Costume Notes: Sailor Pluto 3.0

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Photographer: Koholint Cosplay

Completed: August 2018

Hours Spent: Approximately 30

Debuted: N/A

Why This Costume: The initial idea for another Pluto came from plans with Koholint (as usual lol). I sold my last Pluto a little while back, but I still had the wig and accessories. Koholint made ChibiUsa for our Outer Senshi Cosmic Coterie group in 2018, and we wanted to do more duo shoots for our Caffeine Schemes account.

The final push to make this costume came from Pinecrest Fabrics, who asked me to review their tricot, which is available on Fabric.com. Many thanks to them for providing material that helped make this happen!

Purchased pieces: 

Helpful Tutorials:

How I made it: 

There are a few major variations on this suit compared to my last Pluto. As usual, I’ve been experimenting and tweaking my process for commissions, which impacts how I make my fukus as well. The first big difference on this fuku compared to my previous ones is the angle of the hip roll. I’ve been tweaking the plus-size pattern I use for myself and clients (I swear I’ll get around to digitizing this eventually), and one of the things I was unhappy with on Uranus 1.0 was how shallow the hip roll angle was. I raised the hip roll angle as outlined in the Cosmic Coterie tutorial (linked above) and I’m sooooo much happier with where it sits now.

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In the past, I’ve added all the length I need on my leotard to the bodice, but this time I split the length between the bodice and bloomer portion, which worked out much better for me.

Another major variation on this suit is the skirt. We’ve used 2 circle skirts over at Cosmic Coterie in the past, but when Koholint went back to look at her Mars, she realized she used 2.5 skirts, which prompted her to try 3 circle skirts for her ChibiUsa. I loved how fluffy the skirt looked (and how much easier it made pleating), so I did the same with this Pluto.

Once my base suit was done, I pulled out my old wig and accessories and touched them up. I also cast my resin brooch for this build using Daydreamer Nessa’s tutorial (linked above) as a guideline.

Review: Pinecrest Fabrics Tricot

Again, many thanks to Pinecrest Fabrics for providing the tricot for this build! I’m always on the hunt for good material to use for senshi fuku, and this material is officially on my list.

The white tricot they sent me is an 81% nylon/19% spandex blend, and it has great recovery. The moisture wicking is excellent, which is great for wearing fuku to hot Texas summer cons. This material IS rather shifty, so I highly recommend basting pieces if you’re nervous about anything slipping around.

As with many white fabrics, there is a degree of transparency to the material. I highly recommend a lining or underlining your spandex if you’re concerned about lines showing through.

Thoughts on this Build

I’m so happy to have a new Pluto! As I mentioned in my last Pluto post, I adore cosplaying her and feel surprisingly pretty as Pluto. She’s definitely my favorite of the Outer Senshi! I can’t wait to set up more shoots with Koholint as ChibiUsa and get all the Small Lady and Pluto pictures.

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Bonus selfies! Including some with AdventTraitor’s dog, Bruno. He’s the best magical doggo.

 

Costume Notes: Eternal Sailor Moon

 

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Photographer credit: Chez Photo

Oh man, talk about a big project! I decided to tackle this fuku for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve had several commission requests for Eternal fukus over the years, but I’ve never been comfortable making one for a commission without doing some trial and error first. Second, I wanted a big solo competitive piece, so I could use that as an excuse to go balls to the wall with this build and try out lots of new techniques. Third, I’ve had an interest in making several Sailor Moon accessories for my fuku commissions, which explains my rationale in how I approached a lot of these items, especially the smaller resin accessories.

So, let’s get this started!

Wig

 

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The wig is both fairly straight forward but also time-consuming. I’m not going to write a tutorial here on creating a Sailor Moon wig, since several folks have done that already and much better than I could. I used a Chibi from Arda in Fairy blonde along with 2 long ponytail clips and short wefts.

After fixing the bag hair, I tweaked the bang line, stubbed the ponytails, created the odango and styled the bangs.

Special shout-out to Vickie Bane for giving me lots of helpful tips and keeping me sane when I wanted to chuck this in the trash.

Here are a few helpful tutorials:

Wig Accessories

 

Here’s where we start getting to the fun stuff! As I mentioned above, I went into this build knowing that I wanted to create resin molds so to sell as part of my commissions. With that in mind, I started by creating odango shields in TinkerCAD. I made these as a two-part set: the base white layer and a top layer that I could cast with tinted resin. These are printed on PLA at my work (having easy access to a Makerspace is the best), then sanded and finished by me. Once the lines were SUUUUUUPER smooth, I took the pieces for the odango shields and created molds using Smooth-On products, specifically OOMOO 30.

