Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chie Satonaka Jacket Walkthrough

So I recently fell in love with Persona 4 (the anime; I sadly don't have time to play the game. This is the price of vet school). Chie and Kanji are probably my favourite characters. I decided that it would be fun to make Chie's costume. A lot of my costumes are quite elaborate, and I wanted a simple, comfy costume in my collection. 
I also decided to try to use recycled materials where possible. 

To this end, I went to several thrift shops to look for ideal materials to make Chie's jacket.  I settled on a men's sweater, and these two t-shirts. The sweater forms the base of the jacket, and the t-shirts are for trim and other little details. 
I thought I'd share my process with you, so here we go!

The Jacket
1) Planning: Before you pick up your scissors, study the objects you've bought, and see how you can piece them together to make your costume. I had a plan in mind before I bought my materials, but it's good to adjust your plan once you actually buy your materials. The sweater I bought had a v-neck, and was very loose, so I knew that I'd need to take it in and remove the v-neck. I also knew that I would need to remove the sleeves to add the stripes and change the cuffs.
2) Deconstruction: Once you've had a good think and decided on your plan of action, you can start deconstructing your pieces as needed. I cut off the sleeves, and removed the cuffs. I put the sweater on a dress for (though if you have a friend to help you, you probably don't need a dress form), and took in the sweater, pinching and pinning the excess fabric. I measured and checked that my line was even, and I slowly cut away the extra material.  
3) I decided to use the extra material to make the collar. In hindsight, I should have waited until I had more extra material, because my collar was a little short. 
i. Take you excess material (cut from the front of the sweater in my case) and lay it out
ii. Cut out strips of material. I made mine 2.5cm wide (+seam allowance).
iii. Sew them together. I used a sewing machine and used a small zigzag stitch. Sew lots of these pieces together: it's better to have too many and to cut the collar to size later. 
iv. Once you've got a nice big piece, measure  and cut another piece of material that is the same width and length as your sewn-together strip. I used the green t-shirt material: it will be hidden when the jacket is done so it doesn't matter too much.
v. Turn your tube of material right side out: you now have the basic collar done. 

4) Before I attached the collar, I decided to create the light green design on the front of the jacket. I used masking tape and chalk to map out the position of the patch. Once it looked right, I carefully peeled off the masking tape and stuck it to some paper to make a template. I added seam allowance and copied it on to my fabric. I also drew the template on to the jacket and cut out that material (leave seam allowances!). I used my overlock machine to sew on the light green fabric, but a sewing machine would work just as well. 
5) The Collar: I pinned on the collar and sewed it on. You can use a zigzag stitch or an overlock for this part. 

6) Time for bias tape. To make this, I drew lines at 45 degree on the yellow t-shirt fabric. I cut long strips. Make them a little bit wide, just in case. Then I fold over the edges and ironed them over. Ta da, bias tape!

7) Now let's sew on the bias tape. It will be used as trim for the front of the jacket and on the sleeves. Open up the bias tape, and face it right sides together with the jacket along the front edges. Pin it down and sew it on. Then I folded the bias tape over the edges, and hand stitched it down using a slip stitch. Sew up the sleeve and turn it right sides out. Once I was done, I ironed the edges to make it look crisp and neat. 
8) Sewing the bias tape on to the sleeves was a little more difficult. If I had to do this again, I would get hold of some hem tape or good fabric glue and stick the tape down first to stop it from sliding about. Firstly, I found the centre of the sleeves, and marked out where I wanted to put the yellow stripes, using chalk and a long rules. I then pinned the stripes in places and carefully sewed along the edges of each stripe. Once the stripes were sewn on, I sewed on the cuffs.

 9) The stripes on Chie's jacket also extend to the shoulders. To help measure out their position, I pinned the sleeve to the arm-scye, then pinned the bias tape on to the shoulder. You can get an idea of how well the stripes match up by pinning the rest of the sleeves in place. Once you are happy with how it looks, you can pin on the sleeve properly and sew it on. The seams may be a bit bulky, so go slowly as you sew.

10) The jacket is almost done. The only thing left is to add the zip. This took some time for me, as I had difficulty getting both sides to match perfectly. Take your time with this. Baste or pin the zip in place. Once everything looks good, carefully sew on the zip. I had to seam rip one section of the zip because the alignment was off. The zip was also a little too short, so I added a velcro closure to the collar. 

Congrats, you've finished your jacket. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Walkthrough: Punk! Usagi

The photos from February's shoot are in. Credit to Simon Spiteri Photography and Glen Taylor for their fantastic work. Check them out!

This costume is based on a drawing I did of Usagi from Sailor Moon, dressed in a punk style outfit. 

I don't think I sewed anything from scratch: everything was either taken from my wardrobe or modified.

The Denim Waistcoat

 Initially I bought a denim waistcoat and tried to bleach it. I failed spectacularly, because I could not get the colour to shift. I submerged it on bleach, I tried applying bleach directly, I put it in the washing machine with bleach, I even tried soaking it in salt water. Nothing. 
Instead, I bought a light blue denim jacket and cut off the sleeves. I designed the patch using watercolours and photoshop. I printed the final design on to t-shirt transfer paper, and transfered the design to a piece of fabric. I cut out the patch and stitiched it to the back of the waistcoat. For decoration I added metal studs, and my boyfriend let me use some of his badges and pins. I also made a pin from an old bottle cap

You can buy prints, t-shirts and more with this design on my Redbubble  

The T-Shirt
Initially I had another t-shirt for this costume. I took a white t-shirt and dyed the top part red, and added eyelets and lacing to the sleeves. Unfortunately, the dye ran in the wash and turned the t-shirt orange. 
The shirt began as a plain white t-shirt. I drew the letters on with a permanent marker, tracing each letter carefully. A textile marker would be better, as permanent marker sometimes blurs in the wash. Instead of messing around with dye, I bought spray fabric paint. It has a liquid consistency, and behaves a bit like dye. It takes some practise to use, but I like the result. 

