Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Samurai! (or how I ended up cosplaying Hinamori Momo)

Back in March, I was contacted by the Worcester Art Museum about finding a cosplayer for the opening of the Samurai! exhibit, which combines real samurai goodies such as armor with current pop culture. Of course this seemed interesting since I used to intern at Higgins Armory (an excuse to look at armor again and make costumes? yes please!).

I spent a while trying to think of a costume that would be fairly recognizable, family friendly, and doable in a couple weeks. It suddenly hit me, Bleach! I used to both read the manga and watch the show so I'm relatively familiar with the early parts of the story (there's a crazy amount of chapters/episodes now). I asked my boyfriend to participate as well, and we agreed on dressing as Momo Hinamori and Renji Abarai. These characters are both lieutenant shinigami, who wear a black and white uniform based on traditional Japanese clothing.

I don't have finished photos yet, but here's a bit of a sneak peak and some construction notes:

I started out by listing everything I would need for each character. (I like to do this whenever making a costume, or even an outfit for myself.) A lot of the pieces are the same for both Momo and Renji, so this list was quite useful to keep track of them. After that, gather materials! There's a crazy amount of fabric here - something like 14 yards of black fabric alone.

As far as the major pieces go, I needed:

2 black kimono
2 white kimono
2 black hakama with white himo 
2 pairs of tabi socks
2 pairs of straw sandals
and wigs of course!

A lot of Bleach cosplayers merely add white trim to a black kimono for the top, but this kind of inaccuracy bothers me. I made white under-kimono instead. These are still cheated a bit since they only go down to the waist instead of the knee like they would in reality. I used this tutorial for both the white and the black kimono, except since these are costumes, I machine sewed everything.

I then made hakama using Folkwear pattern 151, which is really just a diagram of measurements but goes together easily. As you can see, I still needed to hem them to the proper length (to the ankle) in the photo above.

For the tabi (socks) I used the pattern I use for bodysuits and tights, but traced around my toes to get the necessary separation. Again, there's some costume related cheating happening here - I used a stretchy knit fabric instead of the historically accurate woven cut on the bias.

Now, on to the sandals, which are based on traditional Japanese waraji and took the longest to make. Here's the tutorial I used. The most valuable lesson I learned during the weaving process was that jute makes a crazy mess. Jute everywhere!

Last but not least, the wigs. You'll have to wait for pictures of Renji's but here's Momo's bun:

I am super happy with how this came out. The bun is some scrap fabric stuffed with fiber fill, covered with the correct outer fabric and sewn to the wig. I then tied some very narrow bias tape around it as the ribbon.

That's all for now, but keep an eye out for another post once I have photos of the finished costumes! And if you're in New England, I recommend checking out the Samurai! exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum. 

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