Shopping For Fabric For Cosplay

We are no stranger to fabric stores. We hit our local quilt shops or Joann’s weekly. But what happens when Joann’s just doesn’t have what you need for a cosplay? We had this happen recently, so we hopped in the car and headed to Chicago to visit two amazing fabric stores that have been around for decades.

We are lucky. We have many great fabric, quilting and sewing machine stores near us, but we needed some unusual supplies this time. So we drove over an hour to visit Fishman’s Fabrics and Vogue Fabrics. These two stores specialize is garment sewing products, so they were ideal for our needs.

 

For Tracy, going to these stores was fun but a little intimidating at first. She had never been to either and likely would not have gone on her own. Why? It was just a little outside of her comfort zone and she had the idea that somehow they would be expensive or maybe the staff would be pushy. Her fears could not have been farther from the truth.

Fishman’s was elegant. This store has been in business since 1903. From the looks of the store, we can see why.

 

 

It was extremely clean, beautifully organized and they had a well-curated selection of fabrics. They featured wool suiting, brocades, lamé, leather hides, silks, faux furs and lots of evening wear materials and upholstery fabrics. The selection of lining fabrics alone was staggering.

 

 

Prices here ranged from $6 per yard for lining fabrics up to several hundred dollars for leather hides. The selection was great, the staff was friendly and helpful. Overall, it was a pleasant experience and we will gladly come back to Fishman’s in the future.

Next we  drove further north and hit Vogue. This store was sprawling. There were several rooms in this large store, and each room is filled with fabrics, notions, patterns, machines… It was pretty cool.

 

What we found most impressive was the selection of notions. They pretty much carried anything you could need for your sewing projects. They even carry boning for corsets. And not just the plastic kind you find at Joann’s. They carried steel boning – both the spiral and the flat, in several lengths.

 

 

In both stores, the staff was very helpful and they answered all of our question. The stores had a great selection of fabrics in all price ranges. Some of the fabrics were only a few dollars a yard, so don’t be afraid that a non-big-box store will be more expensive. On the contrary, both stores had a great selection of fabrics in all price ranges, with plenty of staff to help.

 

We found plenty of things a cosplayer needs at each of these old-school fabric stores. If you have one near you, why not venture in? It was an adventure we strongly suggest you take!

 

 

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Cosplay At The Original Sewing And Quilt Expo

 

Have you been to the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo? They take place around the country and they are starting to feature cosplay classes. Last week they were in Schaumburg, IL and Sew Much Cosplay™ was in the house! That’s right, Sew Much Cosplay co-founder, Cheryl Sleboda was teaching “Working With Unusual Fabrics for Cosplay.” The class taught how to sew with stretch fabric, lamé, liquid lamé, faux fur, brocade and building armor out of foam. Students learned about the correct needle and thread to use with each of these.

 

 

Have you ever attended a sewing convention? Or taken a sewing class at a con? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Cosplay Conversation: Randie Allen Wagner

My name is Randie Allen Wagner and I live in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Facebook: Randie Allen Wagner/Randie Allen

Insta: @starcomplexcosplay, @randieallen

Website:  StarComplexCosplay — coming really soon!

YouTube:  Starcomplex Cosplay (tutorials coming soon)

 

 

After much thought about which cosplay to feature, I decided to go with Beatrice from the manga Umineko Higurashi  (When they Cry).  Beatrice is known as the Golden Witch.  We get to to watch her grow up in this series which gave me an opportunity to use items created for multiple cosplays of this particular character.

 

The inspiration came from the wig.  We were visiting our favorite local anime store in Colorado Springs (Rainy Day Anime). They had just received a new shipment of wigs so I grabbed one in a strange yellow color because I hadn’t used that color yet.  My daughter (and model) immediately said “You have to do Beatrice”.  I  immediately commenced research collecting any image I could both from the web and the actual manga series.  I also watched the anime just so that I could see how the cosplay would need to move and to study Beatrice’s characteristics..  I also decided that this would be a good opportunity to compete in a cosplay competition.

 

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

 

From start to finish about 6 ½ months.  I really wanted to have the time to plan this out.  I needed fabric, I needed tools, I needed all the stuff!

What was your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge with this cosplay was the copper detail work!  After running many tests on different types of fabric, I knew I wanted it to be be shiny to really make the flames and scalloped trim around the skirt, the sleeves and the bodice stand out.  The only fabric I really liked for drape and color of the dress was a rayon taffeta.  Getting that to behave was a fun ride..  I also decided to make the center section of the cosplay as a corset.  Instead of sewing it into the cosplay, I made a separate piece that held on the front with Velcro (yes I said Velcro) so it wouldn’t move.  I really like being able to make things that can be worn by different cosplayers so any corseting I can do, I will.

I had done prop work before but this cosplay gave me an opportunity work with new materials.  I discovered the wonders of craft foam, thermoplastics, sculpting clay, you name it I was game.  I even tried gold leafing the prop pipe.

