Looking for something to get that amazing cosplayer in your life? Or are you a cosplayer yourself, looking to get yourself something new but don’t know what to get? You have come to the right place!
I will be updating this guide throughout the holiday season, so if there’s anything you think should be added, please let me know.
How to use this guide: Click on the section below that best describes your cosplayer. Each section has a short description at the top to help decide which is best for you. Then, select the skill level of the cosplayer – typically, I assume that beginners do not have any tools, and pros have most of the basics but may be looking for something different and unique to experiment with. My suggestions will then be shown, with a quick write-up on each! Just click on the title bar again to collapse the section to look at another.
General - For Everyone!
Items that could be used by any cosplayer!
Get your cosplayer a gift card! That’s usually the safe bet. There are many places that sell a ton of great cosplay materials –
When in doubt, Amazon has everything!
Does your cosplayer have a fabric addiction? Do they like long sweeping coats, fancy dresses or perfectly fitted jackets? Then you’re at the right place! This section is for anyone interested in sewing their costumes. Select their skill level below to see my suggestions!
We’re pretty much always running out of this. Maybe your cosplayer could use a whole set? Nothing is worse than starting a new piece and realizing you don’t have the right color on hand! Or, just get them a bunch of black and white, as those are the most common colors. The brand here, Gutermann, is one of my favorites – make sure not to get anything too cheap, or your sewing machine may have issues with it!
These are always breaking, going missing or wearing out. I’m sure your cosplayer would love to stock up! Make sure to check that you are getting the correct type of needle. These ones are universal, so they should work for most home machines!
Organization is always a godsend when it comes to cosplay. I personally love these spool racks – they can be stood up on their own or hung off the wall. It lets you see all the colors you have available at any time, and keeps everything nice and tidy!
Never have to measure buttonhole placement again! Simply expand the gauge to the distance you like and mark down where your buttons should go.
This is a sewing machine that I have personally used. It is much better quality than other machines at the same price point thanks to the metal body. It is simple enough for a beginner to learn on, yet powerful enough for a more advanced sewer to use.
This is a nifty, comprehensive book to help new sewers figure out what on earth is going on! It is so comprehensive, I was actually assigned this as a textbook when I took online courses in fashion design. Check out my cosplay book guide for even more books!
I have not personally used this embroidery machine, however, I recommend it for it’s great reviews and relatively affordable price. For a beginner looking into automated embroidery machines, this machine looks like a pretty good shot!
This is one of my favorite books for cosplay! I use it all the time to help modify patterns. It teaches you how to make flat patterns to begin with, and then teaches you how to modify them to achieve the final look you want. This thing is massive – it’s a textbook – and is packed cover to cover with incredibly useful information. Check out my cosplay book guide for even more books!
A dress form is very useful for tailoring your outfits to your own body, as well as other people’s! It is an incredibly handy thing to have around, even just to see how clothing drapes when put on a form. It can also be used to perfectly fit clothing, hand sew pleats and shapes, and to display finished pieces. They come in many sizes, here are a few in small, medium and large.
A serger can be used to create professional finishes to your garments. They are much faster than a conventional sewing machine, but harder to use. They cannot turn corners easily and take some time to learn, but the final result is worth it! I have not personally used this model, but the reviews speak for themselves.
This is the embroidery machine I own, and it’s a beauty! It has a much larger embroidery area, and has a ton of features. For those wanting to add more machine embroidery to their pieces, this is a wonderful machine.
This is the sewing machine I own, and I love it! It’s a large machine and has far more capacity for larger projects inside it’s arm. It has hundreds of stitches, many decorative stitches, and a 9mm stitch width (7mm is standard). It is a beast, and I have never had an issue with mine. Take your sewing to the next level with a fancy beast of a sewing machine!
Props and Armor
Does your cosplayer naturally gravitate towards large suits of armor? What about that massive battleaxe they just couldn’t resist? Then this is the section for you! Select their skill level below to see some suggestions.
Foam is one of the most popular armor and prop making materials due to its versatility, affordable price, and light weight. It’s used by beginners and pros alike, even in hollywood! This is a simple floor mat typically used by hobbyists, however, there are dozens of options for those who want to experiment with various sizes, densities, textures, and other properties!
Worbla is another extremely popular material for both props and costumes. It’s ease of use makes it ideal for just about anyone, from beginners with little experience to pros looking for a fast and reliable way to make durable costumes.
This stuff gets used quite a lot! Drop it in hot water, let it melt, and shape it with your hands. Very useful for small details, raised details, false teeth, and anything else you can think of!
