Koyocon 2015

November 10, 2015

Long post incoming! And sorry for turning it into a semi-rant.

Koyocon 2015 ended a couple of days ago, and it was a crazy, fun experience! So much stuff happened in so little time that I know I’ll need a full week before I have fully recovered!

This year’s Koyo was even better than last year’s – the con seemed more well-organized and the stage was a lot more professional. And as always, the cozy, relaxing atmosphere was ever-present. This year, my group of friends (We call ourselves the “Warcrafters“) set up our own little version of the Darkmoon Faire. We had a tent, little mini-games like Tonk Commandor and Ring Toss, free owl-cookies (The convention’s mascot is an owl) and an exhibition of various props and costumes including a weapon rack filled with legendary and epic weapons. We also live-streamed Blizzcon with a projector. Oh, and because the room was a bit away from the main hall, we had little red arrows with lights and Darkmoon Faire-style eyes to help people find us. We went as much all-inn as we possibly could, and we’re hoping to get invited to more conventions, seeing as we have a lot more ideas for the future (Blingtron, anyone?)!

Saturday was a particularly crazy day. Michelle Louring – author, owl-owner and cosplay partner in crime – and I decided a few days before the convention to participate in the show! That meant coming up with an act on very short notice, which we did. Sadly, the sound wasn’t so good, so it didn’t make much sense to the audience, but we had fun beating each other with our weapons on stage dressed as Valeera Sanguinar (me) and Morrigan from Dragon Age (Michelle). And – for the second year in a row – we won Best Craft! Which was totally crazy! Michelle also brought her owl along and we dressed him up as the con mascot – he looked so cute!

Sunday morning (veeery early) there was a Cosplay Catwalk. I signed up for it long before the show, and I worked hard and finished Lagertha just in time for the competition (write-up for that cosplay will follow soon!). Despite managing to trip on stage, it was fun! Channeling that viking shield maiden is really fun and a different kind of bad-ass than the elves I usually cosplay, which I really like. Not only did I manage to make a cosplay that I myself was really happy with, I also pleased the judges enough to win first place in the catwalk, which was a craftmanship-focused competition.

All in all, I had a really great weekend and am now recovering from the stress that was before the con and from lack of sleep and proper nutrition during the con. But while it’s easy for me to say this because I won, I really want to address the whole competitiveness there is in cosplay. I think competitions are great. For me, personally, participating in them helps me improve my skills and urges me to learn new things and make every costume better than the previous. For me, it’s a motivating factor, that makes crafting even more fun, and also helps me to not slack off. While I usually don’t set deadlines for my costumes, simply because I don’t want to end up half-assing my costume or working all night before a con on my costumes, I do set vague goals. I might think to myself: “It would be nice to finish this cosplay by that con”. If I – a month before the con – can see that I’ll finish it, I might sign up for the competition. If not, I’ll just accept that it won’t be done and bring something different without participating.

I love what I do, and I don’t NEED a fancy prize to be happy with my costumes. Every single costume I have made, I can find flaws and I could do parts better. But the point of cosplay – to me – is that with every costume, your skills evolve. Winning is awesome, but when I lost all three times I participated in the SVScon cosplay shows, it never made me feel any less happy with my cosplays. It never demotivated me or made me give up. It made me think to myself. “Oh wow, there’s just so many talented people in this community!” Did I wish I had won? Of course I do! Was I sad I didn’t get to go to London for the finals? Of course! But I never, ever let it bring me down, because I don’t do it for that. And should you find yourself hating your cosplay, because you’re working on it non-stop to make a deadline to the point of not enjoying any of it at all – stop, take a breather, step back, remember why you cosplay. Do you do it with unrealistic expectations of becoming a huge idol who is invited to cons all over the world and have thousands of likes on your page? Or do you do it because you’re a geek who loves to bring your favourite characters to life and learn new skills and meet new people? I truly believe that cosplaying with the goal of becoming famous will not succeed. I may be wrong about that, though, but when I look at the people who are now “cosplay famous” and making a living off of cosplay, I also see how they started out as just happy crafters with a goal of making cosplay for fun, not becoming famous. Most of them still seem like down-to-earth people who just genuinely enjoy what they do.