What was your budget?

I set a budget of approximately $300.00 – this isn’t particularly high but I always have a stash of extra things (fusible facings, boning, threads, etc.)

 

Approximately how much did you spend?  

That depends on who you ask!  I got most of the fabrics locally (the white cotton for the bell sleeves and neckline was easy, the taffeta I purchased at a chain store with a 50% off coupon and bought all they had which was around 8 yards at $5/y.  The burgundy chiffon was purchased at a local big box store for $1.50/y and I bought 7 yards). Thermoplastics can be pricey so I went with heat form sculpting clay for the pipe.   I purchased the wig for $20 and bought a second to make it thicker.  So technically I spent about $175.00.

Then, I decided I really  needed a semi-industrial straight stitch sewing machine so tack on a quick $750.00.  (I called it my Mother’s day gift so I don’t think it counts?)

What special techniques did you use?

 

Turning the copper lame into usable fabric.  It does not stretch (even on the bias) nor does it like to stay together (it’s woven with nylon and real copper) and is not at all heat resistant!  I purchased the copper lame fabric online.  I bought 5 yards, folded it incredibly straight and basted it on my sewing machine, I then cut 3 inch strips and fused it with a flexible fusible interfacing to give it stability without changing it.  I then mitered those strips together and folded them in half and ran them through a serger.  I hand sewed all of the copper fabric onto the cosplay and then heat pressed it down with a fusible quilting tape to make it curve.  Remember the fabric melts…

 

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

I sewed this right up to the minute it walked.  The cosplayer (my daughter Chloe) walked the runway in the cosplay competition.  Seeing that gown float across the stage and the character come to life was just mind blowing.  The wind hit that full skirt and she appeared to be floating.  Noise stopped as she twirled all the way down the competition stage.   Yes, I cried.

 

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I would’ve started the props and the copper work first.  I spent a lot of the time facing the taffeta so it wouldn’t fray and building the sleeves and (they’re actually stuffed with batting).  Any cosplayer will tell you it’s never perfect.

About Cosplay in general:

To me Cosplay is an art form with limited rules (not applying to competing of course).  It’s a collective group of creative people expressing themselves in a way that makes them confident, it makes them powerful and in many ways and  it makes them invisible to the “outside” world.  After you’ve been to a few cons (conventions) you recognize people.  They are in different cosplays than the last time you saw them, but you know them.  It’s such a fantastic family like group to be around.

How often do you Cosplay?

I create one new piece per convention.  So – 3 main cosplays a year. I’m now planning on doing a main cosplay with different looks (like with Beatrice, I made the main gown costume and the skirt for the younger cosplay) I used the same wig for both. The items in the younger Beatrice cosplay came from a local thrift store during a .99 sale where I got the jacket, white shirt, vest and necktie and simply changed them to work.  I think they called that a Two-Fer cosplay?

Main cosplay events in Denver start in late February (AnimeFest, Wasabicon) and go through to September so there’s time in between to tweak and add other elements.  (DCC is July 4 weekend and NKD Labor Day Weekend). There are many anime and movie events and other small gatherings throughout the year.  One could cosplay full time (and many do) with the right scheduling.

How many cosplay do you do?

This depends on the con.  If it’s a 3 day and I’m attending all 3 days, then it’s 3 different cosplays.  If I’m only going one day, we’ll choose one for that day.  I just go into the cosplay closet and rotate.  Many cosplays are created from current anime releases or movies.

What do you want to make next?

After much deliberation and voting Rohan Kishibe was chosen from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part IV.

Favorite cosplay moment?

Princess Jellyfish from NDK 2016.  I like to create things that people recognize but wouldn’t necessarily think to do.  Walking into the main convention hall and being surrounded by fellow cosplayers is an amazing experience.  It’s like being famous.  It’s family and friendship all rolled into one.

Favorite fandoms to follow?

Game of Thrones

Ouran High

Black Butler

Gudetama is my hero.

 

What materials do you like using?

I love working with very difficult fabrics.  It’s like I get to remake them in a way that I would want them to be.  They don’t always cooperate.

 

What materials do you want to try?

I recently purchased a rechargeable hand tool and heat gun so I’m looking forward to working with heatable materials (thermoplastics, clay and foam).  I created a cosplay emergency kit for travel and would like to create a portable cosplay tool kit as well.

I’m currently obsessed with resin casting and silicone appliance making (for face pieces and cowls) and have started researching those (there are classes in my future)

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Thermoplastics and heatable foam.  They can be pricey depending on where you purchase them.  I could spend 4 hours in a large home improvement store looking for tools and  materials so it would be nice to have a one stop shop to get them all at one time.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

I want to make a full face cast mold so that face and head pieces could be done accurately.  I will probably have to stick my face into a mold at some point!  For now I just use my styrofoam heads and my wig form.

