Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cosplay Buzz wig review

So I noticed that Cosplay Buzz sponsors cosplayers if you email them and send them pictures.Their wigs are inexpensive and I was curious about the quality.  I did have one other wig from them, and it was nice, so I emailed them and asked if I could have one of their lolita wigs.  They responded with yes, as long as I paid for shipping because the lolita wigs were really heavy.  I was kind of skeptical- but it was still an awesome deal- so I agreed.  I decided to ask for this wig...Here

I received it in about 2 weeks- and when I got it I understood the weight issue.  It was HEAVY!  It came in a hairnet crammed in a plastic bag in a shipping envelope, I would've preferred a box but no deal breaker so far. 
I took it out and the first thing I noticed was how thick it was.  The wig itself was very thick and then there were the ponytails- they were also super thick.  This was A LOT of hair. (Below photo was taken with flash)
 The wig was also nice and long and made with nice real looking fibers.  (below photo without flash)
The wig cap was bigger than I expected- which I liked because small wig caps really drive me crazy- but if you have a small head- this would be too big for you.
Being worn :)
The quality and fibers reminded me of an Arda wavy wig I have- they look realistic and are easy to style, but can tangle easily.

The ponytails were also nice and thick and long and made of the same nice fibers. (below photo with flash)

Being worn with wig...
Here is the back-
and with the ponytails pushed close together- this made the wig really back heavy- and with the not tight wig cap it almost fell off- so you'd have to bobby pin it a lot to make sure it stayed in place if you chose this style.
After getting this wig I promptly wore it to a lolita meet up- I got lots of compliments on it and it seemed to hold up pretty well.

I also wore it a few weeks later at a con with a simple school uniform cosplay- it was really windy and after that the front pieces of the wig got tangly and kind of frizzy.
I was kind of dismayed about that- so after the con I washed it and tried to comb out the tangled.  it got better- but it still seemed to have lost some of the curl and still seemed a little frizzy.  I have one other wig from them- this one and I had no problems washing and detangling that one.  I sprayed some wig conditioner and still frizzy.  I am annoyed about that- but the wig still is wearable and I can't complain too much since the price was so low.  I will still buy wigs from them, but I think I will stay away from their super longer wigs.

Hope this was helpful :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sabaku Con 2013

Sabaku Con 2013

     April 12-14 was Sabaku Con in Albuquerque New Mexico.  I was invited to be a guest there, the first time ever, and host their fashion show, judge the masquerade and do a few panels.  I love helping with Monkey Paw Conventions (Saboten Con, Con-Nichiwa) so I was definitely happy to be a part of this new convention.  I wanted to do a run down of my experience, because...well...I just felt I needed to document it.

Friday- After a long drive being cramped in the car we got there at about 11:00 a.m. and was able to set up the Poison Sugar table pretty quickly.  I wasn't in cosplay and I just didn't want to get dressed since the fashion show was coming up and I was just really tired from driving since 3 A.M.  So I went to my first panel at 1:30, Beginner Sewing for Cosplay.  I think this panel went really well, and I crammed a lot of beginner info in there.  Even though the panel wasn't full, I think that the attendees really learned something :)  After that I went and helped judge the Iron BJD competition.  I was amazed at all the cool outfits people made for the BJDs in like 45 minutes.  It was so hard to judge!!  After that I went straight up to my room and started calling models up there.  I had about 9 models from New Mexico that I had never met before, and some of them were completely new to modeling and wig wearing and lolita!  I was so nervous that I would seem silly to them, or not like a designer should, but I think they had a great time (at least they told me they did).  It was very humbling, they wanted pictures with me and gushed about how fun it was. It really made me remember why I love this so much, and how making people happy is the reason I do this.  The models all did super on stage,and I was really happy with how they looked.  Kittywood Designs supplied awesome accessories for them!  I met a local lolita, Carol,  who helped out so much too, I am so glad I made those connections and I really look forward to doing this next year and making it even better. 

