Welcome to this blog post! Let me prepare you guys: it will be a long one! It will also be one about a combination of the cosplay hobby (making of costumes) and the figure hobby, so if you are not interested in cosplay: this is your chance to quickly click this post away!
For the people not known with me, my name is Maakie. I'm a figure collector and cosplayer from the Netherlands. So far these 2 hobbies of mine had always been seperate from each other. I did own a lot of figures from characters where I thought "hrmm, I want to cosplay him/her", but there was always one standing out the most of those...Elizabeth ITEM #2136 !
Now here comes the point...did you guys see her design? Huge mechanical legs, huge weapon, lots of small details! I didn't even know where to start if I ever were to pick up this project! Before Elizabeth I made quite a lot of cosplays, but those were mainly fabric or had small props, so I had no experience at all in what I needed to make for this costume.
I had been drooling over Elizabeth's design for years when at one point I said: "Enough! I'm going to start on this!" I was most intimidated by the legs, so I decided that the legs would be the first part that I would try. I also had the idea that if I would screw up the legs, I would drop this project or only make her untransformed version PICTURE #1058074
Before I start, I wanted to tell you guys that the following progress isn't 100% chronologically placed, as I worked on a lot of parts at the same time. It would be a huge mess if I wrote it out that way. I tried to write it the best I could to still make it clear, but if something is vague, let me know and I'll try to explain it further or edit it in my blog! This is also an important blog for me, as it's a sort of diary of a huge project of mine, so I want it to be perfect! :)
The legs - the prototype
With the legs being the biggest, most detailed and also hardest to wear part of the costume, this is where I started! Normally with costumes I would make a pattern, but here it was more like making a prototype!
I started with making the feet out of cardboard, the shoes inside are also the shoes I would later on paint to look like hers!
Then the lower legs...
And after a long day the cardboard prototype was done! By taking the prototype apart again, I had patterns to start on the real thing!
The legs - starting on the real deal
This big order is like gold to a lot of cosplayers! Multiple plates of the biggest size foam available. A shamefully huge amount of money was spend on this!
Then the real work started! Measuring and cutting out the parts from the foam!
Slowly parts started to come together...
A really important part of cosplay, where beforehand should be thought about, is how everything should be possible to be worn. With the feet I needed to come up with something that allowed me to get my feet and the shoe in and out of the mecha feet. The reason why I chose to wear Elizabeths' normal shoes inside, was because I thought it would be easy that way if I would go to conventions and decide to change from het transformed version (mecha legs) to her untransformed version (striped socks and sneaker shoes) during the day.
At the bottom I put elastics, to make sure my feet would stay inside!
My number 1 reference material!
Ah, Elizabeth, how I loved how she was always there during the project! Not only is she the best reference material, she was also something for me to look forward to during this project!
The legs - making some progress!
Even though it was the first version and very rough, everything started to come together! When I finally could really wear the legs I was so happy! The part of working with the basic material is for me always the most fun when it comes to making cosplay, as you see a lot of the progress happening right before your eyes as you build small pieces and put those together! After this, the not so fun parts start, such as sanding and undercoating. Those tasks cost a lot of time and the visible progress is slow! But more on that later!
With the basics for the legs being there, I thought it was a good next step to start with the basics for the gun!
A new part always starts with a ton of doodling for me. I had a small toy gun that was going to be implemented in the real gun and it was a lot of measuring to make sure it would look right.
It was very important that the gun would fit well, as I still needed to hold the bottom from it by hand, which is actually the way the whole thing is held up!
The hat - basic shape
Elizabeth wears this type of high hat with some details on it like a crest and rings. It was really hard for me to find a likewise shape hat, so I decided to make my own!
I bought two smaller hats and put those together. After that I put a new layer of fabric all around it, to let them look like they are supposed to be one.
I shouldn't forget the ears! Elizabeth is a mouse-girl after all! View spoilerHide spoilerYes, I was watching Yu-Gi-Oh! while handsewing this wig. :P
This was also the first time I needed to make a hat for a cosplay and although I don't think it looks bad, I think I could have done better looking at it afterwards (especially how the fabric keeps everything together).
