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Jan 6, 2018

Things I Don't Get, Vol. 19 -- Cosplay


Friends, as someone whose relationship with comic books starts and ends with Millie the Model, I'm not likely to have any profound insights into the world of cosplay.

That's why I'm seeking your insights!

What, some of you might be asking, is cosplay?

As I understand it, cosplay is, in essence, dressing up like comic book or science fiction characters you admire and going to conventions (often called comic-cons) with like-minded souls, showing off your outfits to each other, and taking selfies.

Too reductive?  You can find scads more about cosplay here.

Now look, friends, I totally get the thrill of dressing up like someone else, or wearing an outrageous outfit.


 But this?


More than 25 years ago, I spent a summer working as an actor at the New York Renaissance Festival (I was the village leper, don't ask).  And every weekend, scores of attendees would come dressed up like King Henry VIII or Catherine of Aragon, complete with royal retinue.  They were a very strange sort but I did recognize the creativity involved.

Basically, I don't get wanting to dress up like a superhero or Star Wars character.  It all sounds so -- dare I say it? -- geeky.  And you're limited to a finite number of characters that everybody else is choosing from too.  So it's like, My Chewbacca is better than your Chewbacca!

Geeky, schmeeky, the cosplayers are having the last laugh.  Cosplay is BIG business.  And a few people who've dedicated their professional lives to cosplay are making real money.

What does this have to do with us sewers?  Well the pattern companies are paying attention (and even attending comic-con conventions).  McCall's, for example, has a dedicated cosplay pattern line (Did you know this?).  You'll find a few of these patterns on the regular McCall's site in their Costume category selections, but not all.  (And while the link to the exclusive cosplay site is included on their home page, you really have to hunt for it.  Hint: it's at the very bottom -- why?)

I have no idea who these characters are but I do notice a) most of them are carrying weapons, and b) the ones who aren't armed are scantily clothed and selling their sex appeal, and c) they're all young.




You can view my favorite McCall's cosplay pattern (a unisex flight suit) here.

Simplicity is in this game as well, natch.  They even sell a no-sew men's armor pattern!  It seems I've been living under a rock -- somewhere in middle-earth.


Could Closet Case Cosplay be far behind?

Readers, perhaps some of you are into cosplay and can explain its appeal.  Perhaps some of you have sewn cosplay costumes for others -- for money, even.  Perhaps you -- like me -- have wondered about the cosplay phenomenon but were afraid to ask.

In closing, three questions:

1) Are you, or have you ever been, into cosplay?

2) How did you choose your character and what was the appeal?

3) If you answered "yes" to #1, did you work from a commerical cosplay pattern or make something up yourself.

BONUS QUESTION:

4) What does the growing popularity of cosplay and comic-con events say about the world we live in, if anything?

Help me to understand, readers!

61 comments:

  1. Oh man. It's going to sound cheesy, but can I use the word "shamanic"? It's very much abour wanting to embody the character's characteristics for the day. Choosing a character is no light decision. You can def tell a lot about what's been going on for me, by looking at the cosplays I've done across the years.

    Often, people approach yoy as if you WERE the character - which is especially fun with kids, you can let them fight yoy and kill yoy with their lightsabre or whatever. A bit like being an unpaid Disney character performer, I suppose, or a mall Santa. Little kids think you really are Rey, and yoy can tell them they are strong with the force and they will be a great Jedi. But as an adult, I've had experiences like that which really stuck with me; one guy dressed as Rorchach who was totally into his role. I know he was a bloke in a costume, but I definitely still have a "star struck" quality about that experience. Silly? Oh, certainly; but I try not to overtime anything that makes me so happy.

    Cosplay is also the best way to make friends at geeky occasions - people come up and ask for photos, so you get chatting anshave more of a community experience than just going with a friend or alone.

    Its basicall playing dress up. That sounds childish, but the psychological value and the fun of that is as rich for adults as young people.

    Finally, from a tailoring perspective: you get to wear some of the best clothes ever designed. There's a pleasure about turning an iconic movie look into something you own, or conquering the challenge of an outlandish one. It's nice to build up a costume over time, upgrading cheap or non-accurate elements each time.

    I can't say I would use a commercial pattern. Most of the things I want to do wouldn't be covered, and researching the costume and devising a pattern is part of the fun. The home-madeness of cosplay is beautiful, and I hope it never becomes just buying costumes to wear. True cosplay needs your sweat and tears. Similarly, I wouldn't make fun of people who don't "look good" in their costume because I don't think it's about looks. At least, it isn't for me. It's about how the costume makes you feel. Similarly, I don't think anyone would ever be upset to be one of many Chewbaccas - I usually go up and speak to people with the same costume, as it's a great conversation starter and you know they share your passion.

