I’ve found that keeping track of my cosplay inventory, as it slowly expands, is a valuable resource to saving money. My situation is little different than most since my workshop is out of town so I don’t have access to my materials all the time.
When it comes time to shop for new materials, knowing what you already have lying around is useful information. Even if you live where your supplies are, sometimes its difficult to remember what you have on hand. Here a list of a few thing I recommend keeping an inventory of.
A general inventory template can be found at the bottom of this blog.
Wigs can often be a big cost associated with costumes so it is best to get the most value out of them. Before getting enticed by a wig sale, go through your collection before committing to another wig.
For my inventory, I took front/back photos and also used a measuring tape to determine the length of the wig. I measured starting from the shoulder because of the ease of setting up the measuring tape. Try to name the files while using the most information you can. For example, I named the first picture below "Arda - Claudia - Dark Ash Blonde." This will also come in handy if you plan on re-selling your wigs. I also did a quick inventory of my clip-on extensions, as well as loose wefts.
Be sure to update the inventory whenever you buy a new wig, get rid of a wig, or use wefts. Click on the images for more details on how I did mine.
This one is important because it can help keep your eyes healthy. I keep track of the contact lenses I buy by maintaining a little spreadsheet that includes: The brand, date opened / first use, date to throw them out (Example: if the contacts are monthlies - add one month to the first use date), and expiry date. You can avoid wearing expired contacts, by updating the “throw out” date to match the expiry date.
This comes in handy when you need to place another order, since you will know when you need to replenish your collection and which brands to buy.
This is a tough one and can get tedious. A collection can easily swell once you get back into workshop season. I took a tiny swatch of fabric (1cm x 1cm - or bigger if you need to show a pattern) taped it to a small notebook and put a basic description including measurements for reference. For example: black 4-way stretch pvc, 1m x 2m OR multiple red spandex scraps under 0.3m.
Tips: Focus on materials which you have an abundance of or that can be easily re-purposed (can be dyed or used as a lining). Smaller piece can be be scrapped.
Categorize your inventory by lumping together similar fabrics. All the sheer fabrics on one page, all the spandex on another. They should also be stored in a similar fashion if possible.
When patterns go on sale it’s easy to want to buy a bunch. Keeping an electronic inventory of your patterns can prevent repeats.
My spreadsheet includes the following information: Brand Name, Pattern Code, and Description. You may want to include multiple entries for the same code if multiple patterns are in a packet. If you are feeling meticulous, keep track of which are cut/uncut and the size you cut out.
Keep track of spools in order to save yourself some space and money while also avoiding running out during an all-nighter before the convention. Thread manufacturers assign a number to each colour so take note of them to build your inventory. Also, keep note of the type of thread: all purpose, cotton, embroidery etc.
I rarely use an entire package of dye to complete a project and as a result I have many leftover. I still have “ancient dyes," decades old vials left over from my grandmother.
A quick and dirty way of taking inventory is snapping a photo of your collection and taking a new one when it changes, however, it will not tell you how much is left in the container.
Consider taking a full inventory including the following information: Brand, Colour, and Amount (full, ¾, ½, ¼ of vial/box/bag/tin)
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.