Costuming for Cosplaying: DIY or Buy It?

Posted by Wooly Dragon on

Winter is halfway over and we still have time to think ahead & plan for the coming warm weather.

Next up for many people are fairs & conventions like Sci-Fi, Steampunk, CosPlay, Renaissance and/or combinations of all. We really don’t need much of an excuse to dress up.

If you are into costuming, you will find you have basically 3 ways to get your costume.

First, buy it ready made online or in a costume shop. The quality can vary from decent to disposable and you may also run into others with the same costume. On the other hand, it can also be the quickest & most inexpensive way to get suited up.

This is a good choice if you are just getting into these events. Don’t expect much longevity nor authenticity, though. Remember, they didn’t simply step into their clothes & zip them up the back in those good olde days.

The second method is to have someone make you a costume. The quality is usually pretty good and you’ll be dealing with someone accustomed to working with specialty fabrics, who knows what will hold up to the hazards of merrymaking and can often advise you as to which colors & styles work best for you. This choice will be more expensive than the first, but when you figure in the longevity you will get out of a custom made costume, you will find if affordable. And, pretty much, a one of a kind.

Plan to spend some time with your costumer in person (or online) selecting your materials, patterns, colors & trims. Some will use your own material to make your costume. Be sure to get a firm price on the finished product, along with a timeline for completion and what guarantees they have for returns if the costume is not as expected. This isn't much of a problem if you deal with your costumer in person. Be aware that you will be paying for this person's time & expertise; it will not be cheap!

The third choice is to make it yourself. This can be your best or your worst choice. If you are experienced with apparel sewing with a lot of different fabrics you will be in sewer’s heaven choosing fabrics, trims & patterns to suit you. If you have not sewn very much or just with cottons and perhaps knits, you will have a learning curve built in that might take away a some of the joy. Specialty fabrics for these types of costumes can be slippery and/or difficult to work with. If you have never sewn before, you can stibllmake your own costume; just start out simply and look for beginner patterns. Who knows? You may discover  a new hobby/obsession. DIY'ing your costume means never running into someone with the same outfit.

A full medieval, renaissance, steampunk costume can get very expensive. However, many of these costumes are made up of individual pieces and can be made over time with leftover fabric saved for coordinating bags, belts, and trims.

The under dress is a basic piece in most costumes. Think of it as a full length nightgown with long sleeves, falling to the floor, and a neckline that is gathered so it can be worn showing or opened up & hidden by the bodice or corset. These are worn next to your skin, so choose washable fabrics with a soft hand, good visual appeal & a color that can be worn combined with many fabrics. You don’t want a bright or patterned fabric; think ecru, linen, or just plain white. You want your pieces to coordinate.

A full under dress as shown in Simplicity’s pattern 2573 can use up to 5 yards of fabric.

You could also make an under blouse & separate under skirt as in Simplicity #9966.

You may want to make several under skirts in different colors as you go along to change the look of your outfit.

Medieval, renaissance and some more recent costuming eras use fuller under and over skirts.

Steampunk and some more recent eras use narrow under and over skirts.

Then there are overdresses that flow down over your under dress & can be made of fabulous material and trims that rock, or at least are too over the wall to wear with your t-shirt.

Making costumes is lots of fun and wearing them is even more fun.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →