Whenever someone's new to cosplay, it's often advised for them to start by modifying pre-bought garments to suit the character. But whether you've been in the hobby for 4 months or 4 years (or more!), I still think it's a viable option for any skill level. Altering garments can range from adding small adornments, to completely re-making something, like I did in the latter part of last year!

For a Vocaloid PV, I was thinking I would have to make my first kimono. But, after searching for materials, I came across the perfect yukata for just $20 - a fraction of what the fabric would've cost me.

However, Rin's yukata has a small white edge on the tomoeri (collar protector), so I grabbed some white fabric that I had laying around, folded over the longest side and then pickstitched it into place. It was important to handsew this because it was a temporary amendment, and I didn't want to damage the fabric. If you're not confident with handsewing, there's also a range of tapes on the market specifically for altering the lengths of pants, skits, sleeves etc.

Finished product! Not that much different, but an alteration all the same!

Now, this modifcation's a bit more major. I picked up this half-finished silk wedding dress a few years ago from a bargain bin. It was only about $10-15 and I didn't have any plans for it, but figured that if nothing came up, I could still use the fabric. After talking to Shona, we decided to cosplay Cendrillon together, and I'd nearly forgotten all about the dress!

So I made a calico mockup and unpicked all the (handsewn!) seams. Not much room for error, is there? I had just enough fabric from the bubble-y bodice of the dress. If it'd been any other style, it wouldn't have worked. Because of the fragile nature of the silk, I also had to reinforce it with interfacing.

Now the fun part! Seeing Mon do lots of lace and applique work, I definitely wanted to try some of my own. It was really fun creating my own patterns, and I'm very lucky to have picked a lace where the designs were mirrored, because it definitely wasn't something I was looking for when I bought it. I was a little worried about the different whites, but the satin binding I used ended up matching the lace's white, so it worked out great!

The finished product! After I was done with the bodice, I just had to create a few accesories, re-attatch the skirt and put a zip down the back. The feathered shoulders were made from gluing feathers from another project onto some shoulder pads before then handsewing them onto the straps. The waist sash was also really simple - a rectangle of one-way stretch fabric that I put some boning into so that it'd add more definition to the waist.

Back view - I'm really in love with the dress' train! It has such a gorgeous shape.

Bodice details. I added some pearls along the satin bias, and little fake roses at the intersection of the straps and bodice. I'd love to have done some beading on the lace work, but ran out of time!

And my headband! The base was a Spotlight find, and all the flowers were glued onto a piece of fabric before being attached to the headband.

And lastly, how the costumes ended up in their respective photoshoots - not too bad at all!

Wig dying tips

I've been meaning to write a tutorial for how I dye wigs for a while, but I haven't quite gotten it down to a fine enough art that I'd want to post it as a tutorial. So, this is more of a 'here's what I use, and what I do, and occasiaonlly it still goes wrong, but it's fun all the same! 8D'

This technique's been used on a lot of my wigs now: Princess Tutu, Marlene and Ari (Okage: Shadow King), Lal Mirch (Katekyo Hitman REBORN!), Madame Red (Kuroshitsuji), Chrome (Katekyo Hitman REBORN!), Gumi (VOCALOID), Sora (Kaleido Star), Chise (Saikano) and Keito (Star Driver). Most of all, I like the natural looking high and low lights it gives, and the ammount of control I have over the shades of colour in the dye.

The ink that I always use is FW Acrylic ink, it's available locally at Eckersley's, or online at numerous craft stores. Ideally, you want to get all of your pigment for your dying from mixing various colours of the inks, however, on occasion I've been able to add a touch of acrylic paint, to help the colour along if I haven't had any ink in the right colour. Though I don't advise making your dye with a majority of paint.

This is nearly everything you need for dying! Your base wig, reference, wig comb, FW ink, rubbing alcohol, spray bottle, paint brush, masking tape, greaseproof paper and GLOVES.

I also advise to do this outside on a sunny day, though you can also do it inside using a hair dryer. This is because the principle is that the rubbing alcohol evaporates leaving the dye in your wig, and the faster this happens, the better.

So grab your ref, and start mixing up the inks. You're going to need quite a lot to get the pigmentation to show through on the wig once it's diluted with rubbing alcohol. Otherwise, it's going to come out a less vibrant colour and appear 'watered down'.

