Everyone has a dream costume, but not everyone has the ability to create it themselves. Sadly, a negative shroud has fallen over the cosplay community. One that has left those with the inability to create their own cosplay in the spotlight of criticism. Those who turn to costumers, prop makers, and seamstresses like myself for help are being shunned by some for not being ‘real’ cosplayers. Personally, I think this is a completely unfair way to act towards those who commission.
While I applaud those who have the skill and know how to create the wonderful pieces they do, how does that give anyone the right to degrade the excitement of a fan who doesn’t have those skills? They may not know how to sew, manipulate Worbla, or shape EVA into spectacular weapons or armor. While they don’t have those skills, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same gorgeous costume if they’re dedicated enough and willing to spend the kind of money that would make most people cry.
That negative behavior is the first, and most prominent, con on this pathway to your costume and it leads me to my first pro! There ARE those out there who make those costumes you want. Whether you want to buy a cheaper version from China or go completely custom with a local seamstress, there is always a way. So never fear, prepare yourself for some naysayers, and buck up that chin because there’s hope!
Con – ALL the Money! Pro – Perfect Custom Fit and High Quality that will Last!
The biggest factor you need to keep in mind when approaching one is this: It is NOT going to be cheap. The costumes you buy custom use higher quality fabrics, are custom fit to your body, and usually crafted far more soundly than the packaged costumes or online buys. There’s simply no way something you buy online is going to fit you as perfectly or look as good as something a local seamstress will create for you.
Yes, you type in measurements, but think of this – five people could have the same exact measurements (bust, waist, hips – which is generally what those sites ask for) and yet have five different body types, different heights, etc. What might fit one girl, would never fit the others half as well. With a custom fit, it’s built for you. Nothing you’ve ever worn will look so good as a costume built for your body.
For an example, the Arkham Knight Harley Quinn that I made for Jessica Nigri and Itty Bitty Geek…? That costume was $1200. You’re choking on something now, right? Perhaps spit your drink across the room? I get it, the number is scary!! But think of all you’re getting. The costume comes with everything from head to toe.
- Hat (with custom worbla GCPD badge that’s hand made and painted)
- Harness (100% pure veg tanned leather, custom crafted and painted)
- Custom altered shirt (with leather and metal cuffs)
- Custom altered Victoria Secret Bombshell bra (not a cheapWalmart bra)
- Corset (real leather, custom patterned with hand sewn quilting in the front)
- Arm pieces (made with milliskin, not cheap spandex)
- 3-Tier ruffle skirt (HUGE undertaking when done RIGHT for proper fullness I’ve never seen in the floppy online skirts. Also comes with petticoat underneath.
- Leggings (again made with milliskin and studs inserted to the knee)
- Boots (COMPLETELY customized with lots of love and care)
- Bat (also completely customized with lots of love and care)
So, when you really think about all you’re getting, the quality materials, and all of my time and effort that goes into making all this stuff that I’d like to get paid for…is the cost REALLY all that crazy? That being said, ALWAYS do your research!! Look through past work, ask for quotes. Shop around and find the best fit for you. There’s not one worthwhile cosplay business who won’t take time out of their day to ‘sell’ themselves to you! Ask by all means, but don’t insult us when we give you a price. We have set that price for a reason.
This is our job. This feeds our families and keeps a roof over our heads. Would you like someone coming to your work and asking you to work for less money or free? “Will you just do it for a bit cheaper?”, “Well, can we make a deal, because working with me will give you great exposure!!”, or a personal favorite, “I could make that for way cheaper!” are things artisans hear all too often. Yes…you could make it cheaper because you don’t have to PAY you. If you want a professional to make it, you have to pay for the time and skill that goes into the job.
Pro & Con – Cosplay Photography
In no way am I saying that cosplay photography in and of itself is a con. Not in the slightest. I have the utmost respect for those wonderful artists and they deserve far more recognition than they get! This only gets a con because I know a lot of people don’t want to PAY for the quality work. Most of the time, to get that perfect shot, you have to. It’s worth it to pay for it. You’ll get a much better, higher quality enough shot, BUT–yes there’s a but–a lot of them are at conventions. They like to take a few causal shots of cosplayers that catch their eye and guess what? A high quality, well fitting costume will generally do just that.
You go all out on the costume, you can’t skimp on the picture. GET QUALITY PHOTOS!! Not only will they be a treasure for you, but gifting one or two to the artisan who helped you is a HUGE respect point. We have portfolios we’d like to fill with all of our lovely work! WE WANT YOU!
Con Floor Picture
Professional Cosplay Photographer
See what I’m getting at?
Final Pro & Con – Attention and Credit
You’re finally in your costume, you feel great, you’re getting attention, your picture is being snapped left and right. Then someone asks you, “You made that yourself!?” A moment of panic could set in, a little voice in your head telling you to just take the credit and bask in the glory. Please…for the sake of the person who just put their heart and soul into making this masterpiece for you…DON’T DO THAT! It’s happened to me and others I know far more times than I’d like to admit.
I know it seems like a good idea, but in the long run, it will always come back to bite you in the butt. Once someone knows the truth, you’re toast. So always be a good customer! Ask us for our business cards, we’ll give you a stack to take with you to cons– we might even sew a secret little pocket somewhere for you to carry them–and hand them out to people who ask about your costume. Help us continue our businesses!
Respect will earn you the ability to come back and work with us again. If you’re one of the awesome who always stand up for your artisan, you’re likely going to earn our friendship. That means you’re likely to learn from us. We love teaching! We want others to know the joy of making something for themselves, but we’re not just going to hand it away.
Respect begets respect!
So with chins held high and finances braced, go forth and cosplay my friend! Don’t let the negativity or fear of something being unattainable hold you back from what you want to do. Cosplay is about fun, not elitism! Whether you’re in something that’s worth as much as your rent, or something slapped together from your closet, in the end we’re a family of geeks dressing up like characters who are near and dear to our hearts. That should be the focus, not where it comes from!
- Cosplayer: Jessica Nigri Photographer: David Ngo Costume: Maise Designs Seamstress
- Cosplayer(s): Itty Bitty Geek, Cassie O’Quinn Photographer: gdonathan Costume(s): Maise Designs Seamstress
3 Cosplayer: Itty Bitty Geek Photographer: Adam Patrick Murray Costume: Maise Designs Seamstress
Gabby is a seamstress, leather worker, & jewelry artist. She established Maise Designs in 2004, but four years later focused her efforts on compelling opportunities in the niche world of costume craft and design. After completing her first Cosplay commission, DC's Huntress, her reputation quickly grew in the AZ Cosplay community and has smoldered ever further outward with greater opportunities to collaborate with high profile personalities within the industry. Her repertoire includes pieces ranging from Renaissance fantasy to Disney princesses, masquerade leather-work and more, but her specialties are Comic Book and Video Game based Cosplay.
She's been blessed to work with such prominent local talent as Itty Bitty Geek, Aaron Forrester, Katy Mor, and Amie Lynn--for whom she constructed Vivienne for the Dragon Age: Inquisition promotional marketing. She's worked on several costumes with world renowned Cosplayer Jessica Nigri, most notably her Arkham Knight Harley Quinn which was worn for Warner Bros at San Diego Comic Con 2014.
Most recently she was the seamstress for the Steampunk X-Men Girls cosplay group at Phoenix Comic Con and is looking forward to next year's project!