Hello! My name is Gina DeBenedictis and I love costumes, giant robots, and giant robot costumes. I’ve been sewing costumes for about 15 years. My first costume was for an anime convention, and I hardly knew what I was doing, but with a lot of help from my mother it turned out pretty well. My parents regularly attended Renaissance Faires in homemade costumes, so making and wearing costumes to big events was something normal, and they supported my love of cosplay (even when it started to take over half the house).
I’ve always loved science fiction, and fell in love with the Blue Angels, leading me to pursue aerospace engineering at the University of Washington. In addition to my courses in math, science, and engineering, I also took a class on costume construction, which was really just an excuse to get credits for working on cosplay. I used the class as a spring-board to create the Costume Club at the UW, and then used that to launch the Cosplay Repair Station.
After completing my bachelor’s degree, I stayed at UW to complete my master’s. My thesis looked at the use of polymer-dispersed nematic liquid crystals to create a 3-dimensional shear sensor for use on aerospace structures in place of mechanical sensors. Meanwhile, the Costume Club and the Cosplay Repair Station continued to grow, and it was a nice break from intensity of classes and research to discuss anime physics with other cosplayers once a week.
Once graduating, I spent a year doing basic office work trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. Even with a master’s in engineering, I didn’t want to be an engineer, although I knew I wanted to work in aerospace. The Cosplay Repair Station was now its own entity, and after running that for a few years I realized project management was where I wanted to be. I found a job at Northwest Aerospace Technologies as a Program Administrator, and have been there roughly 18 months. Recently I have begun to manage the schedule of static testing for the various aircraft partitions and closets that the company is building as part of multiple programs.
When I’m not working at my job, or working at the Cosplay Repair Station, I’m working on costumes. I approach my costumes in the same manner as I would an engineering problem—I detail out the costume, build the pattern and the order for sewing it, cut and sew the pieces, and finally test the garment. I make my instructions on engineering paper, my patterns all have alpha-numeric numbering schemes, and everything has a to-do list. For me, costumes are a kind of engineering, whether it’s cotton or foam or paper-mache, and I love the ability to take a 2-dimensional design and create a 3-dimenstional wearable garment. Every time I see a new outfit I like, I immediately start thinking about how I would make it, what fabric I would use, where the closures would be, how the pattern would look. It’s a big, time-consuming puzzle, but the end result is something really cool, and a feeling that’s universal for anyone who does crafting.
Photo credit: http://nomcreative.com/