Psylocke (90’s style): The Cosplay Struggle Is Real!

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Pylocke may be one of the simplest costumes I own but it was one of the most frustrating ones to make happen! It’s the only costume that didn’t succeed on the first or second go around.

Attempt one was ordered from a cosplay site based out of China. This was the first and last time I ordered a full costume from China. Despite ordering a “custom” made costume the leotard didn’t fit right. And since it was “custom” to my measurements this was none returnable. The leotard gave me the worse wedgie in the world and left nothing to the imagination. Not that spandex leaves anything to the imagination to begin with but I wanted this costume for charity events involving children. Not a good match for me. This was converted into Supergirl since I could wear shorts under it to prevent the wedgie from hell this way.
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Attempt number two. I had never made a leotard so I found one online that was the perfect shade and style! I was so excited!!! But color matching to the blue for the gloves, arm bands, and leg bands was so difficult! I couldn’t find anything that looked right. Lucky me though! The zipper of the leotard broke, there went my second attempt. You may ask why not just order another one? Simple, I also orders the same leotard in black for Mrs. Marvel and had the same thing happen to two of those leotards. Not worth wasting my money on a forth that was just going to break! And I loved the style so I wasn’t going to compromise on that!  I wanted a sleeveless turtle neck leotard to be Psylocke!
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Third attempt. I wasn’t going to let the dead leotard go to waste at this point. I dissected the garment to see how leotards were constructed. That was intimidating with all the added elastic in the leg and arm holds. Stretch material with more difficult aspects of stretchy? Of course, I can find way around this! And this dissected nightmare became my pattern. Back to the fabric store I went and found the perfect blue. Sad thing, I didn’t realize how important 4 way stretch material was until I made the garment. It look fabulous! I was so pleased with myself. Until I tried putting it on. The 2 way stretch material wouldn’t allow the carefully constructed leotard over my hips. I also didn’t know at the time I made this that one of the recommendations for stretch material being sown on a regular sewing machine is to use a zig zag stitch for the seems. This gives the garment wiggle room to put on or take off. Because I am self taught I made tons of stupid mistakes. Like this one. Had I just researched a little more on YouTube I would have learned this. Facepalm!
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Fourth attempt: Now I feel like the worst cosplayer ever! And all I want to be is Psylocke! So I started really watching YouTube videos. And I give up on making this. It’s the first costume I try to commission. But guess what no one cared much about this character back in 2013/2014 so no one is selling this costume. I approach a few people I know but they didn’t work with spandex because they hated it or they only made kids costumes. Finally I find someone one Etsy! The world is no longer coming to an end! I WILL be Paylocke! I order the costume, I wait and wait and wait. Finally, I get the email that my order has shipped but guess what never shows up. The costume that I have been dying to have! When I ask about the tracking number I am told there isn’t one but it was shipped via USPS so I should wait another week or so and go directly to my local USPS branch and ask them to look in the back. Um, okay?!? I did this and was told they wouldn’t lol without a tracking number showing it was there. At this point of time every USPS package comes with a tracking number and if you need one its like a dollar or two, well worth it for a $150 commission in my opinion. I have done several commissions and no matter the cost I always supply a tracking number. Even for prints I have shipped out! I won’t go into further details of that whole ordeal but I did get my money back. This is one reason I only commission if I have no choice.
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FIFTH ATTEMPT: I spend weeks researching sewing spandex and testing techniques on scraps. Then I attempt a pair of spandex pants since this would be easier than a leotard. At least in my opinion. After this practice I finally feel like I can make the leotard. And I am finally successful! The only issue is the arm and leg bands moved and has to be adjusted constantly. Since I wear this costume with a body suit to protect the infusion set of my insulin pump I sewed the bands and the top of the gloves to the suit to keep them in place.

Since I have never been a fan of boot covers I used automotive leather paint to color a pair of boots blue. I loved them but the boots have had their own issues. Luckily I bought a few pairs of these boots, intending to paint them different colors but never got around to it to it. The zipper broke and I had to paint a second pair.

