Friday, October 30, 2015

Sakura - Wig, Hat & Accessories - Cardcaptor Sakura

Part 3 of Sakura (1st Opening outfit)--lets talk accessories! The details are really what make this costume. If you want to see how I made the wings, go here! If you want to see the rest of the outfit, go here!

I entered this costume in the Friday night Workmanship Competition at Anime North in 2014 and won an award for Best Accessories in my category. That was pretty cool. It was my first (and so far only) time entering in a competition without a stage presentation component.

Once again, thanks to EleventhPhotograph for the photoshoot. I really love this black and white shot.

First we'll talk about the wig. I started with EpicCosplay's Aura in cocoa brown. I think this colour works really well for Sakura, it's not too brown or too blonde. It's almost a bit reddish. I think the colour works well on both my sister and myself.

Since I was doing a costume of hers with a hat, I didn't bother to add her iconic pigtails that she normally wears, because they wouldn't be visible. This has influenced my costume choices for my subsequent Sakura costumes to only be ones where Sakura is wearing a hat. Because this means I don't have to go back and fix the wig. And also because her costumes with hats are ridiculously cute.

As you can see the wig was pretty long. I purposefully picked a longer wig because she has those two small sections of longer hair in front of her ears. It is much easier to cut a wig shorter than it is to add in longer wefts.

I started by trimming the bangs. Using clips I separated off the different sections of the hair. The longer pieces were separated from the sides and the bangs. I left the long wisps at the original length, and simply thinned them out a bit. The sides were thinned and layered and trimmed to length. Then I trimmed the back of the wig.

The last step was to style the front of the wig to give the top that volume. I pulled sections of the hair up and hair sprayed them at the base. Then I used a blow dryer to set it. I made some shorter bits stick up while the rest parted and fell to each side. This created the look of her cute bob at the front.

Next I started work on the hat. Since I had very limited pink fabric left, I made a mockup. The hat's construction was pretty simple. The pattern consisted of a circle and a rectangle. The rectangle was the length of the circle's circumference.

First I rolled over the channel where the elastic would go later and ironed that. I didn't stitch it down yet, but pre-ironing saved me a ton of headaches later.

The next step was to sew the rectangle to the top of the hat, right sides together. Then I sewed the two ends of the rectangle together and then top stitched the channel for the elastic. I left an opening in the channel so I could feed the elastic through. The elastic both gathered the hat and helped it to stay on. When I was satisfied with the fit, I sewed the elastic ends together and closed the channel opening.

Lastly the bow was attached to the hat. Credit for completing the finishing touches goes to my friend Alli who handcrafted all the bows and hand stitched them on.

Instead of constructing socks and gloves I bought them, and made ruffles to add to them to help them match the rest of the costume.

Like the hat band, the ruffles are simply rectangles with a channel on on side for an elastic, which cinches them to fit and gathers them into a ruffle. These were tacked on to the gloves and socks.

Little red bows were also added to the gloves.

The shoes were an extremely lucky find. I managed to find flats at Ardene's in the perfect shade of red. They matched my red fabric perfectly. I added the bows to the toe. This is not 100% accurate to the design, but I didn't feel like adding straps to the shoe--I was worried it would make them uncomfortable. The bows were hot glued on.

I paid attention to the details so that everything would match perfectly. I wanted to do Sakura justice, and I think I achieved that. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sakura - Wings - CardCaptor Sakura

Part 2 of my Sakura (1st Opening outfit) posts: lets talk about wings! If you want to see how I made the outfit, go here!

Once again thanks to EleventhPhotograph for the photoshoot. I really love the above shot! It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

This was an exercise in perfecting the foam wing style I had used for the Kero and Suppi gijinka costumes. Since I already knew what I was doing, this time around involved a lot less trial and error.

I like making foam wings this way because they are sturdy, and they aren't likely to get too damaged in crowded convention spaces. They are also fairly light and not horribly uncomfortable. I like the cartoon-y style of them as well. 

I traced out 4 wing shapes on the foam--2 for each wing. I cut these out with a pair of scissors.

