Fruits Basket is one of my favorite series and I particularly liked Ayame's Golden Week outfit in the manga. The idea of cosplaying Ayame appealed to me because he runs a costume shop. Plus, he embroiders! ^_^ (Cross stitch and other forms of needlework were a major hobby for me prior to cosplay.) His antics also amuse me and I'm planning to make another of his manga outfits in the future.
General: Despite usually being associated with red because of his anime costume, I decided to make my Ayame costume in black because I chose a manga outfit that was completely shaded in and did not appear in the anime. Since Ayame is such a flamboyant character, I selected a tone on tone brocade rather than a plain black for the main fabric of the coat and a silvery white brocade for the trim. I also chose to use beading to create the circular designs on the trim.
Although it was not possible to completely match the designs up from piece to piece, I did take care to cut the black brocade so that the horizontal bands of flowers would approximately line up on the finished garments.
Coat: The coat was made by altering a pattern for a men’s robe. I shortened the pattern so it would be ankle length on me and changed the shape of the collar slightly. I also created a new one piece sleeve that flared below the elbow to replace the fitted, two piece sleeve included with the pattern. The top and sleeves are lined while the seams in the coattails are finished with bias binding. The front of the coat closes with a length of hook and eye tape that goes from the neck down to knee level.
The appliqués were cut out and fused to the fabric before being machine stitched. Each appliqué was stitched multiple times, first a couple of times with gold-colored thread and then again with a metallic filament to add sparkle. Stitching the appliqués was a tedious process because my machine did not want to cooperate and kept skipping stitches despite all the adjustments I tried. (changes in tension, different needle sizes, new thread) It was rather irritating and the only solution I could find was to just stitch over areas repeatedly. -_-
After the coat was finished, beads were hand sewn to the 50 appliqués in circular clusters. Each cluster uses 25 beads for a total of 1,250 beads on the coat. The matte gold seed beads currently on the coat are a replacement set; I found that the original seed beads, which were shiny gold, had coatings that would chip and they started noticeably losing their color 3 months after I made the costume. (Ripping off and replacing them was not fun. Last time I’ll ever use shiny gold seed beads on a costume! ;_;) The gold cording along the front edges and collar of the coat were also sewn on by hand.
Skirt: The skirt was made using a commercial skirt pattern with some small alterations (reduced amount of flare). French seams were used and the skirt closes at the side with an invisible zipper and a hook and eye.
Wig: I purchased a wavy, bangless wig because it was the longest style available in white on the website where I ordered. I cut bangs into the wig, which was a new experience for me. I also needed to straighten the wig which turned out to be tougher than I expected. I tried the hot water method a few times and it helped reduce the amount of curl but didn't get the wave out completely. I later bought a straightening iron and used it to get most of the remaining curl out.
Shoe covers: This was my first attempt ever at making shoe covers and I started with a pair of Chinese cloth shoes. Since they were soft, I had to create a pattern by draping muslin around my foot while wearing one of the shoes. The pattern was cut out in brocade to match the coat and sewn before having a separately made appliqué fused to it. Beading and gold cord were added by hand. The bottom edges were finished with bias binding and glued to the base shoes.
Best of Friday Craftsman in the AnimeNext 2006 hall cosplay contest