Introduction:

There are several ways to make hip rolls based on your skill level and preference. Some of the most common methods include folded over quilt batting, polyfill, upholstery cording, and upholstery foam. The majority of our fukus incorporate upholstery foam, so that is the method we’ll be discussing in this tutorial. 

Also, please note that this is the 2016 version of our process. For a cleaner hip roll and more comprehensive tutorial, please check out our Patreon!

Materials Needed:

  • 1/2″ upholstery foam
  • White spandex (scraps from your leotard should work!)
  • Thread
  • Optional: Serger

How to Assemble Your Hip Rolls:

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How to measure your hip roll!

Select a piece of ½” wide white foam. Measure your high hip measurement to determine the length of your hip roll. Cut a single piece of foam that is 4-5” wide by the hip length. Wider hip rolls are more flattering on fuller figures, and smaller hip rolls look better on smaller figures. Proportions are key!

Cut a piece of spandex the same width and length. 

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Fold your foam in half (like a hot dog bun) and wrap your spandex around the foam. Get every sewing pin you own and pin that hot dog like your life depends on it. 

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Once your foam/spandex sandwich is thoroughly pinned, flip it over, and machine baste it, taking care to avoid puckers. The top side of your foam should be nice and smooth, so flipping your piece over gives you access to the fabric most likely to bunch. 

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Once your foam is basted, mark the taper of your hip roll using a water-soluble pen or tailor’s chalk. We start our taper 3” from the point of the hip roll. If you have access to a serger, use your marked line and basting stitch as a guide and serger the edge of your hip roll. If you do not have access to a serger, line up the aforementioned line with the edge of your sewing foot and stitch. Go over the seam allowance with a zig-zag stitch and trim the excess foam and spandex.

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Next up: Connecting your leotard pieces!

Credits:

Tutorial text/photos by The Geeky Seamstress

Materials:

  • Satin remnants
  • Sew-on snaps (larger is preferred here)
  • Sew-on Velcro
  • Hand sewing needles
  • Thread

Choker:

Measure around your neck. This will be your choker length measurement. Our chokers are approximately 7/8” wide.

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Cut a piece of fabric 3” wide by your desired length measurement, plus 2” for overlap.

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Pro-tip: While not *strictly* necessary, interfacing is a great way to keep your choker crisp and neat between wears and all day long at cons! To add interfacing, cut a strip of interfacing about 7/8″ wide by your neck measurement.

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With wrong sides together, stitch your fabric.

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Trim down your seam allowance, then flip inside out.

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Pro-tip: Stitch one end of your tube closed for an extra-clean finish!

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Press your piece flat (a quilter’s pressing bar is useful here!).

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Finish the edges of your choker, then hand stitch velcro or snaps to the ends.

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Note: There are lots of ways to finish off the free ends of your tubes. You can serge them, turn them over and stitch down, or flip the ends under and hand or machine stitch them closed (demonstrated above)

Attachments:

Time to put it all together! To attach your bows and collar, grab your snaps and hand stitching needles. The collar should attach to the neckline point of the chest armor.

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We use a combination of Velcro and snaps on our bows. Our bows are attached at the center with Velcro and snaps on the main bow. We also add snaps to the tails of our chest bows if the top ones don’t provide enough support. 

Credits:

Tutorial text by The Geeky Seamstress. Photos by Koholint and Space Cadet Cosplay.

Materials needed:

  • 1/2 yd of spandex or bias-cut satin (our blog post contains fabric sources!)
  • 1/2″ upholstery piping
  • Thread
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Gloves (We love We Love Colors for our gloves!)
  • Optional: conductive thread

Note: seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.

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To create your glove rolls, get a piece of spandex that matches your satin, or cut a scrap piece of your satin on the bias (the stretchiest part of woven fabric). To come up with your measurements, take your piping and wrap it around your arm where you want the glove rolls to sit, then measure the piping. This is your fabric length, and should sit on the widest degree of stretch on your fabric. The width of your fabric should be approximately 8”.

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If you are using satin, you will also need to press your seam.

Folding the wrong sides of your fabric together, stitch your fabric closed. Flip your fabric inside out to create a hot-dog shaped tube.

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Position your seam to the center of your tube. This will be on the inside of your arm, so no one will see it. You can position it to be hidden by one of your channels if you’d like.

