digging-in2-ur-pants said: Have you gotten some stuff from the $10 mall? If so what is your review on the quality & the shipping. Thank you in advance

Not yet. However, it looks like I will be getting a few items next month for a theater production company. Once I do I’ll post a review.



What any cosplayer needs to survive a convention:


No matter how prepared I think I am for a convention I always seem to leave something important at home. To fix this I keep a small bag packed with items I know I can’t survive without in case I forget to pack them into my regular luggage.

Con season is in full swing. Don’t forget to pack your survival kits!

iamyourlordsdragonqueen-blog said: I'm trying to make a thranduil costume for my friend and I'm not exactly sure how to put together the coats. Can you help me out.

Hey iamyoutlordsdragonqueen! This is Kates. It all comes down to how authentic you want the coat to be. The coat is technically made of many strips of fabric cut to the appropriate shape, laid out, and sewn up in just the right way. With a template, ruler, and the right fabric it’s not too terribly difficult to do, but it is very time consuming. 

Here are a few links to cosplayers who have shared their process:

This guy does it (almost) exactly how I would do it:

Take note: the pattern he’s using is out of print, but I honestly think that Simplicity 5386 is a pattern EVERY costumer should have, so if you want to cut up the original, buy a second copy (you can probably find it on ebay, etsy, or small online sewing shops). If you’re like me and don’t want to cut the original, get some wrapping or butcher paper and trace your patter on to that, then cut up the new pattern.

If you want an easier version, you can simply make the Simplicity 5386 pattern up (with notifications to the front opening and collar, of course) and either leave it or stitch down piping along where the fancy seams would otherwise be. I have seen cosplayers do the coat without all the seams, and they look pretty good for not being 100% authentic. 

I hope this helps!


slay-at-home-dragon said: Hello, I will be cosplaying Thranduil from The Hobbit and but I don't really want to wear a wig. My hair is already the right length but it's sort of a golden blond color. Is there a way to temporarily dye my hair platinum blond but have it look good? (not like the spray on color from party stores.) Thanks!

Hey slay-at-home-dragon, this is Kates. I was just looking into this the other night, and discovered that Sally’s Beauty Supplies carries a number of products that do just that, and they have some great reviews. For those who are interested in less natural hair colors, try this instead. I haven’t tried any of these myself yet, but I might down the road. Also, check out some of their other product options for temporary color if you’re not interested in a mousse. 

Hope that helps!


midnightchangeling said: I thought I should mention that in the US it is against federal law for a contact lens seller to not require a prescription & verify that the prescription is valid. I did a search & found 4 sites that adhere to the law and are on the cheapish side: Extreme SFX - $25 - $30 per lens, AC Lens - $26 - $ 35 per lens, The Grimm Brothers $40 per lens, & Wicked Eyez $30 - $55 per lens. There's also 9mmsfx, which is expensive ($75 - $250 per lens), but custom made to the purchaser's eyes.

Good info to know.Thanks for sharing.

hollowsuzumi said: Hello, I'll be cosplaying as Cicero from Skyrim and I was wondering if you could provide any tips for me. The most difficult piece for him is his jester hat. I'm not very good at sewing yet, so I've been struggling with patterns and how I'd create it

Hey hallowsuzumi! This is Kates. I’ve found one pattern for Cicero’s hat from VirulentRequiem at Deviantart.

Reference: http://virulentrequiem.deviantart.com/art/Jester-s-Hat-in-Charcoal-313686953

She doesn’t give a lot of explanation as to how to make it, so I would suggest printing your pattern and making a ‘mock’ version out of muslin or some other cheap fabric. This will give you an idea of how the pieces go together, as well as the fit of the hat. You’ll then know if you want to adjust anything to your particular tastes.

I’ve got three tips for you: if you’re new to sewing, take it slow and don’t cut corners. Remember your basics like pressing your seams, pinning, and snipping the insides of curves. Better to take your time learning to do it right than rushing it and being unhappy with the product.

