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As soon as I saw the episode that featured young Maria Calavera, a dual-scythe-wielding, silver-eyed all-around badass, I knew I wanted to cosplay her. Not only was her character incredibly fascinating, but her costume design was beautiful. I loved her colors, the Tabasco dress inspired attire, and all the little nods to Dia de los Muertos.

Items I bought Items to make Undershirt

The undershirt was super simple. Using a v-neck t-shirt I already had as a pattern, I made a small under “shirt” with some pale blue fabric I had leftover from an old project. I would’ve made it a full-sized shirt, but the amount of fabric I had was very limited, so it ended up being a very short crop top, which was fine for my purposes since I literally just needed it for the neckline.

Dress

For Maria’s dress, I used Simplicity pattern 3673, Option C. I repurposed the sleeve pattern I had made for my Kali cosplay for the sleeves and altered the neckline to be a v-neck.

Dress mockup

The first thing I did was make a mockup using some scrap fabric I had leftover from previous projects. The only adjustment I needed to make was make the sleeves longer and just a little bit wider. From there, I started using the navy fabric I had purchased to make the real dress. I used blue scrap fabric for the lining. The darts took a while to do, but was totally worth it. I attached the crop top to the dress neckline by top-stitching it in place. I then cut a line down the back so that I could install the zipper to the dress as well as the undershirt. Next was the skirt.

Maria’s skirt consists of two colors: navy and a bluish-green. After lots of measuring, pinning, and trying it on, I marked where I wanted the green fabric to go on my..

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This isn’t my first time attempting this series. I set out to do this a few years ago with my “Meet a Cosplayer” series but ultimately came up short of my original goal. Originally, I was hoping to make it similar to my “Leaving Home” series, in which I sent questionnaires to be answered and then I would read them all and write one cohesive (chaptered) story. This storied format came out of necessity; some family members did not write very long answers, so it would make for a short (and a bit boring) Q&A post. So, I set out to compare and contrast all of their stories to find their common themes, where they differed, and what made them special. I like to think it turned out pretty good! After the success of “Leaving Home,” I started “Meet a Cosplayer,” hoping for something similar. However, once I got the answers back, the format seemed to work better as a Q&A. So it would seem that whatever I originally intended to be the format inevitably changed based on the content.

All of that to say, I am trying again with “Cosplays, Cons & Controversies.” It’s been a few years and I’m in a much better place to do this. Not only have I been much more active in the cosplay community than when I did my first series, I’ve made much larger strides as a cosplayer. I feel like I have more knowledge and experience in this “field” to do a better job of writing this blog series. I know what questions to ask and how to ask them. I know where to go to find people who can participate and have a much wider audience through my different social media channels to do that.

What is my goal with this series? To learn and, in turn, teach. I want to hear as many cosplayers’ experiences as possible and find what brings us all together. I want to learn of their struggles and triumphs, what drives them and what keeps them coming back to this community. I want to read the rich and diverse stories of people I may never meet, so that I can learn something about my fellow cosplayers. I want to bring to light issues that plague this community so that we can start to work towards fixing them.

The saying goes, “Write what you know.” Well, I’ve heard something different: Austin Kleon says, “Write the book you want to read.”  Not only that, “draw the art you want to see, make the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read.”

So I’m doing just that.

If you are a cosplayer and are interested in participating in this series, please send me your email address below so I may send you the questionnaire!

As of this post, there is no deadline. The questionnaire itself is a bit long, so I want to give everyone enough time to fill it out.

Thank you and happy cosplaying!

[contact-form]
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The subtitle for this project is ever-changing. It was originally “A Collection of Cosplayer Interviews,” but I’m scrapping that because–I’m hoping–it won’t be a collection so much as an analysis and collection of articles summarizing my findings.

I set out to do this a few years ago with my “Meet a Cosplayer” series but ultimately came up short of my original goal. Originally, I was hoping to make it similar to my “Leaving Home” series, in which I sent questionnaires to be answered and then I would read them all and write one cohesive (chaptered) story. This storied format came out of necessity; some family members did not write very long answers, so it would make for a short (and a bit boring) Q&A post. So, I set out to compare and contrast all of their stories to find their common themes, where they differed, and what made them special. I like to think it turned out pretty good! After the success of “Leaving Home,” I started “Meet a Cosplayer,” hoping for something similar. However, once I got the answers back, the format seemed to work better as a Q&A. So it would seem that whatever I originally intended to be the format inevitably changed based on the content.

