No, Your Cosplayer Bestie Can’t Make You a Costume for Spirit Halloween Prices
That's not how costume commissions work.
So you say you want a costume in time for Halloween, but the idea you have isn’t available at the Spirit Halloween that’s taken up residence in that empty Circuit City or Toys R’ Us, and you just so happen to have a friend who cosplays?
Maybe the costume you want is at the store but you want a more detailed version of it, my point is, you want to ask someone who cosplays (or knows how to sew in general) if they can make your Halloween costume for you.
The request for having a handmade costume wouldn’t be a problem if not for the assumptions that arise from it.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying everyone makes the assumptions I’m about to lay out, but I am saying that these assumptions exist, and there is a major spike in them when October rolls around.
Back when I cosplayed on a regular basis, my wife was the one at the sewing machine. She’d make all of our cosplay which meant that she would, on occasion, be asked to do commissions. As anyone can tell you when they’re asked about commissions, there comes a time when you deal with someone who doesn’t understand the value of your time, how much labor is involved with costume making, and how, yes, JOANN Fabrics is having a sale, but fabric is just part of the cost.
(Also, the price of fabric can change, there are different kinds of fabrics to use for particular jobs, etc.)
This was always a point of frustration for my wife, but that frustration always increased tenfold during Halloween season. That’s because she wasn’t just dealing with folks who wanted to cosplay for a con, she was dealing with regular, everyday people who suddenly wanted to dress up as their favorite character. The commission questions weren’t just happening in her DMs because (insert geek centric event) was coming up, Halloween meant she had to deal with friends, coworkers, and a random cousin or two who remembered, “Hey, you make costumes, right?!”
You can absolutely inquire about a costume commission, but you can’t go in thinking that you can ask “the creative one” in the family chat or the coworker who took the weekend off for SDCC if they can put together a look for zero dollars and zero cents.
You also can’t ask them this close to Halloween.
I know Halloween is at the end of October, but you have to give costume makers time to create what you want—assuming the person you’re asking has the skillset required to make what you want. Just because you know someone who can sew doesn’t mean they can sew the particular thing you’re looking for.
My wife loves making elaborate gowns, but that doesn’t mean she can make a full bodysuit.
Even if you think it “looks easy,” sewing not only takes time (especially if the end result “looks easy”), but the person you’re reaching out to may already have orders to finish. Or they, perhaps, aren’t taking orders at all, as some cosplayers forgo doing commissions around Halloween because, well, they work on cosplay throughout the year and Halloween is when they take a break.
Hell, some cosplayers don’t even do commissions, opting to keep cosplay as something they do for themselves and no one else.
And yeah, sometimes, you will find that person who doesn’t mind putting together a look for a simple “thank you,” but you can’t assume that all cosplayers/seamstresses/folks who are good with a needle and thread are gonna be okay with doing that.
At the end of the day, sewing takes a lot of work, and when you decide to ask someone to create a look for you, you can’t lowball them because you saw a costume on the rack being sold for a cheaper price. This is already an assumption folks have to fight against on a regular basis when they offer commissions, but as we get closer to Halloween, there is a sharp rise of “can’t you throw something together for me?”
The answer is no, they can’t, or rather, they can (because it’s their choice), but they shouldn’t have to, nor should anyone expect them to.
Please stop telling cosplayers that they should make something for nothing.
(Image: DC Comics)
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