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Back To School Blog Hop: Tips For The Perfect Seam

 

We are very excited to be participating in the Back To School Blog Hop this year. Thank you to Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio for organizing this amazing 32 day event filled with fantastic tips for better sewing and quilting! If you don’t know Sam, please go check out her site  and while you are there, take a look at her quilt patterns. Specifically, check out her General Organa Quilt, her BB-8 and Rey inspired quilt  and her Police Box quilt. Pretty cool, eh?

Thank you so much for stopping by if you are new to our website! Please take a look around Sew Much Cosplay™ while you are here. If you like what you see, please like our Facebook page and please tell the cosplayers in your life about us too!

Now on to our tip. We wanted to offer a tip that would be beneficial for both garment sewing and quilting – because we love both! Seams to me that we should talk about seam allowance!

If you are new to sewing, you might not know that there is a difference in seam allowances for garments versus quilting. In garment construction, the seam allowance is almost always 5/8” seam. In quilting, the seam allowance is always ¼ inch.

Garment sewing is slightly more forgiving because you generally have larger sections that you are sewing together. If your ¼ inch is off even slightly, the needle width adds up as you stitch together many pieces over the course of a block or quilt top. For example, a classic mariners compass or a feathered star block can have as many as 18 pieces in just one block. If your seam allowance is off by 1/8th inch in every seam in a block that has 6 seams, your block can be off by ¾ inch by the time you are done. That’s crazy!

Now chances are that you aren’t going to be off by 1/8th of an inch, but you get the idea about how it adds up right? So what can you do to make sure your seam allowance is more accurate?

Let’s start with taking a look at the sole plate on your machine. There are usually marks on the metal that tell you where to line up your fabric.

Now, this particular machine has 9mm stitch width capabilities so the 1/4 inch mark is the edge of the foot. But you can see the 5/8th mark very clearly on the sole plate. This is great, but I will admit that even after sewing for 25 years, I still need a little help to ensure an accurate seam.

Here are a few of the things we have tried over the years, starting with our very favorite product. Try them and see what you think. Be sure to leave a comment if you have a tip we did not include!

(Note: This post contains affiliate links to the products on Amazon in the photos to show you where to find them. If you purchase the item through those links, we earn a few cents for recommending the product. You are not charged extra for using the link. It’s kinda like Amazon giving us a tip for offering you a tip!)

Ideal Seam Gauge and Ideal Seam Guide

Sew Very Smooth SVS54951 Ideal Seam Gauge* Affiliate

Sew Very Smooth Ideal Seam Guide* Affiliate Link in photo

 

These two products work perfectly on any machine. You simply lift up your presser foot and slide your needle into the hole on the Ideal Seam Gauge next to the seam allowance you want.

 

Next, leave the needle down, turn the gauge and drop the presser foot.

Now line up the Ideal Seam Guide right next to the gauge. It has a tacky back that will temporarily adhere to the bed of your sewing machine.

Remove the Ideal Seam Gauge and get ready to sew! Line up your fabric with the seam guide as you sew. That’s it!

Ideal Seam Guide* Affiliate Link in photo

Its really easy! In my photos, I used the Student Edition which comes with everything you need in a compact version.

You can find more information about this product on the Sew Very Smooth website. We just love them!
If you need to sew TODAY and you don’t have a store that sells the ideal seam guide, what do you do? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

First, you need a ruler. A quilting ruler is just fine. A measuring tape is fine too if it has the mark you need. (just be sure to compare whatever you are using to a second ruler to make sure that the markings are correct)

Line up the ¼” or 5/8” marking with the needle, just as before. Using washi tape, painters tape or even moleskin (shoe insole section of a drugstore) line it up on the edge of your ruler.

 

This method provides a visual mark for you to line up with the edge of your fabric as you sew. Moleskin is about 1/8 inch thick, so it actually gives you a slight lip to butt the fabric against.

 

Depending on your sewing machine, you might be able to purchase a ¼ inch foot with a guide…

1/4 inch foot with guide*

Adjustable Seam Guide*

Your machine might come with a screw in guide for garment sewing. It looks like this…

Seam guide*

 

Or you can buy a magnetic guide that you can apply just as we did above.

Just remember to measure from the needle, especially if your machine allows you to adjust the needle position, to ensure that you get the perfect seam allowance.

 

That’s it! Pretty easy right? Do you have another tip that we didn’t mention here? If so, tell us about it in the comments below!

Be sure to visit the other stops along the rest of the blog hop and thanks for stopping by!

 

Don’t forget to check out everyone else in the Back to School Blog Hop 2017!

