Cosplay101

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Hello there cosbunnies! I’m sorry I’ve left you for so long, but life crept up on me and held me captive in a cave for some time. But now I’m free and ready to continue with a run down of some of the stitches that will be useful for the sewing of costumes. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?
First, though, since this post will be about hand stitching, I’m going to explain how to thread a hand needle. For help on choosing the right needle for your project, here’s the supply post which contains all the information on hand needles. For help with the thread, here’s a handy link about that too! 
Got your needle and thread? Great! Let’s get started:
Cut a length of thread for you to sew with. I would suggest not making it too long or else it will get tangles as you sew, but too short and you’ll run out before you’re done. It’s okay if that happens though, you can just keep going with another thread!
Hold the needle by the bottom, leaving the “eye”, or the part with the hole, exposed so you can get the thread through it. It might help to have a light source behind the needle so you can see what you’re doing more easily.
Poke one end of your thread through the eye of the needle. If the thread splits, you may need to either wet it with your tongue to keep it together or just cut off the end and try again. 
Pull about 3/4 of the thread through the eye. If you’re doubling up your thread, only pull half through so each tail is the same length.
Tie a knot at the end of your thread! I do this by wrapping the end around my finger and rolling the loop so that the tail gets wrapped into the loop I’ve made around my finger. If you’re doubling your thread, the idea is the same, just do it with both ends at once.
And now that your thread is on your needle, we can start talking about what you can do with it!
Hand stitches
Running stitch - This is the most basic of the basic stitches. To make a running stitch, secure the thread to the wrong side of your fabric (that is, the side you don’t want showing when your project is done) and simply poke the needle up through the fabric, then back down a little further on. Repeat until the end of your seam. (A seam is the word for the area where two or more pieces of fabric are sewn together, by the way) When you get to the end, you’ll need to secure your thread with a…
Double stitch - Basically all a double stitch is, is a running stitch done over itself again to secure the thread to the fabric. 
Back stitch - If you don’t happen to have a sewing machine, this is going to be the stitch you use to sew your costume together as it’s stronger than a running stitch, but you can also use it decoratively if you choose. A back stitch is similar to a running stitch save for instead of only moving the needle further on as sewing, you actually go backwards at some points. After completing one stitch (down through the top, then up through the bottom further on), bring the needle back down through the top at the end of the last visible stitch, creating a contiguous line. When you bring the needle back up again, have it come up further on again, leaving enough room to again bring the needle down at the end of the stitch you just made. Continue to the end. (The picture will probably help more than my description, lol) A very small backstitch is called a prick stitch and leaves very little thread visible on the fashion side of the fabric, making the prick stitch excellent for hand sewing zippers. 
Blanket or buttonhole stitch - This stitch is really useful. If you’re making a blanket, it’s a nice way to finish the edges, but in cosplay you’d be using it for buttonholes if you don’t have a sewing machine. To do a blanket stitch, secure your thread and bring the needle through the edge of the fabric. Once it’s through, bring it through again from the same side you did before but further on. As the needle comes out the edge, have it come out through the loop you created with your previous stitch. Pull it taught, but not too tight or your fabric will pucker, and repeat at even intervals. For blankets these stitches should be a decent length apart but for buttonholes they should be right up close and friendly with each other.
Hemming - While visible stitching is okay if you want the contrast, hemming a garment properly will keep any of your finishing stitches from being visible. This is great for the bottom of pant legs, skirts, and sleeves where you don’t necessarily want the thread to show. Fold the edge of the fabric over twice so the raw edge is encased inside the fold. Using a small, slanted stitch, pick up only a few threads from the fabric weave to slide your needle through from the front and then slide the needle through the fold, securing the two together. Repeat along the fold, never running the needle through too much of the fashion side of the fabric so that the thread isn’t visible on the outside.
Slip stitch - This is what I usually use for hemming, since the end result leave the thread hardly visible to either side. Fold the fabric for your hem like you would a hemming stitch, but instead of slanted stitches, slide the needle through only two or three threads on either side, between the folded edge and the fashion fabric (see image). 
Ladder stitch - This is really only a repair stitch (or for sewing up plushies) but it’s a very important one. From the front side of the fabric take very small stitches back and forth across the opening, weaving the two edges together and leaving the thread invisible. 
Overcasting - If your fabric is prone to fraying (that is, unraveling when cut) then overcasting is your best buddy. This is basically what overlock machines are for, but you can do it by hand too! All you need to do is slide the needle around the edge of the fabric, all entering in the same direction as it continues down the edge. The worse the fabric frays, the closer together your stitches need to be.
Gathering and easing - This is really just a fancy way of using a running stitch to control the fullness of your fabric. Pull on the loose end of the thread (not too hard! Don’t break it!) after putting in some long running stitches to gather the fabric to the desired length. This is how you create ruffles! Using two or more lines of stitches for gathering is called gauging and it’s normally used for attaching sleeves to armholes, cuffs, or waistbands. This can also be used for smocking (gathering fabric so it can stretch) but unless you’re doing couture or period sewing, elastic is much easier.
Herringbone stitch - If you find yourself having to hand sew stretch fabric layers together, this is the stitch for you! It’s used for this purpose because the stitches can stretch along with he fabric. I’m going to let the image tell you how to do this one, though, since it’s quite difficult to explain in simple text.
Basting - If you’re working with wide-weave fabric or just can’t find any pins, basting is a temporary, very long running stitch used to hold pieces of fabric together until they can be sewn more permanently, then the basting thread is removed. If you’re working with a patterned fabric that needs to match, using slip basting (basically a long slip stitch) to keep the pattern matched and in place while you sew, is incredibly useful. Diagonal basting is used when you need to sew layers of fabric together and can’t have them move while you do it. It’s especially useful for non-fusible interfacing (something I’ll explain later) and is removed after the garment is sewn.
Pad stitching - Though it looks like diagonal basting, pad stitching is a tailoring stitch used to attach interfacing to collars and lapels. Unlike diagonal basting, this is a permanent stitch and is never seen from the visible side of the garment. Unless you’re getting into advanced tailoring, though, you shouldn’t end up using this.
French tack - This is a thread bar that loosely joins two pieces of fabric. It’s usually used to hold lining and coat or skirt fabric together at the hem without restricting it’s movement. Sew two or three long bits of thread from the edge of one hem to the other, and then wind a buttonhole stitch around them until the whole bar is covered.
Bar tack - A bar tack is a decorative reinforcement you use when a part of the garment will be under stress, like the edges of buttonholes, zippers, and pockets. It is sewn similar to a French tack, only on the surface of the fabric and then covered by a row of small, close together stitches instead of a buttonhole stitch.
There are many more decorative stitches as well, but these are the construction ones that are good to know. Next time I’ll cover what your machine can do! Keep sewing, cosbunnies!

