Today I thought I’d do something a little different and show you how I plan my costumes and determine quotes for commissions. I find the planning stage one of the most stressful but also one of the most crucial stages of creating a costume. Planning a costume is where I figure out how much it will cost, how long it will take, what skills I need to learn, etc. Most of my costumes take at least a few weeks of planning before I even start purchasing materials, and all of that starts with a costume breakdown in Google Docs. Let’s take one of my upcoming costumes as an example.
Side note: I actually thought about doing this post using Lulu from FFX as an example, but I got to about 1,000 words and gave up.
My first step in breaking down a costume is looking at each component. Sometimes I’ll draw it out on a fashion croquis even if I have reference art, because I’ll catch small details that I might have missed otherwise. Here’s a quick example of what a breakdown looks like for this costume:
- Wig: Despite owning 4 black wigs, I didn’t have one wig that quite matched this art, so I picked one up from Purple Plum. This is my first wig from them, and I really like it so far! When I plan costumes, I like to overlap as many materials as possible, and this wig is a solid base for one of my future costumes.
- Contacts: I was fortunate that I had a couple other blue-eyed characters this year, so my contacts from Pinky Paradise have gone a long way! This is of course an optional purchase. Always, always, always check with your optometrist before ordering contacts!
- Headband/bracelets: I have a similar tiara and bracelets used for a previous Wonder Woman outfit, so money saved.
- Corset: This bodice could easily be modified as a corset, which actually works out well as a practice piece for Lulu. I had some of the materials on hand, but I still had to purchase the fashion fabric (1 yd casa satin), duck cloth for a strength layer (1 yd), grommets (1 set), binding (2 packs), and lacing (16 yds since I didn’t have a busk).
- Gold “armor”: I can easily make the gold embellishments on the top and bottom using craft foam covered in gold spandex. I have all the necessary materials to construct these pieces.
- Skirt: Fairly basic design, but the pattern was the tricky part. I opted for a double circle skirt with an elastic waist band. Callula Cosplay came up with the graphic for the fabric, which I printed from Spoonflower. I used leftover horsehair braid from a different project for the hem.
- Petticoat: This skirt has a lot of volume, so I’ll probably wear a petticoat under it. I already have one, so money saved!
- Character shoes: Easy enough purchase, though I had to paint them and still need to find scrap leather to form the T. Fortunately, I had leftover paint materials from Bombshell Wonder Woman.
At this point, I need to figure out details, extras, and skills I need to work on:
- I think I’d like to make a matching bolero for cold weather cons, maybe with an embroidered Wonder Woman symbol.
- Aside from the bracelets, there’s no jewelry drawn. I might skip a necklace, but I’ll definitely add earrings that I currently have.
Once I’ve got an idea of what skills and extras I want, it’s time to window shop and budget. I do a lot of this online through eBay, Amazon, Etsy and various fabric shops. When I do my budgeting, I also take a look at mailers to see when various companies are having sales. So if I need to buy patterns, I’ll check when my local Hancock’s and Jo-Ann’s are having sales and plan around those pieces.
Planning a commission quote follows all these steps as well, with the added exception of labor. I try to estimate how many hours a project will take based on previous experience and charge based on expected hours.
That’s just a brief look at how I plan my costumes. Do you plan your costumes out or do you wing it?