…And Sewing Is Half the Battle! is happy to present a variety of panels and workshops at conventions or anywhere we’re wanted, on costuming topics ranging from wig styling and found-object costuming to makeup and jewelry-making — and non-costuming topics ranging from literary analysis to dance instruction to animal training! Since we’ve had many requests for information on the programming we offer, here’s a master list of presentations by “…And Sewing Is Half The Battle!” (We add new ones occasionally, so check back.)
These programs include a slideshow-style visual presentation, in-depth discussion of the topic, samples/demos and Q&A. They can fit either a one- or two-hour time slot (two hours preferred if expected attendance is greater than 20 people). These programs are free.
- THE ART OF FOUND OBJECT COSTUMING – It’s a common dilemma: You want to cosplay, but you don’t have much cash. Or you don’t have access to a sewing machine, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if you did. Or the con is in two days, and you don’t have time to make something from scratch. Sound familiar? If so, this panel is for you! We’ll show you costumes made for less than $10, plus discuss character selection, the process of deconstructing a costume, and how to build a complete costume out of things you have around the house.
- PATTERNS LIE! AND OTHER USEFUL SEWING FACTS – Learning to sew can be daunting, especially if you’ve never had formal instruction. We’re here to help! In this panel, we’ll cover selecting and reading a pattern, choosing fabric, cutting, pinning, sewing, pressing, finishing hems, and more — all without complicated sewing terminology! You’ll be sewing like a pro in no time. Bring your questions!
- PROPS & ACCESSORIES FOR COSTUMING – Nothing defines a character like a signature weapon or a unique piece of jewelry, but props can often be more difficult to find or create than the fabric clothing of costumes. Don’t let your amazing costume be brought down by a bad prop, when for just a few bucks you can make something that completes your look! We’ll cover the pros and cons of various construction materials, as well as help you save money and recycle materials.
MAKEUP FOR COSTUMING – No costume is complete without appropriate makeup! Makeup can make you truly resemble your character and look better in photos. Learn how to look more masculine or more feminine, give yourself enormous anime eyes, create alien prostheses, or add special effects. We’ll show you what you need and how to achieve the effect you want.
- COSPLAY PICS 101: POSING IN COSTUME – Want to look better in your cosplay photos? Want to make quick hallway snapshops look as good as a staged photoshoot? It’s possible with a little posing practice! Come learn the secrets of creating flattering and dynamic poses for any character.
- FEATHERWEIGHT ARMOR – It’s possible to make great costume armor without investing in metalworking or risking toxic chemicals! We’ll cover alternative armoring for historical and fantasy costumes, using a variety of inexpensive, readily-available materials.
- COSPLAY ON STAGE: PRESENTATION AND PERFORMANCE FOR COSPLAYERS – Join stage veterans and award-winning performers for tips on perfecting your masquerade presentation. Doing a walk-on? Learn how to pose like your character and make the best use of the stage area. Doing a performance? Learn how to script a memorable skit, block your moves, involve your audience, and more! All experience levels welcome.
- INTRO TO THERMOPLASTICS – You’ve heard about amazing plastics like Worbla and Wonderflex and Sintra, but which material is right for your project, and where do you start? This workshop will cover the basic varieties of thermoplastics and their uses, along with sample projects and live demonstrations.
- MOLDS, RESINS AND SILICONES, OH MY! – This panel walks you through the full process of fabricating hard plastic and flexible synthetic accessories for your costume (or other hobby). We’ll discuss the various types of casting and moldmaking materials, explore their pros and cons, and walk through the moldmaking and casting process. Samples of various materials and finished products will be on hand. (Bring a notebook; this panel is info-heavy!)
These programs include a slideshow-style visual presentation, in-depth discussion of the topic, hands-on samples/demos and Q&A, as well as a project to complete during the workshop and/or group activities. There is a materials cost associated with these workshops; the cost listed is per participant (up to 20 participants per workshop).
- BEGINNING AND FOUND-OBJECT COSTUMING (2 hours; $10) – You want a better costume, and you don’t want to break the bank — this is how you get it. This panel covers found object costuming — it’s not just junk you throw together! — and simple cosplay projects, as well as the art of character selection and making what’s in your closet look newly fabulous. You’ll make a simple fantasy tunic to wear out.
