Crafting Yue: Part 2, The Bodice and Zip Ties

This is the second part in a series I am writing to share my process in making a Yue cosplay. Part 1 is here. In this post I will show how I constructed the bodice of Yue’s gown and experimented with using zip ties for boning. I used McCall’s 6838 pattern and made the dress version seen in the picture below, on the right. On the left is the reference picture I used for the costume for comparison. I chose this pattern for its versatility and look. I wanted to make a strapless mermaid-style gown with a straight top-line for the bodice and this pattern had exactly that. I did not have to make many modifications to achieve my desired look. The bodice and skirt sections were constructed separately and then sewn together.


Here is the fabric I bought for this project. I didn’t know exactly what it was because I found it in the mystery bargain section on sale. I loved the texture and shine in the light and dark purple fabrics, which I suspected were some kind of crinkle satin. They certainly looked moon-like to me and I was very happy with my finds. The outside of the bodice was made from the the light purple (lilac?) fabric on the right of the photo. The white fabric on the left was a basic cheap polyester mix lining, which I used for the bodice lining and underlining. I had no idea what the white sparkly stuff at the bottom of the photo was, but I thought it was really pretty and perfect for the flowy white sash that went around the skirt. The dark purple was for the belt around Yue’s waist. I decided to make a separate belt instead of inserting a panel on the dress because it was less modification and seemed easier to do.

12966696_10156726286960517_1403037621_nTracing and cutting the pattern was a breeze thanks to my new magic marker that I raved about in Part 1. You can see the lining and underlining traced and ready to be cut in this photo. I debated whether I really needed to underline the bodice, but the pattern called for it and I have learned to trust the pattern over my own misgivings. There have been enough times where I skipped a step or tried something my way that ended with a seam ripper and frustration for me to have (mostly) learned my lesson. The people who made the pattern know more about sewing than I do.  

The bodice pattern consisted of five panels with an opening in the back for a zipper. I had decided early on to skip the zipper in favour of laces and grommets. I found I preferred laces over zippers to give a better fit and some wiggle room in case I ever changed size. I was also wary of wearing a strapless dress and wanted to be able to lace it up as tightly as I could to avoid any downward sliding.


Above is the bodice right before I put in the home-made boning. The lining that I attached the boning to is at the top of the photo. Below it is the underlining basted to the outside fabric. This is a good example for anyone wondering what the difference between lining and underlining is. Lining goes next to your skin; underlining goes next to the outside “good” fabric. Once the boning is sewn in place they get sandwiched wrong sides together, tucking the seam allowances and boning neatly in-between them. Underlining is mostly used with sheer fabrics so that the wrong side of the lining is not seen through the outside fabric. I am very glad I listened to the pattern and used it here. My outer fabric was not sheer but it was very thin and the underlining added structure and smoothed out the boning ridges.


This is a close-up of the prepared boning before I attached it to the bodice. I used long, heavy-duty zip ties that I bought from Canadian Tire for less than $5. That’s way cheaper than any of the boning I ever bought from a fabric store. The zip ties were also sturdier than plastic boning and I was happy for the extra support it would offer in holding up the dress. The pattern called for boning in its casing so I got some white bias tape to act as my casing. I laid the bias tape along the bodice seam lines and cut the length I needed. I did the same with the zip ties. I used my heavy-duty kitchen scissors to cut the ties and it was still difficult for me. I rounded the ends the best I could and cut off any sharp bits to hopefully prevent the zip ties from poking through the lining with wear. I laid the bias tape along the seams of the bodice lining and stitched the long sides, leaving the top and bottom ends open. Then I slid the zip ties into the home-made casings and stitched across the top and bottom, going over it a few times to make it extra secure.


Above and below are the (mostly) finished bodice! I stitched the lining to the outside, right sides together, then flipped it around to encase the seams and boning. I did not sew down the side edges or bottom because the skirt will be attached later. You can see where I pressed up the seam allowance along the bottom edge of the lining in preparation for that step. The seams for the boning came out a little crooked, but no one is going to see them. I was very pleased with how my experiment with zip ties turned out. I will probably continue to use this method in the future.


That’s it for this post! Thanks for reading and happy sewing 🙂



Crafting Yue: Part 1, Research & Supplies

il_570xN.277845610My 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*

fcba3d86df20cc991eff9aaea86049f6I 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.M6838_07

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).

12966256_10156726282785517_659757646_nNext, 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.12957367_10156726285445517_750988818_n

12957137_10156726286480517_1873398443_nI 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.

12966696_10156726286960517_1403037621_nI 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!