Momocon 2013 Experience

So I just went to Momocon 2013 (Mar 8-10) and had an amazing time. It was the smallest con I’ve been to yet so it was a slightly different experience for me (I’ve only been to D*Con, AWA, PAX East, and AnimeBoston). I’ll start by going through my experience chronologically.

So I got there Friday around 2 and checked in to my room. I got super lucky and had a room on the 4th floor. I was easily able to use the stairs instead of the elevator (not to mention the costume contest was right next to the stairwell in the 3rd floor so I didn’t have to deal with crowds to get to it) and we had access from the room to the lower roof level. I wasn’t going to get a room originally, but it made costume changes and late nights way easier. Whether I do it again next year will depend on the types of costumes I have and what panels happen late at night. As nice as the room was, I honestly didn’t like the Hilton so much. I think it would be better in one of the other D*Con host hotels. The Hilton is just… odd. I also don’t understand how there were so many elevators, yet using them was impossible, even when there weren’t many people around.
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My first Momocon is coming up!

On March 8 I’ll be attending my first Momocon ever. I’m really freaking excited. I’ve been preparing for this con for months!! (Since starting Aela back in Nov). It’s ironic that I used to be a GA Tech student and never went, and now several years later I’m so overly excited about going. (If it hadn’t always fallen on spring break I might have gone, oh well).

I’ve heard it referred to as “baby Dragon*Con” and “Dragon*Con lite”… F*** yeah that sounds awesome! There are amazing cosplay guests and panels going on, and I’m going to milk every little cosplay related thing I can! I’ll be going to the craftsmanship contest on Saturday, no idea how that’ll go but hopefully I can get a good judging time that won’t interfere with too many fun things. I got a hotel room for the weekend just so I have a place to change (and crash after the rave :-P)
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2013 Con Costume Schedule!

Its been awhile since I’ve posted because I’ve been busy making my Halloween costume and planning for next year! Anyway, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think I’ve made my decisions on what costume to do for each con next year. There is a chance I’ll see something amazing and change my mind (new Game of Thrones in April!), but here is the tentative list. I will update this throughout the year.

Aela the HuntressMomocon (Won Best in Show Master!), Dragon*Con

Magical Girl Nyan Cat (was Super Secret Original Costume)Momocon, PAX East, Dragon*Con

Sailor VMomocon, AWA

Cardcaptor SakuraSeishun Con

Chibi Chibi MoonDragon*Con (group), AWA

This was a very hard decision, but after deliberating over and over on which one to do for the Friday Night Costume Contest (aka the big kahuna of contests for me!), I decided on Sheogorath from Oblivion. It is just a stunning and incredibly challenging costume.

Lady Comstock and ComstockDragon*Con, Anachrocon 2014?
I’ll be Lady Comstock from Bioshock Infinite, and I’m also making Comstock for my boyfriend. He’s growing out his beard!

Historically Accurate MeridaAWA

AWA 2012 Costume Contest Experience

Best in Show Journeyman - AWA 2012I finally did it! I won an award!!! My third contest and first award… and I got Best in Show Journeyman. Holy poop I did not expect that! I even got $150, which was totally unexpected because I never tried to find out what the actual awards were. I’m kind of reluctant to take it out of the envelope though, because its part of my award and its very special to me.

I have a lot of thoughts about this experience that I have to get out. First of all, I am amazed at the response my costume got at AWA. When I wore it to Dragon*Con, only people that got close and talked to me praised it. Very few people got pictures. Most of the parade pics are “accidentals” of me in the background. So I left feeling kind of defeated. My costume I spent 4 months on was nothing special. I know, Dragon*Con is extremely overwhelming since there are tons of professional level amazing costumes floating around. Still, I felt sad.

But at AWA I was super shocked that everyone wanted pics of me. It wasn’t just because my costume was good, it was because they got the reference and loved Skyrim. The Skyrim fangirl inside me rejoiced! When I went on stage at the contest everyone went berserk. And then I won the award… so yeah, needless to say I felt very good that my hard work and Skyrim Lydia were appreciated.

