In this day and age cosplaying is becoming even more popular, and even more extravagant. Let’s say you see a costume you would love to have, but you don’t have the skills or time necessary to make this costume a reality. You now have the option of buying from a site like ebay and receiving a possibly poorly made costume or hiring a local seamstress to make your costume for you. If you choose to hire a local seamstress then you need to know some of the do’s and don’ts when considering us to make your costumes that will make your process much easier and experience much better!
- DO your research and plenty of it. DO NOT go for the first seamstress you find without looking at other possibilities.
There are many people who take commissions, but not all of them have the skill or resources that you need for your costume dream to come true. Check portfolios, ask for examples of their work, ask them questions about their work and their goals when creating a custom costume. Do they make beautiful works of art? Do they know how to work with your curves and your body type? Do they look like they take pride in their work or is this just a way to make a quick buck? Do they communicate well? Do they have good reviews? Take all of these things into consideration when doing your research! There are plenty of talented seamstresses out there, but there are also plenty of scam artists as well. For your own protection please do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask others if they can recommend someone or if they have had any type of experience with the seamstress you are thinking of hiring. You are going to spend a good chunk of money on this person, so you want to make sure you get a good quality item.
- DO let your budget be known. DO NOT try to talk down or haggle prices with your seamstress.
Most everyone has a budget and that is alright. It is the responsible thing to do, create a budget for your costumes, but do not try to haggle or make your seamstress lower her prices to fit your needs. Your seamstress is a person too, trying to pay for food, pay bills, take care of family, and earn a living. Not to mention a seamstress will charge you how much they think their work and time is worth. They put their heart and soul into these creations and expect to be fairly compensated. I am a seamstress myself and my commissions range anywhere from $600 to $1500 and sometimes more. Remember though you are paying for a full and complete costume and the time of your seamstress! If the seamstress quotes you a price that you can’t afford then just say “Unfortunately I can’t afford that, but Thank you for your time,” and do some more research. As a seamstress I am never offended when someone says they can’t afford it, and thanks me anyways. I know it costs quite a bit of money, and not everyone has that. Just don’t be rude to your seamstress, don’t belittle her, don’t nag her, and please don’t ignore her just because her quote is more than you can afford. Which leads me to my next piece of advice.
- DO communicate with your seamstress. DO NOT expect your seamstress to know everything you are thinking.
This is an important one. Communication starts with telling your seamstress your budget. If she quote you a price you can afford and you decide to continue on with her, then you need to develop clear communication with her. Even though your seamstress knows what she is doing, she doesn’t always know what you are thinking or feeling. If you want a piece shorter or longer, then you need to tell her. If you aren’t happy with how a certain piece is turning out, speak up! Don’t accept the costume as is and then bash it behind her back because YOU decided not to communicate with her. A seamstress is there to make a costume you love and that fits you perfectly. If you hand her a picture and say “I want this” then that is what you are going to get. If you want a different color, different length, anything that varies please speak up before it is too late. Your seamstress will work with you and be happy to make you what you want and make sure the costume fits you the way you want. This is why fittings are so important to us.
- DO show up on time or tell your seamstress if you can’t make it to a fitting. DO NOT come late or be a no show to a fitting.
Fittings are beyond important. If you don’t show up for a fitting, not only does that hinder the seamstress and ruin her schedule, it also might leave you with an ill-fitting costume. Your seamstress has a busy schedule as well and knows that things happen, so the least you could do is tell your seamstress in advance if you are going to be late or not able to show up at all for a fitting. Then it is important to schedule a new fitting as soon as possible. Any delays can also cause a delay in you receiving your product. A seamstress’ time is precious to her and if she can use it towards creating something rather than waiting for a no show she would like to be able to do that. Building this communication with your seamstress also builds a friendship and trust between the seamstress and her client.
- DO build some type of relationship with your seamstress. DO NOT ignore your seamstress and only treat her as a worker.
Yes, you are paying this person to make you a costume, but they are also a living, breathing human being and would more than likely like to get to know you better. Make sure you take the time to build a relationship with your seamstress. The better that relationship the more your seamstress will want to work with you and teach you things. Not all seamstresses will share tips and tricks with you if they don’t know you or trust you. Your seamstress and you will work better together and have better products if there is a bond.
Now last but not least.
- DO give credit to your seamstress for making your costume. DO NOT take the credit for the costume.
I know when you get a compliment in your amazing costume it is hard to not say that you made it yourself, but you should give all credit to your seamstress. Ask your seamstress for business cards, spread her name, let everyone know she was the one who made this costume for you. She worked hard on your costume and deserves the praise just as much as you do. She put everything she had into making sure you looked damn cool on that convention floor, and she deserves to have your respect and have credit given to her. I know it is hard. People like to say that you are not a “true cosplayer” if you don’t make your costumes, but let’s show them otherwise. Cosplaying is about fun, and the love of a show or a character, and bringing them to life. Not all of us have the skills or time to make that happen, so we leave it to more capable hands, and that is okay. Don’t ever be afraid to credit your seamstress and share the experience you had with them. Also a quick tip, if you get professional photographs done of your costume, please share a print with your seamstress for her portfolio! We respect you and care for you and we hope you do the same for us.
Cosplay is something we all enjoy and can all partake in. Whether you make your costume or commission it from someone else you are still a cosplayer. If you decide to take that step with a seamstress please be respectful and remember your do’s and don’ts and always make sure to have fun. Happy cosplaying!
List of Local Arizona Seamstresses: