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Tips for Surviving Cosplay with the Kids

Tips for Surviving Cosplay with the Kids

I’ll admit: I have very fond memories of wearing costumes my mother made me for Halloween growing up. It’s probably why I made the decision to make my daughter costumes, despite the fact that my sewing skills are that of someone who barely has the skills to hem pants straight.

There’s something beautiful and rewarding about sharing your passion with your child and encouraging them to express their nerdy loves in public. That’s what cosplay is. Cosplaying with kids, however, is somewhat different than cosplaying as an adult, so here are some tips to help you both survive and enjoy cosplaying with your little ones.


TEACH THE ART OF THE KILLER POSE


Dr. Who Dalek & Angel Children's Costume

Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

I turned a pillowcase dress into a Dalek costume with paint for one convention. The fit was, awkward, the props were basic (whisk and plunger) and even the painted-on patterns weren’t perfect.

But that costume was sold on the play aspect of cosplay. My daughter started striking the cool poses for photos and would enthusiastically exclaim, “EXTERMINATE!” when she did pose. Doing so, my little Dalek was able to elevate a basic looking dress into a fantastic costume. Stick her next to repurposed angel costume with a similarly killer pose and it’s hard to argue that these two make for a pretty awesome Dr. Who villain duo.


STRATEGIC FACE PAINT IS A KID’S COSTUME HERO


Teri & Elora Batman

Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

For younger children especially, facepaint can take a t-shirt and make it a costume. The best part is that you don’t have to be especially artsy to pull it off, and if you mess up, just wash it off and try again.

Moreover, inexpensive face paint can also be used to in place of expensive props; consider painting on a mask, glasses, a wristwatch or other unique accessory that would otherwise be a one-time use item that might not be worth either buying or making.


GREAT PROPS CAN MAKE A COSTUME


Pokemon Trainer Costume Props

Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

For many kids, it’s just enough to feel like a character that’s part of a universe, rather than cosplaying as someone/thing from a specific universe. The joy of this is that instead of creating an entire costume, you can get away with putting a costume together using a few key costume elements and props.

It’s remarkable how a hat, a Pokéball and a killer pose can turn a regular child into a Pokemon trainer in the blink of an eye.
Similarly, a brown robe and light saber can turn a child into a Jedi – combine this with a Jedi name generator and you have a child’s costume full of win.

Props are also things that you can invest in  – often times buying a decent quality toy that can be used a a costume prop is an investment that pays dividends over and over.


COMFORT IS KING 


 

Comfortable Geek Costumes for Babies

Photo Credits: Teri Litorco/Erik Gillespie

Take it from someone who decided to make a Jawa costume for a baby who wasn’t yet eating solid foods: if you want your child to wear your costume (and be happy for photos), comfort trumps all.

When you’re gathering materials for your child’s costume, think about the fabric’s comfort.  Choose temperature appropriate fabrics; fabrics that will make your child too hot or too cold will lead to misery. Furthermore, touch the fabric – avoid anything overly stiff or scratchy where the fabric will touch skin. Rubber masks  (or most face coverings in general) can similarly be hot and uncomfortable.


EASILY MAKE ACCESSORIES OUT OF FELT & FOAM


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Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

Sometimes all it takes is a fantastic prop to bring an entire outfit together. Felt and sheet foam are both fantastic materials as it can be easily cut and hot-glued/hand-stitched into all sorts of useful and stylish forms.

I’ve whipped up all sorts of props with these materials including Lakitu costume elements (the shell, spike ball and cloud happy face) as well as a Jawa’s bandolier – all without the use of a sewing machine.


JUST SAY NO TO WIGS


Adventuretime Cosplay with Kids

Photo Credit: Teri Litorco

While most adults can don a wig comfortably for long periods of time, most children under 8 cannot wear a wig comfortably for longer than 10 minutes, so buying and styling a wig that will undoubtedly be hot and heavy, or worse yet, restricts movement (particularly if it’s an anime cosplay with stiff spikes or ridges)  just isn’t worth it.

If you’re so inclined, you can always style the hair or color it with temporary sprays/hair chalk instead.


JOIN IN THE FUN!


Cosplay with your kid

Photo Credits: Teri Litorco/Erik Gillespie

It is a unique experience to share the things you love with your child. Being in costume together is a unique opportunity to show them that expressing a love and fandom publicly is safe and enjoyable.


THE FINAL TIP:  BUY IT BEFORE YOU MAKE IT


If you’re not a skilled or passionate costumer, consider buying a costume for a character over making one, if it is an option; yes, the quality is lower and sometimes (though rarely) it’s a little more expensive than the cost of materials. Consider the fact that the person who will wear this costume will probably outgrow it or destroy it before being worn a second or third time in public (though it may be loved at home).
More often than not, a store bought costume will give comparable amounts of joy as a homemade one to a child.
If you’re itching to personalize, you can always add scratch-made elements to a costume—accessories or props that won’t be outgrown and can be investment pieces for future costumes.
Do you have fond memories of childhood costumes? Do you cosplay with your family? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image: Teri Litorco

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