This costume is sadly in retirement because of the boot zipper breaking again. It happened when I was getting dress for a photo shoot. But I got the photos thanks to duct tape! After this whole ordeal I had to get good pictures document the costume!
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I guess you can sum this whole blog up to if you want to make it happen you can!!! Don’t give up on a costume when there are too many bumps in the journey! You will learn a ton through the process! Now I am a spandex champ but still avoid it if possible lol! I have had so many good memories in this costume and I can say I wore it to two cons, in different states, and was unique! Many people stopped me saying they had never seen a Psylocke at a con and they loved the originality of my character selection! It was very flattering!

So keep on keeping on and make your cosplay dream come true!

All photos by Snap It! Photography

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

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C3PO tutu: These are the droids you are looking for. Part 2

After doing R2Dtutu it’s only natural that I did C3PO too! However, I haven’t come up with a clever name for this costume. I am open to recommendation if you have any.

This costume wasn’t too hard to make. Just time consuming with the layers in the dress/tutu and the lining at the bottom. I will admit I cheated a little and folded the material in half since it worked with my concept which means I only had to pleat half of the layers in this thing! If you can do this with your own creation I recommend doing it. There are 8 layers of material in the skirt alone. For those of you who have pleated before you know first hand that just doing four layers of pleats takes a lot of time. I wanted something a little unique and I love bustles so I added this to the costume, why not bustles are great! This can be worn with or without the bustle too. And I hope to use the bustle in steampunk designs. I am all about re-purposing and multiple uses with my costumes!

I really thought about using gold tights but finally decided on the white for two reasons. First, I couldn’t find a gold color that worked well with the shades of gold already used in the costume. Everything was too mustard colored not gold. Second, after further thought and evaluation of my design it was too much gold with the gloves. And the gloves were a must. It feels incomplete without them. Besides it makes the slippers I found for this outfit stand out more.

I must say I got lucky with this pair of shoes! They were on clearance for $3 and they were the last ones in my size! Cosplay win right there! If you are a cosplayer you know that shoes and wigs tend to be one of the higher prices itemsfor any costume. And sometimes the most difficult! Eventually I would like to upgrade the shoes to actual pointe shoes like I use with R2Dtutu but these shoes are not cheap, you have to break them in before you can wear them, they are very uncomfortable for walking at a con, and the amount of paint needed to paint them is surprisingly a lot because it just absorbs the paint, at least that is what I experience with R2’s blue pointe shoes. Not sure if other paints or brands interact differently with the material.

I chose not to use a wig for the same reason as the tights. Too much gold. Even though a gold wig would be amazing to own.

With the open neck of the corset and planning on wearing my hair in a bun I felt that this needed a necklace to break up the amount of skin from my neck, shoulder, chest, and back. And C3PO also has details there that I felt were important to represent to increase the recognizability of the character. It took months to find the right necklace. I spent hours on various websites and looking through stores in my local area. I finally found this necklace on vacation of all places!

The most difficult part to make in this costume was the stomach piece. It took two attempts because the materials in my first attempt just didn’t look right. Total failure! I decided to make it out of foam on the second go around. It’s my first successful attempt at foam work. It could have been better, and I may remake it in the future, but for now it’s perfectly fine! I used two layers of foam and fabric fluff paint for some of the details. And of course several layers of plastidip to strengthen the foam and allow paint to adhere to it. I found some amazing gold and yellow elastic at JoAnns to make this into a belt concept. It perfectly ties in the yellow panels in the corset.

The black band around the middle is made of spandex material and cording to mimic the wires. This is a piece of the costume that will need to be redone eventually when I figure out a better war to do it. The band did not hold up well as I se

wed the cording in place and it over stretched in some spots. This means it does not stay up on its own as originally intended.

Oh, the corset, I think I spent more than six months looking for that thing! I wasn’t sure about the yellow at first but with the whole thing together I am glad I went with it. Again, it breaks up the gold a little. My reoccurring them for this costume is it was too much of one color with my original concept, have you noticed?

