2015 has come to a close, but now we have a fresh, new year to cosplay in! Do you have all the things you need to make your cosplays or props? If you’re not sure, here’s a list of the top ten items named in last year’s Cosplay Closet Essentials interviews! This list is by no means a comprehensive list of everything needed for cosplay, but rather a list of the top things that cosplayers named as essential to a cosplayer’s costuming/fabrication arsenal.
These items are ranked in order of how many cosplayers mentioned them, but there are some ties that I broke according to which was my personal favorite (this is my opinion, not the opinion of the illustrious Talk Nerdy With Us). Also included is a list of honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the top ten but still are quite useful to all cosplayers.
10. Plenty of room: As a cosplayer myself, I can attest to the massive amount of room needed to work on cosplay. Your supplies end up everywhere, and it’s easy to take over your living space if you’re not careful. Don’t have a large enough space to work in comfortably? Consider investing in some practical storage containers that can be stacked or tucked away in a closet or corner, out-of-the-way. Take out only what you need to work on at that moment, and put things away as you finish with them.
9. Makeup kit: Whether you’re a man or a woman, the right makeup can make or break a cosplay. It’s especially essential in genderbend cosplays, though even a regular cosplay can be enhanced by a good makeup job. Need to accentuate your cheekbones or your rock-hard superhero abs? A little contouring can go a long way. Shading, highlighting…there are almost too many tricks to name!
8. Fabric steamer: You just traveled hours for the convention, and now your cosplay is wrinkled despite your careful packing. Fabric steamer to the rescue! This little device can be a lifesaver for the cosplayer in a hurry who needs that wrinkle-free look.
7. Dance tights/Spanks/Cup (for a man): Many cosplays require tight pants, and each of these items are great for those occasions. Dance tights are easy enough to find, and Spanks or a cup help prevent those embarrassing, er, bulges.
6. Sewing kit/safety pins: Okay, it happens eventually to even the best cosplayers–things rip or come apart at the seams. Hazards of the job, I guess. What do you do when this happens? Well, if you have a sewing kit and some safety pins, you get to work fixing your cosplay so you can get back to enjoying the event. As the illustrious Tim Gunn says, “Make it work!”
5. Eva foam/craft foam: Foam may sound like a flimsy medium for cosplay armor and weapons/props, but Eva foam is surprising durable and versatile. With the right kind of work and preparation, you can create some very elaborate and beautiful cosplays. It takes a bit to get the hang of it, but with practice (and online videos and tutorials) the work becomes easier.
4. Sewing machine: Sure, not everyone knows how to use a sewing machine, but as a novice cosplayer who has only owned a sewing machine for four and a half months, it’s been my experience that it is actually fairly easy to learn if you take your time and read the manual. Not everyone makes their own costumes, and that’s okay, but if making your own cosplay is your goal, sewing machines come highly recommended. It makes garment assembly quick (and believe me, it’s easier on the hands and back than sewing everything by hand). There are a wide variety of sewing machines, from simple ones for the beginner to fancy models that have more stitch options and feet than I know what to do with.
3. Heat gun: This device is essential for many things, most notably working with the Eva and craft foam, though it has other uses. Worbla, another kind of armor/prop material, is manipulated and shaped with heat guns. This is a tool that should be used with caution, and make sure to read all instructions and watch tutorials very carefully if you are inexperienced with using a heat gun.
2. Scissors/sharp cutting instruments/cutting mat: A goodly percentage of time spent working on cosplay involves cutting out patterns and designs. These tools help make the job easier and faster, but be careful! Cosplay-related injuries can happen, so be sure you’re paying attention.
1. Glue! Whether it’s a hot glue gun, super glue, E600, or contact cement, the hands-down most often recommended cosplay essential is glue. A lot of armor and props require sticking one thing to another, and glue is, well, the glue keeps us together. Wardrobe malfunctions happen to the best of us as well, and for repairs that can’t be done with a sewing kit, glue is the thing. As with many of these essentials, you need to be careful. Don’t want to burn yourself on the hot glue gun–or melt something that isn’t supposed to be hot glued! Read the instructions on everything, and research what type of glue is appropriate for each project.
Honorable mentions go to gloves (how many superheroes wear gloves? A lot!), something to motivate you (whether it be a photo, treasured memento, or personal totem), and, last but not least, a pillow for screaming into (because let’s face it, frustrations happen).