The jacket - Prototype
After all the working on props, you would almost forget that Elizabeth also wears clothes! With the props going well so far, I was confident enough to also start on other parts. With the jacket, I started off with some researching about it. Although Elizabeth is supposed to be in the British army, her jacket seemed to have more influences from German and Italian uniforms. Meaning that it was not historically accurate at all. My original idea was to find a real uniform and try to make it a bit more skirt-like/girly, but with this new found information, it meant I had to make it from scratch.
As with most costumes, I start with some leftover material to test out the patterns and make a rough first version. View spoilerHide spoilerThis fabric was a leftover from a project I never finished...a Globox costume that was meant for my boyfriend to match my Rayman cosplay.
Working with the filling for the shoulder was pretty though. It needed to look like a real uniform, but I didn't want it to look too manly/rough, as Elizabeth is a cute girl!
Making these wrinkly-effects on the arm was quite hard to do. On Elizabeth herself it's also visible that the outfit is very close-fitting on her wrists, so it gives a "poofy" effect on the rest of her arms. Luckily for me, I have really small wrists so I could make this quite extreme!
From a bit tougher left-over material I started working on her belt. I really like the look of her belt, but it's really impractical to use!
Next up were the pockets, they were a lot harder than they look! I had to sew in the folds to make sure it always looked right!
After making the pockets, I felt like I would be ready to start on the real deal and don't screw up! More on that later on! ;D
I personally always work with wigs for my costumes. To me it looks a lot better that way and it also makes cosplaying a lot easier, because I can style the wig in the perfect hairdo and the only thing I have to do is after each time of wearing retouch it a bit!
I started off with this really long, white wig!
With wigs, it's useful to beforehand decide which piece of hair should be reserved for what. Elizabeth wears two big braids and the middle row of hair is to make sure there are no bald spots. View spoilerHide spoilerYes, I was watching Kitchen Nightmares on TV during that time.
I shouldn't forget all those cute ribbons she wears! ;)
I put some foam in the tips and styled around it so it kept this fuller shape!
Most wigs come with huge front bangs that require a lot of styling. This can be a lot of work, but a plus is how it gives you a lot of options!
One of the fun parts of wig styling is that you see a lot of progress very quickly after cutting/styling. I think with this wig I spend around 3 evenings on it. A downside is that almost everything you do to a wig is permanent, so it's something scary to start with! When I started cosplaying I didn't even dare to cut a wig for years!
View spoilerHide spoilerNo, I don't watch Judge Judy, the previous show ended and I forgot to change channels, I swear!
And after altering the front bangs a bit more, the wig was done! I was very happy with the result!
Inbetween ~ the competition
At this point I was very happy with the progress I made so far and decided to go for something nobody expected from me: I would return to entering cosplay competitions with this costume! In the past I entered a lot of competitions, but I quit that to focus on giving lectures about the figure- and cosplay hobby at the same events. After about 5 years of being not active in "competetive" cosplay, I decided that this special project would be the one where I would return to doing this! So at this point I also started to spend a lot of time on my script writing, audio editing, light plan and so on!
Contact lenses are something small that can really "finish" a look! My personal favorite are Dolly Eyes and these are the blue ones. Unfortunately I recently heard the news that the manufacturer is going to stop making these. :(
The real jacket
Because of the earlier testing around, the real working on the jacket started off very smoothly! I ended up buying a color more brown-ish than my reference material, but I thought it fit very well.
Multiple small details required a lot of extra work by using this special thicker type of thread. A lot of sewing machines can't handle this, so watch out for that!
This may look weird now, but they will become sleeves!
Something not necessary, but recommendable to do is overlocking (I'm not sure if it's the same called in English). This is done by a special machine (which I used at a friends' place) and makes sure your fabric won't get loose threads too quickly. It will never 100% stop threads getting loose over time, but it does help to make a costume more durable!
The real puffy sleeve! This became my favorite part of the jacket, haha! Main reason for that was that I personally didn't expect it to even work!
When after a lot of hard work you see this, it gives a lot of satisfaction. :)
"Hey! Quit slacking off and give your attention to me!!!"
