Sunday, January 18, 2015

How To Make A Lightning Farron Cosplay From Final Fantasy XIII

sailor crafty lightning cosplay photo from final fantasy xiii

Beware: this post is LONG. I talk details. This is for the dedicated cosplayer who is diving into this project and wants to be as informed as possible! All embedded links in this post lead to the right place, none of this advertising crud you find on a lot of news articles (don't you just hate those!!).

This costume was the most technically challenging one in my arsenal to date. It involved using a ton of materials and techniques new to me. I wanted to go for the most authentic look possible with every detail thought over and presented in a realistic way. I am not a propmaker so I have yet to make her beautiful gunsword. I don't have a lot of fantastic photos of her yet either so I hope the ones below give you some idea of how it all turned out.

sailor crafty lightning cosplay final fantasy xiii photo

I was at a Salt Lake Comic Con sponsored New Year's event and some photographers were hanging out and taking photos. I felt dumb without any props so I bought this dumb laser sword thingy so I would at least have something to hold. Lol.

sailor crafty lightning cosplay photo from final fantasy xiii

sailor crafty lightning cosplay final fantasy xiii photo

I really like this detail shot. It's unusual but really shows some of the effort I put into the boots and "saddlebag".

I am proud to say that I won my first major convention awards in this outfit. I received beautiful glass trophies for 2nd Place Intermediate Cosplay and 2nd Place Intermediate Craftsmanship at Anime Banzai 2013 in Layton, Utah. It was an incredible experience and validated all the hours (and money...so much money) that I put into this. I will list out all costs and places for pieces as best as I can remember.

My biggest thing was the colors. I wanted to match the colors in each material as closely as I could and I think I did an ok job of that. Compare the photos below.

sailor crafty lightning cosplay final fantasy xiiilightning farron official art final fantasy xiii

Them proportions don't exist in real life. Miss Light is a veritable bean pole.

I'm going to go piece by piece to make it easy for people working on a specific part to find some reference and help. I wish I had such a guide to refer to when I started on mine so I really hope this can be of help to someone else!


Wig:

My first attempt at the wig was an experiment with the spray dye method that failed. It was close, but not quite good enough. I used a blonde layered wig and some Process Magenta ink from Dick Blick (link here) mixed with rubbing alcohol, similar to the well known "Sharpie Dye" method. I don't know what I did wrong but no matter how much I sprayed the wig, the color just kept running down. Maybe too much alcohol to dye ratio, but I tried adding a ton more ink and still didn't have much luck. I wanted to get that subtle peach blonde look rather than the light straight pink I've observed in other cosplays of her. The wig ended up streaky and kind of a mess. I wore it to a Video Games Live concert just for fun but vowed to find the right color wig someday.

lightning cosplay wig final fantasy xiiilightning cosplay wig final fantasy xiii
lightning cosplay wig final fantasy xiii

You can see how quickly a lovely, blended blonde can turn into a "didn't dye her roots before the party" mess.


lightning cosplay wig final fantasy xiii

At least one person in the lobby got that I was trying to be Lightning, so that was nice.

I went to Fanime in San Jose and Arda had the PERFECT color wig at their booth for $35. After looking online and being disappointed for so long, this was an exciting treasure find. It was a gorgeous pink blonde with blended fibers for that almost natural feel. It was a discontinued color and I think they have replaced it with something very similar that I highly recommend. Their wig quality just can't be beat! The "Ferrari" model wig is straight on top and wavy on the bottom so you barely have to coax it into that Lightning style.

Arda Wigs "Ferrari" style wig, $35 - buy in "Lightning Pink AR035" LINK

I had to make some major changes to the wig to get it just right. First off, Arda PACKS their wigs full of wefts. The volume on this thing was ridiculous. Lightning's hair hangs very close to her head and face in most reference photos. I took a seam ripper and took out every other weft in the back and left the top mostly alone. It ended up being really helpful to save those wefts when I cut the bottom layer too short - I just added a long weft back in!

