March 4, 2016

Tinkerbell Adult Cosplay Costume Tutorial - Part 2 out of 2

A week ago I showed you the first part of making an adult Tinkerbell cosplay costume: how to make an adjust the mock up (Step 1), how to construct the dress and the lining (Step 2), and how to apply boning to the lining (Step 3).

Now, I will show you how to complete the costume in 4 steps:

Step 4. Sewing the bra cups
Step 5. Sewing the lining onto the outer fabrics
Step 6. Installing the invisible zipper
Step 7. Finished!

Step 4. Sewing the bra cups

If you want to save time, you can skip this step and purchase ready-made bra cups from a crafts store. However, you may have issues finding the right shape or size. The only ready-made bra cups I could find had padding in them, and since I've got more than enough of natural assets, I really wanted non-padded ones so I had to make them myself.

Start by pinning the inner dress on to yourself and then placing pins around the area which you want the bra cup to cover. You can measure the width of this area from the bust seam and then try to trace a similar shape on to your Side Front (SF) and Center Front (CF) pattern pieces.

Here I've pinned the inner dress on and then added pins over the breast area, where I want the bra cup to be. I then measured the width of this area from the bust seam, and measured the height along the bust seam also. 

I drew a similar shape on to the Side Front (SF) and Center Front (CF) pattern pieces. Note how I joined the patterns along the top and left a gap along the bottom. The bra cup will have a middle seam here, to make it into a round shape.

Next you need to trace the shape on a fresh piece of pattern paper and cut.

I have used super soft cotton wadding (normally used for quilting), which I made sure to wash in hot water beforehand to prevent shrinking of finished pieces. I covered it with the thin, fusible interfacing on both sides. So you'll want to cut 2 pieces of wadding and 4 pieces of the interfacing. Make sure 2 pieces of the interfacing are mirrored from the other 2, because you'll be ironing them on to the opposite sides of the wadding.

After ironing the interfacing, cut a strip of muslin which you will use to join the middle bit. Pin it over the middle opening and sew with a wide zigzag stitch, catching each edge. After doing this, I noticed the shape wasn't quite right, so I took it in a bit along the top, resulting in a middle seam cutting across the whole height of the cup. So make sure you try on the cup after finishing it and be prepared to make a new one if the shape is not right.

I also did a simple, rather dense stitch along the edges of the cups since a tutorial which I already lost the link to told to do this. However, I am not sure if it makes any difference.

I placed a fresh piece of pattern paper over the original pattern pieces and drew the shape, then cut it out.

Here I've pinned the pattern on to the fusible interfacing and the pre-washed wadding. I would also need to turn the pattern over the other side and cut a second piece of the interfacing for the other side, then repeat for the second bra cup. After cutting the interfacing needs to be ironed on.

I've cut a thin strip of muslin to help join the gap, then pinned it on. Looks a bit weird, but it will work. Ignore the pencil sketching on my cup!

Sew over the middle of the strip with a wide zig zag stitch, catching each side. It's safer to remove the needles as you encounter them.

Coming to the end of the zig zagged seam. The bra cup is starting to form into a rounder shape.

Finished bra cups with additional stitching along the outer edges. They are not the most beautiful, but certainly functional enough, and nobody will see them anyway!

Finally, you'll want to sew the cups to the reverse side of the inner dress (on the reinforcing fabric's side). A couple of stitches on 4 corners should be sufficient, it does not need to be sewn all over.

Step 5. Sewing the lining onto the outer fabrics

At this point, you should have already constructed the outer dress (out of a satin and a layer of organza) and the inner dress (out of lining and reinforcement fabric), and you have also added boning to your inner dress. You have sealed the edges of any fabrics that are delicate and/or prone to fraying, and you have sewn all vertical seams except the center back.

Start by pinning the neckline of the inner dress onto the outer with right sides facing against each other. Machine stitch. Note that if you have applied the fusible interfacing along the edges of your pattern pieces (See Part 1, Step 2), you will be sewing over the interfacing again (this protects your delicate fashion fabrics). Take care when sewing the sweetheart neckline: you'll want a nice shape and clean stitching here because this will be one of the most visible parts!

When you finish sewing, cut notches on to the seam allowances at the sweetheart neckline. Make sure to cut a notch in between the two large curves, otherwise it won't look right when you turn it! You'll want to cut pretty close to the stitching but at the same time be very careful not to cut through it. Turn the dress on to the right side, push seams out and check if any alteration is required.