Once the molds cured, I used Smooth-On 300 to cast the pieces. To create the white pieces, I “painted” white glittery powder from the Jacquard Pearl EX set into the mold, then poured in the resin, which cures in 10 minutes. For the red pieces, I “painted” Cast Magic Red Devil powder into the mold cavity and tinted the resin with a tiny bit of Red SO-Strong tint. I attached the pieces together with e6000.

The hair feathers were super fun! I traced the feathers from some ESM clipart I found online and created a vector of them in Inkscape. From there, I converted the files and cut them off on 2mm EVA foam using my Cricut Maker. I heat sealed the pieces prior, then glued them in a staggered pattern to match the pearl width. For the pearls, I found some flat back pieces on Amazon and glued them on the front and back of the feathers with hot glue. Once the full piece was dry, I glued the piece on a hair clip. This process is essentially the same for the other pearl/feather bits on her sleeves.

Again, here’s a helpful list of resources!

Base Fuku

 

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Ahhh, the big part of this. Thankfully, I have a lot of experience making fukus, so this part wasn’t too daunting, but there are some big differences between making these and making classic fukus.

Note: I’m going to do a more comprehensive “how-to” tutorial over on Cosmic Coterie for this build (eventually), so my discussion below will mostly detail my thought process as well as trial and error.

One of my big hold-ups with making an Eternal fuku was the sleeves. They’re such an odd shape in how they look like bubbles, but are often drawn clear in the manga. I wanted something that had that bubble shape, but wasn’t *just* gathering. I turned to this tutorial by Angelic Threads as my prototype. This process requires A TON of tulle stuffing (I used nearly 4 yards of tulle in each sleeve), but it’s by and far my favorite way to make the sleeves. In fact, these turned out so well that I ditched my other protype ideas and stuck with this one! For the bottom of the sleeves, I used our glove roll approach at Cosmic Coterie, but just tweaked the pattern so it was 2 rolls instead of 3.

Once I ironed out the sleeve issue, it was time to tackle the belts! Proportions on the Eternal leotards are essentially the same as the classic fukus, so I took the base leotard pattern I normally used and built the pink belt into the leotard. The pink “belt” is my normal hip roll pieces cut on the bias and treated essentially in the same manner as the hip roll for a classic fuku. I will note that you must be EXTRA careful with the bias cut satin to prevent weird pulling. I cut a strip of interfacing and fused it to the top layer of the “belt” and also was extra mindful of my pressing. Additionally, you will likely need to taper the belt in at the center back to prevent puckering (if you care about that and I did).

The gold belt was very similar. I again took my hip roll pieces, cut them on the bias, and interfaced them. Once they were stitched together, I tacked the center front onto the leotard, then used snaps to hold the belt in place. Cutting the belt on the bias helps it curve around the body and lay flat!

The skirts are treated in the exact same manner as the skirts we use over at Cosmic Coterie. I did 3 circle skirts for each layer, basted them together, and treated them as one before pleating and attaching them to the base leotard. Then came the ETERNALLY (I crack myself up) long process of cutting and hemming 30 yards of fabric *dies inside*.

The collar was the most straight-forward part of the base fuku. I used the collar pattern Vickie Bane drafted up for us with my giant person alterations. From there, I made bias tape from my scrap gold fabric to create the stripes.

For Katsucon, I opted to create a standard butt bow since I didn’t want to travel with large wings. I’ll add those on when I get ready to compete!

Helpful tutorials:

Chest Brooch

 

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This was another trial and error piece. I had a resin heart mold on hand that I love for my Super senshi. I experimented with some shimmery mixes for the resin casting before ultimately deciding on an opaque design with Cast Magic.

Like the hair feathers, I created a basic vector of the wing shape based on some artwork I found online and played with the sizing until I found the size I was most comfortable with and suited me proportionally. I then converted the files and cut the base shape out on my Cricut. As with the feathers, I heat sealed the pieces prior to moving on.

Once that was done, It was time to mount everything! The heart resin piece attaches onto the base wings with industrial strength Velcro and then attached the pearl feathers to the sides with e6000. For a little extra flair, I also glued a few fluffy feathers onto the base and also added some Swarovski crystals for extra sparkle.

To help keep all this nonsense on my chest, I attached 4 spin clips to the back that are held in place with Black Worbla.

Helpful Tutorials:

Gloves

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Ugh, I hate how inconsistently the Eternals especially are drawn. Sometimes Moon is drawn with the points on her gloves, sometimes not. My preference is with them, for a very specific reason: hand access.

For these gloves, I bought a base pair of white wrist gloves from We Love Colors. I then made arm stockings from the same material as my leotard for the top (the glove rolls were made using our normal approach over at Cosmic Coterie and then adding on the feather clips). To create the point, I made some bias cut satin strips and used the same angle I use for hip rolls (app. 90 degrees). I then treated this as really fancy bias binding and stitched it around the edge of the arm stockings, gluing crescent moons I cast out of resin on the tip.

