Depending on what types of characters you cosplay and what costumes you want to build, you'll need to develop certain sets of skills on order to be the best cosplayer you can possibly be. While the cutting and gluing required for building with foam, for example, are already somewhat familiar to most of us when we get started cosplaying, there's another skill that many cosplayers actively avoid: sewing. While not every cosplayer will want or need to learn to sew, a common misconception is that sewing is difficult to learn and perfect. However, though sewing can be considered it's own beast in terms of crafting skills, learning to sew can open the doors to a whole new range of characters and costumes you can create. In this post, we'll give you some tips for getting started with sewing for cosplay so you can avoid common mistakes that many beginners make when developing this skill.
Cosplay Sewing Tips for Beginners
- Patterns are your friends. It's incredible difficult to sew anything without a pattern to follow. While some folks can do with just a few measurements and a good eye for these things, we'd recommend that beginners start with a pattern instead of winging it, at least until you get the hang of sewing. You can purchase patterns online or at most fabric stores to help you get the shape of the fabric pieces you need to make a certain garment. Simply trace the shapes in the pack and cut them out. However, you can also make your own custom patterns, similar to the way you would create patterns for armor. Either by using the plastic wrap method or getting a friend to trace around your body directly onto the fabric with a chalk pencil can work. No matter which way you get your pattern pieces, remember you can always make changes to the pattern depending on what your cosplay needs.
- Measure twice, cut once. This piece of advice is an oldie but a goodie that applies to most every technique in cosplay, but it's especially important for sewing. Many beginners underestimate what size their fabric pieces need to be before they start sewing, and they end up with a cosplay that's way too small. While it's possible to add fabric to let a cloth garment out, it's much easier to start big and take something in to fit you instead. We recommend starting with more fabric than you need, marking space for seam allowances so that you have room to sew your pattern pieces together. Before you cut into your fabric, be absolutely sure you have the size and shape down correctly. Otherwise, it'll be another trip to the fabric store for you, and a lot of time down the drain as well.
- Don't want to sew from scratch? Alter. By starting with an existing piece of clothing, you can often cut down on the amount of sewing you have to do in the first place. It's not "cheating" to start with a plain t-shirt, or dress, or jumpsuit if you want to save time or make sure your cosplay's base is quality and reliable. You can simply hem and alter the shape or size of the garment by marking where you want the seams and hems to go with pins, cutting into your fabric (being sure to leave space for seam allowances!), and sewing them down again.
- Learn the basics to help you get by. There are some sewing basics you're probably going to have to learn in order to create most cosplay, so we recommend learning those things early on to help you ensure your cosplay fits and functions correctly. Some of these skills include darts, which helps round or taper your fabric pieces, or adding pockets into your cosplay where you can keep your important items.
- Get familiar with your machine. Whether you're looking to purchase a sewing machine or simply borrow one from a friend or family member, getting to know the settings of a sewing machine is important if you want to make the most of what you're sewing. For example, if your sewing machine can do a zigzag stitch, then sewing elastic into your costume that won't rip or tear away will be as easy as pressing a button.
Build Your Sewing Skills
Ruling out sewing as something you can practice and improve at as a cosplayer can be a mistake in itself. While it might seem hard to get started, sewing is just another skill too add to your cosplay toolbox, allowing you to create bigger and better costumes than ever before. While you often have options when it comes to cosplaying with fabric, holding yourself back from so many cosplay opportunities.