At this point I have already stitched the neckline, however, before this step I had pinned the outer and inner layers together. Note that the stitching runs over the fusible interfacing again. This protects your delicate fashion fabrics and ensures a more robust structure.

This is how the dress looks when the neckline is stitched. Above you can see the inner dress, with the inner side facing up and outer side facing down. On the bottom you can see the outer dress, again with the inner side up and outer side down.

Cut notches reaching just above the stitching line along the curve of the bust. (I've got 2 rows of the white stitching here because I made an alteration. If you were successful at the first shot, you'll have only 1 row of stitching)

Next, with the right sides of both the inner and the outer dress facing up, topstitch along the neckline (close to the seam you just created before) on the lining's side.

Topstitching the neckline. My outer dress is on the left and the inner dress is on the right.

Next, turn the dress on the reverse side again (with reverse sides of both inner and outer dress facing outwards). Pin all over the sides and the hem. Earlier I recommended to leave the cutting of the lining into shape until later, if you followed my advise now is the right time to cut it. You have pinned your zigzag trimmed fashion fabrics to the lining, so nothing can go wrong anymore: go ahead and cut the hem of the lining following carefully the shape of the fashion fabrics.

I don't have photos of this stage but you'll want to sew along the zigzag/leaf tip shaped hem now. Again, you're sewing on the reverse side of the fabrics, with the right sides of the fabrics facing each other. When sewing the zigzag bits you'll want only a narrow seam allowance. You can trim any excess off after stitching. And again you'll want to cut tiny notches along all curvy parts and in between the triangles.

Now turn the dress to the right side (you will be able to pull it through the back center which we have left open until now). Pull the seams out carefully using a pointed (not too sharp!!) object, and pinch the fabric with your index finger inside on the reverse side and your thumb on the outside over the seam. Softly run your thumbnail along the seam doing a gentle scraping motion against your fingertip on the inside, this will bring the seam out.

I have now finished stitching the seam along the hem on the reverse side of the dress. I've turned the dress around and pulled the seams out carefully using a pointed object. I'm running my thumbnail along the seam of each triangle, carefully pushing the seam further out.

When the hem is completely turned and the seams are carefully pulled out, you'll want to topstitch along the entire edge of the hem for a nice finishing touch. This will also keep the triangles/leaf tips in shape.

Simply sew through the entire hem with the right side facing up. You'll want to be as close to the edge as you possibly can and you'll also want to set the stitch to be quite long using the stitching length dial on your machine.

The finished hem. I have topstitched along the entire length of it. As you can see, the stitching will run through all layers, showing on both the outer side and the inner side/lining of the dress.

Step 6. Installing the invisible zip

This is the last step in the construction and although some people dread the installing of zippers I can assure you that it is very easy after all the hard work you have done so far!

I won't go through the steps of installing an invisible zip here as there are heaps of tutorials out there - just do a search for invisible or concealed zipper tutorial either on Google or Youtube, and you'll find all the help you need.

I do recommend a couple of things though, which make things easier for you: 1) Seal the raw edges unless you already did so - yes, even though they will be covered by the lining later on - this makes your dress more durable. 2) Close the remainder of the center back seam AFTER installing the zipper, 3) Purchase an invisible zip foot, and 4) Baste the zipper in place along both sides. I always prefer to baste my zips rather than just pin them.

I first pinned the invisible zip in place, then basted it on. After basting I put the invisible zipper foot on my machine and stitched very close to the coil on both sides.

Once you have stitched the zipper on, pin the remainder of the center back on the reverse side, and stitch leaving a suitable seam allowance.

Finally, when the zipper is installed and the center back seam has been closed, fold and pin the edges of the lining over the zipper tape on the inner side of the dress. Hand-stitch with very small, barely visible stitches that catch the edge of the lining and the zipper tape.

Took this photo with the flash so colours are a bit different. This is what the finished invisible zipper will look like. It sits neatly within the center back seam and you can't even tell the zipper is there!

Step 7. Finished!

...Almost, anyway. You can now pull out any visible basting that is remaining at this point :)

 Wear your costume and give yourself a pat on the back. Post a comment with a picture to your finished cosplay!

Thanks for using my tutorial, and please don't forget I'd love to hear your comments and questions. If you liked my tutorial please post a link to it. Thanks again!

