Hi everyone, today we’re sharing details on our Holiday Senshi build, which we debuted at our Winter Retreat in December 2018. We toyed with the idea of making this build for several years, but we always put it off due to holiday scheduling. Life gets pretty crazy for all of us once November hits!
That said, last year we planned a big weekend retreat with one of our favorite photographers: Ash Snap’Em. We had a couple of group builds we wanted to shoot and decided that a big weekend to knock them out was the easiest way to get everything together! We ultimately settled on having our retreat in Grapevine, which claims the title of Christmas Capital of Texas! We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take pictures with all the gorgeous Christmas decor, especially at the Gaylord, which finally gave us the incentive to dive into these builds.
Main References and Initial Planning
Anyone who’s done planning for group builds knows that even simple builds require time for coordination, especially if you want to look cohesive and uniform! I started sourcing materials and doing research on these builds in late 2016, which helped jumpstart this process.
We knew we needed to keep things simple, partly as a matter of time (we had about two weeks to make these), and partly to make sure we were adhering to the silhouettes of the Petite Chara figures — our main reference for these builds.
The figures also dictated our fabric choice. These designs use very bright colors, which we loved, but we also didn’t want to use velvet in borderline neon colors. Instead, we opted to use neoprene, which holds its shape super well without additional notions and is also warm enough to brave winter weather (plus, it was under $10/yd compared to pricing for nice velvet).
Several lucky finds added to this build, including the faux fur we located at Jo-Ann’s! Koholint stumbled across silver-tinsel faux fur on Jo-Ann’s website, which was PERFECT for the look we had in mind. Whenever I went to the store to start grabbing fabric for the group, I spotted gold as well as silver, and we ultimately went with gold to tie all of our materials in together.
I experimented with a couple of my favorite knit dress patterns for this build to see what would work best for us. Initially, I planned on using the bodice of the Lady Skater dress, but the neckline was too low to work with this outfit once the bows and capelet were added.
After a bit of experimentation, we settled on using the Davie dress from Sewaholic – another one of my tried-and-true knit patterns. For these outfits, we lopped the dress off at the high hip and went with the sleeveless view. We removed the seam allowance from the front and back pieces and cut them on the fold of the fabric to eliminate the center seam.
While you technically could get away with leaving the neck and arms undone since they’re not seen with these builds, we opted to finish them off with bias tape (as the pattern recommends) to help stabilize the neckline and keep it from stretching out over time. We also used clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams.
We drafted full circle skirts for these dresses for that super magical girl look. Skirts were sewn directly to the bodice and finished at the hem with the faux fur. We all used big petticoats for lots of fluff!
We used a “wrap-around” approach for the faux fur to make it look extra fluffy. This process requires a bit of math to ensure that you get the most out of your faux fur and how fluffy you want your fur to look. In the case of the skirt, we decided that we wanted 2.5” of faux fur visible. This meant that we needed strips around 6.5-7” wide:
(2.5” on the visible side + ½” seam allowance on the right side of the skirt + 2.5” on the wrong side of the skirt + ½”-1” extra on the wrong side to accomodate for turn of cloth and catch for the top stitching).
Once the faux fur was cut, we attached it to the skirt using the following method:
Stitch the fur with right sides together to the hem of the dress. This requires some precision, pinning, and marking. Since we wanted 2.5” of faux fur visible, we measured up 2”, then pinned the faux fur strips in place. You may also want to mark your stitch line on the reverse side of the faux fur to ensure accurate stitching. Clip the seam allowance as necessary to prevent fabric buckling.
Fold the wrong side down and wrapped it under the wrong side of the skirt.
Pin the remaining portion of the fur on the wrong side of the skirt.
Top-stitched the faux fur from the right side of the skirt. We essentially used a “stitch in the ditch” approach, holding the faux fur taut and stitching right where the fur turns. When the dress is worn, this stitch is nearly invisible.
There are lots of great capelet patterns available out there (many for free!), but we chose to go with McCall’s 3033 since that’s what I had on hand. We made sure that the final length of the capelet on each person hit around the bottom of the bust to make sure we were all proportionate. The only real modification we made to this base pattern was opening the capelet up a bit at the center front so that it formed roughly a 45 degree angle. This was necessary so that the chest bow would be visible.
The bottom of the capelet was finished in exactly the same way as the skirt, but it was just a touch smaller in terms of width.
For the collar pieces, we drafted them from a single layer of faux fur since the curve of the neckline was much more extreme than the hems of the skirt and capelet. To draft a collar for a neckline, check out this tutorial from Colette Patterns.
Once we drafted our collars, we stitched them directly to the neckline on the right side of the fabric.The inside of the neckline was then finished it off with bias tape facing for a clean finish. After the bias tape was in place, we carefully zig-zag stitched around the bottom of the collar, pushing the pile out of the way while sewing. Once finished, you can hide the stitches by brushing the pile out of the stitches and smoothing it down.
The capelet attaches to the base dress with snaps at the neckline.
The hat required a surprising amount of trial and error to get proportions right. Ultimately, we settled on cutting two triangles with dimensions of 6.5” at the base and 8.5” tall and stitching them together with a ¼” seam allowance. We made bands out of faux fur that were 2.5” wide so that 1” of the fur would be visible once it was attached to the hat.
To keep the hats in place, we cut circles from Peltex and stitched them to the base of the hat, adding clips to the wig. We also tacked the hats so that they’d hold their fold.
The Petit Chara holiday outfits don’t have gloves, which seemed a little out of place to us. The Sailor Moon Drops designs does, which are very similar, but they’re white, which again seemed a little odd to us, so we took some artistic liberties. We decided to purchase wrist gloves in our characters’ respective colors from We Love Colors and add some detail for the cuffs for a little added touch.
The cuffs were a very quick piece: we just cut bands the length of our wrists plus a small fold-over for snaps. We covered top in gold bias tape. Koholint and AdventTraitor found some adorable bells, bows, and gold star buttons at their local Jo-Ann’s, so we added these for extra cute details.
