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DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in Craft | 0 comments

DIY Costume Hacks

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.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon - duct tape panel

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.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

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.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
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.

 Phoenix Comicon knits

2. Knitting and Crochet

Shirley Will‏ (a.k.a. @BooMeringue) had a funny and informative panel about knitting and crochet for cosplay. I don’t actually know how to do either of those things, and I was still entertained.

She brought up the fact that knitting and crocheting can look intricate – but there are only so many kinds of stitches.

Knitting for cosplay

Iconic knit costumes for nerds:

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.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
More ideas:

  • 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.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

  • 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 I also came across Harry Potter knitting patterns on Ravelry and
Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC No-Sew Cosplay

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.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon - No-sew cosplay

Learn more about costume-making and cosplay!

This weekend (9/24-25) is Keen Halloween, which has several craft and costuming panels on the schedule.

Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest is October 22-23 (earlier than in past years) and will feature cosplay meetups and panels on topics like costuming mashups.

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5 Telltale Signs You Went to Phoenix Comicon 2016

Posted by on Jul 7, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Did you or someone you know go to Phoenix Comicon 2016?

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

You may notice some or all of these symptoms:

1. Persistent laughter over PUGS-related incidents. Chuckling resulting from things said during the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown may continue for days.

This is a tournament of geeks to see who can most passionately debate absurd topics like “Ant-Man vs. Aunt Mae: Who was the better A(u)nt?” As bizarre as the questions were, this year’s contestants took some even more bizarre – and hilarious – approaches to arguing their respective sides.

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC
Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

2. Outbreak of photos of dogs in superhero costumes.

Superdog, Wonder Dog, Batdog, and a four-legged Ewok were among the cosplaying pooches that gathered on the patio of the Herberger Theater ahead of the Comi-PAWn Pet Parade.


3. Thermoqueuephobia – fear of waiting in line in the heat.

About the time it topped 110 degrees on Friday, a “perfect storm” of crowds and computer glitches resulted in a registration line that spilled out onto the sidewalk and stretched about a block-and-a-half. Organizers apologized for the hours-long wait and worked to rectify the situation so lines would be inside the rest of the weekend.

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

4. Claims of spotting Jedi weapons in unusual places, such as on Phoenix streets and in place of a symphony conductor’s baton.  

Outside programming included pairs from Syndicate Saber demonstrating their surprisingly elegant lightsaber combat and choreography. This was followed by a lightsaber walk, where anyone with a lightsaber could light it up and march around downtown Phoenix.

While that was going on, Phillip and I were at the Phoenix Symphony’s Star Wars vs. Star Trek performance. The audience could vote via text for which franchise’s music they preferred. To announce the winner, Conductor Tito Muñoz emerged with a red lightsaber, which he began using to conduct the “Imperial March!” (We were not allowed to take photos during the performance, but I found one on Instagram!)




5. Sudden increase in geeky and/or pop culture related skills, such as learning in a matter of days how to make a duct tape prom dress, a music video, and a tabletop game.

Yep, as usual there were a plethora of diverse panels, including…

  • Huntington Keith’s panel on making costumes from duct tape. In high school, he used duct tape to make a tux and a Kaylee-from-firefly-inspired prom dress.
  • While the protracted music video’s post-apocalyptic theme may have felt contrived, the cast and crew were able to accomplish a lot on a budget. The song itself, “They Pretend,” is a catchy, reggae/Afro-pop melody by K-Bass & Farafina Musiki, who are worth a listen.
  • The Making the Game panel, where Father-and-son team Eric and Gavin Torres spoke about their experience in making and distributing their indie board game.


Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

If you missed out, check out Phoenix Fan Fest this October. (Passes are on sale now.)

We received media passes from Phoenix Comicon and the Phoenix Symphony.

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Phoenix Comicon 2016 Picks #phxcc

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments


Wading through the Phoenix Comicon schedule can be a bit daunting, so I wanted to highlight some panels and events I thought you lovely maker geeks might be interested in.

Phxcc cosplay

I’ve asterisked the items that don’t require a Phoenix Comicon membership pass for anyone who can’t make it to the whole Con but still wants to be a part of the action.

For more recommendations on what to eat/drink/see around the Convention Center, check out our last post.


