Commission Notes: Saitama (One Punch Man)

Completed: August 2018

Hours Spent: 30-ish

Purchased Pieces: 

Patterns Used: 

Super Helpful Tutorials: 

How I Made it: 

Ahhhh, this was such a fun build! My friend Ash (and one of my favorite photographers) is really into One Punch Man, and a few months ago she asked if any of her cosplay friends could help turn her dad into Saitama. I jumped at the opportunity, especially after I decided to watch the show (much to Koholint‘s delight).

I started with the base bodysuit for this build. It’s fairly straightforward, but because of that, I wanted to make sure all the details were correct and clean. I’ve used Kwik Sew 3029 several times at this point, so I was able to quickly note changes and modifications to the pattern (big shout-out to Victoria Bane for cutting these pieces for me!). The top just required adding a white collar portion and zipper. I chose to do the white portion as inset corners and also sewed in an exposed zipper. The rest was a very quick process. I zig-zag stitched the suit together, hit the seam allowance with my serger (overkill, but I like the final look), and added elastic to the ankles to give the pants more of a “puff” look.

The next piece was the cape. Again, big shout-out to Victoria Bane for cutting this for me! My go-to for any big cape is The Dangerous Ladies’ tutorial (linked above). After letting the pieces hang for a few days (let that bias settle, yo), I cleaned up the cape and stitched the fashion and lining layers together.

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First run at the cape. At least I can still use it for Nana Shimura!

What I failed to realize was that my client’s measurements exceeded the length available on 60″ wide fabric. Thankfully, this wasn’t a lost cause. The shape of this cape will work very well for one of my upcoming cosplays, Nana Shimura from My Hero Academia. I held onto the cape for myself since it was already complete, and ordered 120″ fabric from Online Fabric Store for a new one. I again followed the same process, but this time at the proper length. After the new cape was sewn up, I hand sewed snaps to attach to the base leotard and sewed on the giant grey buttons (made from scraps of my Arsene vest!).

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The boots were fairly straightforward. I ordered a base pair from Funtasma in my client’s size, stripped the varnish, and painted them with about 10 layers of Scarlet and Fire red from Anglus. Once they were fully painted, I hit them with Angelus finisher.

The gloves were a little more challenging. I had this bright idea to get some Captain America gloves and paint them to match the boots. However, the gloves were… garbage quality. They didn’t take the paint at all and basically fell apart the second I looked at them. Instead, I made a pair of glove toppers using vinyl that matched the boots. I also realized that the dye I used for Makoto’s gloves was a good match for the boots and vinyl, so I set out to dye a pair of men’s gloves from We Love Colors. It took about 6 washes to get them fully dye free.

To create the belt, I found a Saitama cosplay belt on Amazon. The buckle was fairly accurate, but the belt itself was okay at best. I purchased the belt, stripped off the buckle, and made a new belt out of black vinyl I had on hand.

Thoughts on this build: 

This was such a fun build! I love how absurd this show is, and I’m glad I got the chance to make something from it. I can’t wait to see Ash’s dad as Saitama!

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Commission Notes: Super Sailor Moon

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Completed: February 2017

Hours Spent: About 40 hours

How I made it: I know, I know. ANOTHER FUKU. I keep promising myself/y’all that I’m going to cool it with these, but apparently they’re becoming one of my staples.

For a long time I told myself I wouldn’t take Super Moon commissions since I definitely prefer the gradient dyeing we did for Cosmic Coterie and lack an airbrush. However, my client was fine with the stripe approach from the 90s anime and I did a few other experiments with this build, which I’ll focus on today.

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Prior to tapering the hip rolls.

Let’s start with that pesky double hip roll again. I’ve made a couple of double hip rolls with upholstery piping, but I honestly am not in love with it. So I went back to upholstery foam and even further back to my Jupiter 1.0 days when I used Zan‘s pattern. I used her hip roll pattern piece for the front, and then tapered it down to almost 1/4 the original size. This gave me a chance to really control the depth of the taper and make it even (this is something that drove me crazy with our original group build). I know that Moon has a brooch that covers up the point of the V, but having messy work drives me batty, so I’m glad I was able to clean this up! The gold hip roll is 3/8″ smaller all around than the white one.

