Pattern Round Up – Star Wars Version!

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another Pattern Round Up!  This is where we look at commercial patterns and let you know that with some slight adjustments, you could use these patterns as a jumping off point for your next cosplay.  Let’s get started with Rey, from the latest trilogy!

This pattern appeared in our Game of Thrones week because of the middle design.  However, the one on the right, looks similar enough to Rey (pictured right) that you could make it work.  The belt is not correct, but could be figured out.  Click here to buy Simplicity pattern 8074. 

This is a much better option for Rey because it comes with the belt and wrist cuff pattern in the package.  But, you don’t get the options to make the other views in the package like the Simplicity one, as this McCalls pattern only has one pattern inside. Click here to buy McCalls pattern M7421.

Staying with The Force Awakens, here’s a Kylo Ren that’s pretty great.  You just need a lightsaber and a mask, and you have it ready to go! Click here to buy McCalls pattern M7422. 

Want to be a Jedi?  Well this Simplicity pattern has a lot of the options you will need.  The outfit is a dead ringer for the Jedi clothing, and the robe just needs wider sleeves, as shown here on the right on Obi Wan Kenobi.  Click here to buy Simplicity pattern 5480. 

Want to have a little fun with your cosplay and make it your own?  This 3 pack of outfits play off of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and a Stormtrooper.  While not to everyone’s tastes, and you certainly won’t get into the 501st with one of these, they are fun. Click here to buy Simplicity pattern 8201. 

Read More

Exclusive Interview with Albin Johnson, Founder of the 501st Legion

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

Over the past 20 years, the organization called the 501st Legion (AKA Vader’s Fist) has become the premiere cosplaying organization for fans of the Star Wars films.  The Legion charter even states they are formed to facilitate the use of costumes in Star Wars related events.  The name of the organization started out as fictional, but in recognition of the dedication of the group Lucasfilm incorporated the name into official Star Wars products.   The 501st Legion is one of the most respected costuming organizations in the world, which now counts over 10,000 members.

We had a chance to catch up with Albin Johnson for an exclusive Sew Much Cosplay™ interview.

Tell us a little about why you started the 501st Legion, AKA Vader’s Fist?

It was the late nineties and I was recovering from a traumatic leg injury when the Star Wars re-releases came out. People who remember that remember how exciting it was to have Star Wars back. My buddy Tom Crews and I couldn’t stop talking about it and the topic wandered to the Stormtroopers and how cool it would be to actually wear that armor. So we dropped a ton of money on some armor we found online at the time and took it for a spin. The photos I posted on the early Geocities site were so well received and so many other costumers sent their pics in, I thought ‘hey, why not post photos like it’s a fictional military unit in the Star Wars universe?’ I honestly thought a cool back-story would make for a story-space I always imagined the Stormtroopers occupying but never had in the movies or even the books.

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

Vader was always strolling along in the movies and just pointing at some troopers standing around and saying ‘come with me!’, I thought ‘what if that’s some secret, off-the-books, elite unit he always has on stand-by? Hey, what’s THEIR story?’ So Vader’s Fist was born as a concept and my newfound friends who were costumers really seemed to dig it.

As a cosplay site, we get lots of inquiries from 501st members for education on sewing for their costumes. What kind of education for costuming/cosplay does the 501st provide?

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

As an organization, there is no formal training offered in anything – people jump right in and start assembling armor and costumes best as they can. But as a community, there is a rich tradition of exchanging tips, ideas, and techniques on everything from sewing to casting plastic pieces to building props. The best route to go as a new member is to put up your hand and ask. The Legion forums are teeming with talented people eager to help.

Your group is known for having very high standards for cosplaying.  Why is that?

Once a fan puts on a costume, it becomes obvious just how privileged it makes you feel to be part of the Star Wars universe. When you see the reaction from fans, there’s a natural inclination to want to really ‘nail it’ on the performance. The first sets of armor and costumes were put together with attention to detail, photo references, techniques at hand at the time. But we’ve had twenty years to get the most accurate information and refine our techniques. There is so much pride in what we’re doing, and in what Star Wars means to us, that it shows in the love for detail in the costumes. And we know that if we’re representing the Star Wars universe we have to bring our ‘A’ game.