Thursday, June 2

3pm Cosplay 101 – From Closet to Convention Floor – I love that this panel is about making your own costumes with what you already have!

*6:30pm Comi-PAWn Pet Parade – Probably the cutest event of the Con, pet lovers can bring their dogs in costume to the Herberger Theater patio to be part of a show and parade.

7:30pm The Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS) – preliminary round of the annual, hilarious geek debate tournament

*8pm Star Wars vs Star Trek – The Music of Deep Space – The Phoenix Symphony will be playing music from Star Wars and Star Trek films, and the audience will vote for their favorite franchise! (Event tickets required.)


Friday, June 3

1:30pm Making the Game: The Art, Design, and Imagination of Iconica – how to design your own tabletop game. (More info on Facebook.)

*4:30pm Geek Girl Brunch Phoenix: Comicon Meetup – cocktail hour with a group of geek girls who usually meet for brunch. (h/t friends Anne and Eileen)

7:30pm The Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS) – geek debate tournament finals

8pm Star Party with the Phoenix Astronomical Society – telescopes will be set up for star/planet-gazing


Saturday, June 4

1:30pm Cosplay for All Sizes – modify costumes and patterns to work for your body

7:30pm Dancing for Everyone! – introductory-level English and Irish community set dances


Sunday, June 5

10:30am Confessions of a Cosplay Boyfriend – trials and tribulations of being in a relationship with a female cosplayer

4:30pm Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest Preview – apparently, this year’s Fan Fest will be at a new venue and in October (instead of December). Hopefully, they’ll let us know what’s up. (And hopefully I’ll make it to Sunday afternoon.)



While the car show will stay on Third Street (full schedule under Phoenix Comicon “outdoor events.”), there will be a lot happening on Adams Street, as well.


Fri-Sun: Con on Adams

This year, Phoenix Comicon is taking over Adams Street, where there will be live music, a party pavilion, San Tan Brewery beer garden, and food trucks.



Phenix convention center and food trucks

Food truck line-up:


What are you looking forward to?

PS Travelcraft Journal turns 3 today! I’ll probably raise a celebratory glass – or spoon – at Comicon. Cheers to all of you for being a part of this community!

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Constructing Costumes, Characters, and Time-Traveling Cars

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Craft | 0 comments

At Phoenix Comicon, I attended 5 panels where authors, cosplayers, and time-machine builders gave advice about their respective crafts.


Character Clothing

Four authors and a comic book artist shared about the role clothing plays in their works and what to keep in mind when you consider how your characters dress.

1. What Are They Wearing?:

Is the clothing functional in the environment? If not, make sure the character feels its effects. –Travis Hanson

Try making the costume of one of your characters and wearing it for day. Feel what it’s like to move around in what they wear. Sensory input can really inform your writing. –Leanna Renee Hieber



2. A Beginner’s Guide to Foam Smithing:

New cosplayers often start working with foam, because it’s fairly easy to work with and cheap. If something you try doesn’t work, you’re probably only out about 50 cents.

Foam doesn’t have to be something you move on from. You can incorporate many different materials into your costume. It also uses many of same tools as Sintra and other thermoplastics. [Check out the Tools and Materials list in our DIY Armor post.]

3. Cosplay Like a Pro: Less Stress, More Fun!

You notice the flaws of a costume you’ve been working on but others won’t. They see the overall picture.

Remember the 10-foot rule: your costume doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to look good from 10 feet away. If someone wants to get closer than that, that’s when you suddenly have a panel to rush off to.

4. We are ALL Wonder Women! with Heather Ann Cosplay, Stray Kat Cosplay, and Whitney.

Even if you feel you don’t look like the character or aren’t sure about your costume, you can feel like Wonder Woman. –Stray Kat Cosplay

Watching Wonder Woman inspired little girls that
they could stand up for themselves and others. –Whitney


Time Machine

Oliver and Terry Holler used parts they found and made to turn a DeLorean into a far out Back to the Future time machine. With it, they have traveled to all 50 states to fund raise for a future Parkinson’s Disease cure (a cause close to my heart because of my cousin Allison).

5. Back to the Future: Adventures in a DeLorean Time Machine:

The great thing about making something yourself is then you can fix it.

Money comes and goes. Time only goes.


Thank you to Phoenix Comicon for providing media passes.

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