Second, fabric choices. Try and stick to cottons, linens, and leathers/believable pleathers, or at least things that look and feel like they are natural. While true natural materials are usually more pricey than your polyesters, you can always take advantage of the 40% coupon trick (Michaels and Hobby Lobby ALWAYS have printable 40% coupons, and both of those stores as well as Joanns and Hancocks accept one competitor’s coupon a visit). Also, you can find some pretty decent cheap cottons or imitation cottons in Hancock’s clearance, as well as at Walmart if your Walmart carries fabric. If you shop around and take your time, you can find some really good stuff for pretty inexpensive. 

Third, distressing. One stark visual characteristic of Skyrim is the grunginess. I love it. If you want to stick out as a truly talented cosplayer, you’re gonna have to muck up that pretty outfit you just made. It hurts, I know. For soft fabrics, Lo uses coffee grounds (think grime and sweat), but you can also rub in used earl grey tea leaves. (Or for a truly authentic and much more entertaining wear-down, wear it to your local Renfair for a whole weekend. Trust me.) For hardier fabrics, like your pleather or leather, you’ll want to ding or scruff it a little, but be very careful with the pleather; as I’ve said in other posts, lesser pleathers tear easily. 

Hope this helps—have fun!

heiressjanecrocker said: Do you know where I can get good and cheap eye contacts? I need to buy a pink and brown pair for one cosplay (the character has heterochromia) and I don't want my wallet to die.

Hi Heiressjanecrocker,

This is kind of a tricky question. There are cheap contact providers out there but I can’t in good consciousnesses recommend them. If you get sub-par contacts you can risk permanent damage to your eyes, and they are never something you want to put at risk. This is the one thing I recommend spending a little extra money on just to ensure that they are safe. If you find a fashion contact provider you want to try I recommend doing a ton of research on them to make sure they are reputable. 

I have a friend that has just started using Lumi Lenses and is very pleased with them. From what I understand their prices are fairly reasonable. LINK

I know that a lot of costumers use Pinky Paradise : LINK

I have to use prescription contacts so a never indulge in colored contacts. Because of this I only know these sources through my friends and can’t speak from my own experience. Whatever you choose to do please be safe and take care of your eyes!


psychotic-flapjack said: do you make cosplay props?

Boy do I!

love making props!

I’ve made Ruby’s scythe and Yang’s gauntlets from RWBY (Picture by Ken AD)image

The armor and Excalibur form Fate/Stay Night (photo by Fanboy Photos)


Riven’s Sword form League of Legends (Photo by Bentpic5)

Janna’s staff from Lol (picture by Affliction Cosplay Photography)

I’ve made some other stuff but these are the big projects I’ve done in the past year and a half. If you want to see work in progress pictures and other stuff you can visit my cosplay page on DA: LINK

Pokemon X and Y: Casual, Comfortable Cosplay Cheap!

Disclaimer: if you just want the points without the prose, skip to the italics. 

Happy Monday! This is Kates. Guess what’s in two weeks? PAX Prime. Yeah, I know. And thanks to my obsessive husband and in-laws, we managed to land passes for all four days. Not the actual whole-con pass, because those were sold out in 6 minutes, but the individual day passes do the same thing.

Of course, I had to have costumes for all four days. And so did my husband, because he’s married to me. But as we are a poor young married couple, and we would like to be comfortable for most of Pax, I needed something that required minimal work and costed next to nothing. They had to be video game characters, preferably that complimented each other. And it had to be something Hubby loves, because it’s his first cosplay…well, other than the random costume parties I’ve dressed him up for.

Guess what Pax is hosting? A freakin’ Pokemon League.

So…Pokemon. X and Y.

I started my research. But as much as I love Serena’s outfit, I honestly didn’t want to make another dang skirt from scratch while I’m pulling my hair out over Aqua. Nor did I want to order another wig. I picked up X…and DUH! Customizable avatars!! 


