The early bird catches the worm!

I considered that it might be a good idea to go on with my blogs in kind of a “chronological way”. So since I wrote about choosing a character last time, this entry will thematise the next step: how to start with the most essential part of cosplay – planning your costume!

What I can totally recommend is taking time to establish a good plan! Especially if you are a freshman. I personally plan a lot of costumes months before a convention and create something like an annual program. But I admit that it can be very hard to follow that advice. I often catch myself doing exactly the opposite! Of course you can’t always plan a whole year beforehand. And often there are conventions you want to attend quite spontaneously – of course with a new costume 😉 My tip in such a case: search for something easy! If you only have one week left for sewing you don’t do yourself any favors with coming up with a complicated costume. Choose something easy like a simple school uniform or a small dress. Same goes for the guys, but here please forget the part with the dress ;D Another problem could be, that your cosplaygroup or – partner cancel something and you have to make a new plan in a very short amount of time.

But all these cases are exceptions. In most cases you are able to plan your Cosplay properly!

What your planning for a costume should definitely include (from my experiences):

  1. Money!
  2. Time
  3. Fabrics
  4. Patterns
  5. The sewing part
  6. Details/Weapons/etc.

Point 1: Money

Ok first point is the most important for me. You have to realize that Cosplay is a damn expensive hobby! It really depends on your personal ambition if you want to have a totally accurate costume or if it is not that important for you to have exactly the right colors, all the details and best materials. I know that there are totally different types of Cosplayers and if it is not important for you to put so much time and effort into your costume and you just want to have fun with Cosplay, then everything is great and you don’t have to waste so many thoughts about money!

But I can tell the ones who want to work with “perfection” (I know a Cosplay can NEVER be perfect, cause nobody has the body of an animecharacter and you have to change proportions, further artworks can differ a lot and it is almost never possible to get the “perfect” color. For me “perfection” means: “as similar to the original as possible for me and my possibilities”), your costume will hardly never be cheap 😉 I was shocked about one of my latest costumes… I did a very “simple” version of Euphemia that you can see here:



Now to show you the costs:

White fabric for top: 23 Euros, White fabric for underskirt: 7 Euros, Orange Fabric: 16 Euros, Green fabric: 5 Euros, Yarn and fabrics: 7 Euros, Shoes: 15 Euros, Contacts: 20 Euros, Wig: 50 Euros, Make-up: 15 Euros = 158 Euros!!!

And I have to say: I already got really cheap fabrics from a fabric market with outlet prices. It is not always that bad, but it can happen like this if you have to buy everything new.

But I also want to show you a very cheap costume – I didn’t want to scare you too much with the costs ;D This here is Persephone from Castlevania – Portrait of Ruin:



Blue fabric: 6 Euros, white fabric: leftovers from other costumes, wig: 18 Euros, shoes: from the panty costume I did before, contacts: 10 Euros. Zippers and yarn: 3 Euros. Make-up: already got it from my Miku Cosplay. The most expensive part was the Vacuum with I think 40 Euros. So the whole costume was about 77. That is damn cheap for a costume with such a big accessoire!! =)

But as you can see most costumes, even if they are “not that big”, will be between 70-120 Euros. For big projects you have to calculate of course more. My most expensive was the Dark elf from Lineage II with 300 Euros:



Point 2: Time

And after a lot of examples concerning money, here comes the next point: TIME! I don’t even have words for how important enough time is! I made tons of costumes kinda “last minute” and they turned out nice… But if you have enough time you can do all the details really properly, do wig and make up tests your results will get so much better and it is an awesome feeling to walk around in a costume that you like 100%!  It is bad to walk around with a costume from which you think “oh my, if I only had one day more this could have looked so much better”.

What you should always remember: if you have to order something from oversea, always calculate more than the promised 2-3 weeks. And if you are super unlucky your wig, shoes or fabric will end up at the custom department which costs even more time (and money). Finding the right fabrics also costs a bunch of time. Some materials and colors can be so hard to find. I often had to color the fabric myself in the end. So calculate more time for this, too.

Most important are the right patterns, forms, proportions and a clean look of a costume. So you should spend enough time for the sewing phase, cause there can be more problems than you might expect. But more about the sewing later!

