You will see a few posts like this pop up over the next while on how to be a savvy shopper and use resources you never considered before. In this post I'm going to talk about using sheets for fabric! Read the full post below and see ALL the costumes I've made using second hand bed sheets!
First of all, it's good to understand that cosplay is an expensive hobby. Once you can agree and understand that fact, some of the easiest ways to reduce your cost is to source the cheapest material possible. In this post we will talk about fabrics specifically.
The second hand store will be your best friend on a regular basis. If you can hit up the thrift store on a sale day, you're building for free! If you're just starting out in cosplay, it's a great idea to re-purpose clothing items directly, such as button up shirts, blazers, pants, etc.
If re-purposing won't work, head over to the bed and bath section where you'll find rows of bed sheets, curtains, blankets, towels, and even fabric scraps at some places. I've lucked out a few times and found some gorgeous brocade at my local thrift store.
My Korra Kida mashup costume was made mostly from second hand items. The shirt was a re-purposed t-shirt and the white detail was the edging from a tank top I thrifted! It makes for easy stretchy bias tape if you're in a pinch since it's already ironed and shaped! Photo by Shelley Elise Cosplay.
Sometimes cotton sheets just won't work for what you need. If you need a sheer fabric, or a thicker pattern, check the curtain section for interesting materials and designs. If you really need to head to a fabric store, make sure you stock up on coupons or keep your eyes peeled for sale days. Buying fabric at full price is a total wallet drain, and honestly, a rip off.
Now you bought this beautiful perfect fabric that cost a ton of money and you don't want to ruin it. How can you make sure your pattern fits you properly and make adjustments? Bed sheets. Yupp. Buy a big sheet from the thrift store and use it for your mock up design before cutting into your fancy fabric. You can get multiple patterns out of a single sheet for about $5.
Viking Pocahontas: Because I made this dress from a sheet, I was able to use the fabric as my mock up material until I got it right! I had to re-do the sleeve three times. =( The blue trim is also made from a sheet since it was way cheaper to buy the $2 sheet than try to find ribbon or other scraps to use. Photo by Riley.
The best use for sheets is to make capes! You can double up if you need it to be thicker or to add a lining. Sometimes you can luck out and get subtle patterned sheets and use it as a lining to add a little extra personal touch to your cape.
Red Sonja was my first cape. I cut a cape shape from a twin sheet and basically used the whole thing. Photo by Danyella Axani.
Moon Knight was a thrifted dress and a cape cut out of a king size sheet. The bigger the sheet, the more majestic the swoop. I only lined the cowl for the black interior, and hemmed the rest of the edges. Photo by David Su.
Up until recently I've never used a pattern and I've never had formal seamstress training. I've just been learning as I go with the help of friends and YouTube. So all of the costumes and pieces I will show you in this post were all free handed and measured right from my body! Some were pictured above, and the rest are all below!
Dark Magician Girl the Dragon Knight: This skirt was made by cutting two full circle skirts, pleating them, and sewing it all together. SO MUCH FLOOF. Photo by Alex Kilba.
Mad Hatter, White Rabbit mashup: This vest thing was one of the first things I tried to sew. I thought I would avoid awkward darts and seams by just cutting the neckline UNDER my boobs. :'D It still looks silly with my small boobs and loose fitting sew job. Photo by Angel.
Jasmine Blood Elf: I cut the cape from a sheet, and the pants were actually a really flowy material I lucked out on finding at the thrift store. Photo by Deadly Darling Design and Photography. Original design by Liber Libelula.
Steampunk Mulan: This was such a last minute costume I actually based the character I chose on the materials I already had at home. The shirt and gloves were cut from a huge sheet I bought for a future cosplay - and I still have plenty left to make that costume! The brocade in the skirt was left over material from my Ninetales costume, and the sheer material is actually my Grandma's old curtains! Photo by Britany Quinn.
Honorable mention goes to my ridiculous sexy Torbjorn cosplay I threw together for a Patreon shoot. The front flap was cut from an old sheet I had some scraps left of and I just painted the details on top. Photo by Riley. Hammer by Atom Cosplay.
Based on my experience, I really must stress the value of checking thrift stores before heading out to buy full price fabric. It can be the difference between finishing your costume or forever putting it on hold! Also, just a quick note, even if you can afford fancy new fabric, why not save your money and support local artists at conventions in the vendor hall instead?! xD
I hope you enjoyed this post and I will share more money saving tips soon! Have a wonderful week, my friends.