told us we couldn’t do that previously was right next to us at the table, we instead had to tell Mr Sbarge that it wasn’t possible but thanked him so much for his comments and time.

My little Mass Effect 3 Collectors book now carries some of the gems in my collection.

By the time we had finished at the first signing area I was panicking that I was late for the MYM booth signing given that they both started at the same time. I was also worried that I was dependant on literally not losing my place in that queue because of how the “virtual tickets”, AKA numbered raffle tickets where the numbers corresponded with you place in the line, worked. I was desperate not to lose my place because I had to try four times to get it in the first place.

I needn’t have worried though because we were waiting in line for a good half hour before I got to meet Mark Meer (and tweeting him our picture as asked). I presented him too with my Collectors book which he gladly signed after, once more, getting over our costumes.

The picture was subsequently re-tweeted my Mr. Meer himself, much to our amusement.

After this we both decided to have a most relaxing walk around the hall, checking out Capcom and enjoying to surprising amount of space that was present after Saturday’s mobbing. We both went to the Marvel shoot in the afternoon which was pretty awesome and full of very cheeky Deadpool cosplayers. It was also where I met a lovely Harley Quinn and Tony Stark who were both a great laugh and definitely worth meeting up with again. I was particularly pleased to find an Iron Spider cosplayer as well.

We even got interviewed by CNN and the MCM official video coverage about our costumes.

I spent a lot of time Sunday being stopped and posing for pictures, including many blogs and videos (which I hope to post up with links soon).

One of the final photos when I was on my own walking back through the centre to get to the hotel was with a lovely lady called Mahala. She spotted me wandering down one of the comic book stalls and told me that my costume was good enough to be a redesign option for a fem!Cap and that she wanted to draw me! Draw me! as my costume had inspired her to get back into drawing fanart. I think I nearly cried on the spot and have gone about contacting her, so more on that later.

Overall this May was a pretty good con but Saturday did feel ruined by the inability to get into the main event and feel safe, much less actually be able to move and keep in a group enough that we could work out where to go next. It was very claustrophobic to the point of where the air felt heavy in my chest. I dread to think what would have happened if there was a fire or something that caused a mob/stampede because no one would have been safe and so many people would have been trampled. I have heard rumours that the con is going to be extended in the left and right directions for October so that will be something very interesting to note next Comic Con.

Finally the response was so good for this costume I am going to try and get the LFCC weekend off and re-use this costume for that. I think that using the LFCC event for signings and a wider range of film and comic-based stalls is perhaps the way to go from now on.

Really it wasn’t that bad, I think the main issue is overcrowding and a lack of communication about exactly what this event is about, much less what it going to be there and how things like signings and theatre events (talks, exclusive premières etc.) work from year to year. Hopefully by this October issues such as overcrowding will have been sorted. I did notice a marked improvement on the numbers of security this year, including plain clothed security that were checking out weapons and making sure props were indeed fake.

Now, onto the next project!

mcm expo motivational poster

Finishing touches to Femme!Captain America May 2013

Over the last few months there has been a flurry of activity which had culminated in the final week in the run-up to the MCM Comic Con. Usually I have my costumes done several weeks in advance but alas I have not been so lucky this year which is why this post and final update is so late.

Last night I checked up on my contacts – the very same blue ones that I used for my Superboy cosplay – which I have been keeping hydrated in fresh contract solution. I brought a new lot of contact solution and cleaned the lenses cases and gave the lenses a good wash and rubdown with my fingers and solution to make sure all the protein was off. Everything seems to be okay in that department so I moved on to make sure that my wig was finalised, or at least as finalised as it possibly can be before I pull it out of the bag and put it on my head to be styled back into place at the con.

wig used for femme!captain america

“Prince in Pale Yellow Blonde”

This is the wig that I chose mostly because of the colour and the styleability of it. It’s called “Prince in Pale Yellow Blonde” and from a great site called CosCraft.co.uk which had a great customer service and delivery rate. The wig itself boasted that it was heat resistant and had no parting which was a large factor as to why I brought it, as well as the aforementioned colour.