All of that to say, I am trying again with “Cosplay Your Way.” It’s been a few years and I’m in a much better place to do this. Not only have I been much more active in the cosplay community than when I did my first series, I’ve made much larger strides as a cosplayer. I feel like I have more knowledge and experience in this “field” to do a better job of writing this blog series. I know what questions to ask and how to ask them. I know where to go to find people who can participate and have a much wider audience through my different social media channels to do that.

What is my goal with this series? To learn and, in turn, teach. I want to hear as many cosplayers’ experiences as possible and find what brings us all together. I want to learn of their struggles and triumphs, what drives them and what keeps them coming back to this community. I want to read the rich and diverse stories of people I may never meet, so that I can learn something about my fellow cosplayers. I want to bring to light issues that plague this community so that we can start to work towards fixing them.

The saying goes, “Write what you know.” Well, I’ve heard something different: Austin Kleon says, “Write the book you want to read.”  Not only that, “draw the art you want to see, make the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read.”

So I’m doing just that.

If you are a cosplayer and are interested in participating in this series, please send me your email address below so I may send you the questionnaire!

As of this post, there is no deadline. The questionnaire itself is a bit long, so I want to give everyone enough time to fill it out.

Thank you and happy cosplaying!

[contact-form]
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Photo credit to PancakeRemix

Welcome to the second half of my Overcooked cosplay write-up! This post will focus on the props and clothing. (If you want to learn how to make the mascot heads, check out Part I!)

Ready-made items we bought: Items to modify* Items to make*

*click to jump to each item write-up

Aprons

The aprons were as simple as stitching on six black buttons to the correct areas. I made sure to use a ruler and mark with a fabric pen to ensure they were all lined up properly.

Green bandana

Because Joann’s didn’t have a matching green bandana like it did the red, I had to make one. Using the second green shirt I bought, I cut one square as big as the fabric would allow me. Then, finishing the bandana was as simple as hemming the edges. It ended up being smaller than the pre-made bandana, but still worked fine.

Tomato plush

Before making the plush, I made a pattern using the styrofoam pumpkin I had purchased from Joann’s. The pumpkin was already the perfect shape and size for the tomato I had envisioned. Using the duct-tape method, I made a pattern. (This should look familiar because I used it for the mascot heads!)

Once the pattern was done, I made a mockup of the tomato to make sure it looked alright, using scrap fabric and pillow stuffing. It came out looking pretty good!

Happy with my pattern, I made the tomato plush using red spandex-y fabric, pillow stuffing, and green fabric for the leaves. The stem was a tiny block of foam that I wrapped in green fabric and then hot glued onto the leaves.

Tomato soup

We have a big pot that was the perfect size for the Overcooked soup pots. I liked the idea of using it as a prop cause it could double as a purse. So, using the same red fabric as the tomato plush, I made some tomato soup.

This involved tracing out a cardboard circle the size of the interior of the pot. I cut that out and then hot glued red fabric on top of it to serve as the soup. I also cut an extra piece of red fabric in the shape of the soup dripping down the side to serve as an easy way to remove the whole contraption.

After the soup top was done, I cut out 4 strips of cardboard that were the height I wanted in the pot + half an inch. I bent the extra half inch on all 4 strips and then hot glued that end to the cardboard circle. Imagine it as a tiny little table. The little table sits neatly into the pot and I was able to put my phone, phone charger, some advil, and sunglasses. The flimsy cardboard legs unfortunately started to give way during PAX South and the soup started to “sink” so I’ll be reinforcing them with some sturdy popsicle sticks for Fan Expo.

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Photo credit to PancakeRemix

Overcooked came out in 2016 and was an instant hit. I absolutely loved playing it together with Jason. I’d play it by myself sometimes when I’d get home after work before him cause I loved it so much. The sequel came out August 2018 and I decided it was time to cosplay some characters from it. Jason agreed to join me. The original plan was for him to be a chef and for me to be Onion King. However, in the months leading up to PAX South 2019, I ended up backing out of being Onion King. The task felt too daunting, considering I had never made a mascot head–let alone full costume–with foam before. So, it came to pass that we both became Overcooked chefs, specifically ones used heavily in promotional materials.

This post is going to focus solely on making the mascot heads, as it was a very labor-intensive process with lots of steps. I’ll be going over the rest of the cosplay (props and clothing) in Part II!

