Worksmanship 101

Come one, come all! Come watch the sewing spectacular, the costuming culmination and the themed theatrics! Welcome to the Masquerade.

So, Heroes of Cosplay aired last night. I haven’t had a chance to watch the episode just yet, (still no internets at the new place! Sadface,) though I will on the train ride this evening towards Colossal con. In the meantime I checked out what people were saying online.

Okay, there was only one review online, but it brought up an issue that I thought would be neat to examine. (Emphasis is mine)

Heroes of Cosplay second episode sends the group to compete at the Ottawa Pop Expo. This is a big show as it uses the International Costumers Guild Guidelines…. which I didn’t know even existed

There’s also the usual ‘you got ROBBED’ on Crabcat Industries’ facebook page, and while I haven’t seen the episode yet, I can totally understand why. I mean, it was super impressive on stage, and from where I watched it go by at my table.

But. It didn’t win Best in show, and the episode’s show runners didn’t choose to cover the Sunday award ceremony where the Skeksis won honourable mention for sculpting. Which, holy damn, did it  ever deserve.

Thranduil

Instead, this awesome guy did.

But. (again.) Ottawa Pop Expo’s masquerade evaluated stage performance and worksmanship equally, and while the Skeksis was totes awesome, no one on the HoC staff bothered to look up the ‘stage performance’ part of our masquerade rules… so none of them had music, or a skit prepped.

But that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s take a look at the ways that worksmanship varies across the different skill levels. I’ll follow up later this week with a post about what the skill levels actually mean to cosplayers and why and why not this is causing issues, and how skill levels in non ICG certified cons and ICG certified cons don’t line up. (It’s a long post! I’m still working on it.)

Calamity’s Worksmanship Rubric

Keep in mind, this is rough, and compiled from experience competing, talking to judges of various levels and picking their brains. Keep in mind that EVERY competition is influenced by the quality of entrants. A costume that loses at Anime North in Journeyman could potentially win Best in Class at a local Comic Con.

Special thanks to: Melting Mirror, Kurumasha, Detailed-Illusion, Sabrina V, Mai Sheri, Featherweight and all the other entrants who I’ve pestered with annoying questions.

Types of award

  • Best in Class
  • Best [item/skill]
  • Honourable Mention

 

Novice

Full Costume

2012. Year if the melty armor.

Who they are: Anyone who hasn’t won a Best [Item/skill] award of any kind.

What you need for a:

  • Best in Class
    • Worksmanship that  is a standout among Novice entrants
    • beyond skill expectations
    • equally good performance  
  • Best [item/skill]
    • Costume is complete
    • Costume is a good representation of the source material
    • Costume is sewn together well
    • Props
      • are made
    • using appropriate materials: heavier weight for a jacket, not shiny satin for anything not shiny
  • Honourable Mention
    • Costume is a fair representation of the source material
    • one skill/item is very well done, but the rest of the costume does not meet the worksmanship expectations

Avoid:

  • Safety pins, unless they are used to hold on ‘floating armor’
  • visible hot glue, visible glue of any kind, really
  • taping seams, gluing seams (iron-on seams are okay, but prob won’t net you a best in class)
  • Melting armor, or falling apart costume
  • shiny satan satin

 

Journeyman

Wizard - Diablo 3

2013: year of the NOT melty armor.

Who they are: Anyone who has won a Best [Item/skill] award of any kind.

What you need for a:

  • Best in Class
    • Worksmanship that  is a standout among Journeyman entrants
    • beyond skill expectations
    • equally good performance  
  • Best [item/skill]
    • Costume is complete
    • Costume is a good representation of the source material
    • Basic Sewing Techniques:
      • pressed seams
      • flat seams
      • pressed, few wrinkles
      • thread matches fabric
      • interfacing
    • Basic Prop techniques
      • exist, match quality of the costume
    • Basic Armor
      • Simple armor
      • painted details
    • use appropriate materials: 
      • heavier weight for a jacket, not shiny satin for anything not shiny
  • Honourable Mention
    • Costume is a fair representation of the source material
    • one skill/item is very well done, but the rest of the costume does not meet the worksmanship expectations

Avoid:

  • continuing on from Novice…
  • messy paint jobs
  • wrinkly bias tape
  • flaking paint
  • using store-bought items that are not shoes or accessories, unless you cut them up and use them as something else

 

Artisan*

*exists only in Canada.

Beetlebabe

Late 2013: interlining.

Who they are: Anyone who has won 3 or more Best [Item/skill] award s in Journeyman.

