Cosplay Interview with DarthRachel


DarthRachel is yet another cosplayer I admire. We recently highlighted her Alia Atreides costume, but that’s far from the only impressive build on her cosplay resume. Besides her skills, she has the all-important can-do attitude. I know it’s a silly and often overused phrase, but if you don’t have that outlook towards cosplay, you’ll have trouble when you get to your first hurdle. And in cosplay, there are always hurdles. At the same time, you can usually find a creative solution. Read our interview with DarthRachel about how she started cosplaying, materials she’s used, and more to get inspired.

Alia Atreides

Alia Atreides

Adafruit: How long have you been cosplaying and what inspired you to start?

DarthRachel: I guess technically I have been cosplaying since 2009, when I officially joined a Crazy 88 group (from Kill Bill) at DragonCon. I met them in 2004 back when I was just doing conventions in plain clothes, and they were always having tons of fun. I wanted to have fun like that. They are so welcoming. Just a great group of people. Plus, being an 88 is a fantastic costume to start out with. It was easy, and it comes with a big group of people. And the rowdier we get, the more in character we are. It helped me get over that “omg I’m in costume at a con” fear pretty fast. It’s anonymous, and people love it when they see it. The Crazy 88s have become a tradition, and because it’s DragonCon where people go a little wild with their costume concepts, we always have fun doing weird add-ons. We give away stickers and masks to people who take pictures with us. We all have business cards with numbers (I’m #2), and one year we all made kaTRONas using our katanas and some EL wire from Adafruit.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I actually sat down and made a costume that I designed – my Asha Greyjoy costume. I got to learn how to chainmail! A lot of my friends make the coolest costumes and I thought, “well, I can do that”. Especially when my friends are willing to give me advice. Since then, I make a couple new costumes a year.

Crazy 88 group

Crazy 88 group

Adafruit: How many costumes have you made so far?

DarthRachel: I think it is not quite 10 so far. Asha Greyjoy (Game of Thrones), a couple versions of Wonder Girl, a Scythian Wonder Woman based on an illustration by Rory Phillips (my first foray into Worbla armor!), Alia Atreides (Dune), a couple of very lazy group costumes for Game of Thrones (The Frey Wedding Band and a group basically made of GoT Fandom Tears).  I’ve done Reba McEntyre’s character in a group Tremors costume a few times, and last year I made a gigantic pair of antlers for a Party Elk of Mirkwood costume (that involved yet more EL wire from Adafruit. Stuff is gold.). I strutted around with my friend who costumed as Thranduil (The Hobbit).

This year is my most ambitious yet, and I’m probably going to go a little loony by fall. I’m working on a Tali’Zorah (Mass Effect) costume, more Game of Thrones stuff, and I’m planning a Fool costume since Robin Hobb is publishing a new volume in the Farseer series and I love the Fool. This is definitely the year of sewing. There might be even more in the pipeline.

I guess I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to costumes.

Thranduil and Party Elk


Thranduil and Party Elk

Adafruit: Which costume has been the most challenging and why?

DarthRachel: The Tali’Zorah costume by far. I learned a lot last year making armor pieces for my Wonder Woman costume, but the Tali costume is forcing me to learn so many techniques and work with materials I’ve never worked with before. It’s also going to be my most expensive costume. I live in NYC, and there are some things I just don’t have room to build. A vacuum table is one of those things I wish I had a garage to house. Because of that, I’m getting my Tali helmet made by someone else. The Tali costume involves pattern making, sewing, fabric printing, foam armor (I’m doing a costume variant), and lots of painting techniques. It’s crazy. My boyfriend is making a Shep costume, and our friend is making a Wrex costume. He had to cast the head and everything. When I compare Tali to their costumes, it makes it seem doable. But sometimes I feel like I will never be done.

Adafruit: What has been your favorite material you’ve worked with and why?

DarthRachel: I loved making my chainmail. I had to work on it every day for 2.5 weeks so it bruised my hands up but it was worth it. I’m still really proud of it. It’s mostly just labor. It’s very time consuming but the actual linking isn’t that hard. Anyone can do it.

Tremors group

Tremors group

Adafruit: Any tips or tricks to offer other cosplayers, especially those new to the hobby?

DarthRachel: I still feel like a newbie! Online tutorials are the best. I think the ability for cosplayers to share their knowledge online has created an amazingly creative atmosphere in cosplay. So many people have figured out what does and doesn’t work. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! It makes me more confident to try things I’m not sure about or try a material no one is talking about. Just to see. Just so I can report to others – this will work!

Other cosplayers are your best resource. If someone has done a costume you want to do, don’t look at it as competition. In my experience everyone is happy to talk about craft, to give advice, even share patterns. If someone isn’t communicative, there are a ton of other people who are, so don’t get discouraged, and pay that advice forward in the future!

Also – my number 1 piece of advice (that I never follow) is to always make sure you can easily pee while wearing your costume.

Keep up with DarthRachel’s cosplay projects at Twitter!

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