Guest Post: Rosette Christopher by Koholint Cosplay

Header photo BTSEPhoto

Hey folks! Today I’m doing something a little different. My cosplay partner-in-crime Koholint wrote an extensive breakdown of how she constructed her Rosette from Chrono Crusade for a costume contest last year. She doesn’t have a blog, so I’m sharing her notes over here!

Be sure to check out her social media for more amazing costumes, and check out our duo builds on Caffeine Schemes Cosplay!

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Rosette was a big project for me, partly because the outfit has so many pieces, and partly because she’s been a dream cosplay of mine for a very long time. I picked up the Chrono Crusade manga when I was about 15, and Rosette immediately became one of my favorite characters of all time. Finally having the skill set and confidence to cosplay her almost 10 years later was beyond special – it was a dream come true! Rosette was debuted at Anime North Texas 2016.

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Figure A: Rosette Reference no.1
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Figure B: Rosette Reference no.2
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Figure C: Rosette Reference no.3

I made nearly every piece of Rosette’s outfit from scratch – sewing is my greatest strength when it comes to cosplay, and I love learning and applying new techniques to my builds. I also love to interpret outfits in a “realistic” way – sometimes outfits just wouldn’t work the same way in real life as they do in a manga, or sometimes little details don’t make sense. (Not to mention contending with inconsistent reference art!) Rosette’s outfit was fun to interpret for “real life”, since her clothes are meant to be utilitarian – she’s a nun in an organization called the Order of Magdalene, which is essentially a group of exorcists. She mostly does field work, and her outfit reflects that – she’s supposed to be able to move fast, as well as shoot things and carry bullets and other supplies, so I planned her outfit with that in mind.

I did a ton of research on actual nun habits, too. Her costume is much more revealing and “anime” than any real nun habit, but I gleaned some technical construction info and the names for the different pieces of her outfit from forums for nuns. (Yes, apparently, there are such things as chat forums for nuns! And their comments were pretty helpful, too!)

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Figure D: Fabric waiting to be sewn! It was all prewashed and ready to go at this point.

After doing my research and planning, I got to work. I started out by heavily modifying a pattern (McCall’s 7352), since it was a princess seam dress pattern and Rosette has princess seams on her dress. I used this pattern as the base for her blue dress and her underbust back brace. The dress is made of a blue synthetic grosgrain fabric, which I went to the Dallas Fabric District to find – it was a remnant and ended up being just barely enough! The dress pattern was simple: I modified the plain sleeves of the pattern by using the slash-n-spread method to create puff sleeves, and then cut off the base pattern at the waist so I could add the front and back flaps more easily. Since I had a limited amount of fabric and the waist seam was going to be hidden by the back brace, I didn’t mind having a seam there. It also made the dress a little bit easier to make.

The dress was fully lined to the waist; the flaps were not lined because they didn’t appear to be lined in the manga, nor did I want to change the drape of the grosgrain fabric. The flaps were finished with a double-fold hem. The dress zips up with two invisible zippers: one at the side, and one at the center back. I couldn’t extend the back zipper beyond the waist line, since I didn’t want a seam on the back flap, so the discreet side zipper lets me slip into the dress, and the back zipper lets me get my head through the neck hole.

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Figure E: My sketch of her dress, showing zipper placement in red

The waist brace is made like a boned bodice; I call it a “brace”, even though a lot of people interpret it as a corset. I just didn’t think a demon-slaying nun would wear a corset, nor does it ever cinch Rosette’s waist in, so it made the most sense to me to call it a “brace”. It’s definitely a strange piece, though – the shape is reminiscent of an underbust corset with shoulder straps.

The fashion fabric is denim, since I thought the fabric looked utilitarian enough to be appropriate, and vinyl or pleather seemed out of place based on reference artwork. I patterned the brace by using a mockup of the same pattern I used for the dress – I drew the shapes I wanted while it was on my body, and then cut on these lines to make a pattern from it. The brace has three layers: the outer fashion fabric is an off-while cotton denim, the inner “support” layer is flowery cotton twill, and the lining is a thin white cotton. I put rigilene boning in all the vertical seams of the support layer to help keep the shape of the brace. The brace zips up at the back. For the details (hanging straps and horizontal front straps), I used purchased belting and spray-painted some plastic parachute buckles.

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Figure F: The guts of the back brace – specifically, the flower-patterned cotton support layer with Rigilene boning!

The brace is the piece I made the most modifications to from the reference art. First, I left the seams from the princess seam pattern as-is; part of it was just thinking they looked pretty, and part of it was that the seams were a convenient place to add straps in the front. In the reference art, the brace has two random rectangles in the front; I didn’t like that much, so I added belting and a parachute buckle to make them seem like they belonged there. The vertical seams let me attach the belting in a way that visually made sense, even though the buckles still don’t do much except look pretty. I also scratch-drafted the “ribbed” strap details hanging from the bottom of the brace, and then underlined them with fleece to make the topstitched details more 3D. When the straps were finished, I went over them again with a thicker topstitch thread to add even more emphasis to the details.

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Figure G: A collage I made for Instagram, showing the topstitched details of the ribbed front flaps.
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Figure H: Trying on the finished back brace with my work-in-progress dress!
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Figure I: A cleanly-finished and fully lined back brace!

I scratch-drafted the veil and wimple. The veil is made of the same blue grosgrain fabric as the dress; the white on the dress, veil, and wimple is all a white mystery fabric that has a slight peachskin texture to it; it reminds me of a thick sateen with a peachskin face. The veil was a simple half-circle attached to an interfaced rectangle, and it has a couple of discreet elastic straps that keep it on my head. (I used the advice of forum-posting nuns to go with the half-circle shape)!

