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The Making of: Sakura's Fire Kimono from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles [Feb 28 - May 25 2008]

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Stage 3: Creating the 'obi'

Best reference I found!
So little to start from... There aren't many references for what Sakura's kimono sash looks like. I've seen a few other cosplayers do variations of a traditional obi that looked really sharp, but the curve at the front didn't seem like an obi to me. It almost looked a bit like a corset. I had this in mind already when I went looking for more references.

I read further ahead in the - at the time untranslated - manga volumes online (support your artists and authors, buy their work!) enough to find a couple more shots of another canon variation of the outfit to get some more design points, and still didn't come up with much. But there were a few side shots that developed on my earlier idea that wouldn't have me trying to tie an obi on myself.

« Tsubasa manga clearly shows something thats not the back knot of an obi.

Traditionally kimonos take a lot of work to put on correctly. I wanted to be able to take this on and off reasonably quickly and accurately on my own if I had to. I ended up doing more of a corset inspired design than an obi. This made the whole thing very adjustable and comfortable but I was still concerned about being able to get into it. Anything involving lots of wrapping (traditional obi) or fancy lacing (corset style) is not a simple process and I'm not always with a crew of available helper friends at conventions.

So I did something to use some hidden velcro with an under flap that attaches behind the front panel. I'm kind of proud that my brother thinks its cheating. Self sufficiency - yay!

Planning out the initial dimensions of my corset-obi. I then cut it down bit by bit to get better contours.

Challenge: How to attach the ribbons and panels together corset-style for such a strange obi.

Solution: D-rings, cursing patience and velcro.

To attach the d-rings I made little tabs out of my leftover bias tape and sewed them very closely with the zipper-foot on my sewing machine to keep the rings from rotating during wear. Once I had my tabs I meticulously layed them out in their proper positions and taped them firmly in place to sew them onto the the actual corset-obi. (Note: I did not sew through the tape which would gum up the machine, just next to it.) The machine foot helped keep the tape firmly in place so nothing shifted while I stitched it all together. I quickly discovered that taping the d-rings down as well kept them from catching on anything or getting in my way.

Tape was definately my friend while sewing these.

Attaching the velcro was slow and tedious. It was thick enough that I could only sew some sections down on the machine. So mostly I used a thimble and painstakingly hand stitched all the way around each velcro strip. I had seen to many costumes with velcro come apart because the velcro hooks were stronger than the glue used to attach it. After that happens a few times the glue stops working and your costume falls apart. I was not going to have that happen with this one, especially since it was going to be under tension the whole time I wore it.

I did make time to come back and add some much more elaborate detailing to my corset-obi after the first few times I had worn it. I had to hand stitch most of this on because it wasn't safe to run the pieces through my sewing machine with the d-rings already attached. Not to mention the bulk of it made it likely to catch on the machine itself.

The first version was functional but plain. Eventually it got fancier! I even used fabric paint to add an extra border of flames to match the trim of the sleeves and changed out the ribbon ties for more elegant ones.

» Stage Four: The beaded hair decorations.

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