We are a costuming couple out of the San Francisco Bay Area. We enjoy costuming together for conventions and charity work. Costuming for us is about creating accurate costumes based on movies, artwork, and video games. Hope you enjoy the site.

Queens Blade Abby Dark Star Claudette

Abby Dark Star and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Hi all, Abby here! I took a little break from my Facebook page inbox to get caught up on the over 400 messages that had accumulated there. While answering questions, I realized that I kept getting almost the same ones over and over again. Unfortunately because I have a full-time job and personal responsibilities, I simply cannot answer every question and comment (though I try)!

Queens Blade Abby Dark Star Claudette

Abby FAQ:

1. How did you get started Cosplaying:

I was in theater from middle school all the way through college (where I majored in Drama Education) after my freshman year I decided that I’d rather pursue my minor in History vs. Theater. I still desired a creative outlet.  Around that time I attended my first comic book convention, (2006/07).  I saw people dressed in costume of comics I had been reading for years, or sci-fi that meant so much to me. I loved it! The next year I put together my first costume, Anita Blake!

2.  How long have you been costuming for?

Since about 2007, or about 7 years.

3. Do you make all your own costumes?  

I didn’t used to make all my costumes. A lot of time I’d commission pieces, make one or two pieces, or just buy ready-made items and modify them for my needs. Recently though I’ve been making more and more of my own costumes from scratch. I always try to credit any commissioned pieces in my descriptions.

4. How long does it take you to make a costume?     

How long a costume takes really depends on the costume/character. If it is a highly detailed non-modern costume, it will take me longer to storyboard (essentially take a part the character’s design and make it into manageable steps) and source materials. Then there is the preliminary creation (muslin or testing materials), then actual fabrication. From fabrication the costume goes to testing and fixing any problem areas. This can take anywhere from 3-6 months, and that is if everything goes smoothly.

5. What is the hardest costume you’ve made?

Honestly, it is hard for me think of a costume being “hard” once I’m done with it! There are costumes that are challenging, frustrating, but really through it all, the process sustains me. Being creative, inventive, working on making it something I’m proud of, really keeps me going. That being said, I believe that Satele Shan is currently the hardest costume, and I didn’t even do the leathers on it (Twisted World did those) but getting the costume just-so because of the amount of detail is kinda driving me batty. We (my husband and I) will make something, use it and see some more pictures, or realize that it isn’t practical and back to the drawing board it goes! Right now we’re still working on making the gauntlets/boots perfect!

6. What is your favorite costume you’ve made? 

Picking a favorite costume is almost like asking your parents who their favorite child is! Each costume is different, special and through conventions, has its own set of memories! That being said, my Poison Ivy costume(s) will always be special to me. She is my favorite comic book character and whenever I get to recreate her, it makes me happy.

7. How do I make a costume?

It really depends on the character you choose. The easiest way I’ve discovered is to look at reference images of the costume from ALL different angles. Identify what you’ll have to do by making a list (tights, cape, shoes, etc).  Look at what you’ll have to make, theorize materials. By breaking it down into manageable bits you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and can easily tackle each part of the costume.

8.  What do you wear under your costumes?

For men who wear spandex I suggest a quality dance belt.  I wear different things depending on the costume and need, but one of the number one things I wear for my lower half is a good set of dance tights.  They can help to complete the look of the costume, smooth and help to defuse imperfections and just ties it all together.  My brand(s) of choice are Capezio or Bodywrappers, both of which you can find at dance supplies among other places.

9. Are you a model? Are you a professional cosplayer? Do you compete?

I personally don’t like labels. I don’t feel that either of the above are an accurate description of who I am. I’m Abby.  I don’t get paid for going to conventions. I don’t get paid to make costumes.  I’m not a professional cosplayer. I didn’t go to school for costume design, fashion design or the like. Everything I do is a labor of love. I do it because I like doing things (making costumes, being involved in projects, photo shoots etc) not because I’m trying to ‘get somewhere’ or ‘be something’ other than me. I don’t compete because I really enjoy just hanging out with friends at conventions rather than being in contests.

10. What do you do for a living when you aren’t cosplaying? Where do you work? Can we be FB friends?

I work in Marketing for Ubisoft in San Francisco, California.  Additionally, my private fb profile is for family only. I interact as much (if not more) on my public page so you aren’t missing out!