The veil was cleanly hemmed using a double-fold hem – since circular double-fold hems are a little trickier, I used the “stitch the fold lines and iron them” technique.

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Figure J: Hemming the veil. The white guide stitches were later removed.

The wimple took a little bit of trial-and-error to get the proper pattern for. The collar of the wimple is stuffed with quilting batting to give it the “puffed” look it has in the manga. The black detailing is some black piping I found in my stash. The wimple opens in the front with a regular separating zipper, and is also fully lined.

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Figure K: Work-in-progress wimple, with the black piping ready to be sewn on.  
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Figure L: Nearly finished wimple with the rest of the work-in-progress pieces!

The green pouches (two in front, one in back) were scratch-drafted too, and attach to the belting hanging from the bottom front of the brace with snaps. The green fabric is a green linen I found at Joann; I liked that the color and texture reminded me of army pouches from the World Wars, and since Chrono Crusade takes place between them (in the roaring 20s), I felt it gave the pouches the “right” look. The pouches are supported with heavy interfacing and are lined with the same cotton twill as the brace. This means that when you open any of the pouches, they have pink flowers inside… it’s a little silly, but I felt Rosette’s character would like that detail, so that’s why I didn’t try to find a plainer/green underlining. (She’s canonically shown to like girly things!) The black straps on the front pouches were made of grosgrain ribbon and more purchased plastic buckles, making the pouches fully functional. The back pouch is also fully functional and closes by means of a single snap.

My friend Samantha (and fellow Chrono Crusade fan) helped me with fabric cutting and brainstorming on both the pouches and bootcovers, since I was running out of time and she likes learning cosplay stuff from me. Her help was invaluable in speeding up the process of making both! (All the sewing was still me )

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Figure M: Pouch lining pieces and interfacing laid out.
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Figure N: Work-in-progress shot of one of the front pouches.
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Figure O: Nearly finished pouches! The black straps hadn’t yet been sewn on, and the small pouch is missing its snap.

I scratch-drafted the bootcovers using the “cover shoe with tissue paper and masking tape” technique, and then glued them to a pair of base boots I bought on Amazon with Samantha’s help (two hands are better than one for this kind of thing)! They are made of a soft brown vinyl with a little bit of interfacing to help them stand up. The “metal” details on the boots were made from heat-molded craft foam, which I sealed with Mod Podge and then spraypainted silver. I glued the toe piece directly to the bootcover, but I glued the front ankle strap to a piece of ribbon that connected to some metal triangle connectors (it makes more sense in the photo below). The black straps on the boots are real leather and also attach to triangular metal connectors. I bought the triangles on Amazon. Finally, the leather straps had silver studs punched on.

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Figure P: Another Instagram collage, showing progress on the boots.

The gloves were modified from Butterick B5370 and are made of the same soft brown vinyl as the bootcovers. They were sewn completely by hand, except for the joining of the white band on the top of the glove.

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Figure Q: Nearly finished gloves, before being turned right-side-out!
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Figure R: Finished gloves! (Except for the “metal” pieces across the back!)

The We Love Colors thigh-highs needed just one modification: the black rectangle patch, which was glued on with fabric glue while I was wearing them to ensure a perfect look.

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Figure S: Photo by BTSEphoto. Here you can see the black rectangles on the top of the WLC thigh highs!

There are some details of Rosette that I did not make myself. Since she was a dream cosplay, I wanted every detail to be perfect; therefore, I commissioned friends to make the guns, the pocket watch necklace, and the gold “badges” on the sleeves and gloves. The guns and pocket watch were made by Mushety Props, and the badges were made by Callula Cosplay.

The guns are modified BB guns (chosen because they look like the actual model guns used as reference by the manga’s author), and the watch was 3D printed and hand-painted. The badges began as craft foam shapes, which were then molded and cast out of resin. The “paint” on the badges is cold-cast with a bronze finish, so it won’t chip off or flake. We heat-molded the badges until they curved appropriately for where I wanted to place them, and then I glued Velcro to the badges and hand-stitched Velcro to the sleeves in order to attach them. (I opted to make the badges removable for the sake of being able to machine wash the dress.)

Callula cast me two cross badges and four oval badges. Two ovals were for the sleeves, and two were for the gloves. I left the sleeve ovals as-is, but for the ones on the gloves, I cut the ends off the ovals to make them rectangular. Next, I glued half a plastic pearl onto the ends to simulate the “screws” that show up on the reference photos. I painted the pearls with a gold paint pen, then glued the badges directly onto the gloves.

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Figure T: Placement test of the sleeve badges. They had not yet been heat formed to curve around the sleeves better.
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Figure U: Photo I snapped of the props when Mushety kindly delivered them to me.

The wig is an Arda Wigs “Eowyn” in the color “Pale Blonde”. It didn’t need much styling: I trimmed it shorter with a razor, and then fluffed up the bangs with a little heat and hairspray. Since she’s a nun, I figured she probably wouldn’t wear makeup at all, so I kept my look toned-down and “natural”. The most difficult part of her makeup was coloring my eyebrows – I have thick, dark eyebrows, and changing them to blond is a challenge. I used a technique I’ve figured out that uses a combination of yellow eyeshadow and colored eyebrow mascara to lighten them.

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Figure V: Dorky selfie from my photoshoot, showing my “plain style” makeup. It was super windy that day!
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Figure W: Photo by BTSEphoto, showing the entirety of my cosplay! Chrono (in red) is my friend Asanoyass on Instagram

The build time for Rosette was roughly three weeks, and I’m extremely pleased with the result. It was super cold the day I debuted her, though, so someday I hope to wear her again when I won’t freeze my butt off!

