Stephanie Dola: The Joy of Niggly Bits
An interview with CosXPo
An interview with Stephanie Dola.
Welcome back for another installation of our interview series! This time we had the joy of interviewing another of our 2022 CosXPo mentors, Stephanie Dola Cosplay (She/They)
We love Stephanie for their attention to detail. Her super power is creating eye catching cosplays that not only showcase the character, but bring new focus to intricacies in each costume.
Read onto find out more about how Stephanie fell in love with dealing with the 'niggly bits' of costume crafting.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been cosplaying?
My name is Stephanie, I’m a cosplayer born in New Zealand, raised in Canada and living in the U.K! I started making costumes for Halloween, and my first ‘cosplay’ was Yuna from Final Fantasy X back in 2006. I’ve always been pretty competitive (though hopefully not in a bad way) so when I moved to the U.K I started competing in the MCM masquerade and built up from there! My first competition was back in 2009 but with the pandemic they all stopped. I’ve recently taken to making my own characters. I’m hoping to get back to competitions soon.
You've made some beautiful, intricate garments – what inspires you to create them?
I love the ‘niggly bits’, I find fine embroidery, beading and the like very relaxing. I struggle to not have something to do with my hands, so watching TV and listening to podcasts/audiobooks is my ideal work environment. It feels like I’m getting the best of both productivity and relaxation.
Where did you learn to sew?
My Grandma bought me my first kiddy sewing machine when I was four and I apparently really took to it! She’s definitely the one who nurtured that when I was younger and there really hasn’t been a time that I remember when I couldn’t sew. When I first moved here I had more ‘formal’ lessons for things like finishing and pattern drafting and eventually went on to study Costume at London College of Fashion.
Photography by bydeebee
What’s been the hardest thing you’ve created?
Oh geez, they’re all difficult for different reasons! The thing that immediately comes to mind was engineering the costume change in my WCS performance from Sailor Moon to Princess Serenity, that really challenged my 3D thinking by putting a whole other element into it.
You recently did a pattern-making workshop at CosXPo 2022 called Build-A-Bodice – how did it go?
Honestly I was surprised how well it went. I was thinking five, maybe ten people would show up but I ended up having a full house! I was so happy that so many people wanted to come along to a cosplay convention and do geometry. That being said, there are definitely things I will do differently next time.
Do you have any tips for someone who’s never patterned a garment before?
Use resources! There are so many places online where you can find tutorials for drafting different things. Personally I like following along with a textbook (Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich #nosponsor) but people might prefer a video or even in person instruction like my workshop at CosXPo.
Photography by madidoescosplay
There’s a lot of maths involved with patterning, can it be difficult to get your head round?
So here’s the secret; I love math. I’ve always loved geometry specifically so it’s a great workout for my brain. It can definitely be difficult to get your head around, especially if you prefer working in inches but all the books are in centimetres! Calculators are a must, though because I’m such a nerd I try and do it mentally as much as possible.
Why is CosXPo different from other events?
Well first of all it’s very close to my family home which is great. Secondly it’s the perfect size to really get to know the same awesome people who share your hobby year after year. Lastly it’s cosplay focused, which is great for those of us who want to meet people who are specifically involved in that aspect of conventions. Everyone is either a photographer or a cosplayer (or both!) so you really get a super concentrated serving of all things cosplay that weekend.
Bonus is the location is beautiful so you’re not ending up with the same convention centre photos every year.
Sailor Moon Photography by Catberry Photography
Huge thank you to Stephanie for hosting their amazing workshop at CosXPo 2022, and for taking the time to sit down and chat with us today.
Keep an eye out for more interviews from our CosXPo Mentors, and in the mean time you can read some of our recent blogs here.