Cosplay guests at conventions

January 29, 2019

Ok, so this isn’t a topic that I’m exactly the best to talk about, but it’s still something I just want to share my thoughts on. I’ve guested a few conventions, and I’ve got friends who are invited to guest as well, and there’s a thing I’ve noticed that really bugs me.

The way I see it, there’s two kinds of guests: The ones you invite just to be there and the ones you invite to do a job.

For the first one, I don’t think there’s huge expectations on either side: You give someone a ticket, they show up in cosplay. Other than that, it’s a pretty freeform guesting. The cosplayer gets free entrance, free promotion (mention on FB etc) and the choice to showcase whatever cosplay they’d want, and time for photoshoots etc. The event gets some eye candy/attraction to their event. No money are involved, so it’s pretty simple and low cost for the convention and low effort for the cosplayer.

Then there’s the other kind of guest: This is where you’re expected to host panels, wear specific cosplays, judge contests etc. For this, there are high expectations from the cosplayer: You should wear something impressive, not just whatever cosplay you feel like. There’s a lot of planning before (if panel) or many hours of work during the con (judging). It might seem like easy, fun work, but it’s actually quite exhausting. Some cosplays are downright painful to wear.
Of course, that’s all fine, if you pay the cosplayer for their time and work. Sadly in my experience, conventions feel that this is not something you pay for. And to many cosplayers, that’s actually still acceptable – most of us do this as a hobby, not a job.

The issue in my opinion, is when the convention has unreasonable demands AND still don’t cover all expenses for the person they invite. If I travel somewhere to do a job for which I also need to spend many hours preparing, I don’t expect to pay for the trip. I’m not asking for luxury hotels or first class plane rides, but a place to stay (that isn’t an air mattress in a busy area) and a way to get there (that doesn’t take me more than a day) is – I think – a reasonable price. Afterall, many cosplayers spend many hundred hours on their cosplays and also 100s of euros.

So if you’re a convention and you want to invite a guest, consider this. And if you’re asking your cosplayer to work for free and in heavy, uncomfortable cosplay, consider offering to bring a helper on your dime, too. When you think about what you’re getting in return, this is really not unreasonable.

Just some random thoughts from me 🙂

This Bernina was my 2nd serger/overlocker and actually the first (and only) brand new machine I have bought. It works quite good and it’s a bit less noisy than my old one, which is great. One thing I miss from my old machine: It doesn’t have free arm capabilities. I don’t follow rules when I sew, so I like to overlock on my sleeves when I’m making clothes, which is harder when you can’t fit the fabric around the machine, especially when making mistakes and accidentally stitching through wrong layers will ruin the whole project, because the machine cuts while sewing. But it’s a minor thing that I work around, and overall, I’m really pleased with the performance!

My next machine was a very fancy christmas gift from my dad:

Pfaff Creative Vision sewing /embroidery machine

I have wanted an embroidery machine for years, but they are both quite expensive (though, more and more affordable models are being released) and also I had no idea what to look for. I thought each machine had their own software, and so I thought it was also a thing to consider. But it turns out it’s not. And while embroidery software (to make your own designs) is a whole topic of it’s own, it turns out the machines are quite “simple”. This one functions both as a sewing machine and an embroidery machine, and I have used it for sewing a little bit, but for that purpose, my old one still does better – it has a more powerful engine. This machine struggles with e.g. webbing. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s a bit of a chore to convert it between sewing and embroidery (the attachment + foot + needle needs to be replaced, and different types of threads on upper-and lower thread), so I just use it as embroidery machine. And for that, it works great. It supports quite large hoops – up to 360 x 350 mm. (though biggest I have is 360 x 200 mm). The standard hoops that were included were plastic ones that work by squeezing fabric between inner and outer hoop and tightening it. But I fairly quickly upgraded to metal hoops with magnets, because I find it easier to align designs like that. It’s a preference thing. It’s a single colour machine, so you have to replace the thread after each colour. But I think it’s fine. Some projects require you to babysit it, while others you can just leave it alone. It depends both on the file, the fabric and the thread. There’s a lot to learn when embroidering, but it’s quite fun. I haven’t used it for cosplay yet, but most things that sit still long enough in our house gets embroidered.

The latest machine I bought is this one:
Brother Coverstitch CV3550 coverlock machine


This machine is quite limited in it’s use. It’s something inbetween an overlocker and a regular machine. It has one bottom looper, and up to 3 upper threads. And this version also has an extra thread that is kind of like an over-looper. If you have a t-shirt on, I’m pretty sure there’s an edge of folded fabric that is stitched with a coverlock. On the visible side, it’s usually 2 straight, parallel seam-lines and on the underside, it’ll be kind of looping around. That’s a coverstitch. I got this, because I enjoy making clothes for myself and my family, and it makes that a lot easier. But it’s overkill for most people and probably not that relevant for cosplay. I just felt like splurging a bit and buying myself something nice. I did buy it used, though, because I figured I would get one that had all the possible features (including free arm for easier sleeve stitching).

So that’s basically all the machines I have! I would like to add one honorable mention, though:

 Husqvarna 5710 sewing machine


This was my very first sewing machine! My grandmother had it before me, and it’s from somewhere between 1976-1982 (I don’t know exactly when) It was actually a nice machine, but when I first got into cosplay and realized it was something I wanted to do a lot, I wanted something a bit more quiet with more features. But this machine isn’t gone. My mother-in-law didn’t have a sewing machine, so I brought it to Lithuania and now she uses it for little repairs and such. It makes me happy to know that after all this time, it still has a purpose and it still works just fine. Those old Husqvarna machines are work horses, and if your budget is small, go look for this kind of machine. The machines that were made back then were so simple that they don’t break that easy, and they were made with quality materials, so they last forever. They may not have lots of fancy seams, but my first Druid cosplay was made mostly with this red machine.

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