Grab your tailor’s chalk, and divide the final measurements of your tube into thirds. Mark and sew two stitching lines on your tube to create the channels for your piping.

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Go ahead and get your piping filler. Cut 3 pieces long enough to wrap snugly around your forearm. Tape each end of the filler, as it tends to fray. Using the largest safety pin you can find, guide the piping through the channels.

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Once your piping is encased evenly in the glove roll channels, gently peel back the ends. Get your hand needle and thread, and whip stitch the ends of your piping together. This will create a continuous loop so that there are no visible seam lines no matter which way you move your arms. Once all of your piping is sewn to itself, position your fabric over the piping. Using an invisible hand stitch, close your seams.

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We use premade gloves from We Love Colors and cut them to the length that works for each senshi. Once our rolls are sewn and gloves are cut to the right length, whip stitch your glove rolls to the top of the gloves. Add some conductive thread to your fingertips for phone usage in costume!

Credits:

Thanks to NyuNyu cosplay for her tutorial on glove rolls! We used it as a springboard for these with some alterations.

Tutorial text/photos by The Geeky Seamstress and Koholint.

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Materials Needed:

  • Leotard, bloomer, hip roll, and skirt pieces
  • 7 yds 1/2″ Horsehair braid
  • Matching thread

Grab your leotard torso piece and your hip roll piece. Baste the hip roll to the bottom portion of your leotard, making sure the points of the hip roll meet at the center front.

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Get your bloomers and skirt pieces. Match up the bloomers to the V cut into your skirt. Baste this piece in place. You may also want to finish the top edge of your skirt if your fabric is prone to fraying.

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Time to attach both pieces! Carefully pin the leotard torso/piping piece to the skirt/hip roll piece. Very carefully baste all the way around these pieces, making sure your fabric doesn’t wrinkle or bunch as you stitch. You’re sewing through up to 10 layers of material at a time, so go slow and be cautious!

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Once your fabric is basted into place, check for puckers or other stitching errors and seam rip/correct as needed. Go over your stitching again with a regular straight stitch, getting as close to the hip roll as possible. Finish your seam allowance with a zig-zag stitch or serge.

Finishing the Skirt Hem:

measure

Time to finish up the skirt! Using your wall, dress form, or a friend, level your hem. Our skirts typically hit 7-8” from the point of the V to the hem of the skirt and 10” at the center back, but you may want to alter this for modesty or height.

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Trim your excess skirt fabric and finish the edge of your skirt if desired (we serge ours). Remember to leave an extra half inch of fabric for your hem!

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It’s now time to add the horsehair braid for extra magical girl flounce! Attach your braid to the right side of the fabric (yes, it’s counter-intuitive, but bear with us). Baste this in place. Turn the braid to the wrong side of the fabric, pulling the fabric taut without distorting it. Turn the braid up, again making sure the fabric is taut, and press well.

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Stitch this into place with a regular straight stitch. You may turn the braid up an additional time to completely enclose the braid, but this is optional. Press your final seam and admire your work!

Credits:

Tutorial text by The Geeky Seamstress. Photos by The Geeky Seamstress and Gear Owl.

Materials needed:

  • Stretch leotard pattern (our blog post contains pattern options!)
  • 1 yd of white spandex or tricot (our blog post contains fabric sources!)
  • 3/8″ elastic
  • Hook and eye tape
  • Matching thread
  • Stretch needles
  • Optional: serger

To start, select a base stretch leotard pattern. We use Green Pepper’s Crystal Lake Skating Pattern, as it has a single seam in the back and the bloomer portion works well for the hip rolls. However, this pattern has a limited range of sizes.

If you are larger than the measurements indicated on the back of the pattern (approximately U.S. size 8/10), you will need to grade your pattern accordingly, or select a different pattern.

If you are taller than 5’6” or shorter than 5’3″-ish, you will need to lengthen or shorten the torso of this pattern. Always make a mock-up!

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The Crystal Lake pattern pieces you will need for this are the leotard torso and bloomers. You will need to make some minor alterations prior to cutting. To start, grab a ruler and match it up from the front shoulder piece to approximately an inch below the front neckline. This will create the V neckline for the leotard. You will also want to raise the back of the leotard pattern and alter the neckline to accommodate.

Finally, cut a slightly deeper dip in the bloomer (approximately 1″ below the pattern piece). This will help eliminate skirt puckers at the center of the V.