 The Bat
The bat is made from foam: the original wooden bat was unfortunately confiscated at the airport :( I cut up a camping mat and used a bamboo stick for the core of the bat. I painted it with acrylic paints, and wrapped the handle in duct tape. I also used a small piece of styrofoam to shape the end of the handle.
My cat would make a brilliant Luna, but I don't think he'd appreciate having to wake up for a photoshoot
The Wig and Accessories
The choker is a piece of ribbon, with a sequin cut into a moon shape. It closes with a snap. The shoes, gloves, earrings, tights, and shorts are all from my wardrobe.  The wig is from Coscraft: it's lovely, but as with all long wigs it tangles easily.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sansa Stark Direwolf Dress: The Dress

I had a week-long holiday and decided to work on a few sewing projects: a backpack, and Sansa's direwolf dress from Season 6 of "Game of Thrones". I love this costume, partly because it is beautiful yet deceptively simple, and partly because of how it shows Sansa's character development. 

I happened to have a wig from The Five Wits that was ideal for this costume (, and a pattern that would work well for the base dress (McCall's M4491). 
I found a stretch velvet in the costume section. It isn't accurate: it's more dark green than teal, and has a subtle scale print. But I liked the colour and it was affordable. I bought 5 metres for about Euro 25.90. Side note, apologies for the photo quality. I used my phone, and the lighting wasn't very good. 
I started by laying out the material and cutting out all of the pieces. I altered the back piece to have a train. I ironed interfacing on to the seams to make it easier to sew, and sewed the front-side and back-side seams, leaving the side seams open. I finished the neckline using elastic because initially I wanted to pull the dress on over my head (though now I think I'll add a zip).
Next I started making the bib. I patterned it by drawing the shape of the front piece, then using the McCall pattern to make straps that go under my arms. In hindsight, I think the bib might have looked a little better if it were slightly longer. The bib has a zip in the back, but honestly the zip looks really ugly. I'd prefer to add a seam to the back of the dress, tack the seams of the bib to it, and add a zip to close both of them. For now I think my plait will hide the zip.
You can see that the zip is uneven here. Urgh. Not my best sewing :(  
 I had a basic sleeve pattern for the upper sleeve. I drafted the lower sleeve using this blog post as a guide 
I sewed on the sleeves, and sewed up the side seams (I added a hidden side pocket on one side). I had just enough time to hem the sleeves by hand. The dress still needs hemming, but I think I'll need someone to help me with that. I found the fur scarf in a thrift shop. I need to open up the scarf and sew the sides to mimic Sansa's fox fur. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Costume Thoughts: Alice through the Looking Glass

I often choose a costume just because I like the way it looks; probably just as often as choosing to make costumes because I like the character. Sometimes a costume is just so interesting that I want to try my hand at recreating it. Such is the case for Alice's costume in "Alice: Through the Looking Glass". The first film, in my opinion, was a little disappointing. I have yet to see the sequel, but the plot sounds strange yet dull (not a good combination for an Alice-inspired story)
But Colleen Atwood came back to do the costumes, and I think they are gorgeous. My favourite is Alice's Mandarin inspired costume.

I have no ideal why I like it so much. I don't normally like these colours separately, and I never thought I would like them together, but it works so well. Colleen Atwood you genius!
In the film, Alice says her outfit is inspired by the Dowager Empress of China; makes sense, since in the last film we saw Alice setting off for China to expand her family company's trading routes. It features a purple blouse with a Mandarin collar, a decorative collar, wide-legged trousers reminiscent of hakama or hanbok, and boots.

The Blouse
Alice's blouse has lots of interesting details. It seems to have a Mandarin collar and slight puff sleeves: there's a seam on the sleeve, so I think there's a puff sleeve sewn to the lower sleeve, 
According to Colleen Atwood, the costume department embroidered the purple silk themselves with a design including rabbits and little hats. A purple brocade would work very well, unless you have the time and skill to embroider (or print) metres of silk. 
The blouse is covered with beautiful floral embroidery. There's also red piping along some of the seams, and red buttons on the upper sleeves. 
The way the blouse closes reminds me of a Cheongsam, closing on one side along the collar bone. The blouse might tie shut with ribbons, because in the picture below you can see a red ribbon hanging down on Alice's blouse.  
Alice seems to be wearing an orange shirt under the purple blouse: you can see it through the slits at the waist and sleeves of the purple blouse. In some shots the orange shirt seems to have pleated details on the sleeves and near the waist.

The Collar
 Initially Alice wears this beautiful ornate collar with this costume, though there are some scenes where she isn't wearing it. 
Colleen Atwood made the collar from leather and fabric, with gold pieces that apparently came from inexpensive Indonesian wedding crowns. 
You could probably make this collar from leather, vinyl, or craft foam (not many Indonesian wedding crowns in my part of the world, so I'll be using one or more of these materials)

The Trousers

According to Colleen Attwood, Alice only wears trousers in the film, though many are disguised as skirts. The trousers are supposed to be more practical. This pair remind me of Hakama.
  The trousers seem to be made of emerald green material, probably silk, with golden yellow stripes. They are pleated, and decorated with a wide purple and red trim at the hem.

The pleats are a little more obvious in these exhibition pictures. They look like box pleats to me. 

The boots
Alice wears some very comfortable looking boots. I think the colour scheme is a call back to her shoes in the first film:
I think the boots are inspired by traditional Chinese boots. They might be made of canvas, but I'm no expert of shoes.