make an anime costume

5 Tips for Making the Best Anime Costume

In Anime & Animation, Cosplay Costumes Central by shubham JL

You want to make the best anime costume. That comes as no surprise as the anime cosplay genre has grown in popularity exponentially over the past several years, which has birthed a whole new style of wearable performance art. The questions on your mind are probably, “How are these people creating their amazing anime costumes, and what steps do I take to make the best anime costume?” 

Before you begin constructing your costume, have a clear image of which character you want to portray. Then study images of the character to get inspiration and design ideas. Next, make a list of which tools, supplies, and materials you will need in order to construct your costume.  

Remember, the sky is the limit when it comes to design. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination, creativity, and the following tips on how to make the best anime costume, and you are sure to be very happy with the outcome. 

How do I Make an Anime Costume?

Anime, the Japanese inspired genre, has spread across the world like wildfire. Cosplay (costume play) is the act of dressing up as and portraying one’s favorite anime and other movie characters. It has become a very popular pastime for people of all ages and demographics around the globe.

An anime costume can be plain and simple or as elaborately detailed as your mind can imagine. It depends on your ability and what your budget will allow.

Choose Your Character Inspiration

Before you can make the best anime costume, you must:

  • First, choose your character.
  • Study the style of your character thoroughly.
  • Ask yourself what materials and tools you may need to use.
  • Make a list of those items.

Once you have accomplished those things, you are ready to get to work!

How you make your anime costume depends entirely upon your:

  • Creative skill level
  • Personal style
  • The amount of time, dedication, and money you can allow for your costume’s creation

The more time and detail you put into your design, the better the costume will be. To end up with the best anime costume, the following list will help you with:

  • Design,
  • Preparation
  • Executing your plan

5 Tips for Making the Best Anime Costume

As you prepare to create your ideal anime costume, there are several steps you can take to help you be successful in carrying out your vision.

make an anime costume - 5 Tips for Making the Best Anime Costume infographic

1. Choose a Character that Means Something to YOU

Choose a character that you relate to; one you can see yourself being. As you start:

  • Begin with a simple design.
  • Don’t rush the process.
  • Take plenty of time to study the design and style of the character’s outfit.
  • Study the character in great detail.
  • Save as many images of your character as possible.

Having these images saved will help you stay on track during the creative process and allow you to have a reference to look back at so you can stay as close to your original design concept as possible.

Now, ask yourself the following questions to help you design and gather your supplies and materials for your anime costume.

What is/are the:

  • Overall style
  • Colors that are used
  • Various textures on different areas of the character
  • Fabrics and materials used
  • Tools needed

2. Make a Plan of How to Approach Your Design

Stay in your lane when choosing a design and style to create.

What that means is, set yourself up for success and create a design that is commensurate with your skills, knowledge, and materials. Look at your design and break it down into actionable steps.                               

Breaking your design into steps will help you simplify the design if need be for easier assembly and allow you to plan the creation process more efficiently.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. The only way to succeed is to try. 

3. Get Yourself Organized

Organization of your ideas, materials, and supplies is essential when creating the best anime costume. To effectively create your costume, make a list of all of the:

  • Supplies
  • Materials
  • Tools that you will need

Break the list into sections for easier viewing. 

Example:

Items Needed

Quantity Needed

In Stock

Need to Find or Purchase

Black skirt

1

x

 

White buttoned shirt

1

 

x

Black leggings

1

 

x

Sequins

1 bag

 

x

Fedora

1

x

 

Iron

1

x

 

Glue gun

1

x

 

Double-sided tape

1 roll

 

x

Sewing machine

1

x

 

4. Think Through Your Entire Costume

When you are designing and assembling your costume, it is very important to think about the aesthetics of the design and the functionality. An anime costume can look amazing and be completely useless if it does not fit or function properly.

Think about the following things when you are designing and fitting your costume:       

  • Can I sit down in my costume?
  • Can I move around comfortably?
  • Am I able to use the restroom while wearing this costume?
  • Is this costume breathable and properly ventilated?

Pro Tip: Costumes can get hot and heavy, so it is important to consider the type of materials you are using. Think to yourself, “Will I be able to stand wearing this costume all day?”

5. Gather the Tools Needed to Create Your Masterpiece

Having the proper tools and equipment is essential for creating the best anime costumes. As with any craft, there are many degrees of expertise, and as you become more skilled in your costume making, the tools/equipment you use will change and become more technical. 