I was terrified to cut into that beautiful fiber, but with a little luck and careful planning I was able to get it into that spiky, over the shoulder style. I used some hairspray and gel to gently spike the bangs as her hair is more delicately spiked than Cloud's. I use a fair few hidden bobby pins to pull the hair close to my head on the back and near my ears. Under the bangs is a little itchy area where the fibers fold over inside the wig which I plan to fix with some fabric sewn over it.

lightning cosplay wig final fantasy xiii six eyed monster shirt

This photo was taken mostly to show off the cool Lightning Returns shirt by Six Eyed Monster - it glows in the dark!!

Jacket:

lightning cosplay jacket final fantasy xiii

Other than the wig, this was a part of the costume that I just had to get right. It's easily recognizable and has a ton of hardware and stuff stuck onto it. I wanted to make it comfortable, functional and durable. I angsted over how I was going to get the pattern right as I hate making my own at this time in my sewing journey. I got extremely lucky and found out that God Save The Queen Fashions has made a great hand drawn pattern that comes with more than just the jacket pieces!

I paid $60, but the pattern is currently $54.99 on her site.

The pattern came with the jacket base, gloves, basic jacket pocket outline, cape holder, skirt, boots, cape, and weapon bag. Some of the pieces weren't as screen accurate as I wished so I modified or added to them as I saw fit. Also, it only comes in one size, which I happened to fit into, so keep that in mind before purchasing. You may have to alter it for your own body.

lightning cosplay jacket final fantasy xiii

First fitting of the base pieces.

I used her jacket pattern base and at first tried a faux white corduroy with small lines but hated how wrinkly the fabric ended up in a short time. I tried again with a cotton that was like a very thin, soft denim and liked it a lot better. I lined the inside with interfacing for stiffness and a brown faux suede that shows on the downturned collar. I made the pockets with another type of thin suede. I had to design the inner lining of the pockets and the flap on top, but these were minor pieces in rectangular shapes, so not too hard to do.

lightning cosplay jacket pocket final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay jacket pocket final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay jacket pocket final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay jacket pocket final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay jacket pocket final fantasy xiii

 Strategic Velcro holds down flap edges that want to curl up.

There is a LOT of hardware on this jacket. The most notable pieces are those T-shaped clasps on the front. I searched far and wide for the perfect clasps and came up empty for months. Then I came across this site that sells pieces for people who make handbags and luggage! They have an enormous catalog and guess what I found!!

EDIT: I FINALLY FOUND OUT WHAT THEY'RE CALLED. FIREMAN CLASPS. OMG THAT WOULD HAVE SAVED ME SO MUCH TIME. GOOGLE IT AND YOU WILL FIND TONS. XD

lightning cosplay jacket buckle final fantasy xiii


They had those special T-clasps, and almost everything else I needed. Now, this site Ohiotravelbag.com is for bulk orders I found out. If you only want a couple of this and that, you need to order through their sister site, Hardwareelf.com. It's kind of a weird process to order. You have to email them first to get the ball rolling. Here is what they said to me in an email reply:

Please go to www.hardware-elf.com. Click the "retrieve quotes" from the left menu. Enter quote number (they will give you a 6-digit number in your email correspondence) and zip code 12345. You can then order the items you requested.

They are really friendly to work with. So the process is: go through the catalog at Ohio Travel Bag, pick out the buckles and items you need, WRITE down the item numbers, sizes, finishes and quantities you need, email Hardware Elf, and then order from Hardware Elf. Eventually you should be able to get those sweet, accurate clasps ;)

To help you out even more, here is the full list of hardware I bought from their site for this costume. NOTE: these page numbers are subject to change on their catalog, so this is only a loose guideline to help you find them!:

x3 of C-1460 (p. 161) (the cool looking T-shaped clasps on the front of the jacket) I think I ordered these over the phone in a separate transaction from the rest, so I'm not positive how much they cost. I want to say around $4 each.

x1 of 4430, 2 1/4", nickel (p. 196) $7.29 (belt buckle for the underbust belt. I cut off the two prongs for it to work.)