It really doesn’t take much to get a nice, proper heat gun for your first prop or armor project! A heat gun is essential for most armor projects, most notably foam and thermoplastics.
A rotary tool is very useful for a number of applications – cutting, sanding, shaping, scuffing, polishing, drilling, and more. This thing is essential to anyone getting into armor or props! The most well-known brand is Dremel, and their parts can usually be bought anywhere. Cheap off-brand rotary tools are also bountiful, and are usually capable of completing the job as well. (I’ve had my cheap off brand one for 3 years now!)
The fastest, easiest way to stick things together! Hot glue is a staple in many shops. Don’t get the cheap dollar store one, it really pays to get a high temperature, full size gun with large sticks.
Let’s not forget the safety equipment! For a beginner, I think the respirator is the most important. Certain materials can give off gasses when heated, spray paint gives off awful fumes and particles, and this can also be used as a dust mask when sanding with power tools! Don’t forget to also pick up some safety goggles, gloves, hearing protection, and anything else recommended by the manufacturers of the tools you use.
This tool is a godsend for prop makers. Cut an ugly seam in your foam? Stick it on the belt sander and it will be beautiful! Need a straight edge or specific angle? Belt sander! Need to quickly sand something down? Belt sander! Seriously, this thing can be used for just about everything. Definitely a must have for anyone trying to get into making more props and armor!
Getting a scroll saw or jigsaw will open the door to using many new materials for your props and armor! More useful for props, it can easily cut MDF or wood pieces to create a solid base. It is also an easier way to cut Sintra sheets, pipes, lots of things! I chose to use the Dremel moto saw in this post as it’s a miniature, inexpensive version that suits the small work needed for props. Full size scroll saws are also useful for larger pieces if that is more your speed!
A multi-tool is quite useful in many situations. Use it to cut, engrave, shape and more!
A blade cutting machine is useful for a lot of different reasons. I primarily use mine to make stencils for painting, and to make adhesive decals for my stuff. It also has a pen attachment and can draw out patterns! This thing has many uses beyond cosplay as well, from card making to gifts to art to vinyl cutting.
I personally bought this printer as my first printer, and I LOVE it! It is an affordable and easy entry into the 3D printing world. I have used this thing to make everything from masters, brackets, hinges, parts, to completed pieces. If you have the skills to 3D model or the patience to learn, you can do anything! If you don’t, there is a massive online community where you can download files for free, or commission someone to do it for you! (Hey… Speaking of, I’m not too bad myself! *wink wink*)
Take your painting to the next level with an airbrush! Airbrush painting is fairly easy to learn, and takes your work to a whole other level. I don’t personally own this set, but it has great reviews and has everything you need to get into airbrushing!
Need some makeup? Of course you do! All cosplayers can use makeup products for their costumes, men, women, and everyone in between. Click the tabs below to see my suggestions by skill level!
A good foundation is the first step to looking fresh and clean on photos! Use some to even out skin tone and hide blemishes.
Good contouring is essential to looking sharp on photos. Just like for theater, accentuating your facial features is one of the only ways to make them read clearly on camera. Contouring can be used for both male and female makeup. Available in many different palettes for light and dark complexions alike, as well as in larger palettes with more shades.
Nude eyeshadow palettes can be used for both male and female makeup to further sculpt the face for photos. Primarily used around the eyes, it can also be used in exaggerated contouring makeup. Make sure to pick up some primer for your eyes to prevent it from caking up in your creases and making you look old!
Sets your makeup for long lasting wear! Perfect for those days you end up stuck at a con for 12 hours, sweating your face off.
Once you get a little more involved with makeup, you’re going to want to get your own brush set to create a more seamless, clean look.
Personally, I can’t think of a cosplayer who wouldn’t LOVE a set like this. You can do all kinds of male and female makeups with this, and anything in between. A whole rainbow of colors to match any character, and enough contouring and blush to make beautiful faces at the camera.
Be prepared for any character with a large set of eyeliner pencils!
Airbrush is by far the cleanest, most professional looking makeup out there. It can be used in both natural skin tones for a flawless appearance on camera and smooth contouring, and for body painting and unnatural skin tones.
I personally really like this brand for it’s durability, however, do some research before buying some for yourself! ProAiir Hybrid is hard to get off, but will last all day if that’s what you want. Perfect for body paint that doesn’t rub off on everyone, not so perfect for trying to get it off before work the following morning! It comes in dozens of colors for whatever you need. It can also be used for partial applications such as fake blood! Just splash it on and you’re good to go.