Both of the hip rolls are sewn into the seam. I basted the gold one about a half inch above my normal stitching line on the bodice to accommodate the clunkiness of both rolls. Once both hip rolls were in place, I then hand stitched the entire hip roll with a back stitch for durability, using my basting lines as a guide.

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Pro-tip: Don’t use ribbon or straight grain fabric for the stripes if you’re using the circle skirt approach. It won’t curve around the skirt properly and will lead to bubbles and wrinkles (like this when I hadn’t pressed my seams).

The skirt was a… special challenge. I wracked my head for weeks with this. My initial inclination was to level the skirt then cut off the portions I needed and use them as a template, but that would have required INSANE precision. Eventually I realized I was making it way too complicated and cut super long strips of fabric on the bias. I had originally ruled out continuous bias tape (so apparently this approach has a shit ton of names, because I was chatting with the girls and we realized that we were all talking about different techniques lol) because I didn’t want lots of seam lines showing, but I made sure that my seams were tucked into the folds of the pleats for the most part.

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To create the sleeve petals, I cut a strip of Worbla (1″ wide X 10″ long), layered it on another strip, and heat formed it over my dress form. Once it cooled, I glued each layer of the Mylar/Organza petals one at a time with e6000. I let each layer get to the point that it was dry to touch before I added on a new layer. Once all 3 layers were attached and mostly dry, I glued a strip of Velcro on top and fleece on the bottom to make it slightly more comfortable. There’s a matching piece of Velcro on the lining of the chest armor to keep it in place. Credit for this idea goes to MASK Props. I love how he did the sleeves for PockyPants‘s Chibi Moon

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The last major change I made on this fuku was on the butt bow. I used my trusty Pellon 808 interfacing instead of vinyl and like it a lot better. I hate that the bow isn’t transparent, but it holds its shape much better with interfacing versus vinyl.

That about covers this fuku! You can find more details on my other fukus here, and tutorials on how to make a Cosmic Coterie style fuku here.

What’s your favorite version of Sailor Moon? 

10 Essential Tips for First Time Commissioners

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Peggy Carter commission for Lady Amaraldi.

1. Be brutally honest with yourself:

Before starting commissions, you absolutely need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I willing to do? Are you good with wigs? What about foam? Or resin? Or leather? The idea here is to ask yourself what type of work you excel at and emphasize it. For example, I can do some wig styling, but I don’t consider myself an expert on it, so I don’t offer it in my commission services.
  • Is my work good enough for commissions? I ask myself this ALL THE TIME. The reality is that there’s a certain expectation of quality with commission work, and if you can’t meet that quality, then you don’t need to sell. My commissions are the same if not higher quality work than my personal costumes, because each piece is a representation of me and my brand.
  • Are you good at customer service? Being able to communicate with people is one of the most essential tasks of commissions. Many potential commissionees approach the commission process thinking they can get costumes cheaper than eBay or Amazon, or that different tasks are simple when in reality they’re quite time consuming. Being able to clearly and calmly discuss these issues with potential clients is an absolute necessity.
  • Do I have the time? This is one of my big personal hold-ups with commissions. Working full-time puts a big damper in the number of commissions I’m able to take on at any given time, and it also impacts which costumes I can make for myself. If I have a deadline for a commission coming up around the same time as a con, then I’ll likely have to re-wear a costume, because client work comes first.

2. Pay yourself FAIRLY

Again, this is something I struggle with, but I’ve gotten better at over the years. Due to the rise in fast fashion, many people misinterpret the skill involved in sewing (and any form of custom work, honestly). The reality is that creating a custom piece will ALWAYS cost more than something you can find in an online costume shop.

Much like car or home repair, labor is often one of the largest expenses involved. I used to barely pay myself minimum wage when I first started, and I was miserable. I felt like I sacrificed all my time to creating things for other people, and when all was said and done, I’d barely made enough profit to make it worth my while. Pay yourself an amount that’s commiserate with your experience and skills to prevent this issue. I pay myself $12-15/hour these days, much to the dismay of my friends and SO. I feel like this is a fair price FOR ME since commissions are my extra play money and allow me to get crazy with my personal builds. Keep in mind: this is a low-ball charge compared to some folks who do commissions as their main source of income, so don’t be surprised if you see higher charges as you do research.

