Worksmanship 101

Come one, come all! Come watch the sewing spectacular, the costuming culmination and the themed theatrics! Welcome to the Masquerade.

So, Heroes of Cosplay aired last night. I haven’t had a chance to watch the episode just yet, (still no internets at the new place! Sadface,) though I will on the train ride this evening towards Colossal con. In the meantime I checked out what people were saying online.

Okay, there was only one review online, but it brought up an issue that I thought would be neat to examine. (Emphasis is mine)

Heroes of Cosplay second episode sends the group to compete at the Ottawa Pop Expo. This is a big show as it uses the International Costumers Guild Guidelines…. which I didn’t know even existed

There’s also the usual ‘you got ROBBED’ on Crabcat Industries’ facebook page, and while I haven’t seen the episode yet, I can totally understand why. I mean, it was super impressive on stage, and from where I watched it go by at my table.

But. It didn’t win Best in show, and the episode’s show runners didn’t choose to cover the Sunday award ceremony where the Skeksis won honourable mention for sculpting. Which, holy damn, did it  ever deserve.


Instead, this awesome guy did.

But. (again.) Ottawa Pop Expo’s masquerade evaluated stage performance and worksmanship equally, and while the Skeksis was totes awesome, no one on the HoC staff bothered to look up the ‘stage performance’ part of our masquerade rules… so none of them had music, or a skit prepped.

But that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s take a look at the ways that worksmanship varies across the different skill levels. I’ll follow up later this week with a post about what the skill levels actually mean to cosplayers and why and why not this is causing issues, and how skill levels in non ICG certified cons and ICG certified cons don’t line up. (It’s a long post! I’m still working on it.)

Calamity’s Worksmanship Rubric

Keep in mind, this is rough, and compiled from experience competing, talking to judges of various levels and picking their brains. Keep in mind that EVERY competition is influenced by the quality of entrants. A costume that loses at Anime North in Journeyman could potentially win Best in Class at a local Comic Con.

Special thanks to: Melting Mirror, Kurumasha, Detailed-Illusion, Sabrina V, Mai Sheri, Featherweight and all the other entrants who I’ve pestered with annoying questions.

Types of award

  • Best in Class
  • Best [item/skill]
  • Honourable Mention



Full Costume

2012. Year if the melty armor.

Who they are: Anyone who hasn’t won a Best [Item/skill] award of any kind.

What you need for a:

  • Best in Class
    • Worksmanship that  is a standout among Novice entrants
    • beyond skill expectations
    • equally good performance  
  • Best [item/skill]
    • Costume is complete
    • Costume is a good representation of the source material
    • Costume is sewn together well
    • Props
      • are made
    • using appropriate materials: heavier weight for a jacket, not shiny satin for anything not shiny
  • Honourable Mention
    • Costume is a fair representation of the source material
    • one skill/item is very well done, but the rest of the costume does not meet the worksmanship expectations


  • Safety pins, unless they are used to hold on ‘floating armor’
  • visible hot glue, visible glue of any kind, really
  • taping seams, gluing seams (iron-on seams are okay, but prob won’t net you a best in class)
  • Melting armor, or falling apart costume
  • shiny satan satin



Wizard - Diablo 3

2013: year of the NOT melty armor.

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