Below are some examples of the tools you may need to create your costume: 

  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun (used for attaching embellishments to accessories, bonding fabrics, and other materials together)
  • Dremel™ tool kit (used for carving accessories and props.)
  • Palm Sander (used for creating smooth, more realistic finishes

      on armor, accessories, and props.)

  • Exacto™ knife set (used for carving accessories and props.)
  • Heat gun (used for forming EVA foam)
  • Sewing machine (a very helpful tool to have and become an expert on.)
  • 3D Printer (used for making weapons, armor, and accessories)
  • Airbrush tool (used for detailed, realistic painting)

The Easiest Anime Costume to Make as a Beginner

There are so many simple anime designs to choose from that it can be difficult to decide which one to pick. Most of the supplies for these beginner costumes can be made from things lying around your own home.

Some of the most popular costumes that people begin with are:

  • Kiki, the delivery witch from Kiki’s Delivery Service (navy blue, knee-length dress, flat red shoes, red ribbon, broom, delivery bag)
  • Sailor Moon from the Sailor Moon animated series (white bodysuit, long blonde pigtails, blue-collar, white elbow-length gloves, red choker necklace, headpiece, short blue pleated skirt)
  • Yato from Noragami manga series (black zip-up sweatshirt with a white stripe down each arm, thick white bandana around the neck, boots)
  • Luffy from One Piece (red button-down shirt, denim cut-off shorts, sandals, straw beach-style hat)

Materials Needed to Start Making an Anime Costume

The materials that you need for your costume design will vary extensively depending on:

  • Which character you choose
  • Your skill level
  • How elaborate you wish to get with your design

If you can imagine it, then you can make it happen. The lists below are examples of the most popular and commonly used items that most cosplay designers use for their creations: 

  • EVA foam (high density, soft foam used for many different applications. It is easy to cut, form, and adhere to things. It is also light-weight and good for outdoor use. Many cosplay designers use EVA foam for creating more realistic armor, weapons, headpieces, etc.)
  • Bias tape (used for sewing details like making stripes and designs on fabric.)
  • Transfer paper (used for making design embellishments on fabric.)
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Iron on adhesives
  • Double-sided tape
  • Beads, sequins, buttons, ribbon, etc
  • Paint (many different choices, depending on what surface/fabric you are painting.)
  • Resin (used to make casting molds for helmets, weapons, headpieces, and other

3D accessories.)

  • Fabric (Leather, neoprene, velvet, G-Mesh, scuba, slinky matt lycra, and organza are only some of the most commonly used fabrics by cosplay designers.)

Additional information on the fabrics mentioned:

Type of fabric

Examples of uses

Properties

Leather

Garments, belts, shoes

Thick, durable

Neoprene

Armor, weapons

Thick, spongy, stretchy

Velvet

Dresses, capes

Soft, shimmery, stretchy

G-Mesh

The inner lining of garments or exterior details

Open-breathable-knit, stretchy, absorbs moisture

Scuba

Bodysuits

Form-fitting, stretchy, remain cool, so you don’t get so hot

Slinky matt lycra

Anime action characters, Super-hero costumes

Similar to scuba. Has water repellent qualities, form-fitting, shimmery

Organza

Skirt overlays, dresses, veils

Sheer, light-weight

Another thing to consider when designing your anime costume is:

  • The cost of the supplies you will need that are not lying around the house.

How Much Do Most Anime Costumes Cost to Make?

The answer to that depends on the complexity of the costume and the costume maker’s skill level, but the average person will spend in the range of $100-$600 per costume. A more skilled enthusiast may spend well over $1,000.00 per costume.

Don’t be scared by these numbers. Have fun, and do the best you can with what you have. That brings us to the next topic of where to get your supplies?

Where to Find Costume Supplies

The number one best place to start collecting your supplies and materials is around your own home.

Start by looking in your closet. The closet may sometimes be a scary place to go, but many times if you are brave enough to venture in there and rummage through the “stuff,” you will find that many valuable treasures will show themselves to you.

You may not realize it, but you will most likely have many of the basics for what you need to create the best anime costume lying around right in your own home.

Ready… Set… Go! Create!

If you follow the tips and guidelines given above, you will be sure to create the best anime costume design. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your designs, and don’t give up! Start with a simple costume design and work your way up to the top.

Whether you are an aspiring cosplayer, or only having some random fun, take time on your design. Study the character extensively and make it your own.

The more time and effort you put into your design, the better and more realistic the outcome will be. Anime cosplay is a great way to express your creativity, have fun with the design and creating process. Be patient. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you will get at it.