The March Hare (Sakizo): Progress Post 1-- Corsets & Cameos

Images are up!! 
Recently I've seen numerous people cosplaying from Sakizo artwork (including Yaya Han, who recently participated in a group at a convention), and I wanted in on the fad. I went through numerous Sakizo prints, and almost died when I saw The March Hare illustration. Everything about this was absolutely perfect, and I wanted to start right away.

I will admit, I've taken a few artistic liberties with my interpretation of The March Hare. I'm doing this to be unique, I want the costume to really feel like mine. 
Also, please excuse the crappy photos. I've finally purchased my first DSLR camera and I'm really quite horrible at photography. 

To start with, I drafted a corset. I used Simplicity 5009 with a few changes, such as the cups being separate from the body of the corset. I used sharpies to mark how I wanted each piece to look and what changes needed to be made (such as making it taller), then I cut apart the muslin and patterned it onto craft paper.

Once I had the pattern all cut out, I cut the lining out of black cotton. After I finished sewing all the pieces together, I sewed bias tape boning channels in the lining fabric.

I ran out of black bias tape...

Next I cut out a layer of white canvas. I basted each type of fabric onto the white canvas, then sewed each piece together.

This is the stack of fabric I started with. This isn't all of it, and some I had purchased previously. Not all of it has been used to make the corset, but I hope to find places for all the unique laces and trims that I purchased

Once I had the corset pretty much made, I started attaching the frills. In order to ruffle each piece I did a lose zig-zag stitch over very thin (non-stretchy) cording, then pulled it looked the way I wanted, and then straight stitched through the center of the cord. After all the ruffles and trims were sewn on, I tacked down some of the pieces so that they would stay in place when the costume is on.

I was  having a bit of trouble capturing the details of the corset, especially the dark fabric. The black I'm using is actually a dark taffeta flocked with black velvet roses. I chose this fabric because I thought it would break up the monotony of all solids.

High brightness closeup of the black ruffles

Beading details


I spent a lot of time hand sewing beads and cameos on, it ended up being right around 20 hours (All 6 episodes of BBC Sherlock, plus 2.5 seasons of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood... geeze), and I'm sure I'm not out of the water of hand sewing yet. After all that was done, I decided I didn't like the way the boob part of the corset looked, so I ripped out the top seams, including the top cameo and about 20 beads. I shortened it about 2 inches, and re-sewed all the beads on. This was actually a pretty tough decision, and even though it looks the same sitting on the floor, it fits me a lot better now. 

After has the beading re-done and the bra sewn in

At some point during the whole sewing process I realized that the corset wasn't going to work with me wearing a bra under it (you would be able to see the bra over the side of the corset), so I had to ditch my plan to put boning under the bust area of the corset. I purchased a really cheap push-up bra, and ripped the ugly fabric and the underwire off.

No love lost with that awful fabric gone... Anyways, I sewed the bra into the lining of my corset near where the boning channels I had sewn in earlier were.

Once I had all the details done, I sewed the lining to the top of the corset, then top-stitched with tan and black thread. Next I had to bone the corset. I measured each boning channel, and cut the spiral steel boning with wire cutters and tipped them with metal bone tips. After each bone was in place, I basted the bottom of the corset (right sides of fabric together), then flipped it right sides out and top-stitched to finish off the bottom.

The *very* last thing to finish is the back. I simply top-stitched the back, then measured where I wanted my grommets, used my hole punch to make the holes, and my eyelet setter to set the grommets. Easy!

Here is the finished corset... It's soooo pretty!! More progress coming soon :)

Queen Guinevere: Final Progress Write-up

Today I was updating my Cosplay Connection Profile, and I realized that I never posted the progress write-up of my Queen Guinevere cosplay. I've been extremely busy recently (unfortunately not with anything related to cosplay) and haven't even found the time to do a proper photoshoot with this costume.

To start with, I gathered as many references as I could. Because this was a costume from a tv series, I wanted it to be as accurate as possible instead of a best-guess-if-this-actually-existed-irl. 

I had a really tough time figuring out how I wanted to do the sleeves. I wanted them to be long and full, but not waste too much fabric (since velvet is outrageously expensive). Another thing that really got to me was how full the dress was. I probably over did it, but the dress in the show had only a few main panels, then inserts in between to make it look really full, and drape nicely over the hoop skirt. 

I debated using several patterns, but I stumbled across McCalls M6376 in my stash and noticed that it would be nearly perfect for what I wanted to achieve.