Saturday- So Saturday I was Queen Beryl all day.  I know I am not a super skinny cosplayer, and I never will be, but I wanted to be able to be a sexy Queen Beryl and I think I accomplished that.  I don't think that all cosplayers need to be tiny- and Queen Beryl is a curvy lady.  I still have some improvements to make on this costume- I am remaking the black pieces (they drove me crazy) and the staff still needs to be made.  Those will be done for Fanime.  I felt happy and confident and had so much fun with my fellow judges. I think we made memories for years to come. I also loved seeing how happy the masquerade contestants were, I was surprised there were no skits (not like AZ) and there were so many Journeyman!  But it was great to make people happy with awesome awards and recognition.
Kawaii Judge fusion!!!!

 After everything on Saturday, while sitting in the bar, watching everyone talking, I actually started crying and just felt so overwhelmed.  I don't know if I felt so happy, or worried I wasn't a good enough guest, or just overcome by all the excitement or what.  I just know I had trouble for the rest of the night knowing what the heck I was feeling.  Stupid feels.

Sunday-  Today was lazy day- I did a lolita shopping panel- which I couldn't really get onto the hotel broadband because it was really slow- so it was kind of boring- but still good info for those who went.  Then I wanted to change into Chinatsu from Yuru Yuri, but alas!, the wig showed too much of my hairline and I forgot pink paint to cover it up.  So I threw on a black wig and just wore the uniform.  It was really comfy.  I snapped some pics outside, it got really windy, I may have accidentally showed some people my behind :O Then we went back inside.  I bought an autographed Kazhua CD (FINALLY) and got to see them in concert.  They are so cute and awesome and amazing!  I also got to speak at closing ceremonies, which I was very nervous to do, but I really enjoyed.  So many people were applauding and saying nice things to me.  It felt like they really cared about me and wanted me back. 

All in all this was an amazing experience, and I am so happy I got to do it.  I hope that I can continue to be a guest at conventions so I can keep sharing my passion and knowledge with others.

So there you go, I know I don't post journal type entries often, but I really wanted everyone to know how appreciative I was and how happy I was to be there. 

See ya round

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Q and A #1 , Patterns, wigs and more

     Our First Question and Answer Post

     So I really wanted to make a video to answer the Q and A questions- but when I finally sat down to do it, I realized that the web cam was on my old laptop, which is broken :(  So I decided to do a blog post instead.  You don't get to see me face, but hey- you still get your questions answered.

     Our first question was from Hope and she asked "Where do get your patterns?"   There are a lot of answers to this.  I draft some of my patterns completely by hand with a design ruler and sloper patterns.  I plan to add making a sloper pattern to my list of workshops for the next Saboten (so you can make your own).  A sloper pattern is a basic pant or blouse pattern that is custom made so you can alter it however you please and you already have a base pattern that fits you perfectly.   I also sometimes use Vintage patterns or Japanese patterns and then alter them to my own design idea.  I did this with some old overall patterns to make salopettes.  You can really see the 50s in some lolita after looking at the patterns from back then.   
First of the new series
     I also use some Japanese patterns as a base- like those from Gothic Lolita sewing books.  I used to use these all the time when learning to sew- and I love them so much.  They printed 16 of the old ones, and just started a new run of only lolita patterns (no gothic).  They are in all Japanese so you have to know your way around patterns, but they are a lot of fun to look at and be inspired by. The patterns are laid out all over each other too, so you have to have a keen eye to differentiate them. 
Many pattern lines overlap.
You can purchase these books on Etsy and Ebay and Jlist and other places that sell Japanese craft books.  I create patterns on this stuff called Pattern Ease (like trace paper except not stiff) and then label all the pieces and save them together for the next time I use them.  

layers and longer bangs
side part with longer bangs
     The second question came from Allison, " I feel my jaw line is far too square to wear curly pigtail wigs and I look more like a boy then a kawaii lolita. What would you suggest?"  Don't worry Allison, pigtail lolita wigs aren't the only wigs out there.  The feeling you are getting is probably from the straight across bangs that are typical with that style wig.  It creates a very square feeling, which most people attribute to masculinity (strong square jawline kind of thing).  Try something that doesn't have such strong bangs, like a longer bob, or something with longer layers with the long side swept bangs instead.  Also wigs that part on the side and not the middle.  I think there are a lot of options when it comes to wigs, so don't feel that just because it isn't "typical" lolita that it won't work with your outfit.