Once the ink is all mixed, you can squeeze the rubbing alcohol into it and mix it in. With the rubbing alcohol, half a bottle will do a short wig, but anything between shoulder or mid-back length, you'll need most, if not a whole bottle. Test our your spray bottle to see if it works, and then pour the ink/alcohol into it. You may need a funnel to help if you're as useless at pouring as I am.

This is how I set myself up outside, use the masking tape to stick some of the greaseproof paper down and onto the ground. This is so you won't get dirt sticks and bugs in your wig, and so you don't end up with random splodges of colour every where too!

Shake up the spray bottle (you'll want it on a fairly large, soft mist) and start dying your wig! It's best to spray a few parts of the wig to see if the colour's coming out as the colour you want it to be. If it isn't, you'll have to add a bit more dye into the spray bottle and shake it up again.

I normally work from the front to the back on one side, before doing the other side, just working my way through the wefts and spraying it onto one side, combing it through, and then doing the other side of the weft - if that makes sense? Particular trouble areas that are harder to dye are the fuzzier fibers around the face, as well as the top of the wig. Once you've done all the wefts close to the base of the wig, you can then start on the rest of the fibers and brushing the dye through them. Once everythings covered, I'll usually leave the wig outside to dry in the sun. But you do have to keep going back to brush it whilst it dries, or else wefts of the wig will dry in clumps together.

After the wig's dried, brush it out again. The fibers will feel quite starchy, but if you were brushing your wig during dying, this should be minimalised. And this is the lovely result! This shade of blue would've been impossible to find in most wig shops, so it was definitely worth doing a custom dye job.

It's always best to dye white (or possibly light silver or blonde) wigs, though I have tinted them darker like my Madame Red wig, here. You can only ever dye wigs darker. It's impossible to lighten them.

Tips and Tricks: Re-discovering circular ruffles

'A Ruffle Overview Extravaganza' by Burda gives a good basic overview of various ruffles and their properties. However for the longest time, I'm pretty sure I've clean forgotton about the very existence of circular ruffles. That is, until I started work on Rin's Synchronicity dress which required a ruffle that sat flat at it's origin before flaring out - a job perfect for a circular ruffle.

By the Burda article's explanation, circular ruffles are created by making an annulus/donut shape, with the inner circumference being the length of where the ruffle needs to go, and the distance between this circumference and the outer one being the width, or how long, the ruffle has to be (don't forget seam allowance!).

As mentioned before, they're great to use when the origin of the ruffle needs to lay flat, and are most convenient when the width of the ruffle isn't too great. If you need a really wide ruffle, you'll end up using quite a lot of material with drawing circles all over it - especially if you're hemming them by using a facing. For my ruffles, I've used the rolled hem stitch on my overlocker and pressed that into place. But I've also seen binding give a very neat and effective finish. Regular hemming on circles (or any other largely curved edge) can result in puckering if not first measured and pressed into place, and can get quite fiddly.

The bodice of Rin's dress where my ruffle's been made up of 1 1/2 circles and placed on a relatively straight edge. For a fuller ruffle you can sew several circles, with a smaller inner circumference, together.

As per any ruffle, the section of the circle on the bias will have more body to it. I've marked in where the ruffle is on the grain and bias, respectively, here to demonstrate that. For this reason, I've learnt to cut open the circle on an area of bias so that the seam is more disguised in the fuller shape. But it does really depend on your taste and personnal preference.

I've also used circular ruffles on the collar of my blouse for Day 1, Costume 2, of Manifest. This collar mockup has two circles in it and is sitting on a curved edge. It gives a nice wave, but I was wanting something a bit more over the top.

For the finished collar, I used somewhere between 2 1/2 - 3 circles. It's really lovely and flouncy and a lot of fun!

If having multiple-circles in a ruffle isn't enough, there's also the options of adding on a few more circles and then lightly gathering, or even pleating, them. For another tutorial and more images and uses of circular ruffles, I'd recommend having a read through of 'THE CIRCULAR RUFFLE'.


Just another cosplayer with stage fright who's chronically chained to their sewing machine.

20's, Melbourne - Australia

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