    I suspect you need to be the right sort of person. But, in any case, know that cosplay is so very different from say "going to a costume party" - there are some really intense emotions involved, a sort of self expression ("this is who I am") and aspiration ("this is who I want to be").

    I hope this is some useful insight!

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    1. Thank you SO much, Slip. That is a superb answer.

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  2. I think part of it is a generation that refuses to grow up, or at least relinquish their childhoods. You see it in the continual stream of '80s reboots, tattoos of cartoon characters, cosplay, and elsewhere. It's a cultural shift, and I'm curious to see where it leads.

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    1. To somewhat refute the idea that this is a fad specific to the Y-and-under generations, cosplay actually has quite a long history (for quick reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay) - many cultures throughout history have examples of this "carnivalesque" masquerading where people use these personas to act out fantasies of who they want to be or who they identify with, or to subvert the societal norms of the day. The current "young" generation's versions identifying with specific pop-culture icons is pretty much the same as Medieval Nativity plays or Shrove Tuesday carnival masquerading, but instead of Biblical figures they're lionizing characters that are now much more prevalent in the general pop-consciousness... Social media makes this seem like it is "exploding" now, but we're just seeing it more due to increased coverage, in some respects.

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    2. I'm almost 55, so I disagree that it's about a generation that won't grow up. I agree with Katherine, it's had a long history and is becoming more visible to non-cosplay because of the internet. It's been around long before.

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    3. I agree that dressing up has a long history; I remember friends in the Society for Creative Anachronism in high school, and of course, Renaissance Faires, Jane Austen groups, and Civil War re-enactors have been around forever. But most of these earlier incarnations were historically based: adults dressed like other real adults, rather than as cartoon characters; a shift from adult to children's figures. Knights and Confederate soldiers have become Sailor Moon and My Little Pony. And the costumes were generally only seen at their respective events, among like-minded people, whereas now it is more common to see people at "public" places dressed as favorite characters, like the theater, or Disney-bounding at theme parks.

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  3. 1) I've cosplayed twice, both for comic Con,and will probably do so again.

    2) They were not characters I liked. It's fun go embody a different character for today. It's also cool when people recognize the character. The second time I cosplayed, I met the writer of the comic book character I dressed up as and she was so overjoyed.

    3) I have now used one of the commerical cosplay patterns yet, though I do own a few. I've usually adapted a regular pattern for my needs.

    BONUS QUESTION:

    4) I think it's the expanding of geek culture, which has existed for some time, and companies wanting to cash in on it. The good thing, though, is that I feel like people are more open to learning crafts like sewing.

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  4. Bonus: 4) What does the growing popularity of cosplay and comic-con events say about the world we live in, if anything? 

    I actually think it says more about te mainstreaming of geek culture than, say, the world being so lousy more people want to make believe. Cosplay has been going on since the early Sci Fi cons in the 50s and 60s, however the word cosplay is more modern.

    In the 70s and 80s, being a geek was a thing that got yoy bullied. However, the dominance of tech in our lives, and the revival of comic book movies and video games as huge money makera and fantasy TV shows has changed the culture. "Being into computer games and technology and super heroes and stories about dragons" is now your average teenager, rather than the one lonely kid in the class. Even, for example, in the 90s anime and Japanese culture was very rare over here, but thanks in great part to the Matrix and Pokemon those things are now easy to access and wildly popular.

    So I think that's driving the popularity. Comic cons are no longer a weird niche hobby for enthusiastic oddballs - they are mainstream, and thst means a lot more people attending and becoming part of the culture than they would have done in earlier decades. Comic cons are where studios launch films and video games, they're part of the advertising process -in a way they weren't historically. Even, as yoy say, the rise of professional cosplayers. Big business. Less heart.

    For my part, I don't like the big cons - they tend to be claustrophobic and centered around spending money. I prefer the old fashioned cons, which are 50 people in a hotel conference suite for a weekend with lots of fan-ru n panels on obscure topics.

    Anyway, tldr: i think the rise in popularity of cons and cosplay is a result of traditional "nerd culture" becoming mainstream culture.

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  5. I can't say I get the appeal myself. But I think part of it may be the fun of wearing clothing that is detailed and beautiful. Today's clothing is generally bland and boring and unisex, but that girl who lives in yoga pants and hoodies will suddenly need a glamorous, elaborate wedding dress. Although we don't want to invest a high level of effort in daily dressing--even at funerals or the ballet, you see jeans and flip-flops--it is fun to get fancy when it is optional, and to dip into a world where appearances are more important than they sometimes are in daily life now.