PROP CREDITS

  • Mushety Props: @mushety on Instagram
  • Callula Cosplay: @danbeth349 on Instagram, Callula Cosplay on Facebook

PHOTOGRAPHER CREDITS

MY SOCIAL MEDIA

Costume Notes: Cornelia li Britannia (Code Geass)

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Photographer Credits: 

Completed: October 2017

Hours Spent: Approximately 50

Why This Costume: Koholint Cosplay and I have this habit of dragging each other into various fandom hells. She nailed my cosplay type so hard with this one, and then surprised me by buying me season one. I started watching, got hooked, and now I’ll be making Code Geass stuff until the day I die.

Purchased/Closet Pieces: 

Patterns Used: 

Super Helpful Tutorials: 

How I Made it: 

This build was kind of a stupid challenge. I started working on it in July 2017 with the intention of finishing for A-Fest. Long story short, I was insanely burned out at the end of the summer and ran into issues trying some new techniques, so I tabled it until after I wrapped up my commissions for this year.

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Dat booty fit right out of the package.

My first step in making this costume was the pants. Really I just wanted to play with the fabric. It’s a GORGEOUS Tommy Hilfiger wool garbadine from Mood fabrics. As soon as I spotted it back in March, I knew I had to buy it for this build. I had Butterick 5895 in my stash for ages and was so excited to try it out. I lengthened the pants a bit (see: A LOT) and also eliminated the pockets since I didn’t want to interrupt the silhouette with extra seams and bulk. I also moved the zipper from the back to the side. I thought this was a brilliant idea until I went to shoot this and it gave me dumb issues, including some seams popping when I went to sit down on a bench. For my next shoot, I’ll move the zipper to the back seam to eliminate pressure on the hip.

Even with that issue, I ADORE the fit of these in the bum. IT’S SO GOOD. I do still need to make some tweaks overall on the leg fit at some point (PSSSTTTT… Mood, bring this fabric back so I can make more pants!).

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Patterning out the tails with paper first.

After knocking out the pants, I started patterning the jacket. I started by using the base of McCall’s 7373 since I knew it fit me well from Mami. From there, I hacked off my muslin to the waist and started draping the tailcoats with paper to get an idea of how to pattern. Once I was satisfied with my initial go, I made another mock-up to test the fit. Once I tweaked a few issues, it was time to move on to the real thing!

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Mock-up with the tails!

To give the coat the gravity-defying tails, I treated the coat as a heavily constructed bodice with a lining, interlining, and fashion layer. The interlining is various pieces of hodgepodged cotton twill (generously donated by Koholint Cosplay) that I interfaced. Each seam has boning (lots of various types since I was mostly stashbusting) and 3″ horsehair is sewn into the hem to help hold it in place. After seeing the pictures from the shoot, I think I need to add rigeline to a few spaces between the seams to help hold it in place better.

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Before boning and horsehair braid…
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After boning and horsehair braid

Once the interlining was complete, I basted it to the lining (made from old Pluto satin) and treated it as one piece. The lining uses the sleeve from view A of McCall’s 7373. As with Mami, I stitched the puffy exterior sleeve (which is flatlined with tulle) to the shorter sleeve to create more volume in the upper sleeves.

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One of many failed attempts.

The gold applique on the fashion layer gave me such a headache. I tried a few different techniques to get more of a 3D effect, but most of them failed miserably, so I went to a tried and true applique technique: Heat and Bond and satin stitching. It’s not perfect, but it’s by far the cleanest approach I tried. The gold detailing on the front and back is gold vinyl from Yaya Han’s fabric collection at Jo-Ann’s. Once the applique was on the front, I topstitched pre-made bias tape onto the gold and then hand sewed all the buttons onto the jacket.

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It’s starting to look like a real thing!

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The cuffs were self-drafted and self-lined. The back piece on both sides has lightweight interfacing, and is stitched to the sleeve with the gold button. I went back and forth on whether to make the gloves as toppers or if I wanted to attach them to the jacket, and ultimately went with the jacket for fewer pieces.

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The cravat is more of a “fake” piece. I tried making a more traditional cravat, but it lead to far too much bulk at the neck. Instead, I cut a piece of satin on the bias, gave it a narrow hem, then gathered the cravat at the top. As of right now, it just tucks into the neck, but I’ll add snaps for next time.

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My original plan for this build was to alter some boots I had on hand, but I realized too late that I didn’t have white leather/pleather paint on hand. Even with Prime shipping, I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to paint before my shoot, so I drafted up some quickie boot covers using the saran wrap method. They’re… okay. I’m definitely planning to revisit these in the future.

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Test swatches for DAAAAYYYYSSSS
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Straight out of the dye bath.
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After washing and dyeing.

The wig was kind of a crazy challenge. Cornelia has an odd fuschia hair color that is more pink than purple, but after searching high and low for months, I couldn’t find a wig color that really worked for her. So instead, I dyed it! I referred to Arda’s wig dyeing tutorial (linked above) and advice from Victoria Bane. Essentially, I took a white wig, mixed pink and purple iDye Poly together and dropped my wig in for about 5 seconds. From there, I washed the wig out a few times, let it dry, and restyled it. Next time I shoot this, I’d like to add a few extra wefts, especially around the front of the wig and tease the base to get some super CLAMP style volume.

Thoughts on this Build: 

Aside from a few fixes here and there, this has honestly been one of the most gratifying builds I made in 2017. I’m really happy with how almost everything turned out, and I’m so excited to cosplay more stuff from this series! Hopefully I can get around to making her gunblade and ridiculous cape next time I shoot this costume. I can’t wait to start on R2 stuff with Koholint!