Pairing them up I cut off the corners so they would be more rounded along the edges. This will help them fit into the cases better.

Using the same pattern as the wings I cut out my four pieces of white fabric. I made these about 1/4" bigger all around (+ seam allowance) to account for the depth of the foam.

I sewed the wing cases right sides together, trimmed the excess seam allowance and then flipped them right way out. I left a large gap along the base that extended up along the top edge--this is so I could get the foam wing inside the casing. Because of the friction, the foam really doesn't like to go into the case easily, so it takes a lot of patience and just a touch of brute force.

Using a heavy gauge wire, I created a wire base for each. You can see each wing has a wire base that is made of one continuous piece. The two "antennas" support the wing, the u-shape at the bottom is where the wing is attached to the base. Note how I bent the cut ends of the wire into little loops--this is so it wouldn't stab through the foam or fabric.

After taking some measurements and figuring out the spacing I began to pattern the harness. This was a bit tricky, because it had to fit under the pink dress, but sit high enough on the back so that the wings would sit above the dress' neckline. It also had to be tight fitting so that the wings wouldn't be droopy (a problem I encountered with Kero).

I cut a base plate out of styrene plastic. It was simply a rectangle with rounded corners--again so it wouldn't stab through the fabric cover later. The wires were attached to the base plate with copious amounts of hot glue. The nice thing about styrene is that hot glue bonds really well to it.

On the fabric covering I carefully measured and marked where the holes needed to be for the wires. Before sewing anything together I used the buttonhole function on my sewing machine to create small openings with finished edges for the wires to stick through. Then I sewed the styrene base plate into the fabric covering.

Once the back plate was finished I added a waistband and shoulder straps. I fit it on her so the shoulder straps would be tight, and allow the back plate to sit at the proper height. The straps were made to be a fixed length. The closure was a set of bra hooks on the front of the waistband, so it is easy to remove the wings for important daily tasks--like sitting.

We tested the wings with the dress. You can see here they are really droopy. Once I was satisfied with the fit I used hot glue to attach the foam wings to the wires on the inside.

Once the wings were actually attached to the base I could adjust the height that the wings sat by bending the wire at the base. Because the wings have weight that is sticking out from the body, even though they are really light science & gravity mean that they will be heavier the further distance the weight is from the base. As such, when you put them on, gravity causes them to pull and tilt the base plate slightly, which makes them look droopy and sad. You can see in the picture on the right how the base plate is pulling away from the back ever so slightly, but it is more than enough to make the wings droop.

While this problem is partially solved by making a tight fitting harness (minimizing the amount the base plate will tilt), to counteract this you simply have to overcompensate and position the wings pointing extra up to counteract the downward pull of gravity. This is so that when they fall to the position they want to sit at, it will be the position you want. Note the difference between the pictures above and below--in the second picture I have glued them internally and positioned the wings to point extra up. Now they don't look so sad.
The reason why I love making wings like this is because they are adjustable. You can bend the wires to suit your needs--whether that means you want to make the wings more open or closed, up or down.

My friend Alli (who helped me on my Asuna costume the previous year) helped to finish them off by neatly hand stitching the casings closed.

And then they were done! >:D

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sakura - Dress, Blouse & Petticoat - Cardcaptor Sakura

So guys, it finally happened: I finally got some finished shots of this costume. Special thanks to EleventhPhotograph for the amazing fall shoot! I loved the use of colour gels in the trees to pump up the colour even more!

You may have already guessed that I have a slight obsession with the 90s series CardCaptor Sakura. It was the first anime I ever watched in Japanese with subtitles. The numerous other CCS costumes should have clued you in to my obsession at this point.

I've already made Suppi & Kero, Sakura's sailor suit, and Tomoyo. Adding this one and the one I am currently working on, that brings my total up to 6 costumes from the same series. Which is kind of crazy. Although, not all of these costumes are for me. Suppi was for my older sister Alex, and this iconic Sakura outfit was made for my lovely sister Elanne.