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  6. Not true cos-play, but my entire family ran Bay to Breakers in San Francisco as the Robin Hood Men in Tights guys. I made six costumes of varying sizes from a Butterick pattern. Of course, costumes are kind of normal in SF. I would cos-play more if I had the opportunity. I think its because I'm a writer by trade and live in a fantasy world. I think as world events get out of hand, and we feel less control overall, that it's comforting and safe to withdraw into a place where roles are well defined. It's escapism with other people.

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  7. My husband is a diehard comic book collector. He doesn’t do cosplay because he’s not quite that geeky. I don’t read them but I’m a huge fan of Marvel and DC tv shows and movies. He got me into a cosplay reality show on SyFy channel. I think you can stream them on the site or find them on YouTube. I’m totally not a cosplay nerd at all... but when you see them mesh fabric with weird metals and materials that have been manipulated with blow torches it’s so intriguing. They are the people that not only attend cosplay conventions, but go on to create costumes in $100 million budget films. Very interesting...

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  8. Interesting post! Cosplay holds less than no appeal for me but then, neither does any comic or renaissance fair, like, ever in the history of the universe. Now, I do LOVE vintage clothing. The idea of wearing vintage is super appealing but, as I age (and know myself better), I understand how I need to wear it so that it doesn't look like a costume. I guess the point is, I don't like costumes unless I'm in a musical. But to each her own :-)

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  9. I think it's a good thing in regards to sewing because it's inspiring a whole new generation of sewists who aren't afraid to try anything if it gets them good results. Lots of creativity goes into the making of these costumes and anything that promotes crafts is good in my book.

    Also, lots of sewists seem to make complicated garments that don't fit into their daily life style as part of their hobby, this just has a different focus on where and how they're worn.

    I honestly don't see how drag and cosplay are all that different, really. Labelling the results as weird because you don't understand them is a problem for both, am I right?

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  10. I'm not into cosplay but my husband is. He participates in a fan group of fans of sci-fi writer David Weber who's written a series of books about the Royal Manticoran Navy. They wear uniforms (yes, I had to make one from a pattern the group sells), earn ranks and participate at various comic-cons. I don't pretend to understand the allure, but he likes it and we certainly don't need to do everything together! I think the popularity of dressing up like some fantasy person/thing stems from the ridiculous mess our country is in, which then allows them to retreat into a better/more interesting world where they can leave it all behind.

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  11. Ditto!!! I’m newish and no where near the level of some folks out there. Cosplay is fun and meditative. It’s wearable art and brings a different type of energy into my sewing room. Thank you for replying to Peter’s question and capturing cosplay so much better than I could. Happy sewing. @rosekyky on Instagram

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  12. Creativity! Halloween is only one day!

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  13. I think the cosplay (costume play) thing is pretty cool. It's imaginative people using what ever talent they may have to make some pretty decent items. Some a trifle more outlandish than others but where's the harm in that. Sure beats jacking a store or bank. It's harmless fun to "dress up". Little kids LOVE dressing up it helps form their imagination so why not adults, we tend to put fun stuff aside as we get older. If I was younger, 20-40 I'd definitely participate in this. I'm 59 & would like to get involved in steampunk though cause I could rock some of those outfits. I've bought a couple patterns & have started a jacket so we'll see how much I can get away with lol
    Becca G
    Closet steampunk lady

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    1. Love steampunk! Would love to see how your jacket comes out.

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    2. My first attempt at Steampunk was Simplicity 2172, but I made it in Wonder Woman colours, so not very Steampunk, I guess...

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    3. Go all in on the steampunk you’ll love it. I’m 57 and I’m a full on screen accurate Star Wars stormtrooper with the 501st legion, (a worldwide Star Wars charity group) we raise millions a year for charity and i have more fun at our appearances than I ever did as a kid at Halloween.

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  14. I've made a few cosplay and casual cosplay outfits for my daughter over the years. She's been a Sailor Moon fabric since she was little, so they were all Sailor Moon characters or outfits from the art books. I always adapted a regular pattern. Part of the fun is figuring out how to translate it. Mostly it's just great to work together with my daughter on a project. Something special that we share. She recently asked to to start working on a new one, a jacket and top based on some fan art!

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  15. I have friends who cosplay, and it's definitely about the creativity (costumes are all homemade and elaborate -- no one uses a pattern) and socializing with friends who are into the same movie/show/whatever that you are. Not about sex appeal or weapons or regressing to childhood.

    I've thought about doing it, but my all-time favorite TV show doesn't have much of a fandom, unfortunately. If it did, I'd love to make up a costume, go to cons and swap inside jokes.