Are you a fan of Code Geass? Who’s your favorite character? 

Costume Notes: Grandma Rick (Rick and Morty)

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Photographer Credits: 

  • Yogomi

Completed: April 2017

Hours Spent: Maybe 5?

Debuted: Dallas Fan Expo 2017

Why This Costume: One thing I’m terrible about making is comfortable costumes. Most of my builds are meant to be show pieces, so when I was approached to judge the contest at Fan Expo earlier this year, I knew I wanted to put something together that was quick, easy, and most important: comfortable enough to be in for 10+ hours.

Purchased/Closet Pieces: 

Patterns Used: 

Super Helpful Tutorials: 

How I Made it: 

Again, this costume was chosen with speed and comfort in mind. The lab coat was a purchase for my fiance a few years ago from an after-Halloween sale at a Spirit Halloween store. He never wound up using it, so I took it for this build. It was a Men’s 3X, so I turned it inside out, pinned where I wanted it to taper at the sides for a more feminine look, and serged off the excess at the sides. The sleeves were also ridiculously long, so I measured where my wrist ended, cut off the excess, and hemmed the new sleeves.

To create the skirt, I pulled some brown knit fabric that had been sitting in my fabric stash for a while. Gertie’s pencil skirt pattern was a great start, but I had to take it in a fair amount since I was working with a knit instead of a woven. The material was a bit thin, so I underlined it with the same knit fabric. I hemmed the skirt with a twin needle and finished off the waistband with folded under elastic. I’ve seen a lot of skirts finished off this way in stores, and it’s such a fast way to make an easy skirt or even leggings!

To finish this costume off, I commissioned a wig from the lovely Victoria Bane since I was swamped with other stuff and she’s amazing at wig styling.

I re-used my belt from Makoto Nijima’s (P5) summer uniform. Write-up on that build coming soon!

Thoughts on this Build: 

I had such a blast running around as Grandma Rick! While I was at Fan Expo, I challenged all the Ricks to a contest of the Rickest Rick lol.

My friend Frank Yogomi spotted me at the con and mentioned some ideas for a photoshoot. I’m so happy Koholint Cosplay was able to join me for it! She makes such a cute Morticia (Morty) and we had a blast being campy and ridiculous. She made the “alien” headbands out of pipe cleaner, headbands, and Christmas ornaments.

Are you a fan of Rick and Morty? Who’s your favorite character? 

Costume Notes: Pokemon Go Trainer

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Photos by PhotoPersuasion.

Completed: August 2016

Hours Spent: About 15

Debuted: A-Fest 2016

Why This Costume: Not gonna lie… This was mostly to join the Pokemon Go hype train, haha. But honestly, it was a fortuitous build. I really enjoy playing the game, I had about 85% of the necessary materials on hand, and I also wanted an easy to wear costume. So it all came together pretty well!

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 How I made it: This was a remarkably fast and pretty simple build! I initially interpreted my trainer’s outfit as a top, leggings, and shorts rather than as a romper and leggings, so my approach reflects that interpretation.
The top/leggings combo was made using Yaya Han’s ultimate bodysuit pattern. I blended out the underbust seams and used a grey spandex for the center piece. I drafted out the chest design with paper, then cut it out of purple spandex and topstitched the design down. Wondertape was a great help for this!
Since the trainer wears a bolero, I ditched the sleeves and left the sleeve holes undone. Spandex doesn’t fray, and no one sees them anyway! The neckline is finished with 3/8″ elastic. The leg portion of Yaya’s pattern comes in 2 pieces, so I simply eliminated some seam allowance from the outside seam and used that to add in the purple stripe.
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To make the bolero, I turned to my Avacado hoodie pattern. The pattern has a clear top and bottom half, so I dropped the bottom half to make this and drafted quick bands to finish off the neck, bottom edge, and sleeves. I topstitched the princess seams and the yellow stripes on the arms for a more RTW finish.
The belt was made from some awful foam backed vinyl I’ve been hoarding for years. I used that as a base, then covered it with scrap grey and white spandex, again topstitching around the edges for a more professional looking finish. I stitched some webbing I had on hand for the skinnier portion of the belt and held it together with a large parachute buckle. My belt buckle (courtesy of Callula Cosplay!) attaches to the parachute buckle with industrial strength Velcro.
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Accessories! My hat was a basic black one I got off of Amazon. I drafted a quick Pokeball design and cut it out of felt. I used fusible web to attach the felt and then reinforced it with a hand stitch. The choker is quilt bias binding that has a snap stitched on the ends. I purchased the shorts from Wal-Mart.
Most of my other accessories were things I already had on hand. Since my trainer more or less looks like me, I used a clip in bang from Arda (styled by Cosmic Coterie‘s Moon) and picked up a curly ponytail clip-in that I gently relaxed with some brushing and my hair dryer. My gloves were leftover from She-Hulk, and my shoes were leftover from Pokemon Trainer Serena. The Eevee was an indulgence purchase from AMA-con a few weeks ago. He’s just so cute I couldn’t pass him up! My Pokeball was a gift from Callula Cosplay 🙂
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Thoughts on this costume: Man, this thing was stupidly cheap. I think I spent maybe $30 total? I totally don’t count the Eevee in that cost since he lives in my plush collection. Almost everything was something I had on hand, which is how I justified adding this to my roster, haha. While it’s not the most flattering costume I have, it’s stupidly comfortable and a really fun Sunday costume! I can’t wait to go Pokemon hunting and get more photos of this costume in action.
Who’s your favorite Pokemon? 

