View Full Version : I am making my first costume.... I just thought I would ask everyone a question. =)

10-21-2002, 12:11 AM
Hi there.

I just thought I would ask you guys a question or two because everyone seems to be quite good at cosplaying.... I am gonna make my first costume.... yay! haha

The problem.... I have no idea what I am doing.... but I am learning...

I was thinking of doing my first costume as Shadow from FF6.

I was looking around for reference materials... ie pictures... and found there is very very few pictures of him..... oh well.
I did however find a cg pictures of him of which I really liked what he was wearing..... In the cg it looks like he is wearing plastic which I thought would not be a good idea for a full bodied costume.

I was thinking of making a large part of it out of stretch vinyl. I have never worked with it so I am not even sure if it will work.

I was wondering how everyone goes about starting a costume.

I was thinking I would make a full body suit and keep the mask, boots and gloves seperate.

Does everyone usually look for a certain type of clothes and buy a pattern for it and try to manipulate it to work or do people just do it freehand??

I am slowly figuring out how to construct a costume and input it very much appreciated.

Thanks a lot.


I just attached a small picture of the 3d shadow which I was talking about.

10-21-2002, 12:14 AM
I just thought I would put one more picture of a small drawing

10-21-2002, 12:25 AM
You're on the right track... first try to find as many pics as possible. Usually it is not recommended that you make your first costume out of anything slippery or stretchy since materials like that are a pain in the butt to sew, so I don't know if I'd recommend this as a starter costume to make from scratch. Also, its super form-fitting so you'd have to be very precise. I personally make my patterns from scratch, but again, a first-timer would probably want to buy a pattern until they get used to how they work. Or you might want to consider buying the body suit and adding on to it...
Here is a link to a dance supply store that has a unitard that would work: http://www.discountdance.com/frame_set.php3?mf=http://www.discountdance.com/catpages/product_714.html $67.50 isn't bad considering that stretch materials/vinyl usually cost between $8-$15 a yard. Hope this helps a bit.

10-21-2002, 01:31 AM
Thanks for the information.
I was thinking of getting a pattern of maybe something that would be close to a form fitted. I was thinking of trying to find a body suit pattern.

Thanks very much for showing me the web page with the unitards. I think I will try to create it once and if I fail miserably then I will resort to that. Since this is my first time trying I thought I should learn as much as I could.

This is probably a silly question for a beginner to ask but....
how would one go about making a pattern.

I was thinking of dissassembling some of my clothing to see how it goes together haha =)

10-21-2002, 06:39 AM
Well, Halo is correct when she says that a form-fitting stretch unitard out of stretch vinyl without a pattern would be a.... *challenging* first-timeproject for a beginner. You COULD take apart some of your clothes to see how they go together, but you would want to do that with something that has the same shape and stretch as the garment you want to make and the fabric you want to use. Please, please consider buying the base piece for this, or else find a commercial pattern for the unitard.

Stretch vinyl is a bitch to sew, even more so than regular vinyl, and the 4-way stretch you would need isn't cheap. Actually 2-way stretch isn't cheap either. I would hate for you to buy all the yardage you would need and then have to scrap it if your first attempt didn't come out the way you want. At least consider a few trial runs in a cheap test fabric with the same kind of stretch as the fabric you want to use.

You say since this is your first time trying you want to learn as much as you can, but I would say that the best way to learn and not go out of your mind with frustration is to start simple, take small steps and learn through accumulated experience.

10-21-2002, 09:41 AM
Eh... I never thought Shadow's outfit looked super shiny. I wouldn't imagine making it out of vinyl or whatnot- not to mention, that is SO expensive... ^^ The Shadows I have seen have all used cotton/denim/velveteen/etc, and have turned out pretty well. I don't know of any good reference pics, but here's a decent cosplay of him (with Interceptor, no less! ^_^):

I'd also recommend buying some patterns which are vaguely reminiscent of what you need, and then altering them to be more appropriate. That's always worked for me. It's beneficial for newer cosplayers since it does give you an idea of how clothing is put together without dissecting your own clothes.

10-21-2002, 02:04 PM
Haha you know how I said I really do not know what I am doing.
well here it is shineing through. Ick sorry I did not want it shiny.
I saw a picture of something that looked like vinyl that was not shiny it was more of a dull black. Then I was the name stretch vinyl and made the bad assumption.... hmmm maybe it is the same type they use in cars =) and also the name includes stretch.... so thats gotta be it. I was generally trying to make a costume similar to that of the cg shadow that was done.