Hello there cosbunnies! I’m sorry I’ve left you for so long, but life crept up on me and held me captive in a cave for some time. But now I’m free and ready to continue with a run down of some of the stitches that will be useful for the sewing of costumes. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?

First, though, since this post will be about hand stitching, I’m going to explain how to thread a hand needle. For help on choosing the right needle for your project, here’s the supply post which contains all the information on hand needles. For help with the thread, here’s a handy link about that too! 

Got your needle and thread? Great! Let’s get started:

  1. Cut a length of thread for you to sew with. I would suggest not making it too long or else it will get tangles as you sew, but too short and you’ll run out before you’re done. It’s okay if that happens though, you can just keep going with another thread!
  2. Hold the needle by the bottom, leaving the “eye”, or the part with the hole, exposed so you can get the thread through it. It might help to have a light source behind the needle so you can see what you’re doing more easily.
  3. Poke one end of your thread through the eye of the needle. If the thread splits, you may need to either wet it with your tongue to keep it together or just cut off the end and try again. 
  4. Pull about 3/4 of the thread through the eye. If you’re doubling up your thread, only pull half through so each tail is the same length.
  5. Tie a knot at the end of your thread! I do this by wrapping the end around my finger and rolling the loop so that the tail gets wrapped into the loop I’ve made around my finger. If you’re doubling your thread, the idea is the same, just do it with both ends at once.

And now that your thread is on your needle, we can start talking about what you can do with it!

Hand stitches

  • Running stitch - This is the most basic of the basic stitches. To make a running stitch, secure the thread to the wrong side of your fabric (that is, the side you don’t want showing when your project is done) and simply poke the needle up through the fabric, then back down a little further on. Repeat until the end of your seam. (A seam is the word for the area where two or more pieces of fabric are sewn together, by the way) When you get to the end, you’ll need to secure your thread with a…
  • Double stitch - Basically all a double stitch is, is a running stitch done over itself again to secure the thread to the fabric. 
  • Back stitch - If you don’t happen to have a sewing machine, this is going to be the stitch you use to sew your costume together as it’s stronger than a running stitch, but you can also use it decoratively if you choose. A back stitch is similar to a running stitch save for instead of only moving the needle further on as sewing, you actually go backwards at some points. After completing one stitch (down through the top, then up through the bottom further on), bring the needle back down through the top at the end of the last visible stitch, creating a contiguous line. When you bring the needle back up again, have it come up further on again, leaving enough room to again bring the needle down at the end of the stitch you just made. Continue to the end. (The picture will probably help more than my description, lol) A very small backstitch is called a prick stitch and leaves very little thread visible on the fashion side of the fabric, making the prick stitch excellent for hand sewing zippers. 
  • Blanket or buttonhole stitch - This stitch is really useful. If you’re making a blanket, it’s a nice way to finish the edges, but in cosplay you’d be using it for buttonholes if you don’t have a sewing machine. To do a blanket stitch, secure your thread and bring the needle through the edge of the fabric. Once it’s through, bring it through again from the same side you did before but further on. As the needle comes out the edge, have it come out through the loop you created with your previous stitch. Pull it taught, but not too tight or your fabric will pucker, and repeat at even intervals. For blankets these stitches should be a decent length apart but for buttonholes they should be right up close and friendly with each other.
  • Hemming - While visible stitching is okay if you want the contrast, hemming a garment properly will keep any of your finishing stitches from being visible. This is great for the bottom of pant legs, skirts, and sleeves where you don’t necessarily want the thread to show. Fold the edge of the fabric over twice so the raw edge is encased inside the fold. Using a small, slanted stitch, pick up only a few threads from the fabric weave to slide your needle through from the front and then slide the needle through the fold, securing the two together. Repeat along the fold, never running the needle through too much of the fashion side of the fabric so that the thread isn’t visible on the outside.
  • Slip stitch - This is what I usually use for hemming, since the end result leave the thread hardly visible to either side. Fold the fabric for your hem like you would a hemming stitch, but instead of slanted stitches, slide the needle through only two or three threads on either side, between the folded edge and the fashion fabric (see image). 
  • Ladder stitch - This is really only a repair stitch (or for sewing up plushies) but it’s a very important one. From the front side of the fabric take very small stitches back and forth across the opening, weaving the two edges together and leaving the thread invisible. 
  • Overcasting - If your fabric is prone to fraying (that is, unraveling when cut) then overcasting is your best buddy. This is basically what overlock machines are for, but you can do it by hand too! All you need to do is slide the needle around the edge of the fabric, all entering in the same direction as it continues down the edge. The worse the fabric frays, the closer together your stitches need to be.
  • Gathering and easing - This is really just a fancy way of using a running stitch to control the fullness of your fabric. Pull on the loose end of the thread (not too hard! Don’t break it!) after putting in some long running stitches to gather the fabric to the desired length. This is how you create ruffles! Using two or more lines of stitches for gathering is called gauging and it’s normally used for attaching sleeves to armholes, cuffs, or waistbands. This can also be used for smocking (gathering fabric so it can stretch) but unless you’re doing couture or period sewing, elastic is much easier.
  • Herringbone stitch - If you find yourself having to hand sew stretch fabric layers together, this is the stitch for you! It’s used for this purpose because the stitches can stretch along with he fabric. I’m going to let the image tell you how to do this one, though, since it’s quite difficult to explain in simple text.
  • Basting - If you’re working with wide-weave fabric or just can’t find any pins, basting is a temporary, very long running stitch used to hold pieces of fabric together until they can be sewn more permanently, then the basting thread is removed. If you’re working with a patterned fabric that needs to match, using slip basting (basically a long slip stitch) to keep the pattern matched and in place while you sew, is incredibly useful. Diagonal basting is used when you need to sew layers of fabric together and can’t have them move while you do it. It’s especially useful for non-fusible interfacing (something I’ll explain later) and is removed after the garment is sewn.
  • Pad stitching - Though it looks like diagonal basting, pad stitching is a tailoring stitch used to attach interfacing to collars and lapels. Unlike diagonal basting, this is a permanent stitch and is never seen from the visible side of the garment. Unless you’re getting into advanced tailoring, though, you shouldn’t end up using this.
  • French tack - This is a thread bar that loosely joins two pieces of fabric. It’s usually used to hold lining and coat or skirt fabric together at the hem without restricting it’s movement. Sew two or three long bits of thread from the edge of one hem to the other, and then wind a buttonhole stitch around them until the whole bar is covered.
  • Bar tack - A bar tack is a decorative reinforcement you use when a part of the garment will be under stress, like the edges of buttonholes, zippers, and pockets. It is sewn similar to a French tack, only on the surface of the fabric and then covered by a row of small, close together stitches instead of a buttonhole stitch.

There are many more decorative stitches as well, but these are the construction ones that are good to know. Next time I’ll cover what your machine can do! Keep sewing, cosbunnies!

Filed under sewing basics stitches hand sewing

73 notes

Hello again cosbunnies! Today I’m going to be explaining about different kinds of sewing thread, so let’s just jump right into it.
Types of thread
General-purpose thread - This is what you’ll be using for most everything. General-purpose thread is spun from either cotton or polyester or some combination of both. They come in various sized spools and even large cones for use with overlock machines.
Silk thread - Silk thread is shinier than cotton thread but much more expensive than general, so I would suggest using a polyester thread since that material has a sheen to it too. If you do decide to use it though, it’s mostly for sewing natural fabrics like silk and wool. It is much easier to handle for hand sewing though, as it doesn’t tend to knot.
Machine Embroidery Floss - This type of thread is made from high-sheen synthetics (polyester or rayon), though it also comes in natural fibers for a matte, textured look. It’s used for embroidery machines and decorative machine stitching.
Hand Embroidery Floss - These come in several different types but the most commonly found at retailers is is twisted pearl cotton. Generally this is used ror hand embroidery and detailing because it’s too thick to be threaded through any sewing machines, though it can be threaded through an overlock for decorative hemming or wound into a bobbin of a standard sewing machine. If you use a bobbin like that and sew the garment upside-down so the bobbin thread is on the fashion side of the fabric, it will give the garment bolder stitching on the outside when finished. 
Metallic thread - Metallics can be used in both machines and for hand sewing but you need to sew much slower and steadier as the thread tends to shred or break if it gets too much friction. Try a needle with a larger eye to help prevent this.
Wooly Nylon thread - These huge cones (though it comes smaller) are made specifically for sergers, but only for the looper threads, since it’s too thick to fit through the needle.
Bobbin fill - Unless you have an embroidery machine there’s no real need to purchase this thread since general purpose works for sewing machines. This is just fine-woven thread used to reduce the bulk of embroidery stitching on the wrong side of the fabric.
Basting thread - Since basting is a temporary stitch, the thread used for it is weaker than standard thread and it doesn’t damage fabric when it’s pulled out.
Top Stitch thread - If you own any pair of jeans, you’ve seen top stitch thread in action. Its a thick, strong thread that you can also use for button holes, sewing on buttons, and other general hand sewing. When you use it in a machine, you need to make sure you use a top stitch needle with a larger eye and general-purpose thread in the bobbin.
When you’re choosing thread, try and choose a thread that has a similar texture to your fabric, like cotton thread for cotton or linen, silk for silk or wool, polyester for synthetics, etc. You also need to take the color of your project into account, so bring a swatch (a little piece of your fabric) with you to the store to match the color or, if you’re looking for a contrast, to make sure the colors work well together.
And that’s it for now! I’ll be heading to Kansas to visit my waifu the day after next, but I’ll try and start my first in a series of posts about different stitches tomorrow or in a few days. And remember, you can always still ask questions! I have a nifty tumblr app on my phone and I can answer on the go~
Happy sewing!

Hello again cosbunnies! Today I’m going to be explaining about different kinds of sewing thread, so let’s just jump right into it.

Types of thread

  • General-purpose thread - This is what you’ll be using for most everything. General-purpose thread is spun from either cotton or polyester or some combination of both. They come in various sized spools and even large cones for use with overlock machines.
  • Silk thread - Silk thread is shinier than cotton thread but much more expensive than general, so I would suggest using a polyester thread since that material has a sheen to it too. If you do decide to use it though, it’s mostly for sewing natural fabrics like silk and wool. It is much easier to handle for hand sewing though, as it doesn’t tend to knot.
  • Machine Embroidery Floss - This type of thread is made from high-sheen synthetics (polyester or rayon), though it also comes in natural fibers for a matte, textured look. It’s used for embroidery machines and decorative machine stitching.
  • Hand Embroidery Floss - These come in several different types but the most commonly found at retailers is is twisted pearl cotton. Generally this is used ror hand embroidery and detailing because it’s too thick to be threaded through any sewing machines, though it can be threaded through an overlock for decorative hemming or wound into a bobbin of a standard sewing machine. If you use a bobbin like that and sew the garment upside-down so the bobbin thread is on the fashion side of the fabric, it will give the garment bolder stitching on the outside when finished. 
  • Metallic thread - Metallics can be used in both machines and for hand sewing but you need to sew much slower and steadier as the thread tends to shred or break if it gets too much friction. Try a needle with a larger eye to help prevent this.
  • Wooly Nylon thread - These huge cones (though it comes smaller) are made specifically for sergers, but only for the looper threads, since it’s too thick to fit through the needle.
  • Bobbin fill - Unless you have an embroidery machine there’s no real need to purchase this thread since general purpose works for sewing machines. This is just fine-woven thread used to reduce the bulk of embroidery stitching on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • Basting thread - Since basting is a temporary stitch, the thread used for it is weaker than standard thread and it doesn’t damage fabric when it’s pulled out.
  • Top Stitch thread - If you own any pair of jeans, you’ve seen top stitch thread in action. Its a thick, strong thread that you can also use for button holes, sewing on buttons, and other general hand sewing. When you use it in a machine, you need to make sure you use a top stitch needle with a larger eye and general-purpose thread in the bobbin.

When you’re choosing thread, try and choose a thread that has a similar texture to your fabric, like cotton thread for cotton or linen, silk for silk or wool, polyester for synthetics, etc. You also need to take the color of your project into account, so bring a swatch (a little piece of your fabric) with you to the store to match the color or, if you’re looking for a contrast, to make sure the colors work well together.

And that’s it for now! I’ll be heading to Kansas to visit my waifu the day after next, but I’ll try and start my first in a series of posts about different stitches tomorrow or in a few days. And remember, you can always still ask questions! I have a nifty tumblr app on my phone and I can answer on the go~

Happy sewing!

Filed under sewing basics thread

8 notes

Hello cosbunnies! Last time I went over all of the hand tools you’ll want to have in your kit, so this time why don’t we discuss the crown jewel of sewing technology: the sewing machine!
There are several types of sewing machines on the market so I suggest doing some research on what you’ll be needing. Most beginning and intermediate cosplayers can get away with a standard home machine like a Brother, Kenmore, or Bernina. If you still live with your parents or have access to their sewing machine, you’ll want to take advantage of that parent’s (or grandparent’s) knowledge of their machine. If you’re really lucky they’ll have a Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, or a vintage Singer you can use. If they’ve been properly cared for, they’re great machines. Lastly, you could hunt down a Juki industrial machine. This is a very fast machine though, and I don’t recommend it for beginners. It’s also really expensive though it lasts forever, and can only do a straight stitch (though I’m sure there’s other models that have an expanded stitch repertoire, I’ve just only used the basic industrial).  
These are only a fraction of the machines available and if you’re in the market to buy one, I strongly urge you to do some research before you do. Here were my criteria for finding a machine:
Straight and zig-zag stitches - Every machine should be able to do at least a straight stitch. Pretty much all modern machines have a zig-zag as well.
Button hole stitch - You can get away with just using a tight zig-zag (I’ll explain button holes in a later post) but having one built into the machine is really nice.
Side loading bobbin - As I said in the basic supplies post, a top loading bobbin is an awful configuration so I made sure my machine had one that loaded in the side to avoid a lot of headaches.
Interchangeable feet - Necessary for doing all different stitches and sewing all kinds of fabric!
Built in bobbin winder - It’s a pain to have to wind a bobbin on a separate machine so make sure your machine has this feature.
Strong enough to sew through multiple thick layers of fabric - Cosplay will often involve pleather or other heavy fabric and I wanted to be ready. I also plan on some period costuming which means heavy upholstery fabric and thick gathers for Tudor stuff.
Most machines come with all this stuff so even if you do find a cheap one make sure you take a look at all its features and some reviews, and even try out a floor model in a store if at all possible so you’re sure you’re getting what you need.
Now let’s take a look at how a sewing machine works. This is just a general overview of the features of a standard machine, since even though the models vary, they all basically work the same way.
Bobbin - A standard sewing machine works by having an upper thread which comes off a spool and a lower thread, which comes off a bobbin. Bobbins will come in a specific size for your machine so make sure you check the manual as to which ones it takes.
Bobbin winder - Usually on top of the machine, this will wind the thread evenly on your bobbin.
Thread spindle - This is where the spool of thread is mounted at the top of the machine. It can either be standing straight up or on it’s side, like on my machine.
Thread guides - When threading the machine, you need to pull the thread through these guides so it will have the right amount of tension to sew your garment.
Needle - Pretty obvious. It’s held in place by a screw so if it breaks or you need another type, you can easily replace it.
Bobbin casing - Some machines don’t use these, but most side loading ones do. You put your bobbin in here when you load it into the machine and it helps guide the bobbin thread where it needs to go.
Throat plate and feed dogs - The throat plate is the big metal bit that surrounds the feed dogs, covers the bobbin casing, and creates a surface for your fabric. There’s usually lines on it for easy measuring of seam allowances. Feed dogs are the little rows of teeth that grip your fabric and help it through the machine as you’re sewing. 
Presser foot - There are a bunch of different kinds of presser feet, which I’ll get to later, but they all do the same basic thing; hold the fabric in position while the machine stitches along.
Stitch selection - This display is different on ever machine but it’s almost always found on the right side of the machine. Depending on the machine you’ll need to use dials, buttons, or even a touch screen to select your stitch.
Fly wheel - The big wheel on the far right side of the machine that moves the needle up and down. 
Pedal - This plugs into the side of the machine and makes it go when stepped on! It’s pressure sensitive on most machines, though some older ones have speed settings as a switch or dial on the machine itself.
It sounds complicated, but once you get used to your machine, sewing’s a breeze! Now let’s take a look at the kinds of needles and feet you can get for your machine.
Machine Needles
Standard or Universal needles - General needles for pretty much any project you’d need to do. Make sure to have a lot of these around since you’ll be using them the most.
Microtex or Sharp needles - Sharper than your universal needles, these are good for silk and other tightly woven fabrics.
Ball-point or Jersey needles - Needles with rounded tips, these push between knit fabric weaves instead of splitting them.
Stretch needles - These needles are specifically for stretchy, spandex fabrics. There’s an indentation below the eye on these (called a “scarf”), making it much harder for the machine to accidentally skip stitches.
Jeans or Denim needles - Extra strong with sharp points, denim needles are great for thick, heavy weave fabrics.
Top stitch needles - The long eyes on these needles make them able to thread multiple ends or thicker machine threads, like embroidery or button hole thread.
Embroidery needles - The “scarf” on these needles is deep like with stretch needles to prevent the embroidery thread from shredding.
Metallica needles - Embroidery needles specifically designed for use with metallic thread.
Leather needles - Needles with exceptionally sharp points and strong shafts that help them cut into leather or suede as they sew.
Twin or Triple needles - These allow for multiple rows of stitching at once.
Wing needle - A needle with two broad metal “wings” on the sides that pushes the threads of your fabric aside as you sew. These are specifically for heirloom and antique stitching and is something pretty advanced that I haven’t figured out yet.
Quilting needles - Longer needles with sharp points to stitch through many layers.
Machine Feet and Attachments
Straight stitch or Standard foot - Used for generic sewing of straight stitches. If your machine has multiple throat plates, the one with the smallest hole will help to keep the fabric from being pushed down and jamming the machine.
Zipper foot - There’s a bunch of different looks for a zipper foot but they’re all small and place the needle close to the edge of the foot. These are used to sew concealed zippers into garments and in cosplay you’ll likely be needing that feature!
Blind hem foot - When used correctly, this foot will help you produce a nice hem where the stitching is hardly visible. It takes a lot of practice though. I’ll explain about blind hems in a later post.
Narrow hem or Picot foot - You can use this foot for narrow rolled hems. I’ve never used it, though.
Overcasting foot - This foot is for getting right up to the edge of the fabric and stitch with a zig-zag or an overcast stitch (if your machine has an overcast). It’s basically an alternative for those of us who don’t have an overlock machine to serge fabric edges. (See the end of the post for info on overlock machines)
Walking foot - My favorite foot! The walking foot is especially great for stretch fabrics as it prevents them from shifting as you sew. My machine has a built in one, but there are attachment feet available for most machines.
Gathering foot - Made for ruffles and frills, a gathering foot will automatically gather one layer of fabric to another. I don’t actually have one of these so I just use the ease method (which I’ll explain in a later post)
Clear foot - This foot is clear so you can see the thread as you work, and often times it has a deep groove in the bottom so it can slide over decorative stitching easily. 
Last but not least I want to touch on Sergers/Overlock machines. If you have any t-shirts, take a look at the inside edge of the hem. Chances are it’s been finished with an overlock stitch. This special stitch prevents the fabric from unraveling and reinforces interior seams. A serger is a great buy and most costumes will benefit from the piece edges having been overlocked. The machines come equipped with an interior blade that cuts the excess from the edge of the fabric as you overlock it to achieve that clean edge beneath the thread, but you need to be careful that you don’t cut off too much.
Even if having a serger is great, though, I’ve gotten by for years without one either by using an overcast stitch on my home machine (see above) or just by being careful while wearing the costume. It’s not a necessary machine to make a good cosplay, far from it, but it does help keep your costumes from needing repair longer and I recommend using one if you have the opportunity.
If you do decide to shop for an overlock machine, make sure you look up reviews and even try it out in the store if you can, just like you would if you were purchasing a sewing machine. This equipment is all too expensive not to make sure you know what you’re getting.
That’s it for now, cosbunnies. I’ll see you next time when we’ll cover different kinds of thread and some basic stitches!

