In September I decided it was high time I build a costume for a character I have adored since childhood: Fuu Hououji from Magic Knight Rayearth. Fuu's costume contains the following parts:
- 1 Two-Tiered/Layered Circe Skirt
- 1 Overdress
- 1 pair of leg warmers/socks
- 1 pair of arm warmers/bands
- 1 pleated belt
- 1 pair of white and gold shoes
- 1 gold chest adornment
- 1 gold headband
- 1 cape with hood
- 1 GIANT sword
- NUMEROUS Custom cast gems
Since this took a lot of work and I have had ALOT of questions about how it was built I figured it was high time I share with you how I created this costume. Here is what you will need for this costume....
- LOTS of fabric (This costume used a total of 9 yards!)
- A headband (plastic or custom made)
- Worbla (OPTIONAL)
- Insulation Foam
- Wood Glue
- Paint (Acrylic & Spray Paint)
- Sealant (Spray or Paint on)
- A Sewing machine
- Cutting Shears
- Utility OR Exacto Blade/Knife
- Easy Cast Clear Cast Resin (8oz)
- Nail Polish and Lacquer (in the color of your choice for the gems)
- Casting molds
- Sand paper
- Heat Gun
- Magnets (Rare Earth preferred)
- Hot Glue OR Contact Cement
- Fabric Scissors
- Lots and lots of patience and time
Let's get started!
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Step 1: Sewing: Circle Skirt and Dress
Before you start on ANYTHING take your measurements! I printed out the best quality images I could find of the character then wrote down all applicable measurements. You may need a second pair of hands to help you with this so be sure that someone is around to assist or be prepared to contort into weird angles.
With your measurements in hand it's time to start sewing!
By now you should have the following prepared/ready/available:
- 9-10 yards of fabric (colors vary on your personal preference)
- 1 Tape Measurer
- Patterns (custom or store bought)
- Elastic (3-5 yards)
- Sewing Machine
- Sewing Pins (these are not required but they are useful)
If you do not have patterns you can make your own. A majority of this costume was made using old garments (the white overdress pattern was an old dress traced out then modified to fit the character's aesthetic) and/or measurements.
To create your circle skirt you will need the following measurements: circumference of your hips and length you want the skirt to be.
Take one of your pieces of fabric and lay it flat. Fold it hot dog style (in half at the longest edge) then fold it hamburger style (in half at the shortest edge). Now take your hip circumference and divide it by 6.28; the result will be your skirt circumference. Start from the folded corner and measure down then mark where your skirt circumference begins. Mark this on both sides of the fabric (measure down from the corner each time). For the length, measure from your skirt circumference down on each side. Now take your tape measurer and pin it to the folded corner. Like a compass, use the tape measure to draw the outline of your skirt. Now cut!
You will need to repeat this process twice however; the second skirt MUST be longer by 2.5 inches so increase your length (this creates the double tier/layer effect).
With both skirts cut out pin the waist together and sew them. Now take your elastic, measure your waist circumference (right below the belly button) and cut. Sew the ends of the elastic together. Once the elastic is sewn take it and create a channel on your skirt's waist for it (fold the waist over the elastic then pin the fabric down - take care NOT to pin the fabric to the elastic). With the elastic inside the skirt sew the channel closed (again, taking care NOT to sew the elastic).
Now that you have everything sewn you should be able to adjust the loose pleating of the skirt by moving the excess fabric around the elastic. For more information on this process visit this TUTORIAL.
For the overdress I took an old black dress and pinned it down to the white fabric. I traced the top part of the dress then used the skirt skirt pattern for the bottom. After sewing the two sides of the top part together (I double layered my fabric) I cut a slit in the circle skirt, added elastic so it would pleat, then sewed it to the top. This caused A LOT of weight to settle on my hips so I may remake this piece but it was a suitable solution for a rather unusual pattern. I later on discovered this PATTERN that would be a suitable substitute for those who are worried about creating scratch patterns.
