As a growing cosplayer I can say, with all certainty, that a poorly planned cosplay gets VERY expensive. The primary reason: poorly planned costumes result in unplanned mistakes which result in repairs/re-works that can turn your character dream into an ever evolving financial nightmare. My very first cosplay was a Diablo III Demon Hunter. I planned out what I thought I needed (Worbla, fabric, a corset, boots, etc.) however; I failed to budget in miscellaneous costs and a $200.00 budget quickly swelled into a $450.00 investment. I don’t regret spending the money, it taught me a lot about the effort that professional cosplayers put into their outfits. I just want to get the facts straight and help prepare future/current cosplayers for the monumental journey they are about to embark upon. So let me give you a few tips on how to turn a costume into a success instead of a financial bust…
Step 1: Compose a list of EVERYTHING your character wears.
Let’s start with a simple costume endeavor. For Saboten Con AZ I am creating Yin from “Darker than Black”, here is a picture of Yin:
(Image obtained from: DraDise @ DeviantArt.com)
Here is the list of items that are required for this cosplay:
- Silver or Grey Adjustable wig with an attachable ponytail or a grey ponytail extension (Arda has some great adjustable wigs that are easy to style and part in about any direction without revealing the cap)
- Violet or Purple colored contacts (I like to use Pinky Paradise for my contacts)
- Grey opaque tights
- Purple dress with black lining and trim
- Tiny black bow for the purple dress’s bust-line
- Purple hair ribbon for the wig’s ponytail
- Black, high neck, bolero style jacket
- Black ladies loafers (2-3 inch height at the heel)
- Makeup (natural tones)
- Makeup sealer and remover
- Eye lashes (optional)
Step 2: Compose a list of all the tools and materials you will need to create/obtain the items on your costume list.
If you want to create the entire costume please feel free to do so however; do not be afraid to purchase items such as the shoes, tights, wigs and contacts. These items are all typically less expensive if purchased (also, contacts are kind of hard to make…just saying). Below is a list comprised of tools/materials needed to create Yin’s dress, bolero and to style her wig (if it is not pre-styled or if you don’t like the supplier’s style):
- Sewing Machine
- Extra sewing needles (trust me, these WILL break over time)
- Purple and Black thread
- Purple and Black threaded bobbins (having your bobbin pre-threaded helps A LOT)
- Fabric Shears/Scissors
- Purple Fabric (I am using Poly Poplin as it is a mid-level fabric that drapes well)
- Black Fabric (something like a Brocade or Poly Poplin would work for the jacket)
- Black Lining Fabric (don’t go for gold with this, cheap is ok)
- Tiny Black Bow (stick on, iron on or sew-on)
- Sewing Patterns (If you make patterns yourself awesome! If not, don’t be afraid to take old patterns or similar ones and change them to fit your costume’s style. I found patterns on Etsy that worked for Yin and were only $9.00 with shipping!)
- Extra Grey Clip-on/Sew-on Hair Wefts/Extensions
- Wig Glue OR Fabric Glue
- Wig Head (for support while re-styling the wig)
- Zip ties (…yes, yes I use zip ties while re-styling my wigs…)
- Velcro (also nice to have handy)
- 16″ purple zipper (for the dress)
- Purple hair ribbon
- “Invisible” snaps (to close the top of the bolero around the neck “secretly”)
- Fabric Pins
- Measuring Tape
- Dress Form (optional but helpful)
- Clean crafting surface/area
Step 3: Generating a budget off of your materials/tools and costume lists.
Budgets are important for without them each costume could easily jump a hundred or so dollars. Any time I create my cosplay budget I consider the following:
- What are my priority items?
- These are items you CANNOT do without.
- What are my ancillary items?
- These are items that you may already own and can re-use and/or they are items which would be great to have but do not ruin the costume if they are absent.
- How much money can I save a month and a half before the convention/event I need to attend?
- How much money do I have now?
- What can I get from my family in donations? OR What can I make in crowd funding?
- How important is this costume to me?
Once you have answered all of these questions the cost should be easier to estimate. NOTE: ALWAYS BUDGET MISCELLANEOUS FUNDS!!!! I cannot stress that more. It is critical to every cosplay that you have extra cash stashed somewhere for last minute fixes or to prepare an on-the-go repair kit for your event.
Step 4: Make that thing!
Go wild! Enjoy your crafting time and don’t lose sight of WHY you are doing this.
Step 5: Test fit your costume.
This may seem inconsequential but I have heard horror stories surrounding cosplays that people did not try on before leaving town. I can only imagine the tears shed when someone could not either fit into or attach their costume and had to abandon it for another day. Please, please, please do yourself the courtesy of a trial costume run. Seriously: run in it, walk in it, sit in it – heck, drink a beer in it! Just be sure that you are comfortable with how it feels.
Step 6: Wear that thing to con and savor the accomplishment!
You did it! And on budget! So wear that costume with as much confidence as you can muster and be sure to share some of your experiences with us!
Thanks for visiting your friendly neighborhood Fan Girl Nation Cosplay Savant – now go out there and party cosplay minions!