Need Cosplay Supplies, But Don’t Have Much Money?

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for any period of time, you’ll know I love cosplay. It’s a huge amount of fun, and although I have nothing against store
bought costumes, I still prefer handmade.

A decent handmade costumes take a lot of time to put together, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you enjoy crafting, but it can also be extremely expensive. Sadly, we don’t all have the money to buy expensive supplies, and it can be tricky finding the right props.

After the years of crafting I’ve put in, though, I do have a few pointers about saving money on supplies. Here are three of my favorite resources.

One of my thrift store hauls. That blender still
works beautifully.

Thrift Stores
Provided you don’t mind buying things second hand, or hunting through interesting things, thrift stores can be amazing resources. I’ve found treasures like fabric (a lot of it high quality), yarn, knitting supplies, paper craft supplies, beads, appliances (like my blender for paper making) and jewelry perfect for adding to certain costumes.

You can save a huge amount of money by shopping at these little stores, and very often find surprisingly high quality items. It’s a lot easier to experiment with online tutorials to make a pair of high-rise boots on a $5.00 pair of shoes than on a pair that cost you $25.00.

I’ve also seen wigs in some stores, but I don’t know what kind of quality they were. Since I have no experience with those things, I couldn’t speak to how to care for them.

Another thing I love about thrift stores is that they often support wonderful organizations. My favorite stores are ARC Value Village, because their profits go directly to helping people with disabilities severe enough to warrant the need of ongoing help.

Garage Sales

My Hitchhiker’s Guide cosplay.
The Don’t Panic pouch is made
of garage sale finds, and the
jeans bag is 100% upcycled.

Like thrift stores, garage/yard sales are awesome low-cost alternatives to craft
stores. There is a lot of hunting involved with these, but some of the finds are pretty great. A number of years ago, I landed a huge stash of embroidery floss for fifty cents and a box of jewelry notions for a dollar.

Keep an eye on Craigslist and your local newspapers for sale listings. In the springtime, some neighborhoods hold yearly garage/yard sale events. People on a series of blocks will schedule their own sales on the same day, providing access for shoppers to easily navigate between sales.

This slightly awkward
badge holder is lined
with upcycled plastic bags.

My personal favorite in finding supplies is upcycling things I no longer use around the house. Old shirts can be used as lining or fabric for new projects, and denim from old jeans is hardy enough to be used for a wide array of things.

You can also use plastic bags as water-proofing, and old containers as fodder for
props. It’s a little surprising how many things can be used for costumes when you apply imagination. There are quite a few great online tutorials available to help you out with upcycling items, as well.

While some things are best bought at specialty retailers, like specialty contacts or high quality wigs, it is possible to put together a great costume without breaking your bank account.

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