November 28, 2015

Samurai Deeper Kyo's Hotaru cosplay progress part.2

Oh hiya!

I've started working on my next cosplay namely Hotaru from Samurai Deeper Kyo. On this here second part I'm gonna go through the making of his two kimono and the "obi" (sash). :) If you missed the first part of the progress you can read it here: part.1 progress post

I started out by making the inner kimono. It's always pictured with some kind of chequered pattern, so that's what I went for. I picked a close enough fabric from mom's attic (because eff yeah, free fabric!) that is white with dark red small chequered design all over it. I would have preferred an orange fabric but mom didn't have any... Oh well, if it starts bothering me in the future I can always just sew another one.

Hotaru, as seen in the manga.
His inner kimono rarely shows more than just the collars peeping out. I decided to make a very basic kimono pattern (even though it's not really needed since it's all just rectangles, more or less) just to have it for future projects, to save some time and headache.
I decided to make the sleeves short –like on a martial arts gi– to save fabric and make it easier to wear; they won't ever show anyway lol. So yeah, I just cut out all the pieces and started by overlocking all around the edges on everything.

I apologize for the crummy cellphone-quality photos ahead; I didn't have my SLR camera with me in school during this project. Most photos show the colors inaccurately.

This is all the patterns I needed for the (knee-length) kimono. The biggest piece
is the body panels (only half of actual length), okumi panel, collar piece
and sleeve. Note that the sleeves are budo gi style.
I then just naturally continued by sewing the pieces together, starting with the back seam and then the sleeves. I had some problems with the point where the sleeves meet the body, aka the armpits; for some reason I just can't get this area neat no matter what I do – it's the bane of my sewing existence lol. >_> Oh well. At one point I couldn't work more because I didn't have any interfacing fabric so yeah, I had to wait until I got that from mom before I could fix the collar. I decided to do the sash meanwhile so that I wouldn't waste any class time.

Fabric for the obi/sash.
Nothing to say about the making of this – I just took a long strip of fabric (the whole fabric bolt width) that was approximately 15 cm wide, folded it in half and sewed it shut after zigzaging around the edges. Oh and yeah, I had been to the fabric store earlier and I had found this perfect orange chequered fabric and guess what? >u< The best part was that it was on a permanent sale for only a puny 3 € per meter, zomfg!!
I had not seen it before in the store Eurokangas, y u hide stuff from me? but I obviously bought it for the obi on the same go when I went to fetch white cotton twill for Hotaru's main kimono there anyway. I was wondering if I shouldn't buy the orange fabric for his under kimono too (because it's so cheap) and make another one...?? I can't decide!

But yeah, back to the inner kimono. Because I started with rectangles for the body panels I had to make room for the collar so that it would fit. I cut two slits into the shoulders on the very top of the front side. I later rounded the whole collar area, using the slits as reference, so that the collar would fit nicely.

Slits cut for the collar placement.
I went to pick up some interfacing fabric and some orange fabric for Hotaru's outer kimono's collar. Of course I picked the same orange fabric that I had used for his pants on the earlier post.
But yeah, next time in class I continued to sew the inner kimono. I started by ironing on the interfacing fabric to the collar and then I sewed on the okumi panels to the front. After that I sewed on the collar and cut off the excess when I reached the end point. The raw ends of the collar I just folded inside and ironed in place so yeah, the bottom ends are not actually sewn shut.

Collar end folded inside and sewing.
Lastly I fixed the hem and then ironed all the seams open, for a nicer finish. I noticed when done that this kimono ended up shorter than I had first thought – it barely falls to my hips. This is actually not a problem because I'm just gonna tuck in the hem into the pants anyway so yeah, the less fabric there is the less bunchy, unfomfortable and ugly it will look. :'D But yeah, what I hadn't thought about was that because of the short length the collars are shorter too, which just miiiiiiiiiight be a problem. I can't tell just yet – I need to try everything on once finished to be able to judge.

