Wednesday, 11 February 2015

In which I actually get stuff done, for once

I've been writing a lot just lately. My laptop is positively bursting with stories. That's pretty unusual for me, so I've been musing on the reasons in the hope of sustaining it.

A goodly portion of the credit (blame?) has to go to the folks in the Sort-Of-NaNo-Based-Writing-Group. Having finally succeeded in keeping things going outside of November, it means there are people who want to know what I've written lately, and who keep throwing out writing prompts. Turns out all I ever needed to write a short story was for somebody to give me a title.

Then there's the COBOL factory. No, it's not also stuffed with writers (to the best of my knowledge), but one should never underestimate the power of one's mental state on writing, or of the day job on one's mental state. I'm finally in a job that I love, that challenges me, and that I'm genuinely good at. That feeling spills over into other things. Kicking ass at work makes me want to kick more ass when I get home.

Last but not least, there's the Mighty Power of Procrastination. Writing is a wonderful way of putting off other things. Specifically at the moment there's a jacket I should be sewing together. I'm just putting it off because I foolishly decided to go off-pattern and put proper pockets in it. I don't have a lot of experience of making pockets, so there's a real danger that I'll ruin the whole thing. I'll get around to it eventually, but in the mean time I'm putting it off by writing All the Stories.

Maybe this habit will continue, maybe it won't, but I'll be making the most of it while it lasts. There are stories to write, stories to edit (when my beta-readers get back to me, at least. The trouble with writing more is it leads to demanding more feedback), and if all else fails there's a novel to work on.

*puts on Boots of +3 to Ass-Kicking*

Monday, 2 February 2015

In which I dabble with cosplay

I've never been much of a cosplay person. Partly that may be because I can count the number of conventions I've been to on the fingers of one finger, but there are other reasons. A dislike of people looking at me. An aversion to spending money on something that can only be worn on specific occasions. An overwhelming fear of dressing up only to discover that nobody else has. I'm in awe of those who do cosplay and do it well, but I've never really seen it as something for me.

All of which is, of course, setup for writing about a recent brush with cosplay that I'm actually rather proud of. Many of the issues above didn't apply, because I wasn't the one wearing it. It was a costume for Small Girl, made at her request.

This last weekend, the National Space Centre in Leicester were having a special Doctor Who weekend, and on the Sunday the special guests in attendance were Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. Being the age that I am, I naturally consider them the finest Doctor and Companion ever to grace our screens, and so tickets were acquired to go and check out the event.

The website was encouraging people (and particularly children) to come dressed as their favourite character, and Small Girl does not share my fear of dressing up. Husband suggested that with her hair she should be Amy Pond, but she declared that she wanted to be Ace. That's my girl.

Step One was to acquire the base of the costume. We got lucky and found that Asda were selling 'leather' bomber jackets in their children's clothing section (even if they did shelve them in the 'boys' section). A skirt was easy enough to acquire, and she already had a t-shirt that would work. Bonus points for these all being items she can continue to get use from.

Step Two was to convert the jacket into something more Ace-like. The internet furnished me with a flat image of the logo from the back of the jacket that I could print and use as a template. I already had coloured felt to hand to make the pieces from. Rather than apply them directly to the jacket, I used some spare black cotton fabric as a backing. The felt was appliqued to the cotton using the sewing machine for a good strong finish, then I trimmed away the excess cotton and hand-stitched the pieces to the back of the jacket. That made it easier to position the logo correctly, and ensured the stitching didn't go right through the lining of the jacket. It also minimised the number of holes being made in the leather, keeping the jacket strong.

How does it look? Pretty Ace, actually...
Then it was on to the badges. There was no question of even attempting accuracy here. Achieving an accurate collection of badges involves a lot of time and expenditure, and getting certain ones custom-made. It was never going to happen when I only had two weeks and no desire to spend more money than strictly necessary. Instead I gathered up every badge and patch we already had in the house, plus a couple of extra patches picked up cheaply enough from craft shops. The finished jacket has NaNoWriMo merit badges, Shakespearean insults, Firefly and Monty Python references and some random bands all thrown together in a glorious mashup.

You want badges? She's got badges
So, was it worth it? You betcha. Not only because Small Girl loved it, though that was all I really needed from it. While we were at the exhibition, we attended a Q&A session with Sylvester and Sophie. Despite our sitting right over to one side, amongst a great crowd of people, Sophie spotted Small Girl's costume from the stage and came over specifically to talk to her and compliment the outfit. Seal of approval from Ace herself? Wicked! Hard work paid off in the best possible way, not least in the look on Small Girl's face afterwards.

Maybe I could get to like this cosplay malarkey after all...