Costume Club Destroyed from the Inside Overnight

On Oct. 15, 2017, a #StarWars #CostumeClub announced with no warning that it had shut down. As of today, it’s entire social media & internet presence is gone. The posted reason for shutting down the club originally claimed that it was due to LucasFilm, Ltd. (LFL), but that was quickly found to be an invalid statement. Once this was discovered, the 3 council members who had apparently voted to disband the club without warning applied a “scorched earth” policy to remove it’s entire online presence as quickly as possible as if it had never existed.

The club, which had over 100 members, had been resurrected in June, 2016. It appeared to be operating well and growing, but the people in charge (which no longer included any of the founding members) clearly wanted nothing to do with it. Reports of internal drama and conflict are likely to among the factors that lead to this.

In the end, the 100+ members who had made costumes to join the club and participated at club events woke up to it being completely wiped out. In this situation it is clear that those who decided to suddenly disband the club neither had the members’ best interests at heart nor did they care about them. Our sympathies are to the members who found themselves completely stripped of their club without warning or notice.

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National Stop Bullying Day (Unity Day)

We urge all #costumers, #cosplayers & #CostumeClub members to remember that today is #NationalStopBullyingDay. #Bullying is a topic that we have posted about many times in the past and it remains an ongoing problem, not only against children, but also against fellow cosplayers, costumers & members of costume clubs.

Bullying is essentially repeated physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse. While most associate bullying with children, many adults are subjected to a variety of forms of bullying. The American Psychological Association defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.”

Common forms of adult bullying are as follows:

  • Physical bullying. This includes physical intimidation, threat, harassment and/or harm; such as physical attack, simulated violence (raising a fist as if to strike, or throwing objects near a person), extortion, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment at work, personal space violation, physical space entrapment, physical size domination, and numerical domination (ganging up on a victim).
  • Tangible/material bullying. This involves using one’s title or position or material leverage (such as financial, informational, or legal) to intimidate, threaten, harass, and/or harm in order to dominate and control the victim.
  • Verbal bullying. This includes threats, shaming, hostile teasing, insults, constant negative judgment & criticism; or racist, sexist, or homophobic language.
  • Passive-aggressive or covert bullying. Probably one of the most insidious & difficult to prove forms of bullying, this involves subtle bullying while pretending to behave normally on the surface. Examples include negative gossip, negative joking at someone’s expense, sarcasm, condescending eye contact, facial expression or gestures, mimicking to ridicule, deliberately causing embarrassment & insecurity, the invisible treatment, social exclusion, professional isolation, and deliberately sabotaging someone’s well-being, happiness, and success.
  • Cyber bullying. Various types of tangible, verbal & passive-aggressive bullying mentioned above can also all be carried out behind the sometimes anonymous computer keyboard via social media, texting, video, email, on-line discussion, and other digital formats.

Sadly, we have directly observed all of the above types of bullying occurring within the costuming & cosplay communities, most often between members of costume clubs (and not necessarily within the same club), as we have posted earlier this year on this blog. Sadly, the bullying that occurs within costume clubs is often ignored by leadership even after multiple complaints are filed. Then there was the publicized case of an Overwatch cosplayer being bullied for being black.

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Beware: Halloween Costumes Could Give You Head Lice

Shopping for a new #Halloween #costume or just trying on #costumes at stores? Head wear (such as wigs, masks & hats) could have lice! Doctors often see a rise in reported cases of head lice at this time of year because people trying on costumes in stores could have head lice, which can then be transferred to other people.

We recommend the following advice to avoid possibility of being exposed to head lice when trying on costumes in stores:

  • Never try on a mask in a store without wearing a bathing cap over your hair.
  • Put a new costume into a tightly sealed plastic bag for at least 48 hours before wearing it to kill off any lice that may be on it.
  • Place dryer-friendly costumes into a dryer for 45 minutes before wearing them.

 

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Why People Stop Cosplaying

As the #costuming & #cosplay hobby & community has grown considerably in recent years, there are also people ending their participation as #cosplayers. There can be a variety of reasons (often a combination of reasons) that can cause people to lose interest. We’ll address some of the reasons here.