The overall contest process was very nice. I expected to wait at least an hour from checking in to getting judged, so I signed up for an early time so I could make it to a panel later. But they seemed on their game this time (compared to what I read about last year), and it went fast. Then again, I was under hot and bulky, and I think they may have let us cut in front of everyone to go first. :-P I stood around for awhile afterwards admiring costumes. At some point I went back to my car and changed into my Skyrim commoner dress to go to the leatherworking panel. 5 or so hours later I changed back. Waiting for the contest to start took awhile, but it was a breeze because of the awesome people I got to talk to. Also being in hot and bulky, I got to stand in an air conditioned back room. Maybe there is something to this hot and bulky thing… :-P

I guess if there’s anything negative to say about the contest, its that it sucks that judging and the contest are so far apart. Even if my costume wasn’t hot, I wouldn’t want to be wearing it the whole day for fear of getting it messed up. Plus I couldn’t sit in it. (And the one I have in mind for next year might not be “sittable” in either.) But I do know the judges needed that time to deliberate and get the awards personalized. Plus they need a buffer if time goes way over. I think next year I’ll sign up for the last judging time (as long as it doesn’t conflict with panels I want to go to) to decrease the amount of time between judging and the contest. Then again, going early gives you enough time to change in between, and the judges aren’t cranky yet. I dunno, its a year away so we’ll see. :-P

Now for mushy feelings!

I’ve listed before in other posts what my reasons are for competing. Winning is like the icing on an already delicious cake, it just makes it so much more awesome. ^-^ For me, winning is not about and has never been about the actual physical award. I’ve never looked up the previous prizes given or really thought about it. People that only compete for money or free stuff… well it is ‘Merica and they’re free to do what they want, but I guess I don’t think nicely of them. :-P It is honestly the recognition and verification that I “did good” that I want. To know that my hard work paid off. So winning Best Journeyman, the second highest award, especially never having won anything and being a novice (I entered as Journeyman but qualified as novice), was just amazing.

So yaaaay I won something!!! :D

AWA 2012!

Man, AWA was so awesome this year! I had soooooo much fun. I’m really tired though and really need to clean up my apartment, put costume stuff away, sort pictures, etc, so it might take awhile for me to document everything. I finished the costumes I was working on, so at some point I’ll go back and update those posts with final pictures. Anyway, I’ll document my happenings in this post!


Friday was the first day of the con, and I got there fairly early so I could register for the costume contest. I cosplayed as Sailor Saturn. Turns out she was on the photo scavenger hunt list, so that was a very lucky costume choice. Soooo many people took pictures of me! I’m kind of a closet attention whore, so I loved it! I’ll hopefully have pics of me all over the internet! :-P I was by myself for the whole convention, so the picture taking didn’t inconvenience anyone.

Speaking of being alone, its not as bad as it sounds. Its actually kind of awesome. I could do whatever I wanted, like panels and stuff, without having to convince anyone else to go. I was afraid I would be bored, but I was actually fully entertained the entire time (pictures helped fill up spare time). The only downside to being alone is having no one to hold your stuff or help you with costume changes.

Anyway, I did the Sailor Moon shoot, my first ever photo shoot. It was so fun and I got lots of pics! I also went to the Sailor Moon panel and left with the urge to watch the whole anime again. I also won a Sailor Mercury doll for being awesome. I bought 2 Sailor V mangas in the dealers room, since I learned that the mangas were all recently redone. (I might buy the Sailor Moon mangas on Amazon at some point).


Saturday was the best day! I showed up for judging in the morning and had a good experience. They were totally on their game, and I didn’t have to wait in line very long. I ended up hanging around talking to people about their costumes (which for me is the best part of doing contests). I had time to change into my Skyrim commoner dress and do normal things like buy stuff and take pictures. The leatherworking panel was super awesome. I’m excited to use it for my Aela the Huntress costume! Marie Claude also gave some great tips in general at her panel. I then changed back into Lydia and went to the pattern making panel.

