About choosing the characters. Otoyomegatari had been a foreign manga to me, and to be honest, I had not been too interested in getting to know it. When we were mulling around our potential series choices, Otoyomegatari was never really discussed too much, since jesmo had been in the impression that I wasn't that interested. I myself knew, though, that jesmo had been dreaming of cosplaying Amir, and since it was really tricky for us to choose characters that would interest us both and could be nice enough to come up with a skit for, I got to know Otoyomegatari a bit, found it quite appealing, and finally just blurted out the possibility of taking Otoyomegatari into consideration. We still had a couple of other potential choices, and when we got familiar with each of the series better, it was clear to us that it would be easiest to figure out a skit for Otoyomegatari. There would have been a couple of characters with more inviting costumes to make, but it was super tricky to come up with a good skit for them. Hence, we chose Otoyomegatari.
Choosing Pariya as my character felt a bit hazardous to me, since there was only one colored picture (the cover of the second book) of her to be found, and even that was too tiny to see any proper details from. Also, her wardrobe varies so much in the manga and it seems like she never wears the same clothes twice, unlike Amir with her distinctive outfit. I admit, I was a bit unsure if it was a good idea to choose a character with such limited references, but I felt this was my chance as a costume designer to really get to know the source and actually use my imagination to some extent. Usually there are very specific source materials to look at, so this was actually very liberating for a change. So what I decided to do, was to use the only color picture as my main reference, and whatever details I couldn't see, I would find ideas from the manga itself. There was quite a lot of research to be made, since the costume Pariya wears in the color picture is one of a kind, and she doesn't wear it in the actual manga. For example, the border details of the overcoat were really hard to make sense of, so I snatched some they-could-be-like-these-here details from the manga. I can honestly say that none of the clothes Pariya wears in the color picture got through my radar without me searching for helping references.
I started off from the hat, and I guess I was the happiest to spend my time with it compared to any other piece of the costume. There were so many hat references to choose from, and I decided to go with the most "assorted one" to fit the cover picture the best. I got accustomed to different kind of stitches, and since I was fairly new to the whole embroidery thing, previously knowing only a handful of stitches, it pleased me to learn some new ones. By themselves, the flowers seemed rather dull to me, and since the usage of beads with embroidery was hinted in the manga, I decided to add some to serve as pistils/stamens.
Next up were the dress and the coat. We had been picking out materials together with jesmo, to make both of our outfits look like they were from the same world, and I am really happy with the ones we found. The fabric I used for the dress and the hat was the same one jesmo used for the tunic, and it is such a nice, thick material with a minor texture, and it is super hard to get it wrinkled. For the overcoat, I tried to look for some organic looking fabrics, but by pure coincidence we stumbled upon the most perfect colored faux suede fabric. I had not thought of Pariya's coat to be suede, but we got excited by the idea. Also, that way we would have another unitive fabric with Amir, as the stripes in her coat were to be made of suede. I was also going to use a bit of black wool to make the black borders of the coat. In the beginning, the coat was thought to be a flowy one with light materials, but I am happy for the twist that made it heavier to carry.
Overall, the shapes of the garments were simple, the dress being a simple straight, kaftan-ish dress, and the overcoat the same with kimono-ish sleeves, but there was a lot of embroidery to do. Though the details of the embroidery in the coat and the dress seems super thick and a bit all over the place in the cover picture, I didn't bother filling them so full with embroidery, since to me the fullness was only for the thickness of the artist's brush in such a small picture. I tried to see some shapes in the embroidery and looked for references to fit those shapes the best way possible. The snow flaky patterns, the tree shapes and stars were somewhat visible enough to copy from the cover picture, but everything else was just plain porridge to the eyes. In the end, I chose to go with the organic look Pariya carries most of the time in her clothing, and used it for both her coat and the dress. I think that way her whole outfit melds together.
In the manga it shows from time to time that the clothes of the people were not lined. With the dress I decided to accept that since the stitches didn't show too much from the underside, and if they did, they were tidy enough to be seen (though I'm happy the ugliest ones are high enough to not be seen at all). The sleeves were a bit tricky, though, since they were rolled up and I didn't want such a visible part to look ugly on the underside. Hence, I decided to stitch that section of the sleeves on the underside instead of the upside. With the coat I felt it was better to line it, just to make it look cleaner on the inside and more pleasant to look at, since the inside would surely be seen often, as I moved around.
