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[ Budget Struggles When Cosplaying: Accuracy VS Cost]

By Sara Croft
I get asked so many times about how i make my costumes so cheaply. I give one on one tips to beginner cosplayers all the time so i decided to just compile all the advice into one document for everyone to have at their disposal , if you want to know how to cosplay on a budget, keep on reading.

1 - Focus on one outfit at a time:
A mistake I often made (and quite frankly, sometimes still make) is try to work on multiple costumes at once, and end up finishing none, not to mention go over my allotted spending limit. The best thing to do is focus on one outfit, finish it completely before moving on to another.
Make the easier versions of a costume to start with:

For example Tomb Raider 2013, there was an awesome progression range of Lara's costume that we could cosplay, we could do "Just crashed on the island Lara" with a stick bow, or we could do "battle hardened Lara" with the endgame compound bow. you can always find what is suitable for your means and abilities without straying from accuracy.

2 - Take your time finding items:
I know the hype train can sometimes feel like a freight train, it runs you and your wallet over, you might make some purchases impulsively that might be a bad idea later, so take your time searching for the best deal.
Search all popular sites like Ebay, Etsy, Amazon and StoreEnvy throughly before purchase.

3 - Make things yourself, even if you've never crafted before:
I completely understand that even the thought of making things yourself can be an intimidating and daunting. 10 years ago , i was in that exact same mindset, i didn't think i could do it, i thought i did not have enough skills or talent to make anything , but if i didn't take the time to try , i would never have discovered my abilities. So i invite you to do the same, I have over 140 easy to follow tutorials on this website and many in video format on my youtube channel !

Also try using things like fabric glue instead of having to learn how to sew right away, can make things easier to start with, you can even hot glue some aspects of your costume.

My sam costume was hotglued and fabric glued together.

4 - Cheap Alternatives that look the part but don't break the bank:
You don't need to start right off the bat with materials that cost a lot of money, especially because you might make mistakes and waste your material, for example:

- Use pleather or vinyl to replace Leather. (not to mention it's a great option for vegan cosplayers)

My TR2013 belt made from pleather

- Use Nylon webbing instead of leather straps and belts

Underworld belt made from Nylon webbing

- Use Craft foam to make minor props that don't get stressed too much while out and about

Rise of the Tomb Raider Revolver made out of foam

- Use foamboard to make your weapons instead of wood or worbla . Which means you skip buying saws, sanding belts and so many more machines that might be needed

- Tomb Raider Axes made from foamboard

- Use polymer clay instead of a resin kit or real jade to make your necklaces

- Use wooden dowels instead of archery arrows

5 - Think outside the box:
Always look around your surroundings for alternatives to things that could be a nightmare to make, example:
I used soft drink cans as air tanks in my underworld backpack.


6 - Ebay is a life saver:
If you're using Ebay, search and filter by
 - cheapest first
 - in your home country only for fast shipping
 - buy it now so you don't have to wait and bid

Leave them in your cart as you shop, so you can see how much you're spending on everything, i have a bad habit of buying things one at a time, then ending up over my spending limit.

7 - Thrift stores / Charity Shops:
Do not underestimate your local charity shops , they might have excellent things like leather jackets for several of Lara's outfits, boots, collectables and so much more!

Hopefully this helps you out when starting your own cosplay, Please leave me comments below if you have any questions or if i missed any other tips! it could be helpful to other readers