“Halloween has always been my favorite time of year,” says Karen Raaen of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. The rise in popularity of cosplay and comic conventions helped make her passion into more than just a one-day affair. She sews many of her own costumes, which she wears to local fan fests and zombie walks. “It’s just more rewarding and lends more to the creativity and individuality of the cosplay,” she says. As a big Disney fan, some of Raaen’s costumes have included the Red Queen and Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Ariel from The Little Mermaid, as well as DC Comics’ Poison Ivy and several steampunk costumes.

Raaen isn’t the only costuming enthusiast in her family: Three of her eight children also sew their own costumes and attend conventions, and Raaen enjoys sharing the hobby with them. “My kids and I actually went to our city’s very first comic convention together,” she says. “This was something we always wanted to do but weren’t able to until then due to the distance and cost of these events.”

The expense that comes with creating costumes by hand is one of the hobby’s biggest challenges. “The materials needed to make the costumes require a lot of time and money,” she explains.

But for Raaen, who also DJs at local bars, it’s another great outlet for her imagination. “I’m a very outgoing person, and having this outlet to be creative and fun is such a great way to live,” she says.

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