Using Varying Needle Art Specialties to Create Three-Dimensional Cosplays

Cosplay broadened my horizons about what can be achieve through needle art. By nature, cosplay is a very three-dimensional hobby. The bigger your dreams are, the further you must reach into the craft to execute various aspects of art from. I have always been a sewist, but because of cosplay, I have ventured into the realms of making hats, shoes, armors, wig fashioning, aging fabrics, and endless explorations into makeup art. This article will be mostly based on what we can do to push the boundaries of our sewing/embroidery machine.

One of the biggest challenges in remaining faithful to the original cosplay concept is the unique and often obscure fabrics, trims, and embellishments that the artists designed for the character. My usual way of thinking is to work through with traditional hand or machine embroidery. If it is a specialty techy fabric, I also consider getting the fabric printed or creating freestanding lace. For example, I made several earrings and necklace from the set of freestanding lace.

An embroidery machine’s ability to stitch out freestanding lace allows for gorgeous raised surface details as well as freestanding components for your costuming needs. Whether you want to design your own or buy a design online, I have found a few useful tips on embroidering and would love to share with you.

  1. Use a strong water- soluble stabilizer that keeps stitches aligned. This ensures that the stitches lock together to form the structure and hold.
  2. Use 30-40 weight cotton thread whenever possible. Cotton has a lot of unique qualities that can stabilize stitches together and form structure. This is essential in forming freestanding lace.
  3. Use variegated threads to achieve different looks. Use dye to achieve a specific color pattern or to add dimension to the design. You’ll be surprised when you realize the different effects this can achieve!

While making armor and such, you probably wouldn’t think of using fabric to execute a stiff design. But there are ways to ensure sure these kinds of creative expressions are possible. For example, this set of arm bracers is made of 100% sewable fabric.

The reinforcing substrate that I used is felt and thick stabilizer. The raised detail is a combination of freestanding lace and a 3D embroidery with 3MM puff foam.

The materials are:

Try it for yourself by downloading the Bracer Pattern. Watch the video below for the full process.

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  Join Anna in classes #3930 & 3931 for more great techniques regardless of whether or not you’re a cosplayer or sewing for everyday wear! 


Leave a Reply