Thursday, June 29, 2017

Female Squall Leonhart (Leon) Cosplay

    After a long, intense, sometimes stressful, mostly fun 10 or so months of work, I finally finished our costumes!  We took on ComiCon in Knoxville this past weekend, and it was a lot of fun as usual.  We didn't win the costume contest (as usual!), but we got tons of compliments and had our picture taken dozens of times.



    From left to right, my sister M as Cloud Strife, my sister D as Sora, and me as Squall Leonhart (aka Leon).  All female versions of the male characters, and all based on the looks that they wear in Kingdom Hearts 2.  I designed the female looks, and created most of the pieces.  M and D each worked on some pieces, as well, and our dad made our awesome weapons out of foam core.  

    I'd like to go through each of our costumes (in separate entries) in a little more detail and tell you how I made the pieces.  Starting with mine!



Inspiration - Squall Leonhart (Leon) from Kingdom Hearts 2



Concept art




    Let's start with the jacket.  I bought a 3/4 length sleeve, black, "leather" cropped jacket, Body Central brand, from swap.com.


    My first step was to cut off the sleeves to short-sleeve length and re-hem them.  I cut them shorter than Leon's actually are, for a more "feminine" look.  Then I started adding details.  I found some red pleather on sale at Joann (in their home decor fabrics), and I used the lion's head necklace that I found on eBay -


    - as my template to cut out the emblem for the jacket sleeve.


    This one I hand stitched, since I figured it was easier than trying to get the sewing machine into all those little nooks and crannies. 
    The "wings" on the back of the jacket I sketched out by hand based on some screenshots I found, and I sewed them on with the machine.


    For the silver edging I used metallic silver paint.  Here's a pic of me baby-wearing and painting at the same time! 😂


    And the finished product, minus a second coat of paint...


    Next step was to add the fur trim.  I bought the fur from Hobby Lobby, and getting it cut and sewn on was a tricky procedure.  I had a lot of help from my mom on that one (hard to get it pinned on unless you're wearing it!), and I still can't tell you exactly how we did it haha. 
    The last step was to add the black panels to the front of the jacket.  I used some leftover fabric from Sora's skirt, which made things interesting since it was stretchy.  If you had better fabric, you could potentially turn these into pockets, which would make it easier to get them sewn on flat/straight, and be useful when it came ComiCon time.  But I just decided to stick with what I had on hand.


    For the white shirt underneath the jacket, I used a v-neck camisole that I already owned (it had some lace trim on it that I tacked down so as not to be TOO feminine!)
    The skirt I made from scratch with some semi-sheer black fabric from Hobby Lobby and two super long zippers that I found on Amazon.  I wanted it to be reminiscent of Leon's zippered pants, and look basically like a maxi that had been unzipped up both sides.  Basically it was just two panels of fabric, sewn together at the top and then zippered together the rest of the way, with an elastic waistband.  I tapered the skirt in toward the bottom so that it would better show off the leggings and boots underneath.


    The leggings were another swap.com purchase (can you believe I didn't already own black leggings?), and the boots were from eBay.  I did already have a pair of knee-high black boots, but a. they weren't the style I wanted, and b. I didn't want to mess them up by putting zippers on them!  I discovered in my online searching that boots with zippers up the front are extremely rare, and if you do find them they are super expensive!  So instead, I bought plain black boots and a couple more zippers from Amazon, and I glued the zippers to the front of the boots.  It ended up working really well, it was not at all obvious that they weren't functional zippers.  I highly recommend this glue -


    - for all your cosplay needs!  I lost count of how many projects we ended up using this stuff on.  For the boots, I glued on a little of the zipper at a time, held it in place until it became tacky, then used painter's tape to hold it while I continued up the zipper.


    Excuse the extremely messy background!  I also used some rolled up cardboard (frozen pizza boxes, to be exact!) to stuff down inside the boots so they would stay upright while the glue dried.  


      Now for accessories...the belt that I wore around my waist actually belongs to my husband, but the other 3 I bought off of eBay.  Size XL, so that they would fit all they way around my hips, though I think I could have gotten away with a size down so that there would not have been so much of a "tail" left over.
     The armbands I decided to make rather than buy, to keep the cost down.  They were a royal pain, mostly just because it's difficult to cut and work with leather, but they turned out well!  I found a bag of leather scraps at Hobby Lobby, and cut the 3 armbands out from one large piece of brown leather.  The buckles also came from Hobby Lobby.  I measured my arm where I wanted the armbands to be, then added a couple of inches to that.  I punched 3 holes in each one with an awl, with the center hole being the one I actually used.  Then I sewed a small piece of elastic to one end of the armband, looping around the center bar of the buckle.  Because of the elastic, I was able to just slide the first two armbands over my hand and up my arm.  I only had to actually unbuckle the one on my wrist, since I have a really small wrist.  


    Sorry I don't have any photos of the actual process!
    My gloves were originally basic black leather, and they also came off of swap.com.


    I used more of the same leftover fabric from Sora's skirt, and finished the edges of 3 different strips to go across the gloves.  I had to hand sew these, since I was going up inside the glove.  The silver details I made out of air dry clay (from Hobby Lobby or Walmart), and spray painted them with the same paint I used for my gunblade.  I glued them on with the E6000 glue (see above!)


    I'm sure you could easily find some kind of buttons to use instead, but again, I was trying not to buy anything else!  I also debated using more leather instead of fabric for the straps, but was afraid it would make hand movement difficult.  Also, after all the work on the armbands, I was over the whole working with leather thing haha.
    My weapon, known as the Gunblade, was made by my dad out of foam core and a Pringles can for the revolver!  I painted the whole thing with metallic silver spray paint, and learned in the process that if you spray on too much at once the top layer of the foam core will buckle up.  I was able to smooth it out with a straight edge, which actually ended up leaving some cool looking marks on the blade that made it look "battle worn".  




