Cosplay 101: How to Survive Con Crunch

Con Crunch Survival

Wizard World Chicago 2017

So that convention you’re attending is only a short time away, and your cosplays are nowhere near ready, but you’re determined to finish them in time? This is what we call “con crunch” – that special time when you buckle down and hurriedly finish everything, very possibly the night or a few hours before you are due to wear it. If this is your first time in a con crunch, hopefully we can help guide you through it to success.

Be Realistic

The first step to a successful con crunch is being realistic. Sit down and honestly assess what you can accomplish in the time you have left before the convention. As well, you need to assess how quick you are at making things. Do you have three highly complicated outfits you still need to make, all with labor-intensive props, and only two weeks to make them? Unless you have all-day every day to work on them and you are extremely fast at sewing and building, it’s unlikely that you’ll finish in time. Something easier or a longer time frame might give you the time you need.

If you don’t have enough time, it’s okay to drop one or two cosplays right now and push them back for another convention.

Make a plan

Once you assess what you have left to do and the amount of time left to do it in, you should plan things out. Estimate how much time each part will take and schedule it out in things like a calendar or planner. Cosplanner, which I mentioned in my first Cosplay 101 article, is a good way of tracking your progress as you work.

Make sure that you leave time for necessities like eating and sleeping! If you’re overly tired or hungry, you’re more likely to make mistakes or injure yourself. No one wants their nearly-finished cosplay ruined because they were injured or spilled something all over it when they were over-tired or starving!

Have fun with it

Do you have other friends in a similar situation? The answer is likely yes. A good way to make the process less painful is to make a gathering out of it. You can all gather at one person’s house and work on your cosplay projects at the same time, sharing opinions, helping each other, and commiserating as you hurry to accomplish everything. I’ve done this before, and it is a great way to relieve the pressure of con crunch.

You can help the time pass by sharing snacks and putting on favorite tv shows or movies in the background. Just don’t have too much fun, or you’ll never get anything done!

This is a good idea to do even when you’re not in con crunch mode, as it’s a good way to pick up skills from your more-talented friends. I have a friend that hosts regular sewing nights with a relative who is an expert seamstress, and they’ve helped me greatly expand my sewing knowledge. Others will host crafting get-togethers, showing friends how to do things like make armor or weapons out of foam. It’s a great way to spend time with your cosplay friends and learn something at the same time!

Realize if you’re not going to finish

Is your plan of attack just not working? Has something gone horribly wrong? Was a vital element delayed in being shipped to you? Is something taking much longer to make than you expected, putting you horribly behind schedule?

Once again, be realistic in whether you think you will finish in time or not.  It’s okay if you don’t finish every new cosplay in time for the convention. There’s every likelihood that another one is coming up in a couple weeks anyway.  In my opinion, I would rather push back the debut of a cosplay and have it well-made than hurry to finish something and have it shoddily done.


As always when you’re putting together a cosplay, you need to troubleshoot it. Try it on to make sure it fits, test any high stress areas of the costume, and walk around in it to make sure you can do just that. The worst thing would be to finish and later realize that you cannot move in your new cosplay or have it fall to pieces to moment you try to walk around.

If you can, you should try and do this at least a day or two before you leave for the convention so that you can fix any issues that may arise and to give any adhesives ample time to dry.

Packing for the convention

If you are staying at the convention hotel, make sure that you factor in packing time when making your con crunch plan of attack. I’ll tackle this subject more elsewhere, but at least write down everything that goes along with your cosplays. No one wants to finish a cosplay last-minute, only to forget other vital parts that were previously made!

Finishing your Cosplay at the Convention

If you’re really pushing yourself to finish and absolutely have to get it done, you always have the alternative of bringing your sewing machine/crafting materials with you to the hotel room at the convention and finishing there.

If you choose to do that, just be mindful of what you are doing. Any damages you do to the room, whether they be physical damages or lingering odors, could lead to hefty charges on your hotel bill.

As I’ve stated before, you always have the option of choosing not to debut your cosplay at this particular convention. Even if your friends were really looking forward to seeing it, they will likely understand that life gets in the way and things happen. They will be just as excited when you finally have the proper time to finish it.

Also, wouldn’t you rather spend your time at the convention actually at the convention and hanging out with your friends, rather than stress-sewing/crafting in your hotel room while everyone else has a great time? Go easy on yourself and let it go this time. I’m sure that you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

You Finished!!

You’ve done it! You beat con crunch and finished everything in time for the convention! Now what? Go to the convention and be sure to have a blast!


Looking for a convention to wear your cosplays? Check out our Complete Comic Con and Convention List!