It may not be totally apparent that my sister is actually 7 years younger than me (we have been told on numerous occasions that we look like twins...), but this means that she was not old enough/actually alive to watch the series with me in the 90s. She only watched it for the first time about 3 years ago when Alex and I were having a nostalgia trip. And she quickly became a fan. She hadn't cosplayed in a few years, but asked me if I would consider making something CCS for her. How could I refuse? And behold, the cutest Sakura I know!

So lets get started talking about how I made the dress, blouse and petticoat!

This is definitely one of the most iconic Sakura outfits, this one is featured in the season 1 opening theme. Fabric shopping proved a bit of a challenge for this costume, as I had difficulty finding the correct colour of pink. Because the dress is pink, not red, as some people make it--though that may be to better match one of the manga illustrations? I don't know. It's a reddish/salmon-y/flamingo-ish pink depending on which reference picture you look at. The fabric I found was a medium salmon-y pink colour. When compared to the red fabric I already had on hand for the bow details it had a nice contrast and the colours looked good together. Which is an important part of colour matching any costume.

The most difficult thing about CLAMP is that the way they draw their CCS designs is so simple. They look simple. But they aren't. My main issue is that they don't typically draw seams onto the clothes. This can make it extraordinarily difficult to determine how exactly the clothes should be constructed.

I started off by patterning a basic block, which I heavily modified to create the pattern for the bodice.

The skirt is a full circle and a half. It has been too long since for me to explain the mathematics of how I did that. It consists of 3 panels which are 1/2 of a circle each. This is so I can have a seam down the center back for the zipper, but not one down the center front (which I think looks bad).

I cut out my pieces and then began assembling it.

The bodice was designed not to be super fitted to her curves in spite of having a princess seam--Sakura is supposed to be like 10, so emphasizing curves does not really emulate the character accurately. But not having the seam would have made the bodice gape weirdly at the armholes. Also, it couldn't be too fitted, because there were several layers going underneath: the wing rig being the bulkiest, but also the blouse and the petticoat waistband. If it was super fitted she would look lumpy. Sakura is not lumpy.

I finished the seams on the inside.

You can see how full the skirt is as it hangs. This is what the skirt looks like without the petticoat underneath. Pretty sad and not floofy. I always think it looks so sad when a character is supposed to have a giant floofy skirt and cosplayers aren't wearing a petticoat. :( Sometimes it's understructure that can make or break a costume.
Next I added a zipper into the center back seam. Next I finished the edge of the neckline with a facing. This was tacked down on the inside to keep it from flapping about.

Next I made a facing for the armholes. This was also tacked to the inside.

Next the stripe was added to the bottom of the dress with a pale yellow bias tape, and the dress was hemmed.

Special thanks must go to my wardrobe gnome Alli, who helped me with finishing up this dress. She did 99% of the hand stitching on this costume. Which included hand basting the yellow bias tape stripe along the bottom edge and the hem (as well as making and attaching all of the bows!). This was so I could machine stitch it with absolute precision (and no wrinkles later. Hand basting is one of those tasks I loathe doing, even though it can be super helpful.

Here you can see I have tested out the dress with 1 layer of the petticoat. Even then I decided I would need almost 3 times as much floof. And even still, I feel I could have done 1 more layer.

Simultaneously I was making the blouse. It started off as the same basic block, but the similarities end there. For the top front portion of the blouse (that would be revealed by the neckline of the pink dress) I created a panel that was wider than the center front piece below by about 2 inches. I gathered  this panel along the bottom edge and neckline so that it would appear ruffled along the center front. The rest of the blouse was fitted, so there wouldn't be too much added bulk under the dress.

The collar is simply a long rectangle of fabric folded in half lengthwise. It was made long and gathered to fit the neck hole. Again, this costume is nothing but ruffles, ruffles, and more ruffles.

For the back closure I decided to make it button up, because it looked adorable. Although it was a bit of a challenge for her to take on and off, she managed!

The sleeve took a few tries to get the correct proportion of poof. They are larger than the sleeve hole and gathered to fit.