Once it arrived I then had to think about how I was going to style it… Time to head down to my local hairdresser and see my stylist who, much to my delight and joy, was more than happy to help me with the wig right after shaving a majority of my natural hair off. The rest of the staff and customers all seemed to find my transformation from shaved redhead to blonde prince entertaining at least. No one seemed to find it odd that I had a bit of a wig collection going either, in fact I had a lady who was having her perm done ask me all sorts of questions, including the age old “don’t they get itchy?”

With a bit of a trim here and there as well as my secret design for the helm-feathers for which Captain America is so well known for (and the butt of many jokes), I got it home, pulled out the gel, hairspray and gel-glue combination I am fond of using and here is the final product, plus my design and final product of my very own “helm-feathers”. These were specifically designed and put together to hide the fact I have ten piercings (five in each ear) and I am very reluctant to take them out. I don’t believe Cap would be walking around with even a stud in his earlobe, much less cartilage piercings to boot so they had to be hidden or removed.

wig and feathers for captain america 2013 costume - femme

“Prince in Pale Yellow Blonde”
Cut, styled, plus “Cap helm-feathers”

I am incredibly pleased with how these two pieces have come together and how both myself and Dee (my long suffering stylist) have worked to get the best out of the wig, feather-wings, and the general design of Captain America as a male entity being turned female to suit my needs and my body, facial structure and comfort.

There has finally been a decision when it comes to the makeup and/or mask dilemma I have been having. The original idea was to go with a masquerade mask and use the spray paints I have from previously cosplay (The Sith Lord, Project Void, a link in the new navigation bar at the top of the screen will take you to it if you are interested in finding previous posts).  However when the mask arrived I found it ill-fitting and just too bulky for the desired look. I went back to the drawing board and eventually decided to go back to my favourite brand of face paint; Snazaroo.

femme!captain america make up collage

Femme!Captain America – make up collage
(Click image for better quality)

I must say that I am quite happy with the results. As you can see from the image I’ve been developing the piece from the ground up, using a white base to really make the colours clear and adding in the texture with darker paint, which I used to bring my very dark eyebrows into the costume rather than trying (and failing) to cover them entirely. I refuse to shave them off or glue them down; instead I just decided to make them a part of the mask. I also decided that I wanted dead straight edges, actually went out and brought a mascara to make sure I don’t have blue or invisible eyelashes as well. Of course the blue contacts are a necessary and time-consuming part of this costume but the final touch was bringing in a bit of eyeliner to just finish off that feminised-Cap look.

Very pleased.

Likewise…

femme!captain america – body armour collage

Femme!Captain America – body armour collage
(Click image for better quality)

As you can see the body armour has been coming along well and is almost finished; cutting it close I know but with the amount of time that has been put into this one piece I know it is something I have to use; mistakes or no.

I started off with a black netting rugby armour – the kind with foam shoulders – at least it was advertised for rugby. I think it might actually be padding to go under the hard protective shoulder-plates that American football player’s use, I’m not entirely sure but either way that was the base. From there I drew a pattern which can be found in my previous post and from there I selected the appropriate fabrics and got to work covering the black. It hadn’t been easy and there are a number of flaws caused by how difficult the pieces were to match the pre-existing shape, however once it is in place over the leotard it really does the job; that is it bulks me up and gives the costume more of an “action/battle-ready” feel. Well, as much as you can when you are a 5”7 human shape, lacking in body mass, making up for it with bitterness and sarcasm.

I also developed this extra layer because I needed some way of putting the star and shoulder-stripes on the costume but I desperately wanted to avoid stitching directly onto the leotard. The stretchy fabric just has such an awful habit of pinching and losing thread so I went to drastic lengths to avoid it. I think that the costume is better for it and has more of a superhero feel with the armour. I know I feel less exposed with it on as well.