After school I went to buy fabric paint in town for the Yin-Yang symbols on Hotaru's main kimono's sleeves and well, much to my lack of luck there were like all the colors except fucking orange. I mean, there were even several different shades of "light skin" colors (the pale peach-y shades) but not a single orange. Are you kiddin' me? -.- I don't know what's with this cosplay – nothing goes as I had planned it, not even the easy things that I should be able to do in my sleep go without errors! #badluckcosplay

Art from one of the "chapter pages" (163 to be precise) in the manga.
I'm assuming that this one is a fan coloration though...
I settled for buying a shade called "chestnut" which is like... err, if that's the color of chestnut then I've never seen a chestnut in my whole life lol. ._. It's a dark orange, close to the reference photo above (that's why I'm showing it) but with a very slight hint of brown. It was the only color available that was even sort of reminiscent of orange lol. It sucks to live in a small town where there's little to choose from when it comes to crafty stuff.
The thing is that because I'm doing the manga version of Hotaru the colors are inconsistent as hell – on some photos those sleeve symbols can be red, on the next bright orange and on the third a "sketchy" style filled-in gray. My personal preference is leaning towards orange so orange it is; luckily I already have some white fabric paint at home so I can lighten the orange paint, if needed.

Back at school I cut out the pieces for the white kimono using the patterns I had made earlier. I decided to make the sleeves really long since Hotaru's sleeves vary in length from panel to panel but yeah, most times they do look wide and flowy. I also wanted to have biiig sleeves because it's awesome. Period.

Flowy sleeves are flowy.
What has harder to find out though was what shape his sleeves had – on most images it was impossible to make out what the bottom shape of the sleeves were. I thought for the longest time that his sleeves narrowed down to pointy tips but yeah, I wanted to be sure so I started scrolling through the manga. After staring at countless images of Hotaru and thinking it through I decided to go for square sleeves on my cosplay of him, mainly because that's how real kimono sleeves are. I could just as well have opted for doing more fantasy-like pointy sleeves (it's not like Hotaru is the only one who took some liberties from "kimono rules"!) but nah, I'd rather do a bit more of a "what if Hotaru was a liiiiiiiiittle bit more accurate" approach. Hahah. Well... that accuracy thing gets thrown in the wall anyway because of his sword and tengu geta, but we'll get to that maybe later.

I even made a quick comparison collage!

Open in full-size to get bigger version.
Oh, and this is of course just how I personally interpret and view his sleeves on every single image I decided to use; you might view them differently and that's okay too ~

But hey, I had just enough fabric to get all the parts I needed (2 meters) with no scrap pieces left, phew! Before starting to sew anything together though I decided to paint the Yin-Yang symbols on his sleeves; I did this at home because, ironically enough, I'd have more table space for painting in my ridiculously tiny apartment than on the big shared table in the sewing class. ._. I also dislike being stuck sitting between two other strangers and having their stuff scattered around mine on the table so that I can't rotate my fabric –and move around the table– to get the best painting angles...

Yin-Yang design sketched onto the sleeves. I used those circular
objects to get perfect circles ~
Painted sleeves, booyah!
Because I didn't have a perfect fabric paint color I was constantly mixing the dark orange with white while I painted on the fabric. I always did the orange first and then took some white and blended it in before the paint had time to dry – this made the end result look more lively because it's not all just a single shade. :) I'm satisfied with the outcome. Oh, and I of course set the paint after it had dried completely by ironing on the "wrong side", 5 minutes per sleeve.

I'm starting to feel like this post is getting long (no shit Sherlock!) so I'm just gonna split it once more and save the rest for a third part. ^^ I'll maybe include some wig testing on the next part so stay tuned!

November 27, 2015

[Sponsored] Lens review: Kimchi Flora Green

Hello there ~

Today it's time for another circle lens review and it's gonna be about the Kimchi Flora Green lenses! This pair was sponsored by LensVillage, which is one of my favorite online circle lens stores – you can check out their store here and yes, I really recommend them! ^u^

This review is all 100% my genuine opinion and that's because I value being honest to all my readers.

Discount code "SAMURAI15" slices 15% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage!

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 16 mm
Water content: 55%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

Just like their name implies these lenses have a very obvious flower design going on! It's pretty and unique. ^.^ It's worth to note though that a majority of the lens is black so yeah, they do appear more black than green when worn and especially so in your average indoors light – the green mostly comes out in clear natural lights. But these lenses are lovely, nonetheless.

One lens in. Notice how big they look!
When I first put these lenses in I thought that they felt a bit thinner than average, but not to the point that it would be a bother to get them into the eyes. I actually had no problems with getting them in and they felt comfortable right off the bat – except that I could feel slightly that I had contacts on and that feeling never went away. It wasn't uncomfortable or anything but yeah, I prefer those lenses that you completely forget that you're even wearing because I don't like feeling the whole "plastic in your eye" thingy when I blink, move the gaze etc. These lenses don't hinder or blur my vision or anything and that's always a plus; circle lenses with a slightly wider pupil hole never block off my vision – it's only lenses with small pupil holes, like the EOS Dolly Eye series, that give me notable colored corners in my vision field.
But if anything these lenses seem to fall into the "dries out fast" category for me. Already at the 1,5 hour mark I started feeling the first signs of dryness and 3 hours in I caught myself blinking more often and keeping my eyes closed for longer times.
I could wear them around 4 hours so yeah, pretty okay but I've had better. ^^ Note though that on all my lens reviews I only ever judge/grade on how the lenses feel on my eyes and yeah, what is comfy for me might not be comfy for you and vice versa. Everyone's eyes are different!