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt – www.huntersdesignstudio.com

Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting – www.mandalei.com

Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling – www.justquiltingpdx.com

Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine – www.LoveBugStudios.com

Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates – www.designcamppdx.blogspot.com

Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching – www.crinkledreams.com

Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo – www.vintagefabricstudio.com

Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique – www.thebitchystitcher.com

Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com

Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines – www.quiltingjetgirl.com

Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips – www.craftyplanner.com

Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children – www.thetartankiwi.com

Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution – www.badassquilterssociety.com

Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric – www.wombatquilts.com

Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam – www.sewmuchcosplay.com

Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread – www.terificreations.com

Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www. higheredhands.blogspot.com

Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) – www.ipleadquilty.com

Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) – www.jessicakdarling.com

Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com

Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching – www.smudgeddesignstudio.com

Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs – www.quiltjane.com

Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room – www.onequiltingcircle.com

Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine – www.christaquilts.com

Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch – www.berrybarndesigns.com

Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding – www.websterquilt.blogspot.com

Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – www.sarahgoerquilts.com

Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips – www.chittenden.co.za

Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips – www.muppin.com

Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them – www.gogokim.com

Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué – www.sandrahealydesigns.com

Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting – www.utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

 

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Cosplay Conversation: Mandy Schnecke

 

Name: Mandy Schnecke

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Facebook: Dins Forge Cosplay

Instagram: @dinsforge

 

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?

This cosplay is a character named Ophelia from the Nintendo series Fire Emblem: Fates! For this costume instead of doing her default outfit, I decided to create her reclassed Sorceress outfit from the cipher card because I wanted to challenge myself! I made a couple of modifications to the design including the color of the characters hair and the crown. In the game, Ophelia’s father is a prince from another kingdom so I chose to make my wig blue instead of blonde, and I used chose to give her the Crown of the Exalt as a throwback to that lineage.

I chose to cosplay Ophelia because she and her father Owain are my favorite characters in the series!

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

I would say that it took me about a solid month to put together Ophelia.

 

What was your biggest challenge?

Fantasy costumes can often be a challenge to bring to life because they aren’t really created with practicality in mind, they’re just made to look cool. So for me patterning was the biggest challenge, especially when it came to the body suit. They were actually created to be like a pair of legging that extended up my torso and tucked under the band of my bra. A lot of time went into drafting them so that there were as few visible seams as possible. Since power mesh can be delicate to work with, one of the other interesting challenged of the bodysuit was top stitching the pleather diamonds on without ripping the mesh. They actually had to be made twice since I accidentally tore a hole in the mesh initially trying to top stitch them down.

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?

I went into this project knowing that I wanted to compete with it so I didn’t give myself a budget for this project. All of the elements of the combined (two wigs sewn together, over 250 individually set Swarovski crystals, resin embellishments, feather trim, etc.) I spent around $550 creating my costume.

 

What special techniques did you use?

One of my favorite techniques is satin stitching, which I was able to use in quite a few spots on the costume including the veil, hip guards, tabard, and collar.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

To me, one of the most satisfying parts of this costume was the cape. The base is a stiff suiting that started as a half circle that I modified to look more like wings. From there I sewed down lines of feather trim on both the inside and the outside of the cape.

 

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I would completely redo the collar piece. I wasn’t really satisfied with the way it sat and I would have liked to add some additional applique on the front, since everything I added on the back was covered by my wig.

 

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay? 

Very frequently. Right now I attend about 5 conventions a year in addition to doing location shoots.

How many cosplay do you do?

Oh gosh haha! Between the ones I’ve made and the couple that I’ve bought, about 50.

 

Series: Bravely Default Characters: Ringabel (myself) and Edea Lee (Grace Somerset ig: rage.and.roses) Photographer: Anna Lam

What do you want to make next?

The next big costume I’m working on is a character named Lydia from the podcast The Adventure Zone!

 

Favorite cosplay moment? 

One of the most special cosplay moments for me happened at Anime Central 2017. I’ve been a huge fan of the book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians since I was in middle school and I managed to organize a group of friends to cosplay it with me. We had about 18 characters from Camp Halfblood, 5 from Camp Jupiter shirts, and 3 Hunters of Artemis. All of the camp shirts were custom designed and made using heat transfer vinyl and cut out using a Silhouette. This series meant a lot to me growing up, and it made me unbelievable happy to have so many of my close friends get together to make this dream group come true.

 

Favorite fandoms to follow?

Fire Emblem will always have my heart, but right now I’m very in to The Adventure Zone and My Hero Academia!

 

What sewing machine do you sew on?

I sew on a Husqvarna Viking Rose 600, and my serger is a Janome New Home.

 

What materials do you like using?

I love working with peachskin, matte satin, and velvet.

 

What materials do you want to try?

I’ve always wanted to try working with leather.

 

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Velvet haha. I love it but it isn’t always the easiest to work with.

 

What techniques are you dying to learn?

I’d like to try more projects that involve pieced seams in body suits. I got to work with this technique while I was working on the under suits for a Voltron cosplay, but I would love to try more complicated designs in the future.

