Concept art for Le Rouge/Le Noir
Last Updated: 03-14-2014
I love the artwork from Granado Espada/Sword of the New World/Sword 2/whateverit'scallednow and after browsing through all the costumes, I eventually settled on this one. Just to be awkward, it seems to be concept art for Le Rouge (formerly Le Noir) female fighter costume, but I prefer it over the final in-game version. I still referred to the in-game costume for ideas for the back etc. but I primarily stuck to the artwork alone. I rushed to finish this in time for AmeCon 2012 and need to fix it up properly, but I was pleased to get it wearable.
The skirt has a white polycotton layer underneath - a simple gathered rectangle with a roll-hemmed ruffle at the hem. I also wore the circular petticoat from my Alice Elliot costume which is made from the same fabric. The next skirt layer is a gathered rectangle of gold satin, the less-shiny reverse side up since I tend to prefer more matte fabrics. Where it’s visible in the gaps between the topmost panels, I put in narrow pleats to make the gathering more prominent. The uppermost panels are dupioni silk. I applied black and brown suedette and sewed on the bias binding by hand for an invisible finish. I made the bias tape from the same satin as the skirt (about 25m of the stuff on the whole costume), but using the shiny side facing up for a little bit of a contrast. The centre gold diamond shape is appliquéd. Until I looked closely, I thought the brown parts were a belt on top of the skirt, but they’re split across the panels too, so I had to sew on the brown suedette before applying the bias tape and make sure it all lined up. The brown sections are topstitched in gold thread. I made the back of the skirt identical to the front, since I had nothing else to go on. It’s finished with a waistband and given all the layers of fabric, the closure is a simple overlapping placket which lets me keep the layers separate.
I used Butterick 6195 for the bodice and made a mock-up in black cotton drill which I adapted to match the design. Although the bodice looks as though it's meant to fasten at the front, I decided having a closure there would be too complicated with all the cord in the way so the actual closure is lacing down the back. At the centre front I have a small strip of white fabric joining the two halves which hopefully blends into the shirt underneath and makes it look like it’s magically sitting in place. The mock-up worked out well so I was able to use it as the lining, then there's a layer of coutil for support and the outer fabric is the suedette used elsewhere on the costume. I inserted flat steel boning between the coutil and lining, ensuring no stitching showed on the outside. I made gold piping to insert into the seams and made the designs at the waist using the gold satin and bias binding, applied by hand. The other decoration is gold cord, studs and turquoise earrings which were a lucky find in Claire's Accessories.
For the gold trim at the edges of the bodice, I made paper templates, drew out the design then traced it on to Ultra Solvy water soluble stabiliser. I sandwiched quilt wadding between two layers of gold satin, laid the Solvy over it and sewed over it following the lines of the design. The edges are finished with bias tape and sewn to the bodice, all finished to look as seamless as possible by stitching in the ditch.
I bought a strapless bra and altered the centre front a bit, adding piping and gathering up netting to make the ruffles. I decided for the parts of the white undershirt which show, it'd be best take it in sections rather than make a whole shirt thing and try to get it to sit correctly. I rolled hemmed and gathered fabric then experimented with draping it, and finally hand sewed the pieces to the bra and the lining of the bodice. The bodice is also hand sewn to the bra to keep the front opening in place.
I made a basic high-collared top from the black suedette as a base to attach the sleeves/armour/cape to. It fastens with a separating zip down the back. There’s gathered white polycotton sewn under the arms which tucks into the bodice. For the beading at the sides of the neck, I drew out the designs on to my good friend Solvy, pinned that in place and beaded over it using gold, blue and brown seed beads. I mirrored the design for the back which you can't see in the reference.
The sleeves were far more time-consuming than I expected. The black top sections have gold quilted sections done the same way as on the bodice. For the diamond shaped sections, I needed to ensure the pieces were lined which was a little tricky with the quilt wadding in there. I had to make the ribbed white fabric which took forever sewing in allllll the seams. Adding on the black band and all the gold bias tape took quite a while as well since I was continuing to finish the binding without topstitching in various ways - either by hand, stitching in the ditch, sewing it right sides together as an insert between two sections, or when all else failed, wundaweb. The gold ruffle at the hem was applied by hand. The sleeves are sewn to the top at the shoulder, but I ended up making them half sleeves, so there’s a gap under my arms to help with manoeuvrability – every little helps, especially with the ridiculous armour design.
For the armour, I cut two layers of craft foam at once to make sure they were identical, and cut the raised trim at the edges from the second layer. This was really fiddly for the finer detail on the middle piece, but I think it was worth the effort. I used black netting for the zigzags around the heart opening and strung together the beads. For those ridiculous boob antlers, I used Wonderflex since I needed something a bit more rigid than foam. I experimented with the shape to get something that I could attach to the top and have it stay in place fairly securely. Rather than spending ages smoothing the surface out, I stuck craft foam over it which also gives it more of the thickness as shown in the artwork. I inserted grommets to thread the cord though which connects to the cape. The armour was all spray painted silver then antiqued with black acrylic. The front of the top was cut to shape and hemmed to allow for the armour layout, then the armour is all hot glued on.
The cape is a simple half-circle made from a double-layer of white polycotton, lined with silver. There's gold trim at the hem and I painted a design on the back which I took from the in-game references. I put in grommets to thread through the silver cord from the armour at the front, but it's really secured with snaps.
I chose a thick white stretch jersey for the stockings and blue jersey for the lower sections. There are net stockings sewn on top of the blue parts and the purple ribbon is hand sewn in place. I couldn’t find any suitable ribbon, so painted some pink taffeta ribbon I had with acrylic. The detail at the tops is black suedette, gold bias binding and the zig-zags are cut from felt, backed with fine black netting to keep the triangular cutouts in place. I’ve sewn in the tops from a pair of hold-ups which mostly kept the stockings up – so long as I wasn’t wearing tights. The gold designs for the front were sketched out, traced on to the fabric in water soluble pen then painted with gold fabric paint, a fabric pen to help with the finer lines and add in a different shade of gold, and a brown permanent marker. The black garter is black stretch suedette sewn to a hold-up stocking top, with tightly gathered black netting at the edges.
I found a pair of knee high boots with a suitable heel on ebay, painted the heels and visible parts of the soles gold, cut them to shape and made covers from them from the black suedette. There's gold piping where the covers meet the sole and the covers are glued on to the base boots with Shoe Goo. The left boot has a strap at the ankle made from interfaced gold satin trimmed with bias binding and the rest is all strings of gold seed beads which took forever to string together. I was able to find circular buckles which I painted gold. For the gold tops, I made a quilted section from the gold satin. I transferred the painted design on the fronts by pricking and pouncing and had to do several coats of paint to get it to show up on the black fabric nicely.
I bought a pair of black suede gloves and made a section of black suedette lined with coutil to extend them into the right shape and figured out the appropriate seams to allow me to insert gold piping. Then there's bias binding for the trim and some gold studs. I used white polycotton for the rows of ruffles.
The wig is from Wigfashion on ebay.
The staff in some of my photos has absolutely nothing to do with Granado Espada; it's Zomboi's Loki staff (you can see his costume here: http://cosplayisland.co.uk/costume/view/61868) which I borrowed on the basis that it matched my costume and a prop doesn't go wrong. Worked out well - it's amazing how few people recognised it when it was taken out of context!
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