Thursday, March 19, 2015

Naka-Kon 2015

I spent the weekend out at Naka-Kon, Kansas City's Anime convention.  While anime is not really my thing, I've been involved with this convention in one capacity or another for going on seven years now, so it's always held a warm spot in my heart.  The con has been growing by leaps and bounds lately and this year, they had over 8500 attendees - and that's without counting hundreds of badges handed out to staff and volunteers and guests and vendors and press...  So yeah, it's gotten kinda big.  I went out on Thursday night and helped out with registration, and took the opportunity to wear my "angel and devil on my shoulder" bobble head get up.  Yes, that's Captain America and Iron Man.  No, you shouldn't have to ask which is the angel and which the devil.

After I went home on Thursday night, I got the itch to make up this yukata that I'd bought a lovely water lily cotton for something like $1.99.  It was one of those "simple" projects that I always meant to do up, but never seemed to get around to and I found I was just annoyed with myself enough to power through it.  From sketching out the pattern and doing my math (had to get creative with the cutting layout, as I only had 3.75 yards to work with), the whole project took just under six hours to complete.  But as I was approaching that third hour, disaster struck when I realized that I had cut one of my front panels upside down.  The left front panel, to be precise.  The exact panel which should be folded over on top of the right in a properly worn kimono.  Cue minor bits of swearing.  However, genius idea struck.  See, the major faux pas in wearing a kimono wrapped right over left is that wrapping a kimono in that fashion is how the dead are traditionally dressed for burial.  Soooo, I decided to be a ghost.  And let me tell you.  Googling for pictures of Japanese ghosts for makeup ideas at four in the morning does not prepare you for a restful night of sleep.  But, a lovely You Tube tutorial was found and all was well with the world.

People seemed to fluctuate between staring and being unable to make eye contact.  And let's be honest here.  I scared the crap out of myself whenever I wandered by a mirror.  Creepy veiny eye bruising aside, my wig was BLONDE!

Creepy bottom-lit cosplay photoshoot for the win.

Saturday was eaten up as a workmanship judge for the cosplay contest.  I swear, workmanship is my favorite kind of judging.  I get to see all of these amazing costume up close, and then they TELL ME HOW THEY DID IT!  I am still amazed by all that can be accomplished in the world of faux armor, and got several ideas for painting techniques that I hope to one day take advantage of.

photo credit to Satoshi Inoue

I always have trouble deciding what to wear when I'm judging a contest.  There's a part of me that thinks that need to "wear my credentials', but sometimes hard to balance.  It has to be a costume that I can drive to and from the convention center in, as well as comfortably sit in for hours, and that eliminates pretty much all of the corseted costumes.  I don't want to wear anything that has lots of makeup or body paint when I expect to be fondling other peoples' costumes.  And at an anime con, I'm always afraid that the historical garb would be completely lost on anyone.  So, kimono it is, then.  I ended up over-sleeping on Saturday and just threw on my hand-painted haori jacket over street clothes and had to make do with that.  Felt a little odd being the only non-character, unwigged person on the judging panel, but perhaps I got lucky and they all just thought I was super confident, or something.

Now I just need to find myself an anime character that I can make a cosplay of for next year.

edited to add on 3/06/16: basic kimono pattern manipulation to accommodate wide hips.


  1. Sarah mentioned that she met you for the first time while you were in your Japanese ghost costume. She said it was fun!

  2. I'd be curious how you came up with the pattern. I'm rather new to sewing and unfortunately I'm a little bigger than their usual sizing in patterns

  3. Unfortunately, the kimono is just plain hard to fit on a curvy body. Traditionally, you'd pad yourself out to try to achieve the desired conical shape, but that doesn't work well for wide hips (although now I kind of want to try to wear an XXXL kimono over a set of football pads and see how it looks). I start by wearing a simple binder strapped around my hips to help redistribute a bit of the bulk. Regular shapewear is a bit useless here, as most of those try to smooth the curves, not beat them into submission.

    I've also done a couple of tweaks to the basic kimono pattern:

    - I start by significantly widening the two front panels so that they wrap further around the front of my body, making the angle of the neckline more shallow. The front panels are often cut in two pieces. The back body piece is cut wider as well, but it's just a rectangle.

    - I make the seam at the top of the shoulder/sleeve seam very deep at it's center, and taper it out to normal at the bottom of the arm opening. This helps take up some of the extra width. Basically, make a mock up of a kimono with the pieces as wide as you need them, then fold the sleeve attachment seam until you get the shoulder seam where you want it (or as high up as you can make it without it looking too dumb, whichever comes first). My seam still sits kinda far down the shoulder since my hips are so much wider than the shoulders.

    I also try to make sure that I don't wear the obi too tight, as that just exacerbates the problem. Use plastic board to stiffen it, or use a pre-tied obi to help keep a nice obi shape without having to wrap it too tight.

    I made a quick and dirty visual for the modifications and added it in above. I hope that helps. Good luck!