‘Tis The Season…For Costumes!

If you’ve read a bit of my blog you probably already know that I’m pretty much obsessed with Halloween. I love throwing giant parties for the occasion and I usually make/get together 2 or 3 costumes for myself. I know that sounds like a big case of the crazies, but hear me out. I do one major handmade costume that takes me sometimes a month or more to make. Then there’s always that one person who throws a party in early October, so I gotta be ready with either something cool I can make in one afternoon or I pull out a repeat from years past. The office at my day job is pretty awesome so I get to dress up for work too…but sometimes my costume is just too complicated or uncomfortable to make it through my commute. Plus sometimes it’s too slutty. Not for the commute, for the office- but you get the idea.

Anyways, because of this mad obsession I’ve got tons of easy  & inexpensive DIY costume ideas to share. I’ll to post as many as possible leading up to Halloween. Coming soon: Vintage Harlequin Clown.

I’ll also be chronicling my preparations for this year’s party: Circus of the Damned. And keeping you posted on my progress with my big-deal costume: Vampire Ringmaster. I’m kinda stuck on this whole vintage circus vibe… just incase you hadn’t noticed.

Got a specific costume or costume accessory you’d like to make? Comment with your questions and requests and I’ll help you out. Maybe. If your request doesn’t suck. XOXO

Fabric 101 for Noobs: Beginner’s Guide to Buying Fabric for Cosplay

Maybe you finally decided to ditch the lame (and expensive, and ill-fitting…) store-bought Halloween costumes and make your own this year. Or maybe you’re just not immune to the Call of the Geek and you’ve finally caught the Cosplay bug. Whatever your reasons for making your own costume, if you’re a beginner you’re going to need some help getting started.

So, young Padawan, if you’ve never shopped for fabric before, allow me to drop a little knowledge on you.

The first thing you need to know about choosing fabric for crafting/costumes is what kinds of fabric to look for. Stuff that doesn’t fray is really great (unless you are willing to invest the sewing time or are going for a shredded look.) Also, unless you are just determined to sew everything you touch, you’ll probably be doing a lot of hot gluing so you don’t want it to melt. You can check out my favorite fabrics for crafting & costuming to get ideas.

Any questions you have about what a fabric is called, what it is made of, cleaning instructions, and size can be found in one place: the bolt label. (That’s also usually where the price sticker will be located.)

Unless you’re a textile expert, the bolt label is your best friend. Know it. Love it. Cherish it’s sweet, sweet wealth of information.

Here’s a shot of the bolt label of the polyester crepe fabric I used for my Easy No-Sew Cape:

bolt label

The second thing you need to know is how to get the right amount of fabric. Most fabric sold by the bolt comes in 2- 3 standard widths. The most popular widths you’ll see are  45”, 54” and 60”. Sometimes the fabric is folded. You will have to pay attention to this when shopping for fabric. If the fabric is folded and says 54” on the bolt label your total width will be 108”. (That’s 54 x 2, in case the math threw you.)

The fabric I chose for my cape project was 38” wide and folded so my total width to work with was 76.”

Wtf is a yard you ask? Oh yeah, that’s the super funnest part of fabric shopping: it’s not sold by the foot, oh no. That would be too easy. You gotta earn the right to play with fabric my friends! One yard is equal to 3 feet and 3 feet is equal to 36 inches.

(I’m not going to explain how I arrived at 36 inches. If I’ve lost you on the math at this point you probably need adult supervision.)

The third thing you need to know is that fabric is sold by the yard. So if the price sticker says $5.99 that means $5.99 per yard. That’s important when calculating cost. $12.99 doesn’t seem expensive… but buying 4 yards would be almost 52 bucks! Unless it’s some really great fabric, I say that’s way too much, but it really depends on your budget and the fabrics available in your area.

After you’ve determined how many yards you need (and can pay for), take the whole bolt to the cutting table. They will measure out what you request, cut it and give you a “receipt” with your total cost to take to the register and pay.

Be patient if you head to one of the big chains in the season leading up to Halloween (mid-August through October). Actually, August through November, because the little old grandmas really love to sew stuff for Xmas too. Anyways, be sure you have the fabric you want and have your measurements ready when you get to the cutting table.

Once they cut the fabric for you it’s super douchy to change your mind.

So now you know, and hopefully you won’t look like too much of a Sewing Tourist down at your local JoAnne’s.

Fabric Buying Cheat Sheet

  1. Love the bolt label

  2. Make sure you get the right kind of fabric

  3. Pay attention to width & fold

  4. Width= inches, Length= yards

  5. Price = per yard

  6. Try not to suck at math

  7. Don’t be douchy at the cutting table

Best Fabrics for Crafting & Costumes

fabricWhen I’m looking for costume & craft fabrics I generally hope they are inexpensive, look awesome, feel good and are easy to work with. That being said, sometimes looks are everything. Cutting faux fur only ends one way- with looking like you murdered a Muppet and had no time to hide the evidence. Vinyl is not so comfy to wear- but you can’t beat that slick look for certain characters and/or accessories. Listed below are my personal top choices for costuming and crafting. If I see any one of my Top 3 on sale, I’ll buy versatile colors (black, white, brown, red) just to stock up for the future, even if I have no idea what I’ll use them for. If you’re a newbie and never bought fabric before, read this to avoid pain and humiliation when heading out to your local fabric store.

TOP 3 BEST FABRICS FOR COSTUMES & CRAFTS:

#1 Polyester Crepe
V-E-R-S-A-T-I-L-E. Nice weight and texture.

#2 Power Mesh
Great alternative to Chiffon (which frays like a bitch)! And it’s stretchy to boot!