What I used*
  • Supplies (this is for both my and Jason’s heads, so the amounts may be more than needed for just one head if you’re using this write-up as a tutorial)
    • Six sheets of 15×17″x1″ upholstery foam (Joann’s)
    • One sheet of 15×17″x2″ upholstery foam (Joann’s)
    • One 9×12″ sheet of black felt (Joann’s)
    • One 9×12″ sheet of white foam (Joann’s)
    • One 8×10.5″ sheet of black buckram fabric (Etsy)
    • 1′ of pink fabric (for nose and tongue)
    • ~2yds of skin-colored anti-pill fleece
    • ~3-5yds of kind of velvety fabric in orange and brown
    • Pillow stuffing (Joann’s)
    • Thread in matching colors for hair, nose, and skin
    • Stabilizer fabric
  • Tools and adhesives
    • Hot glue gun
    • Lots of hot glue sticks
    • Spray 90 (Amazon)
    • Respirator mask to use when gluing (Amazon)
    • Sewing Machine
    • Scissors and/or X-acto knife
    • Pen or pencil for marking
    • Pins
  • Misc
    • Chef hat and apron set (Amazon)

*These are just the brands/stores I use, you can probably find them elsewhere as well.

Feel free to jump to whatever section:

Foam base | Fabric covering | Eyes | Ears | Mouth | Nose | Hair | Hat

After working on my Mae mascot head, I went into this with some confidence, but not a whole lot cause I was going to use a different method. While Mae’s design was flat, the chef’s design is very round. Taking this into account, I decided to use foam instead of cardboard. I used Commander Holly’s mascot cosplay tutorial quite a bit for reference for both of the heads, which I worked on simultaneously.

Foam base

First step was patterning out the foam pieces. There are a couple different ways to get a pattern for a sphere. Mine involved using the duct-tape method on a styrofoam pumpkin.  I chose to go with 6 panels.

To scale it up, I made a pattern made of cardboard. Then, I set down some paper on a table–I had to tape together 4 sheets of standard 8.5×11 printer paper to get a sheet big enough–and held my phone with the flashlight on above the paper, with the cardboard pattern in between. By doing this, I could use the shadow of the cardboard pattern to scale up the pattern to the correct size. I scaled the pattern so that it could fit two panels in one 15x17x1″ sheet of upholstery foam.

Once the pattern was made, I traced it out six times onto the 1″ foam (2 per sheet). I cut them out using scissors (I’m not great with an X-acto knife) and then set out to glue them together. This part relied heavily on Commander Holly’s video. (Definitely watch it a couple times to get an idea of what to do. And be sure to use a respirator mask and work in a well ventilated area for this!

Working on the base pieces on my apartment balcony. Here’s two sets of 3-panel pieces glued together.

Once the big sphere was done, I cut a hole in the bottom to work as the entry point for Jason’s head. Next up was drawing out with a sharpie where the facial features would go. I referenced lots of different game and promotional art and tried to make everything as symmetrical as possible. These sharpie marks would later be covered with fabric, so the most important part was making sure the mouth placement is good. Once happy with the placement of everything, I cut out the mouth hole, which served as the hole for Jason to see through. After I did all this for Jason’s head, I did it for my own.

Face drawn on

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Last year, Night in the Woods came out and I had the pleasure of watching Jason play through it. It’s a charming game full of heart, humor, and fun mini games. Recently, I finally got to play it myself and purposefully picked story lines that Jason didn’t so that I could see more of the game. It has amazing replay value because of this and I would love to play it again. Maybe it’s just cause I’m feeling cats this year (finally finished Kali), but I wanted to cosplay Mae. And not just Mae, but her Witch Dagger costume. (A costume of a costume!) At first, I thought I’d just reuse Kali’s wig and ears but then I saw this:

While perusing the Instagram hashtags #MaeBorowskiCosplay and #NITWcosplay, I came across these amazing cosplays. I loved how instantly recognizable they were. I have been wanting to do a mascot style cosplay for a while, ever since watching Commander Holly’s video of her Animal Crossing cosplay. While I didn’t have the space to make a cosplay like that, I could definitely get my feet wet by making a head!

These heads in the above picture were all made by Frack Attack, who was gracious enough to post a tutorial on his tumblr! I definitely referenced this quite a bit, especially for the mascot head. I pretty much followed it to a tee except the shirt, so if you want, pop on over to that tutorial if you want to get it from the source!

