Ever since I started offering up my Mamma Courts texts it has been my goal to try and make people’s convention going experiences as stress free as I can. I’ve learnt a lot over my years of cosplaying and the only way to improve things around you is to offer up your experiences, both victories and failures, for others to learn from: and in turn learn from other people’s victories and failures.
And I feel like now, with this new big prize for Armageddon; and Overload with their always amazing prizes – I need to impart some of my competition entering experiences with all of you. So whether this will be your first time entering a cosplay competition or your tenth time, you can make the most out of the experience and make it as stress free as possible.
-START GODDAMN EARLY-
You think this would be obvious, and yet I personally know people who start massive projects a month or two out and it’s like???? WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF?????? The bigger and more detailed your cosplay is the earlier you have to start. Obvious right? AND YET I PERSONALLY KNOW PEOPLE WHO START A COUPLE MONTHS OUT AND IT KILLS ME!!!!
-IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT TIME MANAGAMENT BABY-
I’ve posted a video over on my Facebook cospage: sparkycosplays – showing you all how I time manage, so go check that out if you want. But it basically comes down to you writing down every component of making your costume down, then assigning days to make those parts on a calendar. If you can physically see all of that, it installs fear into your very bones about how much you have to do and when you have to do it by. There’s also a Cosplan app that you can download, so go check that out too as it’s incredibly detailed and awesome. If you micromanage the ever loving shit out of your free time you can get everything done with a little time to spare too.
-PRETEND THE CON STARTS A MONTH EARLY-<?b>
It sounds dumb I know, but trust me it works. Plan everything so that the last month before the convention is your emergency time. Maybe something you ordered online isn’t going to arrive on time, now you have a whole month to mildly panic and sort out a backup plan. Maybe real life gets in the way of you following your carefully planned schedule, now you have a month to fall back on. Maybe you just want to add ALL THE BLOODY DETAILS, now you have an extra month to do that.
YOU THINK THIS WOULD ALSO BE OBVIOUS BUT NO. If you don’t know how to make something then you need to Google-fu it. Check YouTube, Google, DeviantArt, cosplaytutuorial.com, check them! Check them REAL GOOD. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for TEHN go to your local cosplay community to ask for help there. There are LOADS of sewing tutorials and worbla and foam tutorials out there that you have NO EXCUSE to ask obvious questions in your local cosplay community. “How do I sew a french seam?” “How do I make a corset?” “How do I use worbla?”, you literally could have typed those straight into Google and gotten your answer. I know there’s meant to be no such thing as a dumb question BUT COME ON!!! FUCKING GOOGLE IT FIRST!!! I also Google image search the character I’m making with “cosplay” on the end of it to see how other people have made that character already; it’s amazing what you can learn just from
looking at other’s works (this is also a great idea when it comes to figuring out poses for photos).
-TAKE WAY TOO MANY PHOTOS OF YOUR PROGRESS-
Most cosplay competitions in New Zealand require a construction diary of how you made your cosplay, (I haven’t entered any overseas comps so I have no idea what their process it over there sorry). And to do that you are going to need progress shots of how you made things. I find the easiest way for me to do this is to upload progress photos online and include a short description of how you made it with that photo. Places like your Facebpook cospage, instagram, or Tumblr are a great place to put them all. That way at the end when you have finished making your cosplay, everything has already been all recorded, you just have to assemble it all into an entry form. Or you could be a crazy organised person and actually update your entry form as you make the costume, but who on earth is that well organised???? I’m actually trying to make my entry form as I go this time round. And I have to honestly say that it is much easier to write it when everything you have just made is fresh in your mind BUT MY GOD it’s like trying to push an elephant uphill when it comes to finding the motivation to update it, lmao. I mean, it’s already way better than that last minute mad rush of trying to smash your entry form together three hours before the deadline. When it comes to making your actual entry form, all you have to do is write out the basics of how you made your costume. You don’t need to write a novel because judges don’t want to spend a whole day reading just your entry form: they have dozens of others to read too you know. Then you add in pictures of how you made certain items. They don’t need to see you cutting out your fabric or sewing basic seams, what they want to see are progression shots and how you made specific item and all the details!! If you’ve sewn a fancy seam then show a shot of that! Fucked up on something? Show that too! Judges love seeing how you overcame obstacles and how you got to the finished product.