Reasons

Becoming Increasingly Expensive

Let’s face it: #cosplay is an expensive hobby and it is becoming increasingly expensive over time. Even for those who are highly skilled in making nearly all of their costumes & props, there are still the additional logistical costs that include admission to attend comic & anime conventions, dining, lodging, transportation & other costs.

While a single comic or anime convention pass (for a single day) may not too cost much by itself, multiply that by attending multiple days and/or attending multiple conventions. The cost of admission for attending multiple conventions can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars very quickly. As for dining, you’re going to have to eat at some point. Unless you can bring a lot of snacks into conventions with you, you’ll have to buy food & beverages at some point and it will probably be several times. Depending upon what and where you eat, the cost of several meals and beverages could add up to $100 for a single day. If you’re attending multiple days and/or multiple conventions, then it could add up to several hundreds of dollars just for food & beverages. As for lodging, a single hotel room for a single night at a minimum will cost around $180. Multiply that by several nights for several days spent at a single convention and/or lodging for more than 1 convention and it quickly adds up to well over $1000. As for transportation, at a minimum parking will likely cost around $10 to $20 per day near a convention center.

Let’s break down the logistical costs this way: to attend a single day at a convention, the total cost can be estimated as follows:

  • Admission for 1 day: around $40 – $50.
  • Food for 1 day: $80 – $100.
  • Parking for 1 day: $10 to $20.
  • Total: 1-day total logistical costs (no lodging): around $130 – $170.

Using the 1-day logistical costs (with no lodging) as a baseline, let’s look at attending multiple days with lodging:

  • Attending for 2 days + 1 night of lodging: around $440 – $520.
  • Attending for 3 days + 2 nights of lodging: around $750 – $870
  • Attending for 4 days + 3 nights of lodging: around $1,060 – $1,220

Finally, let’s look at the approximate cost of attending 3 3-day conventions with lodging in a single year. That cost would be around $2,250 – $2,610. And, just remember: this is just the estimated logistical costs that don’t include the cost for costumes.

Can Be Too Time Consuming

Working on #costumes can be a huge investment in time, which can potentially interfere with work, school, studying, family time, etc. Building a costume can take several weeks, if not several months, depending upon the complexity, the amount of needed research and time to find needed materials. Not everyone can continue to devote the amount of time needed to complete costumes.

Too Many Crowds

Anime and comic conventions are becoming increasingly crowded. This can become frustrating when trying to move through a crowded convention venue in costume. The bulkier the costume, the slower any movement will be through a crowded space. Also, people will want to stop the cosplayer to take pictures. While this is what a lot of cosplayers enjoy doing, after a few hours, it can become frustrating when a cosplayer is ready to take break and can’t because people continue to want to take pictures.

New Security Concerns

As we have posted about recently, in recent years, many conventions have adopted more restrictive policies regarding costumes & props. Some cosplayers are becoming very frustrated by these new restrictions, especially when their costumes & props that they worked hard to make can no longer be taken to a convention.

Bullying, Drama & Conflict within the Cosplay & Costuming Community

Costuming & cosplay is supposed to be fun, but it doesn’t always work out that way for some. Any costumer or cosplayer who has been subjected to bullying, drama, conflict or a combination thereof within the costuming & cosplay community will probably become jaded to a degree, especially if it goes on for a long time. The more someone is subjected to these negative aspects, the more jaded the costumer or cosplayer will become. Many who were once avid costumers or cosplayers abandoned the hobby because of repeated exposure to bullying, drama or conflict.

Developing Other Interests & Hobbies

There’s always the possibility that some cosplayers or costumers will become interested in other hobbies & interests that are outside of costuming, such as gaming or something else. When this happens, the new hobby or interest may supersede costuming & cosplay altogether. There’s nothing wrong with that; it can just happen.

Real Life Events

Real life events can become far more important than any hobbies that someone may have, including costuming & cosplay. Loss of a family member, birth of a child, marriage, divorce, changes in employment, attending school, etc., could potentially supersede costuming & cosplay.