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

What do you think the biggest draw is to be part of the 501st?

A sense of community, a social family there to support one another. There’s also the draw of being identified with something larger than one’s self, the idea that your Star Wars character you’re portraying is not just cool as a character but has a connection to a larger fictional character in the Star Wars universe: a cool military unit of the Empire.

Your organization has amazing reach across the world.  What made you think of dividing into local garrisons?

It became obvious early on that the sheer size of a club would collapse under its own weight if not divided up into meaningful units. No one works hard for some leader way off somewhere who’s running the whole show. But they’ll work harder for their local community, and by extension will support a larger unit that gives them support. I just recalled how the Roman Empire was organized, and that gave me ideas for the naming scheme of units as well as the idea of where their loyalties would be. The thought was that folks could identify with whatever level they liked, whether it was the vast Legion or their local unit, and they’d still be contributing.

photo courtesy Albin Johnson – The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

What are your favorite characters to cosplay as?

Plain ol’ Stormtrooper. He’s just as cool to me now as he always was. There’s just something iconic about the costume and about the character.

What is your favorite part of cosplaying a Star Wars character?

My favorite part of costuming as a Star Wars character is representing Star Wars and all the awesome magic it represents. When you are seen as an ambassador of the galaxy far, far away it’s a rush to feel the fan energy. Just one look from a child and you’re hooked. You can feel the Force in a very real way.

What impact do you think the 501st Legion has had on the pop culture convention circuit?

I hope we’ve made a sizable impact with our presence. I certainly think we’ve created a strong template for costuming organizations to follow and innovate. Conventions used to be a place where costumers acted individually and were merely consumers of the offerings at conventions. Now costuming organizations are content-providers, entertainers, and community activists in charity and convention activities. I think the Legion has certainly raised the profile of Star Wars as a genre at conventions by letting people meet and interact with the characters. And I hope we’ve helped other groups do the same for their own costuming groups.

What makes you the proudest about the 501st Legion over the last 20 years?

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

I’m proudest of what I’ve seen our tens of thousands of members accomplish over the last two decades. I’ve been a ring-side witness to people growing, connecting, and giving in ways they never knew they were capable of. It has been an enormous validation on what Star Wars can mean when done in the right spirit and what the human race is capable of.

 

Many thanks to Albin Johnson and the 501st Legion for the interview!

Read More

Cosplay Conversation – John DiMauro

Tell us about yourself:

Name: John DiMauro
Location: Ballston Lake, NY
Website: www.garrisonexcelsior.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stormtroopa/
Twitter: @jtdimauro
Cosplay Affiliations: 501st Legion

About this specific Cosplay:
Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?
My primary costume is a TIE Fighter pilot from A New Hope. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, and TIE Pilots look really cool. I’m also working on a Tusken Raider costume, and I have the parts to make a Stormtrooper sitting in a box on my work table.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?
I didn’t make the pilot per say. I got all of the parts already assembled. The most I had to do was install the shoulder straps, and fix up the helmet with fans and more padding. It took about a year to get everything together though. The Tusken I am making completely from scratch – with the exception of the helmet kit.  It’s actually been a few years in the making since time to work on it just hasn’t happened.

What was your biggest challenge?
Sewing the robes for the Tusken Raider. I haven’t touched a sewing machine since Home Economics class back in 8th grade (30 something years ago).

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?
For the pilot, I spent about $800 all together. The Tusken has been significantly cheaper. Not counting some tools, it has been less than $200. The Stormtrooper armor I got at a discounted pre-release price from Anovos. It was about $350 for everything except boots and blaster. I still need to purchase those, and a new belt. That should be about another $250.

What special techniques did you use?
None so far! I’ve just been kind of winging it. Luckily, Tusken Raiders aren’t known for their finesse and construction techniques.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?
The best thing about portraying a character in the 501st is the interaction you have with kids. Seeing their faces light up when they see you – or even better, when they are too scared to approach you at first, but you end up being their best friend and they continuously come to you for a high 5.

