After reading my previous entry on getting started in the cosplay community, maybe you’ve decided that you want to start making your costumes. As I mentioned before, getting into cosplay is not a cheep hobby. You’re spending the money to make or buy costumes, as well as attend conventions. But lets say you do have the money for it, or want to know how to at least spend your money. I can give a break down of some basic supplies to pick up for first time cosplayers, and what I use when I’m making my costumes.
First and foremost, what you’re going to need to start making a costume is a sewing machine. There are many different types of machines out there, all have any different functions, and vary in price. If you’re someone who hasn’t sewn before, and want to learn how, I would recommend a starter machine. Something on the cheaper end, so you can get an idea of how a machine works, and if its something you want to invest more money in.
When I first learned to sew, I used a beginner machine similar to this. It only had one or two basic stitch functions. It taught me how to properly thread a needle and set up a bobbin. A cheep little machine like this you can order for $20 or less, depending on where you get it.
After I decided I wanted to properly learn to sew, I went to invest in a real sewing machine. I needed something that would have at least a couple of stitch functions, ones that would serve my needs for making costumes. I needed a basic stitch, zig zag stitch, something to make button holes and something to sew on zippers. My first real machine was a refurbished Janome sewing machine. Something that was fairly cheep, and had all those basic stitches that I needed. It came with a few basic foots, and tools to get me started. That machine lasted me at least five years before it finally broke down on me.
Right now I’m using a Brother CE50000PRW, which my roommate has been wonderful to let me use.This machine offers all the same basic functions as the Janome, plus more. It’s something that’s a bit more advanced, now that I better understand how the machine works. The other advantage is the machine is all-digital, which means I can customize the different stitch functions better then I could with my old Janome machine.
The last machine I have is a serger. A serger is a machine that basically finishes the garments. It offers a type of stitch that’ll keep the fabric from fraying. It can also create ruffles as well as a few other types of stitches, but its primary function is to keep the fabric from fraying, and allow the garments to be finished. The serger I have is a Brother 1034D. It does the basic overlock stitch as well as a few other functions, like ruffles. A serger isn’t something I wouldn’t recommend you get until you become more comfortable with sewing. A serger is usually an expensive investment, and if it’s not something you think you’d use, or get a lot of use out of, I wouldn’t recommend getting it. The own I have I share with my roommate as well, we ended up splitting the cost between the two of us.
Other Basic Tools
Here’s some of the other basic tools that I’ve gotten use out of when I work on different costumes.
- Pin Cousin: Obviously for your pins and needles.
- Measuring tape: You’ll need it to take your measurements as well as the measurements for the different fabrics.
- Sewing Needles: Some parts you’ll need to mend by hand, or even apply by hand, like buttons. You’ll need needles of various sizes to do that.
- Pencils and Chalk Penciles: Both of those I use to mark the fabrics. The white for darker fabrics and the black for lighter. Sometimes you’ll need to draw out your pattern, or even mark on your fabric where you’ll want to sew or cut. The chalk pencil will wash off easily so it won’t affect your garment.
- French Curve: It’s a basic measuring tool that will help you with curves. I didn’t think I’d ever need something like this, but it’s helped me so much with pattern making, I would defiantly recommend picking one up.
- Fray Check: Something to help your fabric from fraying while you’re working on it. I wouldn’t recommend this as a finishing tool, but something to help you while you’re working on a garment.
- Compass: Something to help you make circles. Because I can’t make a perfect circle on my own.
- Tweezers: Just in case something gets caught in your machine, you have something to help work out thread or whatever else might get stuck.
- Fabric Glue: I use this to hold down fabric I might want to sew down, that pinning might get in the way. Again, not something to finish a costume, but something to help you while you’re sewing.
- Protractor: It’s another measuring tool that offers a straight edge as well as a curve in case I need to make an arch.
- Seam Ripper: In case I sew something I didn’t mean to, or need to change some stitching. You’re bound to make a mistake while sewing, this will make it easier to rip out the thread.
- Fabric Scissors: Very important that these are different then the scissors you use for everyday paper. Because those scissors will grow dull over time and won’t cut through fabric quite as well. You need a separate pair of scissors for just cutting fabric, so they’ll stay sharper longer.
- Knife: I usually use this to help cut out patterns or any misc items I have. Or if I need to rip thread that my seam ripper can’t get through.
- Rotary Blade: I normally use this to cut fabric that might be on a curve. They cut faster and better then regular scissors, but I need to lay the fabric on top of a mat to cut with them.
- Stick: I usually use this to turn corners when I sew in lining or keep fabric from bunching when I need to turn it inside out.
You might not want to get the exact same things that I have, but these are the basic tools I would recommend getting in order to get you started if you want to make your own costumes. My next post I hope to go over how I made a particular costume!