An Interview with Chiyo_Cosplays
Last year at Game on Expo I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Chiyo_Cosplays. To my surprise it was her birthday, and she seemed both excited and surprised that someone wanted to do an interview with her.
Durrilion: When did you first start, seriously, ‘I’m going to put on a costume and go to a convention’?
Chiyo: I used to live in North Carolina. There was a convention called Animazement. I had heard about it and really wanted to go. I knew about the cosplay world, but I hadn’t gone into that at that time. My best friend bought a cosplay online. She showed it to me. It was her favorite character. I thought that’s really cool. I’m gonna buy one too. Thinking the only time I would wear it would be Halloween.
My brother’s friend happened to have an extra pass (to Animazement). My brother was busy working, so he said ‘Why don’t you ask my sister if she wants to go’? We went, it was like a 45 minute drive, we went for a day. It was so awesome! We decided to go the next day too. Drove all the way home and all the way back the next day. I had so much fun. After seeing all these people cosplaying and finding out that you can actually make your own I decided I would attempt to do it. I bought two more, then I hand sewed one because I didn’t have a sewing machine. Then my friend got a sewing machine. We worked on our first costume together, which was our Edward Elric, and Roy Mustang gender bends.
D: Friend gets a sewing machine, I’m assuming you never had a home-economics class or anything?
C: No, no.
D: How stressful was that trying to learn how to use the machine?
C: Well she had the manual, and there was a DVD. She watched the DVD and knew how to use the settings. We bought a pattern, sat down and read it. We were so confused we just cut out all the pieces, and used our imagination and put it together. LOL! It was okay. LOL. I went back and did a lot of fixing a year later.
D: I learned the hard way.
C: The bobbin was the worst thing. It ran out. ‘What happened’?
D: Oh, did you notice – everyone I know has the same problem. You’re going along, struggling with it, and all of a sudden you hit that moment, and it’s just sweet, everything is perfect, you make your corner perfectly; and then you look, and you ran out of bobbin about 10 feet back.
C: Yes! I hate it when that happens. Or when you’re this far away from being done(holds fingers about two inches apart). When I first got a sewing machine, later for my birthday…this is actually the first costume I sewed with that machine.
D: This one, the whole… the body suit and everything?
C: Well it’s actually two pieces. Pants and a top.
C: Yeah. I thought about going to the bathroom.
D: Good plan.
C: That’s the most important thing. If you have a costume that looks complicated make sure you have a way to pee.
D: There’s a guest at PCC, Tanglewyst de Holloway. She has a book called ‘Surviving Your Own Creativity’. It’s short, sweet, to the point. It has a bunch a of little tricks on how to use different materials. She actually says “Make sure you can pee. If you can’t, make sure you have friends who are really close. If not, they will end up being very close”.
C: My Loki cosplay, I wasn’t thinking and I went to the bathroom. I can’t hold this cape on my own because it’s under the corset. It took me like 10 minutes to get into the corset. I called a friend ‘Hey can you come to the hotel bathroom and hold my cape for me’? That was fun (sarcastic voice). I had to do the same for her like two cons later.
D: Since this was the first one you made, what was the hardest part?
C: The hood. There are darts in it. I wanted it to have a square shape. The way I did it…I took fabric and I folded it, and then I sewed along those sides just so I had a square. After that I shaped it out a little bit, you know, put a little curve on the back so it had the point, and then had my friend stuff it in my shirt and pin it, and then I sewed it on.
D: Oh that’s always tricky because if you don’t get it positioned right you think it’s going to be this way and…
C: That’s why I had her stuff it in my shirt and pin it. So that was good. The hardest part was having it stay up, because it drooped down where the darts were. I was so frustrated. I hemmed it. I hemmed it again, and it just wasn’t working. Why is this not working? Do I need to go find wire? At one point I took it out from underneath the sewing machine, went and grabbed a soda, had something to eat, sat back down, and I decided I’m going to hem this one more time. So I folded it over, did it again, and it stayed in shape.
D: It probably needed the extra structure.
C: It’s really thick because there are so many layers. Underneath it looks so bad, but you don’t see the inside.
D & C: LOL
D: Yeah, and the ’10 foot rule’. A lot of people probably use a serger.
C: I don’t have serger.
D: I don’t either. They’re expensive, and all the the thread…but I’ve learned how to do French Seams. (At this point I showed her how to do French Seams, and then we shared some other cosplaying secrets of her cosplay. Spoilers.)
D: From start to finish for this whole project how long did it take?
C: Two weeks. I did all these pieces separately and then I sewed them on. If you look there are two stitch lines where it’s sewed on (the outfit is interpretive rather than screen accurate). People will know who I am. The character is part of the Skyrim Dark brother hood, so she’s kind of her own character.
D: Out of all your cosplays – which one was the easiest construction wise?
C: Probably Zuko. I didn’t use a pattern. I looked at the pictures. I grabbed a shirt that was little too big and I traced it.
D: Well technically that kind of counts as a pattern. LOL.
C: The only thing that was complicated was pants. It was my first time making pants. I hate making pants. I will avoid making pants. I had sweat pants, cut off the legs, and added new legs. I tried dyeing it but there was an obvious color difference. I was sick and tired of it. I looked up a whole bunch of videos of how to make pants, and found the easiest method.
