I first made this costume way back in 2006, chosen simply because I love Hyung Tae-Kim's art and yellow's my favourite colour!
Ye olde first costume:
My original costume was an altered black shirt from a charity shop – I cut off the sleeves and replaced the front with yellow fabric etc. Unfortunately, the only suitable yellow fabric I could find wasn't great and wrinkled like crazy. I dyed bias binding to match, which worked out really nicely. To make sure absolutely everything matched, I even made the shoelaces from the same bias tape! I decided on a yellow zip for the front of the shirt, but couldn’t find a separating one in the right colour, which wasn’t ideal. The stripes were white ribbon carefully sewn on. I sewed a lot of the yellow trim by hand so it was as neat as possible and looked seamless. The sleeves were the reverse, matte side of some thick satin. The crests were t-shirt transfers ironed on. I picked a random Latin motto to go on it since it’s impossible to decipher in the references. The tights were an ordinary pair with one leg cut short. I used the same t-shirt transfer method for the crest. Since tights have to stretch a lot I wasn’t sure if it would work, but by stretching the leg over the ironing board to iron on the design, it meant the image doesn’t warp when the tights are worn. The skirt was the first pleated skirt I ever attempted. I used a small amount of netting underneath for slight puffiness, and the lace is attached to it too, which saved me having to make multiple underskirts. Gloves were a normal leather pair with the fingers shortened by hand. I tried to hem them in a “v” shape but it didn’t go too well. The sword was adapted from a £ shop plastic one, and I added a cardboard hilt. It was surprisingly awkward – I had to layer the section of card and make sure they all matched up. The detail was pressed in before painting. I couldn’t make the “mesh” section because of the existing hilt on the sword, but otherwise it’s fairly accurate. The wig was challenging since it was my first time attempting a back-part, as well as styling those buns and using super-long extensions for the braids. I started with a wig from edengardenhk on ebay, cut in the short pieces at the front and pulled it into ponytails. I sewed in extensions for the parting and heat sealed the ends by melting them with an iron. The buns are extensions and the spare fibre from the ponytails wrapped around styrofoam shapes. The braids neatly hide the join between the buns and the wig. Lots of hand sewing to attach everything. I sculpted the hair beads from air-drying clay and glued them on to the braids.
It was mostly the wig that meant I’d stopped wearing this costume, since it was slowly dying and I knew I could do a far better styling job now. Like with so many old costumes though, when I looked at it again, I just wanted to remake the whole thing, so I did exactly that.
I used black cotton drill and miraculously found yellow drill! However, the yellow was a little pale, so I ended up dyeing it anyway. I also chose to dye some trim yellow rather than try making it. On my first attempt at this costume, I’d found bias tape which was almost the same shade of yellow as my fabric and got it to match precisely with a quick hand-dyeing job. It was handy having pre-made trim, but bias tape wasn’t easy to work with for some of the designs, always having to make sure the raw edges were tucked under. Going the same route again or making my own trim would mean I’d be stuck with this folding-the-raw-edges-under problem while trying to make those fiddly designs. I happened to spot white cotton tape in John Lewis, basically just dyeable matte ribbon, so decided to try that instead. I used a couple of widths and dyed it along with my fabric in the washing machine using Dylon’s machine dye. I ended up having to use more dye in the sink to get the tape to match my fabric exactly, but I got there in the end.
I made the skirt and petticoat first so that I could fit the flare of the top over it. The skirt is a simple rectangle which I box pleated. I overlocked the edges, hemmed it and sewed on the yellow trim before pleating. I used a cardboard jig help with ironing in the pleats evenly. It fastens with a zip than a hook and bar at the waistband.
I chose to make a petticoat specifically for this costume because I wanted to have the lace attached to an underskirt rather than the pleated skirt, and if I was making some sort of underlayer, it might as well serve a purpose and add the necessary puff to the skirt. I already had some lengths of gathered netting leftover from my Alice petticoat experiments, so rather than figure out some suitable measurements for the petticoat beforehand, I just started with the length of netting I had, using it as the bottom tier of my petticoat, and found I had to keep reducing the volume until I had some sort of sensible sized skirt. Long way round for a shortcut. The top tier is a bit less than twice my waist measurement and is gathered with an elastic waistband. The lower tier had been gathered with my overlocker, I can’t remember to what extent, but it would be about half to a third of its length. Using netting I already had just made more work for myself really, I decided the net was annoyingly scratchy, so used an underlayer of some softer tulle and I also ended up putting a layer of that on top of the petticoat and it’s to this that the lace trim is sewn. There are two rows of lace – one taken from my original costume (I can tell from the length of lace that this that my new skirt has double the volume of my last one!) and the second row is some new lace.