I also want to mention, for those curious, that my natural eye color is a light blue-gray with a greenish tint – I also sport a golden ring next to the pupil. On the photo above my eyes appear more green than usual but that's because of the sunset-like natural light coming from the window.

Lens photos incoming!
All photos taken by me during a November morning (around 10:30 so yeah, not so far from afternoon) with a semi-clear sky and a very orange sun going down in the horizon! Yes, down – it's all because of polar night. ._. R.I.P sunlight.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Natural room light in my apartment, lamps off.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Facing window in the corridor. (not sun side)
Yellow light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Facing the sun directly from the window. (sun side)
Outdoors, facing the light, sun is hidden by clouds.
Outdoors, back against light. (cloudy)
One weird thing I noticed was that when I put in and took off these lenses my eyes felt "warm" for like 10 seconds. :S It was hella weird but it didn't hurt or anything so... I don't know. *shrug*
Oh and these lenses are big as heck! :O They seem bigger than my I.Fairy Hanabi lenses and up to par with the GEO Mimi Cafe Cappuccino Grays. Then again, it might just be that the blackness and design of the Kimchi Flora series (and the Cappuccino Grays too) gives the illusion that they're bigger when they might, in reality, be the exact same size with the I.Fairy lenses. But whatever the case this flowery pair is definitely meant for those going for the big-eyed dolly looks!

Lastly I have the distance photos.

I'm sorry I look like a wreck on those photos. ._. I've been painfully tired the last couple weeks and I've had a lot of days when I've felt nauseous and about to faint etc...

But yeah, I think that these lenses are more fitting for fashion wear (lolita, j-fashion etc) than for cosplay. Then again, that's just my personal thoughts since I tend to prefer less artistic lens designs for cosplays and eey, by 'artistic' I mean lenses with easily visible motifs of stuff like hearts, lace, flowers and other designs like that which just don't resemble human irises at all. ^^ These fancier lenses scream alternative fashion to be before anything else does, haha!
Though I would consider using the Kimchi Flora Greens if I ever run across a character with like really big and veeery dark green eyes. So yeah, I never rule out anything (always have your eyes open~) but I do tend to have specific types of lenses in mind for cosplay and then others for those days when I want to be fabulous in my daily life! -3-

Remember to use my discount code "SAMURAI15" to get 15% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage!

Short summary:

Color: 7/10
These lenses have a black-based design so on a quick glance they look much more black than green. The green mainly shows up in well-lit places
–and when fairly close to the wearer– but it's a pretty shade nonetheless.
Design: 8/10
Unique cute flower patterned lens that gives off a fairytale-esque touch!
Opacity: 9/10
I'd say that these are really opaque. The black totally changes my eye color and then there's the green "outlines" that do look green indeed. If anything then these lenses fade/blend slightly towards the center.
Enlargement: 9/10
These appear huge and give a really dark-eyed dolly look.
Comfort: 6/10
Comfortable to wear but they dry out rather fast for me – after about 2 hours I start considering to take them off or use eyedrops. I also always feel that I have them on, even though it's not uncomfortable. I'm torn between grading 6 or 7 for comfort so yeah, consider it an unofficial 6.5 ~ ;)
Naturalness: 1/10
Super big and dark with flowers on? Not natural I'd say. xD At least not on light eyes, that is.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this review! o/
Thank you, LensVillage! ♡

November 23, 2015

[Sponsored] Lens review: I.Fairy Ruby Brown

How's it going peeps? :)

I have a lens review in store today! I'm gonna be reviewing the I.Fairy Ruby Brown (sometimes known as Vassen Ruby Brown) circle lenses, sponsored by the lovely LensVillage. C: They have a wide array of authentic lenses to choose from, fast shipping and efficient customer service – there's really nothing to complain about! I'd warmly recommend them for circle lens shopping. ^o^ I used to buy from them a lot even before I got sponsored so yeah, I'm just being honest here about how good they have always been to me!