Once the bias binding was on, I hand sewed snaps on the stocking and the base glove, enabling me to easily remove my glove while in costume without having to take the whole piece off.

Boots

There’s not a whole lot to say on these that hasn’t been approached in other Eternals write-ups. I bought a pair of base white boots, but unfortunately they weren’t quite large enough for my calves. This was a pretty easy fix, thankfully. The boots had a center seam in the back, so I opened it up down to the bottom of my calf and sewed in a wide pieces of elastic.

After cutting the boots at a 45 degree angle, I stitched more pink bias cut satin around the tops and then glued on more crescent moons that I cast out of resin. Easy peasy!

Other Accessories

 

A few years ago, my Cosmic Coterie teammate Space Cadet Cosplay had plans on making ESM, so she bought a ton of generic molds for this project. When I mentioned I wanted to do this build, she was super sweet and gave me the molds. I used the mold she gave me to create all the stars you see on this build. The crescent moon molds are from MoldsbyMia.

For the heart/moon piece, I built a small model in TinkerCAD and printed and cast them as I described above. These two pieces are mounted on the choker, which is also a piece of bias cut satin stitched at an angle.

Thoughts on this build:

I nearly talked myself out of wearing this build so many times, but its one of my favorites to date! I love how everything came together and how many new skills I picked up, which is refreshing after making so many Sailor Moon costumes. I do plan to add on to this build for competition later in the summer and will absolutely document the process to share with all of you.

In the name of the Moon, make gorgeous things! ❤

Anthony in the pool June 2016
Photographer credit: Chez Photo

Costume Notes: Senshi Yukata (Sailor Moon Artbooks)

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Photographer Credits: Ash Snap ‘Em

Completed: May 2018

Hours Spent: Approximately 10

Debuted: A-Kon 2018

Why This Costume: This was the main build my cosplay group, Cosmic Coterie, voted on making this year. We wanted to focus on a build that was relatively simple, since all of us had major life commitments to handle this year.

Our first priority in making these was ensuring that we were respectful to Japanese culture in the creation of these builds, so we spent a lot of time and energy making sure we were accurate to artbook designs of the inner senshi and following appropriate yukata-wearing protocol. The incredible Victoria Bane spearheaded this research. You can find our full notes here!

 Purchased Pieces: 

Super Helpful Tutorials: 

Make sure to check out Cosmic Coterie for more helpful tutorials and information!

How I Made it: 

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WIP and materials photos

Yukata are honestly amazing beginner sewing projects. Creating a modern yukata is more or less sewing a series of rectangles with a few moderately tricky bits. However, if you prefer to work with a pre-made pattern, Simplicity and McCalls have you covered.

I primarily worked with the simplified yukata tutorial linked above, occasionally referring to the more traditional tutorial for measurement guides. My biggest issue with making the yukata was my height; the first tutorial is written for a traditional yukata, which assumes a height of 5’2″ – the average height of a Japanese woman. Even checking the alterations for men’s yukatas still the measurements way too short for my height of 5’10”. This lead to a lot of headache in my construction (not to mention some expensive material waste), but once I finally figured out the appropriate lengths to cut, all of the pieces came together more or less in a day.

Regarding materials waste, if you are very tall (see: over 5’7-8″-ish), you’ll need to either purchase Western-style fabric or get an extra long yukata bolt. I didn’t realize when I purchased my first fabric (which I loved, sob) that there wouldn’t be enough fabric on the bolt to create a full yukata. Even with an extra long one, I still barely squeaked out enough fabric, but I didn’t have enough leftover to make the extra collar or a matching bag. Sob. I’ll just have to find some coordinating fabric to make extra accessories!

Thoughts on this build: 

Honestly, I had a lot more fun working on this project than I expected. I was kind of dreading pumping out two full new costumes for A-Kon while also working on commissions and my contest build, but this came together super fast once I figured out the proper lengths of everything.

The extra accessories are also super adorable! We really lucked out on several pieces, especially the hair accessories and the obijime. I can’t wait to wear these again!

Costume Notes: Sailor Uranus

Photographer Credits: Mehreen Rizvi

 

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Completed: April 2018

Hours Spent: 25-ish

Debuted: Fan Expo Dallas

Why This Costume: Space Cadet Cosplay and I have talked about making Sailor Uranus and Neptune since before either of us joined Cosmic Coterie. Late last year, our teammate Victoria Bane mentioned she wanted to make a new Sailor Pluto, then AdventTraitor mentioned she wanted to make a Sailor Saturn, so we kind of stumbled our way into a full outer senshi group!

Purchased Pieces: 

Fabric Used: 

  • Telio Navy Satin (donated by Koholint Cosplay)
  • Mystery poly satin from my fabric stash
  • Matte Casa Satin in Eclipse from Jo-Ann’s. I ran out of Telio satin when I got to my collar, so I found a close substitute!
  • Dull tricot from We Love Colors

Patterns Used: 

Super Helpful Tutorials: 

How I Made it: 

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I’ve made about a billion fukus at this point, so I’m not going to go crazy in-depth on this post other than to comment on a few special tweaks and challenges I encountered with this build.

