By Jeremy Johnson
Never fear, the cosplay medics are here, and more so than ever before. Cosplay repair is on the rise at conventions, by goodwill individuals, business & groups, or by the conventions themselves. Whether your seams are torn or your prop is falling apart, these brave individuals will be there to assist you with your last minute cosplay repairs. We reached out to some of the cosplay medics in the US to ask about their experiences helping out our fellow craftsman:
COSPITAL COSPLAY REPAIR – A group of 5 members based in Orlando, Florida that recently had a repair room at Megacon, complete with changing booth to help with the more private fixes needed.
How long have you been offering cosplay repair as a service?
The repair station began officially spring of 2015. However, both of our founders have been professional costumers/prop makers for many years prior. They have done costuming/concepting for theater, opera, production companies, and of course the usual cosplay and ren faire commissions.
How many conventions do you do per year? What’s the largest one you repair at?
So far, Megacon was our largest. We estimate each tech handled a couple hundred people over a 3 day weekend, not to mention there was additional traffic at self-serve stations (hot glue, safety pins, etc). Megacon graciously gave us a 20′ x 20′ room last year, which really shows off the potential and need for this service. We were constantly at capacity. We are keeping small, just 2-3 shows a year, as we offer this as a free service and it takes quite a bit to wrangle all the gear and supplies. We are hoping to expand to more shows, as we have good stats behind us to show why such a service is valuable to a show — happier attendees who stay on site longer and have a better experience!
Are there any supplies that are used the most?
Hot glue is forever number one. Safety pins, bobby pins, and Velcro are the consumables people know they need. But when folks find out we also fix shoes… contact cement/shoe goo was definitely up there. We also educate on new supplies, so I get return visits for zip ties and epoxy putty once I demonstrate their uses.
What has been the trickiest repair you’ve had to do?
The trickiest repairs are almost always cases where a non-ideal pairing happened between an adhesive and a material, superglue eating Styrofoam, for example. This is why we’re working on some educational materials. If folks want tips for next time, we’re happy to give them. But our priority is just keeping folks looking good that specific day. And usually that is their priority, too. We don’t want to add stress by giving a lesson that wasn’t asked for.
You can learn more about Cospital Cosplay Repair at their website at http://www.cospital.com/ and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cospitalcosplayrepair/. If you used their service at Megacon, be sure to let the con know to have them return!
SERGEANT SWIFT STITCH & SGT. CROSS-STITCH – A cosplay repair duo based in California that uses a mobile set-up to help cosplayers directly on the con floor at any time. They also use a paging system, a wonderful way to be an on-call sewing doctor to help with those sudden fixes.
How long have you been doing cosplay repair?
I’ve been sewing for close to 20 years, but I started doing mobile cosplay repair at conventions in 2014 starting at San Diego Comic-Con. Since then myself and fellow repairman Sgt. Cross-Stitch have partnered up for 11 conventions up and down the west coast. San Diego Comic-Con is definitely the biggest convention of our year. We average about 50 miles walked in 4 days. We are predominately mobile, but have partnered up with 2-3 conventions to provide a station setting. There are pros and cons to both. It’s easier to have a station because we can have more supplies but it prevents us from spending time out on the con floor meeting new cosplayers. Being mobile can be very exhausting but it gets us out there in the thick of it.
We understand that you’ve tried a paging system with your mobile set-up. How well has that worked for you?
It all depends on the size of the event and if people know we are there. We work from Google voice numbers so people can call or text us directly. We try to get our numbers out as much as we can through social media but we have the most success when the convention itself advertises our presence. We get about a 40/60 ratio between pages and spontaneous requests in person. The fun starts when we get a call, start helping someone and passersby realize what we are doing and the line begins to form. Sometimes, unless we’re already helping someone, many people automatically assume it’s a costume or a joke and are blown away when they realize we are actually there to help people.
With all the demand that can come from repairs, what are the most common items you use?
Super glue and duct tape are our biggest requests, but our most used item is our USB rechargeable hot glue guns. Most people don’t know cordless glue guns exist so they default to super glue. But as you may know super glue is not friends with many popular cosplay materials, particularly foam of any sort.
In all your travels, what is your favorite part about doing cosplay repair?
Kids! There are so many young people out there cosplaying and a small rip or a broken prop is the end of the world to a child. Enough moments like this could turn a kid away from cosplaying entirely! If I can make this kid’s day with a fraction of a cent worth of hot glue, then they are going to keep cosplaying and keep being creative and get their friends into being creative. I’m scared that the art of sewing in the home will disappear in the years to come if we don’t get kids excited about it today. I also feel that conventions that have their own repair rooms should have someone there to help guide and teach people the craft. I feel like the compassion of dedicated repair people makes a huge difference to the cosplayers. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
To learn more about this repair crew duo, be sure to check out their Instagram pages at @sgtswiftstitch and @sgtcrossstitch.