- PROPS & ACCESSORIES FOR COSTUMING (2 hours; $10) – Nothing defines a character like a signature weapon or a unique piece of jewelry, but props can often be more difficult to find or create than the fabric clothing of costumes. Don’t let your amazing costume be brought down by an aluminum-foil-over-cardboard sword, when for just a few bucks you can make something that completes your look! Join us for talk about how to make good props on the cheap, and how to make better props for a bit of investment. We’ll cover the pros and cons of various materials, and you’ll make small hall-safe weapons to take with you!
- FEATHERWEIGHT ARMOR (2 hours; $10) – Did you know it’s possible to make great costume armor without investing in metalworking or risking toxic chemicals? We’ll cover alternative armoring for historical and fantasy costumes, using a variety of inexpensive, readily-available materials. You’ll also make a piece to take home yourself.
- MAKEUP FOR COSTUMING (2 hours; $10) – No costume is complete without appropriate makeup! Makeup can make you truly resemble your character and look better in photos. Learn how to look more masculine or more feminine, give yourself enormous anime eyes, create alien prostheses, or add special effects. Workshop includes instruction, demonstrations, discussion, and hands-on practice using high-quality theatrical and special effects makeup.
- COSTUMING: PRESENTATION & CHARACTER (2 hours; $6) – You’ve spent hours and hours creating the perfect costume, but somehow it doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. Or you have only a quick found-object costume, but you want to make it seem like much more. Both of these challenges can be met with solid presentation! Learn how to comport yourself in character, from movement to speech to gestures: Walk like a man or a woman at will. Change your age or your personality. Also, we’ll discuss live performance, and how to write a skit or presentation that will become a crowd favorite.
- WINGS & THINGS (2 hours; $20) – Many fantasy costumes include non-human bits. We’ll discuss hallway-friendly wings, larger wings for stage use, realistic working wings, and other animal attachments such as horns, tails, and more! Learn what makes the difference between a cheesy costume and a striking accessory. Finally, you’ll make a pair of hall-safe wings to wear out and enjoy.
INTRO TO THERMOPLASTICS (1 hour, $10) – You’ve heard about amazing plastics like Worbla and Wonderflex and Sintra, but which material is right for your project, and where do you start? This workshop will cover the basic varieties of thermoplastics and their uses, along with sample projects and live demonstrations.
- MOLDS, RESINS, AND SILICONE FOR COSTUMING: MEGA-PANEL (3 hours, $24) – In the lesson portion, we’ll discuss materials for making props, lightweight armor, and unusual pieces, advanced techniques for coloring and shaping resin, and more. Within the workshop portion, participants will create an original design and make a silicone mold, then cast and color a finished piece. Take the piece and the mold home to use again!
These programs include a slideshow-style visual presentation, audio/video clips, and Q&A. These events are free.
- SUPER-HYPER-ULTRA-MEGA-ABRIDGED GUIDE TO ANIME OF THE 1990S (2 hours) – If you discovered anime in a year beginning with 2, chances are you missed some of the most defining series of American fandom. But never fear — even if you don’t have time to watch Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Slayers, Rurouni Kenshin AND all 200 episodes of Sailor Moon, we can still help you avoid making n00b mistakes. After this panel, you’ll be able to recognize cosplays, understand reference jokes, and sing along with Zankoku na Tenshi no TE-ZE like all the other fanboys and girls.
These presentations fall under the “educational” header, but we promise they’re also fun and entertaining! These events are free.
- JAPANESE FOLKLORE – AN ANIME, MANGA & FILM PRIMER (2 hours) – What’s the difference between bakemono and ayakashi? What are those little creatures that show up in your favorite anime? Get the most from your anime and Asian cinema experience when you understand the cultural background! Learn the basics of Japanese mythology in this folklore primer, and see examples in action with video clips from anime and film.
- THE PHANTOM THIEF – AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY (2 hours) – How did Edgar Allen Poe influence Sailor Moon? What do Norse gods, Joan of Arc, and Lupin III have in common? Who was the real-life Moriarty? Learn the origin of the kaitou, Japan’s archetypical thief, and follow this truly international antihero’s development through history with examples from anime, manga, film and literature.