Costume Notes: Super Sailor Jupiter

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Completed: July 2016

Hours Spent: Eh… probably 40 hours start to finish

Debuted: AMA-Con 2016

Why This Costume: It should be apparent by now that Sailor Jupiter is by far my favorite senshi. I knew immediately after joining the Luxe Dolls that I wanted to make a version of Sailor Jupiter for myself, even before I was cast for the part of Jupiter. I opted to make my suit work for both classic and Super Jupiter so that I could interchange pieces as I saw fit.

 How I made it: I covered a lot of the basic fuku techniques I used here in my Jupiter 1.0 notes, so I’ll focus this post on things I did differently.

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One of the most obvious differences in Jupes 1.0 and 2.0 is the detachable armor. SparklePipsi covers this process a bit in her fuku tutorial, but I used a double-layer of thick spandex as opposed to fleece. I used Zan’s chest armor piece (with some modifications) to draft this part. For the sleeves, I again used folded over white foam, but did one stitch on the sleeves to match the art work.

The translucent Super sleeves are the one thing I really didn’t like about how this turned out. I really want to go back and tweak the pattern, but I’m pretty happy with my construction approach. To create these, I used a heavy gauge vinyl covered in glitter chiffon. The piece was flexible throughout the day and didn’t bother me at all. It attaches to the chest armor with Velcro.

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My leotard fit was one of the things I really didn’t like about Jupes 1.0. I didn’t add length to Zan’s pattern at all, and it’s been horribly uncomfortable as my weight has fluctuated. For this fuku, I used my She-Hulk mock-up of Yaya’s Ultimate Bodysuit Pattern to draft the pieces I needed for a much better fit.

In my Jupes 1.0 post, I lamented that I disliked how my bloomers were constructed. For this version, I used hook and eye tape to connect the crotch and finished the edges with 3/8″ elastic. This is a technique commonly used in leotards and swimsuits and hugs the bum to prevent the leotard from riding up. It’s way more comfortable than my previous approach!

For my butt bows, I took some artistic liberties. The Super butt bows for the senshi are kind of… meh. They just hang more or less. So I made a slightly shorter version of Moon’s cascading butt bow tails. It’s a little different, but I got some great feedback on it and I adore how they look. I also incorporated some 1/2″ horsehair braid into the tails for extra flow.

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Hand stitching during my lunch break at work.

To create my glove rolls, I used some scrap Rogue spandex to create the piping channels (see NyuNyu’s glove roll tutorial for basic information) and filled them with upholstery piping, much like I did in Jupiter 1.0. The main difference here, though, is that I hand-stitched the piping to itself to create a continuous circle and then hand stitched the spandex shut. The seam is much less obvious in photos now!

Accessories: I bought a new pair of boots for this costume and painted them with Angelus leather paints. I like these quite a bit, though I’m still holding on to my Catzia boots for days I don’t want to tower like a baby giraffe!

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Closer image of the tiara. I got to judge the Kids Costume Contest with Tugg the Superhero Dog!

For the choker, I glued a brass stamp and a green gem with e6000 to match the Super artwork. My wig was another part of this costume I was unhappy with. The circumference doesn’t fit my head well, so I’m replacing it with a ponytail wig from EpicCosplay Wigs.

Huge thanks to Mask Props for the beautiful tiara (so comfortable!) and Callula Cosplay for the heart brooch!

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Classic Jupiter fuku, complete with magical kitty Lying Cat.

Other thoughts: All and all, I’m very happy with how this version of Jupiter turned out. I’ve wanted to remake her for well over a year, and I’m so happy to have an improved fuku! I can’t wait to do photoshoots of this costume at A-Fest.

Who’s your favorite senshi? 

Update: DYING OVER THESE PHOTOS FROM ASH SNAP’EM!

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WIP: October 2015

Lulu: 50% complete

I also finished up the corset! Couldn't resist trying everything on :)
I also finished up the corset! Couldn’t resist trying everything on 🙂

I’m finally making some decent progress on Lulu! One of my big tasks for this month was knocking out her base skirt and sleeves. I debated on how to do this. There’s some discussion among cosplayers as to what Lulu’s skirt and sleeves are supposed to be: separate pieces or a dress with an extremely low cut back. I opted for multiple pieces for easier cleaning and repairs. These pieces are made with a material that was advertised as cow leather, but definitely does not feel like real leather. Regardless, it’s still a nice fabric with a great drape, weight, and sheen.

I used Kwik-Sew 3400 up to the waist to create a base for the skirt. I blended out the princess seams in the front and back of View B and chopped off the front pieces at my desired length. From there, I used the sewn front and back to create a facing with the knit side facing my stomach for comfort.

To create the sleeves, I took one of my basic sleeve templates and slashed and spread it to create the bell effect, using my French curve to create the drop in the sleeves. It’s held up with elastic backed with silicone, so it’ll (hopefully) grip my arm a little better than straight up elastic casings.

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For both the sleeves and skirt, I opted to finish off the seams with a bound bias finish. Leather and pleather don’t *technically* need a finish since they won’t unravel, but since this is a competition piece, I wanted to have a nice, clean interior for craftsmanship judging. I topstitched the remaining seam allowances down to match the game art.

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My other big project on Lulu was creating ALL THE LACE. I painted all the Venetian lace I purchased over the last few months by hand, which took several weeks of Netflix and evening painting.

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I created several more pieces by using lace embroidery pieces available from emblibrary.com. This is such a cool technique. You “embroider” the lace pieces on water soluble stabilizer, then drop the finished piece in a basin of water. Once the stabilizer has dissolved, you iron the final piece and are left with a gorgeous lace flower. These are intended as coasters and Christmas ornaments, but they work perfectly as filler pieces for Lulu.

