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Ask Ani-Mia: Patterning, Preparing for Competitions, and Cosplay Names

This week's advice tackles how to pattern simple shirts and pants, creating your own cosplay name, 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, Is there an easy way to make patterns for basic shirts and pants so I don’t have to buy one? – Joe G

Actually, you have the perfect patterns already sitting in your closet. Find your favorite pair of pants or shirt, the ones you think fit you the best. Lay those out on a large piece of butcher paper, newspaper or you can tape single sheets of paper together. A basic pair of pants is easy to trace but for a shirt, you are going to want to create sleeves.

So when tracing the outline of the shirt, you want to create a pattern for the vest part and the sleeves. For the vest, trace where the sleeves connect to the shirt by lifting it a little or moving it aside; however you need to trace that curve. The best way to get the sleeve pattern is to use a shirt you don’t mind cutting the sleeve off and opening up to create a pattern with. It’s ok that they aren’t from the same garment because this is all to create the initial pattern that we will adjust.

Now get some cheap material and use that to create a shirt or pair of pants based on the patterns you created. Once you’ve sewn it together, you can put it on and see what adjustments have to be made to get it to where you are happy with the fit. When you are finally happy with it…cut it apart. This is now the fabric version of your perfect basic shirt or pant pattern. If you want a sturdier pattern to use over and over, you can then trace this onto paper and store it away for later use.

Hi Ani-Mia, How long do I need to prepare before a cosplay competition? Making the cosplay included. – Jorge R.

There’s really no set amount of time since it can depend on the difficulty of the cosplay, the amount of time you have to work on it and the speed at which you are able to work. A simple piece of armor, for example, can take days to complete simply because of drying times with glue, paint, gesso and other smoothing agents.

You’ll want to give yourself the first few days for research and supply ordering. Keep shipping times in mind if you have to order supplies online as this can delay you if you need something in order to keep progressing. Determine a plan of action for making the cosplay and try to keep to a schedule. Look for ways to be efficient with your time like working on other parts of a cosplay while one part is drying.

If you are working towards entering a cosplay competition, don’t forget to take photos of your progress as you work since these can be useful to show to judges. Outside of making the cosplay, any other preparation will involve testing your cosplay, preparing your progress photos to show to judges and rehearsing how to want to walk out on stage or a skit if you are performing one.

Always give yourself more time than you think though, because life likes to throw stuff at you constantly which might make you have to adjust your timeline.

Hi Ani-Mia, How did you get your cosplay name and can you help me with creating one? - Anonymous

My cosplay name actually came from a coworker of mine at an old job. We were the only two people in a corporate company of about 35 people who watched anime; which made us instantly best friends. One day she combined my name, Mia, with the word “anime” and the name just stuck.

Coincidentally, she was the first person to tell me about anime conventions which led me to cosplaying. Years later, I was creating my cosplay page on FB and asked her if I could use the old nickname she gave me and Ani-Mia was born.

Creating a cosplay name is something you should definitely think a lot on and make it mean something to you. You want your name to reflect you. This is a name that you are going to be going by and answering to for a long time, so make sure you pick one you are happy with and will withstand the test of time. Fad or meme names can be fun, but you may end up wanting to change your cosplay name after a few years if the allure wears off.

Finally, make sure you do a thorough search online to make sure no one else has the same name. Congrats, you have your cosplay name.

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
Ani-Mia avatar



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.