If you want your hip roll to sit closer to your natural waist, you can also cut 1″ off of the hip and transfer this piece to the bloomer. We have this built into our altered pattern. 

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Altered bodice piece cut and ready to go.

Cut your altered pieces on the fold of your fabric. If you are using a 2-way stretch fabric, make sure that the widest degree of stretch goes AROUND your body.

Once both pieces are cut, serge or sew (using a zig-zag stitch) along center back on the torso and bloomers and shoulders. Spandex doesn’t fray, so there’s no need to finish the neckline or arm holes since they’ll be covered by the chest armor. However, if you want an extra clean finish, follow the technique mentioned below for the leg holes. 

Go ahead and serge the center back seam of your bloomers. From there, grab your elastic. We use ⅜” elastic for a comfortable leg finish that also prevents our bloomers from riding up. To do this, use a wide and long zig-zag stitch to baste the elastic to the wrong side of your fabric.

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Top left: Basting elastic in place. This doesn’t have to be perfect, just try to get as wide as you can. Top right: Fold over elastic and spandex and use a regular zigzag stitch to catch the very edge of the two. Bottom left: your final seam from the right side of the fabric. Bottom left: Same technique on black bloomers.

For the front portion of the leg, do not stretch your fabric or the elastic at all. For the rear portion of the leg, cut your elastic about ¾ of the way from the top of the hip to the bottom.

You will then gently stretch the elastic to meet up with your fabric. This ensures that when you put the bloomers on, they will hug your bottom for a secure fit, much like a swimsuit or undergarments.

Once you’ve basted your elastic in, fold the elastic over, and repeat this process with your standard zig zag stitch.

Attach your hook and eye tape (or other preferred closure method) to the crotch of your leotard. Set your base leotard pieces aside for now.

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Credits:

Thanks to Sparkle Pipsi for her tips on basic leotard alterations!

Tutorial text/photos by The Geeky Seamstress.

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Materials Needed:

  • 2.5 yds matte satin (our blog post contains satin sources!)
  • Contrasting thread for basting
  • Matching thread for hem
  • Measuring tape
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Optional: 7 yds 1/2″ horsehair braid

To start, we’re going to draft 2 full circle skirts to your high hip measurements. We use a skirt length of 12-15” for drafting, but you may want to lengthen or shorten this based on your height. We also draft these to our high hip measurements rather than the true waist for maximum skirt fullness. A side benefit of doing this is that most of us can step into the base fuku rather than pulling it on overhead.

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To cut your pieces, grab a tape measure and a heavy object to hold it in place. Go ahead and figure out your waist radius, using a circle skirt calculator. There are several available online, but one of our favorites is Mood’s. Once you’ve figured out your skirt radius, fold your fabric into fourths (once in half following the grain, and once again following the cross grain). Place your tape measure in the corner of your fabric and weigh it down. Use your tape measure like a compass, marking each along the length of your fabric – and be sure to mark your waist radius, too.

Once your fabric is marked, cut it out. Cut a second full skirt using the same method.

Cut 1 straight line through each of your skirt pieces. Stitch the skirt pieces together to create a giant circle skirt. Be careful not to twist the skirt pieces! You can attach them with a standard straight stitch (make sure to finish your seams!) or use a French seam for an extra clean finish.

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Giant circle skirt!

Once your skirt pieces are attached, you’ll have a giant circle skirt. Now it’s time to start pleating! We use 3” box pleats all the way around the skirt. Use tailor’s chalk or pins and mark every three inches around the waist of your giant skirt. Every other 3″ mark will be a pleat. To form the pleats, bring the edge of your designated pleats in to meet at the center 3″ mark between pleats (so each side of the pleat will have a 3/4″ return). See the diagram below for further clarification.

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We typically start from the center front pleat, go to the seam on each side of the skirt, and then finish in the back.

You might find that your skirt doesn’t quite have 3″ increments all the way around (unless you’re incredibly lucky lol). If you get to the side seam and you have a bit of excess fabric or be a bit short on creating a full pleat. We recommend playing with the fold as necessary to tuck the seam into the pleat for a smooth appearance all the way around. This might mean folding the fabric so that you have an extra large return on your pleat, or making the return a bit smaller. The critical element to keep in mind here is that your visible pleats should all be even!

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You can see on this skirt that I didn’t have quite enough fabric to create another pleat with the side seam. What I did to fix this issue (and hide the seam) was create an extra large return on the back side of the fabric.

