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Tips and tricks for making your own cosplay


Cynthia Kaczala | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 6th, 2020




New to the cosplay scene and having trouble deciding how to proceed? These tips will help point you in the right direction.

References

To make sure you can make your cosplay looks the same as the original character, you will need references. When looking, try to find images from official sources first, such as concept art books. Try to have one reference of the character’s front, side and back areas to get an idea of what the whole outfit looks like.

When the character is from multiple sources of media, such as an anime and video game series, it is easier to find reference images. However, there might be changes done to the character’s design from one source to another, so it’s your choice on which version you go with. Fan art is helpful when you can’t find that right angle in official sources. If you’re still having trouble finding that one angle then you can try improvising what you think it might look like.

Patterns

Patterns are a paper-based prototype of the outfit used to test measurements and make sure the outfit fits correctly before you cut out your real materials. You can buy some patterns from stores like Fabricland, find some online or make them yourself. If you don’t have patterning paper available then you can use something like wrapping paper. However, it’s a little stiff, so it will sit on your body differently than the fabric you’re using. Stiffer papers, like construction paper, are used for armour patterns because they hold shapes better.

For footwear, it’s easier if you find shoes that fit you and match the style you need and make them a base for the final product. A suggestion is to go to a used clothing store and find a pair there since you might have to permanently change the shoes and might not want to ruin expensive ones.

Measurements

Try to have a friend or relative help take your measurements to get them as accurate as possible. If you don’t have anyone to help, then you can try a dressing form, a mannequin used for sewing, though these don’t include limbs — just the main torso areas and neck. There are adjustable ones that are good for fluctuating body weight.

Another form of this is a duct tape dress form. You wrap yourself in clear wrap or wear a disposable t-shirt and then have someone duct tape over it for form-fitting tightness. Have your assistant cut you out, then stuff it with something like cotton and now you have a pretty accurate body double. This technique can also be applied to your arms and legs.

Materials

For a convention in the summer, thinner fabrics that are breathable would be a better choice than pleather/leather or fleece cloth. Swimwear outfits are nice if you make them with swimwear materials, although they are a bit expensive to buy. If you can’t find the matching colour/pattern material that you need you can always try dying with dyes or painting the material with fabric paints. If you don’t have fabric paints then you can buy fabric mediums that can be mixed with other paints, like acrylics, to make them fabric paints. Stretchy materials are not only good for skin-suit cosplay, but they can also be sewn onto armour outfits instead of painting them.

Dollar stores and craft stores can provide a cosplayer with an abundant amount of items that can be used as accents to a cosplay.

Usually foam or thermoplastics are used to make armour cosplay. Craft, EVA (ethylenevinyl acetate) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) are the types of foam commonly used for cosplay. Craft foam is nice as a base to attach thermoplastics to. EVA is higher quality of foam that is used in objects like yoga mats and can be thin or thick depending on what you need. PVC foam is the best quality stuff that a lot of professional cosplay makers like to use. There are also PVC foam boards and PVC piping that can be used for weapons or props.

Thermoplastics can be shaped into sturdy armour when heated up. The most popular brand that cosplayers use is Worbla since there are a variety of types that their own specialties when it comes to the cosplay making process.

Glue matters quite a bit when it comes to putting the pieces together. Hot glue isn’t the best to use since it doesn’t handle weight well. Instead try using proxy or super-brand glues, like E6000 glue. Earth magnets, Velcro, or snaps can be used for attachments you want to be able to take off to make the cosplay smaller for storing away.

Tools

Most likely when working with fabrics you’ll need a sewing machine. One that has an option to make bobbins is nice to have since it takes a bit if time wrapping and unwrapping them. You will need other sewing tools like scissors, pins and needles. A rotary cutter is pretty handy to have if you want accurate cuts, though you should have some sort of cutting board since you don’t want to damage the furniture that you’re cutting on.

A heat gun will help heat up thermoplastics and foam materials to soften them to shape. You should have heatresistant gloves on when working with a heat gun to avoid hurting yourself. They also lessen the amount of finger prints that might get on the Worbla or foam.

When working in a space that doesn’t have a proper ventilation system you can get sick on things like fumes when using spray paints or dust from cutting up foam. It can be a bit expensive since you will have to replace the filters, but you could buy a respirator mask to help with the fumes and dust. Safety goggles to protect your eyes is from these hazards are a good idea to have.

A Dremel drill press has a number of attachable tips that have different functions. Cosplayers like using this tool to sand down small areas, make finer details or cuts for armour pieces.

Looking for pieces online

If you don’t want to make certain parts you can look online for things. Most websites that sell pre-made and commission cosplay will usually sell other parts too, such as weapons, wigs, and footwear. Amazon, eBay and Etsy are also other sources for these and sometimes you can commission them if they don’t have what you want. Try to find reviews of the sellers or examples of their work to make sure that quality and customer service is good.

Buying wigs can be hard or easy depending on what you need. Websites like arda-wigs.com and epiccosplay.com are well-known shops for wigs. They have an assortment of styles, colours and other accessories you might need for wearing and taking care of your wig.
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