"Y-y-yes, Elizabeth!" ∑(ΦдΦlll
After a lot of hard work on the collar!
Underneath her uniform, Elizabeth wears a white shirt. Because I wanted to be sure that the right parts were visible at all times, I decided to "cheat" a bit here!
The jacket was coming close to completion! (Awkwardly placed hand, because I wanted to show off the sleeves. :P)
To make the uniform more feminine, a thight-fitting belt is worn with it! After working a lot on the test-version, this was made quite easily!
Finishing up multiple details on the outfit! I ended up really liking the pockets. They have a lot more room inside than it looks from the outside! This is very useful when walking around on conventions!
And the jacket was done! This was such a weird moment for me. I worked so much on this, that it felt like I would always have a lot left to do and suddenly...it was done!
I then washed the completed outfit for the first time, which is something incredibly scary every time! Even though I handwash and machine-sewed clothing is supposed to be good enough to be put in a washing machine, this always scares me!
No-mecha-parts-Elizabeth wears shoes that look a lot like Converse shoes. And luckily for me, I had this old, beaten-up pair I could use for it!
It's amazing how a little bit of paint can make shoes look almost like new again! (Later I also painted the bottom part, but forgot to make pictures of that, woops!)
Elizabeth wears glasses and I started off with a hunt for this exact type of glasses...which turned ou to be a huge and frustrating search. Around the glass itself is no frame and the only frame parts are the legs. After searching for very long, the only glasses that looked like it that I found were designer glasses that were over 400 euros!!! So yeah...turns out I also had to make these from scratch!
With zero experience in making glasses and some talking around with fellow cosplayers, the best choice turned out to be: making the glasses from plexiglass.
As the legs were the only parts that needed to be painted, a lot of caution was needed. If I would accidentally make a bit of the "glass" dirty, it would be almost impossible to remove, because plexiglass gets scratches very easily!
And the glasses were done! Although it was far from perfect, I was quite happy with this result. Not bad for the first time making glasses I think?
The legs - detailing!
With the basic shape being done, the next important part was making all the details! As there is not much to talk about here, please enjoy the pictures! Some of you maybe noticed a big mistake I've made and that was only sanding about half of it before detailing. Meaning that a lot of more sanding work had to be done after the detailing...a horrible task, but I learned from it for the future for sure!
Multiple small details were burned in with a soldering iron! Because I also decided to enter this costume in a competition, I needed some pictures that were "proof" that I was working on the costume myself! View spoilerHide spoilerFor the people confused because they saw me with longer hair first: i decided to cut it, you are looking at the same person. :P
The gun needed some more details too, and while I was busy with a soldering iron anyways...
For the people wondering what this part is: it's the gun clip!
After working so much an all sorts of other parts, it's pretty easy to forget you're also supposed to make a tail...oops! So this part was pretty rushed compared to the rest.
Making the tail was a lot more work than I personally expected. It turned out to be very hard to figure out what was the right way to make the tail keep it's shape!
This black thread was later replaced by see-through thread to make sure the tail would keep it's mousey-shape!
I wasn't really pleased with the result, but it had to do for now, considering I now had a harsh deadline with the competition!
Elizabeth also wears a small bag on her belt, which I decided to make from fake leather.
As this material is very rough to put underneath a sewing machine, most of these parts were glued!
Inside I put some thicker foam so it would hold it's shape better and would be more sturdy when I placed my own items inside! I made the size so that it would perfectly fit my wallet and phone, ah~ the benefits of making your own costume (parts)! :>
I got to say I was quite happy with the result!
Wearing what was done so far!
This is always one of my favorite parts, where I wear what I have so far together! This is also a part where I ask for feedback and possible changes. A lot of people seemed to dislike the gloves, so I ended up exchanging them!
Details on the hat!
Elizabeth's hat has quite some details! One of them is a big pair of goggles. Goggles are pretty easily to be found, but not easily to be found in multiple colors, so...
...some painting was required!
Because the goggles had the same color as the jacket, I thought it would be easy to make the details there from the same material! This was also very easy to be done, because the goggles would stay in the same position at all times!