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Here’s a back view of the skirt. You can see the return on the bottom pleat is noticeably larger than the one on top, but the front side of the box pleats are still 3″, which is the important part!

Your back pleat will most likely have a bit of excess fabric, so fold as necessary to create a clean finish, as mentioned above.

Once your pins are in place, baste all the way around the skirt to hold the pleats. No ironing is necessary for these flowy pleats! Double-check the skirt circumference to make sure it still matches up with your high hip. If it does not, seam rip and adjust accordingly.

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After your skirt waist is basted, mark where you want the V of your skirt to hit. Mark the center of your front pleat and measure the legs of the V. Baste the V for the center front, and carefully clip out the excess fabric, leaving enough seam allowance to attach the leotard pieces together.

Once your fuku base is assembled, let your skirt hang for 24-48 hours. Circle skirts have several large chunks of bias built into them, and these pieces stretch out over time. Letting your skirt hang for a day or two helps these pieces stretch out so that you can level your hem and not worry about your costume stretching out in unwanted ways later on.

Finishing the Hem:

Note: We typically wait to finish the hems until the entire base leotard is assembled, but in the interest of keeping like information together, we’re mentioning this here. This information is also available under the Assembling the Base tutorial.

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Time to finish up the skirt! Using your wall, dress form, or a friend, level your hem. Our skirts typically hit 10” from the point of the V to the hem of the skirt and 13” at the center back, but you may want to alter this for modesty or height.

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hem

Trim your excess skirt fabric and finish the edge of your skirt if desired (we serge ours). Remember to leave an extra half inch of fabric for your hem!

horse-braid-ironing

It’s now time to add the horsehair braid for extra magical girl flounce! Attach your braid to the right side of the fabric (yes, it’s counter-intuitive, but bear with us). Baste this in place. Turn the braid to the wrong side of the fabric, pulling the fabric taut without distorting it. Turn the braid up, again making sure the fabric is taut, and press well.

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Stitch this into place with a regular straight stitch. You may turn the braid up an additional time to completely enclose the braid, but this is optional. Press your final seam and admire  your work! For a video of this technique, see this tutorial by DayDreamer Nessa (jump to 4:22).

Credits

Tutorial text by The Geeky Seamstress. Photos by Geeky Seamstress and Gear Owl.

One of the most frequent questions we get is how we make our bows! This tutorial outlines our classic bow process, which utilizes SparklePipsi’s bow pieces with some alterations. SparklePipsi has graciously granted us permission to include her patterns with our resources, and you can find her original bow tutorial here. You can learn exactly how to alter her bow pieces to work with this tutorial here, or you can sign up for our Patreon to download the pattern pieces with alterations complete.

Materials needed:

Note: all seam allowances are 1/2″

A Quick Note on Fitting:

Proportions are key to making a beautiful fuku! If you are large-chested or broad in the shoulders, you may wish to use the butt bow pieces instead of a chest bow or increase the size of the chest bow pieces. Play with the sizing and figure out what works best for you!

A great way to test sizing before cutting your fabric is to cut the loops and hold them up to your chest. If you are on the petite side, you can always scale down the front bow pieces, or increase the size of the center front seam allowance!

Bow Loops:

TIP: Not sure which bow loop goes with which tail? Label your pieces! It can help prevent confusion or accidentally swapping out for the wrong sizes. 

To assemble the main bow, cut 4 pieces of fabric and 2 pieces of interfacing. If you’d like an easy guide for stitching, cut your interfacing 1/2″ smaller than your pattern pieces, indicated by the dotted line on the pattern pieces. Iron your interfacing pieces to the wrong side of 2 of your fabric pieces.

Note: Interfacing both loop pieces can lead to some crunchy-looking bows, so we prefer to interface only one of the loop pieces on the inner side of each loop.

Create two loop pieces by pinning or clipping an interfaced and non-interfaced loop piece right sides together. Stitch each bow loop together along the top and bottom, leaving the shorter edges open, following the edge of your interfacing for a super crisp edge. 

Clip around the curves to help the piece lay flat. Then, trim your seam allowance to reduce bulk. 

Finally, flip the loop inside out and give it a good press. Steam is your friend! 

IMPORTANT TIP: Keep the appropriate bow pieces together! Front loop pieces should stay with the front bow tail, and the same goes for the back bow pieces. You’ll get really weird-looking bows if you combine the two!