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?
Different fans and audio system in the helmet.

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay?
About once a month at least.

How many cosplay do you do?
Just the one right now.

What do you want to make next?
I want to finish the Stormtrooper and Tusken. I also have plans on a 181st TIE Fighter pilot, an X-Wing Pilot, and a Rogue One Rebel soldier.

Favorite cosplay moment?
Walking through Star Wars Celebration in Orlando with 99 other pilots.

Favorite fandoms to follow?
Star Wars, Marvel, Firefly, BSG, Doctor Who

What sewing machine do you sew on?
My mother’s old 1970-something Kenmore.

Thanks for sharing your cosplay with us, John!  Want to be featured on our site?  Check out our Submissions page and send us an email! 

Read More

Cosplay Coversation: Fox Arcada

Tell us about yourself:

Name: Ashley
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Website: http://foxarcada.wixsite.com/cosplay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxArcada/
Instagram: @FoxArcada

About this specific Cosplay:

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

Raven has been one of my favorite characters since I was 8 years old. Even back then, I was begging my parents to buy me the Halloween costume for her because I just HAD to be Raven. They never did, and I kind of gave up on being her until someone I was hanging out with said I’d make a really good Raven and I was like “Wait… Yeah, I really want to be her. I’ve always wanted to be her.” And so, I finally completed my childhood goal of becoming Raven, at 21 years old.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

This one only took me about three days overall, it was a fairly easy construction, I just had to wait a while to get materials in.

What was your biggest challenge?

The wig. I was being very cheap with this one and didn’t want to buy a lacefront wig, but also didn’t want the cheap-looking false widow’s peaks that most Raven wigs have. So, I bought a wig in the right color without bangs on eBay and trimmed it to the correct length, and then I made the fake lacefront widow’s peak with tulle and gluing the excess hair that I’d trimmed off onto the tulle piece. I’d never tried something like this, and it was kind of scary, but it turned out alright for a first try! I’d like to go back and fix it up a bit, but I was proud of my efforts.

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

I wanted to spend under $100, because I was already making a competition costume for the con I was making her for, and I couldn’t afford to make Raven really expensive, as well. I ended up spending about $70 total.

What special techniques did you use?

Custom “Fake lacefront” wig styling, clay working, stretch stitching.

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

Definitely the most satisfying part was just being Raven, and fulfilling my childhood dreams. What made me most proud was my cloak, though. It’s so beautiful, especially in motion.

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

I’d like to fix the wig and keep it a little longer, I trimmed it a bit shorter than I really wanted.

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay?

Pretty often, I go to cons and photoshoots throughout the year, and at least get into cosplay once a month.

How many cosplays do you do?

I’ve done 24, but only 15 of those are still ones in my con/photography rotation.

What do you want to make next?

I’m gearing up to work on Widowmaker from Overwatch, Empress C.C. from Code Geass, and Keith from Voltron right now.

Favorite cosplay moment?

My friends and I were cosplaying from League of Legends, and so we were all in very cumbersome, very warm costumes, but we had to go outside in the hot Georgia summer sun for a photoshoot. We suffered through it for a little more than an hour, as we had more photos to take after the shoot was officially over. So, we all finally go inside and start moaning and screaming, then one of us sits down and realizes the floor is cold, so we all end up laying down on the floor, basically sob-laughing because the floor feels so good. Bonus: we got some excellent death pictures as we lay there, actually dying.

Favorite fandoms to follow?

Danganronpa, Voltron, League of Legends, My Hero Academia, Kakegurui

What sewing machine do you sew on?

I use a Brother PC420.

What materials do you like using?

Faux fur, faux leather, and spandex are my favorites. I like matte satin, too.

What materials do you want to try?

I kind of want to work with PVC and Neoprene, but I can’t think of any cosplays that would suit those fabrics at the moment, so I’ll have to wait on it.

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

EVA foam and worbla. I know they’re easy in theory, but I have the hardest time with them.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

Proper armor making. I can make gauntlets and small things but I have no idea how to even begin tackling a full armor build.