Series: Bravely Default
Characters: Ringabel (myself) and Edea Lee (Grace Somerset ig: rage.and.roses)
Photographer: Anna Lam

All of the profession photos are taken by Anna Lam, here are her pages:

Website https://www.bananzers.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bnnzrs/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bananzers/

 

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Cosplay Conversation: Beth Grimes

Name: Beth Grimes

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Facebook: facebook.com/silentbeth

Instagram: victrolavixen

Twitter: @victrolavixen

Cosplay Affiliations: Probable COSplay

 

You have an unusual twist when you cosplay. Tell us about it.

I have made detailed screen-accurate cosplays, but I love doing mashups and puns.    It started last year with Purple Rey (a play on Prince’s Purple Rain and Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens).   It was such a hit I decided to follow it up with Garth Vader (Garth Algar from Wayne’s World dressed as Darth Vader), then this year’s Edgar Allan Poe Dameron (The famous author plus Poe Dameron, dashingly handsome pilot from Star Wars: The Force Awakens).   I have a list of more ideas to tackle as I get the time and resources!  I can’t wait to do more!

 

What made you choose to cosplay puns?

I am a nerd and a comedian.  I love combining those two worlds.   I’m a circus clown, and as part of that community my friends and I are constantly coming up with visual gags/jokes to use in shows or to amuse ourselves.    Essentially this is a continuation of a thought process from clowns and comedians from way back- a hundred years ago or more.  Circus clowns during the 19-teens through the 1960s would have made costumes like this based on current events or celebrities at the time to get laughs as they strolled down the track during parts of the show.  They were called “walkarounds”.    I wouldn’t use them in shows today but they are GREAT for cosplay at cons.  Pun cosplay also allows me to be more creative and it gets people’s brains going when they see those types of cosplay.  I like making people think, and I love making people laugh.  Sometimes it takes a minute for them to get it, but the reaction is ALWAYS worth it.

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?

I wanted to come up with another pun costume for this year’s CONvergence.  I decided Edgar Allan Poe Dameron was the funniest sounding one on the list and I should make it happen.

 

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

I procrastinated so I frantically put the costume together in under 2 days.  I had all day Thursday to paint and find pieces, then Friday late night after I got home from day 1 of the con, then Saturday morning to finish.

 

What was your biggest challenge?

There were a few challenges- Coming up with the makeup and figuring out how to make the oxygen hose box on the front.  I found a plastic electronics case at a surplus store and covered it with foam core to make the boxy shape and the buttons.   I studied photos of Edgar Allan Poe to get the face right.

 

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?

I try to spend as little as possible when doing cosplays.  The most expensive part was the flight suit.  (I had to buy one due to time or else I would’ve sewn one) The ensemble cost about $80.

 

What special techniques did you use?

I was able to dismantle a padded army surplus belt and spray paint the pieces to resemble Poe Dameron’s flight vest.  To make the vest I hemmed a winter puffy vest for the base.  I didn’t count on the vest being filled with down.  I am used to cotton batting.  Upon the first cut the down showered out of the vest like confetti.  Our cat was quite amused.  I, on the other hand, still had wet spray paint on my arms and hands and they were now covered with tiny white feathers.  Never, ever, cut open a down vest.

 

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

I decided to go with greyscale makeup since it would make the character more recognizable.  It adds to the melancholy and goth look.  Without the greyscale I’d just look like Ron Swanson in a flight suit.  I didn’t have time to do any makeup tests, so I woke up early Saturday morning hoping my makeup would turn out in the first go.  At first I glued on a mustache but when I went to trim it I cut too much off.  I decided to draw on the mustache.  I’m very pleased it turned out the way it did!

 

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I am in process of re-making the vest.  The original vest was very stiff since the front panels were originally a belt.  I need a vest that allows for more movement.  I also intend to incorporate more Poe references than just The Raven, although the BB-8 Raven is my favorite part of the costume.

About Cosplay in general:

How long have you been doing Cosplay?

My first cosplay was the Mike Meyers version of Cat in the Hat at Wizard World 2009.

 

How often do you Cosplay?

Not nearly as often as I want!

 

How many cosplay do you do?

I currently do Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp version), Floyd Pepper (The Muppets),  Professor Trelawney (Harry Potter), Purple Rey, Garth Vader, and Edgar Allan Poe Dameron

 

What do you want to make next?

I have a list of ideas.  *HINT* My next pun will be an homage to my favorite silent film comedian and an iconic 1980s movie.

 

Favorite cosplay moment?

Last year, as Purple Rey, and my boyfriend as Purple Ren (Kylo Ren),  people who knew Prince and worked for Prince came to us and told us their stories.  It was an amazing experience!

Favorite fandoms to follow?

Star Wars, Star Trek, Borderlands, Slapstick Comedy

 

What kind of sewing machine do you use?

Whichever one runs!  Currently I’m using a Sears Kenmore.

 

What materials do you like using?

PVC, Cardboard, Craft Foam, Plasti-Dip

 

What materials do you want to try?

leatherwork and 3D printing (getting a printer this Fall!)

