Quarantine Cosplay: Upping Your Costume Game at Home
By Katherine Scott, PCC Instructor
If you’re anything like me, all this time in quarantine means new books, movies, television shows, and developing new skills. I never learned how to cross-stitch, and with the unfortunate construct of time, I always had to wonder “what if?” I now HAVE the time, and I’m going to try.
Whether you’re a seasoned cosplayer or new to costuming, cosplay is the perfect way to get creative, learn new skills, goal set, connect socially, and show love for your favorite fandom.
With many 2020 conventions being delayed due to physical distancing with COVID-19, you now have more time to work and play at your costumes. While cosplay can be hard work, now is the perfect time to get back to the joy of it and learn new ways to do so – and Pop Culture Classroom is here to cheer you on!
Step 1. Brainstorm Ideas
When getting started, begin by making a list of characters and looks that you would be excited to showcase. Characters that you identify with are a great place to start.
For me lately, it’s been Villanelle from BBC’s Killing Eve. She’s chic, dangerous, and she’s never met an accent she couldn’t master. It might be the sense of humor or the outlandish action scenes. But, probably it’s the dresses, the confectionary creations of organza, lace and mesh. I don’t want to be her, but I do want to dress like her. But where to start?
Have a vision for a hand-embroidered jacket? You may already have back-burner mash-up ideas that you never had the time to pursue, but don’t worry, you can make Jon Snow White a reality. Deadpool/Deadmau5 is within reach. There has been no better time to get wild with your cosplay.
Step 2. Set Measurable Goals and a Timeline
When structuring your week, choose projects to focus on for a stretch of time and set measurable goals. It’s helpful to break down your large project into smaller chunks, such as research, design, and construction (which can be broken down into even smaller bits – cutting, dying, specific costume pieces, etc.). Setting and hitting smaller milestones will give you a sense of accomplishment. By creating goals for the week and making a loose schedule, you can maintain some of the stability of pre-quarantine life
Step 3. Build Skills and Supply Lists
No matter what your approach to cosplay, you’ll need certain skills and a hearty supply list to accomplish your goals. When building a supply list, it is helpful to over-purchase. Cosplay involves a lot of problem solving. Many craft retailers are extending return dates, so to prevent having to place frequent additional web orders for supplies that run out, buy more than you need and return the excess once your project is finished and stores re-open. Troubleshooting a technique before starting your end project is a good way to avoid wasting pricey supplies and the knowledge you gain while failing can be taken into the rest of your cosplay.
What skills are necessary to accomplishing your goal? Now is the perfect time to consider picking up a skill to add to your arsenal, such as cloth dying, hand sewing, machine sewing, working with patterns, embroidery, woodworking, paper mache, among many others. For the seasoned cosplayer, perhaps try your hand at developing marketing and design techniques to build a cosplay brand. The goal is to come out of quarantine with a skill that you enjoy and that enhances the rest of your life.
Worst case scenario, your technique or project is not immediately successful. Rather than getting hung up on the fact that a prop didn’t turn out exactly how you imagined, adapt to the project. Your ability to innovate will lead to successes and make you a better cosplayer.
Step 4. Seek Out Resources
There are several easy go-to places for resources on cosplay.
- Cosplaytutorials.com offers a lot of different techniques that can be adapted to your project. It’s a great place for ideas.
- YouTube has pretty much everything you could need, with all the instructional videos, though you may need to play around with it to make it fit your project. Rather than trying to find the perfect video to make a specific sword, watch several general sword tutorials and adjust it to your needs.
- Templeofgeek.com shows a lot of examples of “closet cosplay,” which is cosplay put together from items already in your closet or easily accessible off the rack.
- And finally, monthly workshops at POP CULTURE CLASSROOM, that deal with aspects of cosplay and cosplay culture.
Step 5. Show Off Your Cosplay
Cosplay is a great way to stay connected with people online both in your established social group and beyond it. There are a bunch of ways that you can connect with like-minded cosplayers in quarantine and reach out to people for ideas and creative techniques.
- cosplay.com is a place where you can share your WIPs (work in progress) or show off your finished projects. The interface on this site allows for comments and has a forum for discussion.
- An Instagram feed or live is a place to go to share pieces you create, share make-up tests, and connect to people. Putting together a look and then doing a photo shoot with a housemate or family member is a great way to give yourself something to look forward to. Setting a regular and consistent time for your show or photo release will help develop a following (if that’s something that you’re into), and you can advertise an IG live show either solo or with a friend or family member. Perfect for collaborations!
- Create a live event on Twitch to show off a finished project or to show the steps it took to create a piece. On this platform, you can share your art and help others looking for resources and instruction.
Cosplay is cool.
Creating and wearing adaptations of designs worn by Villanelle on Killing Eve won’t make me kind of a big deal in the assassin game. However, it will help me make it my own.
No matter what your fandom is, developing your cosplay skills in quarantine will provide an outlet to express your creative side, help you set goals, give you projects to focus on, and connect you with other cosplayers and fans. Whatever your current media obsession is, show it some love with cosplay.
Pop Culture Classroom is here to help.
If you’re looking for new techniques, tools, and training on cosplay or other creative projects, check out Pop Culture Classroom’s year-round workshops.