And beside the practical part of getting a better and cleaner result, having enough time is also very very relaxing for your nerves 😉 Cons are stressful, but it gets worse if you arrive there after sewing the last 3 days and nights. And your face and skin will look much prettier too if you are relaxed!


Point 3: Fabrics

I already mentioned that it can take a lot of time to find the right fabrics and colors. And that is, because nice fabrics are really really important for a good costume. It always depends on ones personal taste what the “perfect” fabric is. It really does not always matter if you take cotton or jersey or leather or whatever. It depends on your own interpretation of the costume! But what is important is quality! Try to avoid cheap looking and very shiny looking fabrics. I know good fabrics make your costume more expensive but it will definitely be worth it!

Same goes for colors. As I said colors can vary from picture to picture. Choose the reference you like the most! And if you are not able to find the type of fabric you want to use in the right color, then you have the possibility to color it. It is very easy and I got some great results with coloring so far! How that works in detail I will explain in another blog (this one already got way too long ;D)


Point 4: Patterns

Every Cosplayer has different methods for using patterns. Some use bought patterns from Simplicity, Vogue, Burda etc., some use their own clothes as reference and some create their patterns on their own.

I personally prefer working with bought patterns that I change a little bit. They are more accurate than everything I made on my own so far. But you have to find your own style! I know a lot of people who go crazy when working with bought patterns. I personally have no talent for doing patterns on my own, I just mess everything up.

But a tip if you want to create your own patterns: the key to a costume with a good form are darts! Put them everywhere where they are needed. You want to have a costume that fits like a second skin. I often add several darts into my bought patterns to make my costumes fit better. But it can be tricky sometimes. For exampleI needed HOURS to sew the tiny apron of Persephone (the costume you saw above). The proportions were quite hard to create and I had to work a long time on the placing of the darts.

I mentioned the proportions several times now. They are SO IMPORTANT! In one of the next Blogs I will show you some tricks to get the right proportions. But what I already can tell you right now is, that this is the best way to change the look of your body and to look more like your favorite characters. So you should take your time to get a good result here.


Point 5: The sewing part

Take your time for this part of the costume! The sewing part can be hard. There could be difficult seams, annoying zippers or yards and yards of ruffles that take forever! I personally need ages for the sewing part cause I always want to get a clean result. I recommend patience! If you don’t like a seam you did, then unstitch it and redo it. I promise you will be more satisfied! And if there is a day when nothing works, then stop sewing and start over again the next day or the next week. I had moments where I wanted to throw everything out of my window. And to sew with anger never ends good.

Also: don’t start with the first available part just because you feel like it. Try to find out what would be clever to begin with! For me it is almost never good to start with small details. I first have to get the proportions in the right places. If I do it the other way round I mess up the form of my costume. I personally like to get the big parts done first before doing small stuff like collars. But you have to find out yourself what works best for you and you create your own system for sewing.


Point 6: Details/Weapons/etc.

For me this is the most difficult part of every Cosplay. Because I have no talent for crafting!! And it is very hard for me to find the right materials and to consider what would work best. So I have to plan these things as early as possible. What I learned from my experiences is the importance of trying several things before you wear it together with your costume at a convention. If you have to place some armor parts at your costume walk around at home after you did it. Move in everything. And move strongly! You will not tiptoe at a convention! The convention will be full, you will have to use stairs, maybe hurry sometimes. Testing that can prevent your costume to fall apart in the middle of the convention! And yes that is an experience I also made ;D

I thought about giving tips concerning materials, but I guess this is the wrong Blog for doing so. Because you can use nearly everything to create details and it depends on what you want to form. Your options go from foam rubber to thermoplastic material to small things you can buy at your local hardware store. What I can recommend is keeping your eyes open! You can find materials for Cosplay in the strangest places and situations!

And also: search for tutorials! There are such a lot great video or photo-tutorials that can really help! =)



Wow… these overview blogs are so huge XD I am sorry for being unable to keep it short and I promise to write more specific ones soon! But I think such overviews are necessary to show how complex Cosplay actually is. I never thought you have to care about so many things when I started with my first costumes.

I hope you liked this entry even it was freakin’ huge 😀


About blackbutterflycosplay

My name is Kerstin and I am a Cosplayer from Germany. Since 2006 I love everything that comes along with my hobby - may it be sewing, doing different make up looks or photographing. If you are interested in my work as a cosplayer and not as a blogwriter, please follow:
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