 

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

SPANDEX.

 

What techniques are you dying to learn?

I will be learning to make my own special effects makeup prosthetics very soon.  I also just learned to ventilate so I need to practice some wig-making!

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Cosplay Conversation: Carrie Stier Talks About Her Nights King Build

 

After her amazing interview last week, we got requests for more information about how she built her Nights King cosplay. She was kind enough to share her notes with us. Thanks Carrie!

Game of Thrones

Nights King Cosplay

There are several different versions of the Nights King outfit you can find when you scroll through Google images. I consider this character the Nights King and the version with the long hair a White Walker.

 

I tried to pick materials that looked as close to this costume version as per my personal interpretation. The “skirt” and pant-legs I made using an old canvas paint drop cloth. I cut into strips and sewed together using the photo as my guide. I used grommets and a piece of leather string under the front “apron” to lace up the skirt. The front apron is held on over the lacing using a snap on either side. I held the pant legs (two separate legs) up using vet-wrap high up on my thigh, which was hidden by the skirt. If I had to do over I would have sewn them onto some leggings or other type pants to hold them up better. After sewing I dyed the pieces black. I tried using fabric spray paint and/or regular paint on a sample piece of fabric but it dried too stiff for my liking.

Now for the hard part —- the “armor” My interpretation of the top pieces is that it is more like a leather “shirt” rather than a hard armor. That being said, I wanted as close to the body fit for the top as I could get. Using pieces of leather from a few leather coats found at Good Will I fashioned a tank top with grommets down the side to lace it on with. I used small pieces of foam glued to the leather tank top to mimic the pattern on the photo. I recommend barge cement or specific leather glue. I found other glues did not work well on the leather. Because of your body type, you may be able to achieve a better look by using a form fitting black t-shirt for this piece. I used pieces of the paint canvas for the detail at the bottom front of the shirt/armor and sewed it on. Since I made my costume, I ran into another Nights King at the Con of Thrones in Nashville.  He made his armor completely from Eva foam.  It reminded me of a Turtle shell the way it fit him.  He was also tall and thin so it worked well for him.  For my body type, I am not sure how it would fit because “boobs”.

The shoulder pieces are eva foam with the small pieces of foam glued to it to create the look I wanted. I curved the inside of the foam to fit around my neck and used a slight convex curve on the shoulder edge. After several attempts at securing the shoulder piece to the leather vest, I ended up using short screws with washers on the back to hold into place. I found a collar piece that is made for a Kylo Ren costume to hide the bottom edge of the mask. If your skill level allows, I would recommend using prosthetics or make up.  I personally found the mask hard to hear and see out of.

After the top was all put together, I sprayed it with black spray foam to seal it and add a bit of texture. Then I used some glitter spray to add an icy look. Arm bracers were made from strips of left over leather. I was not happy with the way they turned out. I made several different versions. It was hard to get them to fit correctly because I didn’t have anyone to help hold them on me while building. If you end up using a black shirt for the top, get a long sleeve one and just wrap leather around the arms to achieve the look. I used a bit of white body paint on my arms and hands where the skin was showing. Not solid white but a streaked look.

Instead of a weapon, I went with Craster Baby instead because I felt it would be an unexpected prop.  I found a doll I thought looked most like the reference pictures.  To achieve the specific frozen blue eye look, I took the doll to the lady that paints my nails and she painted the eyes to give them the creepy look.

 

 

Things I learned with this build:

  • navigating a large con in a mask and substantial costume pieces is NOT easy and you probably want to test it out at a smaller con first. I can’t imagine how hard it is for the really BIG costumes.
  • It is good to challenge yourself with a character outside of your comfort zone, but it is also ok to say—Nope…this wasn’t for me.
  • If choosing a more involved costume get a buddy to go with you to the con. I was alone and this costume was difficult to get into by myself. I also couldn’t take any pictures of myself or others.
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Choosing The Perfect Machine for Cosplay

You are getting into cosplay and the closet cosplay ideas are wearing thin. You want more. Cosplay commissions are sometimes cost prohibitive. Making your own cosplay is challenging but incredibly satisfying and learning to sew is fun. Are you ready to dive in?

What is cool about cosplay is that you use really interesting materials to create amazing costumes. What is challenging is that all machines aren’t built to stitch through all of those unique fabrics. The machines you find in big box stores near the vacuums may not be the best option for cosplay because they are made for very basic applications. So where do you turn? We will walk you through all you need to know!

Where To Shop

Sewing machine stores are in every state and you likely have one somewhere near you.  A sewing store can be a Sewing machine and vacuum store, a sewing machine and fabric store, or a quilting shop. They may sell one brand of machine, or many brands. All of these types of stores will have a knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions about buying a sewing machine. We have been working overtime at Sew Much Cosplay™ to get sewing machine stores up to speed on what cosplay is so that you have a resource in your area. (And if you are a store, check out our new programs just for you!)

