Organic Armor bra, belt and horns, photo by Warflight Studios
1. Figure out what you want to be. I’m a list maker so I write down ideas. Look at reference material, movies, books, posters, games etc. Also consider what your budget time wise and money wise is. You won’t be able to make this or this if you leave it til the last minute. General rule “Keep it simple” especially if you are on a budget.
2. Gather or draw some reference images for your chosen costume. Study it and make a list of the key elements – dress, helmet, makeup…what you will need and some likely sources for it.
3. What do you need to buy, either ready made or as supplies to DIY? Patterns, tools, an old pair of boots…? Can you get it at your local costume shop or do you need to order online? Better do it quick or you might have to pay extra for expedited shipping.
4. What do you need to construct or sew – does it have long drying times or many steps? Start those items first. Don’t be afraid to try new processes. Learn some basic skills like sewing a tunic, or paper mache. You’ll use those skills in the future. Get creative. Do you really need to buy that 50.00 whatsit? Can you make something similar for cheap?
5. Do you really know how to make the thing you want to make? Sewing in a zipper, cutting foam … Build in some extra time and materials in case mistakes are made. They always will be. You might want to put out a call for help on certain things. (Try our FB page , there are a lot of costumers among our fans).
6. Stick to your budget by planning ahead, but know there will be last minute changes.
7. Shop your closet and your friends’ closets first.
8. Jo-Anns, Hancocks, Michaels and AC Moore all have coupons in the paper frequently. 40 or 50% off one item can help.
9. Thrift stores are your friends. We have an awesome Goodwill clearance center near us that sells clothing by the pound. I’ve found amazing things in there but it’s rare to find exactly what you are looking for, so start early. Try garage sales, Craiglist and Freecycle too.
10. If you live near a big city with a garment district, this is the time to explore it. I was intimidated by the one in LA for a long time but once I figured out the basics, I began to love it. What a goldmine! Some tips – bring cash, more than you think you’ll need. Most places do not take credit cards. Haggle a little, it’s expected. Go with friends to share the parking costs, split the bulk stuff with and help carry the bags. Bring water and a snack, there’s not much to eat there. Expect to pay for parking and to walk a fair amount. Wear comfy shoes. Parking is more expensive mid day. You will find the same fabrics over and over in different places, so shop for the best price. I usually stick with the 1.00 a yard shops. My favorite place is Shawn Tex on the corner of 8th and Wall in Los Angeles.
10.5. (I forgot this yesterday) Clear a space to work and leave it set up for the month. It will be so much easier to find your tools, take advantage of small periods of time to work, and make decisions, if you can SEE your project everyday. This may cause some family complaints or, if it’s your kitchen table, make you eat on the counter. Small price to pay for a great costume!
11. Okay you’ve designed, ordered, purchased, made your costume elements. A week before the big day, it’s time to lay them out and try them on. Make sure they are comfortable and you can walk in them, see in them. Make sure you can fit through the door and get in the car with them if you are driving someplace. Discovering those size issues at the last minute sucks. If there are comfort or fit problems you still have a week to resolve them. If you are doing elaborate make-up, do a trial run. Set up some good lighting and all the clean up stuff you need.