x1 of C-1897, 1 1/2", Nickel (p. 221) $7.95 (belt buckle for skirt belt)

x1 of C-1921, 1 1/4", Nickel (p 212) $2.19 (I think I ended up not using this one?)

x2 of C-1311, 2", Nickel plated (p 124) $0.99 each, $1.98 total (did not end up using these either)

x3 of P-2655, 1", nickel (p 140) $1.55 each, $4.65 total (square buckles for jacket T-clasp to hook into)

x1 box of jiffy rivets, 307s (7mm size), nickel (p 9) $11.95

x4 of P-2833, 1", nickel (p 125) $2.75 each, $11.00 total (for the straps on the jacket pockets and shoulder straps)

x6 of C-1415, 3/4", nickel (p 204) $3.20 each, $19.20 total (for the straps on the boots)

x1 of P-2894, 1", nickel (p 125) $1.95 (for the strap on the leather leg bag)

economy shipping was $11.95, so order total was $80.11. You can decide if all that hardware is worth it to you. You can easily find most of this stuff for cheaper elsewhere, but I just wanted to order it all from one place to save time.

To secure the clasps on the jacket, I bought some Jiffy Rivets from those same guys. They didn't work great but I'm probably securing them wrong. I think some chrome look paper brads (like you used in grade school!) will work a lot better and be more secure.


lightning cosplay jacket jiffy rivet final fantasy xiii

Jiffy Rivets "just hit to fit!". Maybe I wasn't hitting hard enough, because they kept coming apart...

lightning cosplay jacket buttons final fantasy xiii

Those are large buttons with the holes filled in and painted. I had two more on the backside of the jacket corners as well but they didn't survive all the cons I went to. I had made a hole in the jacket and glued the ends of a jiffy rivet to either button and secured them together through the hole. I'll try a different approach next time.

lightning cosplay jacket straps buckles final fantasy xiii

Here is a view of the shoulder strap out of its buckle. The buckle was secured with a little square of fabric that was hand sewn in.

lightning cosplay jacket straps buckles final fantasy xiii

The Jiffy Rivets acted as a pivot for the leather pieces and I didn't want them to droop down. You can kind of see the white thread where I sewed the leather piece to the jacket. The leather piece is folded over and glued with Gorilla Glue.

lightning cosplay jacket straps buckles final fantasy xiii

Here are some of the details near the collar.

lightning cosplay jacket straps buckles final fantasy xiii

Planning out where those T clasps will go. It had to look just right!

lightning cosplay jacket final fantasy xiii

I was feeling pretty fly upon finishing the jacket :D

Turtleneck:

lightning cosplay turtleneck final fantasy xiii


Easiest part of the costume. Found the perfect dark brown knit turtleneck with the vertical ribbing pattern at Savers, cut off the sleeves and added a zipper. The zipper pull is one that I had on a small travel purse. I love using thrift store purses for their hardware! It can be a cheap way to get a bunch of buckles and spikes. You can reuse belts like that too!

Necklace:

lightning cosplay necklace final fantasy xiii


This is one of the splurge items I bought for this costume. It's the official Square Enix Lightning necklace made from real silver. I actually bought it on my geek pilgrimage to Tokyo in 2012. I paid around $140 (more because the exchange rate was dismal at that time - 77 yen to the dollar. Yuck.) It's the perfect reminder of my trip and as accurate as you can get! You can also find people on Etsy who make them or try your hand at Sculpey. Square Enix also put out a phone strap that is much cheaper if you can find one. I have also seen bootleg ones like this that might do in a pinch.

Here is the official necklace on their online store for $139.99.

Pauldron:

lightning cosplay pauldron shoulder armor final fantasy xiiilightning cosplay pauldron shoulder armor final fantasy xiii

The shoulder armor piece is made primarily from Worbla, with green painted leather straps and some snaps, and lined with some fleece so it would rest softly on my shoulder. I painted it with acrylics and attempted to use some shading techniques that have been touted by people like Kamui Cosplay. I love the extra dimension it gives to the colors!

Here is a helpful link that helped me get an idea of how to go about this piece.