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  16. I've been cosplaying longer than anyone I know- over 30 years now. Back then it was called "dressing up as a favourite character." These days most of my cosplay are variations on Wonder Woman and her family, but a couple of years ago I made a 1960s Batgirl (A la Yvonne Craig) and hubby said he needed to be Robin to match. So I supervised and showed him how to use the sewing machine to make his own cape for his costume.
    We've been invited to a Steampunk wedding next April and to my amazement he said he'd be starting his costume soon... I had sort of assumed I'd be doing both! I'll be staying on Mccalls 6911 today for me. Plan is to make the vest from Mccalls 7585 for him.

    I use patterns but sometimes (as necessity demands) mash up bits from different patterns. I did a course last year on cosplay but there was no sewing involved, only other techniques e.g. foam smithing and worbla.

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  17. I don't do cosplay - and have never done it. That said -it is not out of the question.
    I see it as an outlet for otherwise "normal" adults to express creativity. And creative expression helps people to be happier and kinder. So if it is making the world a better place more power to those who cosplay.
    Now, I am thinking that every time I take on a stage character, I am doing a sort of cosplay - and I love it!

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  18. i think @Slip said it all perfectly. personally, while i've dressed in many costumes, i don't think of anything i've done as "cosplay" -- but in reality, even drag is cosplay. you're still dressing up and acting as if you were someone you admire or who expresses something you want to express. i don't agree it's an exhibit of infantalizing of our culture -- quite the opposite, actually: i think it's our culture growing up and accepting the full range of our life experiences; things that inspire us, things that scare us, things that charge our imagination. it's all good. i love seeing whole families getting into it, like your last photo above. it's fun!

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  19. Hi there,
    This is a good topic.
    Slip said it very well.
    I have a young friend who does cosplay and she is getting into sewing because of it. She doesn't use patterns she basically has her own dress form and drapes her costumes or alters recycled items she finds in thrift stores. Some of her costumes are amazing.
    I'm in my 40's (later rather than earlier) and haven't got the time to dedicate to cosplay (because I know it would turn into and all or nothing hobby and so many of the elaborate costumes in movies and TV make me want to make them and be them) but if I did I can't even imagine the enormous fun I would have. I just don't have time with a 3 year old son, a new business and political activism.

    I never new about cosplay 25 years ago but at Halloween I used to do the same sort of thing. I would spend months researching a character I loved from TV, movie or book and make myself the best homemade and detailed costume I could. Snow White (does that even count?), Anne Boleyn before the Tudors was a show, Wonder Woman before the new movie came out - think Linda Evans era - lots of fun foam and gold paint, Zena Warrior Princess - papermachier bustier anyone???, Claire Fraser from Outlander (way back when it was just a book with a rabid following and before it became a hit on TV)

    The fun was all in figuring out how to get the details right and getting to be someone else who had caught my attention for different reasons. If I had known about comicons then I would have definitely gone. My most surreal experience dressing up was going as Scully from the X-files one year as about a 22 year old (again the original series), spent months getting the suit just right and deciding how to become a redhead for an evening... Went to the party and was talking to some folks and was told that Mulder had just arrived. I can't even describe the wow factor I felt hearing that... Was so cool to get to talk to him and hear why he chose his costume and how he had done it all up. Not the hardest costumes to do but definitely an X-files moment for me. We had a dance then parted company but my former hubby was not impressed with all the attention the costume brought me.

    I think ultimately cosplay is a wonderful creative way for people to express themselves and those that take part should be applauded for their enviable ingenuity and courage.

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  20. 1. My husband and I have gotten into cosplay over the last few years because we started going to DragonCon in Atlanta. Everyone was dressing up and having such fun, we decided to join in. We only cosplay at conventions and Halloween. That was also my introduction to garment sewing which has changed my life beyond geekery.

    2. I choose favorite characters from books, tv, and movies.

    3. 70% of the appeal is the challenge to break down the pieces that make that character and figuring out a way to make them on my budget and with my skills. I’ve used both commercial and self-drafted patterns in addition to other skills like jewelry making and general crafting for accessories.

    4. I think the increasing popularity of cosplay and comic-cons is a combination nostalgia and innovation. I’m In my early 30’s and yes, it’s about the delight of rediscovering childhood favorites, but it’s also about the creative drive to express love for current favorites. I also want to point out many cosplayers are basically wearing their collections and can be as nit picky about screen accuracy as someone with a more conventional collection. For me, cosplaying is about the challenge and about the communing with my tribe when I wear it. It’s just fun.

