Cosplay Project Planning aka the CPP

Hello all the new people who have found my site through my Costume Con posts, both Prep and reports!

Cat and Corset

Queen Cosplay Cat welcomes you. She’d like you to know she ‘made dis’. (she didn’t)

 While I was at a family dinner leading up to CC-32, I was talking about my progress and what I had left to do on my costumes when my Dad (half jokingly) suggested I make project plans for my costumes.

 I already had. You’ve seen glimpses of them while I was doing my bi-weekly updates on Goat and Weiss, but I figured I should outline how I make them, and why I find them helpful. Sometimes I forget that not everyone has been through project management classes! (sorry!)

What is a ‘Project Plan’?

It’s kind of exactly what it says on the label: it’s a plan to tackle a project that can seem overwhelming at first, or something that needs to be done on a tight schedule. If you google project plans, you’ll probably pick up a bunch of examples for programming, or game design, including things that we don’t need for cosplay like ‘Risk Asssessment’ and ‘Tech Requirements’.

I’ve simplified a basic project plan even further for my cosplay projects, and I’ll walk you through the process of that below.

But first, a project plan:

  • Lists what has to be done for the project to be complete
  • breaks down your deadline into ‘milestones’ of when different components need to be done so that you can meet the deadline, and still get enough sleep
  • has a plan of attack based on what parts of the project are the most important, and what parts can be cut to make your deadline

Is it worth the extra time?

Making a Cosplay Project Plan (CPP) before starting a costume doens’t take long, (and it gets faster the more you do them), but it will take some time. So, is it worth losing that 15-30 minutes?

Yes and no.

If you don’t have a problem working on your cosplays and finishing them in time, you probably don’t need to make up a CPP. If you’re working on a small project, same deal.

Reasons I make a CPP

  • I’m working on a huge/really detailed costume
  • There’s a lot of new techniques on the costume that I have never used before
  • I have a really firm deadline that I HAVE TO MEET
  • There’s a lot of other stuff going on in life that I have to account for
  • I’m super forgetful if I don’t write things down. (YMMV on this one!)

Okay, so how do I make one?

In 4-5 easy steps!

Step 1: Get those references


I’ll be walking us through with an example of my next project: a weepinbell Gijinka. So, I have my reference, and sadly, there’s only one drawing of the costume. I’ll have to go look up some other references for leaves, and weepinbells in general, but for now, I’ll start breaking this costume down into more manageable parts.

Step 2: Xcel-erate!

Or, if you don’t have MS Office, open up a spreadsheet/word doc/whatever on Google Drive.

We need something that will let us list the major pieces of the costume, then the parts of those major pieces, and so on.

Blank Spreadsheet

I personally like spreadsheets because then I can see what’s done and what’s not at a glance. But a good example of a document version would be:

Costume: Weepinbell(e)

  • Component 1
    • Sub Component 1
      • Step 1
      • Step 2
      • etc…
    • Sub Component 2
  • Component 2

Step 3: Break it down


Excuse my Paint. ;_;

So you can see here that I’ve separated the costume into 4 major pieces. You don’t need to highlight them, thought if that helps, by all means break out the printer/Paint and some colours.

Step 3 - CPP

All we need at this point are the basic parts: Jacket/shrug, dress, socks/hat etc. What are the separate, individual pieces you will have to put on, to wear this costume?

Breaking the costume down like this also helps troubleshoot some of the key issues like…

  • How will I put this on?
  • Will I be able to go to the bathroom without taking everything off?
  • Will I need help to get certain pieces on and off?
  • Will I be able to sit?
  • Which layer is on top?

An example with Weepinbelle is that at first I wasn’t sure which was the top layer: the sleaves (sleeve-leaves har har) or that yellow part that comes up to the neck. Then I realised I could have the yellow as part of the SHRUG and then putting this on will be much easier.

Step 4: No, MOAR!

Okay, we have our main pieces now, but if we look at the dress, or the shrug, that’s still a lot of work to break down. Because each item of clothing has individual parts that go together. Let’s look at the dress, since it’s a little easier to break down.


Mmm pixels, paint and creepy flower eyes.

Okay, so the dress has three main parts if we don’t count the trim and pockets.

The bodice (outlined in red), the skirt (outlined in orange) and then the pouf/lining (Gold squiggles) that will help make the skirt literally stand out.

step 4 - cpp

Again, we can use this break-down to figure out how we want to put this together. I’ve added straps that will be hidden under the shrug because I know that with the pouf and that ‘lip’ thing, the skirt will get a bit heavy. I can also decide if I want to do the dress up at the front, or in the back. Looking at how the bodice lays over the skirt, i’m going to go with a rear closure, and fake the front.

Things to consider at this stage of time:

  • How will I construct this?
  • Are there ways I can ‘cheat’ the design to make the item more comfortable, or resilient?
  • How am I going to get the shape/structure that I want?

Step 5: Baby Steps

*Optional* This part isn’t completely necessary, but I find that it’s really rewarding and helpful to get an idea of how much work will be involved. However! some people may find this counter productive and intimidating. As always, find out what works best for you and go from there.

Okay, we have the major items listed now. And we’ve broken those up into parts. While the basics of construction aren’t always needed for simple things like skirts, I like to outline them for more complicated pieces, and just copy/paste the same steps for different items.

step 5 - CPP

For example, the ‘muslin, fit, cut, sew’ is going to happen for all things fabric. However, sometimes I’ll forget how it goes together unless I write the process that I figured out in steps 3,4 down.

Looking at the screen shot above, I can already tell that I’ve made a mistake. I should spray/stencil the flowers on BEFORE combining the skirt, so that I can lay everything flat. Then put on the gradient AFTER the sides match, so that I don’t have an uneven part at the seams.

A bonus to doing this step is the satisfaction of making all the little boxes turn green:

step 6-CPP

Yellow is for ‘in progress’

Goat Progress

Awh yiss. Progress at a glance.

That’s it for CPPs! Remember that even if it seems long at tedious at first, it will get faster with practice. Also, a problem found before you cut fabric is so much easier to fix than one that’s been serged.

Hope this helps,