Cosplay Projects for a Rainy Day

Published on January 9th, 2013

olivia

Hello my cosplay friends, and happy January! If you’re anything like me and my friend Ice up there (aka Olivia), you’re in the midst of a slow time of year.The holidays are over and it’s a little while before the convention season starts up again. Things are quiet. You have a little time on your hands. What’s that? You’re bored without a convention this month? You’re bored?? Well it’s a good thing you stumbled across this article, because I have a few ideas for you! Here’s my list of great cosplay-related things to do on a rainy – or snowy! – day.

 

1) Clean and organize your costumes
januaryarticlekelldarThis looks daunting, and yes, it can be! Leave yourself an entire day to do it, or part of one day and part of the next. Ideally, after wearing each costume for an event, you would have washed any dirty pieces, and carefully brushed and conditioned your wigs, and repaired any holes in your garments, and put everything away neatly. But if you’re anything like me, those things happen less and less as the year goes on, until finally each costume is just a pile dumped into a corner. Now is the time to fix that!

Everyone has a different organizational system. Mine is a large stack of big flat plastic lidded bins. Because often my costumes share pieces, most of the bins have more than one costume in them: Black Widow, Domino and Black Cat are together, for instance.

Go through each costume stash, and sort out what has to be hand-washed or machine-washed. Soak handwash pieces in mild detergent while you put the other pieces in the washing machine. (For the record, I can’t imagine a situation in which I would want to put any of my costumes in the dryer; I almost always recommend laying items flat to dry). Once the clothes have been washed and are out to dry, start on the wigs.

Need I remind you to always brush starting at the bottom, using only a wig brush or a wide-toothed comb? Spray conditioner on after brushing, and leave to dry for an hour or so. Then stuff, net, and bag each wig, unless it’s three-dimensionally sculpted, in which case tuck it away somewhere on a wig head. Most of my wigs are baggable, and I used to keep them with their individual costumes, but I have since found it much more convenient to give them their own box. I keep my combs, hairpins, and wig caps in that box too.

I also recommend saving a bin or two for general/miscellaneous purposes – bits for future costumes, accessories you don’t use very often, spirit gum, things you made for a last minute outfit that you might as well keep… The miscellaneous bin is my favorite bin. It’s always a party in there.

Put every piece in its place, and the next day when your garments are dry, bin those too, or hang them up. I used Post-It notes to label the sides of my bins with what costumes they contain, but I’ve seen more beautiful systems, like Kelldar’s idea of printing a Moo card (moocards.com) with a photo of each costume. Or use double-sided tape to stick on photos, or print Instagram stickers of your costumes from ArtFlakes.com!

 

2) Make repairs to costumes
While reorganizing, I also made a list of everything that needs to be repaired, worked on, or replaced. Some of this can be done before you put everything away again, but frankly, reorganizing tires me out, so I leave repairs for another day! Sometimes I’ll even wait do to repairs until right before the next event. But if you’re feeling ambitious, start work now on anything you plan to wear in the next convention season. Mend holes, take in spots that are too wrinkly, recast parts of props that didn’t come out well, use a stronger glue or a better line of stitching, or maybe redo that hastily-done hem. You can even add the touches you didn’t have time to add right before the last convention – a matching bag to hold your phone and wallet, for instance? I always forget that…

Often this takes me down the rabbit hole and I end up redoing far more than I planned, and that’s why I recommend this only for costumes you love and are planning on wearing again soon. Which brings us to…

 

3) Start planning your year of conventions
This seems like something you don’t need to think about, but actually, planning ahead will do you good, and not just by helping you prioritize which costumes to work on.

Chances are you have a few favorite conventions that you go to every year, right? Those should go first on the list. How about that small local convention you’d like to try? Maybe that should be added to the list. Or what about your dream convention? Is it time to start saving up and make it happen?

For me, the dream convention is Dragon*Con. This involves, for me, a cross-country trip and a big budget. Planning early is essential, and sacrifices are inevitable – you may have to cross a favorite off the list if you want to commit to the dream con. For me, this means I won’t be able to go to San Diego Comic-Con this year. Be realistic about your budget, and if you face these decisions now, you’ll have a good idea of how much you’ll need to save throughout the year.

 

4) Start planning the upcoming year’s new costumes
Some cosplayers I’ve seen already have made images of the year’s lineup! I usually plan two or so costumes in advance for the year, and beyond that, I go where the wind takes me. If you want to start nailing down what you’re going to wear in the upcoming season, start collecting inspirational/reference images. Look at the details and think about how much they will cost to construct or commission. Remember, budget is important here, and it’s directly related to your convention schedule! I personally have had to reject a few of my favorite ideas because I can’t afford to make them right now.

If you want to commission costumes, now is a good time to put inquiries out to your favorite seamstresses/prop makers. They’ll get crazy busy as the year goes on, so start early.

If you make your own costumes, you can physically start collecting the materials, trims and so forth that you’ll need, and begin planning lists of what you want to get. You can take your time and shop for good bargains with all the time you have!

 

5) Start a new costume now – for fun!
Well sure, cosplay is always supposed to be fun. But c’mon, doesn’t it sometimes feel like pressure… or even… work? Well, since the pressure’s not on right now, you can take this opportunity to ditch all the work you feel you HAVE to do on new or old costumes, and just pick the thing that sounds like a good time! I had an amazing time starting on my dream costume last month – one of Arwen’s gowns – and even though I don’t have a convention in mind to wear it to, continuing to work on it is a pleasure. That’s what costuming should feel like. What’s inspiring you RIGHT NOW? Go for it!

januaryarticlearwen

 

6) Organize a photoshoot
Since you have some free time to really do your best, now is a good opportunity to meet up with a photographer friend and schedule a shoot. If you don’t know anyone offhand, ask some cosplay friends if they know someone talented in your area (I don’t advise shooting with a stranger alone). Or take a friend who wants to hone their photography skills. But if you’re shooting outside, best to pick a warmer costume and bring some hot tea!

 

7) Dig up some old photos
One of my favorite rainy day activities is to sort through old photos and post ones I didn’t like at first but that have grown on me, or ones that haven’t yet seen the light of day. Because some of my wonderful photographer friends are okay with me doing certain alterations to their images, I like to sit down and go through old shoots sometimes and play around. Or try photoshopping a bad point-and-shoot picture onto a cooler background, or make yourself a nice banner for your website. Maybe make a little photoshopped gift for somebody else, if you feel inspired by one of their images! As long as you give credit to the original photographer, most people don’t mind that.

 

And if all else fails, there ARE still conventions going on this month. Anime Los Angeles just took place, Ohayocon is coming up, and I’m sure there are more small conventions across the US. Even for superhero costumers, an anime convention can be a fun experience. Or try a furry convention if there’s one in your area! I had fun at San Jose’s Further Confusion last January. And my furry outfit was nice and warm, too!

januaryfurry

Roxanna Meta
Roxanna@ComicImpact.com