Costume Walkthrough: Princess Small Lady Serenity

Costume walthroughs are exactly what they sound like: me walking you through the construction process for a costume I’ve made. Today’s is on my Small Lady/Chibiusa gown! Please feel free to ask questions about this or any other projects you might be working on; I love giving cosplay advice! 😉

Photo credit: Rachel Joy for the left & my mom for the right!

BASE DRESS: is white casa satin; it’s lined with some cheap-o fabric I had lying around from when I made my senior prom dress. Woohoo for recycling! I patterned it myself. The skirt is just a super long circle skirt; I didn’t add too much to the waist of it for pleats, but I did make it 5 or so inches longer than me in stocking feet since I planned to wear this in 4.5 inch heels (I lasted all of an hour before switching to flats, lol). The overskirt is white casa chiffon, which DOES NOT MATCH the satin (WHY?! You’re both white from the same collection: WHY DON’T YOU MATCH?!), and is made in the same way as the lower skirt. The skirts I had to make in two separate half-circles which I then sewed together. There’s another seam in the back where the invisible zipper goes. I sewed the two skirts to the bodice at the same time, and then added an invisible zipper. I don’t have a serger, so I do my “cheapo serging” by doing a straight stitch to sew whatever I’m trying to sew together (i.e. two pieces of skirt) then going over it with a zig-zag stitch, and then a second straight stitch. Then I trim it and fray check the ever living bejeesus out of it. I made the mistake of not fray checking the hems of the chiffon layer for a while and paid dearly for it; I had to re-hem it in a lot of places and it looks pretty messy. I actually fray checked it in the car on the way to Katsu.

DETAILS: PrettyDeer and I decided we wanted to do manga-version details for these dresses, but with anime colors because we noticed in hall shots a lot of details of other Princess Serenitys get washed out when they’re white/silver. Originally, I planned on doing the gold donuts out of embroidery, but that didn’t work, so I tried satin stitching gold fabric, but my machine’s smallest zigzag was too wide & the foot shredded the fabric. So eventually, I cut the donuts out of the fabric using a razor, fabric glued them to a piece of white casa satin, and then cut off the excess with a razor as well. I needed a way to avoid having the outside edges fray, so I found some gold sequin trim and fabric glued it to the edges of the donuts. I hand sewed this piece to the dress. Then, the arduous process of rhinestone-ing the donut holes began. ; A ; In total, this dress has ~2,000 silver rhinestones on it and 14 hours of labor on rhinestones alone. (Fun story: after Katsu, got this dry cleaned, and asked for them to just clean the skirts, not the bodice; get it back, about 1/4 of the rhinestones are missing, and all of my hand-stitching had to be redone.) I ordered some fake white pearls in bulk and hand strung them onto a stretchy jewelry string, and then hand sewed those to the dress using clear thread. I was scared of making the string too taught, so I just made it the length of my bust & waist without stretching it, and then made the string tighter after the pearls were sewn on the dress. (Thank goodness for dress forms!) After that, I left a gap under the top row of pearls for the 3 lines of trim PrettyDeer and I picked out (sewing them flush hid the first one). I had to hand sew the trim with the rhinestones on it because there was no way to do it with the machine, but I machine stitched the other two on there, as well as the “u” shaped trim. Unfortunately, my bust is bigger than donuts + 2 rows of pearls + 4 lines of trim, so the gaps I have on there were pretty large/made my inaccuracy spidey senses tingle, so I added some rose patterned lace trim (because Chibi-Moon is the daughter of Tuxedo Mask, I figured roses would be fitting), and hand-sewed a 2mm pearl to the center of each rose because I clearly like suffering.

JEWELRY: I wasn’t sure what color pearls I should wear with this, so I borrowed some pink and white ones from my mom but pink won over, haha. I bought a pink pearl bracelet from the wonderful Starlightslk the Friday of Katsu because a white one of mine had a broken clasp. I love love love this bracelet so much!! It’s so pretty and matches the pearl necklace I borrowed from my mom and the earrings I have perfectly! I made my pink forehead crescent (Chibi-Usa technically has a Pink Moon Crystal, so I figured her crescent should be pink too!) For AB, I had more casting issues, so the gem is actually made out of hotglue and painted with pink nail polish. The older version was resin painted with body paint, lol.