While I started working on the dress early, embroidering it was the last thing I did with the whole costume. I had to stay up until early in the morning of the competition day, and if it weren't for jesmo, I wouldn't have made it in time. I have never seen such a fast and powerful embroidery workshop by two super tired girls in my life.
|Some of the embroidery|
|Thank all the powers in the world for erasable fabric markers|
(note the purple traces on the back)!
|A close-up of the finished embroidery. I'd still like to do some more though.|
I had a hard time believing that Pariya would not wear any pants under the dress, since it seemed very out of character compared to the time period and area. Pariya's dress was really long, and (by the time) it was never seen if she wore pants or not. I decided to follow my intuition and made pants, and later on jesmo and I learned that the women of the area and time period did, in fact, wear pants under the dresses. Hooray, my hunch! I wanted to make the pants a little shorter, since it seemed to me that all the kids and younger people wore pants a little shorter than the adults. Later, when some new chapters of Otoyomegatari came out and we could finally see Pariya's pants, they really were shorter! Hooray, my hunch again!
|Curly toes are curly|
I had figured that the scarf tied around Pariya's hat was a triangle to achieve the way it draped. I was actually right, but I had to make some interesting alterations to it, just to achieve the look closest to the reference. In the end, I had to make the triangle into the shape of a clover. :D I had thought of embroidering the scarf, too, but together with jesmo we came to a conclusion that some of the fabrics in the manga seemed more likely to be printed or knitted, and by embroidering such a light fabric, it would have surely turned out to be a disaster of some sort. I decided to print it and only embroidered the border to bring in some nice details.
|Testing with a prototype|
The scarf around Pariya's neck turned out to be way harder than it should have been. I had bought a red fabric for the scarf some time before I actually made it, and it turned out it was too, uh, resilient, and the necklace on top of it wasn't heavy enough to push the drapes down. Instead, the necklace just kind of got lost into the sea of drapes. :D So, I had to buy a new fabric that would be extra gauzy, and I managed to find the same fabric in red that I had been using for the scarf on the hat. Since it was hard for me to drape the scarf on myself, I got to borrow jesmo's dress form (yeah, I still don't have a dress form of my own). To tie the scarf around my neck, I added a tiny button on the back.
|Can a button be too cute? I thought it was.|
I had some serious trouble with the shoes, too. My feet are rather wide and the insteps are high, so it is actually not that easy for me to find well fitting shoes. I searched for low heeled pointy tipped boots for months from second hand stores (I really wanted to be able to fit them before buying, since it was important to me to feel comfortable in my shoes on the stage), but it was no use. Finally I found some really good-looking ones online and bought them, only to realize they were too small. I didn't have time to buy new ones online, so I worked with what I got. I sacrificed the shoes I had for Velvet, since they had really nice pointy tips (and I could get new shoes for her later, if need be), and cut off the kitten heels to make them flat. That way I also got the toe part to rise up quite niftily. It wasn't enough though, and I added tiny tips made of Worbla to make the shape more "Arabian". Though the boots were too small to wear, they had very good shafts, so I cut them off and glued them onto the base shoes, plus cut the front of the ankle part open to make it easier for my feet to get through the narrow shaft. Finally, I made the bootcovers out of suedette (the same fabric as jesmo's bootcovers) and the details of faux suede, and sewed a few red stripes on. I really wanted to add some little nibs similar to Amir's shoes, but I told myself to leave it last, just in case I didn't have the time to add them. In the end, jesmo wanted to do that for me. :D
I really would have loved to make all the jewelry myself, but now, as most of the jewelry was going to be made by casting and so many of my jewelry pieces were the same as jesmo's, it was for the best that she made all the casting. She already had all the materials for them and she was more familiar with casting than I. We did get to plan things together for the jewelries a lot though, like what was the best way to get the gems shiny and vivid red, and how to paint all the jewelries, so I didn't end up feeling too impotent, even though I am not used to letting people make parts of my costumes for me. However, I'd say it was a really good experience, since WCS is so much about pair work and how the partners in crime combine their strengths to achieve the best outcome possible, and it's not like I didn't get to help jesmo out with some things, too.