The first thing I did was cut the pattern out of muslin. I modified the pattern so that my sides and backs would be 1 piece instead of 2 contrasting colors. I also drafted new sleeves based on my "hopefully this will work out on the first try" technique.

After I had the dress all (mostly) sewn together, I drew on where I wanted it to cut off, since the original pattern covered the shoulders. Once I sewed the band to the pattern, I used sharpie to mark the pattern, and note where I wanted any changes.

 After a few test fits and numerous adjustments, I had my pattern perfect, and ripped the whole thing apart. I patterened it all onto craft paper, and used that when deciding how much velvet to buy. Which was too little. Like always. I accidentally threw away my receipts, but in the end I believe I purchased 18 yards of Velvet, and it was right under $250 for just the velvet, which lead me to much crying and alcohol consumption. 

I used pattern weights to keep the pieces down, even though the velvet I used seemed to be very forgiving to holes. I did the same thing out of my lining fabric. I hate lining fabric.

I sewed all the pieces together of both the fabric and lining (this is the boring part). The sleeves were completed first because they were kind of complicated. There is the top sleeve, over sleeve (the part that hangs) and under sleeve. The over sleeve had to be sewn to the lining first, then sewn in-between the velvet of the top/under sleeve. The last step of the sleeves was doing the lining.

I had the most difficult time with the over sleeves. The lining fabric would move so much if it wasn't pinned every inch, so it took like 6 tries. I was so frustrated by the end that I literally just said "fuck it, good enough" and left them how they were.

Because the dress was so extremely heavy (and slippery, damn lining fabric), I had to keep it pinned to my dress form or it would simply fall down.

Once I was happy with the sleeves, I attached the lining to the dress at the top seam. I chose not to do any top-stitching because the band that would go around at the end. Because I was running low on fabric (and apparently can't measure fabric properly - the lining was much shorter than the outer fabric...) I simply hemmed the bottom of the dress by folding it over and sewing it (not sewing it to the lining and top-stitching like I should have).

The band was kind of a unique challenge for me. I have no formal education with costuming, so with no instructions written on paper I decided to do what I'm really good at. Super-gluing shit. The band is made out of 2 pieces of velvet, the top one is larger and folded behind and glued to the back of the bottom piece. After that dried, I glued the top to bottom (in-between them) so it wouldn't drape weird when on me. 

While I was contemplating how to attach the band to the dress without super glue (heh) I went about cutting off and painting pieces of Venice Lace I purchased from Etsy. I purchased 3 types of white lace so that I would have a variety of flowers, and used gold and silver acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium to paint them. Once I was done I realized the coloring was too flat, and covered every piece in a gold tinted glitter paint. Each piece was laid out on the band until the design was perfect, then attached with both fabric glue and super glue (I should own stock in Lock-Tite). I honestly had intended to sew all of these on, but after 30 minutes I realized I was going to throw myself off of a bridge if I had to do all of the pieces by hand. 

The last step (I shit you not) was super-gluing the band to the dress. It worked brilliantly, the only issue is that I can't hike the dress up by violently ripping on the band, for fear of tearing my dress off in front of anyone. I put the dress on my form before I did this, just so I knew it would look right before everything got put into place.

The belt is made of chains I purchased at Michael's, the wig was purchased off of eBay and styled, and the circlet was purchased from Etsy.

Supplies & Purchases
Queen GuinevereFabric/Notions/Lace $338, Circlet $82, Wig $45

New Yuuko & Doumeki Images!

I'm really, really, really excited about this... I just got all of my photos back from my photoshoot at Anime Detour with Ger Tysk. You can check out the album on her Flickr, or Facebook page :)

I'll get these up into my cosplay gallery eventually, probably once convention season dies down!


Yuuko & Doumeki: Final Progress Write-up (3/3)

Finally, it's complete! This project has been an absolute beast of a challenge, and I'm sooo proud to say that it's done. I'm not sure who convinced me it'd be a good idea to cosplay one of CLAMP's most complicated Yuuko & Doumeki designs, but I'm glad I did.

I've (obviously) posted 2 other progress posts on this costume, and I've tried to really document the whole process so I can post it, and maybe someone else can learn from it. (Check out the other posts: one, two). I've seen a few other people cosplay this same "Hawk"/ "Crane" outfit, but in my humble opinion, I thought I could really take it to the next level.

I picked the outfit specifically for the challenge, but I am a long time CLAMP fan and really love the xxxHOLiC manga. I'm not really certain how long this cosplay took, since I'm terrible at keeping hours, but these last 2 months I've really been pouring all my free time into making it.

