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How to Make Your Own Cosplay Costume

Snehal Motkar Oct 23, 2018
Cosplay is an art of imitating any fictional or a real life character. It began in America as a small-time trend, but grew more popular in Japan very quickly. If cosplaying interests you and you want to have your own costume, here is how to make your own cosplay costume.
Cosplay, often pronounced as Kosupure by the Japanese, is the combination of two words "costume" and "play". As said earlier, cosplaying is nothing but 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 brought cosplay to a new level. It's no wonder that most cosplayers, who are famous and celebrities in their own right, hail from Japan. Since cosplaying has become common these days, it is your responsibility to make it different from others.
A major difference between Halloween and Cosplay is that Halloween is a party holiday where you dress up in a Halloween costume (it is also a character costume) and you want others to appreciate. Whereas cosplaying involves enactment of the character in addition to wearing of the costume.
You make people around you like the character through cosplay. Even though you are selecting characters that already exist, you should be unique in your selection. Cross-dressing is always appreciated, for instance, if you are a female you can choose to dress up as a male character.
An interesting fact about cosplay costumes is that they are normally made by the wearers themselves. Cosplayers take pride in making a cosplay costume on their own. They take considerably longer time to make the costume, since they are novice and require time to give a perfect look to their costume.

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 one, 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 a comic character, or even one from a music band. Also it need not be a Japanese character.
It can be American, German or any nationality. It is necessary to decide whether you just want to move around 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 until the last minute. Some cosplayers begin designing a costume few months before the event. If you are new to this field, it is better to give yourself ample time to start while managing other household or office work.

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 then switching to a 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 a costume from 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 a lot of time.
Divide the costume into trousers, top, jacket, etc. Trousers can be easily made by modifying ones you already have but the top is a different story. If you don't have a matching one, you need to buy it. Just look for a plain shirt matching color of your pants. Quality of the fabric will 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 costume. For that you need to buy some fabric. You must select the right fabric to suit your character. It is advisable to buy more fabric than required because you never know. You could mess up while sewing and need an extra piece of fabric or it could be out of stock.
Make sure you get what you pay for. Cheaper fabrics many a time wrinkle easily and often shred. You can use fray check (a liquid seam sealant) that keeps the fabric from fraying, sealing the ends of the threads. Apart from costume, you need props to add to the character.
Again for props, you can modify 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 plan 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 go through various pattern books and select one of them. Of course you can modify available patterns 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 use those cut outs to cut the fabric. You should measure yourself and cut them accordingly. Keep them larger than your actual measurements leaving the margin. Now mark the lines of the actual measurements where you want to sew.

Sew 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 fabric and practice both hand sewing as well as machine sewing. Arrange all the patterns in the correct sequence and start sewing. Include each pattern. It is better to take care in advance than feeling sorry later on.

Test the Costume

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

Some Additional Tips to Get a Perfect Costume

  • Focus on the shape and outline of the garment 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.
  • Prewash 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 some steps and tips for making your own cosplay costume. Without an appropriate costume, cosplaying would be incomplete. So be perfect with your selection as well as making of the costume by following the listed guidelines.