The sleeve cuffs were done in the same way as the collar.
The last step in the project was the petticoat. It is surprisingly labour intensive to make one. With this I used up all the crinoline I had left from when I bought it for my Alice petticoat.

After determining how long I wanted it to be, I cut as many strips as I could of crinoline in each width I needed. I sewed these together, with french seams.

Much like layer cakes, petticoats are easiest to construct from the bottom up. You make the bottom tier first--finish the hem, ruffle it along the top edge--then attach it to the tier above and repeat until you get to the waistband. You make each layer separately.

You can see that each layer in this petticoat has 2 tiers of crinoline--a small one at the waistband. This was to cut down on the already substantial bulk that would have to be sewn into the waistband.

To finish the bottom hem, I created a strip of broadcloth to fold over the bottom edge. This created the look I wanted for the bottom visible edge. While still having the structure that crinoline provided. Making the petticoat entirely out of broadcloth would have been far too flimsy.

To give you an idea of just how much fabric this is: the petticoat can stand on its own. This is only 2 layers, this is before I decided to make a third.

After making layer number 3, I also made a simple white circle skirt (1 full circle) to go over top of it. Like the blouse I made a ruffle to add along the bottom edge. This was long enough so it would be visible below the edge of the skirt.
To give you some perspective, this is how much petticoat I put into this costume. And I could have done more. I would probably have used a stiffer crinoline layer.

This one is 3 layers of crinoline, plus a white circle skirt with a ruffle along the edge over top.

The completed dress looked pretty good!

Monday, October 5, 2015

October Update

It's October now, crazy right? I thought it was time for a new banner on my facebook page, highlighting all my best/newer costumes. Photo credits to EleventhPhotograph (for Steampunk Captain, Forest Guardian, & Asuna), and Elemental Photography (for Splatoon & Vaporeon). I'm still on the fence about changing my banner on this page, because I like the current one so much. I will probably wait a few months before changing it.

This month I will be starting to post about my Sakura costume. It's a surprisingly complicated costume, so it will be broken down into many parts. I finished my Splatoon posts now, so be sure to take a look at those! Posts on Vaporeon will be coming in December most likely.

EleventhPhotograph is back in Canada for a bit, so I did a photoshoot with my Tomoyo and Sakura costumes the other weekend. Loving the fall colours from that shoot! Must enjoy the fall weather while we can. I've added my Tomoyo shots to my Tomoyo blog post, so be sure to go back and check those out!

I am currently prototyping some bags that I am planning on selling. Hopefully more info to come later this month. Other than that, I've got a couple costume projects on the go now--specifically my newest CardCaptor Sakura outfit and a lolita costume that I am just putting the finishing touches on. I'm also working on a Toothless onesie commission for Yavarice at the moment. I finished up some Splatoon tentacle commissions for some Squids 2.0, excited to have members of the blue and pink teams to join our ranks!

Speaking of joining the ranks, allow me to introduce you to the newest member of the team: Hans! It was about time that I bought a serger of my own. It's not the most hi-tech machine on the market, but it has a variety of features, and the reviews were positive. Having a serger on board will allow me to work with more stretch fabrics than I did previously, and also make finishing inner seams much faster.

At the end of the month I will be taking a short trip to New York City! Excited to do some fabric shopping! This time I will be going with a shopping list and reference pictures. Last time I was so unprepared, all I bought was a small bit of lace trim... Which I finally just used on my lolita outfit! Going to get fabric for my next costumes while I am in a place with such variety! I must be prepared!

Speaking of trips, I will be going back to Japan to visit my sister in November. There will be no blog posts while I am over there.

In other news, after many years of many many headaches, on the extreme insistence of a friend of mine I decided to get my eyes tested. It turns out I needed glasses for close up vision. So far they are working out well and appeared to have solved my problem, but wearing them has taken some getting used to--since I have never worn glasses in my entire life!

As you can see, September was a pretty busy month! Hopefully things will be a little less hectic here in the workshop this month.

That's all for now!