    The handle and the shading on the revolver I painted with craft paint.  The lion emblem was definitely the most difficult part!  I finally found a picture of it online that was clear enough to use, and my hubby resized it on Photoshop to the size I wanted for the blade.  Here is the original file that I cropped, before resizing.


    Once it was resized and printed, I used graphite paper to transfer it onto the blade.  This, however, was only semi-successful.  In several places the transfer barely showed up, and I had to fill in the blanks by hand, looking at the original.  Then I traced over all the lines and filled in the solid parts with a Sharpie...much easier than paint and a paintbrush, and it looked just fine!


    For the "keychain" on the end of the handle, I removed a few links from a plastic chain that we already had and spray painted it with the same paint I used on the sword.  My dad cut a notch into the middle layer of foam core, and inserted half of one of the chain links into the notch with some glue.  I created the lion's head on the end out of more air dry clay and silver spray paint.


    As far as hair goes, I used a couple of different gel and wax products coupled with plenty of hairspray to get the raised bangs that Leon wears.  I also separated a section of hair over each ear and held that all in place with the same products.  
    For makeup, I actually researched biker chick looks, and based mine off of that!  Squall/Leon may not actually own a Harley, but his outfit definitely says biker to me.  My sister D did my smoky eyeshadow, and my husband made Squall's iconic scar with a light bronze cream foundation and a makeup brush.  Finished all that off with black eyeliner, my normal light rosy-brown blush, some highlighter, and bright red lipstick, and some finishing spray to help hold it all in place.  (Tip: don't let your little sister do the finishing spray part, or you might almost drown.)


    That's all for mine!  To wrap up, here's a fun picture that D and I took at ComiCon, recreating a moment from Kingdom Hearts 1 when Sora and Leon first meet (even though both our costumes are different, we couldn't resist!)



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Don't Have Time to Blog

    Yep, you read that right. This is a blog post about not having time to write a blog post. Makes total sense, right? 
    Okay, so obviously, technically, I have time to blog. I actually have tons of down time, sitting right here where I am right now, on the couch holding a sleeping Buttercup. We've been dealing with colic for most of the last two months, and she's a very restless sleeper during the day. The real story is that up until today, I hadn't thought of using this time to type out a post on my phone. Of course that's a rather slow-going process...not only because I'm typing an entire blog post with one thumb, but because I'm also trying not to ignore Sugarplum. So typing is being peppered with getting my teeth checked, conversations about an imaginary bug, and telling her to stop throwing toys. Also putting Buttercup's pacifier back in her mouth over and over again until she finally decides to stay asleep. 

    I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, though. I wouldn't trade these girls for anything. Adding a second child hasn't been easy, by any means, but in most ways it hasn't been as hard as I was worried it would be. It just involves a lot of improvisation and making do with the time you have...like one finger typing a blog post on your phone while holding a sleeping baby. 

    Anyway, the original point of this blog post was to talk about the things I'm doing when I'm actually NOT sitting on the couch holding Buttercup. There are a few short moments each day when either she has just eaten and is awake and happy, or I'm able to lay her down and she stays asleep for at least a few minutes. Also, of course, I can sometimes hand her off to DH or a visiting family members and steal a few minutes away. Some of that time has to go to things like eating, showering, taking care of Sugarplum, and trying to give her a little one-on-one attention. Also there are things like occasionally doing some dishes and laundry, and oh yeah, maybe eventually taking down the rest of my Christmas decorations. 

    But honestly, one of my biggest focuses lately whenever I get the chance has been our costumes for this year's ComiCon. We have 5 months left, and there is sooo much left to do. M, D, and I started thinking about our costumes literally on the day after the con last year, and had decided before I even made it back home. We're doing a group cosplay this time. Buttercup and Sugarplum will be participating as well. DH hasn't decided for sure yet, but I'm hoping that he'll end up joining us. I'm not going to share exactly what we're doing quite yet. I will tell you this...our three costumes (M, D, and me) are femme versions of male characters, are designed by me, and involve quite a bit of crafting and sewing. There's a pretty good combination of sewing from scratch and altering pieces that we purchased. 

    My dad, also, will be involved with some weapon and armor crafting. We owe that guy big...he never actually signed up for this whole cosplay thing, nor did my mom. But they love their girls, so he fills our orders without (a whole lot of) complaining, and they both help us craft and dye and paint and come up with solutions and ideas. Love y'all!

    Without going into a ton of detail, right now I think the only thing I have completely finished is D's shirt (not counting my shirt, which didn't need any alterations, and a couple of accessories that we bought online). I'm currently in the middle of alterations on my jacket, D's jacket, and M's top. I still have to start on skirts for all 3 of us, and there are still several accessories yet to buy, including wigs for the two of them. 

    I know what Buttercup's costume is going to be, but I'm trying to wait until closer to June to start on it so that I'll know for sure what size she'll be in. I haven't actually decided on Sugarplum's costume yet. I have a few choices, but I'm waiting on DH to decide on his before I make a final decision. 

    I haven't hit panic mode yet, even though it does seem like a ton of stuff to do in a very little amount of time. I really enjoy the whole process of planning and making costumes...even more than actually wearing the costume and going to ComiCon! The good news is, I recently acquired a carrier that seems to be working well for Buttercup, so hopefully I'll start being able to get some more stuff done while wearing her on days when she wants to be held all the time. 

    So...yeah. Life's a little hectic at times, and free time is a very limited commodity. But hey, I did at least finally write a blog entry! Check that one off the list.