I’ve only found one cosplayer so far who’s done this. It doesn’t mean there aren’t others, but I’m kinda surprised that the whole world hasn’t beaten me to it. It is so simple, and so cheap!

The great thing about the wardrobes for X and Y is that most of these items are sitting in your closet already, so that’s where I started. Blue jeans—check. Aqua jeans—check. Knee-high black boots—check.

For everything else, I gave myself a budget of $20 and went straight to Goodwill. Guess what? I got 3 costumes for $18. :P


Those were already my jeans. Heh, my years working retail are showing through.

OK, technically after a handful of supplies, it came to about $23. Still.

The key to Goodwill shopping is to have an open mind. I knew there were a handful of shirts I wouldn’t wear, but otherwise, I just went through every section, looking for whatever would work. And when I mean every section, I mean every section. That white shirt is a Junior’s small, and I found it in the Women’s larges. Be brave and grab things that may be too big or too small according to the letter size, because believe it or not, it just might fit. And try things on. That shirt may only be $2, but that’s $2 down the drain if it won’t work, and the only way Goodwill takes things back is through donations. 

You may have to alter things. I really, really wanted the blue parka with the orange sherbet tank. I wanted it like I want orange sherbet now that I’ve typed it. But for the life of me I couldn’t find a cropped hoddie/jacket that would work, so I got a grey zipper from Hancocks and I’m about to turn that blue pullover hoodie into a zip-up one. Also, that black turtleneck? Long sleeved. I’ve already chopped the sleeves off and hemmed them, and it’s ready to go. My hat? Just added a white ribbon. Easy projects, which was the goal, but it was work none the less.

My husband was not quite convinced, though. How were people going to know we were actually Pokemon Trainers? In order to pull this off, you have to have a few distinguishing factors. The first is the bag. 


I’ve spent a lot of time at Hancocks this past week. Like, a lot. 

That’s a $5 Old Navy computer bag from, you guessed it, Goodwill. Add some cheap $3 a yard blue rip-stop nylon, and some acrylic paint, and WHALA:


I wish it had been as easy as waving a wand, but I had to pull the front panel off to put the blue stuff on. Just the same, it wasn’t a crazy project. It was done in like, 2 hours, dry time and all. For my bag, I just looked for a purse that worked, and lucked out with that white strappy one.

The second factor is the hat. I found a blue ‘cycling’ hat while we were cleaning out the old theatre storage, but for everyone else, search for newsboys hats on Amazon. We decided to do the black beanie for my husband because his head is freggin’ huge. I got his from a rather questionable wig shop in the not-so-nice-district of town for $2, but I think you can find them for cheap right now at Forever 21. (BTW, if you want to do cheap piecing, Charolette Russe, Forever 21, and H&M are GREAT.) I painted the pokeball thing on it, and it is good to go!

The third is the hat accessory. To me, this is rather debatable, but it can drive the point home. I got a pair of sunglasses at the dollar store, and for any other ones I’ll make them out of left over foam from Aqua. Just hot glue a pin or safety pin to the back, and you’re good to go! 

The fourth is Pokeballs. There are so, so many youtube tutorials on how to make these. I got foam balls from the dollar store so I could throw them at my husband and try to catch him. It hasn’t worked yet.

Last but not least, the Mega Ring. I kinda got the pieces…but I’m still working on that. I’ll get back to you.

Anyway, I hope this inspires some of you to go and experiment with all the costume options X and Y have to offer! If you do the slurpy dress, post pictures!! 

battleoffivearmies said: Hi there! I'm a fairly new cosplayer with basic sewing abilities. I'm planning on doing a Raven from Teen Titans cosplay for an upcoming hometown "Comic Con", but I'm not really sure how to make a good, voluminous cloak with a peak on the top. I'm afraid I'm going to make a cloak that's not big enough to fall in folds. Any tips you can offer would be tremendous! Thank you so much :)

Hi batteoffivearmies! This is Kates.

