Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sakura - Sailor Suit - CardCaptor Sakura

First let's take a look at my more casual Sakura outfit: her school uniform (spring/summer version). I've been cosplaying for over 10 years and this is my first school uniform/sailorsuit outfit I've ever made! Crazy huh? This cosplay was especially picked for Otakon because it packs into a suitcase really easily, I already had the wig, and it has very few layers which makes it great for insanely hot weather.

I got a couple cute pics with EleventhPhotograph at Otakon this summer! Many thanks! Also thanks to my sister Alex for lending me her adorable Kero plushie while she is away in Japan!

One thing I made sure of when I bought my fabrics for this costume was that none of my fabrics were shiny. I've seen many school uniform costumes done with shiny fabrics and I always think it looks cheap... Lets be honest, I've never seen a real school uniform that is shiny/satiny. It's also not coloured to look shiny in the show either.
To start I patterned a basic block for the shirt, ignoring the usual front and back darts in favour of only having a small dart come in from the armhole at the bust. I curved in the sides a bit at the waist, but did not make the shirt tight fitting. This was to ensure that a) I could slip it on over my head even though it is not made of stretch fabrics, and b) so I looked younger. Sakura is supposed to be a between grades 4-6, meaning she is a child, so I wanted to make sure that I didn't look too old for the character. In spite of the fact that I am not particularly well-endowed, a fitted blouse would still reveal curves that a child would not have, so hence a more loose fitting shirt was in order.

I patterned the neckline and sailor collar by creating a mockup of the shirt and then draping the collar on Molly (my Judy) with muslin. This way I was able to easily figure out the proportions.

Once that was done I laid out my fabric and cut out my pieces.

The collar was first sewn right sides together, excess fabric clipped and then flipped right way out and ironed.

I then top-stitched on 1/4" black twill tape to make the edge detail. I made sure my bobbin thread was white (as opposed to black to match my top thread) so my stitching would be virtually unnoticeable from the other side.

Then I sketched out the crest for the back detail.
Next step was the appliqué and embroidery of the crest on the back. Using yellow fabric leftover from Kero, I blocked out the areas for the 'wing' part of the crest. This saved me from having to fill that area with an embroidery stitch. Instead I merely sewed around the edges. Next I did the red shield-shaped piece in the center.
After finishing all the seams inside the shirt,  I made some puffy sleeves. I made sure they weren't too puffy, so they were only slightly larger than the armhole. I used a basting stitch along the sleeve cap and bottom and cinched them to the right diameters before sewing them to the armhole and cuffs respectively. The cuffs are just rectangles sewn into a loop and folded in half lengthwise that I have sewn another stripe of black twill tape on.

I hemmed the bottom of the shirt with a simple rollover, but went back and changed the side seams to have a 2" slit up each side.

Then I attached the collar to the outside ans zigzagged the raw edge. I flipped it to the inside, pressed it, then top stitched it down. I took extra care to reinforce the point of the v-neckline.
The last step for the shirt was to create a little triangle  to sit under the v-shaped neckline. It was secured with dome fasteners so it could be removed so I could take the shirt on and off. 

Now lets talk about the skirt. Creating a pleated garment is all about math, unfortunately. The garment has 10 pleats. In order to make it fit snugly at both waistband an over hips I had to take 2 measurements, one at waist, and on 4" down from waist. Then I divided those numbers into 10 equal parts and carefully drew out a pattern piece. Left you can see one of my side panels. The thin trapezoids are the parts that would be visible, the wide ones would be hidden in the folds. 

The hardest part of patterning this was making it so the side seams would be inside a pleat and therefore virtually invisible. 

The size of the skirt at the bottom was arbitrarily decided, but I knew I wanted it to be pretty full, because it's CardCaptor Sakura guys.
Each of my three skirt pieces I sewed the center pleats into before sewing the pieces together. I sewed the center back together and added in the zipper before finishing the pleats directly beside it.
I ironed the pleats centered, rather than off to one side (because that's how it looks in all the reference photos). I didn't press the pleats all the way to the hem either, because I wanted them to still have that soft, rounded look. For your own reference look at my Long Pleated Skirt to see what pleats look like when pressed to one side, all the way to the hem. Very different, right?

Once the pleating and waistband were finished I hemmed the skirt.
The saddest part is I couldn't figure out how to work pockets into the skirt, so this costume has no pockets. Oh well.

Above you can also see my mockup for the hat. Surprisingly this is the item I was most excited to make. I've always loved the hats that Clamp designs, particularly these adorable sailor hats. I love that they magically perch on the back of the head.

When making hat, always take the band measurement while wearing the wig you will be wearing under it, otherwise you run the risk of making it too small!

Below you can see the pattern pieces for this--the pieces on the right are both folded in half.

First I assembled the band, with is a long rectangle, sewn into a loop and then folded in half lengthwise. For the cap first I sewed the c-shaped piece into a circle, then sewed it right sides together with the top of the cap.
I finished the inner seams, then pressed it right way out. Next I attached the band, leaving a gap at center back to attach the black tails. The tails were sewn right sides together, clipped, flipped and pressed. These were then inserted into the gap at the back, splayed at a slight angle, and stitched in place. I then finished the inner seams of the hat.
Last piece to make was the under skirt. Above you can see the pattern, which is completely different from the pleated over skirt which is made of rectangles. This is because a) pleating is time consuming, b) all you see is the edge and c) I didn't want all that bulk under the already considerable bulk of those pleats.

Using the 2 measurements I took earlier to create my pleats, I made the top piece of the underskirt. Then I made a circle skirt piece to attach to that (of which I cut 3, making the bottom 1.5 circles). This ensured that all the flare of the underskirt would be below the stitch line of the pleats, reducing bulk.

I attached a lace trim to the bottom edge as an extra cute detail.
At the center back at the waist of the underskirt, it was finished to remain open. The underskirt was attached to the overskirt by buttons (holes on the underskirt, buttons on the inside of the overskirt). This way it was removable and could be washed separately.

Lastly I made a tie. I mocked it up with leftover muslin scraps, and then made a nice one out of red twill.

Each of the individual pieces were stitched right sides together then flipped right way out and pressed. I top stitched more black twill tape along the bottom of the tie edge. before hand stitching the pieces together. The last thing I did was make a velcro closure at the back.  Because I have no idea how to tie a real sailor tie.

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