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  21. Many good comments, I must add my twenty cents. I am all grown up: I am almost 59, I have an office job, a mortgage, almost adult children. I sew theatrical costumes. I have a background in cartooning and comics. My spouse is baffled by this entire enterprise.
    1.I sew costumes for my cosplay and others’. 2. I’m here for the fun, I’m not developing a character I look to for inspiration (though I have close friends that do). I tend to Doctor Who themes, as the community is friendly and it’s easier to spend the day as something I understand and enjoy. EX: I enjoy Hellboy, but I do not want to spend the day as Hellboy. 3. I blend commercial patterns and designs I print on Spoonflower specific to the purpose. I scavenge bits and bobs all the time. “Hey, that might work for *****!”
    The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen ANYWHERE is an exact replica of the Alexander McQueen ‘monarch butterfly’ dress; the maker/wearer only knew it from its brief appearance in the first Hunger Games movie, and we had a wonderful conversation about its origins and McQueen’s work. That opportunity to meet other dedicated craftspeople and costumers is rare. It’s the deepest dive into theatrical costuming I get all year. It’s professionals and amateurs, adults and children, entire families!! - all geeking out on the quality and love of the craft. It is a very generous community. It’s better than Christmas.
    4. The rise of social media has made getting together easier. There have always been social groups that use costuming as a common language to meet fellow travelers (Furries, Bronte Holidays, Canada Costume College (on my bucket list, thanks). Ren Faire much?

    A leper? Oh HONEY, I am SOOOOOOOO SORRY!)(now that’s a long day in the wrong costume)

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  22. I used to do cosplay. But, I chose characters with historic costumes and went for the historic accurate interpretations of them. I did Disney Princesses and once did Marie ntoinette from Rose of Versailles. Then, I would use those costumes at historic costume events as well. So, they had a dual purpose. They also worked for Halloween and other costuming events. I was also once a cosplay sewing judge for a small convention's masquerade.

    Susie

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  23. I'm a comic book writer & have been going to cons for years, and it's mostly about finding your tribe. Let me tell you the joy of getting recognized in your super under the radar fan costume, I see it all the time. I used to think it was weirder, but I have seen a lot of love & work put into costumes, and at some point I realized that few regular people have many outlets for really nice outfits. Maybe a date night dress, probably not too many gala ballgowns, or wedding outfits that are allowed to be fancier than the bride's. But you can get a con ticket for cheap and literally dress up like Cinderella and get people fangirling all over you.

    Also let me send you down the rabbit hole of LARPing.

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  24. I'm not "into" cosplay, though I deeply admire the creativity and work that people who are put into it. I do have a couple of the 50th anniversary Star Trek costume patterns that Simplicity put out, and one of these days I will probably make myself a Dr. Crusher uniform. I haven't done so simply because I probably would only wear it for Halloween.

    I went to an ASG meeting about a year and a half ago where the speaker was Andrea Schewe. She designs costumes and is a designer for Simplicity. She specializes, I believe, in Ren Faire cosplay. One design of hers put her son through college. And the advertising manager at McCalls once told me that YaYa Han's patterns are a huge seller for them.

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  25. I do not do cosplay, instead I have been involved in what is known as living history at a local Historic site,Penny packer Mills Pa. I have made my own 1890's to 1900 outfits drafted from period patterns and am totally fascinated with myself when I am in full living history mode. I am not normally enamored of myself but this is different. I have helped create period outfits for other volunteers and it is always rewarding to see them worn at our events. There is a logic of how to create the garment and get in and out of the period clothing that needs to be understood to look authentic. It's great fun !

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  26. WOW! People have written whole essays on this topic here! Geeky cool. Not for me but maybe for my 4 and 7 yo grandsons

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  27. I don't do cosplay, and recently... I wish I did.
    I manage the costume shop for a university theatre department and more of the students coming through have been cosplayers. And man! Do they do some outrageously good work!
    And I see the allure. The fun of the design and construction. The engineering challenge of unusual or unnatural body shapes. The process sharing, and (finally) the acting and becoming of a character within a supportive community.
    They don't use commercial patterns usually, at least not as a whole costume, and they use some very interesting substances... heavy neoprene, thermoplastics and molding materials, and carved foams for example.
    I admire these "kids" who pour so much heart, creativity, energy, and soul into their dreams. I'm not brave enough to take on the character embodiment, but I'm glad they are.

    Oh and two other things... cosplay includes anime, webcomics, TV/movie and video game characters, not just comic books. The list of potential characters is astoundingly large. Though there will always be multiples of the popular ones there are plenty of lesser known to go around.

    These "kids" all attend classes, complete homework and projects, hold jobs, pay their bills, do their dishes and laundry, and otherwise maintain adult responsibilities. They're not refusing to grow up. They're refusing to grow boring.

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  28. My favorite cosplay is "crossplay," a subset of cosplay in which the person dresses up as a character of a different gender. My research indicates that female-to-male crossplay is more common than male-to-female crossplay. Nevertheless, I have seen some amazing male-to-female transformations that would fool Mother Nature!

