There are lots of reasons to wear a costume coming up: this weekend is Keen Halloween (more on that in the last section), then there’s Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, followed closely by actual Halloween. Plus, all the various October costume parties and fall festivals and whatnot.
If there’s such thing as a costume-wearing season, this would be it. And, if you were thinking of making your own costume, then costuming panelists from Phoenix Comicon 2016 have some tips to help you out.
1. Duct tape
You can make an entire costume from duct tape. In fact, one speaker, Huntington Keith, won a scholarship contest by making Firefly cosplay/prom outfits for himself and his date. It took about 40 hours of work for him to construct her shindig-worthy dress with its layers and layers of ruffles. He also made himself a tux.
He shared lessons he learned through trial and error that could help with your next duct tape creation.
Duct tape dos:
- Use a flat surface to construct your costume.
- Stretch it as taut as possible.
- Use scissors or an X-Acto knife to cut.
- Covering a t-shirt or other piece of fabric will help the costume breathe better.
- Create texture by putting things such as twine between the layers of tape.
- Buy in bulk. 30 yards will typically cost $5-6, but you may be able to find better prices online.
- Use the color/s you want or find a type of paint that adheres to polyurethane (most don’t).
Duct tape don’ts:
- Because the adhesive starts to melt at about 175 degrees, you can’t mold it like thermoplastics. A residue will form and the top starts to shrivel off.
- It will break a regular sewing machine.
- Permanent marker doesn’t stay.
- Paint usually flakes off.
Making a closure for your costume:
- The ideal closure is actually a piece of duct tape.
- You can handstitch a zipper on, but it would need to be lateral because stress is a problem.
- Hook-and-loop tape may not work when it gets hot.
2. Knitting and Crochet
She brought up the fact that knitting and crocheting can look intricate – but there are only so many kinds of stitches.
Iconic knit costumes for nerds:
- Harry Potter
- Tom Baker (Doctor Who)
- Jayne (Firefly)
Since she felt the stripe was too large in most patterns for Jayne’s hat, she created her own. She started by measuring a screenshot from Firefly of Adam Baldwin as Jayne. After estimating the width of the stripe was about the length of his nose, she texted several male friends to ask for their nose measurements(!) and based her pattern on the average. The result is a much more proportionate pattern for a hat that, for legal reasons, she calls the Not-Jayne hat.
- Crocheted cogs for steampunk.
- Make a wide brim on a beanie and fold it up to make a tri-corner or pirate hat.
- Hood with Ewok ears.
- There are tons of craft tutorials online. If the first one doesn’t work for you, keep looking!
- Make gauge swatches. She says, “People hate making gauge swatches, but it’ll save your life! You can use any yarn with any pattern if the gauge is right.”
- Have a backup “comfy” cosplay, in case you need a break from your costume or something doesn’t work.
Shirley sells knitting patterns (as well as finished products) in her Etsy shop. There are some free patterns on her site and on gutenberg.org. I also came across Harry Potter knitting patterns on Ravelry and knittingfornerds.com.
3. Other No-Sew Techniques
I ducked in to the tail end of a No-Sew Cosplay panel hosted by artist and cosplayer KatDensetsu.
I was just in time for a discussion of cross-play and binding techniques for women who want to make themselves appear less busty when portraying male characters. (Think Éponine disguising herself in Les Misérables.)
As far as making costumes without sewing, certain materials don’t require sewing and can just be cut to size. There’s also a lot you can do using fabric glue, thrift store finds, paint, and/or iron-on transfers.