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The first pieces I made for this build were my bows! I adore this gorgeous Telio fabric.

One of my on-going issues with my builds (and specifically fukus) is that I tend to prioritize commissions and group builds for others over my own stuff, so as a result, a lot of my fukus haven’t turned out exactly how I wanted. This time around, I worked on pieces periodically between commissions and actually did a couple of mock-ups on pieces I’ve had issues with before.

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To start, I knocked out the satin pieces. I almost always ease into a new fuku by starting with the bows and the collar, and this one was no exception. Victoria Bane drafted a new collar for us over at Cosmic Coterie, and, being the giant that I am, I had to make a few adjustments for it to fit on my frame. I *may* go back and make it a touch wider, but it’s close enough to my desired width that I’m not being too picky about it for now.

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Mocking-up my collar. I lengthened the tails by about 3″ and used the slash-and-spread method to widen the entire thing by another 1.5″. 

 

For this fuku, I lengthened my bodice by 2″ like normal, but I’ve had issues with it pulling in the past. This time, I also added an inch to my bloomers and it fits SO MUCH BETTER.

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With my last Jupiter, I also cut my hip roll way too small. This time, to keep it more proportionate to my sizing, I cut the width at 5″ as opposed to 4″ used in the Coterie tutorial, giving me closer to 1.5″ width on my final hip roll. I like the look a lot better on me.

 

Probably the weirdest part of making classic Uranus and Neptune is their angled glove rolls. I have to give a massive shout-out to Katie Cosplays for her tips on this! She recommended cutting the angles on the true bias, and with some careful finangling, I was able to squeeze upholstery piping into the channels for my gloves. The only thing I’m not really happy with on these is how far they tend to stick out when wearing them. I may hand tack them to my gloves or see about re-making them at some point. Either way, tutorial coming soon!

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Base boots prior to painting and alterations.

To finish this build up, I bought a pair of boots from Sheikh shoes and painted them with a combination of navy and black paints from Angleus leather. The “belts” are scraps of stretch vinyl I had on hand that were a pretty close match. I made faux belts and glued them to the base shoe with Barge.

 

I also resin casted mine and Victoria Bane’s brooches using tips from the amazing Daydreamer Nessa’s tutorial! I need to re-cast these, unfortunately. The size is perfect, but my silicone mold was way to floppy, so the resin settled at the base and created a flat portion. The colors are perfect, though!

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Also, shout-out to my teammate Victoria Bane for styling my wig so I could finish this costume as well as Belle!

Final Thoughts: 

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There are definitely a few things I want to fix on this costume, namely buying some new boots that don’t murder my feet, shortening the skirt hem, and assembling my Space Sword kit from Rawrbomb, but overall I think this is one of my best fukus yet! I can’t wait to tweak her and wear her with my Cosmic Coterie ladies ❤

Who’s your favorite outer senshi? 

 

Commission Notes: Super Sailor Moon

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Completed: February 2017

Hours Spent: About 40 hours

How I made it: I know, I know. ANOTHER FUKU. I keep promising myself/y’all that I’m going to cool it with these, but apparently they’re becoming one of my staples.

For a long time I told myself I wouldn’t take Super Moon commissions since I definitely prefer the gradient dyeing we did for Cosmic Coterie and lack an airbrush. However, my client was fine with the stripe approach from the 90s anime and I did a few other experiments with this build, which I’ll focus on today.

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Prior to tapering the hip rolls.

Let’s start with that pesky double hip roll again. I’ve made a couple of double hip rolls with upholstery piping, but I honestly am not in love with it. So I went back to upholstery foam and even further back to my Jupiter 1.0 days when I used Zan‘s pattern. I used her hip roll pattern piece for the front, and then tapered it down to almost 1/4 the original size. This gave me a chance to really control the depth of the taper and make it even (this is something that drove me crazy with our original group build). I know that Moon has a brooch that covers up the point of the V, but having messy work drives me batty, so I’m glad I was able to clean this up! The gold hip roll is 3/8″ smaller all around than the white one.

Both of the hip rolls are sewn into the seam. I basted the gold one about a half inch above my normal stitching line on the bodice to accommodate the clunkiness of both rolls. Once both hip rolls were in place, I then hand stitched the entire hip roll with a back stitch for durability, using my basting lines as a guide.

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Pro-tip: Don’t use ribbon or straight grain fabric for the stripes if you’re using the circle skirt approach. It won’t curve around the skirt properly and will lead to bubbles and wrinkles (like this when I hadn’t pressed my seams).