Logistically, this was a nightmare. The wings are HUGE and I really wanted to keep it as close to the artwork as possible, and I think I did a pretty decent job making the wings too friggin' huge. It was basically impossible to get to the convention, weighed a buttload and is extremely awkward  uncomfortable to wear. Worth it? Duh! 

Doumeki was definitely the easier of the two. I think this whole costume could have been completed in 1 Saturday if I didn't pleat so slow.

Kimono & Shrug
The kimono was fairly straight forward, I used a modified Simplicity 4080 for the the pattern, and used Heat n' Bond to create the triangles. If you've never worked with Heat n' Bond before, it's brilliant. Basically it's a double sided interfacing that you can use to make cutout appliques. 
The shoulder is made of black suede, and was a simple 2 piece shrug pattern I had, that I only made half of. It's a little longer than the original pattern because my boyfriend has gorilla arms (don't tell him I said that). I added gold bias tape for the trim and formed the frog closures by hot gluing, then super gluing it to the shrug. The gold rope in between the 2 frog closures Velcros in the back.
In the art, his cape has a really awkward drape that would be impossible to achieve with a normal cape pattern. I opted for 2 large rectangles of fabric and made a neck band in the same way I would for a kimono. The feathers on the cape looked a lot less whispy than the ones on Yuuko's sleeves, so I laid the fabric on my laminate kitchen floor and used a fabric marker to draw them on. Apparently fabric markers hold way less paint than they should, so it started to die about 1/3 of the way through the feathers, and I had to add water to it like an old, cruddy marker. After the feathers dried I sewed the rectangles together and added the neckband. I made the frog closures in the same way that I did for the shrug.

Doumeki's hakama was the most challenging part of his costume, just because of how irritating it was to keep the pleats in place, especially on a hakama for a 6'4" man. Initially I had intended to purchase a pre-made hakama, except not only are striped hakama extremely expensive, but I found the most perfect fabric on, and decided I had to go for it. 

I fabric glued a small pocket to the inside of the hakama (on the back), because my man is a whiner. This picture doesn't have the band because after I sewed that on I folded them up and packed them for the con. This is the tutorial I used for the hakama, and it's brilliant.

Doumeki's Accessories
Doumeki's wig is from Cosplay Wigs, and his glove was purchased at a home improvement store. Since my boyfriend can't appreciate the finer things in life (aka tabi and waraji) he chose to wear flip flops ಠ_ಠ

Yuuko's costume was... Well, a huge pain in the ass, to put it mildly.
Underskirt & Corset
I'll start with the basics. The first thing I did was make an "under skirt" to go under the corset, and so I'd have something covering my lower half... I just used the bottom half of a kimono (Simplicity 4080) because it had the drape I wanted. Next was the corset. I made the corset out of a red canvas and purchased the boning and busk from this website. The pattern I worked with (Simplicity 5726) was absolutely terrible and I will never use that pattern again. Luckily none of the actual corset will show through, so I wasn't overly worried about it.
I used red craft foam and cut out the... squigglies?... and attached them (just on the front and sides) with a combination of fabric glue and super glue . Again, not really concerned with how this will look because it will be 80% covered.

Next I started on the obis. I waned the obis to feel more authentic and less "ridiculously cartoonish" (as in the art), so I did a little research and found out that Yuuko is wearing a darari obi, which if historically accurate would measure 30cm x 700cm. I went for the cheater method and made 4 short ones out of tan cotton, with a very stiff interfacing in between. Again, I used Heat n' Bond to make the purple triangles.
The smaller red obi is a hanhaba obi, which should measure 17cm x 400cm. When researching I found this absolutely beautiful hanhaba obi on eBay, and decided to use it instead of making one. I cut it into 4 pieces and attached the bells. The tassels are gold curtain ties that I purchased on Amazon and hot glued to keep the shape. The purple rope is paracord with bells glued on, and glued into the obi belt.
I also made an obi pillow to go below each obi, to keep them upright and "poofy". I attached everything to a cheap men's canvas belt that closes with D-rings in the back.

The most time consuming part of this whole ordeal was absolutely the wings. I knew I couldn't just use one piece of fabric, even if it had interfacing on one side. It would fray and definitely not be stiff enough. I could sew 2 pieces of fabric together, but that would take forever and the corners would look bad, and I didn't want visible seams. My final answer was (dun dun dunnn) Heat n' Bond. I'm like a walking billboard for that crap (I actually used almost 20 yards on this costume...)