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This leotard was one of my first commissions, and a big learning curve in how to handle pricing! Cosplayer is Jade Cosplay. Photo by Tobious Cosplayious

To come up with a quote, I use the following formula: Cost of materials + Labor (Est. Hours x $12-15) = Final Quote charge (normally rounded down in favor of the client). When I get a quote request, my pricing process looks something like this:

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3. Talk to your clients

This is often one of the biggest frustrations I see with potential commissionees. They get everything set up and send off their money, only to never hear back from the commissioner or have minimal contact. Their deadlines roll around, and they’re in a panic, wondering if their costume will arrive in time. I’ve been in this situation before, and it SUCKS.

A quick message or post to let clients know what’s happening is so, so, so useful. Be honest and open about time frames and when you expect to work and ship so that clients have an idea of when to expect their items. For example, if someone’s at the bottom of my commission queue, I’ll let them know that I won’t be in touch/won’t have progress to show for at least so many weeks, or I’ll let clients know that if I have to order materials online, that they shouldn’t expect to get updates until at least a week or two after said materials have arrived.

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Saturn commission that I recently finished. I send clients updates anytime there’s visible progress to keep them up to date on progress. Normally this translates to updates every 1-2 weeks once a project has started.

4. …but don’t let them walk all over you

On the opposite end of the spectrum, clients messaging every single day is only a situation that should occur if the commissioner fails to deliver or ghosts. If a client harasses you for photos/progress, reiterate that you need time to work.

Likewise, stand your ground on your policies and pricing. People will always ask to bend things here or there. Every case is different, but at the end of the day, you have to stand up for yourself in order to make commissions an enjoyable (and profitable) experience.

5. Remember: Your name is attached to EVERYTHING YOU SAY/DO

Social media is both a blessing and a curse for commissions. If you do it well, it’s an easy way to market yourself and gain clients and followers. But at the same time, you have to be conscientious of your online presence. Insulting another cosplayer’s work, shaming (of any kind), or bullying are obviously huge no-nos (and key indicators that you’re a crap human being, let’s be honest). But there’s more to it than avoiding the obvious. You have to evaluate what your brand represents and how much information you’re willing to share. For example, I’m not comfortable sharing much of my personal life online, partially because I feel odd letting the whole world know what’s going on in my day-today, but also I don’t want to impact mine or my fiance’s day job (or future job hunting).

Think about what works for you and for the brand you’re trying to create. Individuals have a bit more flexibility than companies, but branding still requires conscientious curation.

6. Promote yourself

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Shadowcat Cosplay for Taffeta Darling of Fangirls of Dallas.

Again, this is another task I’ve struggled with in the past, but it’s a necessity to generate business. A lot of my promotion work happens at cons. I often wear nerd-inspired outfits on Fridays or Sundays (a.k.a. lazy con days), so any time someone comments on one of my outfits, I try to plug my name and distribute a business card. Most of my friends and family will do the same thing!

In addition to in-person marketing, online marketing is a must! There are lots of Facebook groups that put clients and commissionees in touch with one another in addition to standard social media marketing practices.

Here are a few groups to keep an eye out for:

7. Keep track of EVERYTHING

One of the most challenging components of commission work for me isn’t the creation of costumes. It’s the juggling work of keeping track of commission inquiries, where they’re coming from, and staying up to date with all the orders you need to make (not to mention deadlines). I get commission inquiries through all my social media platforms, as well as through e-mail and in-person chats. To keep myself organized, I keep track of all this information through Google Sheets and Trello.

Likewise, HOLD ON TO YOUR RECEIPTS, both digital and physical. Anytime I purchase anything related to my commissions or business, I put it in a bin just for tax related purposes. I also keep track of money via PayPal and Etsy’s shop setup. I definitely prefer spreadsheets as a way to keep track of money, so I make sure to go through all my receipts as meticulously as possible so that my headache isn’t so severe when tax season rolls around.

My workflow looks something like this:

  • Client reaches out to me for quote, and I make a note of the client, along with where they asked and other relevant information in a Google Sheet.
  • Once the client has agreed to terms, payment, and details, I send them a commission agreement form with fields for measurements and shipping information.
  • After the client has sent me their down payment, I begin ordering materials and starting on their piece.

I use Trello to organize out individual tasks for each commission, since it’s easy to drag and drop checklist items when they’re completed.

8. Even if you’re not organized, GET ORGANIZED

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Sailor Chibi Chibi for Charming Darling. I completely misplaced the original gloves I bought for this commission, so I had to replace them. Derp.