On the figure, Elizabeth has a skull on her hat. In the original artwork there is an insignia that is too small to make something out of it. Instead of trying to go for an insignia that could be the wrong one, I decided to play it "safe" and go for the skull! I made it with FIMO clay and it was handpainted.
Chains attached and the hat was done! At this point I wasn't really happy with the shape of the hat, but there wasn't that much time anymore to improve the costume! So for now I kept it like this. Although it was not completely accurate, later on, I started liking the hat more.
Finishing the gun and legs!
Sanding, serious business! It's quite boring and hurts your hands after a while, but it's completely worth it, looking at the results! After this project I also decided to buy a (small) sanding machine, but it's not really accurate, so it looks like for future costumes I will do a combination of both sanding by hand and with the machine.
The gun was currently one big block and needed a lot more details! Also enjoy the next pictures, where some (slow) progress can be seen! ^^
Unpainted, finished costume parts always look so weird!
Keeping everything together
It's fun to make all these seperate mecha parts, but to keep everything together something had to be made too! With the figure it looked like Elizabeth has these sort of tubes between every joint. As I personally didn't want to make anything from plastic or leather (both are very hot to wear and hard to move in), I decided to look at fabric and see how much I could "fake" the tubes!
This was slowly becoming the effect I wanted, but it took a lot more time and material than I expected to create this!
In the end, I think this is about 2 square meters of fabric, all piled up and very heavy!
Sanding, undercoating...you know, the boring work
All the parts needed about 2-4 layers and took about half a day per side each time to dry. You can probably imagine this was a lot of work...
And after the boring, comes the fun work: painting!
Painting is one of the parts I enjoy a lot while making costumes! Earlier hard work will suddenly look a lot more detailed after this!
Some fabric paint was involved too. I thought the darkness of the material with a bit of white paint on top of it would give a nice effect. It's far from perfect, but it looks a bit old/used, which is also nice consdering these are tank legs!
Details, put on with decals.
Seeing the legs done on my couch was quite a shock. I spend multiple months on this costume and it was crazy to see where it all resulted into! The legs were also really big and the biggest cosplay props I ever made!
Even though I started a long time in advance, my busy work schedule made it so that I could only work on this costume in the weekends. This, in combination with a lot of parts of this costume being new things for me, made this project a lot longer than I expected. Normally I'm pretty good at planning when and how to work on costumes, but with this costume I ended up being done...exactly one day before the big competition! I was quite ashamed of myself, but also happy that it all came together! I wish I would have more time to improve (especially on the hat and tail), but I had to stop here!
Preparing for the competition
So...a huge costume was finished...but how the heck can I transport this safely?
I ended up putting everything in taped-together bags to make sure no paint would transfer onto other parts.
With all the parts bagged up...it looked like this. My whole living room was a big mess of bags in bags next to bags. But this way I was sure I wouldn't forget any part when I would transport it to the convention!
The competition...where to even start. It was huge. I wanted to not just enter any competition with this, so i decided to enter the biggest one in the Netherlands. This competition is a combination of the prelim-rounds for the European Cosplay Gathering, Euro Cosplay and Yamato Cup competitions! Which would mean that there were 3 big prizes to win! Each prize was a free trip to an international convention were you were expected to put up the same act with the same costume (it was allowed to improve the act and/or costume in the meantime), these trips were to London, France or or Brazil! Winning the final round in one of these three countries would mean a big cash- and sponsorprize!
For me personally, I didn't expect to win anything with this costume, I mainly wanted to join so that I could show a big audience this huge project I worked on for almost a year! The competition also got a live stream and multiple of my (online) friends watched it from all sorts of places over the world! Pretty crazy looking back at it!
I also asked a family member to record the competition so that I could re-watch it myself, so here it is:
Looking back at it, there were multiple parts that went horribly wrong with timing and there were also multiple mistakes made by the ligthing crew, making the act not like I imagined it at all. Still, I'm glad I entered the compo! (I ended up not winning any of the 3 prizes and it is unknown which place I got as they only announced the winners.)
I like this gif, because it lets me prove to people that I could walk in those legs, haha!