#3 Tulle/Netting
Generally cheap. Versatile for costuming AND crafting.

MORE FAVORITES:
Lace
Faux Suede
Velvet
Metallic Spandex
Spandex
Pleather
Vinyl
Faux Fur
Fleece
Flannel

Easy NO-SEW Cape: How to make a cosplay cape for beginners.

AftersuppliesBefore

Level: Beginner, Time: 1 hour, Cost: Under $20

BEFORE YOU START:

Make sure your ribbon is at least 7/8″ wide.

The cape I made is 38” long and is knee length for the average height adult (5’5” to 5’8”). I used 2.5 yards of polyester crepe with 38” width, folded. So my total fabric size was 76” by 90.”

If you want a longer cape measure from the base of your neck to where you want the cape to end to find your “desired length.” (Hehehe. Get your minds out of the gutter ladies.) Consult Doodle 1 to calculate fabric size needed.

Doodle 1

IMPORTANT: Choose a fabric that will not fray because you are not going to be hemming this cape.
~
STEP ONE: Unfold your fabric and lay it out flat. Iron out any major wrinkles and/or creases if necessary.

STEP TWO: Fold your fabric in half width-wise and pin edges together. Lay the folded fabric flat on the carpet. (Doodle 2)

Doodle 2

STEP THREE: Align the 0” mark of your measuring tape with an upper corner on the fold of your fabric and stick a straight pin directly into the carpet to hold it in place. If you don’t have carpet, find a friend to come and hold it for you. If you have no friends, put down the electronic device and go be social. (Doodle 3)

Doodle 3

STEP FOUR:  Starting at the edge of the fabric (Doodle 3), gently pull your measuring tape taut and place a pin at 45.” Make sure you pin the two layers of fabric together. Using your corner pin as the axis to rotate your measuring tape towards the folded edge and place another pin at 45”. Continue until you reach the folded edge. These pins will be your cutting guide. (Doodle 4)

  • Remember to gently pull the measuring tape taut each time to get accurate measurement
  • Be sure not to pull the corner pin out of place.

Doodle 4

STEP FIVE: Repeat Step 4, placing a pin at 7” each time instead of 45.” (Doodle 5) Then unpin your tape measure.

Doodle 5

STEP SIX: Cut along the pins. Make sure you are holding both layers together when you cut. You should have a quarter circle with a tiny quarter circle cut out when you are finished (Doodle 6)

Doodle 6

STEP SEVEN: Make sure you remove all the pins and unfold. (Doodle 7) Now you’re in the homestretch!

Doodle 7

STEP EIGHT: Plug in your glue gun and let it get hot while you measure out apprx. 52” of ribbon. Seriously, it’s no big deal if you go over or under an inch or two.

STEP NINE: Measure 15″ of ribbon and mark it with a pin. Lay your ribbon flat.

STEP 10: I’ll call the tiny half-circle cut out in Doodle 7 the “neck hole”. Starting at your pin and the edge of the neck hole, apply hot glue to half the width of the ribbon and attach the edge of the neck hole working in small sections.

  • Make sure your neck hole edge is only covering half the ribbon width as shown below.

step 9

  • When finished you should have apprx. 15″ of ribbon hanging loose from either end of the neck hole (Doodle 8).

Doodle 8

STEP 11: Along the edge of the neck hole, fold the ribbon over so that the edge of the fabric is covered completely. Glue in place.

step 11

That’s all. Wear it. Look awesome. Try not to spill too much booze on it. Mission accomplished.

Coming Soon! Like tomorrow.

For realz you guys, I like, totes love Halloween. It’s the best holiday that ever was, is and shall be. Unless someone answers my letters to Congress and they make my birthday a national holiday. Then it will be a close call. Halloween will definitely still be awesome…but my birthday, in June, will be the start to the “Halloween Season.” Like Thanksgiving is just the kickoff for all that Christmas bullsh*t.

To be honest that’s really how it is in my own personal nation anyways. Come July I’ve already nailed down a theme for my annual Halloween bash, begun narrowing down my own costume choice and begun casually peppering my conversations with smooth, subtle phrases like “Yeah this baby shower is so much fun.  Remember that time last year at Halloween, when that fun/sad/awkward/terrifying thing happened? Anyhoo, any thoughts on what you’ll dress up as this year?”

By August I’ve already begun ordering supplies from high quality, luxury shops like Oriental Trading Company, cluttered every corner of our house with nifty little craft projects and started watching Buffy (the TV series) and Nightmare Before Christmas on repeat.

By September, fuhgettaboudit. I’m already halfway finished turning our back room addition into a magical evil party lair, and I’ve escalated my costume inquiries into aggressive harassment. “So what are you gonna be? Did you decide what you’re gonna be? No, how ’bout now?  Well, will you know tomorrow? What are you thinking of possibly maybe considering being? Well, you’re certainly cutting it close aren’t you? I worry about you and that cavalier attitude of yours…”

Well this year, I’ve been handed a gift from the universe to help take the edge off. This afternoon one of my peeps posted on FB that she is in need of a cape. Well, obviously I know how to make a cape so I rushed to her assistance, because I am a gentleman. I know how to make several different styles of capes with various difficulty factors, (which maybe I’ll cover at a different time) but a simple basic cape is really one of the most versatile costume accessories on the planet. Plus she needs it like yesterday so I’m going to go with my super cheap and easy NO SEWING cape. Although, I admit that I’m generally pro-sewing, some peeps don’t have the skill or a machine, and I totes understand.

I’m off to go make said cape for said friend so rejoice! There shall be a post with pictures and instructions on the morrow! Peace out, bitches! XOXO