After that was contest lineup. There was quite a bit of waiting around, but since I was in the hot and bulky category I got to wait in a hallway with the AC blasting. I also talked constantly with people about their costumes. Then the contest happened! Everyone cheered like crazy for my costume and totally freaked when I put my helmet on. :-P When they were calling out awards later, and I didn’t get best video game, I just thought “oh well” and cheered on everyone else getting awards. But then I ended up getting Best in Show Journeyman! I never thought I’d get that award, I’m so happy and grateful! Since my current post is super long and I have a lot to say about this contest experience, I’ll make a new one (here).

After the contest was a lot of picture taking and talking, and I went to Yaya Han’s panel on the sociology of cosplay. She’s so awesome! :D We talked about crossplay, which was something I’d never really heard of, and it made me feel better about wearing male costumes (like the Sheogorath I wanna do).

I didn’t do much on Sunday, but I went to the meet the winners panel and talked with a judge and other awesome people. I took more pictures, got a big Japanese candy grab bag, then went home.

So overall, I had a super fun time! I would almost say that it was better than Dragon*Con, but the two cons are totally different in nature so comparing them is hard. I will say that even though Dragon*Con has a huge amount of the most amazing costumes, I had a better costuming experience at AWA because since there were less people, my costumes got more attention and support. The cosplay panels and guests were super awesome, and I came out with knowledge I didn’t have before. I will definitely be going to every AWA I can from now on! :D

Dragon*Con Friday Night Costume Contest Experience

I recently went to Dragon*Con 2012 and participated in the Friday Night Costume Contest (hereby referred to as FNCC). I did Lydia from Skyrim in her default steel armor. I started on it in May and worked extremely hard to make it as accurate and realistic as possible. I only decided to do the contest a few weeks before the con because I was so impressed with the way it was turning out. I even entered as a Journeyman instead of Novice. I’m technically a Novice since this was only the second costume contest I’ve been in, and I’ve only made a few “convention worthy” costumes. Also I’d never made armor before, or any costumes of this extreme magnitude. I’ve technically been making costumes for a long time now, however, and I felt that qualified me as Journeyman worthy, yanno trying to be honest and all. Unfortunately that decision practically nixed my chances of winning, since almost everyone was in Journeyman (20-30 people I think?) and there were maybe 10 in Novice. Oh well! Its ok, I had a great time anyway!

I’d like to state though why I did this contest and will keep doing contests in the future. While winning would have been be nice, it wasn’t my goal. In fact I’m pretty hard on myself and never expect to win. I did it mainly for these reasons:
A) Get to be up close to amazing costumes and hear how they did it and get tips for my own.
B) Get a ton of people to see my hard work by walking on the stage.
C) Have professional pictures taken of me, as well as from the people watching.

I worked so dang hard, I wanted people to see it and appreciate my work! I’d only been in one contest before, but in that one and this one I expected not to win, therefore I didn’t get too disappointed when I didn’t. Tried not to get my hopes up, etc etc. It really would be nice though, because if I were to win something it would be like “verification” that I’ve done well. That leads me to the heart of this post. Due to my experience in the FNCC, things have changed in my head a bit, and my goal for next year is to create something that I can truly be proud of and feel is comparable with the other amazing masterpieces there. Instead of feeling like, “Aw I suck”, I should feel like “Yeah, I have a chance!”

I will explain why. I went to the Meet the Winners panel the next day on a whim and got to hear the judges talk about why they picked who they did. Their costumes were pretty much immaculate, really difficult (relative to their category), and time-consuming. The judges then spoke about things they looked for to pick the winners since everyone was so close. Apparently the top costumes were less than a point apart, wow! I’ve now learned that there are many factors that can determine a winner, and its not all just “I am the best, I am winner! Hoo hah!” I also know to never doubt the people that win, and that I should just be happy for them. Its nothing personal, and there are so many other opportunities to compete. I mean, its obvious you shouldn’t be a sore loser, but its nice to actually be able to truly understand, let it go, and not have those feelings.