Accessories and Details
One of the reasons we knew we could tackle these builds in such a short amount of time was due to the other accessories we had on hand! We re-used basic jewelry and accessories from our respective senshi, along with the bows, shoes, and tiaras (made by PockyPants).
Again, we had a couple of lucky finds when it came to the details. Koholint and AdventTraitor found a few adorable packs of holiday themed earrings. We also met up to go shopping at our local craft stores pick up holiday-themed props for our shoot.
All of the poms on these outfits were made from scrap pieces of fur. We cut small circles of fur out, then hand basted and gathered them around puff balls. The finished poms were attached to the hats and bodices.
These builds were so much fun to make and wear! We wound up doing a shoot with these costumes at midnight at the Gaylord, and it was an absolute blast (though we might have been delirious at that point. Who knows lol). Since the Gaylord was basically empty, we had our run of all the gorgeous decorations and shoot locations, though we still got stopped several times for photos! Hopefully we’ll have a chance to wear these again in 2019!
Be sure to check out our Builds page for more photos from this set!
Today we’re going to take a quick look into the undergarments we created to wear beneath our yukata. This is really more of an informative article on what you will need and how to wear them rather than a creation tutorial, but there are links to the tutorials we used to make them as well. These undergarments help create a smooth, clean shape for your yukata!
An Extremely Useful Guide for All Things Yukata
Firstly, I highly recommend purchasing The Yukata Handbook by Yasuda Takako. There are a lot of nuances to wearing yukata properly as well as ways to pair colors and create different moods with fabric choices.This book has such a wealth of information in that regard as well as a number of different ways to tie your obi, notes on different accessories and footwear as well as ways to care for and properly store your yukata. Definitely worth the purchase! There are also notes on how to wear your yukata beautifully that include recommended ways to sit, walk and drink tea while wearing your yukata, but we will delve into that in a different article!
Base & Undergarments
A Hadajuban and Susoyoke
To start, when wearing a yukata, you want to create a nice, smooth almost cylindrical shape, reducing the curves of the body. There are kimono bras available from Rakuten Global Market (https://global.rakuten.com/en/search/?l-id=rgm-search-cmnhead-en-sp&tl=&k=kimono+bra) to help de-emphasize the bust. Some come with additional pads that help shape the collar. There is also a garment called the hadajuban which is essentially your yukata ‘slip’. Alternatively, (as we did) you can wear a sports bra under a v-neck tee and snug fitting leggings to keep things nice and smooth. For these, it’s whatever you feel most comfortable in.
Over that, you can choose to wear a one piece hadajuban or a two piece hadajuban and susoyoke. We went for the two piece option. Either is fine, but we found that the two piece option is easier to adjust through the day. These undergarments help keep sweat and body oils away from the main fabric of the yukata, making it simpler to clean.
When worn, the hadajuban and susoyoke are crossed left over right just as the yukata are. These pieces close with bias tape straps that are tied in a simple bow or knot, and the ends tucked under to reduce bulk and help keep that smooth look..
Padding and Shaping
Hip Pad with an Adjustable Band and Hook Closure
The item worn over the undergarments is a hip pad. This helps to fill in the curves of the body. There are a couple of different styles available; there are pads that have the ‘U dip’ shape and other that are more of a belt, some with different closures, and some that also come with additional pockets to add more padding into them. We purchased our hip pads from Rakuten Global Market. You can find them by doing a search for ‘kimono padding’. These fit around the waist and are secured with a hook or velcro closure in the front. If you find that you still have some gapping or the shape you’re after isn’t quite there, you can use hand towels or folded cotton lawn to adjust.
Note: The hip pad is more for those with a deeper waist/back curve or a more prominent bottom. If you have a less curvy waist you can skip this padding or use a hand towel or folded cotton lawn to achieve your shape.
And there you are! You’re now ready to put on your yukata! You may be thinking to yourself, ‘Is all of this really necessary? It’s just for a costume.’ Even though these were for costumes, we wanted to treat them as one would a normal yukata. These steps are integral to creating the correct shape for a traditional feel. Now it isn’t necessary to make the undergarments from scratch, but in making our own, we could ensure that everything fit properly since sizing can often be an issue.
Please look forward to the next yukata installment!
Madoka’s accessories include her many bows (2 in her hair, 2 at her hips, and one on the back of her choker), her choker, her glove toppers, and her stocking toppers. I worked on all of these except for the stocking toppers (made by The Geeky Seamstress), between tasks while working on Madoka’s bodice and my Kyoko Sakura cosplay.
Figure 1: Madoka Kaname, official reference
The fabrics used for Madoka’s accessories were the same those used for her bodice: the dark pink bridal satin was from Golden D’or, the white Casa satin was from JoAnn, along with some of the ribbon trims, and the lace was mystery-sourced from my personal fabric stash.
Madoka’s bows are made from modified versions of our Cosmic Coterie bow patterns. Her hair bows didn’t need much tweaking, since the tails don’t have the “v” cutout that her hair and hip bows do.
Figure 2: Madoka’s finished hairbows on her wig! Unfortunately I didn’t get other photos of them…
The “v” cutout required modifications to our existing bow-tail patterns. I did a couple rough drafts of them in muslin until I was happy with the shape, and then made a scaled-down version for the slightly smaller choker bow. Here’s some work-in-progress shots of those bows! They are assembled exactly the same way our regular bows are.
Figure 3: Madoka bow pieces (the black ones are for Kyoko’s hairbow)
Figure 4: Madoka bows in progress (the black is for Kyoko’s hairbow)
Figure 5: Madoka’s choker bow, finished!
Figure 6: One of Madoka’s hip bows!
The bows were finished by hand sewing on snaps (for the choker and hip bows) or alligator clips (for the hair bows). Due to how insanely poofy Madoka’s skirt was, the hip bows actually snapped onto the sides of the bodice instead of the skirt. It gives the illusion that they are on the skirt, while having a much more secure area to snap on to!