The skirt was a… special challenge. I wracked my head for weeks with this. My initial inclination was to level the skirt then cut off the portions I needed and use them as a template, but that would have required INSANE precision. Eventually I realized I was making it way too complicated and cut super long strips of fabric on the bias. I had originally ruled out continuous bias tape (so apparently this approach has a shit ton of names, because I was chatting with the girls and we realized that we were all talking about different techniques lol) because I didn’t want lots of seam lines showing, but I made sure that my seams were tucked into the folds of the pleats for the most part.

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To create the sleeve petals, I cut a strip of Worbla (1″ wide X 10″ long), layered it on another strip, and heat formed it over my dress form. Once it cooled, I glued each layer of the Mylar/Organza petals one at a time with e6000. I let each layer get to the point that it was dry to touch before I added on a new layer. Once all 3 layers were attached and mostly dry, I glued a strip of Velcro on top and fleece on the bottom to make it slightly more comfortable. There’s a matching piece of Velcro on the lining of the chest armor to keep it in place. Credit for this idea goes to MASK Props. I love how he did the sleeves for PockyPants‘s Chibi Moon

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The last major change I made on this fuku was on the butt bow. I used my trusty Pellon 808 interfacing instead of vinyl and like it a lot better. I hate that the bow isn’t transparent, but it holds its shape much better with interfacing versus vinyl.

That about covers this fuku! You can find more details on my other fukus here, and tutorials on how to make a Cosmic Coterie style fuku here.

What’s your favorite version of Sailor Moon? 

Costume Notes: Super and Regular Sailor Pluto

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Photo by Cosplay Illustrated

Completed: October 2016

Hours Spent: Approximately 30

Debuted: Anime North Texas

Why This Costume: After A-Fest, the Cosmic Coterie crew decided we wanted to switch up our fukus a bit and decided we wanted to go Super! Our affiliates expressed interest in joining us to have a full set of senshi again, so I offered to take the role of Pluto! (I got extra tall boots so we can be almost height accurate 😉 ).

I think most Moonies have a favorite inner and outer senshi. While Jupiter is my all-time favorite senshi, I have a soft spot for Pluto! I actually considered making Pluto before Jupiter back in 2014, but decided against it since I didn’t know how to build props (or who to ask for a commission) at the time.

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Purchased pieces: 

How I made it: 

Note: I made regular and Super Pluto pretty much at the same time, which is why I combined these costumes into one post.

I swear, every time I make a new fuku I learn something new to improve the process. I don’t want to get too heavily bogged down in details since pretty much everything you need to know is over on the Cosmic Coterie fuku tutorials (seriously, I’ve written a damn novel at this point). However, I do want to point out a few fit tweaks that I’ve noticed since making Jupes 2.0.

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Photo by Cosplay Illustrated

One of the biggest game-changers in my fuku process comes courtesy of Katie Cosplays. She noticed a few of our fukus in the past have had issues with puckering at the point of the V. Turns out, lowering the point of bloomers fixes that problem! When I redrafted my pieces for Pluto and sewed the skirt on, I actually turned to Space Cadet Cosplay for feedback because I was convinced I’d done something wrong. It came out right on the first try (don’t mind the puckering here too much. My belt needs to be shortened by about 8″)! Normally there’s at least a little profanity and seam ripping to get the hip roll just right in my experience.

Another issue I noticed with Jupes 2.0 was skirt length. The pleats lose their shape at a certain length, and I definitely needed to shorten the hem for my Jupiter. Some of my front pleats almost look like they have puckers, and it’s just because the skirt is a hair too long. I’m finding that about 8″ from the bottom of the V to the hem and about 10.5″ in the back works well for me. This one is 7″ from the point of the V to the hem. If/when I get around to re-making this fuku (I noticed some minor holes in the base leotard last time I wore it), I’ll lengthen that to 8″. The horsehair braid is also much more effective with the shorter skirts as well.

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Hanging with my trash nerds, Callula and 10th Muse at Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve.

Working on the boots for Pluto was a fun experience and great practice for my upcoming Wonder Woman! I thought about buying pre-made Pluto boots, but the ones I liked best were close to $120, and all of them looked too short for me. My frugality won out, and I decided to make my own. I used NyuNyu Cosplay’s tutorial on how to draft the toppers. My first set of boots was a pair of knee high boots from eBay. These came out perfectly, but when I tried them on, they were a bit too short for my Amazonian legs. However, I did keep them for wandering around the con days. For round two, I bought some over the knee boots, cut them down to the right length and shape, and used scrap vinyl from Huntress to create the white topper.

I redrafted the Supers clear sleeves a bit with the input of the other Coterie members. We decided to go with clear mylar for the sleeves, which we did with Super Moon and Chibi Moon. While the vinyl I used for Super Jupes was more comfortable, the Mylar definitely holds its shape better. We covered the mylar with clear glitter chiffon using 3M, which did a much better job than the spray e6000 I used for Jupes. Tutorials and pattern are available here.

