The Costume Counselor: When Things Just Won’t Work

Sometimes, a project just doesn’t want to cooperate. It’s frustrating, it’s infuriating, it makes you want to rip your hair out and scream. We’ve all been there. Heck, I was just there on Sunday. I thought that Attempt #2 was finally going to be the thing that made the armor piece of my new Mara Jade costume work how I intended and then it just looked stupid. There went my hopes of finishing the bulk of the costume that weekend. It was one of those situations that just made me want to throw it all away and quit cosplay forever. If you’ve been in this hobby for more than year, you’ve probably faced those moments and if you have yet to… well, brace yourself. And you know what? It’s totally okay. You just need to find out what can help you move past your frustrations.  Over the years, I’ve figured out a few tricks.

Procrastinate Productively
This is a coping method that I have a PhD in. When one part of a costume won’t work, I often put it away and work on an easier part or just work on another costume entirely. Barriss Offee’s cape was driving me up the wall with figuring out how to pattern it so I shoved the fabric into a bag that was out of sight and made her bracer instead. When I went back to the cape a few days later, my brain was refreshed. (I was also starting to run out of time but that’s neither here nor there.) Continue reading

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The Costume Counselor: Packing it all up

Congratulations! You’ve finished making your costume and you’re ready for a convention but now you’ve got another problem: how are you going to get it there? If you’re wearing only one costume to a convention or if your costumes are fairly simple and will fold up nicely, this won’t be an issue. Things get more challenging when you’re trying to pack six or seven costumes and some normal clothes into a suitcase that’s under the airline weight limit. (That’s step 1, by the way: Make sure that your costume line up for a convention is actually something you can fit into a suitcase and transport to a convention.)

Like almost every other cosplay thing, this is something where you want to start early. The ‘haphazardly throw everything in a suitcase five hours before your flight’ method may seem like a good idea but you are almost guaranteed to forget something. One of my friends is the Queen of this. I usually start making my packing list two weeks in advanced. Every single costume has every single component listed out and I even note which pieces are used for multiple costumes. I also write out everything else I’m bringing to the convention from normal clothes to make up to snacks. For Dragon Con, this usually results in a list that’s three to four pages long when I print it. Continue reading

The Costume Counselor: Commissioning vs Making

Once you’ve decided on a costume, your first big decision is always whether you want to make it yourself or whether you intend to commission it from someone else. For a lot of people, this isn’t a conscious decision but rather a subconscious one. Those of us who have been doing this for a while tend to fall on the side of either commissioning or creating and stick to it. If you’re relatively new to costuming or even if you’re a veteran looking at a trickier costume, it’s a question that you’ll have to consider carefully.

Essentially, it boils down to “Do you think you have the ability and time to make it?” or “Would you rather spend the money to have someone else make it for you?” Continue reading