My only issue with this costume is that I feel so pretty and awesome (***sings part of West Side Story to self**) that it’s difficult to invoke the C3PO
personality. He is so serious sometimes but I just want to play in it! Like R2, this is fine with his playful and amazing attitude but not so much for C3PO.

Now that this done and the newer Star Wars contented had introduced us to BB-8 and Chopper I plan on making tutus for these characters as well! Plus Rebels is introducing more droids! The bane of being a cosplayer, too many costumes and not enough time, money, or places to wear them all.

Check out my other cosplays and costumes on my resume by clicking here. If you have already checked out my resume you may notice no new listings for 2017. This is because I have been joyfully creating art for my new business! Check it out on my Facebook, Intsagram, Redbubble, and StorEnvy sites!

Monster High: The Great Scarrier Reef (2016, video)

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Reviewed: 4/2016

Genre: Animation, Family, Monster High

Monster High is my guilty pleasure. Such a guilty pleasure I have over 100 of the dolls. I have seen every episode and every movie. So I decided it’s time I review one of the movies! In fact I am going to work on reviewing each movie and ranking them in the order that I like them from best to worst. So why not the most recent 2016 release that came in the mail this week for the first one I review! Just as a heads up this will be a very biased review because these series simply makes me happy.

A quick synopsis can be read here is you want it.

With most kids movies there is a morale to the story and this series is no different.  What I got from this movie is you can’t run from your fears or problems. They will follow you. It’s better to face them. Another lesson is that things may not always be as they appear. And of course the constant theme with around this show that it is okay to be different and to embrace those differences!

Some of the things that I loved about this movie?  There are several! First, I love the ocean and this movie focuses on this underwater world. I am sure the name gave it away but just clarifying. 😉 This movie pulled references from sea gods, mermaids, and the awe inspiring kraken! Release the kraken!

Second, we finally get to meet Lagoona Blue‘s family and see where she came from. It is hard for me to decide which character is my absolute favorite Lagoona is a high contender for number one. There are aspect of most characters that I can relate to. (In case you are wondering I also love Abbey Bominable, Frankie Stein, and Ghoulia Yelps. I cannot decide who is the best character!)

Third, I adore the bright colors and the use of actual knowledge of sea creatures in the new designs. This is one appeal and something I respect in regard to the creators and designers of this show. Everything is so well researched and used with clear purpose! For instance Toralei, a werecat, is changed into a mermaid form based around the lion fish. Not only fitting for her personally but also the monster type she is. Another great design was Frankie, the daughter of Frankenstein, being designed around the electric eel. Every character was well matched to the sea creatures that influenced their design in this movie!

Fourth, I feel ashamed for admitting this but I really enjoyed the music from this movie. I usually like metal, rock, industrial, and punk. I even enjoy classical and opera on occasion. These are completely different than the music in Monster High but the beats from the songs in this movie make me smile and really make me want to get up and dance. I think that one reason I really enjoy the music is it takes me back to when I was training to be a derby girl and the music that played in the rink were I practiced.

The only thing that I don’t fully understand is why Lagoona Blue, daughter of the sea monster, had to be turned into a mermaid. I understand why the other character had to be transformed but not her. She is a sea creature that can breath under water. She also ended up in her home town. But it is a kids movie so you can’t nitpick the plot too much.

Favorite new character: Posea Reef daughter of Poseidon

Other new characters for this movie: Pearl and Peri Serpentine daughters of The Hydra and Kala Mer’ri

Rated: Not rated

Duration: 71 minutes

Mala’s Rating: 5 0ut of 5

IMBD: As of 4/2/16 rated 5.8 out of 10

Amazon: As of 4/2/16 rated 4.4 out of 5 stars, available for purchase or rental

Netflix: Not available at time of review

Trailer:

Chronic Cosplay: Being Diabetic and Cosplay

I have started following various cosplayers who live with “disabilities” and chronic conditions. Because of them I feel like it is okay to share  my experiences and maybe pointers to other diabetics who cosplay.  The other reason I decided to write this is I am preparing for Emerald City Comic Con making costumes and preparing to stay away from home for a few days. This is the first big con I have been to in some time and it is bringing back memories of past cons and issues I have experienced at them regarding my diabetes.