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Super Pluto selfie before ANT!

Koholint Cosplay reminded me both of the joys of sewing on an interfaced collar (seriously, soooooo much cleaner than non-interfaced collars) as well as faux mitered corners. These are so much cleaner than the ones I did on both of my Jupiter collars.

I’d like to take a minute to give MASK Props a shout-out for my insanely beautiful garnet rod. He pulled this together for me in a pretty short period of time while working on another big deadline, and it’s absolutely stunning. I’m so grateful to him for taking this project on when he toooootally didn’t have to! I’m planning to hang it above my craft closet for display purposes when it’s not in use.

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Cosmic Coterie group photo by Stereometric with guest David as Tuxedo Mask!

Thoughts on this build: All in all, I’m so, so happy that I was able to make this costume happen. Pluto’s been on my wishlist for nearly as long as Jupiter, and it’s absolutely thrilling to be part of a full set of senshi! Now that this is done, I’m looking forward to a nice long break from fukus, haha (well, aside from commissions lol). I’ll add more photos as I get them!

Do you have a favorite inner and outer senshi? Who are they? 

10 Essential Tips for First Time Commissioners

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Peggy Carter commission for Lady Amaraldi.

1. Be brutally honest with yourself:

Before starting commissions, you absolutely need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I willing to do? Are you good with wigs? What about foam? Or resin? Or leather? The idea here is to ask yourself what type of work you excel at and emphasize it. For example, I can do some wig styling, but I don’t consider myself an expert on it, so I don’t offer it in my commission services.
  • Is my work good enough for commissions? I ask myself this ALL THE TIME. The reality is that there’s a certain expectation of quality with commission work, and if you can’t meet that quality, then you don’t need to sell. My commissions are the same if not higher quality work than my personal costumes, because each piece is a representation of me and my brand.
  • Are you good at customer service? Being able to communicate with people is one of the most essential tasks of commissions. Many potential commissionees approach the commission process thinking they can get costumes cheaper than eBay or Amazon, or that different tasks are simple when in reality they’re quite time consuming. Being able to clearly and calmly discuss these issues with potential clients is an absolute necessity.
  • Do I have the time? This is one of my big personal hold-ups with commissions. Working full-time puts a big damper in the number of commissions I’m able to take on at any given time, and it also impacts which costumes I can make for myself. If I have a deadline for a commission coming up around the same time as a con, then I’ll likely have to re-wear a costume, because client work comes first.

2. Pay yourself FAIRLY

Again, this is something I struggle with, but I’ve gotten better at over the years. Due to the rise in fast fashion, many people misinterpret the skill involved in sewing (and any form of custom work, honestly). The reality is that creating a custom piece will ALWAYS cost more than something you can find in an online costume shop.

Much like car or home repair, labor is often one of the largest expenses involved. I used to barely pay myself minimum wage when I first started, and I was miserable. I felt like I sacrificed all my time to creating things for other people, and when all was said and done, I’d barely made enough profit to make it worth my while. Pay yourself an amount that’s commiserate with your experience and skills to prevent this issue. I pay myself $12-15/hour these days, much to the dismay of my friends and SO. I feel like this is a fair price FOR ME since commissions are my extra play money and allow me to get crazy with my personal builds. Keep in mind: this is a low-ball charge compared to some folks who do commissions as their main source of income, so don’t be surprised if you see higher charges as you do research.

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This leotard was one of my first commissions, and a big learning curve in how to handle pricing! Cosplayer is Jade Cosplay. Photo by Tobious Cosplayious

To come up with a quote, I use the following formula: Cost of materials + Labor (Est. Hours x $12-15) = Final Quote charge (normally rounded down in favor of the client). When I get a quote request, my pricing process looks something like this:

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3. Talk to your clients

This is often one of the biggest frustrations I see with potential commissionees. They get everything set up and send off their money, only to never hear back from the commissioner or have minimal contact. Their deadlines roll around, and they’re in a panic, wondering if their costume will arrive in time. I’ve been in this situation before, and it SUCKS.

A quick message or post to let clients know what’s happening is so, so, so useful. Be honest and open about time frames and when you expect to work and ship so that clients have an idea of when to expect their items. For example, if someone’s at the bottom of my commission queue, I’ll let them know that I won’t be in touch/won’t have progress to show for at least so many weeks, or I’ll let clients know that if I have to order materials online, that they shouldn’t expect to get updates until at least a week or two after said materials have arrived.

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Saturn commission that I recently finished. I send clients updates anytime there’s visible progress to keep them up to date on progress. Normally this translates to updates every 1-2 weeks once a project has started.