The pattern for my top was an old M&S shirt which I took in a bit and drew on different seam lines before taking it apart. I assembled it in the final fabrics, cutting the pieces longer than they needed to be, and sorting out the hem once I could try it on over the skirt. I also used the shirt to help with my collar pattern. The collar is interfaced and all raw edges on the top are overlocked. I couldn’t find a suitable separating zip, so I stuck with the annoying close-ended zip from my first top and just have to pull the top on and off over my head. The black and white striped section is made from lengths of the same white cotton tape I’d dyed for the yellow trim – it wasn’t too bad lining them up precisely, but it still took a fair bit of care. The buttons are reused from my first costume. Sewing on the yellow trim at the sides and on the collar took a lot of patience, especially given the nature of the designs at the sides. I did a lot of hand stitching before topstitching by machine. The trim around the armscyes has a seam sewn down its centre, then I resorted to making the line more obvious with a pen. The ascot is a couple of layers of white polycotton and is tied so that I can loosen it enough to pull over my head, meaning I don’t need to perfect the knot each time I wear the costume. The sleeves have a sleeve stay then the puffed section on top – they’re also all polycotton. I printed off the same t-shirt transfers I’d made from my first costume. I did want to try appliquéing on the designs this time to give more of an impression of an embroidered patch, but I was short on time so took the easy route again. Plus the transfers were still the best option for the tights, so it makes sense to have the sleeves match. I had to use a new pair of tights since I’d lost the original pair. I just cut one leg off and used a t-shirt transfer for the design as before. I used the same pair of shoes but replaced the yellow fabric and made new shoelaces with my new trim.
I also used the same gloves, just replacing the lace and redoing the detail around the short finger sections. I made separate overlapping lined pieces from leatherette, doing the decorative stitching by machine while it was flat, then sewing them into tubes and hand sewing them to the gloves. They were really awkward to figure out and ended up fairly bulky, but I think that's reasonably accurate.
I went back to the sword, which began life as a plastic £ shop toy. The original decorative hilt made from card wasn’t entirely accurate and was a bit worse for wear. I redid it using foamboard for the largest layer and craft foam for the successive parts. It was primed with layers of PVA and detail was pressed in with a pen before painting. I’d missed out the filigree section before since it seemed too fiddly and would mean cutting away part of the plastic hilt already on the sword. I persevered this time and removed the hilt using a hacksaw then made the filigree part from card. It's not ideal since it's a bit flimsy, but it needed to be thin enough to easily cut out all the intricate shapes. I used a hole punch and a compass point and the rest was all scalpel work and a bit of sandpaper to try to even out some of the edges. To strengthen this piece, I varnished the heck out of it and since the sword has since survived a fall from a first-floor balcony (oops), I think I was pretty successful in making it resilient!
The wig is the Chibi style from Arda Wigs. I trimmed the fringe and short front pieces and stubbed the ponytails on the wig using hot glue. I used styrofoam ball halves as the base for the buns, painted them black in case any of the foam showed through, then covered them in hair using the ponytails I'd cut off the wig. I made a hole in the top of each bun to pull the hair through and then hot glued it down, hairspraying as I went. After the foam was all covered, I added extra pieces of hair to make the woven/overlapping pattern of strands on top. These also hide the dimple on the top of the bun where all the fibre was first pulled through. The buns are glued over the stubs on the wig. I bought a pack of loose extensions from I Kick Shins for the braids and sewed then in place.
For the cylindrical hair beads I used Chapstick tubes which were hacksawed a bit shorter and sanded. They were painted orange with acrylic and the design drawn on with permanent marker. The silver parts are shiny silver card which I rolled up and stuck inside the Chapstick tubes. I then painted shank buttons silver and glued them into the ends of the tubes and also stuck on a silver bead to the end. The silver beads on the ends of the braids are made from wooden drawer handles which my dad sawed up for me and glued together to make the correct shape. It also took quite a bit of drilling to make large enough holes to thread them on to the braids.
3rd Place Anime/Video Games Category at London Expo May 2006 (Saturday)