This review contains 100% my honest opinion ~

Discount code "SAMURAI15" cuts 15% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage!

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 16.2 mm
Water content: 55%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

Indoors, holding the lenses up next to the window. (sunlight)
Indoors, natural room light.
Bright sunlight outdoors.
These lenses have a kinda simple design featuring a dark thick-ish limbal ring with some longer and shorter lines reaching towards the pupil. The design of the I.Fairy Ruby series looks to me like a middleground between anime/fantasy and some more semi-natural lenses – they could work just as well for cosplayers as for ulzzang fashionistas! I must say though that these lenses are especially amazing for cosplay purposes since the color is very noticeable from a distance and it photographs well.

When I first wore the lenses I had some small problems with getting them in, mainly the right lens because it kept coming off my eye once I put it in and tried to blink it in place. I don't know why but a lot of circle lenses have been doing this to me lately; I just can't seem to insert them on the first try like I used to before. I dunno why this keeps happening but I guess I either have bad luck or I'm doing it wrong lol. But yeah, I don't think it's the lenses, unless maybe they are thinner than average or something..? I didn't really react to this pair being exceptionally thin or anything so, yeah, must be me just derping around. *shrugs* Nevermind that, lol.

One lens in. Notice enlargement effect.
The right lens at first felt very slightly scratchy the two first times I put it in so yeah, I took it out, cleaned it every time before re-inserting it and then it instantly felt better on the third try! The left lens had no problems at all.
The first time I ever wore these lenses they were comfy for me – I could wear them for 5 hours before I felt the first signs of dryness appear. I biked to town (in cold weather) with the lenses in my eyes, played some video games with a friend and went to eat in a restaurant. Most of the time I didn't really feel that I had contacts on! I'm sure I could easily have worn these lenses longer if I had wanted/needed to, but I decided to take them off since I was about to start a serious gaming session. x) For me my lenses always dry out faster if I'm staring at a screen (computer screen, television screen etc) so yeah, I'd say that comfort on these lenses is definitely above average!

Lens photos up next!
All photos are taken by me during a November afternoon with a very dull clouded sky. I haven't seen the sun properly for weeks and that's also why the photo quality is lower than usual – pardon for that. :( Polar night is limiting daylight time as well so yeah, it's really hard to do lens reviews right now and get sharp and clear photos as a result. 
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible, as per usual.

In my apartment, facing the window.
Indoor room light (lamps on) in my apartment.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo indoors.
White corridor light.
Yellow corridor light.
Weaker yellow light in the staircase.
Very warm orange-ish light in the staircase. There is a small window next to me
but I'm facing the lamp, not the window.
(by 'light' I always mean lamp light btw, unless I'm outdoors)
Outdoors, facing the direction of the sun. (which is faaar from visible..)
Outdoors while facing a corner of the building, aka back against light.
The color seems to appear as a lovely light brown most of the time, but in some lights they can take on a slight yellow tone that makes the lenses look somewhat magical, haha.
I think that the brown shade these lenses appear as gives my light blue-grayish eyes some kind of innocent touch to them, too; I don't know how to explain but I somehow felt like the light caramell-like brown color combined with the big black limbal ring made my eyes appear softer, as well as more defined, and thus gave my overall appearance a younger boyish look!

Lastly I have a couple distance photos to share ~
This time I tried for a shy boy look – that's what I think that these lenses could work well for! ^.^

Want to see these lenses in other colors?
Check out my following reviews: Red

Remember, feel free to use my discount code "SAMURAI15" to get 15% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage!

Short summary:

Color: 9/10
A lovely soft light brown color. :)
Design: 8/10
The design itself is fairly simple but the effect it gives is no less than wonderful!
Opacity: 8/10
These change my eye color nicely. I have no complaints.
Enlargement: 8/10
These lenses are big in size just like I.Fairy lenses always are. They are not crazily big though.
Comfort: 7/10
Really comfortable. I could wear them for 5 hours while doing various things, both indoors and outdoors, before the first signs of slight dryness showed up. They don't hinder my vision either.
Naturalness: 3/10
The size, noticeable print and the thick limbal ring can't be mistaken for real eyes.

Thank you for reading, I hope y'all enjoyed this review!
Thanks to my sponsor, LensVillage!

November 20, 2015

My first worbla order!

Hi there! ~

I decided to make a quick post because I'm just too excited about finally buying some worbla for the first time to use for my cosplay making! I needed it for a school project *coughimakecosplaysinschoolcough* so I finally got a reason excuse? to fork out my limited money and buy some of this everyone-swears-to-the-cosplay-gods-by-it material!