Anyway enough with the moosh, here are the things the judges said that stuck with me:

1) You must have perfect execution. (Or if you’re a novice, execute better than everyone else in the group, obviously). People tend to make mistakes in execution that are very common. I have noticed myself that many people don’t even iron their hems and seams, which is such a simple thing to do to up the quality of the costume (but I gotta admit, at Dragon*Con the costumes are so high quality, I don’t see this problem as much). The judges said if they see one ripple in your seam, it throws them off. If you don’t do finishing touches like hem something without good reason (aka for costume accuracy it wasn’t hemmed in the source) then it looks like you don’t care enough.
2) EVERY aspect of your costume should be at the same level of execution (basically, perfect). Don’t spend all of your time on a gorgeous costume, only to add a 2 minute sloppy bag or duct tape weapon.These judges count everything you have with you as part of the costume. They even mentioned that if you do a historical costume, they will look at the quality of your undergarments. Also don’t wear crappy shoes just because they are hidden. One guy said he always looks at shoes no matter what. If you don’t do these things, it makes it look like you don’t care enough.
3) If you do a character, you must be that character HEAD to TOE. That means even if you have a flawless costume, you have to have the right hair and makeup (within reason), the right shoes, the right time-period specific jewelry, etc. Otherwise it breaks character and throws the judges off and makes it look like you don’t care enough.
4) Use quality materials in everything you do. Don’t use crappy cloth without good reason, it can make an impressive costume look cheap. Try to do research on materials before starting. For non-cloth things, same rule. Awesome Skyrim winner (Volpin) used real rust and steel powder (I think it was steel?) on his armor and weapon. Can’t beat that dedication to the craft!
5) No matter how difficult, your costume must hold up. It needs to look hardy and not like pieces are falling off. Even if its bulky and crazy, you need to look somewhat comfortable and confident in it, like if you take a few steps it won’t fall to pieces. Remember its got to last at least the journey from your hotel room or car, over to the judging room, and while you’re waiting to be judged. Also it looking the same by the time you go on stage later is preferable. If the judges feel like it won’t last, there go some points.
6) Make sure you tell them in judging about your ridiculous and creative efforts! If you don’t tell them you hand stitched the entire outfit because your sewing machine broke, they probably won’t know. They may assume you used pre-made bias tape when you actually spent hours making it! Etc.

So basically, the golden rule is don’t make any mistakes that give the impression you don’t care enough! :-P

The judges loved my costume and complimented me a lot. I could tell they were impressed, which was a great feeling! One judge was amazed with my wire mesh inserts and kept repeating how awesome it was. However in the end I’m convinced what really got me was my sloppy last minute pouch and terrible spray painted sword. The sword especially, I thought “Its just a prop for posing, they won’t care.” I was wrong. I also had my burdens bag for comedic effect, which was just a modern laundry bag with crap thrown in. Should have just left it in my chair. I also didn’t tell them my machine broke and I hand stitched everything! >_< I was really bad about putting myself down and pointing out mistakes, something you should NEVER do! Also my foam armor didn't hold up well. This was something I knew was a drawback from choosing it. Still though, despite my careful paint work, the wrinkles and crinkles that appeared everywhere made it look cheapo. So basically, these comments from the judges were what lit the fire under me. My goal for Dragon*Con 2013 is to make the most exquisitely crafted costume I can possibly do, and follow every rule I've written in this post. I want to be amazing this time! Not to win and get a plaque or whatever, but to impress these judges enough that they may consider me a winner, which in my mind "validates" my hard work. I know there is a chance I won't win, and I admit it will be disappointing due to my crazy hard work, but I also know no matter how hard I try, life isn't fair. I may execute my costume perfectly, but someone else may also execute perfectly and pick a costume that has a bit more "pizazz" and difficulty to it that breaks the tie. This is why I'm researching early for that perfect costume. Man this will be a crazy year! @_@