Ok, I got a little off track. But I just feel that some people need to remember these things and remember to have FUN! Just like I had fun at Koyocon! (look, it even rhymed!

Next up: A month of moving, so don’t expect much progress from me!

And now: Have some pictures!

 

[envira-gallery id=”1800″]

This Bernina was my 2nd serger/overlocker and actually the first (and only) brand new machine I have bought. It works quite good and it’s a bit less noisy than my old one, which is great. One thing I miss from my old machine: It doesn’t have free arm capabilities. I don’t follow rules when I sew, so I like to overlock on my sleeves when I’m making clothes, which is harder when you can’t fit the fabric around the machine, especially when making mistakes and accidentally stitching through wrong layers will ruin the whole project, because the machine cuts while sewing. But it’s a minor thing that I work around, and overall, I’m really pleased with the performance!

My next machine was a very fancy christmas gift from my dad:

Pfaff Creative Vision sewing /embroidery machine

I have wanted an embroidery machine for years, but they are both quite expensive (though, more and more affordable models are being released) and also I had no idea what to look for. I thought each machine had their own software, and so I thought it was also a thing to consider. But it turns out it’s not. And while embroidery software (to make your own designs) is a whole topic of it’s own, it turns out the machines are quite “simple”. This one functions both as a sewing machine and an embroidery machine, and I have used it for sewing a little bit, but for that purpose, my old one still does better – it has a more powerful engine. This machine struggles with e.g. webbing. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s a bit of a chore to convert it between sewing and embroidery (the attachment + foot + needle needs to be replaced, and different types of threads on upper-and lower thread), so I just use it as embroidery machine. And for that, it works great. It supports quite large hoops – up to 360 x 350 mm. (though biggest I have is 360 x 200 mm). The standard hoops that were included were plastic ones that work by squeezing fabric between inner and outer hoop and tightening it. But I fairly quickly upgraded to metal hoops with magnets, because I find it easier to align designs like that. It’s a preference thing. It’s a single colour machine, so you have to replace the thread after each colour. But I think it’s fine. Some projects require you to babysit it, while others you can just leave it alone. It depends both on the file, the fabric and the thread. There’s a lot to learn when embroidering, but it’s quite fun. I haven’t used it for cosplay yet, but most things that sit still long enough in our house gets embroidered.

The latest machine I bought is this one:
Brother Coverstitch CV3550 coverlock machine

 

This machine is quite limited in it’s use. It’s something inbetween an overlocker and a regular machine. It has one bottom looper, and up to 3 upper threads. And this version also has an extra thread that is kind of like an over-looper. If you have a t-shirt on, I’m pretty sure there’s an edge of folded fabric that is stitched with a coverlock. On the visible side, it’s usually 2 straight, parallel seam-lines and on the underside, it’ll be kind of looping around. That’s a coverstitch. I got this, because I enjoy making clothes for myself and my family, and it makes that a lot easier. But it’s overkill for most people and probably not that relevant for cosplay. I just felt like splurging a bit and buying myself something nice. I did buy it used, though, because I figured I would get one that had all the possible features (including free arm for easier sleeve stitching).

So that’s basically all the machines I have! I would like to add one honorable mention, though:

 Husqvarna 5710 sewing machine

 

This was my very first sewing machine! My grandmother had it before me, and it’s from somewhere between 1976-1982 (I don’t know exactly when) It was actually a nice machine, but when I first got into cosplay and realized it was something I wanted to do a lot, I wanted something a bit more quiet with more features. But this machine isn’t gone. My mother-in-law didn’t have a sewing machine, so I brought it to Lithuania and now she uses it for little repairs and such. It makes me happy to know that after all this time, it still has a purpose and it still works just fine. Those old Husqvarna machines are work horses, and if your budget is small, go look for this kind of machine. The machines that were made back then were so simple that they don’t break that easy, and they were made with quality materials, so they last forever. They may not have lots of fancy seams, but my first Druid cosplay was made mostly with this red machine.

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