     Our third question comes from Holly  "Do you feel there is an age that lolita becomes inappropriate? and how do you feel about chunky lolitas?"  I get these questions a lot, maybe because I am one of the older people in my local community.  First, I personally feel that the only time you need to give up lolita is because you don't care for it anymore.  Second, it's an eccentric hobby, and eccentric hobbies get harder and harder to explain as you get older- especially to bosses and coworkers.   But I don't feel that getting older means you should give up what you love, that's just silly.  If lolita makes you happy than you should keep it up.  I've seen plenty of older lolitas that look fabulous and are very involved with their communities.  I've even seen mother daughter lolitas and it's adorable. This same statement goes with being curvy.  I have seen some of the most amazing coordinates on plus sized girls. I don't think that being skinny makes you a better lolita, and it's kind of a silly notion. It makes it easier to get brand- that's for sure- but it doesn't mean much else unless you let it.  Sloppy outfits on anyone look bad, regardless of size.  And amazing outfits look good on anyone- in my opinion anyway.  Just stay away from the hate, and love your hobby and yourself.

     Our last question comes from Amanda: "I'm a woman of 25, and also have been a model for 8 years. I would like to try to find companies to model for, but am broke and cannot so much as buy the most inexpensive lolita items without saving up for almost a year (too many bills to pay). I can sew a little bit to make items for myself, but I would like to model for designers (they can even be just starting out) and not only get them, but also myself, more well deserved exposure. What suggestions would you have for me? Do you know of any places looking for models that are willing to trade items for photos?"  There is a site called Model Mayhem- you can register there as a model, specify what kind of work you want and message other designers and photographers in your area to set up a shoot.  A lot of designers will do something called TFP (you probably already know this, but I'll explain for others)  which means a trade for prints or portfolio (whichever pertains to you).  It basically means you will trade your time for a shoot for someone to put the photos in their portfolio or the designer will send you outfits, you wear them for a shoot, then return them and exchange the prints to the designer to use for their advertising purposes.  As long as no one is making money on the trade, it works out.  I've done this a few times before and it is always fun and worth it AND you make some great connections as well.    I can tell you to be careful when you meet with people, and always bring someone with you and protect yourself, you never know who is out there.  I don't know what state you are in, so I don't know who to suggest to you, but Model Mayhem is a great place to start and search. 

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions.  I hope to do more of these as time passes.  Hopefully is was informative ><

xoxo Mikki 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What is a seamstress worth?

This is not in response to anything- I just figured that some of you may want to know what goes into all this sewing stuff, so you understand what I do better as well as the pricing for most of the stuff I make.

The basic price guide for most seamstresses for how much to charge someone is materials cost plus $X an hour multiplied by how many hours it will take.

M + ($10 x 6) = ?

Most seamstresses charge between $10 - $25 an hour depending on their skill level and location. They shouldn't pay themselves less then minimum wage, just like you wouldn't take a job that paid you almost nothing.

Fabric prices are a broad range- simple cotton can be cheap- but custom printed fabric can be $27 a yard and beautiful silk or custom order fabric can be $70- $100 a yard (think bridal fabric). Now for the dresses I make- I generally need 3 yards. So before I even calculate the labor cost- I already have $50 usually in fabric cost, without the cost of lace, thread, elastic, buttons etc. I have spent over $50 on lace and buttons for commissions before!

Now- I am going to say that from start to finish dresses can take somewhere around 10 hours to make (sometimes less, sometimes more). But that's a good average.

According to the formula- a middle of the road lolita dress would cost, in math terms,

$75 (materials)+ ($10 x 10) = $175

That is the minimum pay for a seamstress- most experienced seamstresses I know charge $20 an hour.

$75 + ($20 x 10) = $275

So in all reality, I should be charging the same price as most brands for the dresses I put out, and this would be the same formula regardless of style- same formula for costumes, for regular dresses, for whatever.

