Tag: Costume



Monday, February 27, 2017 | By | Add a Comment


Semi-cosplay is what I like to call cosplay that can be considered more of a regular dress and activity than full-on cosplay.  It is not a movement, but just a term I will use to describe those of us who like to wear our favorite outlandish attire or pieces of outlandish attire on a regular basis without feeling too out of place or having to go through great lengths to dress up as well as fit in on a regular basis.

Although many of us who are into cosplay or semi-cosplay tend to have been originally heavy metal rockers, punk rockers, or rivet-heads/ cyberpunks that continue to wear their everyday get-up, some of us change our attire from time to time or have different costumes or looks we like to wear.

Heavy metal rockers and punk rockers are two examples of lifestyles of people who tend to dress with semi-cosplay articles on a regular, all-day-every-day basis, such as studs and spikes , shin and wrist guards, make-up, wigs, and designed pieces of attire.

Most of us like to dress up on our days and nights off when we are with our small group of close friends who partake in such activities while either just relaxing or indulging in some sort of gaming or partying.  Whatever the case, we do it to bring out our true selves, which most of us hide and wear our masks of conformity to adjust to our workday program.

Cosplayers obtain their apparel through many different methods.  Manufacturers produce and sell packaged outfits for use in cosplay, with varying levels of quality.  These costumes are often sold online, but also can be purchased from dealers at conventions.  A number of individuals also work on commission, creating custom costumes, props, or wigs designed and fitted to the individual.

Other cosplayers, who prefer to create their own costumes, still provide a market for individual elements, accessories, and various raw materials, such as unstyled wigs or extensions, hair dye, cloth and sewing notions, liquid latex, body paint, costume jewelry, and prop weapons.

With the advancement in robotic technology, robot or android/cyborg additions are becoming increasingly popular.  Semi-cosplayers or cosplayers often create add-ons that serve no useful purpose other than to make the individual’s costume look cool and unique.  That is the whole idea of being yourself and doing your own thing.

Take a look at the above video for a glimpse of creativity by a designer who created robotic spider shoulder wear and let me know what you think!

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Sunday, August 7, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Hello everybody, I hope you have all read my previous post on purchasing a sewing machine for your cosplaying needs.  Today, we are going to learn our first fundamental lesson in sewing:  Sewing Straight Lines, and how to sew our first straight line!  So, let’s begin, shall we?

First, we need to get a piece of fabric ready to practice with…just a scrap of something will do. Preferably just a basic cotton piece of fabric, not anything knit or stretchy. It’s going to be easiest if you fold it so that you are sewing through 2 layers of fabric while you practice.

Next, you need to thread your machine (including the bobbin of course). Make sure you have your machine set to sew at an average stitch length (your manual will probably tell you what that is). You can take some time to play around with this-testing shorter stitches and longer stitches.

Now, take your piece of fabric and place it under the presser foot. For starters I want you to line your fabric up so that the right edge of your fabric matches up with the right edge of your presser foot as you look at it like I have done in this picture below. Lower the presser foot so that it is holding your fabric in place.

Before you start to sew, use your hand wheel (or up/down button if you have a computerized machine) to lower the needle so that it is all the way down into your fabric (always do this when you begin to sew).

Now, slowly press your foot pedal down to begin to sew. Stitch forward for 1 inch.

Then push the reverse button or lever to back stitch for 1 inch (sew backwards over what you just sewed).

After you have back stitched over that 1 inch, proceed with a forward stitch again. You have just created a knot so that your stitches won’t come loose. You will do this whenever you sew unless otherwise specified.

Continue to sew forward. As you do, try to keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the edge of your presser foot. This will help you maintain a straight line. Also, try to keep a nice steady pace. You can also put a piece of tape on your fabric to use as a guide to practice getting a straight line.

Once you reach the end of your fabric, knot it again. (Sew to the end, back stitch for about 1 inch, then sew forward again).

Raise your presser foot and gently remove your fabric. Snip the threads that are attached to your fabric. Guess what? You just sewed your first straight line!

But wait, there’s more to learn.

What if you are sewing a straight line and you come to a corner (like if you are sewing a rectangle or square) that you need to turn to continue sewing. What do you do?

Sew almost all the way to the corner, but leave yourself about 1/4″-1/2″ of space between your needle and the very edge of the fabric. Making sure to lower your needle all the way into the fabric (this is very important), then lift your presser foot. Your fabric will stay in place because the needle is holding it, but you can now pivot it so that it is positioned to keep sewing, now in the new direction. Lower your presser foot and continue to sew.