Thanks for all the help Koumori and celine.

10-21-2002, 03:55 PM
I've never seen any stretch vinyl that isn't shiny. You might be thinking of a simple spandex/lycra or blend stretch fabric. You don't mention what kind of sewing skills or equipment you have to work with, but again I would warn you that sewing knits can be tricky for a first-time project, and you could probably buy a unitard more cheaply (factor in time and labor) than you could make it.

10-21-2002, 04:41 PM
Hmm... how to go about making a pattern eh? Koumori is right: 'accumulated experience'. Once you've worked with making costumes enough, you see the basic geometric shapes that every costume is made from. Shirts become squares, sleeves become rectangles and skirts become circles or rectangles depending on what kind. Pant legs are rectangles, capes are circles, etc etc... Its true, all clothing can be broken down into a series of basic shapes which are slightly modified.

Here is a fabulous book: 'Patterns for Theatrical Costumes' by Katherine Strand Holkeboer (ISBN: 0-89676-125-8) 342 pages, list price is $29.95 which is really cheap for any book relating to costuming or theatrical arts. This is the best resource I have found on making a costume pattern from scratch. There are tons of scaled down ready-drawn patterns that will allow you what a 2-d pattern piece will look like when its assembled into a 3-d piece of clothing. It also talks about sizing and adjusting.

So again, I really don't recommend this as a first-time costume, but if you really want to go for it, you will need to put some time into studying how to do it.

10-21-2002, 05:29 PM
I think I have pretty much all the equipment I need.
My mom used to sew a lot so we have sewing machines and equipment related.

As for skills...... ummm lets see ummmm. I made a bath robe from a pattern maybe 4 years ago. So I pretty much have no real skills haha. If the stretch vinyl only comes shiny I do not want that. I was looking towards something that had a plastic look to it that stretches.... maybe I will just wander around a fabric store and take a look..... usually the ladies there are very helpful... probably because I look like I have no idea what I am doing. :thumbsup:
I figure I might buy cheaper material... make the costume... then throw it out and remake it again.... I figure second time is a charm... or not.

Thanks for mentioning the book and providing information everyone is great here. :)

10-21-2002, 09:00 PM
The best advice I can give is to get help! It's cool that your mom has sewing experience. When it comes to modifying / making a pattern It's usually best to have someone else help you pin it / modify it. Or, you could use a dress form, but it's more fun to sew with a friend.

I would strongly urge that for a first costume, buy the unitard & modify it. That fabric will be too expensive to mess up on. Making a practice one out of a similar stretchy material may not save much $. Muslin / other scrap fabrics are usually what I use to make pattern pieces.

10-21-2002, 11:24 PM
I see what everyone is saying that as a beginner I should not try to tackle something too difficult.

My perspective on it though is if I make it myself I will be able to learn how to sew and such. Plus I will get to choose the fabric that will go into making the costume.

I like the unitard that everyone is showing me but since it is 60$ American that will come close to around 90$ Canadian. Plus since the top half of the costume is not the same as the character that I am trying to cosplay... I will probably have to cut the unitard off at the neck up and make my own top half. What I am getting at here is that if I do a horrible job making my own I could toss it and do it all over again for around the same price that it would cost me to order the unitard which I would cut up anyway.

Am I crazy??

10-22-2002, 12:10 AM
You're probably sick of hearing about the darn unitards but umm... heres one without a hood and its only $30 instead...

http://www.dance4less.com/unitards.htm The footless long-sleeve made from Cotton Lycra (not shiny lycra)

The reason everyone is pushing you to start with something smaller is because if it takes you 3 or 4 tries on a big project you can get so pissed with it that you will never want to pick it up again. Even if you use a unitard as a base, there is still plenty of sewing to do on it to learn from (shoulders, hood, etc). Also, I'm not quite sure how much time you have to complete this. If your mom says she can make this from scratch and has the time, I guess go for it if you really want to that bad since she can bail you out when you hit a rough spot. So see what she says.

Have you had a chance to look at patterns yet?

