COSPLAY POWER LEVELING : LEVEL 3
SEWING
Choose your weapon wisely!
Sewing Machines
  • Cost = Quality. Buy the best sewing machine you can budget for. It is your biggest investment and tool. It makes a huge impact on your sewing experience and quality of your sewing work.

  • Sometimes it's not your skill level, it's the machine. A bad machine makes sewing frustrating. Low quality machines often have thread tension issues.

  • Check Amazon for sewing machine reviews and good deals before you buy anything!

  • Watch for holiday dales and floor model discounts at local sewing machine retailers. You can save 50% or more on a machine.

  • From my experience, Brother is a reliable brand across all price points.

Some Tools of the Trade
Marking Tools
  • Clover Chaco Liner: This tool rolls a line of tailor's chalk on to the garment. It comes in multiple colors and can be found in the quilting section of fabric stores. 

  • Tailors Chalk: This is a chalk tab that is the standard marking tool for many garment makers. It rubs off with friction. To remove these marks, grab a scrap of fabric and wipe the chalk away. Remaining residue will wash off with water.

  • Water Soluble Markers: This popular product has mixed results. Markers and Pens tend to dry out fast and not all wash out easily. Test out these on scrap fabric before using it on your project.

Cutting tools
  • General Scissors: These are the scissors you'll use to cut out paper, craft materials, and plastics.

  • Pinking Scissors: These scissors cut a zig-zag pattern are is used to reduce fraying and as an alternative to notching seam allowance.

  • Fabric Scissors: These are the most important scissors in your tool kit. These should only ever touch fabric because fabric needs a very sharp edge to cut cleanly. NEVER use them to cut paper, which instantly dulls the scissor's edge.

  • Rotary Cutters: These cutting tools look like a pizza cutter and work a lot like one too! They make cutting fabric fun and fast. To use them you'll need to have a self healing cutting mat under your fabric. If you have dexterity or arthritis concerns, try one of these!

  • Embroidery Scissors: Small scissors used for carefully clipping loose threads. These are great for detail work where regular scissors are too big.

Measuring Tools
  • Measuring Tape: A soft tape ruler you'll use to take your own measurements with, as well as measure out parts of your projects.

  • Clear Grid Rulers: A handy clear ruler that makes modifying patterns easier. Can be found in the drafting section of office supply stores.

  • Flexible Ruler: Another great tool for making and modifying patterns. It's a ruler that bends into all kinds of shapes so you can get creative with it! It is also found in the drafting sections of office supply stores.

Practice Projects
  • If you are very new to sewing, start off with craft patterns for making items like a "bone" or "peanut" pillow. Free patterns are available on Pinterest. Making a bone pillow helps you practice multiple sewing skills and you'll end up with a useful item for travel!

  • Practice sewing straight lines. Don't quit these exercises until you can confidently sew these. They will help you with sewing seams and topstitching.

Quick Tips to Level Up your Sewing Stats!
  • Iron seams as you work. Pressed seams make a big difference. You should be ironing your seams frequently as you construct your costume. The picture on the right shows the difference between an un-pressed seam (top) and a pressed seam (bottom)

  • Don't forget to stay-stitch and baste! If a sewing pattern calls for it, do it. It is in the instructions for a reason.

  • Change your needle out regularly. They will dull over time and can cause your seams to pucker or run. A good rule is to start a new project with a new needle.

  • Use the right needle for your fabric. Universal needles are designed to work with most material, but specialty fabrics will need a specialty needle.

  • Don't cheap out on thread! Cheap thread will snap, knot, and bunch up. It might seem like a problem with your machine when it's really the thread.

Modifying Patterns
Start with simple patterns
  • Look for sewing patterns from Burda, Kwik Sew & patterns labeled 'Easy'

  • Start Simple and make it Complicated. It is much easier to add or modify seams than it is to remove them from a pattern.


Make modifications on tracing paper or vellum
  • You can buy rolls of tracing paper from art stores, craft stores, and online.

  • Swedish tracing paper or Pellon Easy Pattern are a sew-able types of patterning paper that make creating patterns and converting them to mockups a snap!


Make a 'Mockup"
  • This is a first draft of your costume. These are usually constructed from muslin, light cotton or cheap fabric. 

  • Make adjustments to your mockup before committing your alterations to your final fabric. A mockup is for making mistakes and modifications so you don't waste your nicer fabrics!

Scrolls of Knowledge! (Aka my favorite sewing books)
Reader's Digest
New Complete Guide to Sewing

This book is a must have for crafters! I recommend it to everyone who asks me for a good starting point on learning to sew. It covers everything from identifying fabrics to fixing fit issues with your garments. I've been sewing for 20 years and still occasionally take this book out to reference a sewing technique I haven't recently used. If you can't take a sewing class, this is the next best thing!

Tomoko Nakamichi
Pattern Magic Series

The Pattern Magic book series is a great place to learn more about making unconventional shapes with fabric- something cosplay constantly challenges us to do! This book series helps the reader to think outside the box. It provides diagrams and photographs of a variety of projects in each book, and even has books in the series that cover using stretch materials! If you are feeling adventurous and want to improve your pattern modification skills, this is a fun and fascinating series of books to own.

Jo Barnfield & Andrew Richards
The Pattern Making Primer

Ready to start making your own patterns? The Pattern Making Primer provides a great foundation for the basics of making and modifying patterns. You'll learn about pattern markings, supplies, taking measurements, as well as how to draft and drape shapes. I love how clean and concise the illustrations and pictures are in this book!

Level 4 Coming Soon! 
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