Step 2: Sewing: Gloves, Legs, Belt and Cape
For the cape body I used a pattern from SIMPLICITY and replaced the "shawl" they had attached to the top with a custom made hood. If you would like to craft your own hood check out this TUTORIAL. I made my hood HUGE so I could add elastic and give it more "ruffles".
The same method was used for all three of these. Let's start with the gloves...
Take the following measurements:
- Wrist circumference
- Forearm circumference
- Forearm length to wrist
First things first, triple the Forearm length measurement and mark that measurement on your fabric. Now mark your wrist circumference on one end and your forearm circumference on the opposite end. Cut two pieces of elastic (one for your wrist and one for your forearm) and lay then on the ends of your fabric. Create that elastic channel as you did with the skirt then sew. With the elastic sewn in start to pin the long edges together. While you are pinning create pleats by folding the fabric under about a half inch then pinning. Do this until the fabric matches your forearm length. Sew that sucker together!
Flip the glove inside out and slip it on. It should look something like the image included at the top of this page.
Repeat these steps for the belt and legs.
Belt Measurements: measure your waist and hips.
Leg measurements: Measure your foot (top to heel circumference) and mid-calf.
BAM! You're done with the sewing!
Step 3: Wig Styling
Wigs ARE NOT my specialty so this took ALOT of creative thinking. Since two minds are better than one I enlisted the help of a friend to work out how we were going to curl a REALLY straight wig and make the curls last all day.
Our first attempt was dry heating the wig on a low temperature and using bobby pins to hold the curls as we went around the head. While that worked the curls began to fall out by the next day (despite dousing it in a bunch of hair spray and product).
So, after some research, we started again. This time we wet the wig and curled it on a high temperature setting. Once the curl released we sprayed it with hair spray and that did the trick! If you are using a synthetic wig here's the curling rule: WET THE HAIR! I know it's the opposite of what you're supposed to do with hair but synthetic fibers don't follow typical rules of styling.
After two conventions I can say this method worked wonders. My ringlets have yet to fall out ;)
Step 4: Casting and Painting Gems
Gems can be bought at just about any craft store but it's really difficult to find ones with the shine and allure that real gems have. Here's my trick to sparkly, fantastic gems!
- Buy Easy Cat Clear Cast Resin.
- I purchased the 8oz variety and had MORE than enough resin for this costume (actually...I cast TOO many gems so I would say a quarter of the bottle works for ten gems the size of quarter or fifty cent piece).
- Buy or Make Gem Molds.
- I had some pre-made molds and others I had made myself. The best molds I have used were made for hard candy. NOTE: Make sure you spray your molds in mold release or you may have trouble getting them out.
- Buy Nail Polish and Lacquer.
- I purchase two types of polish: glitter and solid green. Then I purchased a lacquer clear coat.
- Follow the directions on the Easy Cast bottle and pour the resin into your gem molds. NOTE: AGAIN please use MOLD RELEASE.
- Once your gems are set pop them out of their molds and flip them upside down.
- Take your glitter polish and paint two layers on the back of each gem. Allow the polish to set for ten minutes before applying another coat.
- Take your solid polish and apply one coat to the back of the gem.
- Take your clear coat/lacquer and apply a coat to the back and front of the gem.
The end result is a sparkly gem that shines from all angles!
Step 5: Accessories: Chest Adornment and Tiara
For Fuu's Chest Adornment I drew the pattern out (you could create a vector or even print out a blown up version if drawing is not your strong suit) then traced it onto a piece of 1/4" craft foam. I then used contact cement to glue the pieces of foam together (NOTE: Use gloves and a respirator when working with contact cement - IT IS TOXIC). Once the foam was glued together I cut out two pieces of worbla that were a bit larger than the chest piece and used a Heat Gun to warm the thermoplastic up. With the plastic ready I laid it over the foam and pressed the two pieces together.
Finding the details are not coming out? Use a tongue depressor, edge of a knife or scissors to help the worbla conform to your detail work. With the details worked in I reheated the Worbla then pressed it over my chest gently to get it to curve so it would sit as required. On the back, I added a curved claps then glued an earth magnet to the back of the clasp and to the back of the chest armor. You could use velcro, snaps or buttons for this instead...I just like magnets.