It used to be much easier and cheaper to make your own clothes- long ago when clothes were more expensive. As time has gone by- and machines have made the production of clothes cheaper and easier- it is no longer cheaper to hand make your clothes. It is considerably more expensive. It can be cheaper sometimes, but usually it's not.

I charge considerably less than I really should and I get lectured for it a lot by other seamstresses. In lolita, not many will pay that much for a custom dress because brand is so much more expensive. But in all actuality, it's brand that is over priced for machine made items. You're paying for the label, not necessarily the quality. Lolita does often retain value, so there is that- but I hate generalizations made on lolita seamstresses that we over charge because lolita is expensive, when in reality, all hand made custom clothing is expensive.

I just thought I would throw this out there for those of you who had no clue how seamstresses come up with prices. Putting a whole lot of work into something and then realizing you only paid yourself $3 an hour- is a terrible and often really frustrating and upsetting mistake. It's not one you should make, or force others to make on your behalf. People should be paid what they are worth.

Edit- it's also important to keep track of all this stuff for taxes, with a small business you pay taxes to state and sometimes (in my case anyway) your city every month (or the months where you sell at conventions)- and if you keep all your receipts and keep track of your uses you can write all that stuff off on your taxes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Phoenix Comicon 2012

I went down to Phoenix Comicon for the 6th year in a row, but sadly this might be my last. Phoenix Comicon has changed a lot in the last couple years and seem to be pushing anime out of programming- which pushes a lot of my customers out of the con. This year many chose to got to Fanime instead and I really felt their absence.

This was a really busy month for me and I worked very hard to get enough stock to sell there- and we really didn't do that well- we about broke even with the hotel and table cost- whereas last year we made quite a profit. But even so I made some great new friends and met some of my beloved old ones. Here is a simple rundown of my weekend.

Thursday- We came really early to unload and set up the table and I was really surprised by how many people came by the table Thursday. People who intentionally came by just to see me or to buy something. It was awesome and it totally started the con off right for me :) Thanks so much for that!!

Friday- I had the lovely Alexis and Roman watch the table for me intermittently this weekend and I can't thank them enough for it! However, everything I tried to do today either fell through or sucked. Panelist didn't show up for panels because programming double booked groups for multiple panels at the same time. The audio for the AMV contest was messed up and there were barely any submissions due to PCC not having a forum to be able to get messages out. I also wanted to see ANY Star Trek TNG guest but they had them in a panel room that was constantly full and they didn't let more people than the room could fit. It was a disappointing day and made me feel....depressed. There was a "free" firework show from the ballpark though- that was kind of cool. I wore my Mirikawa from High School of the Dead- since they were having a party that night- I only found these people who were actually dressed as the characters and not just wearing the school uniform. I also ended up being too tired to go to the actual party.


Saturday was pretty cool because I got to meet and fangirl all over Danielle Corsetto from Girls with Slingshots. She drew me a sketch of Jaime. I also wore my Star Trek Lolita and got lots of photos with other Trekkies who thought I was steampunk for some unknown reason (but they were lovely anyway).

I went to the masquerade that night and it was kind of horribly messed up and disorganized and I felt both bad and relieved that I didn't enter. I was part of a group that asked for clarification on the rules and asked for some changes in how they judged. No real clarification was given and we were told that they wanted to see a lot less of anime in the show- so a lot of us didn't enter due to that. It was kind of a mess, I really hope that it was a learning experience to be improved upon. The hosts were quite charming though, and I love the storm trooper dude who announces every year. He was the highlight this year I think, for me anyway.

Sunday- I was going to wear lolita this day but I was so tired. So regular clothes it was. I did go to see the Star Trek Panel with all the guests- but I had to go to the prior panel and a half to make sure I got in- which sucked. But I got to see them and discovered that Wil Wheaton is my favorite person from TNG- in real life not on the show- but he is always so awesome. All of the characters are so opposite of the real person- I mean, Wil Wheaton is the coolest person and Mirina Siritis is a huge bitch. Micheal Dorn is also really soft spoken. It was interesting. I also got a sketch from another artist who recognizes me every year and whom I really admire- Travis Hanson. I've read all his books and have lots of his prints- awesome guy!

