Comics and Cosplay
Costume Counsel: Making A Halloween Costume On The Cheap

Carly Smith | 31 Oct 2014 11:30
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Sonic and Tails kids Halloween costume

2) Borrow equipment from friends and family and ask for help.

If this is your first handmade costume, chances are you don't have a lot of materials. Unless you want to spend even more time handsewing, sewing with a basic machine will make the construction process much easier. If you don't own a sewing machine yourself, chances are your parents, your grandparents, or friends will have at least one machine somewhere you can borrow. A basic, 10-stitch sewing machine is all you need for most beginner costumes. You'll want to be able to stitch forward and backward, and maybe even a zigzag stitch. Be wary of venturing into crazy stitches for your costumes; most of them are for decoration or used in edge-case situations.

You don't want to go into your project blind. Talk to friends who have sewn before to show you how to set up a sewing machine. Watch tutorials on YouTube, and offer your friends cookies when they volunteer to show you how something is done.

The best advice I can give for newcomers who want direction in making a costume is to use patterns. These come in packs of different designs by brands like Simplicity, McCall's, Burda, and others, and they're on sale both online and in fabric stores. Fabric stores have books next to the cabinets of patterns for people to look through. Each pattern has a few versions of a similar outfit, and costume-specific patterns will either be dedicated to a certain series or character or it will include patterns for different but related costumes. This year, both McCall's and Simplicity have sewing patterns for Frozen's Elsa and Anna, as well as Game of Thrones-inspired costumes.

Patterns indicate how much fabric you will need for each style at your size. (Note: always check the sizing measurement guides on patterns as the pattern size will be different from the number you use when shopping for clothing.) Printed on thin paper, patterns allow you to make some modifications to the pattern for your body type. You can hold up the pieces to your body to see how they will lie against you. For example, if you're like me and are very short, you can adjust the length of a pants leg on the pattern so that you don't have to cut off all the excess fabric after constructing the garment. Directions with the pattern pieces explain with illustrations where to pin your pattern on your fabric before cutting it, where to sew, and how to proceed from one step to the next. Most patterns usually contain a glossary of terms for newcomers. Should a step confuse you, play around with placing the pattern pieces together to figure out what the directions are indicating, or seek help from friends or tutorials. Likely someone has an answer for you.

There are a plethora of tutorials and answers for you on sites like DeviantArt, Tumblr, YouTube, and Don't underestimate common materials you have. This summer I learned round pop-up laundry hampers make an excellent base for peanut butter and jelly jars!

Don't be afraid to use patterns that aren't exactly what you're looking for. My mom used a dinosaur pattern as a base for my Sonic the Hedgehog costume. With the right color scheme, it was obvious I was Sonic. Similarly, the same pattern with a different hood was used for my sister's matching Tails costume.

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