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Few tips to improve store-bought costume

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Few tips to improve store-bought costume

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While I’m on a post-con cosplay break, I’ll also take a breather from talking about sewing techniques but that won’t stop me from writing! So let’s talk about something different but still cosplay-related: how to improve the costume you bought!

Why not?!

 

Nowadays, it’s easy to buy a full costume for a decent price, and there’s nothing wrong with that- as long as you don’t pretend you did it yourself. There are many reasons to buy premade: sometimes fabrics with specific print are just impossible to find in store; it’s made in a material you’re not used to work with; as a big group you want to make sure everybody will match (I’m looking at you, idols) or you just want to cosplay a character but you don’t have the time/energy/health/whatever else to make it from scratch. Once again, as long as you don’t claim you made it yourself, no need for excuses, because there’s nothing wrong with it anyway. Just have fun wearing a costume!

You will usually have two options: commission someone to make the costume or buy a premade one from a store (usually online: think Ebay, Taobao, Cospa, etc.). This article will mostly cover the second category, but in both cases, please consider this: you get what you pay for. A deal seems too good to be true? It’s probably the case. For most stores, you can find reviews that will help you determine if it’s worth investing your money, or if i’ll it be too much trouble. Same goes for commissioners: ask around for their previous customers, check their portfolio, and make sure to communicate all of your expectations: delivery time, all the pieces that you need and how you want them. A commissioned cosplay will be more expensive, but it’s tailored to you, and will usually require less fiddling around later.

How to prepare

Soon I’ll cover how to commission costumes in a bit more details in another article, so let’s move along with the store-bought ones.

First: order soon…Very soon. Months and months in advance. Most of these costumes come from China, and we all know how long the shipping can take. Some costumes and accessories are premade and ready to ship, but other may not keep the costume in stock or have a customization option and it can take weeks BEFORE they’re even shipped in a boat that takes forever and ever to arrive! You. Can. Never. Be. Too. Early.

As i said before, you get what you pay for. Therefore, be wary of the quality. Check for stores that show close-up, high resolution pictures of different parts of the costume. Especially look out for the quality of the prints. Make sure they mention what type of fabric they use. Look for a size chart with a lot of information and be careful when you compare with your measurements. Find out what is included with the costume, some parts may need to be bought separately (like socks, shoes, hats, all kinds of accessories.) Overall, the more information they give, the more reliable the shop will be.

The wait is over, let’s get to work!

So you purchased your costume, the long-awaited package is at your door! How exciting! But once you take the costume out of the parcel… you get a wrinkled mess. Yep. This was packed tightly for a while, so this is very normal. Time to iron it! Most store-bought costumes are made of various polyester fabrics. For the sake of your brand-new costume that you’re so excited to wear after months of waiting, please set your iron at low-temperature and use lot of steam if you don’t want the fabric to melt. Also, they use lots of fake leather appliqués and vinyl prints. Avoid ironing these areas, or cover them with a towel before you do, otherwise it will melt under the iron. Oftentimes, the trims and ribbons look very wrinkled, but with some love from your iron and a bit of stretching, it usually can be saved!

Many pleated skirts will have a loose seam at the bottom that holds the pleats together, so that you can iron it easily when you receive it without having to guess where the pleats at. How convenient! But do remove this seam before you wear it, it is made to be temporary! This is called a basting or tacking stitch. This kind of stitch is also used a lot on various types of pockets to have them stay flat.

Now that everything is ironed, you can try it on and hope everything fits! If it doesn’t, well, it’s time to pin and prepare to make some adjustments. You may need some help for this, as it’s not easy to adjust clothes on your own body!

Another thing you may want to sew better… is the buttons! More often than not, the buttons look loose, as if they’re barely hanging there. Even push-buttons that are not supposed to be seen are usually quickly sewn there and will often be the first thing to fall. To avoid it breaking during a convention, better be safe and make them more solid right as you receive the costume. Same applies to some decorations, like bows, flowers and such. Most of the time, they’re pinned separately, but it often looks cheap as they’re hanging sadly. It would be best to sew them in place solidly while you can!

So your costume is adjusted to your unique body and everything looks solid and nice! You may want to add some trims, some more decorations? Don’t hesitate! The color of the bias looks wrong compared to the reference? Why not change it and make it right! Often, store-bought costumes are made quickly, using as many shortcuts as they can. But now that it’s yours, feel free to make it the costume you really imagine. It’s a base for you to work on.

It may sound like buying a costume is about as much work as making it from scratch, but don’t worry, all these ironing and adjusting steps usually take less than an hour to make. But this little hour of your time will definitely improve your store-bought costume – making you look much better wearing it!

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About The Author

Roxanne Nelson

Cosplayer since 2005, Simakai has just been having so much fun and never wanted to stop. After a diploma in pattern-making and some time working in the industry, she started her own sewing business of geek apparel and cosplay commissions. From the simplest projects to the most intricate one, she's willing to help anyone who wants to learn.

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