Sewing machine manufacturers have a store locator on their websites. Some of the brands to look for are Baby Lock, BERNINA, Brother, Elna, Janome, Juki, Necchi, Pfaff, Singer, and Viking. Try googling one of these brands + your state to find a store near you.

The bonus to buying from an independent store is that you have somewhere to go when you have any trouble. Stitch over a pin? They have repair people. Is the machine skipping stitches? The employees can trouble shoot a better needle option. They also usually offer lessons on how to use the machine so you know the basics.

Buy A Machine That Fits

Buying a sewing machine is much like buying sneakers – you have to find the right fit and see how it feels. Sewing machines have always been an investment, but a quality machine can last you 25 years or more if you take care of it.

They start at about $100 and go up to more than $13,000. Luckily, you don’t need to spend $13,000 on a machine to get a fantastic machine that will allow you to make lots of cosplay and accessories.  As the price of the machine goes up, you get more features on the machine. It is just like buying a car. Do you want a Kia or a BMW? Both have great options, take a test drive to see which one is right for you. Try to buy more than features than you think you need so you are sure to get one that you will be happy with for years to come.

The Test Drive

Think about the cosplays on your wishlist. Will you need to sew with leather? Neoprene? Organza? 4-way Stretch? Each of those materials needs a different needle, foot and stitch. Ask about stitching with those materials and we suggest bringing a few different fabric swatches to try out the machines. If the store has more than one brand, try out each material on a few different models.

Features To Look For

Variety of Stitches – At the minimum, you need straight stitch and a zig-zag. The stretch stitch and overlock stitch are really handy if you don’t have a serger. Decorative stitches are great for some costumes.

Needle Threader – Not necessary, but it sure is nice!

Built in scissors – Also not necessary, but nice!

Feet – Straight, ZigZag, Zipper, Ruffler attachment, Walking foot, pintuck, teflon, roller – these are all feet you may need. Do they come standard? If not, how much do they cost? Factor this in to the overall cost of the machine too. (see more below)

Needle up/Needle Down – This feature makes adjusting the fabric easy without losing your place. It is vital for machine applique.

Free arm – The free arm is the part of the machine bellow the needle where you find the bobbin, feed dogs, etc. There is usually a removable drawer or tray here that covers this small section. The free arm is a smaller area that allows you to sew sleeves and hem pants and other small sections of garments. This is on most machines. However, some machines made for quilting and other flat sewing do not have this section.  For cosplay, we suggest you get a machine WITH a free arm. Here are a few photos showing what we mean.

 

This beauty is a typical sewing machine with a free arm.

 

This is a great sewing machine, but it does not have a free arm. Sewing sleeves or hemming pants would be tricky!

Questions To Ask

What feet are included? How much do extra feet cost?

Do you offer lessons on how to use the machine?

How often do I need to get a tune-up and how much does that cost?

Do you offer a cosplay night where I can come in and try your machines for free?

Is A Used Machine A Better Option?

Some sewing machine stores accept trade-ins when a customer upgrades their machine. The retailer then gives the machine a tune up to ensure that it is in good working order and then offers it for sale. Since the machine is used, you can often get a lot more machine for your money. This might be a great option depending on their stock. Sometimes these machines come with extra feet and attachments too.

Don’t overlook those machines you find at the thrift store or at yard sales either. A good vintage machine is often better than the inexpensive models you find at big box stores. Do make sure you can still buy parts and feet for the machine first and be sure to bring it in for a tune up. It’s much like getting the oil changed on your car – it helps to keep the machine running well. A tune-up will cost you approximately $100, give or take but it is worth the investment to ensure that that machine is in good working order and is safe to use.

Conclusion

Sewing machines are a great investment as you get into cosplay. They may be a bit intimidating at first and a bit “spendy”, but if you keep in mind that a great machine that will last you for several years will cost around $500, and that machine will stitch you up many cosplay… well, that is many, many hours of enjoyment right there! Learn as much as you can before you buy and be an educated shopper. And don’t forget: Sew on it before you buy!

Do you have any questions about buying a sewing machine? Leave us a comment and we will be sure to answer your questions.

 

 

 

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Cosplay Conversation: Diana Quake

Name: Diana Quake

Location: Chicago IL

Facebook: Diana Quake Cosplay

Instagram: @DianaQuake

 

About this specific Cosplay: Roadhog

 

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?

I usually only cosplay characters that resemble my physique and personality, but after playing Overwatch I wanted to challenge myself and go out of my comfort zone. Roadhog is my complete opposite, loud and full of energy. It was so refreshing to become him, but also to show my take on a male character. It was my first genderbend.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

I would say about two weeks, with most of the work done in the 3 days before it needed to be done. Con crunch is real, haha. The rest of the days were spent adding props and touching up things that didn’t work out as expected originally.

What was your biggest challenge?