Maybe They’ll Come Back

Just because someone decides to quit costuming or cosplaying doesn’t mean that they might not change their minds in the future. Taking a break may be the best thing that someone needs to do. If they decide to never come back, that’s okay too. This is, after all, a hobby.

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The Evolution of Medieval Armor

Since #armor is an ever-popular aspect of #costuming & #cosplay, we wanted to share this video about the evolution of actual medieval armor, which is likely the basis for various types of armor used by multiple sci-fi, fantasy & gaming franchises. While this video focuses on actual metal armor, many #cosplayers wear metal armor, as do re-enactors. We will also add a disclaimer regarding the accuracy for the reasons shared in the video as to why armor changed over the centuries.

Introduction to Fabrics

While #sewing is an important rudimentary #cosplay & #costuming skill, so is knowing a few things about #fabrics, which have different qualities depending upon the materials used & how they were manufactured.

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1. Fabric Basics

What is a fabric? A fabric (which may also be called a textile or cloth) is a flexible material comprised of a series of interconnected fibers. The three most distinguishing features of a fabric are the type of fibers being used, how the fibers were interconnect during the manufacturing process and the overall fabric weight.

Let’s look at fibers and the manufacturing processes first.

1.1 Fibers

Fibers fall under one of two main types: natural or synthetic. These have different properties that can be divided into pros & cons, which we have listed in the following table.

Natural Fibers

Synthetic Fibers

Composition

Come primarily from plants or animals. Created in a laboratory. Usually a petroleum product.

Pros

  • Easy to dye.
  • Absorbant.
  • Breathable.
  • Strong.
  • Wrinkle-resistant.
  • Versatile.

Cons

  • Plant fibers wrinkle easily.
  • Animal fibers are expensive.
  • Not very breathable.
  • Difficult to dye.

Fabrics can also be made from minerals, but since these are not common in clothing or costuming, we’ll leave that to you to research on your own if you choose to do so.

The most common fiber types are listed below:

Fiber Category

Fiber Types (& their sources)

Animal

  • Wool (sheep’s hair)
  • Silk (silk worm’s unwound cocoon)
  • Cashmere (Indian cashmere goat)
  • Angora (Angora rabbit)

Plant

  • Cotton (cotton plant)
  • Linen (flax, a.k.a., linseed)
  • Rayon (wood pulp)
  • Acetate (wood pulp)
  • Hemp (hemp fibers)

Synthetic

  • Nylon (petroleum)
  • Acrylic (petroleum & natural gas)
  • Polyester (petroleum & coal)
  • Spandex (petroleum)
  • Kevlar (aramids)
  • Nomex (aramids)

1.2 Manufacturing Processes

Of the various ways fabrics can be manufactured, the two most common are woven fabrics and knitted fabrics, which are compared in the following table:

Woven Fabrics

Knitted Fabrics

Construction

Constructed by interlacing a set of longer threads (called the warp) with a set of crossing fibers (called the weft) on a frame known as a loom.

Constructed by repeatedly interlacing loops made from a single, long fiber together in multiple rows.

Qualities

  • Minimal stretch.
  • Strong
  • Won’t snag.
  • Easier for beginners to sew.
  • Available in both 2-way & 4-way stretch.
  • Not as strong.
  • Susceptible to snagging.
  • More difficult for beginners to sew.

2. Fabric Weight

The type of fibers, the manufacturing process & how closely packed the fibers are determine a fabric’s weight. Fabric weight is measured as ounces per square yard (oz/yd²) or grams per square meter (GSM). The lighter a fabric is, the more flowing it will be, but it will also the typically be less durable. The heavier a fabric is, the more stiff and durable it will be. Also, the heavier the fabric is, the thicker it may also be depending upon the type of fiber used.

GSM

Fabrics

Lightweight

1 – 150 GSM

0 – 4.4 oz/yd²

  • Organza
  • Chiffon
  • Voile
  • Taffeta
  • Single Jersey
  • Spandex

Medium Weight

150 – 350 GSM

4.4 – 10 oz/yd²

  • Velvet
  • Cambric
  • Sateen
  • Chambray
  • Interlock Jersey

Heavyweight

350+ GSM

10+ oz/yd²

  • Canvas
  • Denim
  • Hessian / Burlap
  • Poplin / Broadcloth

3. Putting It All Together

Having listed the basics about fiber types, manufacturing processes & weights, here’s a more detailed list about each fabric listed above.