This was a work intensive piece. I will add more details about it soon!

Here is how it looked with the jacket! It was at this point that I really felt like this costume was coming together!

lightning cosplay pauldron shoulder armor final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay pauldron shoulder armor final fantasy xiii


Cape:

lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii


The cape pattern from God Save The Queen fashions was just a little instruction to make it a half circle, but I disagreed with this design and made my own. The first time I made the cape, it was with a shiny satin like material. I realized that this was way too gaudy for the all-too-serious Lightning, so I re-did it with a heavier matte material that hangs nicely and takes pleats well. I made a long trapezoid and put 3-4 pleats into the top.

lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii

Here is where I was using the original bad cape to pattern out the bigger, nicer cape.

 The cape holder was a thick piece of leather with another piece stuck on with Gorilla Glue. That glue is kinda hard to work with as it spreads while it dries and you have to clamp it for forever. I tortured my poor sewing machine trying to add the stitching pattern around the edges of the leather. I glued the top half of some nickel snaps to the bottom piece of leather. The big buttons glued on the tips of the cape holder are regular buttons whose holes I filled in with wood glue and sanded, then painted gold. I also used those same type of buttons for the bottom corners of the jacket.

lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay buttons final fantasy xiii

I had to redo those dang buttons so many times. I guess I suck at sanding...

To attach the cape holder to the jacket, I used velcro as I believe in washing my costume pieces. To attach the cape to the cape holder, I made a little felt piece and sewed it onto the red cape piece, then added snaps to the felt piece and onto the holder. That way the fabric cape is completely detachable from the leather and can be washed.

lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii


lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay cape final fantasy xiii

Arm Bands and Sleeve:

lightning cosplay arm band bracelet final fantasy xiii

Both of the armbands are made with leather scraps from Tandy Leather, my local source. I wish I could find the link to where I found the "pattern" for the top armband with the seemingly impossible woven pattern. It said to make a bunch of X's and overlap them such that you get that cool effect. It worked great. For the bottom armband, I made a template with holes in it at even intervals, poked the holes through the leather, then sewed in the chevron pattern with some yellow thread. For the metal end things I found some Nickel Belt Buckle End Tips on eBay for a couple bucks. They have little teeth that bite into the leather for a good hold.

lightning cosplay arm band bracelet final fantasy xiii

Paper armband sewing template

The arm sleeve was very easy to make from shiny black stretch fabric. It's a long tube with a hole for my thumb to prevent it from sliding out of the blue glove I wear over it.

lightning cosplay arm sleeve final fantasy xiiilightning cosplay arm sleeve final fantasy xiii

Belts: 

lightning cosplay belt final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay belt final fantasy xiii


The God Save The Queen pattern does have a pattern for the underbust belt, which I modified to be a bit wider. My machine did not like sewing the leather and ultimately broke. I would study up on leather sewing if I were you...I believe I did not use the right foot and the walking teeth on the bottom left little marks on the back of the leather. You could also easily use faux leather for this piece. The belt for the skirt is a belt blank I got at Tandy leather.

To help the underbust belt stay put on the jacket, I used velcro. Velcro is some amazing stuff. It really helps your costume stay looking magically perfect when used strategically.

lightning cosplay belt final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay belt final fantasy xiii


Skirt:

lightning cosplay skirt final fantasy xiii


The God Save The Queen pattern came with a pattern for the skirt pieces which was very helpful. I modified things to fit me better and did flat felled seams where possible to make it look like a real denim skirt. I used a light brown denim fabric and wore booty shorts underneath for modesty AND I have found in reference photos that this is canon to Lightning ;) She is either wearing a skort or shorts under the skirt. I also wore nylons just to even out my pale legs.

I bought a little bit of leather cording for the crisscross in the center front and colored it yellow with Sharpie. I then threaded it through some eyelets.

lightning cosplay skirt final fantasy xiii

Here you can see a hidden snap that holds my leg bag in place. Otherwise it would hang too low and get in the way of my legs!

lightning cosplay skirt final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay skirt final fantasy xiii

Showing the flatfelled seams for that jean skirt look.