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  29. Youngest DD was into cosplay when she was in high school. She loved Japanese anime and the characters. It was fun to see what costumes people had created and they created some really good costumes. Now my grandson and his wife are into cosplay. Yes they are all geeks but none of them live in my basement and are all employed. It's all fun and games.

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  30. Finding your 'tribe' seems to be needed these days. A sense of belonging that does not involve politics, your career, etc.

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  31. If you think about sports fans all getting together in their team colours to cheer on and support their chosen teams and sport - all of the colour, comradery and enthusiasm. Cosplay is similar but for interests other than sport (of which there are Millions!!).
    I go to the Australian Discworld conventions (small and wonderful) for Terry Pratchett fans, and the cosplay is a fabulous part of the convention. Of course you get a high number of main character costumes, and it is always fun to see the different interpretations (or what is most important about that character for that person), but also, there is plenty of room for finding a minor character, or being part of the background scenery (so to speak). Last year I made a costume and went as 'An outbreak of dirndls'! - a throwaway line on a page in 'Raising Steam' that just amused me.
    It's just about finding your 'team' and letting yourself relax and have fun with it 😀

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  32. All I see are corsets, cod pieces, and spandex. This is wholesome and wholesome-ish fetishism re-branded. Costume-ry and fantasy combined.

    From drag queens to leather queens, it's all an established industry with only the want to join needed for entry. The savviest drag queens make careers of their persona. Leather folks who sell it, live in it.

    This throws in social media, and it's the update to inundate, with numbers to back up one's now measured popularity.

    Ya know, it's a small wonder our President doesn't wear a metallic onesy-corset, mid-thigh boots which flare out widely at the top, and have extensions added to his eyebrows and hair for a flowing and exaggerated facial punctuation. By blurring reality to that extent, he could win over younger voters, actually get large crowds, and make that whole Russian thing fall off the back burner.

    Seeing as that's unthinkable, and it is 2018 (long, concerned pause), did I just tell the genie how to get out of the bottle?

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  33. I find cos play interesting, probably because 'fancy dress' has become about store bought cheap and nasty costumes at halloween that seem to lack creativity (equally so have kids dress up, all store bought and no personalisation).

    I taught sewing to teens last summer and 2 attendees wanted to sew to improve their cosplay costumes, and I thought this wonderful, especially as far as I can make out, cosplay getting a lot more sewing and the more makers there is - the better!

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  34. i have no insightful answers...but i HAVE to have that colliseum coat!

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  35. OMGosh...Millie the Model and don't forget her arch-rival Heddy the red-head. But wait..you're not nearly old enough to remember those original comic books. Haven't thought about those 2 in decades. ��

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  36. I like pop cultural cosplay like this Daria one. The superheroes etc... are less interesting to me. https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--kof8D8fB--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/18k2y42oh3fwxjpg.jpg

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  37. I'm old,read your blog and love it,BUT people get on with real life! Turn off the TV and find yourself! Life is too short....help people,read good books,mentor,....some people have too much time on their hands !!!!!!!

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  38. I personally have not been into cosplay, but I started making my kids costumes for my first child's first Halloween. Over the years it has morphed into cosplay. My oldest went to a comic-con right after graduation and pulled 4 costumes from past Halloween costumes. Yes, it is very geeky, but they are using their imagination and being very creative doing this. I do agree that it is a generational thing, but I am happy to make money making costumes. Check out my website, FB and Pinterest pages. My son thinks that I am the best, but he is somewhat biased. https://sassysandyssewing.com/

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  39. In answer to the three questions: 1) No. 2) N/A. 3) N/A. Bonus Question 4) I must leave that to those who understand. I have never wanted to be anyone other than the best possible version of me. And, of course, to have been born earlier so that I could have sewn and worn the clothes of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s!

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  40. 1) Are you, or have you ever been, into cosplay?
    Yes, cosplay is my livelihood. I did it as a teenager, dabbled, but now I make cosplays for other people--for what can only be described as exorbitant amounts of money.

    2) How did you choose your character and what was the appeal?
    As a teen, the people I cosplayed were just characters I admired. They were badass ladies, and they helped me feel badass at a time where I just felt terrified and helpless. To a certain extent I can speak for my clients--they love these characters, and want to bring them to life. Sometimes they pick them based on looks and how easily they can be that person, sometimes it's because they just connect with the character--and other times it's just because they look super cool.

    3) If you answered "yes" to #1, did you work from a commerical cosplay pattern or make something up yourself.
    I mainly do anime character cosplays, and that stuff is INSANE. I can't find commercial patterns that work--without heavy alteration. I've always drafted my own--besides I'm dealing with all kinds of body types that commercial patterns just don't jive with. Drafting my own patterns is always best, especially since I have slopers for all my repeat clients.