11. What is your advice to new cosplayers?

This community is an awesome tightknit community. Many of us have known each other for years! There is a wealth of advice in this community. Take it slow, enjoy it, learn and grow. Be aware the first costume you make may not be what you hope it to be. That’s all right. My first costume for DragonCon fell apart in my luggage! Just remember what drew you in, make it your own and be positive!

12. Will you share my page/kickstarter/charity event?

I don’t generally share any of the above unless I personally know the person involved in the events. I do this for my page follower’s protection. I wouldn’t want to endorse a person/crowd fund or charity event that ended up stealing money or some other negative behavior. If I’m going to personally endorse something, I will do everything I can to make sure it will have a positive impact on the community.

13. I want you to be at my convention/video/appearance:

If you have a business-only inquiry, my email is listed on my FB page!  Thanks!

14. Are you single? Can we go out to coffee/dinner?

I am not, quite happily married to Zen, who has been cosplaying since 2001! Out of respect for him and our relationship I don’t go out alone with people I don’t know.

15. Are you coming to {Insert Convention Here}?

I will usually always be at WonderCon, SDCC and DragonCon every year. I also always post my convention schedule on the page! Any other conventions depend on time/money.  The chance of my attendance at more conventions is increased if I’m asked to be a guest. I enjoy being a guest at a convention because I like running panels and helping build the community!

You can see what’s the latest info on our Event page

16. What is your gamertag/WOW name etc?

I don’t usually share my gaming information. When I game, I zone out and just chill. I used to give out that information and I ended up not being able to just relax because I’d be answering questions about Cosplay. I have started streaming on Twitch  so you can check there my schedule, which is currently a day a week!  I have also started a World of Warcraft guild that many of the FB page followers are part of.

17. Why don’t you reply to me? I wanna chat!

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to chat online or to respond to messages. With an active page, a full-time job and personal responsibilities I have to manage my time effectively. I will try to answer questions when I can, and really appreciate the positive feedback I get! So thank you!

18. Why don’t you make {insert character here}:

I usually create costumes from characters that I either love the design or just love the character themselves! With the amount of time/money invested into each costume I can’t make them all (though I’d love to)!

19. Where can I find info on armor making/costuming/characters?

I use the RPF.com ,Google and youtube. Those are my secrets. Using the search feature on therpf.com allows you to see who else has made costumes,or who is making costumes/props of what you might be looking for. It will give you ideas (though please credit anyone that you get inspired by, it is just good manners). Google can result in reference images or tutorials. Googling “Bodice tutorial” for example, is something I would definitely do!

20. Do you game? What is your favorite movie? Do you read comic books?  

I do game. I play PC, PS3/Xbox. My favorite game is Halo. I love Bioshock as well. I don’t have many “not a fan” games or movies (besides ghost-based horror flicks). My favorite movie varies depending on my mood, but I’m always a fan of Master and Commander! I read comic books, both DC & Marvel. Though to be honest I’m usually a couple months behind :(

21. Can I post your picture on my page/site?

I usually allow this with appropriate credit to myself/the photographer and link backs to our pages. I will warn anyone posting photos of me on their pages that I expect you to do so responsibly. What I mean by this is that you moderate comments and don’t allow the people you share to be insulted or spoken about in a derogatory manner.

22. I love the way you did your {insert costume here} can you tell me how you did it and give me your supply list/molds/patterns?

I’m very happy that my costumes have inspired you! Costuming is very personal to me, and I usually always do build threads on how I’ve made my costumes. Many times in the album description on facebook I’ll have all the information on materials and what I did with a particular costume. I post regular progress pictures as well. That being said, I encourage people to look to their own creativity when making a costume and not just make direct copies of others. Do something that makes it ‘yours’!

Bonus Question:

Where did you get your screen name from? Why “Dark Star”

Back in the days of dial-up, AOL, ICQ and other chat mediums I used a variation of Dark Star as my screen name. Once I became active in the costuming community, everyone knew my first name, but I didn’t want my last name used. So I combined the old school with the new. :) The Dark-Star was first given to me by a friend in high school because of some writing I did, he said it was “Dark, yet brilliant like a Star.” :)

In addition, I have also done a number of different FAQ and or “Dear Abby” Videos and this one covers much of what is listed above.

How tall are you?

I probably get asked this question almost daily as soon as someone sees me in a photo with other people.  My answer is “fun sized”.  I am actually 5’2″ but have long legs and a shorter upper torso giving me the appearance of being taller than I am.

 

Photo: Andrew Ho, SDCC 2013  “Claudette” Queen’s Blade

 

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