3.1 Lightweight Fabrics

Fabric

Fiber Type(s) & Manufacturing Process

Typical Uses

Organza

Woven silk, nylon or polyester
  • Bridal wear
  • Evening wear

Chiffon

Woven silk, nylon or polyester

  • Evening wear
  • Lingerie
  • Blouses
  • Scarves

Voile

Woven cotton, cotton/linen blend or cotton/polyester blend

  • Window treatments
  • Mosquito nets

Taffeta

Woven silk or rayon

  • Ball gowns
  • Wedding dresses
  • Curtains
  • Wall coverings

Single Jersey

Knitted wool, cotton, synthetic fabrics or cotton/synthetic blend

  • T-shirts

Spandex

Knitted spandex or spandex/cotton, spandex/polyester, or other spandex blend

  • Compression clothing
  • Super-hero costumes
  • Tights
  • Zentai
  • Wrestling singlets
  • Active wear
  • Underwear

3.2 Medium Weight Fabrics

Fabric

Fiber Type(s) & Manufacturing Process

Typical Uses

Velvet

Woven tufted rayon/silk blend, silk (rare), cotton (less luxurious), polyester, nylon, acetate or other fibers & blends.
  • Ecclesiastical vestments
  • Royal & state robes
  • Wall hangings

Cambric

Woven linen or cotton

  • Linens
  • Shirts
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Ruffs
  • Lace
  • Needlework

Sateen

Woven cotton, cotton/linen blend or cotton/polyester blend

  • Window treatments
  • Mosquito nets

Chambray

Woven cotton, similar to denim but lighter & with the white weft visible making it lighter in color.

  • Dresses
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Sneakers

Interlock Jersey

Knitted wool, cotton, synthetic fabrics or cotton/synthetic blend; similar to single jersey but both sides are identical and it’s thicker

  • Higher end t-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Camisoles
  • Bridal wear
  • Receiving blankets
  • Dresses
  • Baby’s layette items

3.3 Heavyweight Fabrics

 

Fabric

Fiber Type(s) & Manufacturing Process

Typical Uses

Canvas

Woven cotton, linen or hemp.
  • Handbags
  • Backpacks
  • Electronic device cases
  • Shoes
  • Artist medium

Denim

Woven cotton

  • Blue jeans
  • Shirts
  • Jackets
  • Work clothes
  • Shoes
  • Upholstry
  • Lampshades
  • More

Hessian / Burlap

Woven jute or sisal fibers blended with other vegetable fibers

  • Rope
  • Bags
  • Gunny sacks
  • Rugs
  • Ghillie suits
  • Sand bags

Poplin / Broadcloath

Woven wool, cotton, silk, polyester or a blend of these

  • Dresses
  • Shirts
  • Upholstery

4. Selecting the Right Fabric(s) for a Costume

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is where you plan to wear the costume. If you’re only planning to wear the costume on a cool Halloween evening, then going with heavier / less breathable fabrics might be your better option for staying warm.

If you’re planning to wear the costume primarily at comic or anime conventions, then you’ll want to stick to the most breathable fabrics so that you stay cool and comfortable. After that, it also depends on what type of garment(s) you need to make:

  • Pants: linen or denim
  • Shirts & blouses: cotton voile; rayon challis; double gauze; knit; silk; chambray; cotton lawn or linen
  • Skirts: cotton lawn; rayon challis; denim; knit or linen
  • Dresses: cotton voile; cotton lawn; rayon challis; double gauze; knit; silk; satin or linen
  • Superhero costumes: spandex

If you need to dye a fabric, then you definitely want to use a fabric that is made primarily from natural fibers. Do you need to give the fabric a weathered or tattered look, then you’ll probably want to stick to cotton-based fabrics. Other considerations, such as the sewing pattern you’re using for the garment, can also impact the type of fabric to be used, including any color pattern that the fabric has.

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