The art of cosplay

I’m no stranger to the art of fangirling. I write and read an unhealthy amount of fan fiction, watch shows almost obsessively, spend an absurd amount of money on merchandise, and spend a majority of my time theorizing about the future of my favorite characters. But no matter how much of my life I dedicate to my fandoms, there is still one thing I’ve always hoped to do, and always, inevitably, fail to complete. Cosplay.

Sure, I’ve been to Goodwill and searched through racks of clothing to find the perfect tweed jacket so I can dress up like the Eleventh Doctor. I’ve bought clothes from stores solely because they reminded me of my favorite character. I’ve been to the Science Center to take pictures dressed like Oswin Oswald, and the park dressed as Dean Winchester. That’s all well and good, and I still consider that a really fun and cost-effective ways to cosplay, but there’s something really amazing about seeing a pile of fabric turn into a movie accurate portrayal of some elaborate costume.

The problem is, the talent to create such a costume seems like it would take years of experience, expert level knowledge of sewing, time, and a whole lot of money. I’ve seen people boasting 100 or more hours of work on a single costume, as they painstakingly hand stitch every sequin on a full-length dress. I’ve seen people claiming they’re costumes cost them hundreds of dollars, as they ordered custom-made material of only the finest quality. For these people, cosplay is a serious passion. But if making costumes is only something of a side hobby, it doesn’t have to be that way.

I can honestly say, I have close to no experience with sewing. I’ve been on costumes crew for theatre twice, but never made anything more elaborate than a skirt or bonnet. The only projects I have ever attempted on my own have turned out much too small, much too short, or so huge they can’t even stay over my hips. I only know the very basics of sewing. I’m also a high school student, working only a part time job, and don’t have the time or money to devote to an elaborate costume. Nevertheless, just last week I stood outside Joann’s Fabric and Craft Store, took one tentative breath, and started what I am sure is going to be one of the most frustrating, but all the same, rewarding experiences of my life.

The plan is to make a costume portraying Anna from Disney’s Frozen, a costume that looks intensive at first, but after hours of planning and staring blankly at pictures, I figured to actually be quite simple. It includes a skirt, bodice, and cape, none of which require a high level of skill to replicate. Scouring clearance bins of fabric cut the cost of materials nearly in half. And choosing to use fabric paint instead of embroidery greatly diminishes work time.

I’m sure that there will be times that I will ask myself if this is even worth it. If hours spent ripping apart the seams of a carefully crafted skirt is worth the learning experience. I will ask my myself if I really need to spend the money on a project that may or may not turn out the way I want it. I will ask myself if the few times I will actually wear the costume will be worth the effort. In the end, I believe it will.