My latest cosplay project is Princess Yue from the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV series. She has been on my list for years, ever since I first watched the show. Her tragic story of sacrifice and love really touched me. I love heartbreaking, beautiful tragedy and her story is squarely in the middle of it. She was born a princess of the Northern Water Tribe. As a baby she got sick and nearly died until the moon spirit saved her life, turning her black hair white and marking her as special. Princess Yue lived a life of self-sacrifice for her people, putting their needs well above her own wants. She knew that her life was a gift on borrowed time and wanted to benefit others with her second chance. It came to the point where she was willing to sacrifice love for a marriage of duty that would help her tribe. But before she could go through with the arranged marriage, her home was attacked and the protective moon spirit was slain. Yue made an even greater sacrifice by returning her borrowed life force to the moon and becoming the new moon spirit. She gave up her physical existence and chance for love to repel the attack and save her people. She remained a lonely spirit for the rest of the show; able to observe and assist, but not experience, the everyday loves and joys in the lives of those she cared about. She watched as the one she loved falls in love with another, and ultimately Yue lost everyone she fought so hard for. *sniffle*
I loved Yue’s story, so of course I had to cosplay her. When researching her character, I had two main options for what she wears. There’s her mortal princess outfit (on the left) which consists of a long dress under a large, fur-trimmed winter coat. While the outfit is gorgeous, I predicted that it would also be difficult and expensive to make her coat. Second, there is her Moon Spirit gown (On the right). I decided to do her Spirit form for a few reasons. First, I am way more comfortable sewing fancy dresses and already had a pattern in mind for it. The second reason is entirely my own bias. I just like her Moon Spirit dress and love wearing long, flowy dresses with bell sleeves in general, so I’m going to take any excuse I can to wear one.
Decision made, I moved from researching to gathering materials. I already had a very pale blonde wig from another costume and even though Yue’s hair is usually pictured as white, I figured it was close enough and I’d make do. I wanted a mermaid-style strapless gown for the main costume and I ordered the pattern I had in mind right away. I got McCall’s 6838, a versatile dress pattern that included exactly the style I had pictured (Seen here on the left).
Next, I began gathering my materials. I bought my fabric from Marshall’s, a great local store with amazing selection. I found everything I needed super cheap in their bargain section! Next, I was off to Fabricland for notions. I have a membership with them so I can usually take advantage of discounts on their notions. The pattern called for a zippered back closure but being the silly person I am, I decided to make it a lace-up back because I love the look and it ensures that I can’t put it on by myself. Because what cosplay is ever easy to get in and out of. The struggle is half the fun, right? Right??
My last trip was to Canadian Tire for some long, giant zipties. A friend told me they could be used as a substitute for the plastic boning usually found in fabric stores, at a fraction of the cost. The bodice in this dress required some minimal boning along the seam-lines so I figured it was a good time to give it a try.
I went out on a limb this time and decided to try something new in my sewing process. I have always used old ends and bits of bar soap as my fabric marking utensil for tracing out patterns onto fabric. This method is basically free and handed down to me from my mom, and I have never considered using anything different. The downside is, my soap-marker is often imprecise and doesn’t show up very well on some fabrics. I have had many moments of frustration and tracing patterns and cutting out the resulting ambiguous lines had always been my least-favourite part of sewing. I finally broke down this time and bought a marker made specifically for fabric.
I was very skeptical at first, but OMG this thing is amazing!!! My lines are now clear and precise, the marker tip glides easily across the fabric, and my tracing and cutting time has been halved while my precision has increased. The best part was that the ink, or whatever magical substance is contained in the tube, fades and disappears after a few days. This means I can make marks wherever I want and don’r have to worry about them showing up on the final product. It seems like a small thing, but being able to mark anywhere on the fabric can really streamline the process and eliminate some stress. In summary, this marker is magical and has greatly improved my sewing experience and I needed to rave about it somewhere.
I end Part One with a picture of my beautifully drawn lines as I trace and cut out the pattern. Seriously, this marker has changed my life!