And that was kind of it- The booth down the way from me- Miss. Alainius- was awesome and such a great person. We were BFF the first day. I also saw many of your smiling faces and I appreciate it. I really do enjoy sitting at the table and talking to you all. I think this will be the last year we are an exhibitor at PCC though- the tables are expensive and the hotel is expensive and before I used to staff PCC, but I will no longer do that so it seems kind of pointless to go to be a vendor when the earnings barely make up for the trip.I have lost my love for this con due to lots of behind the scenes reasons and it saddens me that I didn't feel happy leaving PCC- I wasn't impressed or have that con feeling that I usually have. I am debating if I should move to Fanime and try to get a table there instead. Maybe you guys can tell me what you think about that?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Project Runway

So remember how I was invited to apply to Project Runway by a casting person who found me on Etsy? Yea, well I actually never applied and I've been meaning to tell you guys why. I wanted to accompany it with a video, but it's looking like production of the video is taking longer than I thought and I wanted to tell you guys why I didn't actually go through with it. There were a lot of was that I have no idea about fashion outside of lolita and I shop at thrift stores most of the time and really don't give a shit (which I think might hurt me a little in a competition where they are used to people who know modern trends). Aside from that- there was the leaving my family and jobs for a month while filming and flying myself to L.A. for the final interviews (if I got in). But lastly, there was the application. I had a huge problem with it and this is why. After all the name, age, and interests questions there were about 7 pages of personal questions, about your past, about your relationships, about your parents, about your regrets and the kicker? at the bottom of the last page was a privacy disclaimer saying they could use this info however they see fit and put it wherever they wanted (hello internet).
I am a pretty private person, I don't always voice my opinions and I generally am pretty quiet- especially in public situations. But there was no way I was going to let complete strangers know all about my past, my life and how I felt about it all- because it's complicated- and only my close friends should know that stuff. Now, I could've lied. But I have this thing about liars- I kind of hate them, they are my biggest pet peeve. I actually grew up thinking people didn't lie (because I didn't- so others didn't right?) and that turned out to be the worst lesson ever. But the point is, my family couldn't withstand the exposure of that and I wouldn't approve of being put on display like that. So while I really appreciate the love and support you all displayed when I said I wanted to apply, I ended up not applying. I hope you can all understand my reasons, maybe if I didn't have a child and a husband it would be different, but I do and I have to consider them in everything I choose to do. My son will be starting a very challenging junior high honors school next year- and I don't want to be absent from helping him cope with the change. My family is my life, and they are more important than anything else. So as much as I think I might of had fun, I think in the long run it would have taken a negative toll on my family.
Please continue to support me as I am grateful to have such wonderful clients and fans.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Forever 21 Tights review

So I recently bought some tights off Forever 21 because they have these really cute styles that could go well with lolita, and they were only around $5 a pop.

I got them just a few days after ordering in a bright yellow package- inside was a cute wrapped bag.

Inside was another bag and a return slip with postage sticker, in case something was wrong (pretty cool).

Inside the bag were the 4 pairs of tights I ordered, all pretty.

The first pair was the bow tights in pink- although they are definitely more beige than anything else- and look more like panty hose than tights, but they have a control top and are very soft and stretchy. The styles on the site were all on white mannequin legs, so it was kind of hard to guess at the more skin like colors and the creams/whites.

The next ones were the lavender lace style tights, these are such a pretty light lavender color- prefect for what I wanted and they are sturdy but still really stretchy.

The next ones are the beige flower embroidered fishnet like tights. They are pretty cool too.

Lastly there are the coral lace tights- just like the lavender- but they are a bit more orangy in real life than in the pictures- I thought they would be a bit more pink. But I can still use them for stuff.

All in all it was a good haul for the price- but I still have to try them on- but I thought that you would appreciate seeing them in person and seeing the true colors.