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Here is a photo where you can see the infusion set to my pump. I don’t often get to share this photo and I love it!  This poor kid didn’t want anything to do with us DC babes so of course we had to torture him. Parent approved of course, that is dad in the back ground and mother was around too!

Cosplaying as a diabetic has had its own set of challenges that many people may not realize or understand. Yes, it is something you live with day to day but there are factors that have to be taken into consideration when it come to cosplay. Especially if you use an insulin pump like I do to manage my blood sugar levels. In simple terms an insulin pump acts like the part of the pancreas that produces insulin. (If you want to know more about the insulin pump here is a link for more information).  If I go more than an hour, two at the most, my blood sugar gets dangerously high and makes me very sick. This means I can’t go without it in costume. Please keep in mind that the reactions without a pump vary from diabetic to diabetic. I am writing this from my perspective and experiences. For example, I know another diabetic cosplayer who uses an insulin pump and she has issues with her blood sugar if she wears her pump in certain places limiting the costumes and modification she can do.

Because of how I choose to manage my diabetes I have to design each costume in a way that I can wear and access my insulin pump; which can make accurate costumes impossible or impracticable depending on the character. So before you criticize some one for an inaccurate costume please take into consideration that maybe the cosplayer had to adjust the design for health purposes.

Some common modifications I have had to make:

  • For all my body suits I have to cut and reinforce a small whole (strategically placed that it can be hidden) to feed tubing through so my pump can deliver insulin as needed. When deciding where to put this hole I have to also keep in mind how I will secure the pump in place.
    • I have a Catwoman costume that I had to feed the tubing through the leg so my pump can be worn inside the boot. If a suit is used for other costumes this may not be a practical location.
    • My Scarlet Witch and Mystique I have a hole in the stomach of the body suit and wear booty shorts with it because these handle the weight better than swimsuit type bottoms. These two are convenient because most people don’t notice the pump with either the cape or the long skirt.
  • My Tw’lek Mandalorian Bounty Hunter suit was specifically chosen because it came with a Velcro patch I can feed the tubing safely through.
  • Depending on the activity level I plan on in my Raven I will sometimes wear booty shorts over for the same reason I wear them with Scarlet Witch or Mystique. If I am wearing this costume at a low impact event it is okay hooked to my belt so I can wear just the leotard but I do have to adjust it regularly. And it does come un-clipped easily if I move too much.
  • Wonder Woman and Psylocke I use nude colored leggings or body suits to cover my infusion set. This way it doesn’t get ripped out while I am out and about.
  • I fell lucky with my Batgirl. I had to cut a whole in the suit but was able to hid this with a corset that also holds my cape in place. The major win was the functional pouches of the belt that allow me to access my pump!
  • For Steampunk I attach my insulin pump to a garter but I have to consider where I am going to be and will I be able to get to it in public or will I have to go into a private area to give myself insulin. Another place I can secure my pump in steampunk garb is in a boot
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The nude colored layer for this costume is actually a two piece thermal since it is winter. Which is a great way to feed tubing. It protects the infusion set and I can hook my pump to the shorts as you see here.

You might be thinking, Mala when you are in something that isn’t a body suit why don’t you just put it in your bra. I use to do this all the time until one hot fall day while wearing Steampunk Snow White my insulin pump died on me because of too much sweat moisture getting into the machine. That is never a good situation because then I have to call the manufacture to trouble shoot and determine if I qualify for a replacement, then I have to call my doctor for an alternative prescription for long lasting insulin to manage until the replacement is over nighted because I the last vial expired, then I have to get to the pharmacy to collect the insulin, and inject it before I get sick. Now imagine if this happened during an out of town con. At least I was close to home when it happened this time, it could have been worse. For those of you reading this who use a Medtronic insulin pump the manufacture recommends placing the pump in a sock if you must wear it in your bra and to carry extra socks to change out in case there is too much moisture. This is now what I do if I have to wear my pump in my bra on any given day. Cosplay or not. If you use another brand I recommend you check with the manufacture of your pump regarding this so you don’t risk voiding the warranty for inappropriate use or something like that.