This was the first time I had worked with EVA foam and Worbla so extensively. It was a whole new set of skills I needed to learn.

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?

The budget was around $200, but this is a rough estimate. Many of the materials I already had, and some were repurposed. I try to reuse and recycle things as much as I possibly can. The most expensive items were the Worbla for the hook and EVA foam due to the large amount used.

 

What special techniques did you use?

I used everything from foam smithing (a ton of foam smithing), sculpting, thermal plastic molding, airbrushing, vector design patterning… to sewing, wig styling, and a custom design for the temporary tattoo.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

It was very rewarding to try new techniques, and see the final product come to life. But ultimately it was very satisfying to cosplay something different, to become a completely different person, especially since I could wear a full mask.

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

Everything came out really well, but if I had to redo it, I would make use of patterns more often. A lot of the earlier pieces were eyeballed and perfected through much trial and error. The patterns would have saved me time.

 

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay?

Somewhere around once a month at least. This includes new and repeating costumes.

How many cosplay do you do?

I don’t make a ton of cosplays. Probably around 7 a year. I like to only choose those I am very passionate about. This number is however, growing every year, haha.

 

What do you want to make next?

Next up is the Vegas Star Trek Convention. I am making my take on the Starfleet uniform and a Vulcan priestess gown from The Search for Spock movie.

 

Favorite cosplay moment?

My favorite cosplay moments are always when a kid is excited about my costume. I can never say no to a photo op with a kid. They are absolutely adorable!

Favorite fandoms to follow?

I’m a huge trekkie, so I gotta say Star Trek of course, but have recently gotten into more Star Wars and am very much enjoying learning about the expanded universe. I also suggest checking out Fallout. The mix of futuristic technology, 50’s style, and post-apocalyptic world make for a very unique environment.

What sewing machine do you sew on?

I have a Singer Brilliance for my regular sewing, and for sturdier materials a Singer 3115.

What materials do you like using?

I’m open to all materials. Since my background is in Steampunk and Victorian gowns I love working with heavier fabrics, such as beautifully detailed upholstery.

What materials do you want to try?

I would love to work more with chiffon. I am actually incorporating it in my Vulcan costume this summer.

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Oh, 4-way stretch! Sadly most of the superhero costumes are made out of it, so you learn and adapt and become very patient, haha.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

I would love to do more embroidery. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do gold embroidery. Recently I discovered silk ribbon embroidery, and it seems like a fun way to add detailing to your costumes and even clothes! So I may start with that.

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Cosplay Conversation: Christine Diep

Name:  Christine Diep

Location: Chicago, IL

Website: www.youtube.com/user/shiningpolaris2008

Facebook: theshiningpolaris OR ShiningPolaris (Personal)

Instagram: shiningpolaris

Twitter: @shiningpolaris

Other: Facebook Event Page – CosplayersWithoutBanners

 

 

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?

I am a HUGE Game of Thrones fan.  Sansa is one of my favorite characters.  She, in my opinion, has the prettiest outfits.  I just fell in love with her “crow” dress because it signifies her change into a little girl to a woman that is starting to understand the “Game.”

 

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

This took me about a month to make.  This costume was also made as my entry to Dragon Con Cosplay Contest!

 

What was your biggest challenge?

Hand sewing each feather and bead into the dress!  Feathers were worse because they either broke or didnt look right after touching them!

 

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?

My cosplay really have no budget!  I love cosplays and spend way to much money on making them.  This probably cost me around $100.00 which isn’t bad at all.

 

What special techniques did you use?

Not really any special techiniques.  Basic sewing on the dress and cape.  But I hand sewed everything else such as the feathers and beads.

 

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

Just knowing that I did it and it was accepted to DragonCon Contest which is super hard to get in!  Also looking at it, it was well made and fit.  It made all the Baelish cosplayers jealous!

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

Maybe redo the beading on the bottom of the dress.  I did it in a hurry so it is coming apart.  My necklace too.  That piece was also done last minute.

 

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay?

I been cosplaying since 1996.  I now do it almost every single week!

 

How many cosplays do you do?

Last year for an example I wore 50 cosplays!  Maybe made 30 new ones!

 

What do you want to make next?

I enter the Crown Championships every year which is a huge extremely difficult costume contest to enter.  I am working on Rocket Racoon for that one.

 

Favorite cosplay moment? 

I won Best Seamstress at the Crown Championships in 2015!

 

Favorite fandoms to follow?

At the moment I love Doctor Who, Flash, Gotham, and Game of Thrones

 

What sewing machine do you sew on?

I actually won a Bernina 830 from the Crown.  But I use a regular brother from Costco!

 

What materials do you like using?

I don’t really have a favorite?  I try to buy cheap stuff that looks the closest to what I am making!

 

What materials do you want to try?

Worbla one day!

 

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Worbla and foam!

 

What techniques are you dying to learn?

Worbla

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