GenCon2016 was a BLAST, and Cosplay on Saturday was fantastic. Here is an overview of how I constructed Anthony’s Sunny costume. This is in no way intended to be a tutorial, but should provide some tips for coming up with your own costumes by using existing patterns and a bit (OK a lot) of creativity.
When I am Frankenpatterning, I first start out by taking a look at the costume components and trying to break them down into small parts. I outlined how I went about choosing a few patterns as a base in my previous post.
When I begin, I take out the pattern that I am using as a base and typically draw all over the illustration on the inside. This gives me a visual idea of what I need to cut, and where I need to make alterations. In this design, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do, so it was relatively clean. When you open your pattern, you should study the pieces to get an idea who which ones you will be using. This also gives you an idea of how everything will go together. For Sunny’s jacket, I knew I needed the main breast of the jacket, and I knew the collar area in the front would fold over to create the mandarin-style jacket front (instead of folding it down to make a deep V shape). I also knew I would need the tail pieces. I discarded the accessories, pockets, and jackets I did not need. One thing to remember is that the pattern will come equipped with pattern pieces for ALL jackets. It is up to you to decide what you need.
Next, I cut out the pattern pieces for the parts I knew I needed. In this case, it was the breast (jacket), sleeves, collar, and tails. Remember to regard those notches…they are extremely important as they help you line up pieces later on.
I trace the patterns onto the fabric and cut. On the breast of this jacket, I knew I wanted the jacket to form more of a V shape at the waistline, and the jacket price was suited for a higher waist. You can place the cut pattern piece on your dress form (or model in my case) to see where it will hit. When selecting a size and cutting, remember that’s your pieces will be bigger than seemingly necessary. You need to account for hems, and it is always better to cut larger and trim down. It is much harder to add fabric to your design!
Follow the instructions in the pattern to assemble the jacket. This one was straightforward because it came with a Left and Right front and back pieces, which are typically sewn together at the shoulders after being stiched in the back to form a seam. With Sunny’s jacket, however, there are no seams on the shoulders! So, I added a bit of fabric to account for the folds I had to make (see below), and I cut the front and back pieces as a full Left and Right peice. I laid out the provided Left front and Left Back peices on the fabric at the seam to determine the size of the peice I needed to cut.
Now, this part was tricky. For the arms, Sunny’s coat has ridges that follow the armhole. This was a perfect example of how difficult it is thinking about a 3D shape (like a human) on a flat surface (like the floor). To determine how much extra fabric I needed, and in what shape to cut the armhole to allow me to made these modifications, I almost had to start “ripping” before I even cut. I envisioned what the coat would look like “undone”, and cut accordingly. Luckily, it worked out and I was able to made consistent ripples that left me with a shape that fit the measure of the [left front+left back] peice that I needed to complete the jacket to size. WHEW!
I figured that was a good time to have Anthony try on the new jacket…or at least what was done! Luckily, my modifications worked out, and it was beginning to take shape! You will see on the “ripples”, I stitched about 1/8″ topstitch to hold these in place. They are not hems, just decoration really. This stitch held these ripples in place.
It is a good idea to check frequently, even if it means sticking your model with a few pins (sorry Ant!). This helps you determine how much you need to trim down the product. In this case, I tailored the back quite a bit, to accommodate the difference in Anthony’s shoulder to waist ratio. Then, I stitched up the sides.
Next it was time for sleeves. Sleeves are another special challenge is you are not used to pattern design. The pattern calls for you to pin the right sides together, but the shapes are not identical for the inner and outer sleeves. This accommodates a 3 dimensional arm attached to a shoulder 🙂 Also, in this particular pattern, I also stitched in an allowance for elbow room, which allows the arm to bend without causing a bunch of fabric in the elbow crease.
Once I had the arms stitched, I duplicated the pattern for the lining, and slid the lining into the sleeve, wrong sides together. THEN, I slid the arm wrist first into the shoulder hole, with the jacket inside out. Effectively, the sleeve and the jacket hole should be right side together. It might help you visualize to get a jacket and tuck the sleeve inside. You will better I understand how this works. It is worth noting that this is a cosplay costume and not a “real” jacket, so I did not mind that the seam showed inside the coat. Make sure to line up the longest point of the sleeve with the middle of the shoulder.
Now, I pinned the heck out of this mess. You may have some puckering. Try to spread the sleeve out to fit the armhole. I had a bit more puckering because I had to abandon the pattern to accommodate the ripples on the shoulders, else it would have fit more nicely. If you do have puckering though, fear not. Just try to make the left and right sides as even as possible, including where any puckering lands.
Turn the jacket right side out, and it will look like a real coat! Topstitch your seams to make them lay nice and flat.
For the tails, I used the pattern, but ended up free-styling for the most part. I wanted to line these with a nicer deep red satin, and measured against Anthony to make sure they were the right length. The important part here is to make one giant peice that will be folder over to make the tail.
Stitch along the length and the bottom. You will turn these inside out and slide them up under the jacket and lining, then topstitch. For these tails, I wanted a front “facing” in leather, so I made the leather part a bit bigger than the satin. That way when I folder over, some leather showed on the front facing side.
I have a special place in my heart for top stitching. It makes everything look so clean!
Slide the tails up inside the lining, and create a hem by folding both the leather and lining under, the pinning. Stitch away!
Following the coat, I followed a similar process for the vest. This was pretty straightforward. I used a velour and an armory-looking leather from the cosplay section of Joann’s for the vest. These shoulders were seamed, but the sides were not stitched. Instead, I used eyelets and leather to bind the sides of the vest. I also created a binding for the armholes to give it a clean look!
That is pretty much it! I did create some belts and straps as accessories as well. The finished product came out looking GREAT! I will leave you with this comparison. Thank you for joining me on this adventure in Cosplay! For a walk through of how I created mine, visit my YouTube channel! This will also explain some of the techniques I mentioned in this post. Happy sewing!