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Unread 11-24-2014, 12:02 AM   #1
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DinahMaster's Avatar
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Post Tips for a beginner?

As you can probably tell from the headline, I'm brand new to this! I've never sewn before, not even to stitch a hole or anything like that, I'm basically brand new to this. I've been cosplaying for a few years, but I've always bought my costumes. I'm dying to make my own cosplay, though, since I'm kind of tired of buying my costumes online. I figure that the person who will know just how I like my costumes made will be me, and so I want to give it a shot! I'm willing to purchase a sewing machine and put in a lot of time to work hard, so bring on the tips!

What I really want to try and do first off is make a zero suit Samus costume. I know that the material might be hard to work with, but I'm willing to give it a shot, for sure. So, what I really need is for some of you cosplay veterans to tell me where to begin and what I can do to really make my costume pop!

It'll be the first one I've made on my own, so it's bound to have mistakes, but I'd like to try and make it so there are as few as possible. With that in mind, please give me some advice on how I can make this costume look less like it was made by a beginner and more by someone who kind of knows what they're doing! General cosplay tips as well as ones on Samus are greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much for all your time! c:
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Unread 11-24-2014, 12:48 AM   #2
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You should get some fabric scraps and practice sewing before you go into your main project. That way way you can have a little experience before you start something big.
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Unread 11-24-2014, 01:07 AM   #3
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You're going to need to practice sewing, that's for sure. For Samus, you'll need a sewing machine because you'll need to do a zig-zag stitch so that it will still stretch when you wear it. To start, I'd suggest getting some cheap fabric and sew all over it. Straight lines, zig-zags, curved lines, etc. When I took a costume construction class, I remember having to sew in a spiral (draw a spiral directly onto your fabric and sew directly on it) and we had to write our name in cursive on fabric and sew over that too. When you feel comfortable with cheap fabric, since you want to do Samus, practice on stretch fabric (first two-way stretch, and then four-way). Learning to read and alter patterns would also be beneficial.

I'd highly recommend practicing making other garments first, non-stretch ones would be a safe start. Try making yourself a jacket or skirt or something. I've known a few people that made doll clothes as practice as well, since you get to learn construction techniques without using up a lot of fabric.

As for cosplay-specific tips: Plan out your cosplay before you buy anything. Off the top of my head, for Zero Suit Samus, you'll need the wig, body suit, and shoes. Then you have to decide if you want the body suit to be attached to the shoes or have them separate. Also you'll have to decide how to make the details on Samus's suit (paint, applique, or fabric/bias tape). Plan well, budget wisely, and take advantage of sales and coupons.
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Unread 11-24-2014, 01:09 AM   #4
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Head to your local sewing store and see if they offer lessons in any form. Many do, especially larger chains, or at least they should know somewhere that does. Even a one or two evening workshop would greatly bolster your confidence.

I'm not familiar with that particular character, but if there's any "armor" type components, or if you need to make a prop weapon, you might want to look into worbla and/or wonderflex. They're thermoplastics that can be shaped into almost anything; plenty of tutorials online can show you all the cool tricks. The one catch is, they're not particularly cheap, although it doesn't have to break the bank.

If you can locate a group of cosplayers in your area, they might have better tips on how to find these things locally. As a bonus, if you decide to do a group cosplay you might get offers to help with some of the trickier parts. Worth a shot, I suppose :P
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Unread 11-24-2014, 08:19 PM   #5
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Start six months or more ahead of the event you plan to debut it at. This is great advice for Cosplayers of all skill levels and not just beginners.
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Unread 11-25-2014, 05:42 AM   #6
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If you want to get into prop making, I suggest downloading SketchUp. Really helped me when designing mechanical props and props in general. You can have a rough build very quickly, but keep in mind to design the materials with what's available in mind. So knowing nominal sizes such as wood, pvc, and other crafting materials would be ideal.

If you don't have room or the resources to buy tools, I strongly suggest looking for hackerspaces. They have a variety of power tools and always looking to improve!
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Unread 11-25-2014, 12:57 PM   #7
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Choose something simple if this is your first time seeing anything, and don't pick your all-time favorite character because chances are you wont be able to do anything elaborate. If you start right off the bat with one of your dream characters (even if it's something easy), chances are you'll just be disappointed instead of proud of your first sewing project. Also, PLEASE buy a good wig instead of a Halloween store wig. A bad wig can ruin a good cosplay.

Don't forget matching thread and any closures you'll need when you get your fabric (I'm guilty of this. I always think I have the color thread I need, and I never do.). Pay attention to what size your actual pattern is. I've had friends who have accidentally bought a 6-12 pattern when they needed a size 14 because she looked at the full size chart on the back instead of what size the actual included pattern was. And don't pick either really expensive fabric, or fabric that's hard to work with. When you're first starting out, cotton is your friend.
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Unread 11-26-2014, 08:25 AM   #8
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Start and plan months before the actual event.
Try sewing a sample out of cheap fabric to test if your sewing pattern work, so you don't ruin your good fabric for that.
When you feel frustrated, tired, exhausted or you feel that you're losing concentration, better stop sewing for awhile and do something elese instead of being stubborn, continue sewing and ruin something.
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Unread 11-26-2014, 09:01 AM   #9
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Lots of good tips here already. Also THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND anytime I am starting a cosplay I hit up Google. I usually type in something like, "XXX cosplay tutorial". I have found so many helpful tutorials online when I have had no idea where to even start on something X3
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