Saturday, June 29, 2013

Asuna Kagurazaka (Knight) - Skirt - Negima

On to the third part of this in depth tutorial for my Asuna Knight costume: the skirt! I will be referring to this costume as the "knight", because I think it is her costume that looks the most like it belongs to a knight. This particular outfit was from the end of the Mahora festival story arc, when they were battling the robot army invasion, featured on the cover of volume 16 of the manga.

Go here to see the sword and wig! To see the rest of my fabulous photoshoot with EleventhPhotograph, go here!

This was actually the piece I started first (because it goes under a lot of things, and has a lot of detailing), but I finished it only about 1 day before the convention, the details being some of the last to be completed.

There was much thought put into colour matching on this costume. As the artist tends to use a lot of reds and pinks in his colouring (even white is shaded with pink) it can be difficult to interpret exactly what colours things should be sometimes. Keeping in mind that colours of bias tape can be rather limited, I decided to go with a very strong royal red, as it complimented the yellow bias tape the best. Also, while I was there I bought pretty much Fabricland's entire stock of yellow bias tape, as I wasn't sure exactly how much I needed... I still have several meters leftover!

The main over layer of the skirt is a full circle skirt with a slice missing out of the front. The pattern was easy enough. First I determined the radius of a 30" circle (the waist height I wanted the skirt to sit at). I wanted the space at the front to be 6" wide, so I subtracted the 6" from 30", leaving me with 24". I divided the 24" into 4 equal panels. Using the radius (string taped to a point, tied to a pencil) I drew an arc that was 8" long. Keeping the tape at the same spot I added the desired skirt length to my radius and drew a second arc below the first. By using the string pulled tight, I marked the side seams based on where the string intersected with the ends of the 8" arc. This gave me the pattern piece pictured above. I then patterned the under pieces to the skirt, and drew a mockup of the emblem shape to determine sizing.

Then I cut out my pieces. Any of the edges that were to have bias tape added were not given seam allowance. For the 4 skirt panels 2 of them were given an extra rectangle of fabric in the seam allowance at the top left and right respectively. The extra fabric would go in the back seam and become the overlap for the skirt closure. 

I then sewed the 4 panels together. At the back closure overlap, I left the seam open. This would be where I added dome fasteners later. The overskirt was then ironed with the seams pressed to one side. The back closure area was also pressed to one side. I then finished all inner seams with a zig-zag stitch. 

First I added the stripe 4" above the bottom edge. This was measured and marked to ensure it was at the right height (and not crooked) before top stitching it on. Then I added my bias tape to the edges of the overskirt.

I used a 1/2" (double-fold) yellow bias tape for the overskirt and a 1/4" bias tape (double-fold) for the edge detailing on the rest of the pieces.

I finished the side edges on the 2 sloped under panels. The edge furthest from the opening was simply rolled over and stitched, the other edges that were actually visible were finished with a bias tape.

I added my bias tape to my under pieces, being careful at the corners (the most difficult part of bias tape).

The main parts of the panels were now done. They looked great laid out together.

This may sound strange, but I actually find it easier to sew on bias tape without pinning it in place. I stop frequently to ensure my edge is properly aligned, and I come to a full stop every time I reach a corner, but otherwise I find it easiest to do it this way.

I sketched up my detailed version of the emblem.

I began work on the under most layer of the skirt, the sheer layer. This piece didn't actually make it to be a part of the final costume, as after I finished it I felt it detracted from the costume more than it added. It was made to be slightly shorter than the over skirt, with 5 thinner panels forming a full circle. The overskirt pattern was used to make these.

The first thing I did for the emblem was to put in the black background and border. I carefully measured and marked out the exact placement of the corners so that it wouldn't be crooked. I first placed down the black piece (same black fabric as my bodice), and then top stitched the bias tape around.

For this piece I carefully studied the reference picture to determine what overlapped with what, so I could determine the order in which the pieces had to be added. In order to make it symmetrical I traced half onto a piece of paper (using a window and some tape), folded it in half on the center line and cut out the pieces.

