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!


  1. Very nice post, impressive. its quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing.

    buy online orthopaedic heat belt

  2. Too cute. Could you give a walkthrough of how you made the hat?