Choosing a Pattern for Cosplay

Hi friends! After the amazing response to my mini tutorial for village Belle, I decided to turn pattern selection into a detailed blog post. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to sewing, but choosing a pattern doesn’t have to be scary. I hope by the end of this blog, you feel more confident and ready to take on pattern section! Let’s go!

I’m going to assume you’re probably a relatively new sewer. If not, I do apologize if this is a little too simplistic. The first thing I want to recommend is that you sketch out your potential cosplays before choosing patterns. Sketching things out helps you understand the different layers of the clothing, as well as where seams might be. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve figured something out about a cosplay during the sketching process. And it’s okay if you’re not very artistic. You don’t have to be. The sketch is for you, not for any one else.

The second thing I want to recommend is for you to look at the lines of the garment, and not the garment itself, when you are looking at patterns. I honestly wish pattern companies gave you the option to search by the line drawing that’s found on the back of the package instead of by the model they choose to put on the front. That drawing will help you determine if the pattern will work for you. Not the picture on the front. Sometimes the fabrics they choose mask the nature of the garment itself. Try to see through the fabrics and model to the actual pattern pieces.

Now let’s get to choosing patterns. You need to know your strengths and your weaknesses when it comes to sewing and make sure you choose your patterns accordingly. Do you absolutely suck at sleeves? Make the sleeves of the outfit a top priority when looking for a pattern. Do you rock at fitting? Move fit down to the bottom of your list. What I am giving to you in the tutorial are merely suggestions. Take these suggestions and tweak them to work for you.  Usually when I choose a pattern, I look for a few things: sleeve, collar, basic shape, fabric type. Usually in that order. I’m awful at sleeves and collars so I need those to be as spot on as possible. I’m pretty good at tweaking fit and changing a pattern to fit the fabric type so those are near the bottom. Again, these are suggestions. Are these the only patterns that will work for these characters? Absolutely not. Are these even the best patterns for these characters? Perhaps not. I did not do an exhaustive search since I was looking up multiple characters for this blog. When I look for a pattern for myself, I research in depth the character (multiple screen shots, multiple angles) as well as use multiple pattern companies, not just the big names. I decided to mostly stick with the big names for this blog because they’re easy to find and most people are comfortable working with them. But that doesn’t mean you have to only use them! There are loads of other pattern makers out there! See who other cosplayers use and give them a shot!

Let’s work through a few examples, starting with some simple ones and ending with some very tough ones.

Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service


For this example we are going to look for a pattern for her dress. Using my criteria above, I wanted to find a dress with sleeves. The length is less important for me, as I know I could lengthen them if needed. I also wanted to make sure the collar was similar to hers. And has a similar shape. Fabric type is only important here if you have a specific fabric you wish to make the cosplay out of.

Option one: Simplicity 8833

This option has the correct sleeves. The collar is open, but looks easy enough to fix. And the silhouette is similar, although a little more grown up than Kiki’s.

Option two: Simplicity 8831

This option also has the correct sleeves, although they are gathered. This is easy to fix if you don’t like it. The collar is also incorrect, but would be a simple fix. And the silhouette is similar to Kiki’s, just a tad more fitted through the waist. This is my personal favorite of the three options.

Option three: New Look 6469

This is a knit option for the dress. The sleeve is similar, although would need to be widened. The collar is most correct of the three. And the silhouette is most correct of the three.

Gray Warden from Dragon Age


For this example we are only looking at the bolero jacket. Bolero jackets can sometimes be a real stumper because there aren’t a lot of bolero jacket options. And once you’ve looked through them, if nothing works, there’s nothing else you can do, right? Wrong! A bolero is simply a cut off jacket! So if you can’t find an existing bolero pattern, find a jacket pattern you like, and make it a bolero! What’s important here is the collar line and the sleeve.

Simplicity 8604

Unfortunately, there was only one option I found that met the criteria I was looking for. I’m looking at view C. The top part of the jacket is the only part we’ll need. The collar looks very similar, and most importantly are the sleeves. The Gray Warden has zero ruffles or gathers in her sleeves and finding a jacket without gathers and with the correct collar was tough! But this pattern, with a bit of altering, should do the trick. The sleeves with need to be tapered as they’re too wide at the wrist, but you can probably use the sleeves from view B as a guide for this.

Rimuru Tempest


For this example we will again just look at the jacket. The fur on the collar and wrists will have to be added, but the base jacket can be sewn using a pattern. Using the above formula, I found two options.

Option one: Burda 6847

The sleeves look good on this jacket, and the collar should work as well. The seam lines aren’t the same, but there are a lot of seams on the front which is similar to his jacket. The only way to get the exact seam lines would be to pattern the jacket yourself, so this is a fairly good option. I would alter the fit slightly to make it a little less fitted and more boxy like his. And only install a zipper on the top instead of all the way down so it flares open like his does.

Option two: Burda 7183

I don’t like this option as well as the first. It’s made for knit, so if your don’t use knit, you’ll have to alter the pattern to accommodate that. It’s also too short and it doesn’t have all the seams in the front. But it does have the same basic shape as the jacket he wears.

