August 14, 2015
Hello hello all!
I decided I would do a report for the Canadian World Cosplay Summit preliminaries at Otakuthon since Bee and I decided to try our hand at it this year. Apologies in advance guys, this one is a little long and ranty XD (though as I state at the end despite everything we went through I am super happy we did it and super proud of us for getting past everything that happened to be able to put what we did on stage!)
Our decision to do WCS was perhaps not the best idea right from the get go but we really wanted to try! It wasn't the best time for Bee as she was in a play that started it's run a few weeks after the chosen contestants were announced and actually had an out of country wedding to attend the week before Otakuthon. Unfortunately because of this the brunt of the work fell to me, and it was not the best year for me either. I took a bad fall in March and badly damaged my ankle and knee making it hard to sew.
I got started right away drafting patterns. I went down to Ottawa to draft Becky's pattern and get a first fitting done, record Becky's half of our script on my mic and we discussed how to split up as much of the work as we could. Becky sewed all the adorable plushies for our set as well as did all the drawings that decorated our set, while I agreed to take on the costumes and the set furniture. It seemed a reasonable split at first but became increasingly obvious as I went that it was not a manageable amount of work I took on for our idea.
I got our fabrics and trims and got started on our dresses as soon as I could! I chose a lace I liked the look of but I had to make some changes to it. It was a flat edged lace but I wanted a scalloped edge so I thought it would be easy and quick enough to trim, even though there was over three hundred meters of it, and honestly it was an amazing price so I could pass on it! I had guessed it would take about eight hours to trim, but unfortunately it actually ended up taking over eighty.
This set back made it obvious I REALLY needed to start monitoring time so I put in enough work, and starting on June 25th I decided I needed to keep track of how much work I put in each day. I set a timer for eight hours which I would run while I was working and pause every time I got up to go to the bathroom or take a snack break. I worked on the eight hour schedule for two days before switching to a twelve hour system.
My petticoat ended up taking over two hundred hours of labour so I knew I needed to work as much as I could. I worked on the Twelve hour system for a full week (with one day off for break in the middle) and then realised it still wasn't enough work time in a day and I moved onto fifteen hours. The fifteen hour schedule allowed me enough time to eat a couple meals a day and get a decent enough amount of sleep and this was how I worked most of the time.
Because of the odd set up of how WCS Canada works we needed to submit photos of our props at the beginning on July (or so I thought, they specified only the night before the pictures were due, that if we couldn't submit photos of the actual props we could just do drawings) Because of this I had to take a huge portion of time I would have preferred to be sewing to work on out furniture.
Becky and I originally wanted to get together in early July to stage our scene, get some practice in and tag team some work, but due to work and other commitments Becky was unable to come down, and this left everything up to me.
Two and a half weeks before Otakuthon I realised I was way further behind on the costumes than I really should be, so I switched to working at least fifteen hours a day and basically spending every waking hour on the costumes. I would eat normally only one meal a day and slept only three hours a night. I knew this was really destructive and not the best idea but since I was so far in already I wanted to give it my all and push to get things done. My mom actually came down to help with a lot of the simple thing like cutting, gathering and pulling out baste stitching in the costumes and there was no a chance I would have been able to get things done without her help. David also had to take over the final assembly and painting of the stage pieces for me in the end.
The week before Otakuthon my sleep and eating patterns really hit me hard and I began to crash. My work ended up slowing a bit and I ended up having to sew late into the night Wednesday before heading to Montreal Thursday and having to work in the Hotel room on beading and the wigs. I have not worked on a costume in a hotel room basically since I first started cosplay and it is something I really never wanted to do again, but I just really wanted to get something, anything on stage.
The day of pretty much everything that could go wrong did. I made the decision to get a couple hours sleep on Thursday night before our 8:50am rehearsal time. The email we were sent about the rehearsals had the time on them and "not to be late" but did not give a room number so we headed over with fifteen minutes to spare and promptly asked a staff member. Unfortunately the staff member didn't know for sure but he tried his best to be helpful! He took us to the theatre he thought it was, which was on the fifth floor and that wasn't right, so he then took us to another theatre on the seventh floor. Unfortunately this was also incorrect. At this point it was five minutes after we were supposed to be onstage, but luckily someone in the seventh floor theatre knew where we were supposed to go. He took us down and we arrived ten minutes into our twenty minute rehearsal. I am the type of person who always arrives early to things and I was super upset we were late. They luckily let us rehears twice which was nice, but this was actually only the first time we had ever got to run our final skit together. We had planned to rehears a few times throughout the day, but sadly this never happened.
I cut and styled Bee's wig quickly and went to start my wig. I got it all cut up and then went to curl it, only to find that the ebay wig I got didn't curl like I expected. I then panicked and back combed part to make it a bit more full, but messed it up badly. I didn't have time to fix that wig so I scrapped it and went for a completely different wig. Given that it was so late in the day and I had wasted so much time on the first failed wig I sewed the needed magnets into the wig, quickly cut the bangs and threw the new wig up deciding I would fix it up properly in the greenroom before craftsmanship judging.
When we went to put our dresses on everything was going fine, until my invisible zipper got caught on the waist seam and exploded. I knew I shouldn't use an invisible zipper for such a fitted dress, but they just look so much better than a normal zipper! Bee then had to sew me into my dress with fishing line. She was rushing so much she kept stabbing herself (and actually got a fair amount of blood on my dress) but finally got me sewn in. Unfortunately this had now made us miss our craftsmanship judging slot. I had sent David to let them know (so they could move on without us). I had assumed this would disqualify us, however they were kind enough to let us go later. Because of the zipper I no longer had a chance to fix my wig, but at least I was in a wig!
Judging went well and we went on stage! Understandably we were a little rough as our day had made us unable to practice again so this was only our third run through. I also discovered while we were putting Becky into the track suit I had made a mistake with the tearaway as I was sewing so furiously and mindlessly and it was unfortunately visible where the connections were. Finally the last thing that went wrong was the wig we used for Becky had fibres that stuck together so our tear away wig, which we had tested with both real hair and a different wig, didn't work.
Despite absolutely everything that went wrong, and how rocky this was for us the whole way I am so so happy and so proud of us for competing and doing as best we could. It completely wasn't what we wanted, and we could have done better, but we did AMAZINGLY given everything we went through to get here! We got so many wonderful reactions from convention attendees and staff. I am so happy so many people loved our costumes and our awesome Clara aquarium, and having so many people say kind things to us is way better than winning ever could have been and it made the whole process feel worth it!
Not positive we will try again next year, as this was a ton of work. If we do we will certainly make sure we can work together more and get things done well before the event! Given how much fun backstage was I think we certainly will try again eventually, just not sure it will be next year!