It happens to all of us. We’re at the convention having fun in our costumes, when suddenly something breaks. Maybe a seam ripped, maybe it was your prop, or maybe your shoe strap snapped. Whatever it is, there is almost always a solution for you that will make your costume wearable so you can continue to enjoy the convention.
The best supplies to have on hand for quick repairs are safety pins, duct tape, and hot glue. These will help you fix ripped seams, broken props, and most cosplay accessories. You may also want to keep a stain remover in your pocket if you’re going out for coffee.
For the most part, you don’t have to carry a repair kit around with you. You can keep it in your hotel room and make a quick trip back when you need it. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep some safety pins with you as you’re walking around a convention (just in case).
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Safety pins, Hot glue, and Duct Tape can fix (almost) anything
If you can only bring three things with you to a convention to make costume repairs, choose safety pins, hot glue and duct tape. Most quick, impromptu repairs can be made with these supplies.
Safety pins can be a quick fix if a seam rips or a clasp or connection point breaks. You can also use them to hold your pants up if a zipper breaks, or pin a cloak to your shirt if the clasp breaks. Clip a few safety pins on the inside of a jacket or waistband so that they’ll be easily available whenever you need them.
Hot glue is great for props and small decorations that break or fall off of your costume. It’s a versatile glue that can be used on almost any kind of surface, including fabric. I’ve even known people to use hot glue to re-attach large bows to costumes to keep them from falling off again. This isn’t something that you need to carry around with you. Instead, collect the broken pieces or fallen decorations and bring them back to the hotel room to fix. Make sure to use paper or cardboard to cover the surface you’re working on, so you don’t damage any of the hotel property.
Duct tape is great for broken shoes and large props. You can choose whether or not you want to carry the duct tape around with you in a bag or leave it in your hotel. You can use it to tape shoes closed if the zipper breaks, or temporarily repair the thong in a pair of flip flop sandals. If the blade falls off your sword, duct tape will generally hold better than hot glue. Or other large parts of props that break apart can use some duct tape magic to stay together for the weekend. Then you can make the real repairs after the convention is over.
Ideally, you’ll be able to work with a little more than just the basic supplies when something on your costume breaks. You probably want to bring a small repair kit to keep in your hotel room or car whenever you go to a convention so that you can make small fixes to your costume.
Other supplies to have on hand
- Needle and thread
- Stain remover pen (you may want to carry this with you in a purse or pocket)
- Hair pins and hair ties
- Wide-toothed comb
- Hair spray
- Fashion tape (for if you need to stick fabric directly to your body)
How to fix a ripped seam
If a seam rips or a zipper breaks, the quickest solution is to take a couple of safety pins and hold the fabric together. When you get a chance to get back to the hotel room, you can take off the costume piece and mend it with a needle and thread. Zippers are a little bit more difficult. You may be able to fix it, but you might have to use safety pins for the rest of the weekend.
When you head back out, be sure to not put too much strain on that seam so that you don’t risk ripping it again.
How to quickly remove a stain
If you get a small stain on your costume, you can do a quick repair job by using a detergent pen. This won’t be perfect, and detergent pens are not great for large spills, but it can reduce the appearance of a coffee or ketchup stain quite a bit.
First wipe as much of the stain away as you can. Push the tip of the detergent pen onto the fabric to release the liquid. Then just rub the tip of the pen around the stain going side to side and up and down until the stain begins to fade.
After you’ve got the stain mostly removed, the detergent spot doesn’t dry very quickly. You may want to help it dry by blotching it with a napkin, using a hair dryer, or even using a hand dryer from a public bathroom.
What to do if a strap or elastic snaps
If a strap breaks, you can use safety pins to keep the costume in place. You can keep it like this for the rest of the weekend or take the time to sew it up in the hotel later. Since safety pins can put some pressure on elastic straps and may cause them to break again (especially if it’s a thin strap), you also may want to use fashion tape to hold any necessary clothing in place on your body. This can prevent the strap from snapping again, and causing the costume to be more revealing than you want it to be.
What to do if your shoe breaks
If a shoe breaks, duct tape and glue will help you get through the convention. If it’s a sandal, you may want to apply hot glue since it’s clear and won’t stand out on the costume. However hot glue is not always strong enough to stand up to the wear and tear that shoes go through, so you might need to wrap duct tape around the shoe to hold it in place for the remainder of the weekend.
Most other kinds of shoes are also going to need to be held together with duct tape. You can wrap the tape all the way around the shoe to give it a decent hold. This can also cover up holes and hold together a broken zipper on the side of a boot.
What to do if your prop breaks
Most props can be fixed with hot glue. Simply heat up the glue and stick the pieces of the prop together. This is ideal because hot glue dries clear, so it won’t stand out so much. If the glue is not strong enough, then duct tape is your best bet. It might not look pretty, but you can wrap it around the area that’s broken to help keep everything together.
What to do if your wig falls off or gets tangled
If your wig falls off or keeps sliding back on your head, the best thing to do is use extra hair pins. If you can, braid your hair underneath the wig to give the pins more to clip onto. Then, place pins all around the outside of the wig, paying close attention to the front hairline and the area in front of the wig.
If your wig get tangled, maybe it got caught in branches or just rubbed against your costume too much, you can use a wide-toothed comb to help detangle it. If you have a wig head available, put your wig on it and start combing section by section starting at the bottom. Then use hair spray to prevent the wig from tangling further. If you don’t have a wig-head, enlist the help of a friend so you don’t risk tangling your wig anymore.
- Read more: how to detangle a wig
What to do if you can’t fix your cosplay
If something on your costume breaks and you cannot figure out how to fix it, there are still a few actions you can take to continue wearing your costume during the convention:
- Cover it with another part of the costume. For example, if your pants ripped, you can tie a jacket from the costume around your waist to create a butt-cape.
- Leave it off. If a prop is broken or a decoration falls off of your costume, you can leave it behind in the hotel room or car and continue to wear the rest of the costume.
- Turn it inside out. If you get a stain on part of the cosplay, you may be able to turn it inside out to prevent the stain from showing. This will depend on the type of garment it is and how the seams are constructed.
- Hold it together. If a prop is broken, you can hold the pieces together in a photo so no one will notice. You can also hold other pieces of your costume in the correct place so that no one will notice the broken parts.
- Find a cosplay repair station. Many conventions nowadays have cosplay repair stations or volunteers with cosplay repair kits wandering around. Find one of these people and see if they can help you fix the part of your costume that’s broken.