Finished Tinkerbell cosplay costume! Now that was well worth the effort wasn't it :)

February 26, 2016

Tinkerbell Adult Cosplay Costume Tutorial - Part 1 out of 2

I am going to show you step by step how to make a Tinkerbell adult cosplay dress. I hope this tutorial is of use - if you used it, please don't forget to link and leave a comment with a link to your photo! :)

This costume was completely hand made by made (I did not make the wings). Disclaimer: I am not a professional seamstress, although I am capable of making functional cosplay costumes. :)

Tinkerbell Dress - Adult Cosplay Costume

Difficulty: Intermediate
Base pattern: Burda Strapless Bustier Designer Dress 2011/02 #165
Materials used: Satin, organza, polycotton (reinforcement), acetate lining. For bra cups, cotton wadding.
Other supplies: Invisible zip, Rigilene boning, lightweight interfacing, fraystoppa, matching thread.

I would like to mention Momo Kurumi cosplay who has inspired this costume with her beautiful take on Tinkerbell.

7 Steps to make (Click on links to jump to section):

Tutorial Part 1.

Step 1. Making (and adjusting) the mock up
Step 2. Constructing the dress and lining
Step 3. Boning the lining

Tutorial Part 2.

Step 4. Sewing the bra cups
Step 5. Sewing the lining onto the outer fabrics
Step 6. Installing the invisible zipper
Step 7. Finished!

The adult Tinkerbell costume from a 2/3 degree angle. 
Adult Tinkerbell dress from the back
Tinkerbell cosplay costume from the front. You can also make a small pouch like this, although I won't cover it in this tutorial.


Step 1. Making (and adjusting) the mock-up

I HIGHLY recommend making a mock-up using muslin or a cheap polycotton. Otherwise, you don't know what it's going to look like. You don't want to ruin your actual fashion fabrics!

First of all, purchase and download the Burda Strapless Bustier Designer Dress 2011/02 #165. This is an online pattern, so you are going to print it at home on sheets of A4 paper. Follow the printing and assembling instructions carefully until all of the sheets form a pattern and lay it down on a large surface (or the floor).

Determine your size using the sizing charts and trace all pattern pieces on pattern paper or baking paper. Cut traced pattern pieces. Don't add any seam allowance! You will add this when you cut your fabric.

This pattern has got a seam underneath the bust, so you are going to want to remove this seam by combining the bust pieces and the back yokes with the corresponding hem bits. This is easy - just match each piece with their pair and attach with clear tape (try not to overlap them). 

Attach bust and back yokes to the corresponding hem bits with clear tape. Don't overlap pattern pieces.

Use cheap polycotton or muslin and trace the pattern pieces, cut and sew long seams.

This is what it should look like when long seams are done!

Adjusting the mock up

Ok, now it's the time to adjust anything you don't like. Most of the adjustments will be done on the Center Front (CF) and Side Front (SF) pieces. If you have experience in making pattern adjustments this will be rather easy.

If you don't have this experience, worry not - This pattern might (depending on your body shape of course) pass as it is, so if you want, you can skip adjusting. However, you will have to modify the hem to the "zigzag" pattern.

I just moved the bust seams towards the centre a little bit, and more importantly I made the sweetheart neckline more prominent by making the bust curves taller

Adjusting the sweetheart neckline. The pencil line marks the new edge. You can see that I have increased the curve.

This is what my Center Front (CF) and Side Front (SF) looked like after adjusting the neckline and bust seam.

Making a pattern for the hem

Now you will want to make a zig zag pattern for the hem. However, I would be better off calling this a leaf tip pattern, as you will soon see. Inspired by Momo Kurumi's Tinkerbell cosplay!

Paper with square guides is good for this, so find some and draft a triangle. Determine the width roughly by measuring the width of your hem and diving by whatever you want to be the number of triangles on the finished hem. I had 11 triangles on the hem in total and my draft triangle was about 17 cm (6.7 in) wide and 13 cm (5 in) high.

After drawing the triangle I rounded the sides by drawing curved lines over the initial sides. This gives a softer and a more pleasing look than a harsh, geometric zig zag shape. It also gives the appearance of the tip of a leaf. Cut out your finished "leaf tip" triangle and trace on to the hem of the mock up dress.

Create a triangle and round its edges for a softer look. Trace the triangle along the hem of the mock up dress.

Note that your "leaf tip" triangle is going to act as a rough guideline only. You won't be able to replicate the same shape all throughout the hem (I wish you could!) You will want the seams to be either in between 2 triangles or exactly at the tip of the triangle, and this will not be the case unless you adjust the sizes of the triangles.