For the armor sleeves: this didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to (should have made the circles /much/ smaller but: I drew the circle on paper to use as a reference, sketched out the snail shell and cut that out (two going one way for the front, and then flipped the other side for the back part of the arm), and then used the side part of the circle as a guide for sketching out the flippy bits – three of those for the edge of the front and back panels of the circle. Then I sketched out the middle parts (four pieces total, mostly straight with the v cutout in two different lengths), cut everything out of the craft foam. I glued the front and back pieces so they were touching each other on top of the middle circle, then did the snail shell for each side so that the “tail” of it faces towards the middle, then glued the flippy bits for one side of the circle down, then the middle parts for the side closest to that circle, and repeated with the other side. The front/back flippy bits should cover some of the middle parts so it took a little bit of finagling to get it. Then I heated everything up on the stovetop and formed each circle over a styrofoam ball to get it to be sticky-outy, fixed any hot glue that came loose, and then painted everything with glitter mod podge. To get it to stay up, I sewed three pieces of clear jewelry elastic (which snapped between judging and my walk-on ofc) between the front & back circles.

For my bun flower, I found a bouquet of fake flowers from Joann’s with pink tips, and just cut some of the outer petals off so it wasn’t SUPER HUGE OMG FLOWER and just stuck it into my wig.

For the wig, I bought a Chibi in Bubblegum Pink from Arda, and covered the odangos with wefts from there as well! I more or less followed HezaChan’s tutorial on how to make the odangos, but I didn’t stub my wig. The odangos just slide into the wig with bobby pins, so I can remove them and use the wig for other projects.

This was super long, but I hope you find it helpful!



Costume Construction: Accuracy vs. Reality

Every cosplayer knows the struggle of having anime/game/other animated fantasy source not matching up with reality. Anime clothes, much like anime boobies, have a physics all their own and at times, make absolutely no sense.


Gif cred to photobucket user abhdragon

Need I say more?

Sailor Moon’s legs are ridiculously long and not at all proportionate to her body – is that skirt supposed to be 12 inches or is it just her ridonk legs making it look that way? Asuna’s breastplate is literally just: “Hi I’m here to look like functional armor but I have nothing holding me up, good luck making this nerds!” ad infinitum.

Cosplayers are usually the type of obsessive-compulsive people that strive for ACCURACY in all things – which can be difficult when something is literally impossible to portray the way it’s shown in canon. So tips from someone who’s been doing this a long time:

  1. Do your best to make something the “accurate” way with a mockup out of muslin so that you’re not killing yourself for making a not-so-great prototype out of your good stuff.
  2. If/when that fails, take a deep breath. Now is the time to say “anime/source material creators, you are a huge jerk, why must you hurt me in this way” – and draft something that looks good on an actual human, rather than something that’s 100% accurate. Because if it’s accurate but looks like trash, you won’t be happy. But if it’s not accurate but looks pretty, a smaller part of you will be unhappy, and that small part will learn to shut the heckie up the first time someone says “OMG I LOVE UR COSPLAY UR LEIK MAH FAV [INSERT CHARACTER HERE] EVAAAA!!!”.

Another thing: this also goes for altering designs to look good on you specifically, even if they do make IRL-clothes-sense. Everyone has varying degrees of comfort displaying different areas of their bodies, and there’s nothing wrong with making a costume a little more “modest” to make you feel more comfortable — or even just changing the cut of a design if it’s not flattering for your body type.

There is no way that I’d be able to get a backless bodice to stay up and give my bust the support that it needs – (I’m literally a 34D-DD depending on the store) without some serious actual magical girl magic, so instead of going for complete “screen accuracy” with Princess Tutu, I went for a more realistic “what would this look like if it were actual ballet instead of anime” look – and gave the bodice a back so I wouldn’t be afraid of falling out of it.

I learned this lesson the hard way, because the last time I cosplayed Tutu, I gave the bodice a low back with no straps, and found myself in a bit of a pickle in terms of the bustline the day of the convention, thanks to medication side effects: with the bra I intended to wear, I was too big, but with a less supportive bra, I was almost too small and needed copious amounts of fashion tape to keep the top from falling over. Between being upset at my body, staying up until 4am the night before the con, and the dozens of creepy men leering at me and trying to get photos of me without my consent, all I wanted to do all day was get back to my hotel room, change, and cry. I just “had” to be accurate, but it’s cosplay, so you “have” to have fun, otherwise it’s just a really strange form of torture.

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Photo credit to thelolitaprincess

This year, I decided to make a version that made sense for me & my body, and I was much happier for it!

So basically, the moral of the story is: when anime doesn’t make sense, don’t try too hard breaking your poor noodle trying to make sense of it. You do you, and change what you’re not comfortable with so you can have the most fun as your character!