The choker was made exactly the same way as our Sailor Moon chokers. Madoka’s was made of red satin taffeta and had cute ribbon trim topstitched on. The choker closed with snaps, and the bow also was attached with a snap.
Figure 7: Madoka’s choker and choker bow, along with her bodice “buttons”.
The Glove Toppers
The glove toppers were made the same way as described in our glove topper tutorial. Madoka’s were a little more challenging because of the scallop shapes on her glove flares.
Figure 8: Madoka references that show off her scalloped glove toppers.
First, I took a basic flared topper pattern I’d made back in 2015 for my Mew Mint cosplay. I copied it and hand-drew the scallops until I got them proportional and fitted to the flare shape. This gave me a pattern shaped like this:
Figure 9: WIP stage of Madoka’s glove toppers.
The toppers were made of white Casa satin, interfaced with lightweight interfacing on one side. (The side not facing the camera). You can also see a big seam allowance at the wrist part (opposite the petal side). This was so that I could sew ribbon on that portion, to make the ribbon fit on the model’s wrist properly.
Figure 10: Madoka’s glove toppers – finished!!!
The toppers attach to themselves with velcro, and are made to sit on top of gloves that we purchased from We Love Colors. I’m giddy with happiness at how cute they turned out!
Figure 11: Madoka’s glove toppers again… they stand on their own, lol!
The Stocking Toppers – The Geeky Seamstress
Madoka’s stocking toppers were a combination of found items, reject materials, and a generous donation from We Love Colors!
I started with the ruffle base. When we originally started planning this group, we knew immediately that we wanted something to tie all of the girls together since they lack a uniform design. So we opted to have all of our ruffles match and finished them with coordinating colors for our respective characters. Two inch ruffles worked well as an accent piece for the vast majority of our characters. However, when I tried to use these for Madoka’s puff skirt, I realized they were far too small. So, after seam ripping them, I set them to the side. Thankfully, they didn’t go to waste! Koholint was able to use them for the ruffles on Madoka’s bodice and I was able to use leftovers for the stocking toppers.
Figure 12: The Geeky Seamstress working on Madoka’s stocking toppers
I started by creating a ruffle loop and stitching it onto a piece of ⅜” elastic. Once the ruffles were stitched in place, I used a faux pearl trim from Koholint’s stash. It was so cute, but required a bit of precision when stitching to avoid breaking needles. I wound up using a zig-zag stitch over this for the best results. The ribbon the faux pearls were attached to were too plain for our taste, so I also added some soft pink trim at the top for a little bit of extra flair.
These fit just over the top of the stockings, so even though they’re separate pieces, the stockings can be washed on their own or replaced without too much hassle if (or more likely when) they snag.
Madoka’s accessories are ridiculously cute. I don’t often make “cute” things, so these were very fun pieces to make, and I had a lot of fun adding ribbon and lace to make them even more adorable!
Madoka was easily the most complicated and time-consuming of all the Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplays we created in 2017. She took 3 separate seamstresses on the order of 3 months to create, not counting time spent researching or sourcing fabric – this is actual work time! I made Madoka’s bodice, her multiple bows, her choker, and glove toppers. Today I’ll be talking about her bodice only, and will talk about her accessories in a separate post.
Madoka’s bodice is built like a traditional boned bodice. I have made several in the past, but wanted to make sure Madoka’s was extra quality, so I did a lot of research and mostly referenced Pattern Hack Fairy’s “Strapless Foundation” sew-along.
I tried two different commercial bodice patterns before giving up and making one from my tried-and-true McCall’s 7352 princess seam dress pattern.
Figure 2: Version 1.0 of the bodice pattern… I can’t remember how many we had total, but it was at least 3!
It took several fittings to get right, but once I did, I was able to get to cutting fabric… once we found it, that is. It took us a ridiculous amount of time to find the perfect fabrics! Madoka’s pink color is somehow not that easy to find…
The fabrics used on Madoka were mostly purchased at JoAnn and Golden D’or in the Dallas fashion district. The bodice fashion fabric was a pink mystery fabric (possibly a matte heavy crepe-back satin) with an accompanying yellow matte bridal satin; the boning support layer was quilting cotton; and the lining was pink china silk. The darker pink bows were made of matte bridal satin, and the red choker, princess seam stripes, and sleeve stripes were all red satin taffeta. The ruffles were made of synthetic peachskin (sourced from JoAnn and Online Fabric Store), which I finished with a rolled hem in Madoka’s light pink color.
We made a few minor design tweaks/decisions based on how we wanted Madoka’s bodice to look: first of all, we had to make the bodice look good on a real person, not a middle-school anime girl. To do this, we shortened the length of the bodice to end at the natural waist, and included a shallow “v” at the front. The “v” gives the illusion of a longer torso and narrower waist. And unlike most traditional bodices, Madoka’s bodice had to be designed to open at the front, not the back or sides. This is because the back of her bodice has a heart-shaped cutout, which prevents it from opening at the back, and it also has straps and sleeves, which prevents having a side zipper. Therefore, the front was the only place from which it could open.
Next, we included a red strip along the princess seams in the front. This is present in some references, but not all…
Figure 3: Don’t you love inconsistent reference images? The left has the red princess seam stripe, while the right does not…
We decided that including the stripes would add more visual interest to the bodice, and would also help tie in the red choker, sleeve stripes, and binding on her petal skirt.
Another design tweak we included was with the ruffles. The ruffles are how we tied all of our outfits together – since the Madoka Magica girls all have very different styles of outfits and lack a uniform “look”, we decided to at least make all their ruffles in the same way and use complementary-colored threads on the rolled hem.
Figure 4: Examples of the rolled hems on white peachskin, with our Puella Magi’s colors!
I included other minor tweaks to Madoka’s design during the sewing phase, mostly because I’d find pretty lace in my stash or randomly thought of an idea to make the bodice even cuter.
