#TuesdayTips: All Your Custom Costume Questions Answered | The Marilyn Johnson Sewing Design Studio, LLC

With Halloween around the corner, I am getting e-mails and phone calls daily about custom costumes and I decided to turn it into a blog post for Tuesday Tips for everyone looking to have a costume made. I had Marilyn fill out a questionnaire answering the most common questions asked by clients. Here’s what she had to say:

1. How long does it take to make a custom costume?

It varies by how complicated and detailed the costume is – most cosplay costumes take at least six weeks because we have to order in materials, develop the pattern (to the client’s measurements) for each part of the costume,construct it, and have several fittings as we build it. Other costumes might need only a few days – poodle skirts or pirate pants and vests. 

2. Therefore, when is the best time to schedule a custom costume consultation?

As soon as you decide on a costume, schedule a design consultation, even if the event is 6 to 12 months out. The more time we have to work on it, the better for everyone’s stress levels. 

3. What happens if a request a custom costume with a short turnaround?

There are several ways this could play out – but all involve a Rush Fee (25% of the total). If the costume is fairly simple, we can go ahead and create it. If the costume is very complex and the work schedule is full, I may have to tell you we can’t do it in that time frame, but for a later date/event we can. Or – I may look at the complex costume, suggest ways to pair it down that will fit your short time frame – but it won’t be an exact replica of the costume.

4. What can I do to better prepare for a consultation? – to be both organized and to save money?

Bring lots of pictures and sketches of what you want including front, back, sides, full length and torso closeup if possible. Prepare to be flexible in terms of design elements – not everything that can be drawn 2D converts to 3D

During the design consultation, I can look for ways we can collaborate on costume parts to keep costs within budget. 

5. What is the typical price range of a custom costume project?

We’ve done 2 Green Lantern costumes. The first was the full, highly detailed, new version of the costume – this was $1,150. The second Green Lantern was based on the original comic book character and we made the cape and shirt – the client had the boots and pants. This was $582. 

We also created a Hello Kitty costume which included the blue jumper, detachable tail and kitty ear headband which was $300.

Another costume we created was Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. This costume was $675, it was made with very expensive fabric.

(Note: price range depends on the materials you want, and how intricate the project is. These examples are to help you get an idea.) 

6. Explain the process of making a custom costume from step 1 to finish in a summarized bullet form.

  • Design Consultation to define/decide all details
  • Additional research and design on costume sources for fabrics, notions, trims, parts
  • Create estimate, sent to client for approval
  • Once approved, client signs contract and we collect a 50% deposit. 
  • Start ordering materials
  • Start drafting custom patterns
  • Possible fit muslin construction depending on costume or start constructing in final fabric
  • Fitting
  • Tweaking if necessary
  • Continue Building Costume
  • Fitting
  • Continue building, finalize details
  • Final fitting, payment, and pickup (or delivery depending on arrangement)

For more information about custom projects, visit our projects page HERE.