Dallas Fan Expo 2017 (and yes, I finished my cosplay)

On Thursday, March 30, 2017 – two days before the convention – I finally finished my cosplay.
What happened between my last post and now wasn’t all that interesting. We (me and my dad, who has power tools and a greater knowledge of industrial materials than I) got the boots put together, painted and bolted on the heels, made sure I could walk around in them (I could), riveted on the straps, fixed up any little cracks in the paint, painted the details on the sides of the boots, and got ahold of all the clothing. Ironically, the tank top was the most difficult part of the whole cosplay, including everything I did with the boots. The first time, the t-shirt transfer burned when I ironed it on; the second time, it immediately tore when I tried to put it on (that’s what I get for buying a nearly transparent tank top for three bucks at Walmart). The jumpsuit, which was tied around my waist, felt basically like a pair of nice sweatpants. From the knees up, it was probably the most comfortable cosplay I possibly could have done.
Fast-forward to April 1 – yesterday. My nerd crew and I – which consisted of my two best friends, my little sister, both of my parents, and both of one of the two best friends’ parents – drove all the way to Dallas, Texas for this year’s Fan Expo convention. I don’t live in Dallas, but it was closer than the big daddy ComicCon in California, so we decided it would do.
Last year, I went with one of my friends and my mom, and it was crowded enough. That year, I wore my ugly hand-me-down athletic shoes instead of my standby green Converse, fearing that my feet would hurt after walking around all day in Chucks.
This year, it was doubly crowded, and I went for just short of six hours wearing a pair of six-inch-tall torture devices on both feet.
My feet still hurt too badly to walk normally, but it was totally worth it.

The three of us on the cosplay red carpet, sans faces, because internet safety is good.

All nine of us cosplayed, and only one of us did it halfway. I was Chell, of course. My little sister was Daenerys Targaryen, which was appropriate, because she has a dragon obsession beyond any dragon obsession I’ve ever seen an eight-year-old have. The friend on the right of the picture above, henceforth referred to as Tall Friend, was Princess Elizabeth from Seven Deadly Sins, a Netflix original series that isn’t actually an anime. The friend on the left, Short Friend, couldn’t decide who to be, so at the last minute she decided to be Random Star Trek Personnel in Jeans and Chucks. My mom, who is not into cosplay (or most fiction in general), also went generic as a Dharma Initiative security officer, complete with a walkie talkie. My dad was Obi-Wan Kenobi, whom he kind of looked like already. Tall Friend’s mom was Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, and she looked so perfect it was kind of scary. Tall Friend’s dad also went Hunger Games-themed, because he went as Cesar Flickerman, but he was also wearing a Deadpool mask and gloves, which worked out a lot better than you would expect.

Baby Daenerys got her picture taken with Big Daenerys. They were wearing the same dress. It was adorable.
Also, yes, Short Friend is holding a painting of Daredevil.

To get an idea of the scale of this thing, I might add that both Stan Lee and Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker, for the plebeians who have to ask) were guests this year. I didn’t actually see either of them in the flesh, because the crowds were absolutely insane, but I got to watch the friend in the Star Trek shirt shake hands with James Marsters (Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) twice.
We started out with a little bit of shopping, as one does at a convention. I got my picture taken beneath a giant inflatable turret. I was so afraid of overspending that I ended up buying nothing except a grab-box-type-thing, most of which I will probably be Ebay-ing before long, but it was a great opportunity to make my way around the convention center and see as much of it as I could.
I lost count of photo requests around 6 or so, but there was no shortage of stares and the odd “Whoa, look at those boots! What’s she from?” Tall Friend, aka Princess Elizabeth, got quite a few as well. Once, she encountered these two little girls, both about ten or eleven, who were literally squealing and jumping up and down, they were so excited to see their favorite character come to life. I got my picture taken with a tiny little kid, about six or seven, who was dressed as a Black Mesa security guard. It just goes to show that any barrier can be overcome by a common fandom.
We went to the panel featuring two of the voice cast members (Josh Grelle and Trina Nishimura) for the English dub of the anime Yuri!!! on Ice. I’ve never even watched the anime, but I found the panel quite interesting. The Q&A portion of the panel was special, to say the least. I’m not going to repeat it exactly, because this blog is rated G, but I’ll just say that it involved non-canonical ships and a weirdly specific innuendo that was straight out of a bad fanfiction.
Tall Friend, the anime lover, stood in line for an hour and a half to get Todd Haberkorn’s autograph. I’m not certain who he is, but I know he’s from Fairy Tale.
Short Friend, who also loves anime (but not Fairy Tale) stood in line for forty-five minutes to get James Marster’s autograph. Since she had the food, I went with her.
This was at about 3:30 p.m. We arrived at the convention at about 10:00 a.m. I had been wearing those rock-solid boots, with the two-inch platform, the six-inch heel, and the insane springs on the back, for about five and a half hours. By comparison, a playthrough of Portal 2 generally takes me about two to four hours, depending on the seriousness of the gaming. I had officially been wearing those suckers for WAY longer than they were meant to be worn. The seven-dollar dress boots I used for the base had next to no ball-of-foot support, and I felt like my ankles were about to collapse.

They looked pretty sick, though.