After finishing the pattern, deciding on design changes, and sourcing the fabric, it was time to cut things out and sew them. Cutting out Madoka’s bodice was not an easy feat – the bodice itself is made up of 7 pieces, all of which needed to be cut very accurately, and in total it has 3 layers. This adds up to 21 pieces that require a LOT of care with cutting and marking. I was sewing like crazy at the time, trying to work on Kyoko and Madoka simultaneously, so I enlisted help from my friend Suski Jane, whom I can trust to do things accurately. She helped me cut and mark every single piece of the bodice lining and boning support layer. I cut the fashion layer and interfaced it with Pellon Shape-Flex, a cotton interfacing which I’m fond of and can trust to be sturdy enough for the strain this bodice would be under when worn.
The fashion layer took some time to assemble due to the details involved. I sewed two different lace trims (one of which had beads) from my stash into the front princess seams, so I needed to be very careful and slow while sewing this. On top of this seam went the red princess seam stripe. Therefore, this seam needed to be done EXTREMELY accurately and carefully, since redoing any part of it would be a huge pain in the butt.
Figure 5: Close-ups of the lace trims and red bias tape stripe
The red stripe was made from bias tape, which I made from a red satin taffeta fabric that I had in my stash. I made extra pieces for her sleeve stripes, too.
Once every layer was sewn together, I had to mark the boning placement on the cotton boning support layer. I used a combination of rigilene sew-on boning and spiral steel boning (prepared by The Geeky Seamstress). The rigilene was used everywhere except for the princess seams, which were spiral steel. I used cotton strapping for the spiral steel casings, and tipped the rigilene with a little bit of a cream denim I had left over from another project. I like to cut my rigilene tipping with pinking shears to eliminate messy fraying.
Figure 6: The boning support layer with all the boning in place.
Next, I sewed the boning support layer and the fashion layers together so that I could treat them as one and do test-fits on the model. At this point, I did what Pattern Hack Fairy does and sewed in bias-cut strips of stretched silk organza above the bust area to stabilize it. (I didn’t get photos of this step, sorry!)
I was puzzled for a while as to how to close the front of the bodice – bodices are generally opened at the back with a zipper or lacing, but Madoka’s bodice absolutely required it to open from the front, and a zipper wouldn’t be strong or discreet enough. I finally decided to use hook-and-eye tape, which worked perfectly.
I needed to make a white placket to hide the hook-and-eye tape, so I made one from white Casa Satin. I also discovered a very lovely lace trim with iridescent detailing in my stash, so I sewed that onto it to make it even cuter! Here it is with the rose “buttons”, another cutesy idea I thought of. The “buttons” are actually scrapbook stickers from Hobby Lobby.
Figure 7: The placket with its cute rose “buttons”
Finally, I marked and prepared a waist stay. Waist stays help keep a bodice in place by using a piece of ribbon at the natural waist, cut with negative ease. This prevents the bodice from slipping up or down! I was very particular about the type of ribbon used to make the waist stay, and I managed to find just enough of a piece of petersham ribbon in my stash to create it. (Petersham ribbon resembles grosgrain ribbon, except for the fact that the edges are “scalloped”. It can be unfortunately difficult to source at brick-and-mortar stores). This got hand-tacked to the seam allowance of the boning support layer.
At this point, I needed to set the bodice aside and focus on the straps and sleeves. I never meant for the straps of the bodice to be functional, aka, I didn’t want them to be “weight-bearing” – the support for this bodice comes from the boning and the way it is constructed, so the sleeves and straps are purely decorative.
The puff sleeves are made from a slash-n-spread sleeve pattern based on the basic sleeve pattern that came with McCall’s 7352 princess seam dress pattern. The straps were “patterned” until I had a shape I liked. The puff sleeves also have two tiers of ruffles at the bottom, and here I got creative again and dove into my stash for more lace and lace fabric to go on top of the base fabrics. I finished the base layer with another rolled hem, then gathered them all together until they were ruffly enough for my taste.
Figure 8: Lacy sleeve ruffles! There’s 4 layers of fabrics and lace that went into these.
The ruffles were attached to the red bias tape stripe I made earlier. Aren’t these just the cutest sleeves ever?
Figure 9: Puff sleeves assembled!
I also found some cute red ribbon and put that on top of the red stripe, just because…
Figure 10: Lacy puff sleeves… now with even more ribbon!
Finally, I had to attach the ruffles to the bodice before I could to attach the straps. After that, I tacked down the straps, and then attached the sleeves to the straps. The “armscye” of Madoka’s bodice is a little bit awkward, but I made it work!
Figure 11: Oh my gosh it looks like a thing!!!
At this point I was dying at how cute the bodice looked! All that was left was the white placket, lining, and heart cutout on the back. The placket was the easiest of these to tackle, so I sewed that on next.
Figure 12: EXCITED SCREAMING… IT’S A THING. Look at that placket!
I couldn’t do the heart cutout on the back until the lining was sewed in, and unfortunately an issue was discovered when the lining was was being sewed in – during all the fittings, the bodice stretched out to conform to the model’s body better, but the lining hadn’t been part of that. Therefore, it was now too small, and I had to do a very quick and panicked last-minute redo of the middle back lining piece to make it fit. Then the model hand-sewed the lining to the rest of the bodice so that I could focus on other costume pieces.
Once the lining was in, I was finally able to make the heart cutout. This basically involved making a “facing”, sewing it to the outside layer, cutting all the way through the bodice (yes, all three layers of it…), and turning the facing to the inside before top stitching it down. It’s extremely nerve-wracking… but I got it done!
Figure 13: Omg… you can see through the entire bodice!
Once the “buttons” were glued onto the front placket, Madoka’s bodice was finished!!!
Figure 14: She’s DONE (save for the “buttons”)! Wig and petal skirt by Victoria Bane, puff skirt by The Geeky Seamstress.
Madoka’s bodice was an extremely involved project, but it was probably my best piece during all of 2017. I’m extremely proud of how it turned out despite the multitude of challenges it threw at me. I’m writing about this a year later, so a lot of the pain and panic I had when sewing it is not as raw anymore, but I still look back on this and think, “HOLY COW! How did I finish that???”