Sometimes you will be asked to baste. A baste is a long stitch that is much looser than a typical stitch. When you baste you do not knot at the beginning and the end. This is because you will probably be picking the baste stitch out (if it is just there to hold your fabric in place for the time being) or you will be using it to gather. I will teach you what that is later in another post.

A hem is when you fold under the fabric twice and sew it in place to create a nice finished edge (like at the bottom of your pants). To hem you will first fold the fabric under about 1/2″ and press or iron it into place. Then fold it the same amount again, press it again and then do a straight stitch along it.

Here’s an important thing to know when sewing a hem or at other times. If you are sewing a small area, like a pant leg, guess what? You can take off part of your machine to make it easier. See how I can sew that complete loop so easily because the fabric fits all the way around? Give it a try-that part of your machine will come right off and then go back on when you need it back on.

I told you to use the presser foot edge and match it up with your fabric edge to sew a straight line. This is what I do at least 90% of the time when I am sewing, because it creates such an easy guide. But occasionally you will be asked to sew a certain seam allowance. When that happens you need to use your seam guides to guide you instead of the presser foot. In that case you will line up the edge of your fabric with the seam guide you need and try to keep it steady with that line as you sew.

So, there you have it! Now, go and sew, sew, sew away! This is just your first step into an exciting world of creating your own cosplay costumes and so practice makes perfect! Of course, your friends may think of you as an old granny that sits in the corner of her house and never leaves, but hey, that never hurt anybody, right? And you are learning something fun, and will make you wonderful, unique costumes and maybe even pay off in the future. So, my fellow cosplayers, stop reading and get at it!

Sewing Machine Shopping

Sewing Machine Shopping

Sunday, June 26, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Sewing Machine Shopping

The fundamental tool for any dedicated cosplayer, is the sewing machine.  When you are looking to purchase your first machine, you will come to realize that there are many makes and models on the market, so it becomes difficult to decide on which machine you should purchase as your starter machine based on your sewing needs.  Finding the right sewing machine really depends on how you intend to use it, but before you give yourself a headache with all the possibilities out there, it’s worth asking some basic questions.  Here are 10 things to consider when purchasing a sewing machine:

