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Ask Ani-Mia: Cons, Cosplay, and Fabric

This week's advice column including how to explain cosplay to family and friends, finding the right fabric online, and more!

Ask Ani-Mia

Hey there cosplayers and cosplay enthusiasts. Welcome to Ask Ani-Mia, a running advice column where you can ask questions on any topic that may be cosplay related and get an answer. Hopefully my years of cosplay experience can help shed some light on questions you may have been dying to ask but for some reason or another haven’t. So let’s get started.

Hi Ani-Mia, How do you explain cosplaying to family members that don’t get it? My mom and dad are kinda supportive and have even gone to a con with me but my aunt and uncle came to visit and they didn’t know how to explain it to them and I got uncomfortable thinking they’d judge me. – Anonymous

First, that’s awesome that you have support from your immediate family. That’s always the best and gives you and your parents something you can bond over, even if they may only be mildly interested in cosplay or convention life.

Sometimes explaining cosplay can be a little difficult as some people don’t understand geek culture, especially in professional settings. When I was working in a corporate environment and cosplaying, there were some coworkers that understood a little about conventions which made it easier but for others, it was sometimes easier to say that I was a costume designer who liked to make costumes based on comic book, tv and movie characters. Most of the time this would get them interested in the idea and open to hearing more.

Now, when people want a more indepth answer or want to know exactly what cosplaying is, I explain to them that it’s showing how much you enjoy a character or source material and show this passion by dressing up as a character. In fact, it’s not much different than sports fans who dress up for games or fashionistas who dress in their favorite designers. When you really love something, sometimes you just want to show it to the world. Cosplay is just our way.

Dear Ani-Mia, Once conventions start back up again some friends and I was to share a hotel room for the weekend for the con. How do you manage four people in a room when at least 3 people will be cosplaying and probably with armor? I’ve heard a lot of horror stories. – Julie T

Rooming with friends for a convention can make the weekend a whole lot more fun, but there is the risk that something could go wrong. Sometimes sticking a bunch of different personalities in a small space can cause conflicts but it helps to plan ahead and clearly outline some room rules.

You may want to set ground rules about having guests in the room, who gets room keys if they are limited, how to contact one another, keeping the room clean and even making sure everyone gets the time they need to use the bathroom for showering and getting ready. When rooming with cosplayers, the two biggest issues are usually space and timing.

Make sure each person has a spot in the room that is theirs for putting their suitcases and cosplays. Think about keeping more delicate items, especially foam armor, in the closet so they are out of the way. Utilize all the space you can by using the dressers to hold things and even putting smaller suitcases inside empty larger ones to condense space. Each person is responsible for keeping their area clean and organized to maximize space for everyone.

For the bathroom, sit down before the weekend starts to find out when everyone needs to get ready by and figure out a schedule. There is usually a mirror in the bathroom and one in the hallway so you can potentially get 2-3 cosplayers in front of a mirror to get ready at the same time.

Make sure to coordinate with your roommates when you all arrive in the room and continue to communicate over the weekend to prevent any issues that may arise that you didn’t plan for. Above all, have fun together and take care of each other.

Hi Ani-Mia, I live kinda far from any fabric stores and even the closest one is a really small JoAnns that doesn’t have the best options. Where can I find fabric online? I’m scared of spending a bunch of money and not getting what I really want.

Trying to find the right fabric for a cosplay project is already difficult; but not having on hand resources can make things even harder. While there are a slew of websites selling various fabrics, the first thing you want to know is what kind of fabric you are really looking for. Get familiar with the differences between fabrics like satin, spandex, georgette, brocades and more. Knowing different fabric types can help you add depth and richness to your cosplay fabric choices.

Every type of fabric has a range of weights and stretch. The way you want the fabric to sit or flow will be as important to know as which type of fabric you want to use. For example, a heavier weight silk will have less flow and movement than a lighter one and fabrics like spandex can range from very little stretch to 4 way stretch.

Once you’ve determined the type of fabric, weight and stretch you are looking for, make sure to order swatches. It’s a small additional cost but can save you time and money in avoiding purchasing the wrong fabric by having a physical piece to play with. I actually keep all my swatches organized and labeled with the store name so if I need something similar for another project in the future, I have a sample on hand.

As for online stores, try: cosplayfabricsinternational.com, moodfabrics.com, spandexhouse.com and fabric.com

If you have a question that you’d like to have answered, feel free to send it to askanimia@gmail.com. Make sure to include your first name and last initial or let us know if you’d like to mark the question as “From Anonymous”

About the Author
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Ani-Mia has been cosplaying since 2008 and her love for video games, comic books and anime are reflected in her wide variety of cosplay costumes. She has been a cosplay guest at over 150 conventions across the globe as well as judged championship cosplay contests, appeared in both online and print magazines as well as television appearances. She’s also the Cosplay Writer for Otaku USA Magazine, the premiere print magazine about anime and manga in the United States, and an official video host for PreviewsWorld catalog and Sapphire Studios.