I adore all the little details and design tweaks I included, and I’m super happy with how much the project helped me as a seamstress. I can’t wait for my next bodice project!
*** THIS ARTICLE IS ALLOWED WITH MY PERMISSION ON COSMICCOTERIE.COM ONLY ***
Kyoko was a project I’ve had planned on-and-off for many years. I always had a very distinct vision for how I wanted my Kyoko cosplay to turn out, and I first began work on her in 2014; I bought fabric and base boots, and I even went to so far as making patterns for her black top, red sleeveless “jacket”, and boots. Unfortunately I was still a student back in 2014, and I ran out of time to start any of the “real” work on the costume, so Kyoko sat as an abandoned project until 2017.
We (Cosmic Coterie) voted to make Madoka Magica our big build for 2017, and that was when Kyoko was officially put back on my “to make” list. I thought very little about her outfit between 2014 and 2017, but my initial vision never really changed; however, my sewing skills had improved a huge amount during that time, and this allowed me to take a different approach to the pattern than I was planning in 2014.
Before I expand on my vision for her outfit, I want to clarify that these are only my own personal thoughts and preferences – as cosplayers, we all have our opinions and ideas on what a character’s outfit should look like when brought to real life. We also generally know what looks best on us, which may or may not be the same thing that looks good on someone else. Therefore, please understand that I’m not saying my way is the only or best way, and I mean no offense to anyone that made their outfit differently. I had a different vision is all, and my approach reflects that.
Figure 1: Kyoko Sakura, official references
So here’s the thing: in my opinion, Kyoko’s outfit is not very flattering. It features knee-high boots with thigh highs and a pleated skirt, and over the skirt is the peek of black top and a bizarre, sleeveless red jacket with a hi-low train. The jacket has an ellipse-shaped cutout in the center of the chest, a mandarin collar, and the train has oversized ruffles. None of these elements are easy to make look flattering in real life: the knee-high boots make it difficult to feature as much of the thigh-highs as the show does, and the skirt has to be EXTREMELY short in order to pull the thigh-highs up as high as they need to be.
Next, the red jacket has no tailoring, and the train is more-or-less a shapeless fall of fabric. The oversize ruffles can be overwhelming if too big, or look “off” if they’re too small. Finally, the mandarin collar requires special care because if it’s too tall, it hides the neck in an unflattering way… but if it’s too short, you don’t have enough room to include the bias border. Oh… and the armholes of the red jacket aren’t like a regular tank top – they’re angled inwards.
(Did I mention that the arm warmers go almost all the way up her arms, past her biceps? Idk about you guys, but sometimes having something squeeze my squishy little arms around the top isn’t the cutest look, lol…)
Anyway, those are some of the basics – in my personal opinion – of why this outfit was a challenge to make look good in real life. With those issues in mind, my plan to make Kyoko more flattering on myself was as follows…
The issues I needed to solve:
Proportions of boots, thigh-highs, and skirt
Mandarin collar proportions
Black top which lacks official references of the upper portion
Shapeless jacket train
Large ruffles on jacket train
Squeezy arm warmers
There wasn’t much I could do about the boots, thigh-highs, or the skirt. I did what I could to help myself out, though: I made the boots a little bit shorter than in the reference artwork, and I made my skirt what I call “magical girl short”, aka, just long enough to cover my derriere. My base boots had a modest heel, but I still put shoe inserts in them. This combo of tweaking the costume pieces, plus the lift from the heels and shoe inserts, gives the illusion that your legs are longer than they really are. The shorter skirt and slightly shorter boots allowed more of the thigh-highs to show, ultimately making the costume look more proportional to what’s seen in the anime.
The black and red top combo was the bigger challenge: in the anime, the black top peeks out from the front of the red jacket, and depending on the reference, it appears to be kinda long, maybe even approaching tunic length – yet there’s still a lot of skirt that shows… somehow? This was never going to work in real life, and wouldn’t look very nice on me, either, so I made the top about as long as my hip bones – just enough to peek out from under the red jacket and have enough room for the white swirly designs, but not long enough to cover too much of my skirt.
That left the red jacket for last… from the waist up, it seems to be well-fitted, but lacks seams entirely. The train is just a blob of fabric and was, in my opinion, the biggest problem – it looks lifeless if it’s made without enough volume or any sort of shape, so making the red jacket exactly like in the anime was going to be a no-go for me. The jacket is the most iconic part of her outfit and I wanted to take extra care with it.
My vision had always been to tweak the design and make her jacket with more of a “bustle” style – it couldn’t be a real bustle, I didn’t want to change the design too much – but I thought using a bustle as inspiration would help make the train fall in a more flattering way, as well as be a good way to incorporate more volume. This way, the jacket would have more shape and the train would be prettier. I toyed with dozens of ideas over the years, and I thought I was going to have to build a hidden “petticoat bustle” that would discreetly attach at the small of my back and support the back of the jacket train.
My issues with this method were that I just could NOT figure out how to hide the petticoat bustle: building it into the jacket would mess with the lining, and the pleated skirt of the outfit was not big enough to hide any kind of bustle from view. I decided on a vague approach: make the train with the volume I wanted, and then see what kind of support it may need after it was done. I normally don’t like such vague approaches to my costumes, but I had a finite amount of time to work on Kyoko and needed to make progress, since I had other builds for the group on my plate (namely Madoka’s bodice).
I started by heavily modding a favorite pattern of mine (McCall’s 7352), which is a princess seam dress pattern. I’ve used it for loads of projects because the princess seams allow for a lot of modification ability, and the sleeve pattern comes in handy as a base so that I don’t have to scratch-draft sleeves. I’d mostly just done minor modifications to the pattern in fabric though, so this time, I wanted to take the pattern and turn it into a properly-fitted base bodice pattern. It took some time, but I ended up with two base patterns before I actually patterned out Kyoko: one shoulder princess seam pattern, and one armhole princess sleeve pattern. I used both for different parts of her outfit.
