Naturally these are just meant as amusing statistics. Cosplay is actually a very enjoyable hobby that allows you a fun avenue for creative expression. That being said, however, there are a few mistakes that every cosplayer will make at least once in the their costume making endeavors. And some of these common mistakes certainly seem tear-worthy at the time (you know, when it’s midnight, the day before the comic con, and you only had 3 hours of sleep the previous night…)
I’ll admit to having made almost all of these mistakes at least once (and unfortunately some of them, like #1, were more than once) No cosplay is perfect, and no cosplayer is perfect. Every single cosplayer makes mistakes (and anyone who says otherwise is either kidding themselves or is in fact not human, but actually part of a group of perfect alien beings who took humanoid form, sent here to infiltrate our planet’s fabulous costume making community…) So here are 11 cosplaying mistakes most costume makers can relate to:
1.) Waiting Until the Last Minute
For whatever reason, cosplayers tend to have an inherent sense of, for lack of a better word, optimism. We tend to think that because we dress up as superheros, we also have super powers. In particular the superpower to put together a costume at super speeds. Therefore, one of the most common mistakes we make is waiting far too long to construct our costume. Many a cosplayer has sat up until the wee small hours of the morning, desperately trying to finish their costume before the convention the next day. Also starting your costume too late is very frustrating if you have to order a special piece, or a wig, etc. and don’t have time to get it shipped to you. The best way to avoid waiting too long is to estimate how long you think your costume will take you to make…and then add a month to your estimate.
2.) Choosing Something Beyond Your Skill Level
While there are no rules in cosplay, and you can cosplay any character you like, a common mistake is choosing a costume well beyond your own skill level to make. That’s not to say that every costume you make has to be perfect. If you’re happy with how your costume turned out, it doesn’t matter what anyone else might think of it. However, most cosplayers tend to be a perfectionists by nature, and choosing a very elaborate costume that you find yourself unable to replicate the way you want is one of the most maddening things we cosplayers do to ourselves. It’s better to start with something more simple, and work your way up to the difficult costumes, and maintain your sanity in the process.
3.) Sewing the Sleeves on Inside Out
At some point in your costume making life, you will inevitably sew a sleeve onto a wrong arm, or inside out, or catch it in the sewing machine and sew it shut, etc. etc. etc. There is no avoiding this. Sometimes you just will find yourself in a hurry at your sewing machine, and these mistakes will happen. So keep your seam ripper handy, and try not cry too much as you rip out all those stitches.
4.) Forgetting the Shoes
(In my early days, this was one of my biggest sins) Often times cosplayers spend so much time working on creating our “perfect” costume, that we forget about footwear. It’s only after we’ve finished the costume, and the convention is the next that day, that we realize all we have to wear with our spiffy new Star Fleet costume is an old pair of sneakers. So remember the shoes, and account for them in your construction time estimate.
5.) Running Out of Glue Sticks
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the costume making process is being hot at work on finishing your creation, only to realize that you’ve just run out of glue sticks (or duct tape, or cardstock, or ribbon…), and the craft store is closed or too far away to make a quick trip to. A good way to avoid this, check your supply before you start so you won’t have to stop just when you’re getting on a roll.
6.) Not Trying Your Costume on Before the Convention
Another reason you don’t want to wait until the last minute to make your costume is because you want to have ample time to try out your costume. Without doing a test fit of the finished costume, you’ll have no idea if the pieces set right on your body, or if they’re going to stay in place when you move. Leave yourself plenty of time to test fit, so you have time to make any necessary repairs.
7.) Sewing With No Thread
At some point you’ll find yourself whizzing along, making great time on your project, only to suddenly realize the thread on the bobbin ran out a long time ago and all those perfect seams you just made don’t count for anything. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice it after just a few inches. If not, well, avoid the temptation to beat your sewing machine to a pulp (it gets expensive and is very hard on the hands…or so I hear) Dry your tears, put in a new bobbin, and resew over all those perfect, but threadless, lines.
8.) Breaking Your Costume As Soon As You Get to the Convention
Sometimes, no matter how well you construct your costume, it’s just not meant for riding in a car. You may find that sitting in the seat for a several hour drive to a convention puts enough pressure on the pieces of your costume to pop them out of place. Or you may simply jump out of the car after a short drive, only to realize you were a bit too hasty, caught the side of your costume on the car door, and ripped a big hole in your newly finished project. Don’t cry (ok, cry for a minute, but only if you’re not wearing make up. You don’t want to smear that scar you spent an hour painting on your face…), then just reach for the cosplay first aid kit you remembered to pack, and sew it, glue it, clamp it, or whatever else you have to do to fix it. (And if you forgot your cosplay first aid kit, many conventions now have repair stations, so head there straight away).
9.) Assuming You’re Actually a Specific Size
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that you’re not the size you think you are. Sizes on ready-made clothes are generally not the same sizes that you find on costume patterns. So if you’re making a costume from a pattern, don’t just use the size you think you are, take your own measurements. I’ve been everything from a size 2 to a size 10 depending on what pattern I use. (Plus if you’re anything like me, the size of your top maybe not be the same size as your bottom, and you’ll have to use 2 patterns taped together to reconcile it). So be sure to take measurements, and then use the size that matches those measurements.
10.) Not Taking A Break
Even though we love our hobbies, our creative projects require a few breaks just like anything else. If you try to make an elaborate costume all in one sitting, you will get burned out, lose your energy, and end up spending far more time (because you’re burned out, and going slowly now), and making far more mistakes than you would if you did it in smaller increments. Break your costume into sections, i.e. bracers, sword, wig, etc. so you can feel accomplished as you finish each part. Give yourself time to finish it at a slower pace, and you’ll find you enjoy it a lot more. Don’t try to cram too much construction into one day (another reason to avoid mistake #1…)
11.) Forgetting to Weatherproof Your Costume
While most conventions are held indoors, it’s often a long walk to get into the building as parking is not always right next to the venue. There’s nothing worse than doing an incredible paint job, only to have a deluge turn it into the costume equivalent of a Jackson Pollack painting. So an important thing to remember is to check the weather and weatherproof your costume if necessary. That could be as simple as putting a varnish over your paint job, or investing in a very large umbrella and sheets of plastic wrap to prevent any raindrops from altering your perfectly styled wig.
So what mistakes have you made in cosplay that others can relate to? Let me know in the comments below.
Text Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf