We need to talk about commissions.
Hello, lovelies. First off, for those who don’t know, I’ve been a costumer/cosplayer for about 15 years. I love this hobby and I’ve been able to turn making costumes into a successful business. I’ve been lucky. So today I want to talk about what you should really consider before you take on a commission, because while many of you are amazing, I’m seeing a fair amount on my feed lately that is not so amazing, and no one wants to be disappointed when they’ve paid out money – any money – for a costume. This blog is primarily aimed at people who sew, but can be applied to most skill sets. So lets talk about the basics – Foundation, Fit, Finish, Finance.
Foundation skills! Can you sew in a straight line? Do you know how to interface properly, alter a pattern, when something needs to be lined and how to finish a seam? These are the basics, and there are always new skills to learn. Fortunately, there is YouTube! YouTube is a magical place for tutorials, teaching everything from how to paint a realistic metal finish on foam to how to put a hidden pocket in a Princess dress. Use these tutorials. Get good. Then get better. Practice.
This seems really obvious, but it’s amazing how awkward it is to learn and how often it is done wrong. While you may well be able to make something that fits you like a dream, you’re not fitting a commission on your own body, and your client will most likely not be there for the try on, take off, alter, try on runaround that teaches you how to fit stuff to you in the first place! This is something that is best practiced on friends, or through studying body shapes, because if you’re taking money off of someone for a costume then it needs to look amazing on them, not you. Where do they carry weight? Are they particularly tiny, but heavy in the bust? These are all things that can’t be taken just from measurements. Observe. Take time to do a mock up for alteration.
Can you hem straight? Is every button, crystal or ribbon going to fall off the second the thing is put on? Again, these are crucial points. Nothing makes a dress look worse than a bad hemline. If it looks like the client has just done it themselves, then why are they paying you? How a piece looks on is how you’re going to be seen as a commissioner. Take time, get it right.
There is no point making something for someone else if you’re going to get screwed financially. One of the benefits of taking commissions is that a few quid here and there while you’re learning is handy, and a good way to practice your skills. But you should be taking into account basic costs like fabric, how long it’s going to take you, and what you need to make back on that time. If you’re happy doing a 20 hour job for £30, fine, but just because that’s what you charged doesn’t mean you should take shortcuts. Do it right, charge appropriately, because your time is valuable.
Fly, my pretties! If you can do all of that, (and lets be honest, not everyone taking commissions can yet) then you are ready. Make other cosplayers happy. Do a good job. Take photos and show other people how you did it.
Be part of the positive, lovelies. X