Since the jacket is fitted above the waist, I planned for this part of the red jacket to have princess seams. I know this isn’t accurate to the reference images, but since my goal was to make a flattering Kyoko cosplay and not a “one-hundred-percent-accurate” one, this trade-off was acceptable to me. Princess seams are extremely flattering and wouldn’t detract from the overall look of the jacket, anyway.
Figure 2: Some of the many patterns and mockups I made for the top half of the jacket.
During the pattern fitting and mockup phase, I was also testing various ideas for the shape of the jacket train. My best mockup came from a full circle that I sliced a cut into that ended at the middle. When I experimentally tied this around my waist, I realized that I really liked the shape it had, and it didn’t need a petticoat or any crazy undergarment to hang that way! I was very careful to note the grainlines of the fabric, so that I’d get the exact same fall style in the final jacket. Grainlines are extremely important!!!
Figure 3: Successful jacket fall test
Next, I took my finished patterns and cut out the fashion fabric and linings for the jacket. The fashion fabric is a discontinued shade of the red cotton sateen that Joann sells – it’s unfortunately not the same as the “biking red” color they sell as of the writing of this post. The upper lining is china silk in a mauve-y rose pink. The fall is lined with the same sateen as the outer layer, since Kyoko’s jacket fall appears to have the same fabric on both the inside and outside.
Figure 4: Messy work-In-progress shot of the sateen fashion layer (from the back)
I assembled the fashion and lining layers separately, and then got to work on drafting the collar pattern and working on the white appliques. I had a very specific idea for what I wanted the appliques to look like, and I poured lots of time into researching a method. My favorite Kyoko cosplay was Kimidori’s, so I referenced her Kyoko writeups several times and knew that she did machine-stitched applique for her outfit’s appliques. Kimidori is a master of this technique and her work is extremely clean-looking, but I wanted an approach that avoided applique, simply because I don’t really enjoy doing it… (I’m sorry ;n;)
I prepared two methods at once so that if one failed epically, I could quickly switch to the next. I used white cotton sateen to create the applique pieces. In the first method, I attempted to see if I could sew the desired shape to a lining, which I would then turn and flip. This didn’t work at all, so I switched to method two, which was a variation of the freezer paper needle turn applique methods I learned from quilters on Youtube.
Figure 5: Two methods I tried for the appliques. The top one didn’t work; the bottom one did.
The freezer paper method worked EXTREMELY well, such that I was able to finish the appliques that same day! I used the freezer paper to create crisp fold edges while ironing, and then I carefully snipped the turned-over edge and held it in place with Wonder Tape.
Figure 6: Ironing the applique edges to get a crisp fold.
Figure 7: Turning over the snipped edges of the applique and using Wonder Tape to keep them down.
Here’s the final result of my appliques, pinned in place to my jacket WIP. My soul gem is also pinned in place to make sure the size is proportional.
Figure 8: Finished appliques, pinned in place
I topstitched these pieces down EXTREMELY carefully, and thus finished the appliques! This was exactly the look I wanted and I’m extremely pleased with how everything turned out.
Figure 9: Appliques, top stitched on
After all of this, I needed to make progress on other pieces for Kyoko, so I switched gears and worked on the skirt! I already knew it needed to be “magical girl short”, so I was pretty much able to jump into cutting the skirt right away. I used a discontinued Casa Satin color in a lovely shade of rose pink. The pattern was extremely easy: I started with a rectangle and put a box pleat in the middle. On each side of the box pleat, I did knife pleats facing towards the outside. These met up at the back of the skirt, where I inserted an invisible zipper. Finally, I finished the skirt with a self-drafted curved waistband.
Figure 8: Skirt WIP and finished product
After the skirt, I made her hairbow. It’s our Cosmic Coterie Venus Hairbow Pattern shrunk to 60% of its original size. It’s made of black Casa Satin, and I hand-sewed an alligator clip to the knot to be able to clip it into my wig. While working on the bow, I also made the wrist cuffs and finished those completely, save for sewing on the buttons. I didn’t get pictures of the cuffs in progress, so here’s just the bow:
Figure 9: Hairbow WIP
Kyoko’s arm warmers were similarly simple – I took a piece of scrap spandex which Space Cadet pinned to my arm and marked for me, and then used this as a pattern. The arm warmers were made of a grey matte moleskin fabric with 4-way stretch. The Geeky Seamstress had some left over from a previous project and she generously let me have it for Kyoko. I left the side near the wrist raw, since spandex doesn’t fray, and finished the top with some silicone-backed elastic that The Geeky Seamstress also let me use. I used a serger to sew the single seam pinned below:
Figure 10: Arm Warmer WIP
Next, I worked on the black top. I decided to make it strapless so that it wouldn’t interfere with the cutout on the jacket or the angled-in armscyes. The top was a pretty quick piece to make, but I was under a lot of pressure at the time, so I made it EXTREMELY quickly. I took the shoulder princess seam pattern that I drafted at the very beginning of this project, made a copy of it that I modified as I wished, and did one very quick mockup before cutting into my final fabric. The top was made of black Casa Satin, lined with black china silk, and was finished with white purchased bias tape. The white swirls were cut from white vinyl and topstitched on. The top was also reinforced with a little bit of rigilene boning, and I put in a zipper at the back.
Figure 11: Finished black top, from the front and back
Finally, I had to make boot covers before I returned to finishing the jacket. I made the pattern and cut out the pieces from vinyl I had in my stash, and The Geeky Seamstress did me a huge favor by sewing them together for me and attaching them to my boots. They turned out super pretty and I’m so grateful for her help! The boots have a “lining” made of the same rose china silk as the red jacket, to help me slip my foot in and out easier.
Figure 12: Cutting out the vinyl for the boot covers
The Race to the Finish Line
With the other pieces done, I was finally able to get back to finishing the jacket. If you recall from earlier, I left the jacket as separate lining and fashion pieces, with the appliques stitched on. I hadn’t made the ruffles or collar yet.
