Cosplay is the art of imitating a character from an anime, manga, video game or other form of visual media. While cosplaying started out as a small time trend in Japan, it quickly became more popular in America, where it was re-gifted back to Japanese otaku. There are now many cosplay communities and events everywhere. Here's a simple guide to construct your own cosplay.


1.Choose your character. This can be from a show, movie, game, comic, anime, manga, or even band, and, while a lot of cosplay is generally a Japanese character, it doesn't have to be. In fact, it can be from an American, Chinese, or any other media. You could even cosplay as a member of the opposite gender, which is more commonly known as crossplaying - it's been done, and it's been praised. It's all up to you.

2.Plan out your time. Don't start a cosplay the last minute - a convention by itself is hard enough without staying up until the early morning finishing up. Many people start a few months early, but if you are new to the scene, it is recommended you give yourself ample time to begin. After all, most of us have lives and can't spend an entire month holed up in a room sewing, can we?

3.Plan your costume. Many characters have more than one outfit they show up in - choose one, or if you plan on switching outfits, more than one. More often than not, the character will have one outfit they show up in more often than the others, but you could always choose a lesser known one. Many websites offer ready to wear outfits, but if you can't afford it, or simply don't want to buy it, you can make it yourself!

4.Break the costume into parts. It'll make the project look much less daunting, and less stressful than moving back and forth from sewing in a shirt sleeve, then switching to the pant leg, after which you realize it's inside out. Scan through pattern books to see if you can use any, or if you can modify some. Those patterns will be much more handy than taking apart your jacket and trying to piece it all back together. Trust me. See if you can use some materials around the house, like gloves you already own and shoes that you can modify, or hats that you can add-on.

 5.Go shopping. Stop by a Goodwill or other thrift stores to see if you can find a base you can use, or an article of clothing you can modify. For example, in doing a Jesse from Team Rocket cosplay, you can look for a white turtleneck and a fitting black top and a white skirt. Those can easily be transformed into her outfit. If you can find part of it at a thrift store, you'll only need to fill in the missing parts.

6.Get some fabric. If you weren't able to find any clothes to modify, you can always make your own. Places like Jo-Ann's sells costumes and has regular sales (although the fabrics on sale differ each time). Be sure to buy the appropriate fabric for your character - don't buy crushed velvet if you're going to be a rogue warrior. Be aware that you get what you pay for - cheaper fabrics will tend to wrinkle easier, be transparent, or shred. Slippery fabrics are also much more difficult to sew. Be sure to bring your reference materials to the store so you can be sure you are getting the right shade - after all, it wouldn't do to buy cloth for Naruto's jumpsuit and realize it's much brighter than the material you bought.

 7.Take a leisurely walk down those aisles. As you look through those different sections of Jo-Ann's or Michael's, you may find some sudden inspiration for replicating details, and you might find good material to make your props with that you never thought of before.

 8.Be sure to buy the proper colored thread too. It'll be much easier to use properly colored thread, although it doesn't have to exactly match your cloth color. If the color isn't the exact shade of lime green you want it to be, that's okay since it won't be noticed as much on a lime green background, but if you use black or white thread, it 'will' be noticed, and generally taken as amateur.

9.Buy more fabric than you think you will need. You never know if you're going to mess up when cutting out the fabric, or if the thread is suddenly going to start pulling apart. Better be safe than sorry.

10.Cut out the patterns. If you haven't already, measure yourself, and adjust the patterns accordingly. You don't want to be making a pattern for sized two models when you can't fit them. Cut a little bit larger than the patterns - just to be sure that the thread won't fall apart and that you won't sew too far in and have already trimmed off the edges. If you want, you can mark the lines where you will be sewing down and pin it so you'll be sure to stay on mark when sewing.

11.Be sure which pieces goes where. In your jumble of cloth, scissors, thread and needles, you may forget which pieces fit what. If all else fails, pin them together like a puzzle until you get your right form, just don't start sewing unless you're sure you're not sewing the sleeve where the collar should be.

12.Begin sewing. This should not be the time when you are trying out your sewing machine for the first time. If it is, you should get acquainted to it first with an extra piece of cloth or article of clothing you're throwing away so you don't end up with a disastrous mess of thread and cloth. If you're hand sewing it, don't work too far into the night - you might prick yourself or do something you wish you hadn't. If you're using a sewing machine, be aware of the others in your house and don't sew at 2 in the morning, and if you're using a crazily colored cloth, remember to switch both the bottom and top threads. It wouldn't do to have orange on one side and navy blue on the other.

13.Take time to rest, eat, sleep, and do other things. It's understandable that you might want to just "get it over with", but be aware of your health. Staying up the entire week before the convention to make your cosplay is not very healthy.

14.If your fabric shreds at the edge like most of them do, use Fray-Check. It is sold at most craft stores, and can cut down on loose strings and make it look much neater and more professional.

15.Put it on, and test it out. Make sure that it fits you - preferably before the day of the convention. Walk around, be sure you can move comfortably, sit down, and do normal activities without tearing anything. If it falls apart, you can fix it at this point.

16.Find a place to show it off. Be it a convention, Halloween party, or costumed event. You may have a fantastic costume, but wearing it out in public in an everyday situation is not advised. Instead, find a place where this type of creativity is appreciated - a convention for fans of an anime, manga, or simply cosplaying altogether. Do a bit of research on these type of conventions near you. They're a great way to have fun, express yourself, and meet others who are into the same things you are.

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