What you need for a:

  • Best in Class
    • Worksmanship that  is a standout among Artisan entrants
    • beyond skill expectations
    • equally good performance  
  • Best [item/skill]
    • Costume is fully complete
    • Costume is a very good representation of the source material
    • Intermediate Sewing Techniques:
      • finished seams
        • serged, rolled or zig-zagged
      • flat seams, few wrinkles or gathers
      • jackets, skirts, etc are lined
      • proper structure where required:
        • interfacing, boning, hoop skirts and petticoats
      • thread matches fabric
      • facings
      • tailoring
      • invisible hem
      • applique/embroidery
    • Intermediate Props
      • exist, match quality of the costume
      • scaled properly to the cosplayer
      • well constructed, might have electronic components (but not necessary)
    • Intermediate Armor
      • more complex armor, curved armor
      • raised/sculpted details if required by source
      • painted to match source material, weathered to make the details more prominent
    • Materials: 
      • leather/pleather, proper weighted fabrics for jackets, skirts, dress, etc
      • cardboard and duct tape okay for armor and props if it doesn’t look like cardboard and duct tape
  • Honourable Mention
    • one skill/item is very well done, but the rest of the costume does not meet the worksmanship expectations

Avoid:

  • continuing on from Journeyman…
  • too many details that aren’t well done, simple and awesome is better than lots of poop.
  • using a hoop skirt without a petticoat
  • off centre seams
  • lopsided hems
  • messy wigs

Master

baaaah

2014: French seams, complex curve armor, and custome patterns

Who they are: Anyone who has won 3 or more Best [Item/skill] awards in Artisan*.

*if canadian, otherwise, Journeyman

What you need for a:

  • Best in Class
    • Worksmanship that  is a standout among Master entrants
    • beyond skill expectations
    • equally good performance  
  • Best [item/skill]
    • Costume is 100% complete, 100% awesome
    • Costume is an exact representation of the source material
    • Advanced Sewing Techniques:
      • finished seams
        • french seams where required
        • no puckers
        • stitch ‘in the ditch’ where required
      • jackets, skirts, etc are lined well,
      • proper structure where required:
        • interfacing of the proper weight
        • boning
        • hoop skirts and petticoats
        • interlining
        • horsehair braid
      • facings
      • custom dyed fabric
      • (near) perfect tailoring
    • Advanced Props
      • scaled properly to the cosplayer
      • well constructed, might have electronic components (but not necessary)
      • detailed if required
    • Advanced Armor
      • more complex armor, complex curves if required
      • raised/sculpted details if required by source
      • painted to match source material, weathered to make the details more prominent
    • Materials: 
      • leather/pleather, proper weighted fabrics for jackets, skirts, dress, etc
      • cardboard and duct tape okay for armor and props if it doesn’t look like cardboard and duct tape
      • sturdy construction (as in it will not fall apart at the slightest breeze)
  • Honourable Mention
    • one skill/item is very well done, but the rest of the costume does not meet the worksmanship expectations

Avoid:

  • continuing on from Artisan…
  • puckered seams
  • crooked zippers
  • invisible zippers not installed correctly
  • messy wigs
  • unlined jackets if the inside is going to show, EVER
  • uneven pleats
  • loose threads

Again, this is just a loose rubric gathered from what I’ve absorbed over the last couple years, intended to help as a guideline. As always, judging is somewhat subjective.

hope this helped,

xox Calamity

7 thoughts on “Worksmanship 101

  1. It’s mainly that yes 😀
    So, even if you are the only one competing in a category, you still can win nothing if your costume was not up to the level you are competing in 🙂

    You forgot one thing for the master division : If 50% or more of your income came from the art (making costume, making clothes, making props…etc), you must enter in master division. ^_^

    The ICG levels are there to make sure that beginers do not go against experts (peoples who are doing costumes for years), unless they want to.

    Because you can alway enter a category higher that the one you are in. But if you win a best of prize or a best in class in that category, you can never go back a level ^_^
    * Even if you did not win a award for a long period of time (Someone was saying that lie is a convention last year… it was funny 😛 )

    * And in Canada, they are no money prizes. We win ribbons! 😀 Shiny!!! (some time they have goodies, but it’s never money like you see in Heroes of cosplay)
    So it’s only the fun to do the competitions, meeting awesome peoples and be recognise if you do a good job!
    And it’s awesome!!! >_<

  2. this is really useful! I so wish we used a fourth category here in the US. I’ve been stuck in Journeyman for two/three years now because Journeyman is always so bloated with entries, it’s difficult to win and move up to masters. Technically /anyone/ can enter masters, but I don’t feel right doing so until I win the proper Journeyman awards. I also don’t feel I’m quite at master level, but I feel I am slightly better than Journeyman… oh well. It does boost my confidence that I avoid just about everything you say to avoid (sometimes I still have issues with puckery seams). this is a really handy guide and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

  3. Reblogged this on WELCOME TO THE LULUBLOG and commented:
    This is a really excellent guide to help you assess what competition level you best fall into. It’s subjective, but it’s written from someone who knows both sides of the judging table very well so it’s worth a read for anyone who isn’t a masquerade veteran.

  4. Hello,
    I am currently making a fancy dreamer roxy. To achieve the dress I hade to use teffeta and a shiny brocade. Would these be considered as shiny as satin? Would I get points off for useing them?

      1. Hi, I’m not familiar with the costume itself, but a lot of what I say on the blog has the unwritten caveat of ‘but ultimately it’s up to you’. By shiny I was referring to mirror satin, or the cheaper ‘costume’ satin that feels like plastic. It’s not that you can’t work with it, but generally doing so takes a longer period of time to get the fabric to look the way you’d like it. Taffeta in general is wonderful and crisp to work with, and brocade can fray pretty easily but if you take your time and make sure that the seams line flat you should be fine 🙂

      2. Thanks! I’m fairly new to the cosplay community. I basically picked a random and cheap fabric to work with for this cosplay. I didn’t want it looking like some kind of reflector. Thanks again!

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