Cosplay and 2nd hand shopping

February 2, 2014

There are many different kinds of cosplayers out there – from casuals to perfectionist – and I’m pretty sure we all agree on one thing: Cosplay is an expensive hobby!

I am myself a perfectionist with most costumes. I spend whole years on a costume and pay $200+ for my big costume projects. Worbla, specialty tools, the perfect fabrics – a project can add up really fast.

But most cosplayers out there are students, meaning they don’t have that much money for costume materials. And it’s true, it is really, really expensive to make costumes! But there are also ways to save money, and some people might think it’s impossible to find materials for an armor 2nd hand, but it isn’t. Yoga mats and other foam-materials can often be transformed into elaborate armors.  Fabric can often be found in 2nd hand shops as well – it’s rare to be lucky, but persistancy pays off! I’ve bought rolls of fabric at ridiculously low prices. And maybe you’re just looking for that 1 meter patterned fabric that you need for a small detail in your costume – maybe that fabric could originally have been a table cloth, bed sheets?

Jewellry with the perfect beads, with the right metal adornment, maybe even just beads and sequins can be found in 2nd hand shops.

Tools like sander, screwing machines drills can also be found used. I’ve even bought acrylic paint. Sure, the quality isn’t always the best, but if you take your time searching, you might end up finding just the thing you need at 1/10th the price it would’ve cost from new.

Hope this inspires people to go look for cheap materials and get crafting!

This Bernina was my 2nd serger/overlocker and actually the first (and only) brand new machine I have bought. It works quite good and it’s a bit less noisy than my old one, which is great. One thing I miss from my old machine: It doesn’t have free arm capabilities. I don’t follow rules when I sew, so I like to overlock on my sleeves when I’m making clothes, which is harder when you can’t fit the fabric around the machine, especially when making mistakes and accidentally stitching through wrong layers will ruin the whole project, because the machine cuts while sewing. But it’s a minor thing that I work around, and overall, I’m really pleased with the performance!

My next machine was a very fancy christmas gift from my dad:

Pfaff Creative Vision sewing /embroidery machine

I have wanted an embroidery machine for years, but they are both quite expensive (though, more and more affordable models are being released) and also I had no idea what to look for. I thought each machine had their own software, and so I thought it was also a thing to consider. But it turns out it’s not. And while embroidery software (to make your own designs) is a whole topic of it’s own, it turns out the machines are quite “simple”. This one functions both as a sewing machine and an embroidery machine, and I have used it for sewing a little bit, but for that purpose, my old one still does better – it has a more powerful engine. This machine struggles with e.g. webbing. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s a bit of a chore to convert it between sewing and embroidery (the attachment + foot + needle needs to be replaced, and different types of threads on upper-and lower thread), so I just use it as embroidery machine. And for that, it works great. It supports quite large hoops – up to 360 x 350 mm. (though biggest I have is 360 x 200 mm). The standard hoops that were included were plastic ones that work by squeezing fabric between inner and outer hoop and tightening it. But I fairly quickly upgraded to metal hoops with magnets, because I find it easier to align designs like that. It’s a preference thing. It’s a single colour machine, so you have to replace the thread after each colour. But I think it’s fine. Some projects require you to babysit it, while others you can just leave it alone. It depends both on the file, the fabric and the thread. There’s a lot to learn when embroidering, but it’s quite fun. I haven’t used it for cosplay yet, but most things that sit still long enough in our house gets embroidered.

The latest machine I bought is this one:
Brother Coverstitch CV3550 coverlock machine

 

This machine is quite limited in it’s use. It’s something inbetween an overlocker and a regular machine. It has one bottom looper, and up to 3 upper threads. And this version also has an extra thread that is kind of like an over-looper. If you have a t-shirt on, I’m pretty sure there’s an edge of folded fabric that is stitched with a coverlock. On the visible side, it’s usually 2 straight, parallel seam-lines and on the underside, it’ll be kind of looping around. That’s a coverstitch. I got this, because I enjoy making clothes for myself and my family, and it makes that a lot easier. But it’s overkill for most people and probably not that relevant for cosplay. I just felt like splurging a bit and buying myself something nice. I did buy it used, though, because I figured I would get one that had all the possible features (including free arm for easier sleeve stitching).

So that’s basically all the machines I have! I would like to add one honorable mention, though:

 Husqvarna 5710 sewing machine

 

This was my very first sewing machine! My grandmother had it before me, and it’s from somewhere between 1976-1982 (I don’t know exactly when) It was actually a nice machine, but when I first got into cosplay and realized it was something I wanted to do a lot, I wanted something a bit more quiet with more features. But this machine isn’t gone. My mother-in-law didn’t have a sewing machine, so I brought it to Lithuania and now she uses it for little repairs and such. It makes me happy to know that after all this time, it still has a purpose and it still works just fine. Those old Husqvarna machines are work horses, and if your budget is small, go look for this kind of machine. The machines that were made back then were so simple that they don’t break that easy, and they were made with quality materials, so they last forever. They may not have lots of fancy seams, but my first Druid cosplay was made mostly with this red machine.

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