  1. What can you afford? – Everyone has a budget and recognizing whether or not you can actually afford the machine that you want is the first step to choosing the one that’s right for you.  There is simply no point in looking at high-end machines if you have a limited budget.  Of course, there will always be a machine that offers much more if you spend more.  If you can only afford a $50 machine, then look around and see what quality second-hand machines are available, either at a dedicated retailer or on an auction site (but make sure any second-hand machine you buy has a warranty).  Remember that the cheaper the machine, the less likely it is going to last, so always but the best you can afford.
  2. How many stitches do you need? – Once you know your budget, you need to start thinking about what you really need.  What you need and what looks appealing are two very different things!  To sew successfully you only really need a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch.  These two stitches will allow you to do just about everything you want to do on a sewing machine.  Everything else depends on how you intend to use the machine.  Will you use other stitches on a regular basis?
  3. Can you adjust the stitch length? – While you may just use straight stitch and zigzag stitch, being able to adjust both the width and the length of these stitches can be invaluable.  Do you set your machine to the longest length and machine baste any new designs that you work on.  Do you set the stitch to its shortest length when you sew up wearable designs, to ensure small, tight stitches.  Do you constantly adjust the zigzag length and width for appliqué and finishing off edges.  While most machines offer variable stitch widths and lengths, some of the lower priced machines don’t, so it’s always worth checking.
  4. What attachments come with the machine? – Having a selection of presser feet can make all the difference to your sewing day, so it’s important to find out which attachments come as standard and which attachments are available to buy separately.  If you want to make clothing, then you should look for a machine that has a buttonhole foot, a zipper foot and a blind hem foot as standard attachments.  However, if you intend to make quilts, you will need a walking foot, a ¼” foot (the seam allowance for patchwork) and if you intend to freehand quilt then you’ll want a freehand embroidery foot.  For basic sewing, a selection of different width feet can be invaluable when switching between seam allowance widths, as well as for the zigzag stitch.  If the machine you’re thinking of buying doesn’t come with the feet you’d like, make sure they are available to purchase separately and that they don’t cost a fortune.  It’s also very useful to check how easily the feet can be changed.  A lot of machines just have feet that clip on and off, which really does save a lot of time if you find yourself switching back and forth between feet.
  5. How big is the motor? –  As a rule of thumb, the heavier the motor and the heavier the machine, the stronger the machine will be.  A strong, heavy motor will make it easier to cope with frequent use and heavier fabrics, such as upholstery-weight fabrics and denims.  A machine that is predominantly plastic will not withstand the kind of use that a machine with metal parts can.  Of course, if you know you’re going to need to transport your machine frequently, even if it’s just in and out of a cupboard, you need to decide if a heavy machine is impractical and whether you want to compromise with a machine that has a plastic body, but metal parts.  But the lighter the machine, the less it will be able to handle.
  6. What make is the machine and where is it being sold?  Brand really does make a difference with sewing machines.  All machines are not made equal and they don’t all have the same parts inside.  Back in the day, Singer made fantastic machines that lasted forever, but unfortunately these days, their machines are mainly made out of plastic, with smaller motors that just aren’t built to last.  So it’s not just about buying the name you recognize.  Always look at where the machine is being sold.  In a department store, you will be most likely to find brands like Singer, Brother and Janome.  These are all very successful brands, but they are more likely to be lightweight, hobby machines (Janome is the exception to this rule, as they’ve managed to produce both low-end hobby machines and high-end professional machines).  On the other hand, if you’re looking in a dedicated retailer, you’re much more likely to find brands such as Bernina, Pfaff, Huqsvarna and Juki.  These are all high-end machines that start off much pricier, but are aimed at and used by frequent stitchers.  These machines tend to be the ones mentioned by professional makers.  And they don’t tend to be available in the big department stores.  It’s always better to buy at the low-end of a good brand rather than the high-end of an average hobby brand.  And you should never buy anything with cartoon characters on it, because chances are it is not a good machine!
  7. How noisy is the machine? – This is something that very few people think about when looking at machines, but once you’re actually sewing it can really affect how and when you use it.  If you’re like most people and only have time to sew in the evening, (after work or when the kids are in bed), it can be a shock to get your lovely new machine home and discover that it sounds like a pneumatic drill and is keeping everyone in your household, including the neighbors, awake.  If you’re worried about the amount of noise you’re making when you sew, you are far less likely to use the machine.  So it pays to take your time when you’re choosing your machine, and research quieter machines.  Just keep in mind that if you’re testing the machine in a sewing shop, the ambient nose levels are likely to be quite high, so it can be really hard to judge just how quiet your machine really is.
  8. Mechanical vs. computerized? – Most of the high-end machines on the market are now fully computerized, with touch screens and programmable stitch sequences.  But they come at a price, and if budget is an issue then the question of whether to buy a mechanical machine or a computerized machine needs to be asked.  Modern mechanical machines tend to be lighter (even if they have a strong motor) because they have less parts, which makes them easier to carry around.  They are also easier to maintain, with covers that can be removed so that the motor can be oiled. Servicing is often cheaper as a result.  However, most of the good new machines are computerized or electronic, meaning that the machines have stronger motors and extra power, so they don’t struggle with heavyweight fabrics and constant use. Computerized machines also tend to have superior stitch lines, with more evenly spaced and therefore stronger, stitches.  They also have a lot more sewing options.  Computerized machines can be programmed, so that specific stitch sequences can be remembered, and they offer huge selections of decorative and embroidery stitches as well as automatic tie-offs, and thread cutting.  Which you buy really does depend on your budget, but if you’re going for a mechanical machine, it’s best to buy an older, high-end model, rather than a cheap, plastic model. It will last longer and even if it only offers the basics, it will withstand a lot more use.
  9. How often will you use your machine? – Everyone that sews wishes they had more time for it than they do.  If you recognize that you’re the sort of sewer that will probably only get the machine out every few months, to hem clothes or make some new cushions, then a high-end, all-singing, all-dancing machine may not be the best investment.  But a good quality electronic machine may enhance your sewing experience and encourage you to start sewing more often.  If you know that you’ve been bitten by the sewing bug and that the only thing standing between you and daily sewing is the lack of a good machine, then buying the best you can afford gives you plenty of scope for growth.  If money is an issue, recognizing your own sewing expectations is essential. If you rarely sew now, a new, expensive machine that requires a lot of learning is not necessarily going to make you sew more. But a solid mechanical machine that covers all the basics and only requires threading and plugging in will seem less daunting.
  10. What are your sewing expectations? – This is another question that will help you to recognize if your desire for that amazing, expensive machine is based on wishful thinking or a genuine need.  It’s also designed to find out whether you’re holding yourself back due to lack of confidence in learning something new.  If the thought of learning how to use a new machine fills you with excitement, then a machine with lots of options and exciting possibilities is the one for you.  But if the thought of all those buttons and programs makes you break out in a cold sweat,then there’s a chance that the huge instruction manual and all those symbols and patterns may put you off using your new machine.  Equally, if your ambition is to make heirloom quality quilts, then buying a machine that only has basic attachments will hinder you from achieving your goal and will most likely leave you feeling frustrated.  And if you want to get to the point where you can make your own clothes, then spending money on a machine that has variable stitch lengths, over-locking stitches and the ability to switch to a twin needle will be a good investment.
Making an Iron Man Suit