Not only do I have to design costumes around my pump but days before the convention or event I have to make sure that the infusion set is placed on my body so that the tubing will reach both the site where the insulin is delivered and the location on my costume where my pump will be held or hidden. I also have to keep in mind how much insulin is in my pump so I make sure to have enough insulin and cartridges to refill the machine while I am at cons. I also plan on back ups in case something were to happen.

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Notice me sporting my insulin pump attached to the sash. This is a day I had to strategically place my infusion set for a costume.

When it comes to conventions I always have to have emergency supplies on hand. These include some form of sugar for low blood sugar, extra infusion sets in case my costume rips this out (without an infusion set my body does not get the necessary insulin and this has happened several time. Oddly enough while in steampunk, I blame the layers of steamie awesome!), glucometer, extra test strips, and cash in case I misplace my low blood sugar snack or end up using everything. This has happened to me before on a really bad day. To carry all of this I use a back pack. I love costumes with capes because most people don’t even notice my mini back pack. I love steampunk for the pouches that can handle most of this and my Twi’lek Mando! Pockets in costumes are super exciting in my world!

Something people have commented about at cons is how I regularly eat three meals a day. Most people seem to not eat at cons, which I think is weird personally. If I don’t eat I tend to become h-angry (hungry anger) but I also become lethargic and loss my mental capacity. Especially if my blood sugar gets too low. Eating regularly is a good way to prevent this. In fact, I probably shouldn’t admit this in a public forum, at one con I was uncontrollably in tears I was so hungry and exhausted. All I wanted was food in my belly! The moment I ate I was perfectly fine! I thank my friends who still hang out with me at cons and understand that I can’t control when I get this way. Since then we have developed a code word that is used among the group even when I am not there.

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Sporting my Medtronic pump like a pro!

In order to help keep my blood sugar under control I have to stay hydrated. If I don’t keep this in my mind my blood sugar levels rise and stay high. Which means if I want to wear a costume for a long period of time I have to be able to use the rest room. This is one reason I am looking into upgrading my Twi’lek Mando to a two piece suit. It is one of the few costumes I cannot wear all day and one that is easy to get dehydrated in from the layers and the latex prosthetic. I have had heat exhaustion in this costume, not an experience I want to have again or recommend to anyone.

No matter what I do sometimes my insulin pump is visible and it use to bother me. Not going to lie. I always thought I had to keep it a secret that I was diabetic. Something I should be ashamed of. But one day that all changed. While at a charity even in cosplay a little girl who was also an insulin pump user saw my pump and got so excited to see a super hero wearing a pump. We talked about super heroes and that it is okay to have diabetes. That is shouldn’t keep you from your passions. I hope that I inspired her to embrace what makes her different and own it. There is nothing wrong with having a disability or a chronic condition. It is a part of who we are as individuals. Not something that defines us but makes us stand out as unique from everyone else.

The things that I have to deal with are not what every diabetic has to deal with. Some decided to go without their insulin pump while in costume. That is their adult decision to make but I choose to incorporate mine into my costumes. Other diabetics who cosplay have their own ways to manage their blood sugars or try to. Everyone is different, with different experiences. I hope that this inspires those who don’t feel like they can’t cosplay because of their insulin pump to do it if you want to! And I hope that it opens the eyes of other people to one type of chronic condition and what it means to pursue something one loves. If you really want to do some thing you can find a way!

If you are diabetic and need suggestions please feel free to reach out to me! I am more than happy to bounce ideas of modifications or what has worked for me in situations as a diabetic. You can email me at adventureswithmala@gmail.com or through Facebook.