Don’t you just love the title of this post? It makes me giggle every time I read it. “Cosplay on a Ramen Noodle Budget” was the brainchild of one of my Teen Advisory board members. She had suggested we have a program about making cheap costumes for Comic Cons and Halloween. After tossing around program titles with the other members she shouted out this little gem of a title and our program was born.
Cosplay is a huge thing right now with teens. If you are not sure what Cosplay is and why you should care, let me give you a brief intro as to why it’s a popular trend that won’t be going away anytime soon. Dressing up is a widely popular teen activity that has spanned the ages. Teens spend a good amount of time trying to invent and reinvent their personal identities on a daily basis. Dressing up as a favorite character gives them the option to explore new personalities in a safe environment. Plus, it’s a ton of fun!
The Urban Dictionary defines Cosplay as “Literally “Costume Play.” Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character (usually a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character).” With the influx of superhero movies, live action anime films like “Attack on Titan”, and the explosion of geek culture; it is easy to see why teens have tons of options for character exploration. Still not convinced? Check out this years San Diego Comic Con Best of Cosplay posts.
On to the program: Cosplay on a Ramen Noodle Budget
The goal of the program was to talk about how you can make costumes on the cheap. I had several local cosplay artists come in costume and talk about their creations and a local cosplay shop (Eternal Armory) let me borrow some of their props to show off to the kids. I also brought my sewing machine and had a “how to measure yourself” table. Finally, we had a craft table with chain mail pop tabs for them to try and shoe wings.
We had a question and answer format to our presentation and I was really surprised at all the fantastic questions the teens had. We first introduced everyone and had them tell a little about how and why they cosplay. They also talked about their all time favorite costume. Next, we had the teens introduce themselves and talk about their favorite fandoms and if they were working on anything at the moment. After that it was stories, suggestions, and lots and lots of questions!
Things we discussed:
- What to expect at your first Comic Con- behavior, tips on shoes, a special note about how cosplay does not mean consent and staying safe.
- Where to find cheap fabric, re-purposing old thrift store clothes, and how to learn sewing skill (youtube, classes, pinterest)
- How to take accurate body measurements and sizing things. *this was really popular- Handouts at the end of my post*
- Finding comic cons
- Ignoring the haters and loving what you make!
We ended up with 18 teens (which is a record for me) and they all stayed the whole time! Cue happy library lady dance! Many stayed after to ask our guest specific questions and I even had kids asking me when we would do this again!
Things I would change:
We kept getting off topic because lots of kids had stories instead of questions. That is something I could have mentioned at the beginning during introductions. It frustrated those that just had questions and had to wait on the storyteller. Another big issue is that several kids were expecting to make something at the program. I did not advertise that we would be making things but I can see where they might have gotten confused. I will definitely add more hands on activities for the next program.
Finally, having a guy cosplayer on the panel. We had a few boys in the group and I think it would have been great for them to see a dude in costume. It also would have balanced out our group. Unfortunately, I could not find a guy to come in that night. However, since the event I have met a few great male cosplayers that would love to come to the next event! Score!
Stuff that you can use:
Poptab Chain-mail: I had lots of prepped pop tabs that they could link together to make chain-mail. I used this Instructable to get them started. Start collecting tabs early! I sent out a message to all my coworkers and ended up with a nice amount.
Measurements: I did a mini tutorial on how to take accurate measurements if you are sewing or buying a costume. This is the handout I created.
Example of our promotional flyer: Unfortunately I cannot share the actual flyer to edit. That is property of our district and cannot be edited. However, steal the wording and idea if you wish!
Evaluation and tips:
I think that this was a successful program. The title was catchy and really grabbed the teens attention. It did spawn a new cosplay group that will meet 4 times a year at our library to work on costumes and learn new skills! Whoot! I would add a few more hands on activities and a guy on the panel when we do this again. I encourage you to scout your local cosplay groups to find you panelists. I was able to get age appropriate people to come and show off their skills. Don’t be afraid to interview them before the program and check out pictures of what they wear.
If you end up doing this program or have something similar I would love to check it out! Link it up below in the comments. Twilight Sparkle commands you!