Leg Bag:

lightning cosplay leg bag pocket purse final fantasy xiiilightning cosplay leg bag pocket purse final fantasy xiii


I used real leather from Tandy Leather again. This DeviantArt member saved me with her tutorial/pattern here. I also found another great guide just now here. There are so many helpful people online that saved me a lot of time and stress! I used real leather and made it so the straps snap to the purse so it's easy to get on and off. All the pockets are functional and make it easy to carry stuff around at conventions. My favorite types of costumes are the ones that can carry your stuff!!

lightning cosplay leg bag pocket purse final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay leg bag pocket purse final fantasy xiii

Inside of main pocket. I use bits of sticky back Velcro to hold the corners of the flap down. Once again, it's little details like this that help your costume stay looking like you just walked off the promo art!

lightning cosplay leg bag pocket purse final fantasy xiii

This was the zipper I accidentally sewed facing the wrong way. Luckily this is just a perfectionist detail that doesn't matter to anyone else haha.

lightning cosplay leg bag pocket purse final fantasy xiii

Back of bag, showing where all the straps snap in for easy dressing/removal.

This bag was rather complicated. Two things I learned were 1) leather stretches if you aren't using the right machine foot (I wasn't), and 2) make sure your zippers are facing the right direction for max accuracy (one of mine was flipped, haha).

Gloves:   

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii


For the main blue part I used real leather from Tandy Leather. I had tried at first to use a vinyl but it just didn't work well. Gloves have to be soft and supple. I think all in all for this outfit I spent around $200 on leather...yeah...authenticity has its price.

The God Save The Queen pattern saved me again. There is a glove pattern in there but it doesn't have gussets so I added those in. Gussets are the little pieces that go between your fingers. I also lined the gloves in a thin suede to help the leather not get warped from sweat. The gloves are very tight but I wanted them that way to look like Lightning's. I made gray straps from leather look vinyl. The gold pieces are made from foam (bottom flat layer), sculpey ("bullet holders"), toothpicks (lines under the "bullet holders") and Jiffy Rivets. I painted them and attached them to the gloves with velcro in case I decide to remake them.

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii

Inner lining made from thin suede.

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii

To make the ridges, I lined some paintbrushes up on a paper template to space them evenly, then took a rectangle of rolled out Fimo and sculpted it over the brushes. Worked great!

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii

Cut and glued some toothpicks to FunFoam with superglue.

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii

Used Jiffy Rivets to put it together.

lightning cosplay gloves final fantasy xiii

Learned that FunFoam just soaks up spray paint, so I used Gesso to prime it and then painted the whole thing again. I learned so many things from this outfit that it blows my mind.

Boots:

lightning cosplay boots shoes final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay boots shoes final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay boots shoes final fantasy xiii

The God Save The Queen pattern does come with the boot pattern which I used and modified a bit. I used pleather for all pieces and belt buckles from Ohio Travel Bag. Everything attaches to some black shoes I found at the thrift store with sticky back velcro, although this is a temporary solution. I need to probably glue/sew all the parts together so they don't come apart at conventions.

lightning cosplay boots shoes final fantasy xiiilightning cosplay boots shoes final fantasy xiii

lightning cosplay boots shoes final fantasy xiii

Made so many shoe belts!

Weapon Bag: Haven't made yet, will update when I do!


Gunsword/Blazefire Saber: Haven't made yet, will update when I do!


TOTAL COST: I can't even get an accurate number because of all the little things that went into this, but here is a rough idea:

Leather: $150-$200
Official Necklace: $140 (I paid more due to poor yen to dollar ratio at the time)
Pattern: $60
Hardware: at least $80
Shoes: probably under $10
Fabric: at least $50 for all the various colors and types I needed
Odds and Ends like glue, Velcro, etc: probably $30?
Worbla: maybe $10 worth
Shorts, Nylons, Turtleneck: $20
Wig: $35

Grand Estimated Total: around $600 (faints...oh dear...but I guess people pay this for custom work anyway!)