Thanks for sharing your cosplay with us, Ashley!  Want to be featured on our site?  Check out our Submissions page and send us an email! 

Read More

Cosplay Conversation: Devon Bell

Tell us about yourself:
Name: Devon Bell
Location: Calgary
Instagram: @werewolfprincev

Character: Deku (My Hero Academia)

Photos by: Mackenzie Shaw (twitter @magitrash, WyvernPhotography)

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

I decided that I wanted to cosplay Deku pretty quickly after I started reading the series; as a protagonist, he’s very easy to relate to, and it’s not very often I find characters are shown to be both physically strong and broad but also have very round and open faces, so I felt he was a character I’d look good as, as well.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

I actually decided to make him fairly last minute, and so I only had about 2-3 weeks to get him done.

What was your biggest challenge?

Building the leg armour was something I really didn’t have much of a plan for and ended up winging completely. Also, I ended up having to make a number of adjustments to the body suit that I hadn’t anticipated.

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

I didn’t have much of a budget, since I already had almost everything I needed besides the green fabric and a few accessory things. I even had the wig already by the time I got to making the hero suit. In total I think I spent probably between $80-$100 over the course of the entire cosplay? It was spread out, so I’m not entirely sure.

What special techniques did you use?

This cosplay was actually my first time using Worbla, and that was quite the learning curve.

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

The leg armour was probably the most satisfying, as well as the hood of the suit, which while I have no photo evidence of it, it does actually fit over my head like a real hero mask!

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

I would probably start with a different suit base; I pieced the pattern together and it ended up being more difficult to fix than I had hoped. I’d also like to think if I made the face mask again it would go a little smoother now that I’ve had some experience with it.

How often do you Cosplay?

As often as I can find cons to get to, but not as often as I would really like considering the amount of time I’ve put into some of my cosplays. I have three local(ish) conventions that I go to and cosplay at every year, and I travel to others when I can manage it.

How many cosplay do you do?

Usually a different cosplay for every day of a con, but that depends on if I’m with a group, or whether I have the funds/time to get something new together.

What do you want to make next?

I have a few cosplays that I have the materials for but haven’t gotten together yet, such as Giorno Giovanna from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Judal from Magi; I’ve also got a few that I’ve been stewing on but haven’t had the funds to start.

Favorite cosplay moment?

It’s tough to pick any one moment; I’ve been cosplaying for 10 years now, so there’s so many to choose from. In general though, any time I see someone getting really excited by my cosplay, or any time I get to just hang out with my friends in a group cosplay and goof off, those are the moments that make all the hard work worth it.

Favorite fandoms to follow?

I don’t really follow fandoms all that much, but I definitely have some series that I’ll always return to cosplaying from; D.Gray-Man and HunterxHunter are two big ones, as well as Persona 4 and Persona 5 for the group cosplay shenanigans.

What sewing machine do you sew on?

My main sewing machine is a Pfaff that is probably older than I am; it’s the machine I learned to sew on when I was a kid, and it’s tough enough to get through vinyl and stretch leather. Thanks to my mom being a prolific quilter all my life, I’ve also got a back up machine and a serger.

What materials do you like using?

I’m partial to a lovely structured twill for jackets, and while sewing it is a pain, I love the way fake leather looks. I’ve also had some real fun with foam, but in all reality my biggest love is the bargain bin at fabric and craft stores.

What materials do you want to try?

I’ve got some plans that involve LED lights that I hope someday will come to fruition, and I’d love to work more with resin.

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Stretch leather and spandex. They look amazing and are comfy to wear, but getting zippers into them is a skill I’m still mastering.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

Prop making; I’ve dabbled in it, but never done anything super elaborate.

Thanks for sharing your cosplay with us, Devon!  Want to be featured on our site?  Check out our Submissions page and send us an email! 

Read More

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 fabric stores. If you have one near you, why not venture in? It was an adventure we strongly suggest you take!

 

 

Save

Save

Read More

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.

 

 

 

Save

Read More