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I’m about 2 weeks away from the con, so I’m definitely in crunch mode! My final to-dos are styling the wig, finishing the moogle, gluing all the lace and belts on, and creating a bit of flame magic. Wish me luck!

She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk: 100% complete

Not much to say here that I didn’t say in my She-Hulks post. Body painting was one heck of a learning experience, but I’m glad I went through it! I’m looking forward to brainstorming our next mother-daughter build.

Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.
Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.

What’s on your craft table right now? 

Pattern Review: M7217

12115489_785108354948606_6219879557741383976_nThe Basics: 

Pattern: McCall’s M7127 (a.k.a. the Yaya Han bodysuit pattern)

Total Hours: About 4 hours for the first suit and 6 hours for the 2nd one

Fabric: Approximately 1 yard of 4 way stretch pleather for Red She-Hulk and a half-yard of purple milliskin. Approximately 2 yards of heavy white moleskin for She-Hulk, a half-yard of purple milliskin, and scraps of grey for piping. The purple milliskin on both suits is covered with fabric from men’s basketball shorts.

Alterations: Added 2″ of length at the bodice cut line. In hindsight, I probably should have also added a half inch to the crotch cut line. I also ditched the sleeves and made my suits with an exposed zipper, as detailed in the Cosplay by McCall’s blog.

Notions: Thread, zippers, knit interfacing, clear elastic, 3/8″ elastic, stretch cord (regular She-Hulk)

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Did it look like the pattern illustration?: Pretty much.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: Overall, yes, though some of the directions weren’t really the norm for spandex suits.

Make it again?: Absolutely. Hoping to make a new Rogue with this pattern soon!

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Other thoughts: My main thought when I first saw this pattern was, “How useful is this really going to be for superhero suits?” While this suit is great in a lot of ways, it will still require a lot of alterations for most superheroes, especially any superheroes that have crazy seam lines (looking at you, Carol) or seamlines that don’t match up to this pattern.

That said, if you want a suit that will be a great resource for a tailored fit, this pattern is fantastic. I’ve never had a suit fit me quite this well, especially under the bust. I’m adding that feature on ALL my suits from now on. If I get around to remaking my Batwoman suit, I’m definitely going to use this pattern.

So now that the pre-amble is out of the way, here are a few tips to make your process go a little bit smoother than mine. In order to give this pattern a fair review, I tried to stick with the design as is for the most part.

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So first up: directions. For the most part, these are pretty straight forward. But there are a few steps that made me shake my head a little. My main complaint was that the instructions call for a casing in the leg holes. While you *can* do this, it’s suuuuuuuuuuper annoying. Instead, I sewed the elastic directly to the leg holes, which is far more common for swimsuits and is a staple in Kwik-Sew spandex instructions. While I didn’t include arms on this leotard, I did take a look at the instructions and again shook my head. You’re instructed to set the sleeves here as you would a woven garment. Again, nothing technically *wrong* with this, but I almost ALWAYS take the RTW sleeve setting approach in spandex suits.

Next up: fit. I don’t know about y’all, but this suit had way more ease built in than I was used to, especially compared to Kwik-Sew. I wound up cutting the sides a size smaller than my pattern measurements, and I also took out a full 2″ at the waist of the front princess seams. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, no pattern will fit every body perfectly right out of the envelope, and lots of seam lines means you have flexibility with tailoring. Still, I’m very glad I made a mock-up with my go-to spandex undergarments.

Finally, difficulty. I would honestly hesitate to recommend this pattern to a complete spandex novice. My suits each had 13 pattern pieces (double that on Jen since everything is double-layered), which is a bit overwhelming for a newbie spandex sewer. Kwik-Sew’s basic catsuits by comparison have 5 pieces. Pattern matching is a big deal here as well, especially at all the bust points, and that can be tricky for folks not accustomed to sewing with stretchy fabrics. I highly recommend basting before you commit to  your final stitches.

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Have any of you used this pattern yet? What did you think of it?

Newbie Adventures in Embroidery

I mentioned a while back that I finally indulged in a sewing machine with embroidery capabilities. This was mostly for Lulu and her insane lace trim, but I thought it’d be fun to learn how to do other things like making patches and such. Almost six months later, I finally got around to turning on my machine for the first time!

To break in my machine, I did a couple test runs of a Superman logo for a 1970s hotpants Supergirl commission. I purchased the logo off of Etsy, and it was pretty simple to transfer to my machine. Once I unzipped the file, I dragged it to the desktop on my Mac. After plugging my laptop to my machine, it was pretty simple to drag it to the machine’s drive and transfer the file. The machine came pre-installed with a bobbin of white embroidery thread, so all I had to do was put my embroidery thread in for the needle and let it go to work!

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I did 2 initial test runs of this project on scrap fabric before moving on to the real thing. With my initial run, I mixed up the order of the thread, but it wound up working out anyway since I didn’t like the 2″ size.

For my second run, I went with a 3.5″ logo. This time, I got the colors in the correct order and was overall pretty pleased with how it turned out. No problems whatsoever!

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It was only when I got started with my commission that things started going awry. As soon as it started, the white bobbin thread was the only thing showing. Okay, no big deal. I threaded the bobbin incorrectly. Easy fix.

Then the bobbin not only ran out of thread, but it created a huge knot on the wrong side of the project. Okay, deep breaths. Snip away all the extra threads, re-thread the bobbin, and install everything correctly this time.