Finish the raw edges of your loops if desired. Serging or a zig-zag stitch along the edge will prevent the fabric from fraying later. 

Now, we need to turn the individual loop pieces into one large loop. Place the individual loop pieces together with the non-interfaced sides facing. Clip or pin the short edges and sew. 

Press the seams open. A tailor’s ham or sleeve press is useful here. 

Flip your loop inside out so the interfaced side of the loop is on the inside. Center your seams and give the outside edges of the bow a light press. 

Now, we’re going to fold the bow to create that lovely dimple in the center. Fold the bow in half horizontally.

Fold the horizontal edges of the bow back, as shown. Do this for the top and bottom of the bow loop.

Hold the center of your bow in place with sewing pins or clips.

Using a matching thread, hand sew the center of the bow in place. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Quickly looping thread around the center of the bow a few times will do the trick. 

Here’s a little video showing the process!

Fluff your bows by gently pressing the outside edge of the fold toward the front of the bow loop. 

Set your loop pieces aside for now. It’s time to start assembling the tails!

Tails:

Cut 2 pieces of fabric and 1 piece of interfacing for the tails. Cut the interfacing piece in half and remove 1/2″ seam allowance from the outside edge and bottom of the tail. Iron your interfacing to the wrong sides of the fabric, mirroring the interfacing for each tail.

TIP: It’s useful to mark your seam, especially on the tail pieces!

Fold the tail piece in half, right sides together. Clip or pin if desired. Stitch from the angled center down to the point, and up to the fold. You’re essentially following the dotted line indicated on the pattern. 

For a crisp corner, stitch right alongside the interfacing until you get to the point. Leave your needle down, lift the presser foot, and pivot your fabric piece. Lower your presser foot and continue sewing. Make sure to backstitch at the corners! This will make sure they’re nice and sturdy whenever you flip the piece inside out.

Trim your seam allowances and grade the corners

Flip your tail piece inside out. Using a pencil or chopstick, gently press out the corner and press the tail piece. Finish your raw edges by serging or stitching with a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying if desired. 

Place your bow tail pieces on top of each other, non-interfaced sides facing each other. Clip or pin the center angled edges together and sew. Press this seam open.

Fold the angled center portion of the tails down in the back and press. This can be done in half (fold the top portion down once) or in thirds (fold the top portion down once, then over again) as shown.

Set your tail piece aside for now.

Knot:

Cut a rectangle 3″ wide by 6-8″ long. This piece will be your bow knot. Stitch the piece, right sides together lengthwise. Trim your seam allowance to reduce bulk. 

Shift your knot piece so that the seam is centered on one side. This will be the reverse side of the knot. Press this piece. 

Stitch across one edge of the knot piece with a ½” seam allowance. Trim your seam allowance. 

Using a point turner or a similar object, push the edge of your knot piece through the rest of the knot, turning the piece inside out.

After turning the knot piece inside out, press the knot piece flat. A quilter’s bar is very useful here to get a flat piece without making the center back seam show through!

Time to put it all together!

Assembly:

Make sure your bow knot has one super clean end, and then serge the end that was left open to be able to turn it. To determine how long this should be, pin the knot piece in place on the tails and place your bow loop on top of the tail pieces. Wrap the knot around to see how much length you need. Ours are usually 6.5”

Once you’ve determined your knot piece length, pin it to the reverse side of your tail pieces. Stitch this piece down. Cut off the excess if you haven’t already.

Place your loop piece right on top of the tail-knot combo you finished sewing, lining up the centers carefully. You may tack or pin your bow loops to the tails if you don’t want them moving during the next step.

Bring the long (finished) edge of the bow knot towards you (between the bow tails), and then make it go up around your bow loops. You’ll need to turn the entire piece over at this point to tighten the knot; pin it in place once you’re happy with how tight it is, and then hand sew it down.

If you’ve not yet tacked down your bow loop to your bow tail pieces, we recommend doing so at this point. This will keep your bow tails from flopping around during wear.

DONE!

This method hides the serged edge, making your bow beautiful and clean from any angle. You may now hand-sew velcro or snaps to your bow knot so that you can attach it to your chest armor and affix your brooch.

Repeat this process for the butt bow.

Credits:

Again, we have to give a huge thank-you to SparklePipsi for her incredible bow tutorial! Her bow patterns are fantastic and beautifully proportioned.