One common misconception about cosplay is that you have to be able to sew. It can help, but that’s simply not the case. I’ll state upfront that I myself don’t know how to sew. (It’s something I plan to learn, but that’s a different discussion.) Some cosplayers are very strict on making sure they construct as much of a costume as possible from scratch. This is a completely valid approach. However, you can still have amazing and fun costumes without being able to work a sewing machine.
Here are some tips and tricks for those who can’t sew (and maybe some for those who can):
- Check out your local thrift stores. There’s often a lot of hidden gems to be found, and much that can either be modified or “stripped for parts”. This is also a very cost effective approach if you can find what you’re looking for.
- There are several brands of no-stitch fabric glue that work extremely well. I made myself a cape using glue, and it’s great for attaching emblems and other pieces to your outfit. I’ve even known people who have used it to construct an entire costume.
- Check out dance stores and sock shops. You can locate a lot of good basics to use as the foundation of your costume at these locations such as body suits and tights in a myriad of colors.
- Many items can be spray painted should you need them to be another color. Just be sure to check the back of the spray cans to see what materials they work best on.
- Aside from spray paint, you always have the option to dye clothing. There are a lot of color options. Just be sure to read up on what fabrics work best with each brand.
- Be flexible and willing to experiment. Not everything is going to be right the first time. Cosplay can involve a lot of trial and error. if something doesn’t work, don’t get overly discouraged, just try something else.
- Some costumes have been constructed out of crazier materials than you might have considered. As an example: craft foam works well for armor pieces. Another example: I once used cardboard comic backers from my local shop and covered them with fabric to construct pieces for my Bloody Mary costume. This goes back to my previous point that you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. If it gets the job done, that’s all that matters.
- Just about everything is available on the internet. There’s no shame in outright purchasing items you need to make a costume, especially hard to construct items such as corsets. There are also any number of cosplayers that take commissioned work.
Another set of things to keep in mind when planning your costume are hair, eyes, and makeup (when applicable). These are often smaller details that make a huge impact on your overall cosplay. Wigs and contacts are not always cheap (especially not to get ones that look convincing), but they are well worth your dollar as they will last longer and look better than their cheaper counterparts. (I promise to go into more detail on wig selection in another article.) Whenever possible, try to purchase items that will work for more than one costume, or that you might wear out for fun someday.
That’s it for now. Tune in next time for more cosplay tips. If you have specific questions, be sure to post them below! They might wind up getting answered in my next article.
(Photo: Fellow cosplayer Tallest Silver (Bat Ma’am) and myself (Black Alice) having a Cape-Off. Image by Ryan Beauvais.)