Awards: Best in Show- Master at MTAC 2006 & Best In Show- Master at AWA 2006
I worked on this costume on and off for about 7 months. I started it after AWA and finished it up literally at MTAC. The innermost coat was done by modifying the same pattern I used for my Vash coat, McCall’s 4195. The straps are wide pieces of decorative elastic and the buckles are reinforced craft foam. The tails on the coat are done in a swallowtail style, whereas most people do theirs as rectangles. In the reference picture that has the design on the back of the outermost coat, he’s shown with swallowtails, so that’s what I went with. I think it’s more fitting to his style.
The second coat came together smoothly, for the most part. Sewing fleece is nice because it’s so forgiving, even the ribbon sewed on easily. The collar was a little troublesome at first. I cut it all as one piece and everything was really thick so it was difficult to turn it right side out and get it to look decent. The rest of the fur was easy to put on though I wish I hadn’t cut it straight across the pile on the waist piece. The buckles on the sash and the coat are plywood, they were sanded and evened out with wood filler before being gold leafed.
The third coat was challenging to draft, mostly because of the shoulders. I based the pattern off an existing cloak pattern I had and just kept re-drawing the modifications and doing a test sew until I got the shape I wanted. This is where $1/yd fabric comes in very handy. I modified the hood to make sure it’d lay just right and I scaled the cloak back so it’d stay open in the front. The bottom also needed some tweaking to shape the curve. Once I got the outer part of the coat sewn together and the fleece lining in place, I started on my pattern for the design on the back. I did this by laying the coat out in the floor and covering it with pattern paper until the entire coat was covered. I taped the pieces together to make one large sheet and I traced around the outside of the coat. I later did the same thing with the sleeves. After that, I put the coat away for a while and started working on my pattern. I used Fai’s phoenix tattoo that we see in the first volume of Tsubasa, and intertwined it with the bit of the design you can see in the reference pic for the coat. Then with my pattern in hand, I began the task of actually painting it on. Since my pattern was so massive, I cut it down into smaller parts and worked on it a piece at a time starting with the phoenix. I used regular craft paint and a loading brush which now has an impressive afro from being rubbed on the cloth so much. Once all the painting was done I started sewing the fur on. The fur on the sleeves went on easily enough but I was running out of time before the convention so I cut strips for the band of fur around the outside and sewed them together end-to-end, then stitched them to the coat facing the lining. I then planned on turning them right side out and slip stitching them to the outside of the coat at the convention. This was fine in theory, but I failed to take into account the curve on the bottom of the cloak and the fur’s inability to go around it and still lay flat. I got down to that part and ended up having to gather the lining so that the outside of the coat would still be flat because I didn’t have my fur with me to fix it properly. If you look in the pictures at the lining of the coat, you can see how baggy and bunched-up it looks. I later fixed this before I took it to AWA, you can see the difference in the AWA gallery photos. I pulled all the fur off and cut a couple pieces of fur out to match the curve (which I luckily had enough left to do), and now it lays perfectly flat. Another thing I missed was the black ribbon around the sleeve. You’ll notice it missing in the pictures. That was also corrected before AWA.
The staff was an interesting challenge. At first I wasn’t even going to attempt it. I emailed someone about commissioning it for me and he told me it’d cost about $800 to make and it’d be 7 months before I had it. I was willing to give it a shot after that. I asked him what he was planning on making it out of to give me a place to start, and he shared some tips. I went to Lowe’s and spent about $20 on materials, if that much. I made my pattern for the head of the staff and transferred it to the plywood, then skipped out merrily to the garage to cut it out. Bloody injuries ensue so you may wish to skip this next bit if gore descriptions make you queasy. I’d used this particular saw (Rotozip spiral saw) before while trying to make my Julia (Cowboy Bebop) belt from a thick piece of wood, but this time I was working on a 1/4″ piece. I failed to take into account the fact that it wouldn’t require as much pressure to make the cut, so when I made my first cut I was baring down pretty hard. Of course the blade went through it like butter, right into my hand. It didn’t even hurt at first, I just felt the vibration of the saw then when that died away it started throbbing. I kept working on it for a little while but when I started to bleed onto the wood I decided it was time to get bandaged up. I cleaned my fingers off and saw that the blade had torn my fingernail open to the nail bed on one finger and just messed up the skin on the other. I got all that covered and went back out to finish the job. Once it was cut I did all the raised detail work before attaching it to the actual staff part. The crystal in the middle was done the night before the convention, and ended up being rushed as a result but not terrible for all that.
Despite the difficulties, injuries and heat exhaustion, I’m very pleased with how this costume turned out. I wish I could say the same for the pictures. Please excuse the paint cans and moving boxes that are sometimes visisble, I made this costume right in the middle of moving. Sorry about the wrinkles also. I’m a bad person.