10-22-2002, 06:27 AM
Originally posted by shadow

My perspective on it though is if I make it myself I will be able to learn how to sew and such. Plus I will get to choose the fabric that will go into making the costume.

I appreciate where you're coming from, and it's great that you want to learn to sew. The reason I've been hesitating is that I really don't consider this a good "learn to sew" project. There are a lot of "advanced"-type issues in dealing with these types of fabrics and these types of garments in particular; a unitard looks like a simple garment, but it's not a simple or easy project. Halo is right; there's a lot to learn even if you don't make the entire thing yourself. I'd rather you started smaller and came up with something you really enjoyed making and are happy with.

10-22-2002, 11:39 AM
Well the one thing I do have is lots of time. I havent planned to goto a con this year... maybe I will go next year. I think I will go to a fabric store and wander around. Thanks very much for the links and information. I will spend a litle time putzing around and looking at stuff. I might fo with the pre made unitard but I will see.
Thanks a bunch everyone.
you rock!!!

10-27-2002, 02:07 AM
Shadow bows down to Koumori, HaloNoir, KuroBaraDuelist, Celine............... You were sooo right. =) (Damn my stubborn ways of going ahead anyways)

Well I got a pattern and I was working with it... on the stretchy material which you guys told me not to start with...... and yea it is kinda tough to get it the way you want it. =P First when I was pinning and cutting it was very hard to not get it to stretch in any way so that it is not deformed when you are done. It took me a bit to pin it and cut it right but then when I finally did...... I forgot to extent the neck..... OHHHHH sexy... wait shadow never had a V neck in FF3. ARRRRRGH My moth dropped about a foot when I held it up and realized what I did wrong. No swearing though quite proud of that.

However I figured that since I really want to make a good Shadow and I do not have much experience in it yet I was thinking of doing something that seemed easier. Another favorite character of mine is Kou from Squaresofts Bouncer game. I figure I could buy the pants and make the Jacket... plus I figure I could do the tattoo a lot easier than a complicated outfit.
I think the jacket he has would not be too difficult to make... I could just change a vest pattern and add a zipper.

Please tell me once again if I am just crazy.

Here is a picture of Kou. (Does his Jacket look really hard or not too bad to make?)

10-27-2002, 07:00 AM
Originally posted by shadow

Please tell me once again if I am just crazy.

No! Just ambitious. Which is a good thing! :) I think this looks like a much better starting point for your first costume; you're right that you should just be able to use a vest pattern, and heck, you could probably buy pants at your local army-navy store. Proof that a "simple" costume can still be dramatic!

10-27-2002, 09:20 AM
Making the vest/jacket would be a perfect (re)starting project :) Not only can you use a fabric thats a bit easier to manage, but you'll also get to practice putting in a zipper. If you choose, it will also give you experience in lining, which shadow wouldn't have. Most directions do a good job of explaining so neither a zipper or lining would be too difficult. Kou was my fav from The Bouncer too (probably for different reasons than yours though *drool* hehe), so post pics when you have it done!

10-27-2002, 09:35 AM
Oooh, I really like those tattoos he has, it makes the simple clothing that much cooler. Must better starting point. Halo, thanks for the dance 4 less, link, bookmarked it!

10-27-2002, 06:33 PM
I thought I would ask everyone another question. Kou has long brown hair.... I have short brown hair so I think I will need a wig. Where does everyone go to look for wigs?

10-28-2002, 01:23 AM
For unstyled high-quality wigs I shop at www.witchwigs.com. They are usually about $40 depending on what you get. If I want a cheaper unstyled wig of costume quality I usually buy a $20 one off E-bay.
And though I have never bought from her, if you need a styled wig, I really admire the work an E-bay seller called midnightbeladonna does on her anime wigs.

10-28-2002, 08:32 PM
Be careful <i>what</i> it is you're buying off ebay though. A wig i bought looked nice, and when i got it realized it was a five dollar cheapie. Thats kinda scary.

I agree with everyone else here, rope in a parental unit for sewing lessons, they'll be most impressed with your interest (Cosplay has opened up a whole differnt generation to sewing, my mom was impressed) And from personal failure, dont make your first project 'impossible' what i mean here is, dont do somthing that is totally awesome and bound to make people go 'damn' basic sewing skills are the best education you can have for future cosplay, after making one, other things once thought impossible become easier to envision.