At this point, my stabilizer was perforated and wonky, but I was also concerned about re-hooping my fabric and hitting the wrong place. So I snapped the hoop back in place and hoped for the best. While the final product turned out fine, it’s not quite as awesome as my second test run.

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So here are my main take-aways from this first dive into machine embroidery:

  • While I wouldn’t call the embroidery interface intuitive, it’s pretty easy to use once you figure out where all the buttons are and what all the symbols mean. I had to stop in the middle of my final project, but once I figured out how to jump to different steps in the embroidery process, I was able to finish pretty quickly. Thanks, user manual!
  • Stabilizers are your friend! This fabric is a medium weight twill with a touch of stretch to it. I used a cut-away Sulky stabilizer that I had on hand for this project. I do need to pick up a can of basting spray ASAP though. I think that would have helped with my final logo.
  • When in trouble, double check threading. Most of my final issues were due to user error.

And here are a couple of resources I found super helpful:

  • BurleySew: Lots of video tutorials on working specifically with the Brother SE400.
  • Embroidery Library: Some great tips and tricks on embroidery, including information on which stabilizers to use with different types of fabric! They’ve also recently released several video tutorials.

Have you done any machine embroidery before? How did you like it?

13 Tips to Making the Most of Limited Craft Time

A common comment people make to me these days is: “I wish I had the time to sew like you do.” This is both frustrating and exciting, since I love sharing my passion for crafting, but I think people tend to forget that they have to make time for recreation. Like a lot cosplayers and home sewists, I work a full-time job, have family/relationship/friend obligations, and other personal activities like exercise.

Many (see: most) days, I only have 1-2 hours tops to work on a project. On a good week, that translates to about 12 hours of sewing time a week, assuming I also sew 3-4 hours a day on weekends. But “good” weeks are rarities. They really only happen when I have back to back deadlines or a convention coming up. Most weeks, it’s really closer to 6-10 hours of crafting, since there are nights when I have to do adult stuff (bleh, laundry). Some nights I have obligations with friends or simply don’t want to sew.

As my skills have improved, my projects have gone faster, but I still have to find ways to make the most of otherwise limited craft time. Here are a few tips and tricks I use to speed up the process:

sewing quotes164-11. Figure out a committed, uninterrupted time. 

I’ve changed time frames when I sew several times over the last few years. When I had a 30-45 minute commute, I got up around 5am and sewed for about an hour or 2 before I left for work. It was the easiest time since my boyfriend got up around the same time to leave for his workout.

My commute now is closer to 10 minutes, and the best time for me to sew is in the evenings once I’ve had dinner (see: hanger abated) and the dog has been walked and distracted by a toy. Keep an open mind with your craft time, but make sure you carve out a set time and make it yours!

2. Work on similar tasks at the same time.

Need to cut patterns? Do that on one day. Need to finish hems? Do that another day. Working on similar tasks at the same time cuts down on dead time between steps. With my sewing, for example, I’ll sew all of the hems/darts/etc. I can before it’s absolutely necessary to finish and press seams.

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My cutting table is still one of my favorite storage pieces in my craft room!

3. Keep your stuff organized. And preferably in an area where it’s easily accessible. Corner off a section of the dining room or your bedroom. Label your stuff. Keep it handy. I have a whole craft room at my disposal now, but my last apartment was a 500sq foot loft. I relied heavily on my collapsible sewing desk and all the storage space it provided. I also have some cheap plastic rolling storage units for fabric and other items. Underbed storage is also great for limited space.

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Some of my most frequently used sewing tools from left to right: Rotary cutter, Gingher scissors, pattern weights, and stretchy needles!

4. Invest in quality tools and supplies.

Nothing is worse than taking the time to assemble all your pieces only for a faulty set of scissors to mangle your fabric. Or carefully cutting and planning a costume with cheap fabric only to make a mistake and have the fabric *literally* unravel. A few tools that can change your life: rotary cutter, pinking shears, pattern weights (really prefer these to pins when cutting), and a waist-level table stationed next to your sewing machine for quick pressing.

sewing-meme5. Craft in the right frame of mind.

Hobbies should be enjoyable. I really like sewing most days, but if I’m tired, sick, or just don’t want to sew, I’m going to make a mistake. When I make that mistake, I then wind up trashing a project or having to correct it. Just don’t do it. Take a break, have a drink, play a game, or work on something else. Come back when your head is clear and you’ll be much more productive.

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Image credit: Cosplaytutorial.com

6. Plan in advance. 

This is one of your biggest allies with time management. Allow yourself plenty of time to create and fix mistakes (because they happen). Nothing like botching a piece and finding out the fabric store is out of the fabric you need! Remember the golden rule of crafting: good, fast, and cheap. You can have 2 of the three.

There are a lot of people who get a creative rush on waiting until the week (or the night) before a con to get started on a costume. If that’s your thing, power to you. I can’t do that because it stresses me out sooooo much. The only time I’ll really do that is if I’m working on a simple project like a basic leotard or bodysuit. Otherwise, I make lots of weekly and monthly check-lists to keep me on track with personal projects, costume builds, and commissions. Apps like Trello and Google Docs are fantastic for check-lists!

7. Know your skills. 

And cater to them. Are you great with fabric? Awesome, make costumes that rely on fabric. Can you build armor like no one’s business? Cool, go make Iron Man (and e-mail me, because I need your skills). Building on skills is one of the greatest parts of costuming, but remember to keep a reality check. If you only have 3-5 hours a week to craft, it’s going to take a while to learn a new skill. If you’ve got an intricate costume and limited time, be prepared to cut other costumes from your roster. And while we’re on the topic…

Photo by Gone Catawampus.
Callula Cosplay made this beautiful mirror for me since I fail at props. I made her Huntress bodysuit in return! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Whether it’s someone you follow or a friend. I’m not great with props, but I have friends who are. We often swap skills to cut down on wasted time and materials, and we also help each other learn new skills. Obviously, don’t be a jerk and ask, “Hey, give me a step-by-step breakdown of how to make X costume.” You’re being inconsiderate of that person’s time and also robbing yourself of the learning process. But if you have a specific question, by all means, ask away!