(Full disclosure, I didn’t finish this 100% until around noon on the day of our photoshoot on Saturday at A-kon 2017. This was because I was also making Madoka’s bodice and bows, and that project consumed me such that I was unable to finish my own cosplay on time. It was a really rough end of the road for my Kyoko build, but here’s how I finished…)
First, I had to draft the collar pattern and attach it. This wasn’t especially difficult, but it’s stressful to do anything during crunch time. After working on the collar, I attached the lining to the fashion layer at the armscyes and finished the raw edges with purchased white bias tape.
Figure 13: Sewing bias tape onto the collar to finish it.
Next, I had to create the keyhole cutout in the front of the jacket. I did this by finishing the edges of a piece of white peachskin fabric, stitching it to the right side of the keyhole, and then cutting out the middle and flipping it. The finished part of the peachskin piece is then used as a sort of “facing” for the keyhole, and makes the edge clean and finished.
Figure 14: How I did the keyhole. The first image is the “facing” stitched onto the right side, the second is the finished look.
So at this point, it was literally Friday morning of A-kon and my dear Coterie teammates as well as my friend Morgan were scrambling to help me finish on time. The Geeky Seamstress cut and serged pieces of peachskin for my ruffles, and Morgan did me a solid by sewing the white buttons on the jacket and wrist cuffs for me while I pinned ruffles. I seriously could not have done it without their help and I am so grateful to have amazing friends help me when other things took my time from me.
This was Kyoko as of Friday evening of A-Kon (please don’t mind the pink petticoat on my dress form):
Figure 15: When your cosplay is so close to being finished, yet still so far…
It looks like there’s not a whole lot left, but unfortunately I still had to sew the ruffles on (you can see that they’re only pinned on in the photo), and had yet to add the “smaller” ruffles to the gap. In the reference art, they sort of resemble the draping on curtains, but I couldn’t seem to make them look very nice due to the panic of trying to finish on time and the lack of leftover peachskin fabric. Therefore, I made them as smaller ruffles instead, and I’m actually pleased with how cute they looked, even though it’s not “accurate”.
I managed to do all of that on Saturday morning, and then rushed to the con just in time to squeak into our photoshoot. I snapped a couple of selfies later that day just to have documented progress of the brand-new cosplay!
Figure 16: Kyoko – finished!!! Please don’t mind my upside-down soul gem, it was a rough morning LOL.
There’s a few minor things I’d like to tweak on Kyoko, but overall I’m very happy with the finished cosplay, and I’m really glad I waited to make her until my sewing skills improved. She’d always been my favorite Madoka Magica girl, and I feel super accomplished that I finally finished her, after having been planning her since 2014.
Figure 17: Full shot of my Kyoko from Animefest 2017. Photo by BTSEphoto.
*** THIS TUTORIAL IS ALLOWED WITH MY PERMISSION ON COSMICCOTERIE.COM ONLY ***
Hello everyone, Victoria Bane here! Today I’ll be sharing with you the details of how I created my Dessert Witch Charlotte costume! I actually started this cosplay prior to my actually joining Cosmic Coterie. I’d heard they were planning a big Madoka build and wanted to create something I could take pics with them in. A few weeks later I was invited to join and here we are now!
I’d like to first apologize as I am t e r r i b l e at taking progress photos, but I’ll attempt to be as thorough in my explanation as possible So let’s get started!
Simplicity 3542 (modified)
Simplicity 5794 (modified)
Self made bloomers pattern
I started out using view D from the 3542 pattern. I laid the pieces out, overlapping the side front to the front so that it created a single panel instead of two. Then, I laid tracing paper over the pattern pieces, and traced around the areas of the pattern I wanted to keep, and then extending the front to create an ‘crossover’ front panel. The back I left as is due to the fact that I needed each side to be a different color. I took the sleeves from view D as well and elongated them to replicate Charlotte’s floppy arms. I made a quick mock-up using my altered pieces and made adjustments to the fit and marked down button placements.
Once I was satisfied with that I cut the right side out of brushed twill in tan, the left from black twill and the sleeves from brushed twill in nutmeg, along with their respective linings. Then everything was sewn together with buttons and some small snaps for closures. Jacket assembled!
The bloomers I made using a simple bloomers pattern I made after watching MeLikesTea’s video on how to make lolita bloomers a couple of years back (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyxkNeXmFfA). I drew the front down on tracing paper, then I drew out the waist to 2x my waist measurement and then drew on the back. Then I lengthened the leg measurement to accommodate a 2 inch ruffle with a ¼ inch double folded hem. After that, I made some bias tape out of the remaining fabric to use as elastic channels for the legs. I cut out the bloomers on a double layer of fineline twill in dusty each and sewed the front and backs together.
I folded over the waistband allowance and sewed all along the top leaving a small gap where I could insert the ½ inch elastic, then closed it off after I was finished. I then stitched the bias tape channels to the inside of the legs, again leaving a small opening to feed through the ⅜ inch elastic. Bloomers handled!
I started with view B on 5794 over which I laid my trusty tracing paper. I shortened the length and curved the front as well as the back hem to achieve the look of Charlotte’s cape. I also cut out front ties to sew in between the cape and the lining to keep it closed. The cape was then cut out of red twill and a black lining. (The black lining on the cape was small detail that I only noticed after having watched the Mami/Charlotte fight scene about 20 times to make sure I got everything down lol)
Charlotte has her final versions face on the back of her cape as well. I sketched this out on some paper, and then, using a light table, traced it onto some white poplin. I then applied heat and bond to the back of the poplin and cut out the ‘cloudy’ face shape. I then mixed some acrylic paints with textile medium, and began to add color to the face. Once everything was dry, I laid a press cloth over the top and hit it with a warm (not hot) iron to help heat set the paints. The face was then heat and bonded to a circle of black twill, and appliquéd onto the back of the cape. After that the lining and ties were attached and the cape was ready to go!