-DON’T MAKE YOUR COSPLAY SPECIFICALLY FOR A COMPETITION-
….You’re looking at me like a crazy person right now aren’t you? But I’m serious!! Making a cosplay with the only goal of entering it in a competition is just going to stress you out to the max. The goal here is to make a cosplay you are super proud of AND THEN enter it into the next convenient competition. It’s good to have plans to make it in time to enter it into a certain competition, but if you know a week out that you aren’t going to get it done in time, don’t pull all nighters trying to get it finished. Put it on hold, wear another of your cosplays to that convention, then spend that extra month making your amazing costume competition ready and enter it into the next competition available to you after you’ve finished it to the standard you want. I’m trying to break so many friends out of the habit of trying to smash out a cosplay for the next competition that’s coming up. CUT THE STRESS OUT GUYS!!!!
-MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE OTHER CONTESTANTS-
You’re going to be standing in a room full of other people with just as many nerves as you, standing around wearing all of their hard work for the past months just like you. If ever there was a place to make friends this was it. You’ll never find more like minded people elsewhere. Ask them how they made certain parts off their costumes, what was the most tricky part, what are they most proud of. You’re probably going to help calm their nerves a bit in the process too which is an added bonus. Not to
mention, when your friend wins something you win something right alongside them. Even if you don’t get anything when you enter a competition, if your friend wins then you get to experience their joy and be genuinely happy for them so you win something as well. I always pride myself on cheering the loudest and clapping the hardest for my friends at competitions. They put all that time and effort into making their amazing costumes and you can damn well bet that I’m going to be their number one supporter for all of their efforts! Some may say I’m obnoxiously loud… and they’re right. I’m super proud of my friends and all of their efforts so I’m going to goddamn yell and clap so hard I give my hands welts.
-TEST WEAR YOUR COSPLAY-
Now I’m not talking about you just putting your cosplay on for twenty minutes and taking selfies in the mirror. I’m talking about you putting your cosplay on for at least two hours and walking around in it, sitting down in it, posing in it, jumping around all over the place, really give it a good and thorough test wear. What you are looking for here is anything breaking on you. Are seams ripping? Did your armour support just snap? Did an armour piece just fall off? Did you sew something too tight and now you can’t sit down in it and it’s cutting off blood flow? These are all the things answered in a proper test wear. It is much much much MUCH better that you find out that something isn’t working when you have time to fix it rather than right outside the competition doors with only two minutes left to fix it desperately with hot glue and a needle and thread.
-TAKE AN EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT WITH YOU-
Cosplay God’s forbid it, but should something snap just outside the cosplay door even if you’ve done a bunch of test fittings, you want the supplies you need on hand to fix that shit up quickly. A few basics are; a small army of safety pins, needle and correctly coloured thread, invisible thread if you’ve got multiple coloured fabrics going on, hot glue and hot glue gun, super glue, sewable snaps, and fashion tape. Hollywood tape? Celebrity tape?? Whatever that double sided tape is called that sticks to skin and fabric.
-CAN YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM EASILY???-
This should just be a general guideline for any costume really, lmao. The goal is to be able to get to the bathroom in less than ten minutes. When you gotta go, you gotta go, and does your costume have a quick release built into it somewhere where you can get out of it in less than ten minutes? Not drinking or eating anything all day to avoid going to the bathroom is NOT an option. Build an emergency hatch if you have to, just make sure you can get out of your costume should your situation become dire!!! And make sure you have friends around you that know how to get you in and out of your costume to help make the whole process quicker. If you’re wearing a massive dress this is petticoat hell underneath make sure you have a really good friend nearby who you can enslave to come into the stall with you to hold your skirts up and out of the way. Then promptly buy that friend lunch after for the mental scarring you just inflicted upon them.
-DON’T EXPECT TO WIN ANYTHING-
I’m just going to say it, but if you go in with expectations of winning something then you are going to be extremely disappointed if you don’t get anything. And then you are going to be a bag of salt for fuck knows how long and you’re probably not going
to want to enter in a comp again for a while for fear of not winning something again. Enter a comp because you are proud of the costume you made and make new friends and have fun with the whole experience. And if you don’t win, let the fires of wanting to do better next time overcome you, learn even more new things and make an even bigger cosplay!! But don’t be salty. The judges chose who they did for the winners for a reason. Winning costumes generally tend to cover three areas; impeccable sewing construction, high level detailing, and awe inspiring and immaculate armour/props. If you can manage to find a cosplay that you love that covers all three of these areas evenly then you’ve got a higher change of winning than somebody whose costume only focuses on one area. Of course, you can also do so amazing in one area that you can win as well. But the more balanced your costume is the general better your chances are. BUT AGAIN!!!! Even if you have the most balanced cosplay you could still win nothing and you shouldn’t be a bag of salt about that! Learn new things and have fun and enjoy the whole experience!! 🙂
These are all the things that I’ve learnt in entering cosplay competitions! I hope these have been of help and aid you in making your competition entering experience as stress free as possible. Competitions are all about you learning new skills and challenging yourself and having fun with like minded people. SO HAVE FUN!!!