Value to me: priceless. I learned about leather, Worbla, glue, pattern drafting and altering, hardware use and modification, painting, wig dyeing, cutting and styling, glovemaking, shoemaking, bagmaking, pockets, and professionalism in presenting your craft to judges in the maker industries.

What a journey, and it will continue as I repair things and add on to it. I love this character and thanks to Lightning Returns, I have a whole new set of beautiful outfits I can drool over and dream about making someday. I've already made a "closet cosplay" of her "new world" outfit from the Special Ending:

sailor crafty lightning returns cosplay final fantasy xiii special secret ending

sailor crafty lightning returns cosplay final fantasy xiii special secret ending

sailor crafty lightning returns cosplay final fantasy xiii special secret ending

Here is the one I want to do in the future. It will teach me draping, corsetry, embroidery, rufflery?!, jewelry making, and how to be an elegant warrior :D

lightning returns cosplay final fantasy xiii midnight mauve official art

I wish you the best of luck on your fantastical cosplay journey! Thanks SO MUCH for reading this and pass it along to your FFXIII cosplay friends! <3


14 comments:

  1. I found this while looking hard across Google for a decent tutorial on how to help cosplay as Lightning and by far this costume is the most detailed and incredible hand made one so far! Just wanted to give a massive virtual hi five for what seems like such a passionate project! x

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    Replies
    1. You are so kind, thank you for your sweet comment! I am so glad I could help other Lightning cosplayers realize their dream. I know I needed all the help I could get when starting this project so I'm really happy to be able to compile some stuff and pass the goodness along! Good luck in your cosplay endeavors <3

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  2. Do you have any tips for making the boots; pattern etc? I have made the outfit and sword but I'm struggling with the boots and yours are one of the best homemade pair that I have come across! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your question and compliment! I should really post some better photos of those to make it more clear. I could maybe email you some directly if it would help! Send me a message at sailorcrafty@gmail.com and I'll see what I can do! :D

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  3. It looks amazing. I would like to cosplay lightning too but i need still the armbands and the gloves..I'm so frustrated because I can't find them on the Internet seperatly and i can't spent money for a sewing machine..Maybe you can give me some advise? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so cool! The armbands you could make with some glue and some pieces of vinyl, leather, fabric, or even painted foam in a pinch. For the gloves you can look for some long blue gloves and cut them down to size and cut off the fingers. Try thrift shops in your area or regular stores. It's the cold time of year so you should be able to find some gloves somewhere I hope! Hope this helps, and have a wonderful time cosplaying!! :D

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  4. Heyo, i was wondering if you could give me an idea on the overall dimensions of the leg bag? I've been playing with larger and smaller sizes but i can't quiet figure out a good ratio and your's looks pretty good!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Omg this is so amazing, travelling with you on your cosplay journey. You did an incredible job and are inspiring me to just DO IT. Thank you for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Omg this is so amazing, travelling with you on your cosplay journey. You did an incredible job and are inspiring me to just DO IT. Thank you for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was wondering why I can't get the pattern when I click on the link for it. Is there site shut down can I get the pattern somewhere else ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry about that! I wasn't aware that the link was broken so thanks for the heads up. I have inserted the new correct link that should work now :D Thanks and have a great day!

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  8. Hello there. Your tutorial is pretty damn awesome!!! But I wanted to ask you if you'd be willing to share the pattern you brought?

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  9. Thanks for the shout out to Ohio Travel Bag and HardwareElf. If you are purchasing larger quantities and aren't already a customer of Ohio Travel Bag, sign up for a wholesale account at OhioTravelBag.com. If just looking for a couple small items, visit our retail affiliate, HardwareElf.com. The process to purchase there now isn't as confusing as described above if you go direct to HardwareElf.com. Thanks!

    Ohio Travel Bag / HardwareElf

    ReplyDelete
  10. If you want Cosplay wholesale and is online best knies buy wholesale.If you want cosplay wholesale and is online best knies buy wholesale.Cosplay wholesale

    ReplyDelete