Summer Cosplay Series 1×12: Heather
Thanks to my crazy Dragon Con experiences last weekend, I’m a bit late posting today’s cosplayer, but welcome Heather, a.k.a. Lucky Eight Cosplay, a mother, community volunteer, and a girl after my own heart who sometimes just wants to commission cosplay pieces!
When did you start cosplaying, and what – or who – convinced you to start?
I started cosplaying in 2002. I was in high school, and a friend and I ran across some pictures of people in costumes of our favorite Final Fantasy characters. We promptly started Googling “cosplay” and what it entailed. Within the year I had made my first costume – Videl, from DragonBall Z, for a school spirit day. No one had any idea who I was (aside from friends) but it was such a high making a costume and dressing as one of my favorite characters. I didn’t start attending conventions until two years later, when I was dating a guy and tagged along with him. It opened my eyes to a whole new universe – up until then I had just been throwing together costumes with the help of a friend and her mother, wearing them to school events and to run around in. I had no idea what a big world there was out there. In 2004 I started a local cosplay meet-up group, and I guess the rest is history!
Did you always make your own costumes and/or props, or is cosplay why/how you learned to sew and/or craft?
I haven’t always and don’t always make my own costumes and props. Cosplay IS the reason I learned how to sew – for my 17th birthday I asked for a sewing machine (in order to stop mooching off of a friend), and I started teaching myself to sew. A large percentage of my costumes are made by me, but I LOVE helping friends out and shopping small business. So when I see a friend selling a costume in my measurements and price range I MAKE IT MINE. It helps them out financially, and it helps me out because I’m lazy!
What has been your favorite costume to make/wear?
My all time favorite costume to make has to have been Manga Super Sailor Chibi Moon from Sailor Moon. When I made the costume back in 2006 it was well above my skill level. I asked a friend for pointers, and she walked me through a lot of it so that I could match her Super Sailor Moon. She even made me a matching back bow, accessories, and shoulder poofs. It has remained one of my favorites because of the custom dye job I did on the skirt, and the amazing experiences I had while in that costume. It holds an even BIGGER place in my heart because years later I tore it apart and repurposed many of the pieces for my then four-year-old daughter. She’s now six and we’ve handed her costume down to a friend’s daughter, so one costume that took hours of construction (and tried my patience) has put smiles on so many people’s faces. It’s an accomplishment that I’m extremely proud of.
However, Super Sailor Chibi Moon is NOT my favorite costume to wear. As simple as it is, my Rose Tyler from Doctor Who is my favorite costume to wear. Every time I put on my Rose costume I have a great time. There are so many amazing Doctor Who fans out there; they really make wearing Rose a magical experience every single time. I didn’t make a single piece of the costume, but it’s by far my favorite to wear.
If you had unlimited time, money, and skill, what would your dream costume be?
This is such a difficult question to answer, because there are so many beautiful costumes out there that I’m unbelievably in love with. My mind immediately goes to Game of Thrones – there are so many beautiful dresses that Cersei Lannister wears, I don’t think that I could pick just one. It would have to be one from the newer seasons (with the intricate embroidery) because that level of embroidery is WAY above my skill level. If I had to narrow it down, it would be her dress from The Purple Wedding in Season 4.
Do you do any charity or volunteer work that involves, or revolves around, cosplay or costumes? If so, what is it/how did you get into it/what do you like best about it?
I do! I’m a member of two different charity groups in St. Louis: Gateway Superfriends and Gateway Guardians. I’ve always been interested in using my costuming to pay it forward, as so many people have supported and loved me throughout my life. So when a local friend came to me and asked me if I’d be interested in charity work, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m the resident Supergirl, as that’s my only costume that revolves around their superhero theme, and though I haven’t been super active with the group as of late (I recently moved), but they do a lot of charity events – runs/walks, parades, event appearances and hospital visits. The founder of Gateway Guardians has recently informed me of some ideas that she has up her sleeve, so I’m extremely excited for what the future holds. It’s all about putting a smile on kids faces, and every event – no matter how small – makes a big difference. That in itself warms my heart. I also participate in a variety of other charities outside of cosplaying, so participating in costume is only natural for me.
Are you involved in fandom in other ways?
Not currently, but in the past I’ve participated in various different fandom-related shenanigans ranging such as running a local cosplay group, participating in costuming/anime panels, judging events, and performing on stage with an amazing group of ladies called Last Chance Myu.
What is or has been your favorite convention to attend?
Now that I’m older, I base my convention experience on the people I surround myself with more then the costumes I wear. With that in mind, my favorite conventions to attend to date are Ice & Fire Con (this was my first year and it was amazing – such a phenomenal group of people), and Dragon Con. There is so much to do and see at Dragon Con (even out of costume) that it’s well worth every penny!
Do you have any tips/hints/tricks for those who are new to cosplay?
DON’T STRESS OUT! Cosplay is, above all else, about having fun. I spent years stressing myself out about costume deadlines, fabric choices, and making everyone else happy. When I decided to start focusing on MY experience and what I get out of cosplay, my outlook on everything changed and I started enjoying myself again. It’s easy to get lost in the haze – but start small, meet some great people (because there are TONS out there), and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to make a super amazing costume your first time around – just put yourself out there and meet like-minded people. Haters are going to hate, but don’t let it bring you down!
If you could change one thing about cosplay (as a hobby, a cultural phenomenon, etc.) what would it be?
The drama. Now that I’m older I avoid drama like the plague, but I’ve noticed that it’s easy for people to get wrapped up in the petty stuff. When I first started costuming I had cruddy costumes because that’s what happens when you’re a beginner, but I had some of the BEST experiences. I wish we, as a community, could go back to that. It’s supposed to be a hobby, and the definition of that is fun, right? So HAVE FUN, don’t belittle someone because their costume isn’t as good as yours, or because they don’t have as many fans or likes as you. Just enjoy the company of like-minded people.
What is your best, funniest, or most meaningful memory involving cosplay?
It’s really difficult to choose just one memory, because I’ve made so many amazing memories throughout the 12 years during which I’ve been cosplaying, and I’ve met some of my dearest friends. But I’m a mother now, so I have to say that the first convention my daughter attended in full costume was, and always will be, one of my favorite memories. Sharing a hobby with my children, a hobby that has meant so much to me through the years, is so rewarding.
I have to say, I commend Heather for everything that she juggles! Make sure to check out her cosplay page as well as the groups for which she volunteers. We’ll be back next week with another cosplayer, and we hope to see you back for more!
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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