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How to Make your Own Cosplay Costume

August 3, 2011

Cosplay, often pronounced as Kosupure by the Japanese, is the combination of two words “costume” and “play”. As I have said earlier, cosplaying is nothing but an act of dressing like a character normally imitated from movies, books, animes, video-games, manga and even Visual-Kei rock bands in Japan. Japan is the largest exporter of quality cosplay because it has brought cosplay to a new level. It’s no wonder that most of the cosplayers who acquired fame and celebrity status hail from Japan. Since cosplaying has become common these days, it is your responsibility to make it different from others. There is another major difference between Halloween and Cosplay. Halloween is a party holiday where you dress up in Halloween costume (it is also a character costume) and want everybody to appreciate you whereas cosplaying involves enactment of the character in addition to the wearing of the costume. You make people around you to like the character as you do through cosplay. Even though you are borrowing characters from somewhere you should be original in your selection. Cross dressing is always appreciated, for instance, if you are a female you can choose a male character. An interesting fact about cosplay costumes is that mostly they are made by the wearers themselves. They take pride in making a cosplay costume on their own and hence they take longer to be made.


Making Your Own Cosplay Costume


Many websites and stores offer ready to wear costumes. But, if you cannot afford it or simply do not want to buy it, you can make your own costume. Here are a few important instructions to be followed while working on your cosplay costume:


Selecting and Planning a Character

Decide firmly which character you wish to take up for cosplaying. It can be an anime character, or one of the comic characters, or even any one from a music band. Also it need not be a Japanese character. It can be American, German or anyone that you like. It is necessary to decide whether you just want to move around the town in the costume or you want to participate in a big event. In the former case you need a simple costume while in the latter a better designed one is necessary.


Time Management

Plan your time according to the pattern of your costume. Do not wait till the last minute. Some cosplayers begin with it a few months before the event. If you are new to this field it is better to give yourself ample time to start. You should spare some time to do other works as well.


Division of the Costume into Parts

It is better to divide the costume into parts rather than going back and forth from sewing a top sleeve and switching to pant leg. It will be less stressful and also time saving. Look for garments that you already have which can be modified to make your costume because if you are new to the scene making it from a scratch may not be a good idea. Apart from the costume, make-up and proper hairdo (whether it is styling your own hair or using a wig) requires lot of time. Divide the costume into trousers, top, jacket, etc. Trousers can be easily made by modifying the one you already have but the top would be a different story. If you don’t have a matching one, you need to buy it. Just look for a plain top with the matching color. Quality of the fabric shall not matter much as you will be using it only for one event.


Buy the Necessary Stuff

If you don’t find any clothes that you can modify you can always make a new one. For that you need to buy some fabric. You must select appropriate fabric as per your character. It is advisable to buy more fabric than required because you never know you can mess up while sewing and need an extra piece of fabric or it can also be out of stock sometimes. Make sure that you get what you pay for. Cheaper fabrics many times wrinkle easily and often shred. You can use fray check (a liquid seam sealant) that keeps the fabric from fraying, sealing the thread ends. Apart from costume you need props to add on to the character. Again for props you can modify the things that you already have depending on the requirement of your character. You can use hats, sticks and other accessories and decorate them. You also need to buy a wig if you are planning to have an artificial hair style. Buy matching threads, buttons, ribbons, belts to give a beautiful look to the costume.


Cut the Patterns

Draw the basic pattern for your costume. You can scan through various pattern books and select one of them. Of course you can modify the available ones according to your need. Using a ready made pattern is always helpful as it requires just a few changes here and there and saves time and energy. Cut the patterns on a cardboard and then on the fabric. You should measure yourself and cut them accordingly. Keep them larger than actual measurements leaving the margin. Now mark the lines of actual measurements where you want to sew.


Sewing the Costume

This should not be the first time when you are using a sewing machine or even hand sewing. If that is the case, take a spare piece of the fabric that you are going to throw away and get acquainted with sewing by hand as well as on machine. Arrange all the patterns in the correct sequence and start sewing. Make sure that you have included each pattern. It is better to take care before than to feel sorry later.


Test the Costume

When the costume is ready after sewing you should try it out once before the event to check the fitting and comfort. It is also important to see if you look exactly like the character that you are going to represent. It is best to show it off to your friends and relatives for their honest reactions and suggestions and make the changes, if any.


Some additional tips to get a perfect costume:


Focus on the shape and outline of the garments when selecting a pattern. Detailing can be done later while actually sewing the fabric.

Avoid using fabrics like chiffon and organza as they are slick and difficult to sew. You can use crepe backed cotton or satin.

Pre wash and dry the fabric to allow shrinkage before stitching

Hem the bottom of the costume while wearing shoes (of your character) so that the hem falls at the right place.

Do not work till late night when you are hand sewing because it can affect your eyes and overall health.


These were the steps and tips to make your own cosplay costume. Without an appropriate costume cosplaying would be incomplete. So be perfect with your selection as well making of the costume by following the above-listed guidelines.

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