We will start by making it clear that this blog is going to be oriented towards cosplayers and beginning cosplayers at that. Why? Because I’m a beginning cosplayer myself and hopefully some of these insights will help other beginners avoid some of the frustrations that I have enjoyed. Why have I been frustrated about some things? Because nobody created a blog to help me with shit that I didn’t know already.
Like most of you (beginning cosplayers) I’ve been following several well established cosplayers like Abbey Darkstar, Nicole Marie Jean, Cara Nicole, Ani-Mia, Jessica Nigri, Yaya Han and Rosanna Rocha. All great people and worth following. Additionally, they all make this shit look easy. Why do I bring this up? Because the last thing a new cosplayer needs is a false sense of simplicity. As I am finding out, and hopefully will be imparting to you rapidly, this shit takes some work and can be frustrating as hell. By posting my misadventures here, hopefully, we can minimize your misadventures and frustration. This means more fun, more cosplays and more winning lottery tickets.
One thing to remember is that all of the cosplayers that I mentioned above, while great people, will not be of much help to you. Don’t get me wrong, they would love to help you out. But the fact is there are just not enough hours in the day for them to respond to every email, instant message, or facebook poke they receive. Remember, for every honest question about how to sew this, dye that or paint X, they receive 1000 messages about their boobs. How big are they, can I see them, are they real, etc. Plus, and this may come as a shock to some of you, they have lives of their own. This is not the ONLY thing they do, hell, for some it’s not even their real job! Because of this they don’t have the time to get back to your questions or give you pointers or google something for you. They learned all of this the same way that I am, trial and error. While you see some progress pics, you’re not likely to see posts about what to do and how to do it to minimize frustration. They don’t have time for that. I’ve read some of them mention putting together cosplays in a single day! Most of them can open their closets and put together costumes that would not embarrass them at a convention. Like something right out of The Professional. Since they have a life and I don’t, I’m going to help you out with this shit.
One of the first things you will need to wrap your head around is that this is going to be fucking expensive. One way of keeping those costs down is by doing as much of the shit as you can by yourself. But that comes with its own set of shit to deal with. For example, sewing costumes. Just like anything else that involves skill or technique, it also requires practice. Additionally there are start up costs. These are never mentioned by those that are established because, they’re already established. I thought we had established that. Establish. What does this mean to you? Unless you’re going to sew all of your costumes by hand you’ll need a sewing machine. I’d been toying with the idea of buying one for years so that I could mend and sew my own shit, cosplay is just a convenient excuse. The Singer sewing machine that I bought was hardly the most expensive, in fact, it’s probably pretty close to the bottom of the list. And it still cost $140. Plus thread, bobbins, pins, replacement needles, fabric, and so on and fucking so on. There are also other little things you need to take into consideration with these start up costs. You’ll need a stable desk or table for the sewing machine. The folding card table I put mine on to begin with bounced around so much that I couldn’t get a straight seem to save my life. All I wanted was a straight line sewing two pieces of fabric together, no such luck. So I had to go out and BUY a new desk. Since I wanted to save some money I decided to dye the pants and shirts the right colors. Dyes, start up cost. Large fucking pot to dye the clothes in, start up costs. Pants and shirts, start up costs. Of course next time I won’t have to buy the pot, sewing machine or the desk but it still cost more than a couple of bucks to begin with.
First tip, learn to love Goodwill. This is one of the few tips you could get from the Big Wigs. I, having a good job, wanted quality materials for my first cosplay. I am trying to get some of the more established cosplayers to do a shoot with me so I want a debut costume that will stand up next to them. Because of this I purchased online. Because, you know, cheaper. Even so I have spent over $400 on pants and I STILL have not gotten far enough to start working on that part of the costume! That’s right, still not far enough along to consider that ready.
Another reason to love Goodwill that ties directly into saving money and one of the items I mentioned earlier, practice. Sewing requires skill, dying fabric requires the right technique, not stabbing yourself with a needle requires a bit of both. Going back to why I have spent so much on pants, no practice. Technique comes directly from practice. The first set of pants I dyed were mottled and streaked because I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing (a dedicated post coming on that later). Buy some cheap shit from Goodwill and practice on that before you try it on your limited resources. The same goes for sewing. Rather than start with sewing costume parts I sewed myself a simple convention bag. Something to hold my photo sleeves, purchased items and whatever general shit I happen upon. An incredibly simple design that gave me some confidence that I won’t run my hand through the machine like every shop teacher you’ve ever hand in high school.
Next tip, give yourself time to do all of this. And I mean practice, buy what you need, design the costume and put it together. As I mentioned, the people who have been doing it for years can slap shit together and look fantastic. You can’t do that! Figure out what you need, how you’re going to do it, whether it’s feasible, then think about buying and practicing. Remember, time flows like water. It’s incredibly difficult to hold on to and before you know it, it’s gone. Not being rushed is going to be one of the best defenses against frustration.
I’m going to wrap this long ass post up by reminding you that you have a couple of choices. Take your time and learn to do this right or you can pick up that playstation controller and do something meaningful with your life. If I can help you out I will certainly try. At the very least I hope to keep you pointing and laughing.