It’s always nerve-racking pulling the trigger when purchasing items for a costume. I feel like once I buy the first piece – I’m committed. There’s no going back. Maybe I have a large fear of buyer’s remorse, or maybe I’m still warming up to the fact that that to really get a good quality costume I need to be prepared to shell out some dollars.
Since there’s less than two months until Dallas Comic-Con and I’m preparing a new costume (exciting!) it’s crunch time for me to order
my materials. I’ve had quite a few friends ask me for some advice when it comes to putting together a costume. So, instead of telling you all separately at the risk of forgetting something, I’ve narrowed down what I think are the most valuable tips I’ve learned over the years into this nice little post.
Plan in advance
Get your costume planned out in full detail at least two months before the convention you are planning on attending. Not only does this give time to figure out the exact materials that you want but it also majorly lowers the risk of not getting your order on time. If you have a costume idea that you think is going to require more than two months worth of work (this is sounding pretty intense) and you have less than two months to do it, it might be worth trying to enlist some crafty friends to help. Cookies are always a nice incentive.
Order from a place you know is reliable
My favorite place to purchase materials is Amazon, especially when I’m in a time crunch. It’s easy to find competitive deals from brand name sellers who offer quick shipping dates and are reliable.
Ebay is risky, but can pay off if you’re willing to wait. The thing with Ebay is that you are able to purchase from international sellers which in most cases results in lower prices. For my Captain America outfit ordered the red under-bust and my red boots from a seller in China via Ebay. My items arrived in the mail roughly 3 weeks after they were ordered. One of my friends wasn’t so fortunate and had ordered similar items only to have them get stuck at customs and she didn’t wind up receiving them until 3 months after the convention.
Always, always, always check reviews
Reviews are your best friend. I go through as many as I can before placing an order. Maybe it’s some sort of paranoia but I always want to make sure where I’m ordering from is reputable and the item is the quality I expect.
For most costumes I’ve put together, the items come from the same place, so I really want to make sure this place is reputable before I completely put my trust in them. For international stores and smaller businesses I usually just Google “store name review” and in my experience a forum on either a cosplay website or on another social media platform will pop up and several reviews will follow. In some other cases I’ve seen reviews posted on the items website but not correlate to the item. Spambots are out there and so are trolls! Be wary.
Fabric stores are awesome resources
I’m not the craftiest person on the planet and I’m pretty challenged when it comes to sewing. That said, I usually try to find any other method of adhering fabrics. Although it’s pretty easy to search the interwebs for solutions on alternate ways to attach two fabrics, my best results have come from the people at my local craft store. There I’m able to show them the fabrics and they can tell me whether any sort of craft glue will do the trick or if I need to suck up to a friend to get them to sew it for me. Coincidentally I found out most of the younger people who work at the craft stores in my area actually go to conventions. They have a lot of experience with the fabrics and understand just how much wear and tear they will go through. You may be surprised what new friends you can find!
Etsy is magical
I was really apprehensive the first time I ordered something from Etsy. I ordered a custom set of ears and a tail for a Rigby, from Regular Show, costume I did a couple years ago for AnimeFest. Before I ordered anything I contacted the seller to make sure I could get the items in time and got a really fast response. The seller had ears and tails ready-to-ship in her shop that would have worked for me, but when I messaged her I was surprised to get feedback saying that for the same price she could custom make me a set that was modeled right to Rigby’s. I got it way before I expected and the quality was fantastic!
For my newest costume that I will premiere at Dallas Comic-Con I ordered from a new seller on Etsy. Her shop had no reviews and she had just recently opened her store, but she had the exact item that I wanted. I really lucked out on this one. The seller not only went out of her way to contact me but actually hand-delivered the item to my place and refunded me the shipping! Not only is the item exactly as it was described but the experience with the seller helped put my mind at ease for future transactions.
Party City – My last minute costume headquarters
I know a lot of people give criticism to those who wear Party City costumes to conventions. I don’t really understand this unless someone is trying to pass off a costume that is obviously purchased as hand-made. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, one of my favorite costumes came from Party City. For last minute accessories, Party City really is the best place to go. They carry costumes and accessories year-round and are usually well stocked with a good selection. Most of the accessories I’ve purchased from Party City I use as bases to build upon. For example, I got a pair of cat ears that were on a durable headband. I covered them in fabric and shaped it to be the headpiece that I was wanting. The price of the headband plus the price of the fabric was a large percentage less than buying an exact replica item from somewhere online.
What are your favorite places to get cosplay/costume materials? Have you ever had a bad experience?
Can’t wait to see all my friends at Dallas Comic-Con!