4. …but don’t let them walk all over you

On the opposite end of the spectrum, clients messaging every single day is only a situation that should occur if the commissioner fails to deliver or ghosts. If a client harasses you for photos/progress, reiterate that you need time to work.

Likewise, stand your ground on your policies and pricing. People will always ask to bend things here or there. Every case is different, but at the end of the day, you have to stand up for yourself in order to make commissions an enjoyable (and profitable) experience.

5. Remember: Your name is attached to EVERYTHING YOU SAY/DO

Social media is both a blessing and a curse for commissions. If you do it well, it’s an easy way to market yourself and gain clients and followers. But at the same time, you have to be conscientious of your online presence. Insulting another cosplayer’s work, shaming (of any kind), or bullying are obviously huge no-nos (and key indicators that you’re a crap human being, let’s be honest). But there’s more to it than avoiding the obvious. You have to evaluate what your brand represents and how much information you’re willing to share. For example, I’m not comfortable sharing much of my personal life online, partially because I feel odd letting the whole world know what’s going on in my day-today, but also I don’t want to impact mine or my fiance’s day job (or future job hunting).

Think about what works for you and for the brand you’re trying to create. Individuals have a bit more flexibility than companies, but branding still requires conscientious curation.

6. Promote yourself

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Shadowcat Cosplay for Taffeta Darling of Fangirls of Dallas.

Again, this is another task I’ve struggled with in the past, but it’s a necessity to generate business. A lot of my promotion work happens at cons. I often wear nerd-inspired outfits on Fridays or Sundays (a.k.a. lazy con days), so any time someone comments on one of my outfits, I try to plug my name and distribute a business card. Most of my friends and family will do the same thing!

In addition to in-person marketing, online marketing is a must! There are lots of Facebook groups that put clients and commissionees in touch with one another in addition to standard social media marketing practices.

Here are a few groups to keep an eye out for:

7. Keep track of EVERYTHING

One of the most challenging components of commission work for me isn’t the creation of costumes. It’s the juggling work of keeping track of commission inquiries, where they’re coming from, and staying up to date with all the orders you need to make (not to mention deadlines). I get commission inquiries through all my social media platforms, as well as through e-mail and in-person chats. To keep myself organized, I keep track of all this information through Google Sheets and Trello.

Likewise, HOLD ON TO YOUR RECEIPTS, both digital and physical. Anytime I purchase anything related to my commissions or business, I put it in a bin just for tax related purposes. I also keep track of money via PayPal and Etsy’s shop setup. I definitely prefer spreadsheets as a way to keep track of money, so I make sure to go through all my receipts as meticulously as possible so that my headache isn’t so severe when tax season rolls around.

My workflow looks something like this:

  • Client reaches out to me for quote, and I make a note of the client, along with where they asked and other relevant information in a Google Sheet.
  • Once the client has agreed to terms, payment, and details, I send them a commission agreement form with fields for measurements and shipping information.
  • After the client has sent me their down payment, I begin ordering materials and starting on their piece.

I use Trello to organize out individual tasks for each commission, since it’s easy to drag and drop checklist items when they’re completed.

8. Even if you’re not organized, GET ORGANIZED

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Sailor Chibi Chibi for Charming Darling. I completely misplaced the original gloves I bought for this commission, so I had to replace them. Derp.

This ties back in with point number 7. Again, I’m awful at this, but commissions have forced me to get better. There’s nothing worse than needing to work on a commission, only to realize that you’ve misplaced supplies. It’s an obnoxious hold-up and can cut into your profits.

I’m in the process of setting up a new storage unit in my craft room that doubles as a quick pressing station. It is only for commissions and business related purposes, so I won’t have to rummage through my other bins and storage units to find what I need. Knowing where everything is supposed to go will save you time and stress!

9. Have fail safes in place

Shit happens. Your sewing machine breaks. The fabric that’s perfect for a commission is out of stock. You (or a loved one) have serious health issues. Having back-ups will help you keep your sanity as you work on projects when shit hits the fan. I build extra time into my commission quotes for this reason so that clients are pleasantly surprised when their items get to them early, rather than infuriated when items are shipped to them months late.

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Negasonic Teenage Warhead bodysuit for Callula Cosplay (logos by her). Photo by Gear Owl Photography. Good grief this costume was an exercise in patience since EVERYTHING WENT WRONG. Thankfully, we got everything worked out and Dana looks awesome as Negasonic!

10. Take time for yourself

Burnout is a real thing with commissions. It’s easy to take commission after commission, and then realize you haven’t made something for yourself in six months. It’s okay to close up shop for a while and take time to work on things for you. In fact, you should do this every now and then to recharge your creative batteries. Your work will be better for it!

Have you commissioned costume pieces before? What was your experience like? 

Skirt

I’m very excited to share a new tutorial with all of you! The Cosmic Coterie crew and I are super close to being finished with our Supers upgrades for ANT, and we also managed to get two tutorials published today. The one linked here is on how we construct our skirts, since that’s one of the topics we get the most questions on.