- A PARENT’S VIEW – WHY DOES MY KID HAVE GREEN HAIR AND CAT EARS? (1 hour) – Parents are often (justifiably) mystified when it comes to the strange hobbies their children become involved in. This panel addresses some of parents’ most common concerns about conventions and fandom, from the perspective of a Real Live Parent (accept no substitutes)! Also included in this presentation are a brief history of fandom as we know it, a list of anime terms every parent should know, and helpful resources for parents to stay informed about their kids’ interests. Questions and discussion are welcome!
- GANKUTSUOU – THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (1 hour) – The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, is an extremely famous and influential novel that has been reimagined in various forms: cinema, television, and now anime. But when it was published, it was shocking, sensational, and downright scandalous! Join us for a discussion and comparative look at the original work, various film and TV interpretations, and the anime. We even have rare film footage that you won’t see anywhere else!
GEEKY WRITING & PUBLISHING PANELS
Laura is a best-selling author of both non-fiction and fiction, including fantasy (historical, epic, and urban), historical, and mystery. Let her talk about writing and geeks!
- YOUR VELOCIRAPTORS ARE BROKEN – From fiction to screenwriting, creators often ignore basic science in the name of storytelling. But it’s true that “truth is stranger than fiction,” and often using the same old trope or assumption means missing out on something much cooler. Join Laura, international speaker on animal training and behavior and bestselling author, to discuss some of the most common errors and show how taking an accurate approach might yield not only a more believable but a more complex and better story.
- WHY I HATE SELF-PUBLISHING: A SNARKY GUIDE BY A HAPPY SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR – Today it’s simple to publish a book with the flick of a mouse. It’s not quite as easy, though, to publish a book which will sell well and establish a good writing career. And bad advice about writing, editing, marketing, and relating to one’s fellow authors is everywhere. Let Laura warn you about some of the most common errors, and advise how best to avoid them, with some laughs along the way.
- BEST FOOT FORWARD! “EDITOR” IS NOT JUST A MOVIE CREDIT – So you’re new to writing or publishing, and you think you can’t afford the time or expense of editing? You can’t afford not to edit. Let’s discuss the different types of editing, from structural to line, and why it’s imperative that your manuscript experience them all before it goes out as a submission or a self-published book. Bonus overview of ridiculous research errors.
- COVER DESIGN 101: COMPELLING AND MARKETABLE GRAPHIC DESIGN FOR FICTION – We all know a bad book cover when we see it: Unreadable titles, badly-Photoshopped cover images, hideous color choices. But even if your cover isn’t a graphic design nightmare, it may not be selling your book! Learn how to break down a cover and make sure it’s working for you. We’ll discuss concepts, art choice, typefaces, visibility, and how to avoid common marketing mistakes.
These workshops don’t fit under any other category, but they’re still fun! There is a materials cost for some of these workshops; cost listed is per participant.
- GAMER JEWELRY – MAKE A D6 BRACELET & EARRINGS (1 hour; $8) – Show your geek pride! Make a D6 bracelet, earrings, or combination to wear out. Variations and creativity encouraged!
- RETICULATED COIFFURE – MAKE A FANCY COMB AND SNOOD (1 hour; $8) – Want to add a Renaissance touch to your costume or everyday garb? Make a fancy beaded comb and snood for your hair.
- BEASTMASTER – THE ART OF ANIMAL TRAINING FOR THE REAL WORLD (2 hours; $20) – Pet training is seen everywhere, but what works in real life? Why does every national veterinary and behavior organization publicly advise against popular TV techniques and recommend a more scientific approach instead? Join professional trainers for training you SHOULD try at home. Learn not only the how, but the why, from multi-certified, internationally-known instructors. Includes live animals for practice and materials to take home!
- LEARN TO DANCE THRILLER! (2 hours; free) – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is an iconic dance, and always useful — and you can learn it. Yes, you! This tutorial is specifically for novice and less confident dancers (experts are welcome, too!). Your instructors are TAGteach-certified to help you achieve your best with the most fun possible
- BALLROOM DANCE PRIMER (1 hour; free) – Terrified of the convention’s formal dance event? Not sure what to do at wedding receptions? Never fear, “…And Sewing Is Half The Battle!” is here to help! In this short, easy dance lesson, you’ll learn the basic waltz and some simple swing dance variations. Impress your friends and your date with your fancy footwork!