The fabric that I used to cover the black netting and foam was a thick cotton which I also put stiffening under just to give it a bit more durability. However because of the complicated shapes, edges and the changes in thickness throughout the piece I have spent a lot of time hand-stitching in each panel; in fact the only time I could use a machine was the initial front and back panels (and even then only around the necklines which later had to be unpicked believe it or not). On top of this I brought up the bottom of the netting and have made it much shorter over the bust to allow for the other components of the costume. The star, white side-panels (which are not very easy to see in these pictures), and shoulder details were entirely hand-stitched and are actually a part of the armour that I am most pleased with. The white side addition became necessary due to the limitations of the blue cotton and the difficulty I had getting even my ample-sized cuttings to fit the complicated frame.

A piece of this costume that was just as fussy but ten times easier was the red and white waist-belt that I also had to avoid stitching directly onto the leotard for the previously mentioned reasons.

I had already begun with this waist-belt with the plans in the previous entry I linked to back at the armour (see above). As I have also mentioned before I am highly critical of my body shape and size when cosplaying. This is not because I have a complex about my body (not that kind anyway), but because I want the costume to be as comfortable and as realistic to my perception of a femme-version of Captain America as possible, without falling into the branding of “con-hot”. I am genuinely passionate about this character and the costume I am developing reflects that; I want other people to see that too so I try to design each costume to suit my body; the armour bulks me up and gives me a bit more of a bust without breaking character tradition or characterisation, and the waist belt was designed not only to flatter my small waist but hide where the tights, shorts, and many other layers meet under the unflattering and thin spandex layer around my hips.

With this particular piece I used a similar thick cotton, oversized and overly long. I started with a white base and then begun to stitch like a mad person. I couldn’t have done this without the machine or the guidance from my Nan.

It was my Nan who told me that once I had stitched the front and back of the white base together I should turn it right side out and stitch along the edges, picking the seams until they were almost dead flat. This might seem like a waste of time but in actual fact that line of continuous, time-consuming thread is what stopped the belt from curling in on itself and keeps it shape; a shape that I designed to based more on comic-Cap than anything else. The raised/arched front was designed to meet closely with the armoured top and give my costume more shape. I was so incredibly lucky to have my Nan on hand for the back as we both got a pleasant surprise when we realised that the double length at the back was going to work with my very small waist and allow – by crossing the ends over and stitching in hooks and eyes, Velcro and two poppers – a lovely feminine V (almost like a dove tail) at the back.

red and white belt femme!captain america

Red and White waist-belt
(Back)

The buttons we found in the back of my local fabric warehouse and were a lucky find; they are also completely fake as I found that buttons and buttonholes would simply distort the carefully planned and satisfying overlay we had created. As a bonus this meant I didn’t have to stitch in any pelts to make the belt fit around the smallest part of my waist, instead I could get on with cutting, tacking and eventually sewing on the red stripes which were time-consuming only because of how exact their positions had to be.

Overall I am very proud of this belt and I really have fallen in love with how it sits at the back and fits with the rest of the costume as one whole piece.

Finally I have also put the finishing touches to my pack-belt which is going to sit on my hip as a smaller version of the supply-belt that Captain America wears. I’ve stuck with the brown of the comics rather than the blue/silver of the movie.

femme!captain america decorative belt

Final shot of the decorative belt and shield

I just brought a Cap-Shield belt buckle online and used the pre-existing leather logo-patch on the bag and the metal joint of the buckle to attach the two together. It just took some time and a few patches of extra-sticky duct tape to get the pieces to fit. The nice part is that if I really want the buckle later I can then just take it off and walk down to my local leather and belt shop and have it fitted.

Simple as that.

And so, on that note… Anyone who is going to MCM Expo this May (only a few more days!) be sure to keep an eye out for this particular Captain America and come and say hi and see the costume full assembled!

I look forward to meeting and hanging out with some of you and hope everyone who attends this May Comic Con has a wonderful time. Hopefully we’ll all get some awesome costumes!