So, we’re all awesome folks but sometimes the desire comes to a cosplayer to grow our skills. Google-fu is a way of cosplay life and while many of us have grown proficient at it over our years of working on costumes, there’s a lot of content out there that isn’t deeply helpful. Talking with a friend ( Evabee! ) about sewing resources compared to worbla and armor stuff, I realised that while I’ve got quite a collection of resources for sewing skills others might not know where to look.
So here we are! Knowledge transfer via blog post because telepathy hasn’t been introduced yet.
Yes like the paper kind. While some books are available in e-format (PDF, eReader friendly etc) sometimes there’s nothing like holding a physical copy of knowledge in your hands. Books smell good, and sometimes the really great reference books are only in physical copies.
I’m going to separate this into sort-of categories…
Draping – Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design
By Annette Duburg and Rix van der Tol
Image from Center for Pattern Design
This. Fuckin. Book. Oh my god. This book. The moment I found it in the library I fell in love with it. Immediately I started looking online for where to buy it. I can’t overemphasize how much this book has helped me improve patterning skills. It single-handedly taught me how to drape patterns, and covers a range of eras and techniques.
Available on centerforpatterndesign.com
The Pattern Making Primer: All You Need to Know About Designing, Adapting, and Customizing Sewing Patterns
By Jo Barnfield
I’m still reading through this one but while Draping –Art and Craftsmanship covers everything I need to know to make most garments via draping, this book is a leaping off point for learning how to draft flat patterns instead of a comprehensive guide for all patterns forever. (We can’t all be D-A&C)
Pattern Magic Series
by Tomoko Nakamichi
I don’t own this book series, but I did find reading through this series and the similar Drape Drape (Hisako Sato, Image below) and Shape Shape (Natsuno Hiraiwa, Image below)books by to help me understand how fabric actually works.
These books are definitely worth looking into if you’re proficient with intermediate patterns and want to look into doing interesting structural things like make fabric-armor, or play with the properties of different fabrics.
Drape Drape is also available on Amazon
So is Shape Shape!
Patternmaking for Menswear
by Gareth Kershaw
Okay, while most of the readers of this blog are ladies (based on my current responses to the Questionnaire), there are some men type folks. And let’s be honest, men’s bodies are weird, they’re all straight lines and stuff. Their clothes reflect that, and this is a good reference for looking at how men’s patterns and clothes is patterned. Whether you’re a guy, dressing as one or somewhere in between, this might be worth looking at if you can find it at your local library.
Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised and Updated
By Claire B. Shaeffer
While Cosplay isn’t necessarily couture, some of the techniques int his book are very helpful to learn how to do fiddly bits of costumes right. That means beading that won’t fall off, zippers that are truly invisible, pockets that work but aren’t painfully obvious, etc. Couture takes time, but if you know how and where to apply it, it can turn your costume into a real work of art.
The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting
by Sarah Veblen
For people that are intermediate sewists who are used to using patterns but routinely aren’t happy with how the garments fit… this might be something worth looking into. Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and a garment that fits you correctly will look a million times better than one that doesn’t. This not only describes how to tailor clothing correctly it also SHOWS YOU.
The Art of Manipulating Fabric
by Colette Wolff
With the advent of Game of Thrones, the costplay world was introduced to fabric manipulation and embroidery. Dany’s dragonscale dress to the gathered pleats of Dornish dresses, I wondered for a while where I could find a reference for how to make these and other textures using fabric. Because lord knows you can’t just buy dragonscale fabric, yet. *looks at cosplay fabrics* COUGHhintCOUGH. Anyways, definitely worth a look if you’re into textures and wonderful things.
The History of Underclothes (Dover Fashion and Costumes)
by C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington
What’s the difference between a ballgown that floats and one that wobbles? The undergarments. Avoiding the lampshade effect (visible hoops) is key. Getting the shape of historical and fantastical garments starts at the bottom and works out.
Janet Arnold’s Books
Just ANYTHING. But keep in mind these patterns are made without allowances if I remember right so be sure to do a mockup.
Free-Form Embroidery with Judith Baker Montano: Transforming Traditional Stitches into Fiber Art
by Judith Baker Montano
Unnnnf. Dat embroidery yo. Seriously though, I plan one day to do a simple dress and embroider the shit out of it. It’s going to be so heavy.
I’m just going to let the images talk for itself on this one. Warning: Gifs!
Hope all these references helped ❤ see you soon!