Fuu's tiara was constructed from a plastic headband and worbla. I wrapped the headband in worbla then sculpted false adornments in worbla and added them to the headband.
Both pieces were coated in Plasti-Dip to even out their surface then painted with Krylon metallic Gold Spray Paint. I also added one of my Easy Cast gems to each of them using hot glue.
Step 6: Boots
Boot covers are still an area I struggle with so I picked up a pair of used shoes from my local Savers and removed all of the belts/buckles on them. I used Rustoleum spray paint to enhance the white of the boots then sealed the paint with a Matte Coat of Spray On Mod Podge (this helped the paint from rubbing off as I walked).
Fuu has some gold detailing on her boots. I tried to find gold fabric but came up short. Working with what I had an excess of (foam) I cut out the shape of the detail, spray painted some foam gold, added a gem then hot glued the foam to the inside of the shoe. NOTE: THIS WAS TEMPORARY. I later on used thick bias tape to replace the foam.
Since the back of the boots were open (the belts used to hold them together) I added grommets and tied up the back with some green laces.
Step 7: Prop Building: Sword
The prop sword took a bit of time to get right. I built the first sword out of EVA and Insulation foam. While I was priming it I found irregularities in its design and had to scrap the build.
The second approach was simpler but required quite a bit more time. Put aside 9-12 hours for this process. Here is what you will need:
- A Sheet of Insulation foam (that tall, big, pink stuff you see at home improvement stores)
- A utility blade/exacto knife
- A Marker, Pen or Pencil
- Craft Foam (OPTIONAL)
- Worbla (OPTIONAL)
- Wood Glue
- Paint (Acrylic)
- Paint (Spray)
- Paint Brushes
- Sand Paper
- Gems (for adornments)
To get started measure how large you would like the sword to be. The blade of my sword is 58 inches and the hilt/pommel is about 14-16 inches (there was some variance when it came to the shaping near the end). Draw, trace or find some way of getting the sword's shape onto the insulation foam. BE VERY CAREFUL when drawing on the foam. Take your time and try not to dent the foam (applying heavy pressure/weight can cause dents). Once you have the sword shape drawn out take your Utility Knife/Exacto Blade and light trace the outline. Do this a few times until you have a deep enough cut where you can break the sword away from the remaining foam.
With your sword cut out ready you have a few choices to make:. You can either...
- Cut into the foam and use sand paper to etch in the details
- Paint 2-3 layers of wood glue on the foam and paint on the details
- Use Craft Foam and Worbla to build up the details.
I chose route 3: Use Craft Foam and Worbla to build up the details. It takes time and patterning but you get more depth from the prop. Make sure you use the sand paper to cleanup the edges and to round out any overly bulky details. Using Worbla and Craft Foam I cut out shapes to build up the eagle and hilt.
With the details applied I coated the sword's blade in wood glue. ANY EXPOSED INSULATION FOAM MUST BE COATED IN AT LEAST 2 COATS OF WOOD GLUE. Spray Paint is harsh and it can eat through Insulation foam so make sure to coat the exposed pieces first. Not only does it protect your foam it also helps smooth out any dents/irregularities. With the sword coated I proceeded with using acrylic paint (for the blade) and spray paint (for the hilt/pommel/handle) to finalize the details. I sealed everything using a triple thick Krylon glaze.
Finally, I added a few gems using hot glue and the sword was complete!
Step 8: Conclusion
The final result was a fantastic costume that took around 45 hours and $200 to build.
Most of my budget was eaten up by mistakes so if you have a chance in your purchasing to save money DO SO. I bought much of my fabric from a local whole sale and I searched online for deals that could be used in store. Never be afraid to go above and beyond for a good buy.
For tutorials, pictures and information on Fuu please visit my website www.thermocosplay.com. I'm always happy to chat about crafting, building and patterning.
Thanks for reading my tutorial! Good luck!