Making an Iron Man Suit

Saturday, April 30, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Making an Iron Man Suit

Cosplay and semi-cosplay costumes can sometimes take a large amount of creative processes in order to achieve the desired end results of the designer.  3D printing is the favored process, since it is usually the most inexpensive and quickest way to create custom designed pieces.  Other processes, such as molding and casting can get to be somewhat pricey and time consuming, but they may also be necessary depending on the level of detail and expectations of the cosplayer.

The more complicated the costume is, the more detail and planning is necessary to create the costume in its entirity.  This often involves sketching the costume out to get a visualization of how the costume will look in different views on paper as well as creating scaled models of the completed costume design using a variety of materials such as wire frames, sculpting clay, manequins, plastics and many other materials to create your models.

If the costume involves moving parts or electrical configurations, then the designer must consider doing engineering tests and electrical layouts and testing as well.  Proper materials should be tested and used for different weight ratios and strength and durability depending on where each piece will be placed and the functionality of the piece.

These are just a couple of considerations to think about when creating a highly detailed and complicated costume.  Among those who create these cosplay costumes is James Bruton, a sci-fi and superhero fan who uses his Lulzbot TAZ dual-extruder 3D printer to create some very complex costumes ranging from an Iron Man suit to Android bipedal legs and even Star Wars replica parts.

In his free time, Bruton helps run the Southampton Makerspace and shares his builds on his website XRobots.  While he builds his complicated costumes using a variety of material types ranging from wood to plastic, the majority of the 3D printed parts used in his designs consist of ABS plastic and Ninjaflex.

The video above shows the processes involved in making an Iron Man suit with lighted configurations and engineered parts.  Many of the designer’s other costumes have much more complicated and technologically advanced components.

I hope this video gives you some inspiration on designing your own cosplay costume.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Robotic Cosmetics Design

Robotic Cosmetics Design

Saturday, April 2, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Robotic Cosmetics Design

In the accessorizing of the semi-cosplay group of dark electronic, science fiction lovers that I affiliate with, a common theme is robot or cybernetic add-ons such as robotic appendages and electronic, lighted body features in robotic cosmetics design.  There are specialty websites that are geared towards the hobbyist that have sections of DIY or do-it-yourself wearable components that you can use to aid in the design of your own custom attire.

Researchers are continuing to develop robotic like designs to aid disabled people and the elderly in rehabilitation and assisting functionalities.  A recently devised hand exoskeleton called the Assisted Finger Orthosis, is a hand exoskeleton can be customized for an individual using 48 parameters. The battery-powered device uses small linear motors that can be programmed to move the finger as part of a rehab process.  Parameters can be set for finger movement, the range of motion and the frequency.  Each finger on the exoskeleton has eight rigid parts and pins that can be made using a 3D printer.

Someone interested in these type of accessories can either pay for the individual parts through the developer’s means of selling the parts, or they can also decide to design and make it themselves.  This could be done using computer aided drafting and design programs such as AutoCAD and transferring your design to a 3D printer or CNC machine for your own custom made parts.  Many cosplayer and semi-cosplayer designs are now being made this way.

In order to get an individual effect that is unique to your cosplay make-over, then one must have unique designs to add to their attire.  This takes a matter of instruction and learning about a range of technology and other topics including electronics, drafting, design, CAD, CAM, CNC manufacturing, 3D printing, fashion, sewing and materials which would be best suited for your accessories.  If this is something you are interested in, or are considering doing, then you will need to learn these things as well as keeping up on the latest developments as well as the practices and processes of designing your own custom cosplay, or semi-cosplay design.  Take a look at the above video regarding an Iron Man robotic hand an arm accessory and lights that some innovative designer created to give you some inspiration.