This ties back in with point number 7. Again, I’m awful at this, but commissions have forced me to get better. There’s nothing worse than needing to work on a commission, only to realize that you’ve misplaced supplies. It’s an obnoxious hold-up and can cut into your profits.

I’m in the process of setting up a new storage unit in my craft room that doubles as a quick pressing station. It is only for commissions and business related purposes, so I won’t have to rummage through my other bins and storage units to find what I need. Knowing where everything is supposed to go will save you time and stress!

9. Have fail safes in place

Shit happens. Your sewing machine breaks. The fabric that’s perfect for a commission is out of stock. You (or a loved one) have serious health issues. Having back-ups will help you keep your sanity as you work on projects when shit hits the fan. I build extra time into my commission quotes for this reason so that clients are pleasantly surprised when their items get to them early, rather than infuriated when items are shipped to them months late.

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Negasonic Teenage Warhead bodysuit for Callula Cosplay (logos by her). Photo by Gear Owl Photography. Good grief this costume was an exercise in patience since EVERYTHING WENT WRONG. Thankfully, we got everything worked out and Dana looks awesome as Negasonic!

10. Take time for yourself

Burnout is a real thing with commissions. It’s easy to take commission after commission, and then realize you haven’t made something for yourself in six months. It’s okay to close up shop for a while and take time to work on things for you. In fact, you should do this every now and then to recharge your creative batteries. Your work will be better for it!

Have you commissioned costume pieces before? What was your experience like? 

Costume Notes: Stanley Tweedle

FotorCreatedCompleted: December 2014

Hours Spent: Around 20 hours

Why This Costume: This was a commission request from a friend of a friend. I’m still learning how to fit for guys, so it seemed like a good opportunity to practice those skills along with learning some new ones.

How I made it: When I started this commission, I didn’t intend to do a blog post on it, but I had such a hard time finding ANY information on this costume. Hopefully this will help other Lexx fans.

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Front and back of the coveralls.

This costume has 2 main components to it: the hat and the coveralls (with a belt). I made the coveralls out of a twill duponi using Kwik Sew 3389 as a base. I did have to make a couple of alterations. The main alteration was to draft a shawl collar to replace the double lapel. To create a plain back, I folded over the back pattern pieces and combined them with yoke. Once my pieces were all combined, I traced over them to create a new back piece. I took the same approach to eliminate the slash pockets on the pants.

One thing to note about this pattern: apparently Kwik Sew seems to think that dudes have the shoulders of line backers *with* shoulder pads. Since my commissioner was located in another city, I used my boyfriend as a quasi-dressform. In the end, I took 3 full inches off of the shoulders.

Close up of the pocket details. The silver strip on the right breast is unstitched at the top to allow my commissioner a space to attach his ID badge.
Close up of the pocket details. The silver strip on the right breast is unstitched at the top to allow my commissioner a space to attach his ID badge.

The pockets were an interesting challenge. To make the left breast pocket accurate, I drafted a flap pocket. It’s quite a bit of work, but the result is very snazzy. I’m definitely incorporating this into my  jacket project. The pockets on the legs are just top-stitched rectangles with silver ripstop nylon on the the top edges.

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Audiobook + hand embroidery = best road trip I’ve had in ages.

I came up with the hat pattern using this tutorial, but I only used interfacing to stiffen the outer pieces. The 4 on the front is my first attempt at embroidery. Craftsy has a great video class on basic embroidery techniques. Hand embroidery very time consuming (the 4 took me about 3 hours, including a failed first attempt), so fortunately it was a nice way to pass time on recent Thanksgiving road trip. Still, the experience definitely convinced me to invest in an embroidery machine to make Lulu’s “lace” applique (among other things). I don’t think I have the patience to do all that nonsense by hand. I also lined the hat and trimmed it in ripstop nylon.

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A few miscellaneous details. TL: I made the belt by doubling the waistband piece and adding a few inches. TR: The snap was something I hadn’t done before. This tutorial was quite helpful. BL: I slip stitched the collar since there’s not a facing for this pattern. BR: Hat lining.

Thoughts on this costume: Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this costume. This wasn’t an overly difficult project, but it was a good chance to practice some skills.

Are any of you Lexx fans? Who’s your favorite character?