    BONUS QUESTION:

    4) What does the growing popularity of cosplay and comic-con events say about the world we live in, if anything?
    I'm not really sure, to be honest. I mean cosplay has been around since like Star Trek: TOS...at least. It's just with the advent of the internet and social media that it's really taken off. It's like it's always been kept alive by people, but now those costumers and cosplayers are so visible that other people who may have been intimidated or reluctant to cosplay can feel more comfortable doing it.

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  41. Wow! Such a great array of answers and support of cosplay. It is not my thing, but both my daughters (24 and 14) love comic books/graphic novels and cosplay. I think it is a great creative outlet for many and very similar to Renaissance Faire/historical recreation (and since it is fantasy, why keep leprosy in the mix? WHY?). As many have noted here, cosply has motivated many to begin sewing. I am enthusiastic about anything that does that. The world we live in, sigh. A little escapism is needed for all of us to cope with it. I have been told that by a professional! (Just don't escape so much that you don't register and vote in the real world.)

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  42. I saw a link to your post today via my Facebook news feed, right after a link to "Cosplay in America"'s latest post, which was about a cosplayer who had created a fantastic "Harley Quinn meets the Tudors" mashup.

    "Cosplay in America" usually features technically outstanding (w.r.t. sewing and construction) cosplays as well as some of the wittiest (if you are a fan of a book, TV show or anime). I'd recommend taking a look at that page for a more diverse set of cosplays (not always youth & guns) as well as interviews with the cosplayers.

    Great post! (from: Mary B.)

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  43. I am an infrequent cosplayer (usually make one outfit per year) and while there are lots of characters I like, I usually choose from those based on how the costume will be constructed- I am not interested in building armour but I enjoy working out how to sew something more complicated than my norm. That is the main appeal to me so I may use parts of a commercial pattern, but unless you’re going as a really big name character there isn’t going to be a pattern with everything you need. The patterns in your post don’t look like specific characters to me, more like generic knock offs (probably due to licensing issues). I’m sure some cosplayers are in it for the dressing up and being sexy and having a bajillion followers, but if you look at all the tutorials and such online, a lot of people are in it for the fun of problem solving and sharing ideas and methods.

    I don’t think the growing popularity is a bad thing; because of the internet people are more able to find their niche of likeminded people than ever before and therefore feel confident in doing things they enjoy doing, even if they are “geeky”, knowing thousands of others are out there doing the same.

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  44. 1) Are you, or have you ever been, into cosplay? - YES - for over ten years now, my wife and I have been making and wearing costumes to fan conventions.

    2) How did you choose your character and what was the appeal? - I choose characters from my favorite films or TV whose clothes or armor I want to wear. I also will do a companion character for one my wife wants to do. I also prefer the character be someone I love or at least like as a character - I am less prone to do 'bad guys'.

    3) If you answered "yes" to #1, did you work from a commercial cosplay pattern or make something up yourself. - I have done both, though typically not from a pattern marketed as 'cosplay'. Sometimes it's a halloween costume pattern, but just as often it's a regular fashion pattern that I'm adapting. I've also deconstructed existing garments to generate patterns, and am just getting into drafting from scratch.

    BONUS QUESTION:

    4) What does the growing popularity of cosplay and comic-con events say about the world we live in, if anything? - To me it says people are less embarrassed to like what they like. It's also a chance to wear some fantastic outfits that wouldn't be seen as normal in everyday life, and have them noticed and appreciated.

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  45. Omg Peter, Closet Case Cosplay! I'm dying. My cosplay would be like "Comfy Knitter". Not sure how exciting that is to the Comicon world. I don't really get it either. I love seeing the crazy stuff people make (Historical costumes are kinda cosplay too, right?) but I would never spend the time on something I can't wear day to day. Whatever gets people sewing is good as far as I'm concerned though, and I'm sure lots of people start making costumes, learn some skills and then start making "regular" clothes too.

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  46. I'm late to the comments but thought I would add: I made a Captain Marvel costume for my daughter to wear to a con. (Captain Marvel wears a one piece spandex jumpsuit). Boy, did I learn a lot-sewing with spandex, putting a zip in spandex, spandex applique...I no longer fear the spandex. Costume turned out great, fit her well and we had fun putting together the boots, gloves and other paraphernalia. I would certainly make another costume for someone. Learned a lot, had a ton of fun and I am so glad to have picked up new skills.