Hello cosbunnies! Last time I went over all of the hand tools you’ll want to have in your kit, so this time why don’t we discuss the crown jewel of sewing technology: the sewing machine!

There are several types of sewing machines on the market so I suggest doing some research on what you’ll be needing. Most beginning and intermediate cosplayers can get away with a standard home machine like a Brother, Kenmore, or Bernina. If you still live with your parents or have access to their sewing machine, you’ll want to take advantage of that parent’s (or grandparent’s) knowledge of their machine. If you’re really lucky they’ll have a Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, or a vintage Singer you can use. If they’ve been properly cared for, they’re great machines. Lastly, you could hunt down a Juki industrial machine. This is a very fast machine though, and I don’t recommend it for beginners. It’s also really expensive though it lasts forever, and can only do a straight stitch (though I’m sure there’s other models that have an expanded stitch repertoire, I’ve just only used the basic industrial).  

These are only a fraction of the machines available and if you’re in the market to buy one, I strongly urge you to do some research before you do. Here were my criteria for finding a machine:

  • Straight and zig-zag stitches - Every machine should be able to do at least a straight stitch. Pretty much all modern machines have a zig-zag as well.
  • Button hole stitch - You can get away with just using a tight zig-zag (I’ll explain button holes in a later post) but having one built into the machine is really nice.
  • Side loading bobbin - As I said in the basic supplies post, a top loading bobbin is an awful configuration so I made sure my machine had one that loaded in the side to avoid a lot of headaches.
  • Interchangeable feet - Necessary for doing all different stitches and sewing all kinds of fabric!
  • Built in bobbin winder - It’s a pain to have to wind a bobbin on a separate machine so make sure your machine has this feature.
  • Strong enough to sew through multiple thick layers of fabric - Cosplay will often involve pleather or other heavy fabric and I wanted to be ready. I also plan on some period costuming which means heavy upholstery fabric and thick gathers for Tudor stuff.

Most machines come with all this stuff so even if you do find a cheap one make sure you take a look at all its features and some reviews, and even try out a floor model in a store if at all possible so you’re sure you’re getting what you need.

Now let’s take a look at how a sewing machine works. This is just a general overview of the features of a standard machine, since even though the models vary, they all basically work the same way.

  • Bobbin - A standard sewing machine works by having an upper thread which comes off a spool and a lower thread, which comes off a bobbin. Bobbins will come in a specific size for your machine so make sure you check the manual as to which ones it takes.
  • Bobbin winder - Usually on top of the machine, this will wind the thread evenly on your bobbin.
  • Thread spindle - This is where the spool of thread is mounted at the top of the machine. It can either be standing straight up or on it’s side, like on my machine.
  • Thread guides - When threading the machine, you need to pull the thread through these guides so it will have the right amount of tension to sew your garment.
  • Needle - Pretty obvious. It’s held in place by a screw so if it breaks or you need another type, you can easily replace it.
  • Bobbin casing - Some machines don’t use these, but most side loading ones do. You put your bobbin in here when you load it into the machine and it helps guide the bobbin thread where it needs to go.
  • Throat plate and feed dogs - The throat plate is the big metal bit that surrounds the feed dogs, covers the bobbin casing, and creates a surface for your fabric. There’s usually lines on it for easy measuring of seam allowances. Feed dogs are the little rows of teeth that grip your fabric and help it through the machine as you’re sewing. 
  • Presser foot - There are a bunch of different kinds of presser feet, which I’ll get to later, but they all do the same basic thing; hold the fabric in position while the machine stitches along.
  • Stitch selection - This display is different on ever machine but it’s almost always found on the right side of the machine. Depending on the machine you’ll need to use dials, buttons, or even a touch screen to select your stitch.
  • Fly wheel - The big wheel on the far right side of the machine that moves the needle up and down. 
  • Pedal - This plugs into the side of the machine and makes it go when stepped on! It’s pressure sensitive on most machines, though some older ones have speed settings as a switch or dial on the machine itself.

It sounds complicated, but once you get used to your machine, sewing’s a breeze! Now let’s take a look at the kinds of needles and feet you can get for your machine.

Machine Needles

  • Standard or Universal needles - General needles for pretty much any project you’d need to do. Make sure to have a lot of these around since you’ll be using them the most.
  • Microtex or Sharp needles - Sharper than your universal needles, these are good for silk and other tightly woven fabrics.
  • Ball-point or Jersey needles - Needles with rounded tips, these push between knit fabric weaves instead of splitting them.
  • Stretch needles - These needles are specifically for stretchy, spandex fabrics. There’s an indentation below the eye on these (called a “scarf”), making it much harder for the machine to accidentally skip stitches.
  • Jeans or Denim needles - Extra strong with sharp points, denim needles are great for thick, heavy weave fabrics.
  • Top stitch needles - The long eyes on these needles make them able to thread multiple ends or thicker machine threads, like embroidery or button hole thread.
  • Embroidery needles - The “scarf” on these needles is deep like with stretch needles to prevent the embroidery thread from shredding.
  • Metallica needles - Embroidery needles specifically designed for use with metallic thread.
  • Leather needles - Needles with exceptionally sharp points and strong shafts that help them cut into leather or suede as they sew.
  • Twin or Triple needles - These allow for multiple rows of stitching at once.
  • Wing needle - A needle with two broad metal “wings” on the sides that pushes the threads of your fabric aside as you sew. These are specifically for heirloom and antique stitching and is something pretty advanced that I haven’t figured out yet.
  • Quilting needles - Longer needles with sharp points to stitch through many layers.


