After cosplaying for a few years, you start to accumulate quite a few things and become a regular at many different stores. Starting out, it may be tough finding exactly what you need for your costume. Here are a few tools and places that have helped me in my cosplay journey, both for sewing and prop-making alike.
Top 5 Sewing & Craft Tools
#5. Hot Glue Gun
I went through a phase before learning how to sew where I basically hot glued everything together. I still mostly do that, but it’s more like 30% of my cosplay work instead of 100% like it was before.
#4. X-Acto Knife
A reliable X-Acto Knife is great for craft foam and prop making. One of these days I’ll buy some EVA foam and try out Kamui Cosplay’s great video tutorial.
#3. Rotary Cutter & Cutting Mat
I only recently got these and I wish I bought them so much sooner. Honestly, I probably could’ve splurged and bought the larger cutting mat instead of the smaller one. That way you don’t have buyer’s remorse when you’re sitting there with 10000 yards of fabric that need cutting and only a 18″x24″ space to do it. The rotary cutter is fantastic for complex shapes and works so smoothly when used with a ruler for straight edges. Sometimes I don’t even bother using tailor’s chalk to mark the pattern out and just lay the pattern on top of the fabric and cut around it.
#2. Spool & Bobbin Storage Cases
Storage cases might seem silly but organization in your craft room is essential. For the longest time I had bobbins stored in a ziploc bag, constantly entangling with each other and impossible to pull apart. My spool collection sat in a small bag and while it worked out fine, it’s nice to now have that bag as space to hold other sewing knickknacks (in this case, extra bias tape, velcro, and snaps). One of these days I’ll have enough spools to warrant getting one of these badass things.
#1. Sewing Machine
My best friend bought me a sewing machine for Christmas a few years ago and I can’t tell you how much time it has saved me. I probably don’t use it to its full potential, but my cosplays feel so much sturdier with machine-stitches as opposed to hand-stitches. Oh, what I would have given to have had this bad boy with me while I was making my Future Warden cape. I probably wouldn’t have had to skip those Philosophy classes to get it done. (Meh, let’s face it: I just wanted an excuse to skip class.) You’ll see my trusted sidekick sewing machine in the background of many of my cosplay WIP pictures and videos. I understand that it can be expensive, but if you know you’re going to be sewing a lot, I would suggest saving up slowly for it and buying one. It’s an investment and it’ll save you money simply from all that free-time you’ll have opened up!
Honorable Mention: Fabric Scissors
For when the rotary cutter just won’t cut it. (Stupid pun is stupid.) My scissors aren’t necessarily specifically made for fabric, but I marked “FABRIC ONLY” on them with a sharpie and keep them next to an all-use pair of scissors that’s mostly for paper and sometimes cardboard.
My Favorite Stores to Frequent (On and Offline)
Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts
Me and Jo are tight. Like I see her every two weeks right after I get my paycheck. In all seriousness, Jo-Ann’s has a tendency to be a one-stop shop for me. I get almost all my fabric and sewing accessories from there. I have the app handy on my phone so I can use coupons and I’ve pretty much know the store layout by heart.
Despite only using Fabric.com once, I actually highly recommend it. I ordered swatches and fabric for the leotard of my Korra cosplay there and I was really pleased with the results.
Yup. Target. I’ve picked up quite a few things for cheap at Target that came in handy for cosplay. I got my tank top and sun hat from there for my Marceline cosplay and I got my pink bra for $6 for Sylveon from there too!
I don’t have a favorite thrift store, but really any will do. I bought a black blazer from one in Austin once for a Halloween costume (I was an equestrian, prop horse and all, no pictures for proof though) and I actually still use that blazer a lot today. I also got a white turtleneck from there for the same equestrian costume.
Amazon is the beeeeest. I both love and hate waiting for packages from there. Here’s a list of things that I bought from Amazon that would’ve been a pain to find in person.
- A Pink Tambourine [Sylveon]
- Fabric poi balls [Korra]
- Small red LED lights with battery pack [Scarlet Witch]
- Burgundy leather dye [Scarlet Witch]
- Wool daubers for aforementioned leather dye [Scarlet Witch]
- A red faux-leather jacket (Seriously, I tried to find one in a store. NOTHING.) [Scarlet Witch]
- Grey body paint [Marceline]
- And more!
As you can see, my Scarlet Witch cosplay was almost entirely from Amazon.
Cosplay & Crafts Wishlist
I’m not made of money, so I make do with what I have. Sometimes that means being a contortionist so you can draw a chalk line on your own back on an old t-shirt that you’re currently wearing. If I do manage to save up enough money, I want to eventually get these things to make my sewing process simpler.
A dress form
I haven’t tried the DIY duct-tape method for the dress form, mostly because I’m not sure if I’ve lost all the weight I can possibly lose yet. But I would love an adjustable dress form one of these days so I can use it for pattern drafting and also to show off cosplay pieces as they’re completed.
Oh god a serger. *drools* I want clean and beautiful seams. I want the ease of sewing AND cutting at the same time. I want it all.
Want to cosplay and don’t know where to start?
Check out the post I wrote for PomeMag about Entering the Wonderful World of Cosplay!
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