Age of costume for craftsmanship?

Archived Thread
Our site is currently being changed over to the new version. Everything you see is currently in read-only mode. Additionally, the layout and UI will not be complete until all sections have been re-enabled, so please ignore any layout issues (or bland-ness) at this time.
#1 fabrickind on 4 years ago


For an upcoming con (anime/cartoons/general pop culture focus, walk-on only competition, fairly small con, if that matters), I would like to compete with a costume that I'm making nearly 100% of, but the main piece of the costume is about 3 years old. [URL=""]This is the costume[/URL]; the bunnysuit as the base is the older piece (from another cosplay and modified with the fur), and the rest is new for this costume.

Would this impact my judging in any way? Everything is something that I've made, and I drafted the pattern for the suit and sewed it from scratch, but I'm not sure how to answer questions about how long it took me to make, how much it cost, etc., since I have no real way of estimating that from so long ago. I'm also not sure how thorough I was in taking progress photos of the suit itself, though I've been taking progress photos for the rest of the costume. I'm also a little concerned that the suit might have some signs of wear that might reflect poorly on it.

Is it frowned upon to enter a costume that uses a piece taken from an older costume, even if I made everything? The original costume was never entered in any contests, so I don't have to navigate the problem of re-entering that costume that's won awards. Is there anything I should keep in mind when entering a costume that uses an older piece? Any advice on how to estimate things like time spent on it, since that's a very common question to be asked and I have no idea how long I spent on the bunnysuit vs. the rest of it that's new?

(As a related but separate question, I've also considered, off and on, competing with a costume that is about 5 years old, but fixing a few of the issues with it. I'm entering the above costume regardless, but in case I do decide to enter the 5-year-old costume at a later competition, would that be frowned upon or otherwise detract from my score, since the entire costume is about 5 years old? I'd be a bit nervous because my skills have hopefully improved in the past 5 years, so I've never entered it anywhere for that reason.)

Thank you! :]

#2 CapsuleCorp on 4 years ago

Nope! You're good.

I mean, the only time I would ever consider the age of a piece to be a detriment is if I made it during a time in which I was definitely less experienced and made bad choices. I recently pulled a peasant shirt out of my closet that is easily 15 years old. Boy did I make some terrible choices back then. I sewed the cuffs all wrong and the interior seams are so sloppy! So even if it went with the rest of a freshly-made outfit thematically, I'd rather remake it from scratch so it matched everything else in terms of skill level and expertise.

But you're already so good at your stuff and I'm sure 3 years isn't as much of a difference as 15 in terms of how much you've improved. ;)

#3 fabrickind on 4 years ago

Awesome, thanks! That makes me feel a lot better. :]

Any advice on how to come up with a good answer when asked how long it took me? Should I just give my best guess? Or what to do about my lack of WIP photos of the bunnysuit? Are WIP photos of every piece essential, or it is mostly to prove that you actually made the piece and to show off any construction details that might not be visible from the outside and not having photos of one piece won't make or break a score?

#4 CapsuleCorp on 4 years ago

Honest to god, everywhere I judge and/or compete, WIP photos are a waste of time. The judges don't even look at them.

I get where they were coming from at one point in time - when anime cons exploded in popularity but didn't understand how to run a contest, there were a lot of lying liars who lied and tried to pass off purchased costumes as their own work. Progress photos were supposed to cut down on that. But that doesn't seem to be as much of a problem anymore, and really, if you can explain your construction process in words and know what you're talking about, that would impress me far more than a photo of the unfinished lining of your jacket or something.

When it comes to judging, I always encourage people to sell themselves: talk up your best work, your proudest moment, anything you learned or tried (and succeeded at) for the first time, and your problem-solving process. Personally, time spent building a costume is a nice anecdote but doesn't actually factor into how I esteem the actual physical appearance of the finished costume. For example, you can tell me you put 50 hours of hand-beading into your bodice, but if the beads are hanging off or your lines are crooked or you used the wrong color of thread and it sticks out, it doesn't matter how much time went into it. That said, you can be perfectly honest that you made parts of it years ago and then finished the rest later, it's neither a detriment nor anything that would give you an unfair advantage.

#5 Ayekasong on 4 years ago

FWIW, I recently judged at a convention in which the entrant who took best in show had been working on his piece for 4 years. Several pieces were a couple of years old. Like Cap said, as long as it's not so old that your skill level is now vastly different, you're golden. :)

#6 fabrickind on 4 years ago

That's good to know that WIP photos are pretty much useless! I'm not so worried about that now. I can easily explain how I made the suit (and everything else), and since I actually did a write-up about the suit after I made it, I can always refresh my memory on that if I feel like I've forgotten something important. (Of course, I also feel like I could do much better if I were to make a second bunnysuit, but I also always feel like I could do better, so that's not really a surprise! There's a bit of wear on it, but the construction has held up well.)

The website for the contest (pre-registration hasn't opened yet so I don't know if it'll be on the signup form) specifically mentions being able to answer how long it took to make, and the last (and only other) contest I've entered actually had that question on the entry form, so at least around here, it seems to be a common question to ask in judging. I don't know how much the time spent making it actually factors into the score, though.

I think I'm a little more worried about this kind of thing than I would otherwise be because this particular con has both pre-judging and the judges asking questions of the cosplayers while they're on stage, so I want to make sure I don't make a fool of myself while standing in front of all those people! (I don't know how they decide which questions to ask, and if they pull them from the questions asked during pre-judging).