Machine Feet and Attachments

  • Straight stitch or Standard foot - Used for generic sewing of straight stitches. If your machine has multiple throat plates, the one with the smallest hole will help to keep the fabric from being pushed down and jamming the machine.
  • Zipper foot - There’s a bunch of different looks for a zipper foot but they’re all small and place the needle close to the edge of the foot. These are used to sew concealed zippers into garments and in cosplay you’ll likely be needing that feature!
  • Blind hem foot - When used correctly, this foot will help you produce a nice hem where the stitching is hardly visible. It takes a lot of practice though. I’ll explain about blind hems in a later post.
  • Narrow hem or Picot foot - You can use this foot for narrow rolled hems. I’ve never used it, though.
  • Overcasting foot - This foot is for getting right up to the edge of the fabric and stitch with a zig-zag or an overcast stitch (if your machine has an overcast). It’s basically an alternative for those of us who don’t have an overlock machine to serge fabric edges. (See the end of the post for info on overlock machines)
  • Walking foot - My favorite foot! The walking foot is especially great for stretch fabrics as it prevents them from shifting as you sew. My machine has a built in one, but there are attachment feet available for most machines.
  • Gathering foot - Made for ruffles and frills, a gathering foot will automatically gather one layer of fabric to another. I don’t actually have one of these so I just use the ease method (which I’ll explain in a later post)
  • Clear foot - This foot is clear so you can see the thread as you work, and often times it has a deep groove in the bottom so it can slide over decorative stitching easily. 


Last but not least I want to touch on Sergers/Overlock machines. If you have any t-shirts, take a look at the inside edge of the hem. Chances are it’s been finished with an overlock stitch. This special stitch prevents the fabric from unraveling and reinforces interior seams. A serger is a great buy and most costumes will benefit from the piece edges having been overlocked. The machines come equipped with an interior blade that cuts the excess from the edge of the fabric as you overlock it to achieve that clean edge beneath the thread, but you need to be careful that you don’t cut off too much.

Even if having a serger is great, though, I’ve gotten by for years without one either by using an overcast stitch on my home machine (see above) or just by being careful while wearing the costume. It’s not a necessary machine to make a good cosplay, far from it, but it does help keep your costumes from needing repair longer and I recommend using one if you have the opportunity.

If you do decide to shop for an overlock machine, make sure you look up reviews and even try it out in the store if you can, just like you would if you were purchasing a sewing machine. This equipment is all too expensive not to make sure you know what you’re getting.

That’s it for now, cosbunnies. I’ll see you next time when we’ll cover different kinds of thread and some basic stitches!

Filed under sewing basics sewing machine

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What better way to kick off the blog than to start with an overview of common tools you’ll need to get your cosplay projects underway? No better way, that’s what! So let’s jump right in! Most, if not all these things can be found at your local Joann Fabrics, Beverly’s, or Hancock Fabrics, as well as any local fabric or quilting store and even Amazon.com.
Measuring Tools
Tape measure - Most standard measuring tapes come in a 60” length, but I recommend having one in 60” and another in 120” for long dresses, capes, and general measuring of tall people. 
Yardstick - A three foot ruler great for putting straight lines in a pattern or cutting fabric off of a bolt or roll. Personally I prefer a metal one as it’s less likely to dent or break.
C-Thur Ruler - I love this thing. It’s exactly 2 inches wide and 18 inches long and makes it easy to add seam allowances to drafted patterns at an even width since it’s transparent! Some even have holes at each inch interior so you can mark through it. It comes in other lengths too, but I’ve never needed anything longer than 18”.
Marking Tools
Tailor’s chalk - Tailor’s chalk is the easiest thing to mark with as it comes out of most fabrics just with a brush of the hand. It comes in triangles, rollers, roller pens, and pencils in all colors of the rainbow. I prefer the roller pens since they never need sharpening, but refilling them can be a pain with all the chalk dust. Get a light and a dark color for different color fabrics.
Dressmaker’s pen - These pens are normally blue and they can be wiped off with a damp cloth. They have more staying power than chalk, but they can’t be used on fabric that will be ruined with water, so try this out on a scrap first before using it.
Fade-away pen - The ink from these pens (usually pink) fade away after a day or two, but I’ve never had much luck with them to be honest. Try it out on a scrap to be sure it will really vanish.
In a pinch, any kind of pencil or pen will work to mark on fabric, but not all of them may come out! Be prepared to be stuck with those marks forever if you’re using a sharpie or something.
Cutting Tools
Shears - You’ll be using these for cutting out your fabric! Make sure they’re comfortable and keep them sharp. My personal favorites are Gingher brand scissors but off brands work just fine if you take care of them. Never use your sewing scissors for craft work. This will cause them to grow dull more quickly.
Pinking shears - These special scissors cut little peaked rows instead of straight lines so the fabric you’re cutting is less likely to fray or ravel. I don’t personally own any yet so you can live without them, but they’re really nice to have.
Paper/craft scissors - For cutting all that stuff that isn’t fabric!
Needlework or Embroidery scissors - These smaller scissors are pretty much just for cutting thread, though I find them useful for snipping curved seams and clipping corners to be turned too. That’s why I prefer them to snips, which are easy to pick up, clip thread, and put back down so they have their merits too.
Rotary cutter - If you’re cutting through a lot of fabric all at once or much smaller pieces, a rotary cutter is a great tool that’ll save your hand some soreness that you might develop with a lot of repetitive scissor work. Just make sure you use the cutter on a flat, firm surface with a self-healing mat under your project to protect your work surface and your cutting blade. 
Craft knife - Great for cutting thicker fabrics like leather or fur! Make sure you use a mat under it, though, and cut away from yourself!
Seam ripper - If you’re like me, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of this little guy, and that’s okay! It’s like a sewing eraser. If you stitch something wrong (backwards, upside down, put the sleeve in the neck hole…) then this little guy will help you get it out! Just make sure you’re plucking the stitching out and not the fabric weave. You also use these guys for opening up button holes.
Ironing Materials
An Iron! - A vitally important tool that a lot of cosplayers under-utilize, using an iron to press flat your seams as you sew makes your entire project look leagues better already even as you work! It also keeps that pesky seam allowance out of your way and is needed to apply fusible interfacing or stitch-witchery (which are things I’ll get to later). Just make sure you use the setting on the iron that’s right for your fabric.
Ironing board - These come in all shapes and sizes. You can even get a little one that’ll fit over your door! All else fails, get a cover for your table and just use that.
Press cloth - Not very exciting. It’s just a piece of muslin that you can put between your fabric and the iron so the heat doesn’t burn a delicate fabric.
Tailor’s hams - It’s basically just a hard-packed pillow shaped vaguely like a ham, but it’s used to help press open curved seams. You can get by without one pretty easily, but it’s nice to have if you want one. They come in all shapes and sizes for different seams!
Pins and Needles
Dressmaking Pins
Glass or pearl headed pins -  Standard pins you can use for everything! They’re easy to see if you drop them on the floor too. Or easier than other pins anyway.
Dressmaker or straight pins - Also standard but harder to see if you drop them. They’re good for thinner fabrics where the pearl head might tug.
Quilt pins - Quilt pins are super long. I’ve never really needed them for cosplay tbh.
Flower-headed pins - These are also long pins, but the big heads make it hard for them to fall out of loosely woven fabrics like lace or tulle. They also come in neat shapes besides flowers and are pretty good for anchoring wigs to wig heads too.
T-pins - Good anchor pins if you have a table to pin the fabric to while you use a rotary cutter. Also good for wig anchoring.
Safety pins - Great for keeping projects pinned when you need to move them. I also have been known to use them to keep buttons on if they fall off during a photoshoot, though I caution against using them for primary construction as there’s always a chance the pin will open and stab you. 
Weights - For when a fabric is just too delicate to stab with pins, you can always lay down weights to keep it from moving as you mark and cut it. They sell little weights at most sewing stores, but you can always just use a book or some other heavy but flat object that won’t damage the fabric to keep it from shifting.
Hand Needles
Sharps -  Fine needles in varying mid-lengths with small eyes. You use them 99% of the time for hand sewing things like buttons.
Quilting needles or Betweens - Small, fine needles for little stitches. 
Milliners needles - Long needles for basting and pleating.
Embroidery or Crewel needles - Sharp needles with long eyes to take embroidery thread (which is thicker than normal thread) or multiple threads.
Ball-point needles - Needles with rounded tips for pushing between the weave of knit fabrics.
Tapestry needles - Big fat ball-point needles to push between the weave of the fabric instead of possibly splitting it. These have large eyes for taking super thick or wool thread.
Chinelle needles - Basically tapestry needles with points.
Beading needles - Long and extra fine with loooong eyes, these needles are perfect for beading but unless you’re going to be doing a ton of bead work, they’re not really that necessary.
Bodkins - Big fat needles for threading elastic or drawstrings into their casing. You can easily get away with using a safety pin instead.
Twin-pointed needles - Apparently they’re for really fast chain stitching but I’ve never had to use one in my life. Still, they’re neat so I thought I’d include them.
Darning needles - Long needles for basting or darning (repairing holes in knit garments like socks).
Curved needles - For getting under and up through curved surfaces. They also offer better leverage if you need to get through multiple layers.
Mattress needles - GIANT needles (6” or more) for pulling through many layers of foam or whatever else. 
Leather needles - Relatively thick, triangular needles for piercing leather, pvc, or even plastic.
Don’t forget a pin cushion! Either a tomato or a magnetic grab-it. I actually prefer the grab-it since you can just toss your pins at it without looking, but at least with a tomato you don’t risk stabbing yourself with poorly placed pins.
Sewing Machines
If you don’t have one, then I definitely recommend getting one. A Bernina 1000 series is a great starter workhorse machine and standard for a lot of the shops I’ve worked in, so you can find them used a lot of the time. Brother’s XL2600 is also a great machine if you don’t want to spend over $300.
I personally use a Pfaff 2023 ClassicStyle Fashion, which I researched for quite some time before settling on. It’s an electronic machine with several decorative stitches on top of its standard compliment and it can sew through at least four layers of denim with the right needle. It also has a built in walking foot, a foot that makes sure all the fabric gets fed through the machine at the same speed, which I find to be exceedingly helpful.
Whatever you do, though, don’t get a modern Singer. The company used to be fantastic but anything from something like the 1980’s and onward has been awful. The bobbin cases are now drop in, which means even the tiniest pull on the needle can keep it from hitting the bobbin and instead hitting the plate, jamming the machine and breaking the needle. I know this from experience; I had a Singer for my first several years of cosplay and it was just one headache after another. 
I’ll cover sewing machines more in depth in a later post, but I figured I should at least touch on it in this one.
Last but not least…You need something to keep all of this in, right? I really like the selection of sewing boxes at Joann Fabrics, personally, but this bit is totally up to you. For my first year, I kept everything in a shoe box! Just keep in mind it needs to fit all your tools, plus the thread and notions (bias tape, zippers, lace, etc) that you’d no-doubt be accumulating. Unless you have somewhere else to put that, of course, but I like to have at least my thread handy in my box so I can just pick it up and go to a friend’s house for a sewing party. 
And that’s it for the supplies! Phew, that was long. I’ll see you cosbunnies next time!

