Making a ‘screen accurate’ costume for Comic Con

‘Tis the season for attending Comic Cons! If you’re looking for some quick and easy tips for creating your own cosplay look, here are my suggestions.


For my cosplay, I chose one of the handmaids from Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, recently reimagined by Hulu. If you’re wondering why I look unhappy in these shots, it’s because I’m mimicking the style of the show!

  1. Before you begin, you need to decide just how nitpicky you’re going to be. Are you going to try to replicate every details or just give the impression of the character. This will dictate the kind of research you need to do.
  2. Do you research. If you’re going for true screen accuracy, look for every image you can find. Look for interviews with the costume designer or actors.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.59.13 PM

    I got lucky that Ane Crabtree posts a lot of in progress images on instagram. I also got lucky that there is a dystopian costuming exhibit at SCAD right now that had detailed images.

  3. If there are multiple versions of the costume, make sure you’re choosing ONE look. Though the costumes in each scene might appear very similar, there are often subtle differences. If you care about screen accuracy, you’ll need to decide on one and discard the rest. For instance, there are two different types of belts used for handmaid’s on The Handmaid’s tale. In season 1, all the handmaid’s appear to be wearing an obi style belt. In season 2 another more corset-style belt is introduced on some handmaid’s.
  4. Zone in on details you will need to recreate. For me these were the front and back flaps on the skirt, the obi belt, the hidden closure, and the snaps on the neck. Each of these details were part of creating ‘the handmaid’ in Ane Crabtree’s mind and each serve a purpose. For instance. he flaps serve as ‘modesty panels,’ and the hidden closures are to discourage thoughts of taking clothing off.
  5. Look for patterns that mimic the general style. Though you aren’t likely to find a pattern that is ‘screen accurate,’ patterns you already own can be a good starting point. I used the Emery Dress pattern by Christine Haynes as a starting point for this costume.
  6. Make a list of items you will need to draft/figure out yourself. Here’s my list- Changes to Emery Dress_.png
  7. Gather your materials.I looked at MANY different red fabrics trying to find one that was as close to the onscreen look as possible. I ultimately decided on this china red broadcloth for the dress. I also chose to buy a hat that mimicked the ones used onscreen.



That’s it! Have you ever made a cosplay look? Do you have any tips to share?


Alexandra holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from UNC Chapel Hill and is currently completing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Johns Hopkins University (expected graduation 2023). She is passionate about the science of learning and ensuring equity in education.

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