9. Research on your lunch break.

There are so many tutorials out there. If you’re hitting a snag with a project, check out the interwebs. More than likely, someone has had the same question and there’s already a solution. I stalk search cosplay.com regularly for suggestions.

Skater dresses: great instant gratification practice projects!
Skater dresses: great instant gratification practice projects!

10.  Use it or lose it.

One of my favorite sewing blogs mentioned that you should sew *something* every week just to keep in the practice. I agree with that. Even if you’re not working on a specific project, keep your skills up. Been meaning to make yourself a cute skirt or dress? Need to repair a pair of pants? How about making some cool jewelry from a resin cast? Heck, even just working on mock-ups for future ideas  can keep you in the habit. Maybe not every week, but often enough to keep you fresh. Also, the more you practice, the faster you’ll get!

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Mock-ups are also great to figure out crazy designs like my Captain Marvel dress!

11. Use mock-ups when possible. Especially if you’re new to a project and trying to test the waters. Destroying $30+/yd fabric  is traumatizing and can be a major time setback.

And while it seems counter-intuitive, doing a mock-up can make the final product go faster. You get to work out all the kinks in the mock-up stage, and you’re already familiar with the end process, so you can proceed with confidence. Or at least, that’s what I try to tell myself 😛

12. Micro-craft! Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up 20-30 minutes before your alarm goes off and you just can’t fall back asleep? Or you’ve got half an hour before you have to leave for something? I often use those moments to check off small to-dos on my normal crafting list like pinning zippers, stay-stitching, or even just setting out all the items I’ll need to complete a project. Every little bit helps!rogue13. Build on what you already have. Alternate versions of characters or characters with similar costumes can be a great way to save time and money. For example, my Marvel Now! Rogue took less than 10 hours to make since I only had to make the spandex pieces. It was also super cheap since I had all the materials on hand from previous projects.

Got other tips on time management? Sound off in the comments!

WIP June 2015 Edition

Ah, sweet, sweet summer heat. My two biggest cons of the year are over, but I still have several cons and big builds on the horizon!

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Photo by Alan Tijernia.

Margaret: 100% complete

I made this costume for an A-Kon group with friends. The big thing I finished in early June was my grimerie. This is probably the best prop I’ve made to date, and the cards were definitely a crowd pleaser 🙂 A huge thank you to Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe for showing me her Elizabeth book and cards!

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Hannie Mohd Wonder Woman: 25% complete

I got started on my new Wonder Woman during our live stream last week! I’ve wanted to make this costume for almost a year now and have been shopping for a good fabric pretty much since then. After months of only finding patriotic quilting cotton and Elsa fabric, I finally gave up and decided to have the fabric printed on Spoonflower. Callula Cosplay graciously created the file for me, and it only took about a week for the fabric to arrive in my mailbox! I had this printed off on satin. It is shiny, but not overwhelmingly so. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how painless this process was. I’m planning to debut this costume at Anime Fest over Labor Day Weekend.

Lulu: 6% complete

It’s almost comical at this point documenting Lulu. I bought about 10 yards of lace from Golden D’Or last time I was there, and started cutting out the pieces I want for the trim on my dress. After about 3 hours of cutting, I realized 10 yards was nowhere near enough. Thankfully, Ohheyabear Cosplay donated some lace to my stash, and I’m purchasing 60 yards of lace from cheaptrims.com soon. Yay wholesale prices! Hopefully another 70 yards of lace will do the trick 😛 In July, I’m hoping to cut and paint the remaining lace and get started on the crinoline that will be the base for the belt skirt.

Commissions:

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Shortly after A-Kon, I knocked out a 1966 Adam West style Batman cape (I promise, a cape tutorial is coming soon!). I turned to Williams Studio 2 for tips and drafting information. I thought about buying their pattern, but it calls for 9 yards of fabric, which seemed a little ridiculous to me. This cape has 6 yards of poly satin. There’s twill tape sewn into the lining side for stability, and it closes at the front with a heavy duty snap. Also, I recently realized I’ve been sewing snaps wrong for YEARS. Oops. The more you learn, right?

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I also knocked out a Ghirahim bodysuit commission this month. This has definitely been one of my most challenging bodysuit builds to date! I combined the top and pants (with a few alterations) on Kwik Sew 3029 to create this suit.

Cutouts on spandex can be very particular, so I made a mock-up and drew all the squares on my client while he was wearing it. To make life a little easier for both of us, I underlined the pants with a grey milliskin to match his bodypaint and treated the squares on the white moleskin as reverse appliques. For the top, I underlined it with an extra layer of white moleskin, faced the cut-outs with scraps, and top-stitched it down. The top opening, sleeve, and exposed portion of the waist cut-out are closed with 3/8″ elastic to give it a bit of extra stability. I also added small strips of 3/8″ elastic to the exposed shoulder so my client can use clear straps to hold the suit up if necessary.

All in all, it’s been a pretty busy month. I’m grateful that I have a small break in commissions coming up and that my next two costume builds are simple and they don’t need to be finished for another 2 months. I’m really looking forward to having time for non-cosplay projects and finally getting my Etsy store set up in July!

What costumes are you working on right now?