What better way to kick off the blog than to start with an overview of common tools you’ll need to get your cosplay projects underway? No better way, that’s what! So let’s jump right in! Most, if not all these things can be found at your local Joann Fabrics, Beverly’s, or Hancock Fabrics, as well as any local fabric or quilting store and even Amazon.com.

Measuring Tools

  • Tape measure - Most standard measuring tapes come in a 60” length, but I recommend having one in 60” and another in 120” for long dresses, capes, and general measuring of tall people. 
  • Yardstick - A three foot ruler great for putting straight lines in a pattern or cutting fabric off of a bolt or roll. Personally I prefer a metal one as it’s less likely to dent or break.
  • C-Thur Ruler - I love this thing. It’s exactly 2 inches wide and 18 inches long and makes it easy to add seam allowances to drafted patterns at an even width since it’s transparent! Some even have holes at each inch interior so you can mark through it. It comes in other lengths too, but I’ve never needed anything longer than 18”.


Marking Tools

  • Tailor’s chalk - Tailor’s chalk is the easiest thing to mark with as it comes out of most fabrics just with a brush of the hand. It comes in triangles, rollersroller pens, and pencils in all colors of the rainbow. I prefer the roller pens since they never need sharpening, but refilling them can be a pain with all the chalk dust. Get a light and a dark color for different color fabrics.
  • Dressmaker’s pen - These pens are normally blue and they can be wiped off with a damp cloth. They have more staying power than chalk, but they can’t be used on fabric that will be ruined with water, so try this out on a scrap first before using it.
  • Fade-away pen - The ink from these pens (usually pink) fade away after a day or two, but I’ve never had much luck with them to be honest. Try it out on a scrap to be sure it will really vanish.
  • In a pinch, any kind of pencil or pen will work to mark on fabric, but not all of them may come out! Be prepared to be stuck with those marks forever if you’re using a sharpie or something.