These were the most challenging parts of this costume to make as Charlotte’s hat seems to morph into a scarf at some unseen point, so I had to sort of wing it!
I started off by taking a measurement from the crown to around the back of my head. I made a band out of my polka dot cotton that was 3 inches wide by my head measurement + 1 inch for seam allowance. After that I cut out a circle of the polka dot fabric with about a 26 inch diameter. This would be the ‘crown’ of my hat. I added Pellon 808 interfacing to both the band and the circle then sewed the back seam together on the band and folded it in half. I then gathered up the edge of the circle to match the circumference of the band, and sewed the edges together, then serged them to keep things tidy.
In hindsight, I should have added a lining to the crown, but I figured no one would see it but me so I let it slide lol. I added a comb to the inside of the band to keep it secure and then she was all done!
The scarf was one long rectangle of fabric (I cannot for the life of me remember how long) that I added mid-weight interfacing to. Then, I folded it in half, right sides together and stitched a ½ inch seam allowance to make a long tube, then I stitched the seam allowance closed, making a channel to insert ⅜ inch elastic into. Once the elastic was secured, I turned everything right side out and hand sewed the back seam together.
My wig started her life as an Arda wigs Lulu, and two long curly clips in Princess Pink. I had wanted to use shorter clips, but the only ones that came in the corresponding color were the long ones. I chopped off a good bit of length, and straightened out the curls with my blow dryer. Then I fluffled them with some backcombing and hairspray, smoothing down the outer layer. I trimmed the bangs on the Lulu and combed and sprayed them to come to a point in the front, and then added the clips. Super simple but very effective!
My contact lenses were EOS Fairy Green and my facepaint was Ben Nye’s Color Cake in white. (I had some trouble with this but I figured out what I was doing wrong for next time!) The tights were a pair I got off of Amazon years ago that had just been sitting in my prop drawer haha! The booties I’ve had for at least 5 years and have only worn twice, but I knew they’d be perfect for Charlotte.
And that’s pretty much everything!! I hope this was clear enough to follow, but feel free to ask any questions you might have!
This build was an intense project! We started working on the mock-ups and underpinnings in late January 2017. I (The Geeky Seamstress) took helm on making the corset and chemise. When Victoria Bane joined the group in February, she dove right into assist mode and tackled the hoop skirt and the tulle petticoat.
For the corset, we followed the pattern mostly as is, adjusting for Storietellers‘s height. She also wanted a secure and historically accurate-ish set of underpinnings, so I referred to the American Duchess 18th Century Stays tutorial on adding extra boning placement. Since I added A LOT of boning to the pattern, we opted to use a combination of spiral steel, flat steel, and cable ties for the boning, with the last one being used in the majority of the body to fill the smaller lines. Steel boning is a wonderful option, but it can get pretty pricey, and we didn’t want to have to tip all those bones ourselves! Historical costumers often use cable ties as a cheap substitute for whale boning, and it suited our needs quite well.
Victoria Bane likewise followed the pattern as is for the hoop skirt. The major challenge with it was adding lots of extra height! Storietellers is 5’8″, and wore crazy platforms under Walpy to get a larger than life witch vibe. We used steel hoop boning for the channels, and Vickie finished off the bottom of the skirt with a lovely lace trim.
We started with the top portion of the dress, using Simplicity’s Pirates of the Carribean pattern 4092 as a guideline. There were definitely a few fit issues, covered fairly comprehensively here. To make this pattern more accurate to Walpy’s design, I lengthened the sleeves and added a bell shape to the ends.
This dress pulls inspiration from 18th century robe a l’anglaise designs, so we nixed the lacing in the concept notes and added Watteau pleats. We also added Walpy’s topskirt to the bottom of the bodice to reduce overall bulk at the waist and reduce the number of pieces Storietellers has to wear.
We also decided that we wanted to make the stomacher a separate piece, so we took cues again from 18th century designs and added an under-stomacher closure. The under stomacher portion closes with grommets and lace, allowing for some flexibility in sizing. In hindsight, I should have added some boning to this section, since the stretch taffeta we used likes to collapse on itself over time. Thankfully, the stomacher helps combat that situation. The stomacher attaches via heavy duty snaps instead of traditional pins and stitching, since we didn’t want to have to sew Storietellers in every time she wore it.
The stomacher was a collaborative effort between myself and Storietellers! I ironed and interfaced some satin brocade, and Storietellers did the beading by hand. Once she was finished with that, I added a strength and lining layer to the stomacher and added lace trim around the top and bottom edges. I used quite a bit of boning to help support the weight of all those beads, including some flat steel boning I had on hand.
The skirts were fairly straightforward, but gave us a bit of grief since we were on a time crunch when constructing them. Koholint and Victoria Bane stepped in to help expedite construction! The base skirt is a giant rectangle with a brocade center that gathers with a drawstring, and the skirt that goes over it is essentially an open front skirt that operates the same way. We didn’t have a lot of time for patterning, so this approach worked, but created a lot of bulk at the waist. If we get a chance to go back and tweak it, I’d switch to more of a trapezoid shape for both skirts that decreases in size at the top to minimize waist bulk.
For the headdress, Storietellers started by getting her head cast by MASK Props. From there, she created a chicken wire frame around the plaster mold, covered it in plastic wrap, and sketched out the design and boundary lines with a Sharpie. After that, she used 3 layers of newspaper paper mache to create a base, making sure to leave room for the eye holes. She repeated the paper mache process until it was about 1/4″ thick all around. To conceal the crown of the headpiece, she used e6000 to attach flat pearls and mosaic stones.
Like many projects, it’s always easy to see what you should have done differently after it’s complete. While we were mostly happy with how this piece turned out, there’s definitely some improvements we’d make if we were to do this over.
Still, Storietellers was an impressively awesome witch and Ash Snap ‘Em did a fantastic job photographing this monster of a costume! Check out photos from this set at the top of this post and in our Madoka gallery!