In case you don't know what worbla is it's a kind of thermoplastic that is basically the holy grail for all cosplayers when it comes to making armors, weapon props etc. Worbla can be heated with a heat gun, for example, and then shaped into the desired form. The best part with worbla is that it's non-toxic, easy to use and you get almost no waste because it can be reheated and reshaped countless times!

I want to apologize for the horrible yellow lighting and thus crappier-than-usual photo quality. I took these photos on the morning but because of the cloudy weather and the increasing effects of polar nightthere wasn't enough daylight coming in from the window. I had to rely on my really crummy apartment lights... ._.

Newly arrived, unopened XS sized roll of worbla! o/
I placed my order on a German site called (yes, that's where you can buy worbla, along with more cosplay stuff!) and that's because even though you can nowadays buy worbla directly from Sweden or Finland I thought that the prices were still a bit better on the German site and, well, the shipping price was almost better too – it's worth it if you're at least two people ordering! The shipping was fast and efficient as well. I received my order within one week and it was securely packaged so yeah, I have no complaints. 10/10 would order again!

Worbla is bought in rolled sheets of varying sizes. Worbla is also not just one single product – there's actually a little family of different kinds of worbla! The most well-known is the original "gingerbread-colored" worbla called Worbla's Finest Art (WFA), but there's also a newly released black worbla called Worbla's Black Art (WBA)! A transparent type of worbla known as Worbla's Transpa Art (WTA) is available as well and hey, let's not forget the worbla pellets called Worbla's Deco Art (WDA).

The sizes are as follows:
XS Size - 25 cm x 37,5 cm
S Size - 50 cm x 37,5 cm
M Size - 75 cm x 50 cm
L Size - 75 cm x 100 cm
XL Size - 100 cm x 150 cm

I bought two L sized sheets of black worbla as well as XS and M sized sheets of the normal worbla. I also bought a sample pack with test pieces (even smaller than XS size!) of all the different worbla products. The sample pack and the M sized worbla sheet I bought for a friend though, so those I won't be using myself.

I took this photo as a visual size reference and comparison.
Starting from the left: XS size, M size and L size.
This is to show of the thickness.
note: the black worbla is actually two sheets rolled together!
I haven't tried using these yet but as far as I know one of the main differences between the black worbla and the normal worbla is that the black one is smoother – a smoother surface to start with means less sanding and priming to do to get rid of the typical worbla texture! Another advantage that the new black worbla has over the "gingerbread worbla" is that black is a more discreet and multi-use color (it goes with everything! says the goth) so yeah, when the paint on your costume eventually wears off then the black worbla will be more easily forgiven because it will still look cool, hahah.

I was trying to show the surface texture here...
... and here. Just for comparison. :)
I'm really stoked to finally get to make some armored cosplays and take the next step on the cosplay adventure ladder! I hope I can make some good-looking creations with this magic stuff, haha. The main drawback of worbla is that it is expensive so yeah, I don't want to overheat these precious puppies and ruin them. *sobs* I'm gonna be careful!
Thankfully the activation heat is around 90 °C, so it's not anything horribly warm that would need hardcore equipment to achieve. I'm really looking forward to find out what you can make with worbla – it seems like the possibilities could be close to endless!

This is the sample pack. The bag of pellets is the Worbla's Deco Art.
All three different worbla sheets were in it, sample sized!
From left to right: Worbla's Finest Art, Worbla's Transpa Art and Worbla's Black Art.
Size comparison photo of the sample sheet size versus my Nokia cellphone. lol
Before I got to see (and touch) worbla sheets for the first time I had somehow gotten the impression that they would be thinner and less rigid. I don't know why I got this picture in my head because it is a thermoplastic after all and I've worked with polystyrene sheets before so, yeah.

I also want to mention that worbla has a shiny side and said side is the "glue side" which makes it possible for it to stick to itself and other materials because of the natural adhesive, which activates when it's heated. Worbla will stick itself to wood, metal, fabric, foam etc but sometimes additional glue might be needed just to be on the safe side.

Worbla information paper that came with my order.
When I start to actually use my worbla sheets (which will be soon ~) I might make some sort of follow-up post about what I find out – more comparisons between black and normal worbla etc. So yeah, does this sound interesting? x) Drop me a comment if you'd like to hear about my worbla discoveries on this blog because, err, then I'd be one helluvalot more likely to make it happen! o/

Shiro Samurai says baibai!
Thanks for reading!