The first piece to be added was the red "wings", followed by the inner crest shape, the banner and lastly the word "Mahora". The cutouts were all carefully appliquéed in place with a tight zig-zag stitch. This embroidery was not so much difficult as it was finicky and time consuming. This emblem took a few hours to do, as even though it was done on a machine a good portion of the design was hand-turned.

The  crinoline underskirt was stitched together with french seams, the top and bottom edges finished with a thin whit ribbon. It was left partially open on the back seam which is where the closure would be. The idea is that this piece would be hooked into the overskirt, but also be removable.

You can see how they looked together below.

In order to make the under panels hang better I added in darts near where they would attach to the waistband.

I made a foldover waistband. Carefully pinning the pieces in place where I wanted them, I stitched the panels to the waistband, then folded it over and ditch stitched it in place.

Using a great deal of math I had to figure out how many complete triangles I could fit around the bottom edge of the skirt. The problem was that I had to alternate large and small... making the math significantly more complicated. Not sure exactly how I did it, but it was much easier to do all that division in centimeters.

I made my triangle strips and stitched them right sides together.
I was very thankful for my friend Alli's help at this point because she was the one who clipped all the excess fabric in the corners and turned it right way out. I can tell you, it took hours! (I never would have had the time to do it.)
I then painstakingly top stitched the yellow bias tape to the triangle trim. (It was important to do this before attaching the triangle trim to the skirt otherwise it would have been made 10 times more difficult in terms of moving the fabric around and through the machine!) As it was, I had to come to a full stop and set up each corner separately.

Meanwhile, Alli made the underskirt attach via buttons and loops on the inside. I'm regretful that it didn't make it to be part of the final costume, but such is life. My biggest problem with the piece is that it wasn't see-through enough, and it really obstructed the armour on the legs, which was much more important design wise.
The last part was to attach the triangle trim to the inside of the overskirt. The unfinished edges of the trime were first tucked inside the trim and stitched in place. Then the edge of the trim was aligned with the to line of stitching on the bias tape (with a little overlap). Using yellow top thread and a red bobbin I re-stitched over the bias tape stitch line, attaching the trim in a way that was virtually invisible from the outside.
The skirt itself was great to wear, except at particularly windy moments when it got tangled around my legs and made it difficult to walk.

This is probably my favourite of all of Asuna's costumes. It's a shame that this story arc never made it to the anime. Asuna may not be my favourite character, but man does she have some great outfits!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ran - Kimono Top - Tsukikage Ran

Here's a kimono top set I made for my mum as an easy casual costume to wear around the convention. Very comfortable, and not cumbersome to wear. Also super easy to make!

This costume was loosely based on the main character Ran from an old anime called Tsukikage Ran, which is one of my mum's favourite animes. It's a really great show, just a wandering female samurai who is just looking for some really good sake and a nice nap. Good action/comedy mix. My mum fondly refers to this show as "The Samurai Sake Woman", which is also an apt title. Hahaha

I suppose I could have made the sleeves bigger if I wanted to be really accurate.

I will actually be going in depth on the pattern I modified for this costume, so hopefully this tutorial will be helpful!

The pattern (which was modified from one my mum made ages ago for some Bleach Shinigami costumes) goes as follows:

Outer Kimono:
Back: (cut 2) Length 34", Width 11", Shoulder 5 1/2"
Front: (cut 2) Length 34", Width 22", Shoulder 5 1/2", Slope to 15"
Sleeve: (cut 2) Length 17 1/2", Width 31"
Collar: (cut 2) Length 34", Width 3"

Inner Kimono:
Back: (cut 2) Length 34", Width 11", Shoulder 6 1/2"
Front: (cut 2) Length 34", Width 22", Shoulder 6 1/2", Slope to 16"
Sleeve: (cut 2) Length 18 1/2", Width 28"
Collar: (cut 2) Length 30 1/2", Width 3"

(This all includes 1/2" seam allowance, and 1 1/2" roll over hem for the sleeves and bottom edge. Will most likely fit a person who wears a medium to large size women's shirt.)