Cutting Tools

  • Shears - You’ll be using these for cutting out your fabric! Make sure they’re comfortable and keep them sharp. My personal favorites are Gingher brand scissors but off brands work just fine if you take care of them. Never use your sewing scissors for craft work. This will cause them to grow dull more quickly.
  • Pinking shears - These special scissors cut little peaked rows instead of straight lines so the fabric you’re cutting is less likely to fray or ravel. I don’t personally own any yet so you can live without them, but they’re really nice to have.
  • Paper/craft scissors - For cutting all that stuff that isn’t fabric!
  • Needlework or Embroidery scissors - These smaller scissors are pretty much just for cutting thread, though I find them useful for snipping curved seams and clipping corners to be turned too. That’s why I prefer them to snips, which are easy to pick up, clip thread, and put back down so they have their merits too.
  • Rotary cutter - If you’re cutting through a lot of fabric all at once or much smaller pieces, a rotary cutter is a great tool that’ll save your hand some soreness that you might develop with a lot of repetitive scissor work. Just make sure you use the cutter on a flat, firm surface with a self-healing mat under your project to protect your work surface and your cutting blade. 
  • Craft knife - Great for cutting thicker fabrics like leather or fur! Make sure you use a mat under it, though, and cut away from yourself!
  • Seam ripper - If you’re like me, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of this little guy, and that’s okay! It’s like a sewing eraser. If you stitch something wrong (backwards, upside down, put the sleeve in the neck hole…) then this little guy will help you get it out! Just make sure you’re plucking the stitching out and not the fabric weave. You also use these guys for opening up button holes.


Ironing Materials

  • An Iron! - A vitally important tool that a lot of cosplayers under-utilize, using an iron to press flat your seams as you sew makes your entire project look leagues better already even as you work! It also keeps that pesky seam allowance out of your way and is needed to apply fusible interfacing or stitch-witchery (which are things I’ll get to later). Just make sure you use the setting on the iron that’s right for your fabric.
  • Ironing board - These come in all shapes and sizes. You can even get a little one that’ll fit over your door! All else fails, get a cover for your table and just use that.
  • Press cloth - Not very exciting. It’s just a piece of muslin that you can put between your fabric and the iron so the heat doesn’t burn a delicate fabric.
  • Tailor’s hams - It’s basically just a hard-packed pillow shaped vaguely like a ham, but it’s used to help press open curved seams. You can get by without one pretty easily, but it’s nice to have if you want one. They come in all shapes and sizes for different seams!


Pins and Needles

Dressmaking Pins

  • Glass or pearl headed pins -  Standard pins you can use for everything! They’re easy to see if you drop them on the floor too. Or easier than other pins anyway.
  • Dressmaker or straight pins - Also standard but harder to see if you drop them. They’re good for thinner fabrics where the pearl head might tug.
  • Quilt pins - Quilt pins are super long. I’ve never really needed them for cosplay tbh.
  • Flower-headed pins - These are also long pins, but the big heads make it hard for them to fall out of loosely woven fabrics like lace or tulle. They also come in neat shapes besides flowers and are pretty good for anchoring wigs to wig heads too.
  • T-pins - Good anchor pins if you have a table to pin the fabric to while you use a rotary cutter. Also good for wig anchoring.
  • Safety pins - Great for keeping projects pinned when you need to move them. I also have been known to use them to keep buttons on if they fall off during a photoshoot, though I caution against using them for primary construction as there’s always a chance the pin will open and stab you. 
  • Weights - For when a fabric is just too delicate to stab with pins, you can always lay down weights to keep it from moving as you mark and cut it. They sell little weights at most sewing stores, but you can always just use a book or some other heavy but flat object that won’t damage the fabric to keep it from shifting.

Hand Needles

  • Sharps -  Fine needles in varying mid-lengths with small eyes. You use them 99% of the time for hand sewing things like buttons.
  • Quilting needles or Betweens - Small, fine needles for little stitches. 
  • Milliners needles - Long needles for basting and pleating.
  • Embroidery or Crewel needles - Sharp needles with long eyes to take embroidery thread (which is thicker than normal thread) or multiple threads.
  • Ball-point needles - Needles with rounded tips for pushing between the weave of knit fabrics.
  • Tapestry needles - Big fat ball-point needles to push between the weave of the fabric instead of possibly splitting it. These have large eyes for taking super thick or wool thread.
  • Chinelle needles - Basically tapestry needles with points.
  • Beading needles - Long and extra fine with loooong eyes, these needles are perfect for beading but unless you’re going to be doing a ton of bead work, they’re not really that necessary.
  • Bodkins - Big fat needles for threading elastic or drawstrings into their casing. You can easily get away with using a safety pin instead.
  • Twin-pointed needles - Apparently they’re for really fast chain stitching but I’ve never had to use one in my life. Still, they’re neat so I thought I’d include them.
  • Darning needles - Long needles for basting or darning (repairing holes in knit garments like socks).
  • Curved needles - For getting under and up through curved surfaces. They also offer better leverage if you need to get through multiple layers.
  • Mattress needles - GIANT needles (6” or more) for pulling through many layers of foam or whatever else. 
  • Leather needles - Relatively thick, triangular needles for piercing leather, pvc, or even plastic.

Don’t forget a pin cushion! Either a tomato or a magnetic grab-it. I actually prefer the grab-it since you can just toss your pins at it without looking, but at least with a tomato you don’t risk stabbing yourself with poorly placed pins.


Sewing Machines

If you don’t have one, then I definitely recommend getting one. A Bernina 1000 series is a great starter workhorse machine and standard for a lot of the shops I’ve worked in, so you can find them used a lot of the time. Brother’s XL2600 is also a great machine if you don’t want to spend over $300.

I personally use a Pfaff 2023 ClassicStyle Fashion, which I researched for quite some time before settling on. It’s an electronic machine with several decorative stitches on top of its standard compliment and it can sew through at least four layers of denim with the right needle. It also has a built in walking foot, a foot that makes sure all the fabric gets fed through the machine at the same speed, which I find to be exceedingly helpful.

Whatever you do, though, don’t get a modern Singer. The company used to be fantastic but anything from something like the 1980’s and onward has been awful. The bobbin cases are now drop in, which means even the tiniest pull on the needle can keep it from hitting the bobbin and instead hitting the plate, jamming the machine and breaking the needle. I know this from experience; I had a Singer for my first several years of cosplay and it was just one headache after another. 

I’ll cover sewing machines more in depth in a later post, but I figured I should at least touch on it in this one.


Last but not least…
You need something to keep all of this in, right? I really like the selection of sewing boxes at Joann Fabrics, personally, but this bit is totally up to you. For my first year, I kept everything in a shoe box! Just keep in mind it needs to fit all your tools, plus the thread and notions (bias tape, zippers, lace, etc) that you’d no-doubt be accumulating. Unless you have somewhere else to put that, of course, but I like to have at least my thread handy in my box so I can just pick it up and go to a friend’s house for a sewing party. 

And that’s it for the supplies! Phew, that was long. I’ll see you cosbunnies next time!

Filed under sewing basics tools