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  47. Great post, Peter. I have enjoyed reading the comments as well. I have always wanted to make a Cosplay costume but worried I was not hard-core geeky enough. Didn't you have to be a life-long fan of the character and have read every comic book they ever featured in? Duh, right? When I talked to Kelly Cercone of Anachronism in Action last year, she dispelled me of that myth and inspired me to create my own Cosplay costume. She has created patterns for Cosplay and sews fantastic costumes for film and television - and she is just lovely. So I will answer the questions as a Cosplay-wannabe.
    1. I am currently planning my first Cosplay costume.
    2. I am still deciding on a character. I want to dress like a character that I am fascinated with - a character that I want to walk in their shoes (or fabulous boots.) I have two brave, adventurous yet flawed characters in mind.
    3. Right now, I think I am going to make the patterns myself for the costume. But if time is tight I am entirely open to using one of the fabulous commercial Cosplay patterns as a starting point.
    4. One of my favorite things about making clothes is the sewing community. It is such a supportive, encouraging, fun community. I think you can say the same thing for Cosplay community. In these times as adults don't most of us want to have fun doing something we are passionate about and share it with like-minded people? Well, I for one am keen to give it a go.

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  48. Wow! Obviously there is a great deal of interest in Cosplay pro and con. I have been puzzled by the interest but perhaps the state of the world helps it make more sense. It's a crazy scary time and maybe that explains the obsession of Cosplay.

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  49. Some adherents obviously put a lot of thought into their choice of character while some appear to focus primarily on the costume and it seems to me it's the fascination with cosplay character that marks a change from the familiar fun of fancy dress parties which had become less popular until this new interest was sparked. I've found the comments on that motivation particularly interesting.
    In some ways, as adults, we're not the most enthusiastic 'dressers up' in the UK with the very notable and honorable exception of charity fun runs and you'll find very few adults joining in with their children on Halloween.
    I've been to very few fancy dress parties in my life so I'm a poor comparator but I have ventured out as Medea, the Statue of Liberty (not a common choice here) and a Star Trek crew member. The first two were home made (loved the snake headdress my other half made) and so much more fun for that. The latter was only 4 months ago to a family 18th birthday party with a Sci-fi theme.
    Nevertheless, at 65 I'm not likely to become a great convert anytime soon but, if I were, I'd be drawn to steampunk rather than cosplay as I love their style and it's definitely the outfit rather than the character that would foster my greater interest.

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  50. A question for Peter: do you feel that there is a fundamental difference between cosplay and, say, your Cousin Cathy posts such that the motivations of cosplayers require further explanation? Or between either and the long tradition of fancy-dress parties or tableaux or festival costumes? It seems to me that the motivations are the same; just the subject matter is different. People seek an outlet for creative impulses that let them escape the expectations of the everyday. An anime cosplayer could dress up like a salaryman, or you could dress up like Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, but where's the escapism in that? The cosplayer picks Batman and Cousin Cathy picks Genie or Cleopatra because they provide an obvious break from the mundane, yet have aspects of the familiar in that they are drawn from popular culture. Picking an established property as inspiration for your costume 1)provides premade design ideas 2)buys/advertises membership in a community 3)allows you to identify with the characteristics of that particular character that everyone already knows about. It's a lot easier than explaining over and over again "I'm dressed as an allegory for Virtue Overcoming Sin. These little stuffed cherubs represent Lust, and the gold coins represent Greed, and the supermodel cutouts are Envy."

    I will grant that there are communities where the costuming has primarily sexual or spiritual components (some furries, passion players, etc.), but the majority of cosplayers would probably deny that that's why they like to dress up as, say, Star Wars X-wing pilots.

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  51. 1) Are you, or have you ever been, into cosplay? Not yet, but I enjoy playing dress-up. Even my local ladies’ group likes to have the occasional “dress-up” meeting in addition to Halloween (for example, we dressed up like the English ladies did for the Royal Wedding). It’s fun. This past year I’ve attended a number of Cons for the first time. I can’t say I saw much of anything that looked like those on the McCall’s page. Many of the costumes are very creative and inspiring. One guy was the creature from Alien. Part of his costume was made from what I’m pretty sure was a suitcase, but he made it look awesome. Everyone wanted a photo. (And @Slip is right. ComicCon is too big to enjoy.)

    2) How did you choose your character and what was the appeal? Trying to decide on something that I like well enough to do all that work. If I don’t love it, I’ll never finish it.

    I also wouldn’t mind being one of many Chewbaccas. At a Halloween party, five of us were cats (we formed a litter), but we were all different and it was fun to see what everyone did.

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  52. I honestly find it odd. ("Grown people dress up? As what? And not just for Halloween?") But a lot of people really seem to enjoy it. So, whatever. I recently noticed all the cosplay costumes in the pattern catalogs.

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    1. An addition to my comment above: I just went back and read all the responses and found them interesting. Cosplay is not something I would be likely to do, but on the other hand, historical re-enactment is something I haven't done but would like. So really, what't the difference? There's a difference of subject matter. But people seem to really enjoy both.

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