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Parent’s Guide to Cosplay: How to Help Your Kids Dress Up as Their Favorite Characters

by Stentor
parents guide
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If you’re reading this article, it might be because your children want to participate in cosplay – which is short for costume play – and attend a convention, or they may simply want to dress up as one of their favorite characters for Halloween.

Cosplay is a little more complex than your typical Halloween costume. Cosplayers usually research the costumes they want to make and make them from scratch. They also tend to get more into character, including mimicking mannerisms and voices.

Some costumes are very elaborate, involving leatherwork, molding, and metalwork. It can take months to complete one.

You get to choose how involved you want to be in making your child’s cosplay and how elaborate you want it to be. If you’re not feeling particularly crafty, you always have the option of buying a costume from a store or having it made by a professional. You’ll find everything from Marvel Universe to Japanese Anime.

But there’s something special and rewarding about making costumes for your kids. You’re helping them express themselves, and you’re also picking up useful skills in the process. If you decide to take this route, you’ll find a lot of resources online. There’s a thriving cosplay community that can provide you with patterns, tutorials, and advice.

Choose a Character

Everyone has a better time if the character is someone they think is cool. See if you can find a character you also like among your child’s favorites. But keep in mind that they’re the ones that will be walking around in the costume, so you want them to be comfortable and enthusiastic.

Then you’ll want to choose which version of the character you want to portray in the costume. Many characters have different outfits, so you’ll want to ask your kid what version they had in mind.

Of course, you’ll want to pick something you can actually pull off. The sky’s the limit, but if you’re a beginner and you’re not used to handling a sewing machine, that limit might be a little closer to home.

Then you’ll also want to consider where your kid will be wearing the costume. For example, if they want to be Iron Man and want a costume that includes a helmet, amour, boots, and gloves, it could be fine in colder weather.

However, suppose they’re wearing this costume somewhere with high temperatures, like an event organized by summer camps in Brooklyn NY. In that case, they either have to pick a different character or accept some modification that will make the costume more appropriate for the weather.

Study the Character

The next step is to study the character you’re trying to portray. You can start with pictures. Examine every aspect of your character’s look, from their attire and haircut to their secondary traits such as accessories, weapons, armor, even tattoos. If you want to make an authentic-looking costume, you’ll need to keep a detailed picture of these elements in mind.

Look online for high-resolution screenshots of the costume that show every detail. If you can’t find any good full-body photographs, save many photos of the character from multiple perspectives. For some characters, you can also find 3D models that give you a 360-degree view.

Lastly, you can find high-resolution photos and tutorials of other cosplayers’ costumes which you can analyze and take inspiration from.

Gather the Materials You Need

If there is one thing you should be aware of when it comes to cosplay, it is that it can be quite expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. If this is your first time making a costume and considering it’s for a child that will grow out of it, you may want to consider buying a costume from a store and personalizing it.

Another option would be to choose a costume you can replicate more easily, and this way, you can use clothes you already have or go to thrift stores to look for clothes you can repurpose in your costume.

Then there’s eBay, where you can find a lot of things that you can incorporate into your costume.

Some characters involve wearing a wig. If that’s the case, we recommend kanekalon wigs, which are much better quality than vinyl and go for $20-$40 on eBay.

In terms of fabric, keep in mind that stretchy kind is more difficult to sew. To save money, look for something cheap and non-fraying in the discount bins. Buy enough of it to make a few mistakes and write down the name and number so you can look for it online if you need more of it.  

For the weapons and other props, you can use spray paint and polymer clay to turn toys or other accessories into something that resembles what the characters are using.

Putting the Costume Together  

Before you get started, make yourself some snacks and turn up your favorite energetic music. You want to be having fun while making the costume. If you start to get tired or frustrated, take a break.

Beginners should first practice on cheaper fabric. You can get old fabric in stores or at garage sales. Then it really doesn’t matter what the material looks like because you’re only using it to learn. You’ll find tutorials online on sewing.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can do it by hand. It’s not that difficult to learn, but it is quite tedious. You may want to have something interesting to listen to in the background.

To cut down on sewing, you can also use hot glue, Velcro, duct tape, stick-on sippers, safety pins, snaps, and buttons.

In terms of the weapons, you don’t have to worry about making them look realistic. They’re supposed to look cool, of course, but most event organizers don’t allow weapons that are too realistic looking or potentially dangerous. So a spray-painted water gun with polymer clay will do just fine.

For other props, you can also use cardboard and craft foam. They’re cheap, and with a little shiny paint, they’ll look amazing even if they’re clearly fake.

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