Cosplay on a Budget
August 10th 2014
Choosing a costume
The most important part of cosplaying is actually choosing the costume since there are so many characters to choose from. This is also the defining moment of price. You can generally figure out how much you will spend on a costume by looking at it: do you need to buy a wig? Is this very simple or are there tons of details? How much material is this going to take? Is the material you expect to use expensive? Just by looking you can tell a schoolgirl uniform will cost far less than one of clamp's extremely detailed dresses. So make sure you choose something within your budget.
Make! Don't buy (If Possible)
If you have the ability to sew, or have someone who can help you make it then you will usually save money. The cost of a pre-made or custom made costume is the price of material and supplies, the cost of shipping, and the time it took to make that cosplay piece. Combined, this can add up to more than if you just made it yourself!
There are also other benefits to making the costume, rather than buying. Commissioners don't always include every single detail you might include, they also might take up more time then you have (especially if they are busy), and there are situations where the costume doesn't fit. Commissioners are not bad to buy from, but you don't know exactly what you are getting until you receive it.
Though if you are not willing/able to sew then you can always try and make parts of the costume! You may buy the full outfit online, but you can always make an accessory. If you want to make, or already have, a larger part of the costume you can always see if you can exclude it when you buy or commission the outfit to save a bit there too.
Choosing your costume ahead of time is always a good thing, because it gives you more time to work on it and get things done. It also allows you to lessen the burden on your wallet! You can wait, and plan to buy your costume materials when the fabric store has a sale. You can also use the amount of time to save money and spend it slowly You can buy the wig the first month, buy material the next month and then buy anything needed during random intervals. You might end up spending $200 on the costume but it is easier to spend a bit here and there than the whole $200 at one time.
Cards, Sales & Discounts
Fabric stores often have sales, so always be on the lookout when it comes time to buy your fabric. Though there are many other ways you can get cosplay materials and supplies cheap. Be on the lookout for coupons or membership cards offered by your favourite fabric store. Fabricland offers a membership card that gives you 25% off on all products, even during sales! Some stores offer stamp cards, where you get $10 off a purchase if you spend so much money in the store. Looking for sales, using coupons and using membership cards can all save you money that can be put towards other aspects of the costume, or just to have some extra con money.
Using What is Around the House
The biggest money drain is actually spending the money, so to keep costs low stick to what is available at home. Cardboard is up for grabs when someone finishes a box of cereal, old clothes you plan to throw out? Easily used for details on a costume. Even leftover spools of thread and broken Halloween decorations have potential uses. This is especially useful for props, because most of the time props just need a good base shape and then the paint makes the difference. So why pay for something you don't need for a prop that can be made with stuff from around the home? There are tons of items that are in your home that may be perfect for a cosplay so look around at home before you go looking at the stores.
Tsuki Sune-ku's progress on Wolfwood's Cross