I hope you find this helpful! If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me or Cosmic Coterie!

Materials Needed: 2.5 yds matte bridal satin Contrasting thread for basting Matching thread for hem Measuring tape Tailor’s chalk Optional: 7 yds 1/2″ horsehair braid Draft 2 full circl…

Source: Skirt

Bows Tutorial – Cosmic Coterie

Big news to share! I’ve been working with the Cosmic Coterie on creating a comprehensive fuku tutorial. We’re releasing it in increments over the next several weeks, and the first one up is our bow process! I digitized all of our patterns to take the guesswork out of creating these.

You can check out the full bow tutorial by clicking the link below. I hope you guys find this helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or Cosmic Coterie!

Major credits go out to SparklePipsi. Her patterns and process gave us lots of ideas on how to tackle ours!

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Sailor senshi bow tutorial

via Bows —

Costume Notes: Super Sailor Chibi Moon

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All photos by Ash Snap ’em

Completed: August 2016

Hours Spent: About 40 hours

Debuted: AnimeFest 2016

Why This Costume: This was a Cosmic Coterie group effort to complete Super ChibiMoon for the lovely PockyPants! ChibiMoon is her favorite character, so when we had a chance to do some recasting, we decided that she should get a new fuku!

 How I made it: Since this is Yet Another Fuku (sorry in advance, but MORE ARE COMING!), I’m going to focus more on the elements that made Super ChibiMoon a challenge and set her apart from a standard fuku.
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Pro-tip: the gold roll is slightly smaller than the white one, so I used the largest and 2nd largest cording available at my local Jo-Ann’s as appropriate (I believe it was 1″ and 22/32). we also used the smaller cording for the glove rolls! Saturn is Pocket Sized Cosplay

One of the main differences Super Moon and ChibiMoon have compared to the other senshi is the double hip rolls. A single hip rolls is ALWAYS a challenge to get clean (especially when you work with foam), but the double approach added yet another wrinkle. With our Super Moon, we originally went with the same foam we used for the rest of the senshi, but it was literally impossible to sew by machine, and still an insane challenge to sew by hand. I pricked myself sooooooo many times. My thimble was a lifesaver!

To make life a little easier for myself this time around, I picked up some upholstery piping, covered it in a layer of quilt batting so that the ridges wouldn’t show through the spandex, and then covered the whole thing in gold and white spandex. To create the tapered points, I cut the ends of the piping at an angle and covered them with tape since this piping frays like the devil. Once both sets of rolls were complete, I hand basted them together, then basted them to the leotard. While I could get the hip roll combo through the machine, I ultimately opted to hand stitch it to get as close to the roll as possible and finished up the interior edges with my serger for durability.
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PockyPants’s husband, Mask Props, airbrushed the skirt and collar pieces I cut. This skirt proved an interesting challenge in terms of the hem. With circle skirts, you’re supposed to let them hang to allow the bias to stretch out (which we did prior to painting), then level the hem and finish it. Since we had to paint the skirt prior to sewing it, I had to take length off of the top of the skirt rather than the bottom while also making sure the gradient looked consistent. It’s definitely a challenge, and I still see spots that I’d like to go back and fix before our next group wear, along with the hem for our Super Moon.
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 Another issue we addressed with ChibiMoon is the paint on the collar. Our Super Moon’s collar paint bled horribly on her chest armor after a full day of wear at A-Kon. Fortunately, we got most of it out, but to help prevent that issue with ChibiMoon, we hit it with a few layers of Scotch Guard. So far it’s held up pretty well!
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I’m particularly pleased with ChibiMoon’s butt bow. We took our standard butt bow pattern and enlarged it by about 30%, and I also drafted the cascading tails. I picked up the same mirror organza we used for Super Moon and used French seams for durability. Super Moon’s butt bow utilized serged seams, and unfortunately the opalescence of the fabric shows all the overlock threads. A French seam this time around resulted in a much prettier and stronger finish! Can’t wait to get on a making one for Super Moon as well 🙂
We also wanted to take advantage of the sheer nature of the fabric to match the manga artwork, so we took a cue from Ohheyabear Cosplay and lined the bow with a thick vinyl. The result is lovely, albeit heavy, so it tends to droop throughout the day. Mask Props is going to rig us a clear U shape device to support the weight of the bow for next time.
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Couldn’t resist adding this one. Moon is Dani Peddington Cosplay!
 Thoughts on this build: All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out! I’m so happy I could help PockyPants embody her favorite version of her favorite character. There are some fit tweaks I want to make for next time, and I can’t wait to document those for an upcoming sailor fuku tutorial I’m working on with the Cosmic Coterie girls!
Which senshi form is your favorite (classic, Super, Eternal, etc.)?