Cosplay can be a very time consuming hobby. Sewing, crafting, painting, making alterations, and correcting mistakes can all take a lot of time. And if you are raising a child, studying for exams, working full-time, and running a household, you may not have all that much time to spare!
Of course, if you are reading this you must have a little free time now and then, right?
The least time-consuming way to become a cosplayer is to buy your costume. Some people get snooty about bought costumes, but unless you are going around claiming to have made it yourself, there is nothing wrong with buying your cosplay costumes.
Buying a costume is an article in itself, but your three main choices are:
- Commission it – more expensive, but more accurate to the source, and more likely to fit well. You can find comissioners on cosplay forums
- Ebay (or similar) – cheap, but usually inaccurate to the source, and likely made in a Third World sweat-shop
- Second hand – of variable quality and price. These can be anything from a bought costume that didn’t make the grade, to a much loved hand-made item that no longer fits.
As ever, when buying online check the seller’s feedback, ask others for their experiences, and try to get photos of the actual item (not stock pictures).
If you still want to make your costume, you might want to consider shortcuts. There’s lots of ways to save time when making costumes. Ranging from finding regular clothes that are close to what you want and adapting them in what little free time you have; all the way up to taking artistic licence with a design to make it simpler. If you are a perfectionist, or entering a contest, accuracy counts. But if you are just starting out, or are more interested in fun than faithfulness to the source, you can often drop fiddly details and still be recognisible as the character. And you can always correct these omissions at a later date, if you find the time or enthusiasm for accuracy!
If you are still determined to make your costume entirely, and have it 100% accurate to the source, then you are going to have to manage your time carefully. Can you sew while watching TV, or reading to your children? Do you have a room where you can leave projects half-done and come back to them when you are less busy? Can you paper-clay your armour and check in on it between hoovering each room of your home? If you don’t set yourself a deadline, you can even make your costume over the course of years, if having spare time is that rare.
With creative time management, or a little compromise there’s usually a way to fit cosplay in somewhere. There’s a catch though!
While there are lots of ways to get yourself a costume on a tight time-budget, there is one thing I can’t help with; and that’s finding time to wear it. If you don’t have the time to get to conventions, media shows, film showings, or anime clubs you might have to consider pestering friends to make their celebrations fancy dress affairs!