Fabrics and sewing

Ok! So you've decided you don't just want to make a cosplay out of your every day, store bought items. You want to make a custom costume. Here's a few things that could help you out.

Important: No matter what stage you are in cosplay, don't pick a costume that's too difficult for you to make! Start out with easier costumes and progress with each one!

Assuming you won't order your costume, and want to make it yourself, here are a few tips:

1. Choosing fabrics

You need to choose fabrics for your costume. How do you do that? Well the first part of it is studying reference pictures. How do the clothes hang? Are they shiny? Are they matte? Do they stretch evenly on the body? These and more are all questions you should ask yourself and take the answers into account for what you need.

2. Picking the right one

  • You know roughly what you need, but you don't know what kind of fabrics to get. Don't worry! If you go to a fabric store, tell them what you're looking for. For example: "I need something thin, yellow and stretchy". They will show you what they have and you can pick.
  • Make sure you examine the fabric well before buying it. What you don't want is poor quality fabric that will tear easily or fray at the edges.

3. Tips and tricks

  • You estimate you need 5 feet of fabric for something. Get 10. Chances are you will make a mistake and need more fabric, and in most cases, some fabrics are a one-time find. Better safe than sorry.
  • Wash the fabric before you start cutting. Why? Most fabrics shrink when washed for the first time and if you don't do this, if you decide to wash your costume you might have unpleasant surprises.
  • Some fabrics, like satin for example, are very difficult to work with because they fray and slide all over the place. To avoid fraying, once you cut the fabric, sew loops over the edges so they stay in place while you work. If you don't want it to slide, use pins or loose stitching before you get to the permanent sewing.
  • Always do a clean finish on your stitches. The first benefit is that they'll look better. The second is quality. Your costume will last longer and be more appreciated.

Sewing means
1. Hand-stitching
More cosplayers than you think start out like this. Hand-stitching. You might think it's hard and painstaking, but if you take enough time it can turn out with great results. You don't know how? Look for tutorials that teach you how to sew.
2. Sewing machines
If you either have or want to buy a sewing machine, things could get easier and more complicated at the same time. If someone in your family can use a sewing machine, ask them to help you out. If not, get used to the sewing machine doing various test pieces before you get to the actual costume. Remember to also take it slow here too. Use good quality thread for a good experience.

Creating process

1. Planning the costume

This stage needs to be paid particular attention to. Sure, changes will come up, but it's good to at least have an idea of what's ahead of you. Break the costume down into as small pieces as you can and think about what materials you need. Since this post is about fabrics and sewing, the first stage of it is breaking the costume down into different items.

For example, if you have a corset dress you could break it down like this:

  • top (blouse)
  • corset
  • skirt
  • underlayers
  • accessories

Think about what you need for each part and what you could use.

2. Getting to work

Once you have everything you need, you can start working. Look for patterns. You can use good old Google, deviantArt or whatever else you can think of. Can't find a pattern exactly for what you need? Either experiment (risky but might turn out with good results) or ask someone to make a pattern for you. Many costume-makers are willing to help newcomers to this hobby.

3. You have fabrics, you have patterns, now what?

Now comes the fun part of putting the costume together! The most important thing you have to remember is you have to be patient. Rushing and getting angry won't give good results. Take your time and make it right :) It's best to add the details before assembling the final product.

4. Finishing up

Finishing touches! Details are very important and if you're aiming for a canon character and not an OC they're all the more important! Put as many details as you can.

Questions? Ask here!

Next post: Crafting