Cosplay Tips: My Tricks for Planning a Badass Cosplay

So, sometimes in the next few days I am going to actually go to the craft/fabric store and buy the materials I need for my Enchantress cosplay. I have a whole list of things I need to finish this costume–both materials I will buy there and pieces I will buy online (or already own)–and I should have no problem grabbing everything I need once I get there.

Why am I so prepared? Planning, planning, planning.

The first step to planning a cosplay is getting as many reference pictures as you can. Due to my obsession with accuracy, I tend to focus more on screen caps and official picture, but many other cosplayers swear by fan art. Enchantress is an antagonist that (so far) only appears in the first story arc of Justice League Dark. There isn’t a whole lot out there on her New 52 costume but, thankfully, the graphic novel had her art in the back.

So for planning the costume, I wound up with these four pictures as my primary references:

So what do I see that I need in these pictures?

  • Strappy boots (which I own)
  • Black leggins (which I own)
  • What I can only call “arm warmers” since I’m an 80s kid
  • Studded belt with buckle (which I can make of stuff I own)
  • Celtic cross choker with black cord
  • Auburn wig*
  • Bright green contacts (Enchantress has green eyes when using magic)*
  • Hood

As anyone who cosplays comic characters knows, though, the concept art and the art from panel to panel will vary a little. So here comes my NUMBER ONE SUPER IMPORTANT tip for planning a cosplay–draw a picture.

It doesn’t have to be a particularly good picture–the sketch above proves that–but even your worst attempt will allow you to plan. I’ve incorporated some things from each picture, and solidified the overall look I’m going for. As you can see, by drawing your costume, you will think about what aspects of each iteration of the character you want to bring in. It will help you narrow down exactly how many pieces you will need to make. It will also allow you to envision any alterations you might want to do–for example, I’ve made Enchantress’s v-neck a bit shallower. Finally, it allows you to nail down the costume you’re envisioning.

When you know exactly what you want to do, it’s often helpful to choose a pattern. “But Amanda,” you say, “I doubt there is a pattern for Enchantress’s dress/tunic/whatever you want to call it!”

Very astute, young Padawan. There is not an existing pattern, and there likely won’t be an existing pattern for anything you want to do. But there are patterns that are close, and you can make alterations to them so that it fits your needs. I did that for my Steampunk Harley Quinn cosplay.

This is the pattern I began with:

And this is the completed costume:

A good tip for choosing a pattern is to look at . This site will allow you to look up patterns you’re thinking about using, and see reviews from other seamstresses and costumers. I was able to see reviews for the pattern I bought (before I bought it), and it allowed me to determine that at least the base of my costume was within my skill set :). The reviews will also frequently tell you how easy it is to modify a pattern, which is very important for a cosplayer.

Here’s the pattern I bought and will modify:


So once you draw the costume and choose the pattern (if applicable), you will know what you’ll need to buy  at the craft store. This is my list:

  • Green stretchy knit fabric (for the body of the dress and the hood)
  • Green silky fabric (for the chest “Y”, arms, and lining of the hood)
  • Green fabric buttons
  • A hook for the halter top
  • Matching thread
  • Choker strap
  • Jewelry pieces for choker (if they have them)
  • Jewelry pieces for the belt buckle
  • Zipper (Not in the pattern, but may prove necessary)

Consult your pattern (if you have one) to see how much fabric you need. Or guess. But it would be better if you consulted SOME sort of guide. In my experience, guessing really only works for skirts and capes. I also add 1/2 to a full yard of fabric, just to be safe. Usually, though, I will end up with tons of leftover fabric. Trade secret: every cosplayer has a fabric store in his or her closet.

So now I’m at the point where I have my costume fully planned out and am ready to get started. I’ll put up a post with a few hints for shopping, but then I will be updating you with tips on how to make a costume while I’m making it.

Once it’s complete, there will be the dreaded cost calculation. I may need some consolation at that point.

Talk to you later, lovelies! :)

*I will address buying contacts and wigs in their own post!

10 thoughts on “ Cosplay Tips: My Tricks for Planning a Badass Cosplay

  1. Great advice all around. I think one of the hardest things is finding a good starting pattern. I find flipping through the pattern catalogs daunting.

    • I hate flipping through those pattern catalogs! They need a way to effectively search them, lol. I usually just search online and pick out a few options before I go to the store.

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