But if you wanna read my (slightly different) process that includes adding the Witch Dagger elements, read on! And, as always, feel free to jump to the section you’re interested in:

Mascot head

I followed Frack Attack’s tutorial really closely. At first, I tried drawing out the face by hand. I quickly learned that I am not good at that, so instead decided to use my graphic design skills to recreate it digitally.

Timelapse video: Mae head and hat pattern

After tracing the face in Adobe Illustrator, I scaled it up to the correct size. I wanted the head to be proportional to my body and Mae’s head is very wide compared to her shoulders. So I measured it out and it needed to be around 20 inches wide. I scaled it up appropriately in Illustrator, then split them into tabloid sized sections so that I could print them out and tape them together into one big piece.

Once that was done, I traced and cut out the main head shape as well as a matching oval shape using black foam board. (It’s the same foam I used for Black Belladonna’s Gambol Shroud and can be found at Joann’s.) At this stage, I deviated from Frack Attack’s tutorial slightly to go ahead and cut out the eyeholes now rather than after covering it in fabric.

Timelapse video: Cutting out head

Once I had those two shapes, I covered them in blue anti pill fleece. I cut the fabric into pieces larger than the boards, then hot glued them on. For the face, I hotglued the whole front surface and the edge. For the back, I just did the edges only and it seemed to work out fine.

For the face, I used yellow felt that I carefully cut into her nose and whiskers. This part I did freehand while referencing the digital pattern. I did the same thing for her furrowed brow, this time using white felt that I had painted blue. (I thought white would work but in hindsight didn’t like it, so I painted them blue. If I were to go back in time, I would’ve just bought blue felt to save myself the trouble.)

Timelapse video: Covering head with fabric

Taking a leaf out of Frack Attack’s book, I got a hard hat from Home Depot (technically Jason got it lol). I’m pretty sure it was this one. Having the hard hat at this stage was very important, because I needed to make sure that it would fit into the head properly. Hard hat in hand and some cardboard from Joann’s, I determined that two fabric bolts’ worth of cardboard would be enough for the sides. (Joann’s keeps all the empty fabric bolts at the cutting counter. If you ask, they’ll give you some. They just toss them out at the end of the night anyway.) I hot glued them together (one bolt would not be wide enough for both my head and the hard hat) then bent them to match the curve of the head. Once I was happy with the shape, I covered the whole piece in blue fleece to match the rest of the head. At this point, I glued the back piece to the sides and switched gears to the eyes.

I used the same buckram fabric that Frack Attack mentioned in his tutorial. I bought 4 sheets of it and then painted them yellow and red to match Mae’s eyes. I decided to go for her looking to the side instead of straight forward, just cause I hadn’t really seen that much in the cosplay I saw. Also cause straight forward really is NIGHTMARE EYES. Once done painting and drying, I hot glued the eyes to the interior of the face piece and reinforced it with duct tape.

Timelapse video: Painting eyes

Eyes now complete, I attached the face to the rest of the head. I then used duct tape to attach a small piece of foam to the top of my hard hat for some padding. On top of that foam, I put on some industrial strength velcro. I put the opposite part of the velcro on the interior of the top of the head so that it all sticks. The velcro is so strong that it can hold the hard hat completely, which is what I needed since I need to make sure it didn’t slide all over my head.

After putting all the pieces together, I realized I really didn’t like the colors of Mae’s face, specifically her greenish Jaundice-looking eyes and how they were drastically different in color from her yellow mouth/whiskers. So, mixing a little bit of yellow paint to a lot of white paint, I repainted the eyes and the felt that made up her face. The results made me super happy! Much better!

Last was painting the little pink highlights in her tuft of hair. I mixed white and pink paint and then brushed it on. I wiped it down with a paper towel so it wasn’t so bright and looked more like on ombré effect. Lastly, I reinforced the velcro on both the hard hat and the interior of the head by hot gluing the edges. This should keep the velcro from peeling off with continued use.

Paws
Timelapse video: Making paws

I followed Frack Attack’s tutorial pretty closely. I had to do the pattern twice because the first time, I made it way too small. The second time around was much better. I made sure to measure the width of my arm and then cut the measurement in half to get the proper sizing for the forearm part. Making it bigger also made turning it right-side-out much easier. I used leftover pillow stuffing from previous plushie projects to fill the paws. I also went ahead and..

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