Capes and cloaks come down to two things: shape and yardage. Want lots of folds? You need lots of fabric, and you need it cut to the right shape. 

I have a love/hate-with-mostly-hate-relationship with this pattern: http://www.simplicity.com/p-2269-costumes.aspx, but it is also is one of the biggest cape patterns you can buy out there, and it gets the shape of the shoulders right. Be warned: for some reason which defies all logic, the bottom hem won’t match up. I’ve used it twice to make double lined capes (which is like making 4), and every single person I know who has used it has run into the same problem. (No, seriously—I have a friend who swears by this pattern, and has used it to make dozens of custom cloaks for clients. I asked her about it and she was just like, ‘yeah, that happens every time!’)

That being said, Raven’s cloak is rather light-weight, so you may not want to line this baby, as it’ll get reeeaaally heavy. Another pattern option is this: http://www.simplicity.com/p-9610-misses-men-and-teen-costumes.aspx, though I haven’t yet made one myself.

As for the hood, I would personally cut the hood so that it has the point, then dart the hood on the sides of the point to hold the peak down. Also, make sure that if the pattern does not have a curved dome, you add one, because that makes the hood rest on your head where you want it by distributing the weight of the fabric. 

For some extra weight and form, add some piping or string in the hood right next to your seam, and topstitch a channel around it. I did this for my hood, and it holds shape beautifully. 

For more ideas, check out this: http://www.pinterest.com/explore/cloak-pattern/.

Have fun! 

rebelolies said: So, I'm cosplaying Sayaka Miki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Because I'm on a budget, I'm tied with whether I buy one online, or make my own with materials, but the problem is that I have no sewing / prop making experience whatsoever. And even if it is cheaper to buy one, I'm very small and dainty, so its difficult to find stuff that fits my size! What should I do?


Good morning rebelolies! This is Kates. You are asking almost all of the right questions when it comes down to making a decision about making/purchasing your costume. The first set of major questions are these (and in this order):

Do I enjoy sewing/crafting/making things by hand?
What is my budget?
Do I have the time and resources? 
What is my experience level when it comes to this costume/project?

If you answered ‘no’ to the first question, then buying it is your only option. Lo and I and most cosplayers love the actual process and challenge of creating a costume from scratch. We like toxic fumes. We like burning our fingers with hot glue. We like weeping at 3 am because our bobbin has jammed, destroying our $30 a yard raw silk skirt. But most of all, we love standing in front of the mirror dressed as a badass warrior saying, ‘heck yes, I look great, and I MADE this!’ If you’re up for challenge, then choose the more difficult road. I won’t lie—a lot of cosplaying is hard. It’s not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with deciding not to stress about it and buying your costume (no, really, not stressing about it can actually make cosplaying more fun.)

The second biggest deciding factor is cost. Honestly, Sayaka does not call for a lot of material (at least that would get expensive). My guesstimation of a beginner/cheap version of this costume with cheap materials would be about $75, without the sword. You could probably pull it off for even less, particularly because you are petite. For a contrast with purchasing, here are some reasonably priced costumes I found:


Also keep in mind that you can do a ‘pieced purchase’ cosplay, where you shop around and purchase the individual parts of the costume, tweaking the pieces when you get them to better match the character. This is often the cheapest route period, and usually the least amount of work, but it takes time, patience, bargain hunting, and the willingness to compromise on authenticity. Though you may have to get creative with the bodice, this method may be a good one to use with Sayaka. Check out Amazon, eBay, and Goodwill/thrift stores for this method. 

Purchasing may technically be more expensive, but if time is an issue, that can actually be worth it. Better to purchase and enjoy than to be sleep deprived at the con, because it just won’t be as much fun.