Salem (RWBY)


For this cosplay, we’ll look at her dress and cape. I not only utilized photos from the show, but I also looked through cosplay photos to see how other cosplayers made her outfit. I decided a dress with separate cape was the best route, especially considering the nature of this tutorial.

Dress option one: McCalls 7866

This option has the sleeves and the cut out. It has a similar silhouette, but it’s not exact. It would need to be altered, or you would need to be okay with the dissimilarity.

Dress option two: McCalls 7569

This option has the sleeve (just don’t add the ruffle) and a very similar silhouette, but not the cutout. However, it has a dress option with a cut out so it might be fairly simple to alter.

Cape option: Simplicity 8201

This was really the only cape I liked from the patterns I looked through. It’s long and dramatic. It comes across the shoulders, but just barely. It’s about as perfect as I could find without drafting one yourself.

World Handler Busy Bee from Monster World


For this cosplay, we’ll be looking at the skirt and the top. There are obviously additional layers to this cosplay that you will not be able to find a pattern for, but this will help you with a base. The shirt will need to be modified fairly heavily. This is probably not a great project for a beginner sewer.

Skirt option:Simplicity 1109

You really just need a basic skirt with a pleat. I chose this one, but there are many others that would work just as well. There is nothing special about this particular pattern.

Shirt option 1: McCalls 7356

This options gives you a similar neckline, and an interesting and similar silhouette. This could work for your own interpretation of the skin, but it would not match the actual character.

Shirt option 2: McCalls 7326

This option has a high neckline that would need to be altered. It has a nice fitted shape that would work well. Due to the complex design on the Busy Bee skin, you will need to not only alter this pattern to fit the shape of the shirt, you will then need to redraw a new pattern for her shirt design.

Upon careful inspection of this character, it looks like her shirt/dress is a butterfly wrapped around her. To get this effect, it would be much easier to draft a pattern from scratch that it would be to alter a preexisting one. I would highly recommend using the duct tape method of pattern drafting as it’s incredibly simple. I am working on a tutorial on my YouTube channel now, and the first video is currently up and available here.

Hatsune Miku Cinderella version

For this cosplay, we will look at her top and her skirts. This is another advanced project. Patterns will likely need a lot of alterations.

Top options 1,2,3: Simplicity 8549, Simplicity 1426, McCalls 7958

All of these tops are very similar and offer the same basic silhouette. It’s a good starting point. You’d need to extend the top down and add the details of the top. But these would all be a good jumping off point for starting your own pattern.

Top option 4: McCalls 7825

Similar to the above options, except this one extends down into a tail. You’d have to trim the pattern and then add your details. But, again, a good base for creating your own pattern.

Under skirt option: New Look 6346

View C can be modified to give a similar look to her under skirt.

Over skirt option: Simplicity 1092

With a lot of modifications, it looks like this skirt could be modified into her over skirt. I would probably opt out of a pattern, and choose to pattern this myself using some variation of a circle skirt.

Ukyo Kuonji

I unfortunately was not able to find any pattern that really works for this. It really needs to be draped. The closets this I could find was New Look 6624, and it’s not a very good option. I’m so sorry 😦

Sophie Hatter by Hannah Alexander

Let me preface by saying that I absolutely do not think this is a beginners sewing project at all. In fact, I don’t even feel qualified giving pattern recommendations on this, since it’s a historical costuming garment, and that is not my area of expertise. However, it was suggested, and it’s also a really good suggestion because it brings into light undergarments! So, I’m going to do it anyway! Please, take my suggestions with a grain of salt. If you do this cosplay and want it to be accurate, I highly recommend doing loads of research on the time period (late regency, early romance) and patterning it yourself.

I am not going to include a photo showing the lines I was following for this character. I don’t feel right doing this to Hannah’s beautiful artwork. I hope by know you are able to see what I am looking at and I will draw it out on the patterns below.

If you absolutely must stick with mainstream patterns and don’t want to make any of the undergarment whatsoever, then I would grudgingly say…

Option one: Butterick 6537

It has a very similar look and feel to it as HA’s beautiful art. I do recommend you at least wear a corset underneath your dress. And perhaps a butt pad. The sleeves look great. The front would need to be extended and embellished. The skirt would need to be taken up just a tad in the front, but the length in the back looks okay.

If you are willing to step away from mainstream patterns, let me introduce you to Laughing Moon Mercantile!

For the bodice, #103

View C and A would combine quite nicely for the bodice.

For the skirt, #101

And for the undergarments, #115, and #102

Like I said above, I am by no means an expert when it comes to historical sewing. I might have given you the wrong style corset or undergarment. I hope not. I truly did my best. If you decide to do this cosplay, please do loads of research and make sure you make the correct undergarments.

Pattern Companies Used:

Simplicity, Burda, and New Look

McCalls, Butterick

Laughing Moon Mercantile

I really hope this has helped! If there is anything you need clarification on, let me know if the comments. And until next time, keep sewing!

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