I measure time by upcoming events. I like having something to look forward to, and as soon as I’ve found that thing, that is essentially what I count down to. Normally I try to focus on the upcoming event before going to the next one (i.e., only three months until busy season is over, instead of jumping to the beach trip and saying only five months until the beach.) Dragon*con is one of those events, though, that I constantly count down to and is always in the back of my head about how I need to start planning for it. I love Dragon*con with a passion. I love being Downtown and living there for four days. Everyone here is all about Buckhead, Midtown, or Westside, but not me. Stick me Downtown, and I’m the happiest camper. However, this post isn’t about my favorite city, but I couldn’t help to mention my love for it when talking about Dragon*con.
Growing up, I loved designing dresses and clothes. You wouldn’t be able to tell now given my lack of fashion, but I really wanted to be a fashion designer when I was younger. I also took an interest in sewing from an early age, but never learned more than super basic stuff, like sewing buttons, pillowcases, backstitching, etc. My mom also made our Halloween costumes using McCall’s patterns and the like, and I always thought that was the coolest thing. Zac and I have always loved throwing costume parties and dressing up since we first started dating. Cosplay is something that has always been right up our alley that we only recently discovered. My first Dragon*con was with Zac in 2013. We didn’t even go for the full weekend, just on Monday. My sister, who has been going every year since probably 2008, had always told us we should go and we’d have fun, but we’d always declined and scoffed at it. Finally in 2013, a friend convinced us to join him on Monday. We were only there for a few hours in the morning, and if you’ve ever been to Dragon*con, you know how dead it is on Monday. But I instantly fell for it. As soon as we got home, we bought our passes and this same friend gave us his extra hotel room for 2014. We’ve been going ever since. Having Olivia didn’t even stop us in 2016. She was eight weeks old at the time, and we left her with Zac’s parents and spent the weekend enjoying sleep, friends, and partying. And of course, going back to the room every 2-3 hours to pump (definitely don’t miss those days.)
Every year, I make a list of characters I want to cosplay. I like to bring three costumes so I can rotate them out and not get bored in the same costume every day. I also refuse to wear a wig or heels. I will literally dye my hair a different color just for Dragon*con. I’m a natural redhead, and my first year at Dragon*con, I opted for all blonde characters and wore wigs. My hair is long and very thick, and it is honestly too much hair to cram under a wig cap and wig. My hair’s volume would cause the wig and cap to be so tight that I’d get indentations around my skull from the elastic band, mind-numbing headaches, and super sweaty since my heat couldn’t escape and was just getting trapped. The following year, I decided to dye my hair blonde and only dressed as blonde characters. Last year, I wanted to dress as Hela (which fell through due to time constraints), and decided to dye my hair black and based the other cosplays around characters with black hair (Elektra and Wonder Woman.) As for heels, there is just way too much walking and standing around at Dragon*con to warrant them. I would absolutely love to wear them all day every day, but my feet can’t handle it. That was another mistake my first D*con: By the end of the first night wearing heels, my feet were in so much pain that the rest of the convention I was having to stop and sit down for ten minutes after every two minutes of walking. Given I was still foolishly wearing heels, but you get the idea. I now try to just do cosplays where it won’t look weird if I’m in flats or flat boots. I might break out the heels on a Saturday night for a couple hours, but that’s it.
Back to this list, though. Every year, it’s a huge list. I get carried away with everything I want to do and have trouble determining what is actually feasible. I always think I’m going to stay on top of it and say that I’m going to start working on the costumes in November and not put it all off to the last minute. Every year, that turns into a lie, and the last week leading up to Dragon*con, we’re scrambling to finish everything and even employ my mother to help cut fabric, pin stuff, or watch Olivia. (Honestly would not be able to have completed a few cosplays without my mom.) Part of this procrastination is because I don’t fully know what I’m doing yet, and I’m scared to try and fail, especially after putting so much time into it. The other part is I’m pretty busy between work, studying, and spending time with family, and those things always take priority over cosplaying. I also keep saying to myself that I’m going to lose weight and get fit, and I don’t want to start on something that the measurements might change. I usually end up just making elements/accessories to costumes and buying stuff online or at Goodwill to piece into a whole costume (i.e., for my Elektra costume, I bought the swimsuit and made the loin cloth, boot covers, do rag, etc.—simple sewing tasks.) I must say, this works wonderfully and is sometimes the cheaper option when considering the cost of fabric and the time value of money. However, I really want to make a costume myself. Elektra was a big hit for me last year, especially with my husband dressed as Daredevil, so I’ve decided to keep my hair black and do that again; all I’ll need to do is make more boot covers. My Wonder Woman costume was a combined effort: my husband made the corset using EVA foam, and I made the skirt; boots were bought at Hot Topic. I plan to do this one again, but my husband wants to make a better corset (this one was too big, as he found the dimensions online and they were tailored to someone else,) and I think I may want to remake the skirt.
When it comes to making costumes, my problem is I’m kind of a perfectionist. I’m fine with, say, certain elements being different or the coloring is off from the original costume, but when it comes to fit, clean edges, presentation, etc., I can’t handle the flaws. I’ve been advised in the past that is something I’ll just have to get over. I’m fine when other people’s costumes having those little flaws (I honestly probably don’t even notice them), and those flaws don’t stop me from being impressed with their work, so I’m not sure why it bothers me so much on my own work. Last year, I bought all the fabric to make Hela’s costume, which I would like to do this year, but now that Thor: Ragnarok is out, there are more pictures available, and the level of detail is crazy. I get overwhelmed just thinking about it. I also start to wonder if it’s worth it, considering there are really good Hela costumes available online for $100 that use faux leather and suede.
If there are any cosplayers out there reading this, please help! How do you stay on top of everything when making costumes? At what point is it better to just buy a good costume online or piece everything together? Are there certain items I should buy to make sewing easier, like a bust form? What would be a good “start small” cosplay? Any advice is greatly appreciated!