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How to Survive a Cosplay Convention

May 6th 2022

Con season is here, and with so many options for summer (and all year long), every cosplayer should check a few essentials off their list. We talked to Amanda Haas, known as Jedimanda, for advice. As a professional seamstress, author of Creative Cosplay and the follow-up Level Up! Creative Cosplay (available this October '22!), and avid costume maker with more than 9 years of experience, Jedimanda has competed, and ultimately won, several costume competitions, as well as judged almost an equal amount. So it’s safe to say she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to surviving conventions.

Haas_Amanda_Media Photo collage

Photo credit: Alexandra Lee Studios

What should be in my cosplay repair kit?

Amanda: I will always have hot glue and a mini hot glue gun, a small sewing kit, and the most important item is safety pins.

How can I properly pack my cosplay while traveling to a convention?

Amanda: It honestly depends on how you travel. If you are traveling by car, you can get away with packing items in bags and boxes versus traveling by air you must pack tightly and in a suitcase. I tend to plan to travel with my outfit as I make them so I create my costume to break down. Pack breakable items rolled up within your clothes, and use foam inserts around weirdly shaped items to help if your bag gets thrown around. One of my biggest tips is if you are traveling by air, print a one-sheet list of all the items in your luggage and place it within the luggage, preferably on the top. This insures if TSA needs to get in your luggage for some reason, they will know what's in there and most likely, nothing will be damaged.

How can I properly pack my cosplay while traveling to a convention?

Amanda: It honestly depends on how you travel. If you are traveling by car, you can get away with packing items in bags and boxes versus traveling by air you must pack tightly and in a suitcase. I tend to plan to travel with my outfit as I make them so I create my costume to break down. Pack breakable items rolled up within your clothes, and use foam inserts around weirdly shaped items to help if your bag gets thrown around. One of my biggest tips is if you are traveling by air, print a one-sheet list of all the items in your luggage and place it within the luggage, preferably on the top. This insures if TSA needs to get in your luggage for some reason, they will know what's in there and most likely, nothing will be damaged. 

How do I apply for and participate in cosplay masquerades?

Amanda: Each convention is a little different so you will need to check the website of the convention to see each rule. However, most conventions have an application that you will use to sign up. Depending on if you are doing a craftsmanship or masquerade-based contest, you will need to fill it out with the information requested.

Next, you should build a cosplay work in progress journal of your work. This should include photos, short writings about how you created the cosplay, and sometimes swatches or scraps of the build. This journal will help the judges understand the work you did to build the cosplay. This is handy for the judges when are making decisions.

Next, you show off your creation on stage, then the awards are handed out at the end. All contests are different and with different judges, so keep trying if you don’t win.

How can I do well in a costume contest?

Amanda: Doing well is all about the attitude. Cosplay Contests are fun and supposed to be fun, so keep it that way. Don’t have an attitude if you don’t win, and treat your other competitors with kindness. Some of my favorite times are with other competitors backstage talking shop.

How can I stay cool in a heavy costume?

Amanda: This is tough because no matter how cool you try to stay, you will still feel like you will overheat. Take breaks and physically take off parts of your costume. Also, having a handler to help you out is a must. Don’t forget to keep drinking water throughout the day.

Do you have any additional tips and tricks for attending a con?

Amanda: Bring snacks! All conventions will allow you to bring in your own food. My favorites are beef jerky, KIND bars, and cheerios! PLUS energy drinks. 

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