Don't worry although your triangles will not be of identical size! They don't need to be. Just make sure you have the correct seam placement and that your triangles are of consistent height. It will look fine!

When you have finished drawing the triangles on to the hem, cut it and wear to determine if you are happy with it. Take care to observe the length of the dress and make adjustments if necessary. Un-do all seams on mock up and use pieces as the final pattern OR trace all your adjustments on to fresh pieces of pattern paper and cut.

Finished mock-up. Note how the center front seams meet the tip of the triangle/leaf tip shape. The side seams meet in between the 2 triangles. You need to adjust the sizes of the triangles along your hem to achieve the perfect placement with all seams. 

Step 2. Constructing the dress and the lining


Let's remind ourselves that this dress consists of 4 layers. Starting from the outside:

1) Fancy organza (Fashion fabric #1)
2) Vivid green satin (Fashion fabric #2),
3) Polycotton/muslin (Reinforcement),
4) Acetate lining (Lining).

The fabrics I used. Starting from the right, we have the outmost layer ie. the fancy organza. This is a VERY delicate fabric so care must be taken. Next, the vivid green satin, mine was very floppy so needed two more inner layers: the green acetate lining and the polycotton for additional body.

Start by using your altered patterns to cut out fabrics 1) and 2). Remember to add a generous seam allowance for the center back seams (you're putting an invisible zip here). When cutting organza, pin tissue paper underneath which will help to achieve a more accurate result.

Then, you'll want to lay all organza pieces over the satin pieces with right sides of both fabrics facing up, and baste together along the edges.

Optional step for seam reinforcement: If you are doing the organza layer and your satin is not very sturdy: You'll also want to cut 2.5cm (1in) wide strips in the shape of the edges of each piece, out of light fusible interfacing and iron in place on the reverse side of the satin. The purpose of this is to add weight around the seam area of otherwise flimsy fabrics. You'll also discover that you're far less likely to damage the delicate organza while sewing the seams if you have a piece of interfacing to reinforce the materials.

Organza (#1) and satin (#2) basted together with the wrong side facing up. Added fusible interfacing along edges in order to reinforce all seams that will  be sewn in the next steps. This also protects the delicate organza.
Here you can see the 2 fabric layers basted together with the orange thread and then the fusible interfacing added on the reverse side of the satin.
This is what the fabrics look like from the top. The outmost layer is the organza, underneath is the satin and these two layers are basted together with the orange thread.

Constructing the outer dress (Fashion fabrics)

Next, pin the pieces together on the reverse side. Sew all seams with the exception of the center back which you will leave open for now. Note that if you did the optional seam reinforcement, you would be sewing over the fusible interfacing.

This is the reverse of the dress after the long seams are sewn, with the exception of the center back, facing the top here. I've just pinned the center back up until to where I plan for the zipper to end.
This is the dress from the right side, center back open (partly pinned) and facing up.

Now you'll also need to seal the raw edges from fraying.

There are a few ways to do this but if you are sewing very delicate fabrics like I was, your safest bet is Fray Stoppa (sort of like glue). You just apply a light layer along all edges and wait for it to dry. In addition, I did a zig zag stitch along the zipper seams at the center back. I also initially tried to do it along the neckline, but I soon discovered that this damages the organza easily!! So I really recommend just a light layer of Fray Stoppa.

Zigzag finish can damage the delicate organza. Be careful if you decide to zigzag or interlock. I've applied Fray Stoppa along the neckline, note the dark shadow close to the top.
Zigzag stitching the edges of the center back is a bit safer than the neckline because you (should!) have more seam allowance to work with due to the zipper opening.


Constructing the inner dress (Reinforcement & Lining)

In theory, the inner layers are exactly the same shape as the outer 2 layers.

However, in practice, when I did this I had huge issues matching the hem (with the triangular / leaf tip pattern) of the outer and inner fabrics. They just didn't meet! So for this reason, I'd recommend to cut a normal hem, and only cut it into the triangular shape after it's pinned together with the outer fabrics. I'd also recommend leaving an extra generous seam allowance for the center back edges, which will be folded over the invisible zipper at Stage 6.

In any case, you'll need to baste the reinforcing fabric on to the lining on each piece, just like you did with the fashion fabrics in the previous step. Then you join the pieces together along the long seams, again leaving the center back open.