First I made 2 long kimonos (sans sleeves) out of the white and red fabric.
The next part was fun. I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how big I wanted the wings (then I promptly tossed the measurements in the trash). I used a piece of fabric that measured 46"x44" to draw and cut out my wing pattern. Next I ironed Heat n' Bond to a second piece of fabric, and cut out the shape. I peeled off of the backing and put it over a third piece of fabric, and ironed it down. After cutting off the excess fabric... I had half of one wing! Rinse and repeat for the front half. I modified the pattern for the 2 halves on my right arm to be a little larger.
(tl;dr- each complete wing is 4 pieces of fabric, plus a center of Heat n' Bond).

Back half of my left wing after I finished cutting.

Once all the ironing and cutting were done (and my iron completely destroyed from the Heat n' Bond glue... lesson learned!) I mixed up fabric paint (linen plus some brown) and painted the feathers on. I was extremely nervous about this because of how much time I had already invested in the wings, that I really didn't want to mess anything up. Luckily they turned out pretty decent (okay I'm really proud, I love them).

All 4 wigs stacked together is about 56" across (4'8" at the longest feather)

While it was drying I contemplated how to make the red sleeves. I ended up just making them rectangles with gathering at the top. Sewing these to the red kimono was a cinch.

At one point I was feeling a little discouraged about my progress, so I decided to dress up my form. Turned out it was looking beautiful, so I abandoned it for the night and went to bed. From that point it basically lived off of my dress form so it wouldn't wrinkle or get destroyed from it's own weight.
Sewing the white wings to the kimono body sucked. Sewing through Heat n' Bond destroys sewing needles. Literally. The glue also jammed my bobbin and gave me a minor heart attack. After they were attached I pleated the left wing to give it the "rumpled" look from the art, and then I sewed the longer red wig to the white wing (my right hand side), so it would always stay in place.
Because the kimonos were so ridiculously heavy (The kimonos alone weigh just over 6.5 lbs) I added wire under the neck band to help them keep the "weightless', off the shoulders look that it has on Yuuko. This was an immense help and I love the way it sits, plus it's really easy to slip off or adjust. Inside the longer right wing I added a dowel that I can grab to fully extend the feathers.

Added more fabric to the right red wing since the last image, and testing the placement of the dowel. 

At the very end I sewed up the sides (up to the wings) on both kimonos. I didn't want to be moving it around too much to finish off the seams, so I dragged my dressmaker's form to my sewing machine and top-stitched the white and red kimonos together. The final steps were to trim the fraying edges off of the white wings, and use permanent hemming tape to finish off the red wings.

Yuuko's Accessories
For the wig I purchased 2 60" wigs off of eBay, and dismantled the 2nd one to make her hair loops. Making this was a disaster and caused me more stress than I wish to admit. I used Kyrlon spray glue to glue hair to black cardstock, and formed it to the loops. This worked really poorly because they looked kinda lumpy instead of smooth like I wanted. I also wanted to make them detachable so I could store the wig easier, but it was having none of that, and I ended up sewing the hair loops to the wig. I also attached 5 wig hooks to the front to help support the immense weight of this wig.

Yuuko selfie!

The headdress is made out of red craft foam and attached to a headband. It is supported in the back with crafting wire. The dangling pieces are made of thin red craft rope with bells glued/tied on, with gold craft foam for the detailing. The large bells ended up being so irritating that I put super glue in each bell, and shook it until the bell piece stuck so they don't make noise (unless they hit each other). 

Before I attached the dangling bells.

A quick reference image on how I style heavy, long wigs. I made the headdress first, and then styled the wig. I put duct tape under the wig head and on the front to counter balance the weight of 60" wigs. The trivet spins so as long as the hair is braided and sitting on it, and I can just turn it to get the perfect angle to style. Even though this method is pretty ghetto, I prefer it to standing wig styling because I can sit, and 60" wigs are so heavy that it would tip the wig stand over.

The necklace is red craft foam attached to wire that hooks closed in the back.

The red contacts are ones I previously had, from a website that sells prescription Halloween lenses, and my makeup is all Ben Nye. The nails are super long acrylic nails I purchased off of eBay, and cut/polished. I could't get them to stay with spirit gum or fake nail adhesive tape, so I had to use super glue :(
I also picked up a cheap plastic flask at a liquor store, and painted it to be Yuuko-ish :3

Better quality pictures will be coming in a few weeks, after my convention on April 19th. Thanks for reading! >w<

Supplies & Purchases
YuukoFabric/Cording/Craft Supplies/Obi $385Wigs $52, contacts (had)
Doumeki: Fabric/ Craft Supplies $104, Glove, Wig $30