The shoulder length listed is on a 1" slope down from the max length to the side seam. The leftover width on the back curves down 1"  to the center back seam for the neckhole, leftover width on the front slopes down across the panel to the other side forming the overlapping front. You will also need twill tape for the ties. 4 decent sized pieces for each kimono.
I sewed up the main seams first: The side seams, center back and shoulders. Then I finished the inside nicely.
The two collar pieces were stitched together to make one long strip. I added the collar facing in the same way I normally do waistbands-- sewing the band right sides together with the collar, folding it over and ditch stitching it in place.

I cut off the excess from the collar in a straight line following the vertical edge of the front overlap. Then I finished this edge by folding over the edge and stitching it in place.
I sewed each sleeve into a tube finishing the side seam, then I sewed the sleeves onto the shirt. On the outer kimono, I only sewed on the top half of the sleeve, leaving the bottom an open gap in the armpit. By doing this, you can see the colour of the under kimono through. The under kimono I closed the sleeve all the way.

I then finished all the edges. This included the open underarm on the outer kimono, the bottom hem, and the sleeve hem. 

The last thing I did was to mark and add the ties, which helped to keep the kimono from slipping open. This kimono was tucked into a pair of black hakama pants that my mum made for our set of Bleach Shinigami outfits back in the day.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June Update

Hey all! Thought I would give an update for this month! (Real post shall come tomorrow, not done writing it yet...)

Been working on some cool original clothes, which will be posted after my Anime North stuff. As well as working on my costumes for Otakon (one of which is almost done), which is my next convention coming up in August. If possible, I am going to try to make it to the Toronto Cosplay Picnic this month, but we shall see. 

My awesome photoshoot with Mike from EleventhPhotograph is now up online, make sure to check it out! He did an awesome job with the photos and I am super happy!

That's all for now!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Asuna Kagurazaka - Sword - Negima

Oh look, a giant sword! Having a sword that large out of metal would not be physically possible for such a slender girl to lift. I can barely lift the foam one with 2 hands, and it is only 5 pounds!?

Haha, weaponry is actually pretty fun to make. I enjoy making props a great deal, which is why I like to choose characters with weapons, items or tools.

This weapon is the blade form of Ensis Exorcizans, which is Asuna's artifact is the story. (When it actually appears as a blade like it's supposed to!) With it she can exorcize demons and cleave through rock. >:D

This is the second part of my Asuna tutorials. You can find how I made the wig here. More to follow obviously!

First I would like to talk about how I made the sword, but I would also like to talk about how I should have made the sword. Ah... hindsight. I don't anticipate ever rebuilding this specific blade, but for future reference, these are some things that would have seriously helped with the weight factor and the structural stability. My main problem is I was so focused on making this sword as solid as possible so it wouldn't break or get ruined, I failed to realize that the combined weight of all my materials (even if they were all really light materials, like foam and plastic) would make this blade impossible to lift one-handedly...

The first thing I did was actually draft my blade full scale using autocad. By doing this I was able to create an accurately proportioned replica, giving myself real measurements to work from when I went to cut out the pieces. Using reference pictures from the manga, I decided on a length measurement, using my own height as a starting point. The blade itself is a bit taller than the character, so I knew that the blade had to be taller than 5'-2" (my height).  Then the handle and pommel piece extends beyond that by about 10". It took a lot of tweaking until I came up with a drawing I was satisfied with, but by doing this first I ensured that the sword would be exactly what I expected.