Anyway, I used PVC plastic for the bracelets, carved them and bent into shape, glued on the little circlets and gems jesmo had made, and painted them (actually before adding the gems).
The necklaces were a combination of flat and round beads, resin coins (jesmo used real coins as masters for the casting process) and these long flat pieces made of PVC plastic.
Like with the hat, I had lots of variety for the earrings, and as in the cover picture there is only a red ball to be seen, I went with the most similar reference could find. The earrings were made of resin, and what little I did with them were that I drew a picture of how I wanted the earrings to look exactly and I sanded the little tooth master for jesmo to make casts of.
The wig was pretty straightforward, and a combination of two wigs. I braided the first wig into little braids, and wherever there were gaps between the braids, I added some additional braids from the other wig, to hide the peeking wig cap. Since Pariya doesn't actually tie her braids, I couldn't use hair ties, but to prevent the braids from unraveling, the ends had to be tied with something. So I glued them with spray glue.
Ah. The bread basket. Though it was Amir who had the proper basket reference in the manga, jesmo and I thought we could use the same one for Pariya. Pariya was portrayed as the one good at baking, but there was no proper reference of what she would carry her breads in. Using Amir's reference seemed fine to us, since it could be possible that the basket and the strap with it were something everyone in the village could use.
I felt strongly that the basked had to be made of real wood, to make it authentic and to avoid silly painting episodes of making something not woody to look like wood. The easiest way to make the basket was to make it from a few sections, shape them separately to an extent, and glue them together with wood glue. After gluing, I could do the final touches to make sure everything was smooth. As the color of the wood was a bit too close to the color of my overcoat, I decided to stain it with a light, reddish tint, just to make it pop out better. Ahh, it was such a pleasure to get to work with proper tools, like a circular saw and a jigsaw, and this sand paper machine I don't know the English name of (it's like a mini chainsaw with a sand paper instead of a saw).
|The sections have been glued together,|
and the outer shape is being sanded smooth
|After the tint|
The strap had a pretty proper reference, but the color scheme was free for interpretation. I dug up all the leftover fabrics of mine big enough to use, and after inquiring jesmo's opinion on the matter, picked the colors that fit Pariya's gamut. Mostly I created the patterns by topstitching with a sewing machine, but I also got to do some more embroidering. Whew, it never ends!
Since jesmo already explained the process of our stage props, I'd recommend you to head over there to read about them, instead of me writing the same things here.
There, done, finished, whoo! After working on a costume for such a long time and intensely having to think about a skit and practice it, you'd think that I'd be too tired to even think about cosplay, let alone make anything. On the contrary, I have been in the MAKE ALL THE COSPLAYS mood the whole time after Tracon X. :D I have been working on a couple of new cosplays already just for the fun of it, without really knowing where to wear them, and I'm also really into the idea of starting to make all the costumes we are going to bring with us to the WCS2016.
It's been a while since Tracon X, but us going to the finals of WCS2016 still hasn't sunk in any more than right after the preliminaries. So far, I have only realized the fact that we are going to Japan, but not the WCS part of it. We are going to stay in Japan for a few weeks after all the WCS week is over, and we have been planning some details of our vacation part of the journey already. So excited to see the many cities of Japan! While I can't yet grasp the idea of us getting to experience the actual WCS finals and all the activities around it, I do understand the fact that this is most likely a once in a lifetime experience. I can not even begin with how blessed we are. Ugh, gross sobbing. I have said this before, and I will say it again: thank you. We have honestly gotten so many kind and amazing comments for the job we have done, and some comments personally directed at me. I can not even fathom the warm feeling it has given me. I'm being gross, I'll stop, ok. No but really, just know that I am grateful and that you are awesome.
While we are waiting to have a proper photoshoot of Amir and Pariya (it's happening SOON), have a photo of the finished costume as a whole, at least, just to get back to the original purpose of this wall of text. And to have some kind of an integrative ending to all of this.