Sewing Techniques Applied to Costuming–with Anna He

Cosplay seems to be all the rage recently. And it is no surprise due to the rising popularity in main stream media, convention coverages, and easy to access information on techniques makes it easier than ever to get involved. Personally, I have been a sewist long before I started cosplaying. And the same trials and triumphs sewists experience are a common theme with cosplay.  Attempting that impossible seam for pattern match? Check!  Finding that exact color to match your taste? Check! What about using a none conventional material to achieve the body and drape we wanted? That’s practically what cosplay is about!

For those that are just starting, “cosplay” is a word combination of Costume and Play. It is a really fun and creative activity where fans dress up as their favorite character go to a special event like a convention, gatherings, or photoshoots.


Sewists are resourceful and have an impeccable capacity to learn and acquire new skills. These are the qualities that makes a sewist the perfect cosplayers. And believe me when I say, no matter how simple a cosplay looks to be, it is not. There will guarantee to be a hidden something that will challenge the perfectionist inside of us.  I remember when I was making the Sansa Stark (Game of Throne) cosplay, the sheer amount of drag on the dress meant I had to have a super strong support. And trying to make a supporting cage after the outter dress was already sewn up, a week before the convention, was every bit challenging as all the other sewings combined!

The process of cosplay is pretty magical. I have an endless bucket list of characters I want to cosplay. This coming year, I am focusing on Claire Fraser from Outlander TV series, White Mage from the Final Fantasy franchise, Triss Merigold from the Video game and book series The Witcher, and I am leaving enough room for one more surprise cosplay. Each project promises to be labor intensive and exciting as they will involve sewing fabrics, knitting, leatherworks, beading, cording, corsetry, embroidery and endless hours of seam ripping. It’s all worth it at the end when I don the latest projects and share the joy amongst those in my fandom. 

However, I always come back to this hobby. I personally love the fact that cosplay projects takes me out of ordinary sewing and basically re-polishes my interests in working with fancier techniques. Were it not for cosplay, I wouldn’t be working on anything remotely elaborate, such as gold lace trims, beads, embroidery, and gather brocade.

Cosplay is for everyone, it is not limited to any particular crowd. Whether you are just starting sewing and want to follow a pattern (there are plenty!) or an expert sewist who has experience in altering and creating patterns of your own – it promises to be a lot of experimentation and amusement. Whether you are making cosplay for yourself or someone else, there is nothing quite like it to put on a beautiful cosplay: the big reveal, the fantastical time that follows and just pure simple fun in wearing something you lovingly, and meticulously worked on.  I hope that fellow sewists will join me in the cosplay world. For now, I need to go back to the sewing room and tame a historically accurate petticoat–I hear it requires hand sewing!

Video transcript

About the author: Anna He is a costume designer and cosplay artist based out of Seattle. She has designed patterns for McCall and has worked for brands including Norma Kamali, Eileen Fisher, and Nordstrom. Get to know more about Anna and her work at Expo in her two class offerings:

·         #2806 Easy Grading Costuming Patterns to Best Fit Your Body – Saturday, March 3 at 10:30am

·         #3825 Advance Grading Costuming Patterns for Perfect Fit – Saturday March 3 at 2:00pm

Don’t let “costuming” scare you off from learning the basic concepts of grading a pattern! Regardless of what you are grading or altering, the method to achieve the best fitting garment is the same! If this sounds like it’s up your alley, be sure to register for the above classes.

ATTENTION COSPLAYERS! The Expo is offering a discounted admission ticket ($5) to anyone who shows their Emerald City Comic Con ticket at the gate as well as free entrance to the 2 Needle class “Simplicity Costumes: From Comic Page to Convention Floor!” held Sunday, March 4th at 10:30am. See you there!