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5 Essential Tools You Need to Build Your First Cosplay Costume Posted Oct 3, 2020

If you’re looking to make your own cosplay, or costume play, for the first time in your free time, perhaps in anticipation of future anime conventions or celebrations like Halloween, you’ve likely seen a staggering number of photos online. There’s an incredible spread of cosplays to admire online, and the high quality of these cosplays can be, frankly, quite intimidating to the novice cosplayer. However, with the right tools and preparation, you too can create a lovely cosplay. Eventually, with enough time and experience, you’ll be creating elaborate cosplay creations to rival those of your fellow cosplayers the next time you attend a convention.

In order to get your first cosplay off the ground, there are some resources that you’ll likely need. While not all cosplays involve the same level of craftsmanship on your part, these tools tend to be pretty universally utilized by cosplayers. As an example, let’s say you want to cosplay as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby takes place during the Roaring Twenties, a period known for lavish parties, illegal booze, and, of course, flappers. As Daisy frequently attended Gatsby’s decadent events, to cosplay her you’d look to flapper costumes for inspiration or for supplies to put together the perfect cosplay. To construct a flapper cosplay or any other type of fun costume, you’ll need a basic set of tools and supplies:

5 Essential Tools You Need to Build Your First Cosplay Costume
  1. Sewing kit/Sewing machine – If you’re not already a sewing aficionado, you’ll need to get ahold of some basic sewing supplies. A sewing machine would be the most useful, especially in the long run as you work up to cosplays of greater complexity as it allows you to make a higher quality of stitching. With tighter stitching, you’ll get greater longevity out of your cosplay and can reuse it for several events. However, if a sewing machine is too expensive of a purchase for now, you can always get an old-fashioned needle and thread to do your sewing. If you’re a sewing novice, there are plenty of tutorials on sites such as YouTube that will teach you the basics.
  2. Hot glue gun – A hot glue gun is an absolute must for cosplay. A hot glue gun is the perfect tool for adhering details and small parts to your clothing and props, as well as building accessories and prop weapons. Please do exercise caution when using this equipment because the name “hot glue gun” is no misnomer.
  3. Crafting and precision knives – Sharp, precise knives, such as an X-Acto knife, are excellent tools for cosplay crafting. These knives are often used for cutting and carving any decorations and props that are part of your cosplay, both big and small. These knives do, of course, require extreme care during use.
  4. Fabric scissors – Precision knives are excellent for cutting many materials, but cutting cloth is best done with a set of heavy-duty fabric scissors. These scissors are sharper than your average craft scissors and are distinctly shaped to allow for smooth cuts through fabric and cloth. You can easily pick these up online or at your local craft supplies store.
  5. Heat gun – Chances are pretty good that you haven’t encountered a heat gun before, but they are a useful tool in cosplay creation. A heat gun is a tool that shoots out hot air, which cosplayers use for shrinking heat-responsive materials such as plastics. Think about something like shrink wrap, in which the plastic wrap has been heating so that it has tightened around whatever it’s containing. Heat guns can be used on PVC pipes, which you can heat up to mold into props, or for applying plastic-based materials to clothing, masks, and other parts of your cosplay. As with the hot glue gun, the heat gun does deliver on the promise of its name, so you’ll need to wield this with great caution.
5 Essential Tools You Need to Build Your First Cosplay Costume

As you pursue cosplay crafting, your collection of tools will grow to include a whole host of other supplies depending on the characters you cosplay as, and as you figure out which materials you enjoy working with the most, but these basic tools are a great starting point for your first cosplay. These are easy to find, whether you’re shopping online or at your local hardware and craft stores. They’re also multi-functional and can be used for other projects around the home or for other creative pursuits. With these tools, many reference images of your character, and a few tutorials, you can create your first homemade cosplay.


Getting into cosplay crafting, especially for comic-con can be a daunting prospect if you don’t have prior experience in sewing or other crafting, but there’s a secret to making it feel easier: have fun! Cosplay is all about expressing your love for a character or a franchise, and it allows you to embody new versions of yourself. Regardless of how complicated or simple your cosplay ends up being, I can guarantee someone else will be thrilled to see you as that character. Celebrate yourself and the thing you enjoy by having fun with the whole process, and feel proud of the cosplay you created!

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