The finishing of this costume
For me, whenever I do a cosplay, letting a few pictures being made of it is how I "finish" a costume. After working on a long time on something, I like to have multiple pictures for my website/portfolio! Here is a selection:
Picture made by: www.facebook.co...
The overview-picture of this costume. I like the background a lot and it shows off everything I've made, haha!
Picture made by: www.facebook.co...
Even though the legs are not visible, this picture gives off more of a feel from the newer works from Humikane, such as Strike Witches View spoilerHide spoilercould be because of the pantsu!
Picture made by: www.facebook.co...
It's not the prettiest picture, but I tried to copy Elizabeth's annoyed look here, haha! It's also one of the few pictures I have with the figure together! This also makes it hard, because I nitpick at all the differences, but in the end I'm glad I went for another color jacket and some other small detail changes!
A lot more pictures and these pictures in higher resolution can be found here: www.cosplay.com... and www.cosplay.com... !
So, what now?
Well, after this costume I decided to take a looooooong break from cosplay and focus on some more smaller/simple costumes. Making this costume was a great experience and I'm glad I did it!
The costume itself I wore a few more times to conventions. At the moment of writing the gun unfortunately, is broken. During one of it's transports the top snapped in half and while I tried repairing it, it got only worse. The legs are still wearable, but lost multiple details, got paint scratches and have general wear-damages (especially on the inside of both legs). For now it looks like I will wear her untransformed version a few more times at conventions and maybe 1 or 2 times I will try to see if I can still make the legs appropriate for showing in public, haha!
Something I also really want to do, but where I'm also scared of, is that I want to write a fan-letter with some pictures attached to Humikane Shimada. He is the creator of this charater and I'm fan of so much of his works! After a lot of writing I came up with this:
View spoilerHide spoilerDear Humikane Shimada,
My name is Maakie and I'm a huge fan of your work! I have spend a lot of years looking at the amazing artwork you make and collecting items from characters that were your designs!
I am especially a huge fan of your character Elizabeth (the M4A1 Sherman tank), so much that I recently as a project made her as a costume! In the attachments I have added a few pictures.
I wanted to let you know that the works you make are amazing and I'm looking forward to all the new characters and universes you create in the future!
Maakie from the Netherlands
p.s. My Japanese is bad so I asked a friend to translate, I hope everything was understandable!
Of which I plan to send the English version and a translated Japanese version to his only known e-mail address. There is one thing though, and that's that I'm so scared! I have no idea how he will respond! What if he doesn't like the costume??? What if he thinks he would never want to see his Elizabeth like this?! D:
This costume made me more excited and in general more confident to make more costumes from Mecha Musume characters in the future! A crazy dream of mine is to one day make: e-shuushuu.net/... Considering I currently live in a tiny appartment, you can imagine this will take a lot of years for me to start on, haha! I really want a garage and/or a seperate room to work on something like this!
Humikane also made this design, which I completely adore:
But I think she looks a bit too much like Elizabeth, so for now I will not start on a project that looks like her!
Something else is that entering the competition sparked my interest in entering more competitions and not very long ago I got the message that I'm accepted again to enter the European Cosplay Gathering, Euro Cosplay and Yamato Cup prelims in the Netherlands! This time I will enter with a more well-known character and because of me being so happy with my Elizabeth figure being my reference material, I decided to buy a figure from her too...
Chi-Chi! The cutest cutie of them all! I'm currently already working hard on her costume, because the competition will be in june! To be precise, the day of the competition is june the 14th and it will also get a livestream! If you want to follow it, keep an eye out on my profile where I will announce the link to the live stream when it is known! For the people curious about the work in progess for Chi-Chi so far: www.cosplay.com...
Well, phew! I think that brings this huge blog to an end! I hope that it was also a bit interesting for people not in the cosplay hpbby! Please also leave a vote in the poll and if you have any criticism for how I could improve a future "walkthrough diary" of a costume, let me know! Personally I think this one was a bit too long, but I didn't want to leave any parts out, as there was just so much that happened!
Hope to see you guys also at my next blog! It will be a loot-post from a recent big order I made from Yahoo Auctions! :)