Finally, skill level. Honestly, Sayaka is a GREAT intro level cosplay, because all of the pieces of her costume are very basic elements of cosplay. You can find beginner/1 hour/easy patterns for pretty much all of it (remember to wait to get your patterns till they are .99 each!!). The pleated skirt is not a complicated one, so it is great to learn on. Her breastplate doesn’t require detailing nor is it complicated, so you can do either the foam method or the bra method with little to no stress. Her boots are a great basic to learn how to do boot covers. Her bodice is basically a button-down shirt without the sleeves. Her cape is about the least complicated cape you could make, and capes are one of my favorite things to make with first-time sewers because of how simple they are. You can even purchase the gloves and socks if you don’t want to hassle with them. Even her wig is really easy!

One last thing to consider, as you specifically pointed it out: sizing. Obviously, making it custom-fitted to yourself is the best option for fit, but for purchasing, go to Etsy, because they make them to fit. It may be the most expensive one listed, but they make it just for you. You do have the added benefit that if you decide to go with something from Asia, the smallest size will probably fit you well, as most Asian costumes run small for Americans. But I would still recommend Etsy if you decide to buy.

My personal opinion, if you have the time and you really want to learn how to make your own cosplay costumes, you should try to do this one. If you are crunched on time, or don’t want to hassle with it, buy it—her costume, compared with most other cosplays you can buy, is honestly not that expensive.

Good luck!  

phoenix-teardrops said: Hi. So, the next con I'm going to I'm going to, I'm going to be cosplaying Isabela from Dragon Age 2. I'm trying to make this as cheap as possible, while making it as accurate as possible (as i will be competing in the masquerade). Besides the basic tips, what else can I possibly do to keep this cosplay cheap? Thank you in advance! :)


Hi phoenix-teardrops,

Masquerades are a lot of fun and this costume could be a really amazing competition piece. Since Isabella’s clothing is less volumus this is going to help your budget significantly. This will also give you the option to recycle material from preexisting clothing if you so choose.

When I made my Riven cosplay I wanted to use the nicest and most authentic materials I could get my hands on since I wanted to use it in competitions too. However, I knew that most of my budget was going to have to go into my sword. I had to get creative with where I was going to get my linen and leather for her costume. I made a few trips to the thrift store and came away with the perfect materials to recycle into my own costume. Since a lot of the same techniques for Riven can also be used for Isabella I use my Riven cosplay as an example of how I cut costs and hopefully you can use some of the same tricks.image

Underdress and Wrap Skirt- These are made from 2 different linen outfits I found in the ladies XL section. There was so much material in each outfit that I had plenty to re-cut my own patterns out of. Linen by the yard is not cheap at all, but used linen is often easy to come by. I also find that distressing your costume to make it look worn and battle damaged gives you an extra edge during competitions. The only reason I mention this is because if you choose to use linen I found that coffee work really well for staining it and making it looked grungy.

Underbust corset and Purple Half Skirt- Both are made from the same pair of XL woman’s pants. One leg went into the underbust and the other leg was turned into the half Skirt. For cheap boning for the corset I used super thick Zipties. If you stack two ties on top of each other you can get awesome support and not break the bank with having to buy steal boning. 

Leather Sandals, Ankle Brace, Glove and Silver Trim – All the leather used here (except for the belt and shawl) was recycled form leather jackets, pants, and skirts that I got for next to nothing at the thrift store.  Leather is one thing that can really set you apart from the competition. It requires extra skill to work with and can make your costume look even authentic. It is also one of the most expensive materials to purchase new in costuming. Isabella has a lot of leather and suede (especially those boots) You might be able to make the main part of the boots out of some faux suede and then use real leather for the belts and straps on her boots and arm bracers. For the piece of leather or suede that I did have to buy new I found that sometimes you can get a really good deal on ebay for some remnant pieces. Also, Amazon has some sellers that have piece of tooling leather for a discounted price, it’s not the most high quality tooling leather but it could be a nice piece to distress for your costume.

Hope that give you some ideas. Good luck at your Masquerade! 


Someone asked about how the sword was made. Here is the link to the WIP: LINK