The green fabric is the lining and the white fabric is the reinforcing layer. Baste these together along the very edge. You can use your machine for basting, using the longest stitch setting.

Join the pieces together along the long seams, leaving the center back open. The edge of my hem has a seam where it joins a single layer of the lining fabric. You can do this, or have the double layer all the way to the bottom.

Wear the lining to observe how it fits. Mine seems to fit fine! However, note that on the actual dress, I would be wearing this the other way around ie. the green lining fabric facing my body and the white reinforcing fabric would be facing the fashion fabrics outside.

Step 3. Boning the lining

Here we are using 8mm Rigilene boning, sold in the craft shops by the metre. (You can also use the wider boning, but the thin one is apparently better for the bust seams) You need 6 strips: one for every vertical seam you've just joined in the previous steps.

Decide how long you want the strips to be. I recommend to cut them at around an inch or two below your belly button. I made mine too long, and it gets awkward when you sit and the boning bends into a funny shape. So avoid my mistake, and make sure not to make yours too long.

The Rigilene comes in a roll so it will be curled when you buy it. Straighten the strips, and then try to bend the tips of the 2 strips going over the breasts into a rounder shape along the top.

Rigilene can fray without proper sealing, exposing plastic rods that can be painful if they dig into your skin. So make sure you seal the end using heat (for example, run through a candle flame). Pin over the seams with the seam facing the middle of the strip.

To be sure they don't become exposed, cover the ends of the strips with tiny bits of muslin, and sew these in place at the same time when sewing the Rigilene over the seams. Sew the Rigilene vertically along each edge.

Rigilene is lightweight boning which can be sewn directly on to a fabric and does not require a boning channel to be applied. The ends can reveal sharp plastic rods, so make sure to seal them with heat.

A small piece of spare muslin fabric covers the tip of each Rigilene strip, to ensure it does not become exposed. The strip is sewn on at the same time when sewing the Rigilene on (note the white stitching), and trimmed afterwards.

Don't worry, Rigilene won't break your machine. You may find the stitching easier using a Zipper foot. Sew each side of the strip vertically over the centre of the seams.

This is how it looks after you have sewn on each side of the Rigilene strip and went over the fabric cover which protects the end of the strip.

This is how it will look after you have finished sewing on all of the strips. Note that I made mine too long - an inch or two below your belly button is sufficient!

This is how the inner layers will now look from the right side (I used a green lower thread). You can see two vertical rows of stitching close to either side of the seams.

This concludes the first part of the Tinkerbell Cosplay Costume Tutorial. Click here to view the second part.

Be sure to leave me a comment! I'm happy to reply to any questions, and I would also love to see your finished costume, so don't forget to put a link to your photo :)

January 9, 2016

New Year's wishes and plans - a hello from Elsa and good old me

It's been a while since I updated. Now that we are in the New Year, it's a great time to get back to blogging. Hopefully you will see updates from me on a more regular schedule soon enough.

Before Christmas I got around doing a few festive Elsa (Frozen) appearances for children's birthday parties and other events. I also had my husband take these photos of me as Elsa next to my Christmas tree!

Elsa is an important character for me as I perform as her often so I'm hoping to upgrade this costume in 2016 by actually making my own from scratch (not least for the reason that this one shrank in the wash and lost colour - very disappointing considering it was a rather expensive costume).

Elsa decorates the Christmas tree...

Merry Christmas from Frozen Elsa!

Elsa and the Christmas tree

Elsa and reindeer! A quick sneaky photo from the "backstage" of an amazing venue I performed at.

Although I love making festive appearances as Elsa and other characters, I spent the holidays overseas. I was in Florida and I thoroughly enjoyed it. These photos are from the Florida keys.

Me out of costume but with my reindeer antlers.. :) This is from the 7-mile bridge in Florida Keys

Sunset in Key West

Looking back I'm satisfied I've made the most of 2015. Hopefully I can make the most of this year too. I'm looking forward to doing these things...

  • Embracing my passion as a children's entertainer - I live for princess performing and I hope I can become an even better entertainer.
  • Developing my skills as a face painter - I developed massively in 2015, I hope this carries on.
  • Playing the ukulele - I'm taking regular lessons now. Who knows, maybe sometime soon I will start my Youtube channel... if I get enough confidence!
  • Travelling and visiting home - I do this every year. I'm particularly looking forward to my friend's wedding in late summer in Finland.

Please tell me about your plans for the New Year! :)