Wellllll…. How do I start?

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Cosplay or Costume Play:
Cosplay is the abbreviated version of “costume play.” It means many different things to each and every individual who is participates, but for a technical definition I present to you!

Wikipedia:
Cosplay is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.

Cosplay got it! What do I… How… Uhhhh….: 
So at this point I figure your interested in cosplaying. I hate to break it to you, but there aren’t any formal college level classes you can take, but there are a couple of books out there. I haven’t read any of them, so I can’t recommend any. Amazon will be your best bet in that department.

This is such an elaborate hobby and it can be very daunting at first where to even begin. 😀

So question is… Wellllll…. How do I start?

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The First Step:
The first step is INSPIRATION of course! 😀 Now if you are reading this I assume you have already found that. If not, well that’s not a problem either, and my mind reading powers are not up to snuff.

Find the character you want to represent. It can be anyone. YOU CAN BE ANYONE! That’s part of the lovely fantasy of cosplay I fell in love with. You may have your preconceived notions on what a person should or shouldn’t cosplay as, and that is fine, just please don’t hate. Appreciate! Our little collective is one of the most welcoming and warm communities. Enjoy it and please don’t ruin it for anyone. *side rant over*

Research- The backbone of any undertaking:
Once you have chosen your cosplay you need to research! Or in the words of the amazing and talented cosplayer Yaya Han:

googlefu_by_yayacosplay-d6lid5wGOOGLE FU! Go to google, look up your character, and previous cosplays that have been done as well.G oogle is a cosplayers greatest weapon, you can find tutorials on makeup, clothing, prop work, aka pretty much anything you need. 😀

Look at the design and inspect it closely. For my example, I will be using my Succubus Catherine Cosplay. 😀

Here are some reference shots I used:

-In Game shots:
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Conceptual Art:

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Other Cosplayers:

Yiri Cosplay's Succubus Catherine

Yiri Cosplay’s Succubus Catherine

Luna Aura Cosplay of Succubus Catherine

Luna Aura Cosplay of Succubus Catherine

Take note of what you need to complete the costume. Let me break down my Succubus Catherine Cosplay:

catherine

Once you have broken everything down, the next step is to decided if you want to make it, part of it, or if you want to purchase it. In my opinion, anyone can cosplay anyway they choose. I’ve bought costumes, modified clothing, and made entire costumes from scratch. It really doesn’t depend on the vehicle you use to get to your destination. 😀

This is very important and at this point I have to say it…. SO LISTEN CLOSELY! RULE #1 OF COSPLAY IS TO HAVE FUN! If you find yourself stressing out about the process, take a break, calm down, and chill. I just cannot stress this enough.

Made to sell Cosplays:
There are websites solely dedicated to chucking out cosplays premade good to go. Most of these are overseas and are predominately found on eBay. Cosplaying in itself is not a cheap hobby, but one of the easiest and painless ways to get your costume is through one of these sellers. If you have ever bought a Halloween costume in your life, you can get an idea of the quality of material you will be getting. I’ve used Cosplay Fancy and EZ Cosplay before, and others were recommended by friends. Check these out:

Cosplay Shopping Sites:
Cosplay Outlet
Hello Cosplay
Cosplay Fancy
EZ Cosplay

Recommended to me by other cosplayers:
For Disney Products: Angel Secret

I will update this list overtime.

But what if you cannot find the cosplay you are looking for?

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Commissions:
If you decide to purchase a costume or a prop and it is rare, like my Catherine, search for cosplay commissions on google. Research the individuals and ask for their portfolio and request seller feedback. That said, not everyone tells the truth… :/ Here is a thread dedicated to commissioners you might want to be wary with. Remember though, that if you are having anything commissioned it is going to cost you. You are paying for someone’s services in making something for you. MAKE SURE!!!! To sign a contract/have an agreed upon set of expectations and deadlines.

Negotiate the price based on this simple equation:

Commissioned Item = Cost of Materials + Labor per hour + Shipping

Be realistic in what you are asking from someone. Ask for a quote ahead of time. If that individual lives near you, offer to purchase the materials yourself, or ask to go with them to learn about the materials as well. A good rule of thumb is that individual should be receiving at least minimum wage per every hour they work on your item. If they are established and their work is good don’t be disgruntled when they ask you for higher than minimum wage. At that point you are paying for their additional experience. Part of the commissioning business is to make money. Plus you are supporting local artists and your local economy. 😀

Don’t be afraid to keep in touch with the individual who is making your costumes. I frequently asked for progress pics and got to see how my cosplays were coming along. If I didn’t like something, I addressed it to the commissioner (politely and respectfully of course) and it worked out very smoothly. 😀

Some artists are very trusting and will expect compensation upon you receiving the outfit, others may want the money upfront. This is up to each person, so again discuss this with the artist.

DIY:
If you are making any part of a cosplay set a realistic goal/deadline. If you’ve never made a costume and you go with say Iron Man and it’s a week before the convention, odds are you are going to be in rough shape if you wanted something highly detailed and accurate.

The first step is planning out your cosplay. Look at your character and like the picture I mentioned above, break down each part of your cosplay.  Again adequate time is required to complete your cosplay.

Seriously look at yourself and determine how long you think it will take to make the costume and then double it. Discipline yourself and stick to your schedule. You don’t prepare for a marathon by running the day before.

Demetri Martin's Pie Chart of Procrastination

Demetri Martin’s Pie Chart of Procrastination

If you have never used a sewing machine in your life and you just expect to learn instantly you are going to be met with frustration. If you are completely green to sewing, you are going to need some time to learn. Whether you take a class from a local craft store, get lessons from friends/family, watch youtube tutorials, you will first need to know how to use the machine. An alternate way is to hand sew your outfit.

*I will be writing a blog post for first time sewers in the future and will link it in this article once completed. 

Now the next step here I assume you know how to use a sewing machine. So you know how to use your machine. Great! 😀

Using a pattern:

Straight from the Wiki mouth: A pattern in sewing and fashion design is the paper or cardboard template from which the parts of a garment are traced onto fabric before cutting out and assembling (sometimes called paper patterns).

*I will link another blog post breaking down patterns. Patterns are an intricate part of sewing and for a first timer it’s incredibly overwhelming what all of the symbols and markers on the templates mean.*

Now if you have some old clothes that you are no longer attached to you could easily take a seam ripper and tear them apart, and use them as your pattern template for your cosplay. I did this for my Medusa Soul Eater jacket with an old jacket that I wasn’t attached to any more. I’m actually reusing this same jacket for my Smoker Tashigi cosplay.

Free-Sewing-Pattern-French-Sleeve-Smock-Dress-Japanese-Translation

If you are using a packaged pattern, looking at the back of your package will easily spell out what type and how much fabric you need to complete the pattern.

Places where you can buy patterns:
Simplicity
Joann
The McCall Pattern Company
Etsy
SewingPatterns.com
BurdaStyle
Colette Patterns
Amazon
Ebay

Fabrics:
Please check out this post breaking down Fabrics:
Fabric… A simple in-depth guide for cosplayers

Breaking down patterns: Post to come

Taking your measurements: Post to come

To be continued! 😀 Updated as of 2/19/2015

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