So after a couple false starts, I began the sword using a slightly different method than that of my previous blades. Basically the blade itself is a sandwich of layers. The center layer is styrene plastic, with two pieces of 1/2" insulation foam on either side. The styrene layer would be the pointed edge of the sword, by making it out of styrene, it ensured it would not be easily dented. The foam on either side would be beveled, carved to create the point. There are then two more, smaller styrene layers on each of the flat faces, protecting the flat part of the foam. These were all cut using an exacto knife.
In the middle 3 layers I cut a long trench where the handle dowel would be inserted down the length of the blade to increase structural stability. (This would be covered by the outer two panels.) The middle three layers were contact cemented together and left overnight to dry. (I needed the outer two left free for now so I could do detailing on them.)

Sounds pretty rock solid right? That's exactly the problem. I assumed that because all my materials are so light, it would be fine. I was wrong. This is where I made the first mistake. What I should have done here is also cut several hollows into the inner layers of the blade. These air pockets would have kept the sword much lighter, while still keeping structural stability.
The trench I cut was just a touch too wide, so I wrapped the handle in some fleece to help it fit more snugly. It was then inserted and hot glued in place. 

I used the outer panel to draw a line where I needed to bevel to, I traced the edge of the piece on each side. I carefully carved the edge out of the foam.

Meanwhile, on the outer panels I drew the inscription, "Ministra Magi Asuna". I had great difficulty finding decent reference pictures of inscription itself, so I am thankful for fan forums, where some lovely person on the internet was able to find me 2 decent reference pictures in the span of about 5 minutes. They were this one and this one. Because this is an illustration, the letters were just drawn on in very plain block letters. So I took a few liberties and made the lettering correspond to the design better. These letters were then painstakingly carved out of the face of each panel, giving texture to the piece. Special thanks to my friend Alli for helping me do this lettering, it never would have gotten finished without her!

The next part I began working on was the pommel. I created the long piece with the metal ring on the end using a long strip of foam with styrene facings.
A slit was cut out of each side, so the ring could be slotted in. Then the pieces were hot glued together. (The little gaps would be filled later)
I also cut a long strip that I glued down the back edge of the blade, giving that edge and the point a cleaner finish.

Now, here is the second mistake. What I should have done was have the handle extend into the pommel piece, instead of just gluing it on the top. It would have been better both structurally and aesthetically.

Next I sculpted my detail piece. I used apoxie sculpt, which is great because it dried rock hard and virtually indestructible, however it is quite heavy, hence the 2 fins created out of pink insulation foam that I would used as a base. Instead of being solid apoxie sculpt, I only had to do a thin layer to cover the foam center, making it much lighter than it would have been otherwise. I also made a socket to stick the handle in so it would attach more securely.
The faces were then glued on using contact cement.

I then covered the blade edge in a layer of drydex. (This is a wood filler used in construction projects.) After it dried I sanded it smooth and then applied any touch ups necessary. Those were sanded once more, then I coated the blade edge with clear gesso to prep it for spray painting. I did the same process with the pommel piece.

Next was paints. This was done in layers. First the whole word was painted with a grey primer. Then two coats of matte black. Then the whole sword was painted with a dark metallic coat. Lastly I used tape and newspaper to cover everything except the blade edge, which was finished with silver to match the armour. The whole paint job was then sanded using a fine grit sandpaper, making it look less sparkly, and more weathered.
Had I had more time, I would have used different paints (the dark metallic was too dark for what I wanted), but Home Depot does not carry Krylon products anymore, so I was stuck with Rustoleum brand, which doesn't have nearly as much selection in metallic paints...

I made the ribbon end detail using my black fabric. I made 2 d-shaped pieces, that I stitched right sides together and flipped right way out.  I cut a hole in the center which I zigzag stitched around the edges of the hole to prevent it from fraying. The hole was made large enough for my carabiner link to pass through.

The last step was to epoxy and then hot glue the pommel to the end of the grip. And voila! A giant sword!

Unfortunately, it sustained some damages at the convention, most noticeably on the tip, which will need repairs before I wear it again. Most likely I will use a combination of apoxie sculpt and drydex to fix the crack/chipped area and then retouch the paint in that area.