The Costume Counselor: Making vs Buying

Okay, so you’ve decided to make your costume and you’ve already done your breakdown… what now? Now you have to figure out whether or not you want to make each piece from scratch or if you want to buy something to use for it. We sort of touched on this last time but didn’t really go quite in depth enough.

The first thing do here is a cost-benefit analysis with effort as the currency. Is it worth the time, money, and effort to make something simple that you can buy on Amazon for $10 just so you can say you made all of it? Probably not. And, to be perfectly honest, if you buy something that’s more of a base piece, you’re probably going to save yourself money in the long run along with your very valuable time. Buy it and move on.

Sometimes, you’ll buy a pre-made base piece with the intention of modifying it. When looking at this option, again consider how much effort you’ll have to put into modifying it. There’s a big difference between merely ironing a design on to a t-shirt and hacking up a jacket so you can put it back together again.

You can also consider your own skill sets in combination with how accurate you want to make your costume. Unless you’re buying something specifically made for a costume that’s not street clothes, you may have to sacrifice how screen-accurate you look and that is a totally fine option to go with! If you’re not as comfortable with sewing and making yet, this may be a wise decision especially if you’re not going to have to do a ton of modifications. Figuring out your approach is something that will take practice and it’s something you’ll feel more comfortable doing once you’ve gone through the costume making process a few times.

We’ll use a practical example again. Or even two! One of the first costumes I ever made was Kate Bishop’s “Hawkingbird” look. It involves a strapless long purple dress that gets ripped up when she ends up starting her superhero career. I made a purple dress BUT it probably would’ve made more sense for me to buy a dress and then rip the crap out of the hem. It would’ve been less time, effort, and money.


On the other hand, we’ll look at my Roach from the Star Wars: Twilight Company novel. For this costume, I decided to do a mixture of buying and making the pieces. It took all of $20 and a little time on Ebay to purchase the shirt and pants. It probably would’ve cost close to that for the fabric and notions. I had a specific vision for what I wanted for the jacket though and an internet search just wasn’t cutting it so I dug into my fabric boxes and pulled this together. In other words, it essentially cost me nothing because I am a fabric hoarder.

And that’s it for this week! Have a topic you’d like me to cover or further questions about something? Am I going in depth enough? Do the examples help? Leave a comment or come talk to me on Twitter! Next week… yeah, you know the drill now. We’ll be back and I don’t know what we’ll cover yet but it’ll be something costume related!

One thought on “The Costume Counselor: Making vs Buying

  1. B April 17, 2016 / 12:00 PM

    I love buying pieces and making them work. My favorite costume I have is AOU Scarlet Witch and everything was bought. It’s probably one of the easier costumes for people who can’t sew or are limited with their skills!


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