Sewing Machine Cosplay by Sarcasm-Hime, Canada
Happy weekend everyone! Today is another cosplay featured post for our Cosplayer Interview Series. Following the classic cosplays, this time will be a bit unusual, our cosplayer is such a talented person she usually does original designs for her cosplay works. One of her outstanding projects was the Sewing Machine from an artwork by the artist Sakizo.
Looking at her cosplay works, I could assure you that they are pretty including her brilliant ideas to make this original designs. First, with her Sewing Machine which is definitely a keeper second, would be her Moondragon which is perfectly made as well.
I know you’re all curious now, our next cosplayer is Ms. Maral or known as Sarcasm-Hime from the popular city of Ontario in Canada.
Thank you once again to you Ms. Maral for sharing us your cosplay story and more success on your future projects!
Sewing Machine Cosplay
I’m Maral aka Sarcasm-Hime, from Ontario Canada. I’ve attended a lot of conventions over the years, mostly in the Ontario & Quebec area. I discovered cosplay back in the late 90s when the internet was really starting to pick up.
I saw photos of people dressing up at conventions and thought it looked awesome. Right around that time, Anime North (Canada’s largest fan-run anime con) started and I attended my first con in 1997. I had always been interested in sewing and costumes, so I was instantly hooked.
My first costumes were pretty simple, but soon I got addicted to fine detail. I was afraid of sewing machines, so my first few costumes were all hand-sewn! I still enjoy hand-sewing, but today I use it for fine details, not main construction.
First Convention and Experiences
First, con was Anime North 1997; back then it was a tiny one-day event at a local university. Did my hair up like Devil Hunter Yohko and wore a Chinese blouse. I didn’t make a proper costume until Anime North 1999 when I cosplayed Naga from Slayers. I learned the hard way not to make a bikini out of non-stretch fabric, LOL
Back then the average quality of costumes was so much lower than it is today because we didn’t have:
– Online tutorials; we had to figure everything out ourselves with very little info or help.
– A good choice of wig styles and colours (Halloween wigs in a very limited range of colours were all we could get most of the time)
– Thermoplastics like Worbla; armor made with papier-mâché, plaster strip, or fiberglass for the very ambitious
– Good quality photography. A lot of people still had film cameras, and the best you’d expect was one not-great hall photo with poor lighting.
Things have improved so much since I started!
First sewed costume: Naga with the non-stretch bikini. In total, I’ve made 56 costumes. I’m not as prolific as some since I tend to spend a long time on my costumes, so I usually only manage 2-4 costumes per year.
I drape pretty much everything on my dress form or start from a dress block that I know fits me. On occasion, I’ll use a commercial pattern (like if making a historical dress). I’ll usually motor through the basic construction until I can get to the embroidery, as I know that’ll usually take a few months. The amount of embroidery I’m doing seems to be increasing with every costume…
When I started, I made armor out of papier-mâché or plaster strip, and once out of ABS plastic, because there were no other alternatives available. Props were wood, foam board, and papier-mâché. I actually used to do commissions for armor and props back in the day, because there were so few people who had experience making those things.
Nowadays there are people doing far more impressive work in that field than I could ever hope to make!
Two friends and I made flower fairy costumes, and we had planned an elaborate stage presentation. We built a giant storybook, with each page I illustrated and had a friend record a fairytale like the old Disney records where Tinkerbell tells you when to turn the page.
Everything was great until we were backstage. We had asked the sound guy to test our recording, and he said ‘no problem’.
But when we were about to go onstage, the sound wouldn’t play. I was panicking trying to write as much of the script as I could remember for the MC to read when the sound suddenly started, so we hurried onstage.
Except the sound guy had messed with the levels so much that now our cute Tinkerbell sound….sounded like a chainsaw. A REALLY LOUD chainsaw. So we’re onstage as cute fairies, trying to tell our story, and wincing every time we knew the ‘page turn’ sound would be coming…with the poor audience plugging their ears at the noise. It’s funny now, of course.
Definition of Cosplayer
I think two types of cosplayers: Fans who like to dress up, and costumers who are fans.
Back when I started, both groups had to make their own outfits, because there was no other choice. But now that pre-made costumes are so easy to get, people who are more interested in just dressing up and having fun can do so.
For me, the most fun is in the problem-solving and creative element of figuring out how to bring something to life. I love fine detail such as embroidery – the more time-consuming, the better!
At cons, I love seeing something super cool that someone has made and learning a new trick. I love having my mind blown by what people come up with! That’s why I do a lot of workmanship judging – it’s exhausting, but I get to see so many great costumes up-close and talk to people about their work.
Some of the people I look up to most call themselves costumers instead of cosplayers because they were making costumes at sci-fi cons in the 70s and 80s before ‘cosplay’ became well-known. Some examples are Jacqueline Ward and Gypsy Ames.
I’ve won a few awards over the years, mostly for Workmanship which is my focus. The award I’m probably proudest of was Best In Show at Costume-Con 30, which I won for Moondragon. I always struggle with coming up with stage presentations for my work – I just want to make the pretty things!
But some of those things are really only suited for the stage, like Yuuko. I definitely can’t wear her in the halls at a con! I judge or staff lot of masquerades, so much so that these days I mostly only compete at Costume-Con. I strongly believe in supporting and giving back to the community.
What I want to achieved as a cosplayer is simply to make things I love, hopefully, gain some appreciation from others for the things I make, and to keep learning new things and improving. I don’t go out aiming to win X award because you can never predict who else will show up to a competition or what the judges will prefer. So I just do my best, and always try to grow my skills with every costume.
Piece of Advice
Since cosplay has exploded in popularity I see this trend today where having lots of likes, looking perfect in photos, being Internet Famous is perceiving as the goal of cosplay.
I worry when younger cosplayers have told me they feel that there’s no point in cosplaying because they will never be thin enough or pretty enough to compete with the idols. That’s so dispiriting to hear!
Cosplay is about being giant nerds together, sharing our nerdy with each other. Learning new things, sharing ideas and skills, growing, and more than anything, having fun. Not everybody can or will become famous, and internet fame doesn’t actually bring much.
Very few cosplayers can actually support themselves financially with their art. Internet fame is fleeting and mostly meaningless. What really matters is how you feel about yourself, how satisfied you are with your work, whether you’re getting fulfillment and enjoyment out of what you do. Getting likes and comments is definitely great, but personal fulfillment shouldn’t be 100% dependent on those.
So I urge younger cosplayers to do what makes them happy, learn and share with others, and most of all try to foster a supportive community.
I’m at Costume-Con and Anime North every year and usually attend Otakuthon and FanExpo. Other cons are more occasional and depend year to year.
Costume-Con is my favorite con these days – it travels to a different city every year, and it’s all about any kind of costume, from fantasy to anime to historical to the original design.
It’s 4 days of nonstop teaching and learning of advanced techniques, with 4 different competitions to enter. It’s so inspiring and I always come away with new ideas. In 2018 it will be in San Diego CA, and the year after that in Salem MA.
Feel free to watch one of my performances onstage with Moondragon here: