You know that friend you have that makes all those amazing costumes? Well, those take a lot of time, money, and materials to build. If you want to help your creative friends out on their next project, here are some ideas on what you can get them.
Building a costume often involves learning a ton of new skills you never had before, and even re-learning that concept for each new costume. That’s why reference material can be invaluable. Books from established cosplay artists like KamuiCosplay or Punished Props can teach you how to craft props out of foam, make armor out of found materials, and much more.
Many materials in costuming get used up and need to be replenished. Your recipient might need specific colors, but you don’t usually go wrong with either black or white thread. A pack of pins, both push and safety wouldn’t go amiss, as well as clips to hold everything in place. There are plenty more materials that cosplayers could always use more of, so if you’re not sure you can always ask what they’re low on.
If you’ve ever used a costumer’s sewing shears to open a bag of chips like they’re common household scissors, you probably (and rightfully) got an earful about how precious they are. Fix your mistake by getting them a new pair of Gingher dressmaker shears. These incredibly sharp blades come with a lifetime guarantee, which should be just enough time to get their next costume done before con.
A seam ripper allows you to tear out the stitches in an article of clothing so you can re-tailor it as you see fit. They’re also pretty cheap so you can get the costumer in your life a pack of them as a stocking stuffer.
When it comes time to start slicing up everything from fabric to vinyl to foam, a cutting mat is an invaluable tool. Not only does it provide a handy grid to easily measure out the things you’re cutting, but it’s usually made of a thick material that can take a hit from a blade without tearing. Think of it like a kitchen cutting board, but for your Mass Effect armor. While you’re at it, a new knife or set of replacement blades wouldn’t go amiss, either.
If your cosplay friend wants to do work with EVA foam, Worbla, or other moldable materials, then they’ll probably need a heat gun. Like a blowdryer on steroids, these guns do just what they say. They blast a stream of hot air onto whatever you point them at. Some materials need to be hot while they’re being molded, and will keep their shape when they cool down, so it’s a handy thing to have around.
Some advanced cosplay involves adding electronics like speakers or LEDs. If they’re crafting custom electronics, they might need a good soldering kit. These come with the iron itself, charging station, and cleaning sponge, but you might need to get a roll of solder as well. With this, cosplayers can build their own electronics designs.
Some costume details are just too complicated to cut out by hand. That’s where a Cricut comes in. This cutting machine lets you design and cut out custom patterns out of paper, vinyl, faux leather, and tons of other materials. Plenty of cosplayers dream of getting one of these, but it’s a bit pricier so many still do things the old fashioned way. If you want to splurge — and save your loved one some much needed time and headaches — a Cricut would make a kingly gift.
A Dremel tool can be used to quickly carve or sculpt shapes out of foam or other materials. For some tasks, it is to sculpting what a power drill is to using a screwdriver. It’s just a lot faster and easier. A basic Dremel is relatively cheap, but if they already have one, you can go a step further by getting a kit with a variety of replaceable tips.
When it comes time to paint your costume — or even just add weathering or details — an airbrush can give artists a lot more flexibility and save time. Some more expensive kits can come with a collection of paints and attachments, but the important bit is the brush and air compressor.
It’s worth keeping in mind that if the cosplayers in your life are fairly experienced, they may already have some of the things on this list. It doesn’t hurt to ask what they need before you get started! (And if all else fails, you can fall back on a Joann’s gift card.)