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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Costumes for (Cos)Play

Costume making is one of my favorite crafting endeavors, it really is. It is an excellent opportunity to explore something entirely new, make something as fantastical as my imagination and materials will allow, and it certainly keeps things interesting on the crafting front to say the least. One of the best ways to create the perfect costume however is to properly plan out the design. If you make a point of creating a clean design and playing around with the cut to get it perfect before you start crafting then you will have greater success with the final outcome of the project.

Creating costumes is slightly different than other projects because you have two goals really, you hope to create a similar look to the original (even if this is a new design based off of a drawing and basic description) and you also need to take into consideration the best way you or the person you are making the costume for will be able to function while the costume is on. This might be by way of the materials you use, perhaps air holes or structure added, closure, etc. Take a close look at costumes that have been made already because they are, simply put, a success in most cases. If a costume can hold up and look impeccable in something like an action based movie then I will most certainly classify it as a win. The internet is an excellent resource in that you can simply run a search and find hundreds of costumes in which to study their style and design.

After a recent visit to EMP in Seattle I have a renewed sense of costume making. I spent hours wandering their Myth & Legend, Jimmy Hendrix, Horror and Sci Fi exhibits a few weeks ago. I recommend a visit if you are in the area, it was really great. Here are a few photos ->

Star Trek costumes!

There is nothing like seeing an original costume to give you the burst of energy you need to re-make something like a Lieutenant uHura costume. The original is really stunning in design. The zipper at the upper neckline was very perfect of course and the cut itself is really quite stylish. It was a really nice costume in every way and certainly more detailed than I would have expected. When I put together a pattern for this costume you will see how lovely the cut is. 

This Data costume shows clean lines, but did you ever notice that the legs had leg bands added? These would have been used to keep the legs from flipping up, very nice detail. See what I mean? The more we look at these costumes the more we learn the best ways to design our own costumes based on the style and cut we are hoping for.

Hello Princess Bride costumes…

These pieces are perfect. They are also an excellent example of costumes from the renaissance era and up close you find you most definitely lose yourself in their delicate detail and elegant charm (bats eyelashes).

Matrix costume here! 

Here are a few photos and it really is a fantastic piece. The up close view of the fabric is really quite something. I would love to be able to touch the material as I imagine it has a bit of an interesting elasticity feel to it. The design of this costume is impeccable. The structure, the cut, the materials, the flair at the bottom; It really is a beautiful piece. This is probably a pretty weighted piece so take elements like this into consideration when making your own costume. 

Sean of the Dead costume…

And here is where the lines between costumes and costumes for Cosplay begin to merge because my experience has been that costumes for cosplay really is a mix between costumes and accessories from movies and games and anime and the like. Anything sort of goes and the term cosplay is simply to play dress up. So where as costume making might only be the sewn garment for the most part, costumes for Cosplay is a bit more of a crafting modge podge, covers a wide range of crafting techniques and materials and then even a whim of crafting magic. That’s how it works for me anyway. Here are a few images of the extras I suppose that make up more than just costumes...

This bugger is from Critter II

Yoda’s staff & neckpiece

Star Trek Captain's Chair 

Terminator, you so scary…


Thriller -> 

Here is a Stargate headpiece

The Jimmy Hendrix costumes were really quite excellent and though more in the way of clothing than costumes, the similarities here are the quality of the pieces and they look to me to be more theatrical or stage quality costumes than simply clothing. 

That was most certainly the case with the vest shown above and the fabric quality and weight of this piece in particular reminded me of the Wizard of Oz costumes.

EMP even had a Game of Thrones themed throne…

Once you have studied the costume basics and developed a solid plan for your costume then you can determine the materials needed and get started. You may find with your first try that you will want to opt for materials you already have on hand as a test, even if mostly made from paper to start. This gives you an opportunity to make any final adjustments before you use the good materials. You may at this point find if you are wearing a leotard styled piece that snaps added below will be most helpful, or a hidden zipper should be added somewhere, or a fold or a seam or whatever it is you need. In some cases we want the costume to be an exact match to an original; sometimes we want a costume that is made with lighter materials, cooler fabrics and style alterations for some of the basic things like being able to dress and undress by hand (we don’t all have a staff of servants to dress us throughout the day as needed. I know, how very odd of us). 

Sometimes the changes we make when constructing our costume are also based on the available of materials. This is common and we are then left hunting for something similar as we do not have access to Hollywood’s costume and construction teams. I know, it’s rather tragic.

But we certainly try our best to get it close. Sometimes I find I am a bit obsessed about getting the materials right (looks at the weaving loom). For example, determined to get the right look for the woven Khaleesi top from the Game of Thrones series (season I) in the images below I decided to hunt for the right materials and then weave the fabric myself. Insane, I know. Hopefully the time I spend will end up leading to a really decent material fabric (let it not all be in vain!).

In regards to the costume making process though, the general rule  is if you work the design out ahead of time then the rest just might work out perfectly. I have found with the Cosplay costumes that some are worth trying your hand at and some are probably just better off being purchased online because someone has already perfected the multicolored spandex cut or the plastic belt, etc. You will be able in most cases to tell the difference between those that you can make and will look decent in and those that definitely won’t. But I think I will have to try a few of them for fun. After all, such practice might lead me to some entirely new pieces and I never know where that will take me, it’s a crafting journey to be sure.

Don't you want your own Dalek? 

So there you have it really, my thoughts (and lots of fabulous photos of course) on costume making/ cosplay ideas and everything in between. I hope you are all enjoying the sun and I will return shortly with some new projects for those of you that want something a little more practical than costumes. I know there are a few of you out there and I haven’t forgotten about you ;)


p.s. don’t forget to go to EMP when you’re in Seattle next, you won’t be disappointed. 

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