D: In AmberBrite’s panel you mentioned you did the scar with lipstick. Do you still…
C: No. At PHXCC, with a friend. ‘We need to change your scar’. ‘What do you mean? it’s fine’. ‘No we’re gonna go to the store and buy you latex and Ben Nye.’ OK. I started off with three different shades of lipstick. I did a darker shade around the eye; then a lighter shade, and then a medium shade to do the highlights. I used a brown eyeliner to do the lines so it looked wrinkly. I also used the eyeliner to elongate my eye to make it look smaller. It was ok. The first layer of latex, and then I wrinkled up toilet paper. Put it on, put latex over it. I couldn’t really move my face.
D: That makes sense since it’s giant scar tissue.
C: It was like half smiles.
D: Well you know, Zuko.
C: Using Ben Nye was interesting. It was a little red the first time. I did it again for a photo shoot it was looking better. It’s a learning experience when you upgrade to something new.
D: I have to say that personally, out of all of the Zukos I’ve seen over the last two years doing this, yours actually stands out as one of the better.
C: (in a sing-song voice) Because I have my firebending.
D: That and your scar. I have to stop and look – ‘wait is that real’? Other ones, ‘oh yeah it’s just painted on yours actually had enough realism…
C: Thank you.
C: I’ve seen other people’s Zuko’s and sometimes it looks really glossy. I’m like ‘powder it’. It’s not that hard to powder it. Usually I see a lot of guys doing Zuko. There was a guy with a beard doing Zuko. ‘Zuko doesn’t have a beard’.
D: In the Legend of Korra…
C: Yeah, the older version. He was dressed like the younger version.
C: There was one person at Anime weekend in Atlanta. This Zuko was so amazing. It put mine to shame. It was…she used real satin and silk. I’m like I have to do this. I’ve been waiting until I have extra money to do that. Those fabrics are expensive.
C: I want to redo it, and make it look silky and shiny, like an actual Prince. That’s my goal. I made it out of quilters’ cotton. I didn’t know anything about fabric.
D: and it’s so cheap and out here in the heat it’s wonderful.
C: but I made it in NC, where it’s humid.
C: and there’s multiple layers. So it’s not as breathable. I have to wash that a lot, because it gets sticky with my firebending. It’s just poi and you’re moving around, swinging this thing around because you have to do it outside.
D: Out of all the characters out there who do you really want to do?
C: Zuko. Right when I started cosplaying , but I put it off for like a year and a half until I found out how to do the firebending. If I’m doing Zuko, I wanted to be good, first at making the costume, I wanted to wait until my skill went up. I looked up so many different ways to do it until I found something that was con safe, was cheap to make. Then I found the poi. Which they don’t make anymore videos, but on their youtube channel ‘cosplay in a box’ it’s all one word, and they have their tutorial on how to do ti. They have one of their skits. They have a video of them bending. I contacted them “Hey how did you make this”? They were putting up a tutorial in like two days. I was the first to watch it. I was the first to do it on the East Coast, because people on the west coast were already doing it. Other people saw me doing it, and I told them look up cosplayinabox. Then more and more people started doing it but I was the first on the east coast. Well at least in NC I was.
C: I’m still teaching people how to do it. LOL. It’s funny…Zuko teaching water bending.
D & C: LOL!
C: It is poi, but there are… water is smooth, flowy. Fire is harsh, attacking. Air is also a very flowy thing. You can only use that method in water, air, and fire. You can’t really have a large piece of…unless you’re doing mud…mud bending.
C: With the fire, I use a lot more stamina because I’m doing it fast and hard. I also have heavy fabric which helps with the power of it.
D: You have to. It’s like you’re really throwing it out there because of the weight of the material.
C: I was helping my friend sew her Katara before PCC and we made her a poi. We used a really light fabric so that it catches the air easier, so she can go slower. We also tried something…she had this crazy idea. She thought to use a darker blue and a lighter blue. She sewed together the four corners and then used that. Oh my god. It looked amazing. I tried that with my Zuko, an orange and a red fabric, but it didn’t work. I use heavier fabric so it didn’t look good.
D: Loki…the helmet…
D: How on earth…
C: Wait which helmet are you referring to – the one with the horns or the one with out the horns?
D: With the horns, that’s the one I remember seeing.
C: Ok. Let me tell you the story. When I made it I didn’t know how I was going to do that. I don’t know how to make it look good. So I made it out of cardboard. I layered cardboard to give it that round shape. When I made it, it ended up being a little crooked. It doesn’t have horns. People would ask why don’t you have horns? Loki’s thing is a bull. Cows don’t have horns. ‘So I don’t need horns’.
My friend had a helmet because he was going to make a Loki at some point. He said he wasn’t going to do a Loki, so he gave me the helmet. It’s completely misshapen because he left it in his car. It’s plastic. It’s a hard plastic. He molded it and shaped it and then he cut off the horns for storage purposes – it’s huge.
It’s so heavy I have to sit straight, small turns. All the pictures…my …I’m too busy trying to keep this helmet on. It is an awesome helmet. I have to thank him for it. Anytime I enter a competition, write down how you did this…I didn’t make the helmet, but this guy did it. It is an awesome helmet, but I did have to take a heat gun to shape it to my head. It was still a little big so I had to glue foam on the inside to keep it on.
Chiyo_Cosplays is on
and kind of on twitter https://twitter.com/chiyo_cosplays.
Look her up, follow her creativity, learn stuff. Why? Because she is talented, friendly, and cool!
For more information about Animazement https://www.animazement.com/