I put on Converse and I felt much better.
We did some pretty awesome stuff, such as posing for photo ops with all manner of cosplayers much more experienced than us (all of whom were first-timers), but we had our fair share of shenanigans as well. Cesar Deadflickerpoolman, as we started calling him, sneezed inside his mask, which was as unpleasant to watch as it must have been to experience. Tall Friend, whose cosplay showed a couple of inches of thigh, got recruited by a professional photographer to be photographed holding a sign that said “Cosplay Is Not Consent.” I guess that’s a passive-aggressive way of telling someone to put some clothes on.
Even though it hurt like heck, I had so much fun. Honestly, it feels great to have the deadline over with. I don’t have to worry about meting out my free time to allow for cosplay work anymore. All that work was completely worth it; I saw exactly one other Chell at the convention, and she was wearing a normal, boring pair of black leather boots. I had an awesome time hanging out with my friends and convening with fellow nerds of every kind. It was way too much fun to laugh at really horrible cosplays, most of which incorporated far too much Spandex in places that should never, ever be covered with anything so tight (but not to the cosplayers’ faces – I’m not that mean). No one’s cosplay broke, no one got injured, and no one got stolen from; from where I’m sitting, that looks like a pretty successful day to me.
I can’t wait for next year.

Portal 2 Cosplay: Making a long fall boot pattern

It’s late September, and you know what that means!
(If you guessed my birthday, well, you’re right, but that’s not quite what I was talking about.)
It’s time to start thinking about next year’s ComicCon cosplay!
Yeah, okay, maybe it’s not for another nine months, but for those of us who work slowly and want to pay attention to detail, it’s time to begin.
Over summer break, my gaming obsession was the Portal series. I’d heard some pretty epic things about it before, but I never got around to playing it until Steam’s fourth of July sale. I saw I could get both Portal games for five bucks, so I thought, why not? It’s only five bucks either way.
It was even more awesome than I expected.
Now, this isn’t a review, this is a cosplay DIY tutorial/walkthrough/demonstration, so let’s get started.
Here’s a picture of the character I’ll be cosplaying as:

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I'll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I’ll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

I decided to tackle the long fall boots first.
It took me a while to find a good pair of shoes to use for the structure of the boots. Target and Walmart yielded nothing; it was too early in the year to find cheap knee boots. I didn’t find adequate shoes at Payless, but I magically found a pair of gray leggings with a blue band at the top (who would’ve thunk they even made those?) and snatched them up in about two seconds.
I finally ended up going to Amazon. It took a while, but I finally found a pair of boots in the right size and color, with an accurately sized heel and platform, for only $7.

They're extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they're perfect for the purpose.

They’re extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they’re perfect for the purpose.

First I had to cut off the little buckles at the top. They didn’t serve any purpose except looking pretty, so it wasn’t a problem.
Some people make their sewing and crafting patterns by measuring and eyeballing the shape. Not me. Not only are my math skills questionable, but, since the boots’ design is slick and geometric, symmetry is a must.
Instead of wearing the boot to make it hold its shape, I stuffed it with Walmart bags.

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

I then proceeded to cover it with tissue paper, and then with masking (or painter’s) tape. DON’T skip the tissue paper, because if you do, your pattern will be stuck to the boot, and something is going to get torn if you try to take it off.

My majestic mummy boot.

My majestic mummy boot.

Using the seams as a guide, I drew two Sharpie lines down the front and back of the boot.

That's my hand. Isn't it cute?

That’s my hand. Isn’t it cute?

And now comes the tricky part: drawing on the details. Using this reference image, I began to draw the lines that will be used to cut out each piece of the boot, carefully measuring each line to make sure they were equidistant from their respective sides of the shoe.
But seriously, curves are hard to do. The boot wasn’t symmetrical, and one side looked way better than the other.
So I decided to do the half-a-pattern technique. I’d make one half of the pattern, trace it, flip it over, and trace it again, to make a mirrored outline of the pattern. I’d cut it out, and it would be perfectly symmetrical without my having to measure a single thing.
And then came my second screw-up. Since now I was only drawing half a boot, I grossly underestimated the size of the plate on the back of the calf. And I cut the pattern off of the boot before I noticed.
I fixed this problem by taping up just the top half of the boot, cutting the messed-up part off of the finished pattern, and taping the usable portion of the latter back onto the boot. I ended up with a sort of franken-pattern.
Why am I telling you this instead of pretending it didn’t happen? So you know what NOT to do. No lasting harm was done to my cosplay (other than a wasted thirty minutes of pattern fixing), but yours will go a lot more smoothly if you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

The "finished" taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

The “finished” taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

Once my pattern was REALLY finished up, I cut off the unnecessary taped portions (the front of the top and the toe, where the original boot will show through or be cut away) and traced it onto a piece of posterboard, adding an extra half inch or so on the edges that will wrap around the boot (namely the front of the foot and the back of the calf). I traced the lines accordingly (all except the little slit on the side of the foot, which I’ll add on later), mirrored the cutout as described above, and made a two-sided pattern. I wrapped it around the boot for size, adjusted a little, and the pattern was done!

The final product!

The final product!

This is a master template for the patterns I’ll need to cut the material for the long-fall boot. Since I’ll be making the boot in three pieces (the back of the calf, the top piece of the ankle, and the bottom piece of the ankle and foot), I’ll need to use this pattern to create the others.
The next step is to create the smaller patterns and find out how much material I’ll need for each.
Stay tuned for more updates on my project!