Easy, No-Tie Bows

Sometimes you want to make bows that you don’t have to tie every time you wear a costume. Or you need them to be attached permanently, so I’ve come up with a way to make them and now will share that with you.

Step 1:

Decide what size you want the bow to be. The one I was making in this tutorial goes on the back of a tailcoat, so I decided it would be 10″x6″, so I cut two pieces 11″x7″. If you are working with a flimsy fabric, you might want to interface the bow pieces. I was working with a fairly sturdy shantung, so I didn’t bother with interfacing, but for other bows I’ve made in the past I have interfaced them.

Step 2:

Stitch around one long edge and both side edges completely with a 1/2″ seam. One the remaining long side stitch from each corner to the center, leaving about an inch open.

Step 3:

Trim the seams and clip the corners. I usually don’t trim the seam area where I’ve left the opening because it makes it easier for the next step.

Step 4:
Turn your piece right side out, folding the seam allowance of the opening to the inside and press the whole thing. Then top stitch as close to the edge as you can.

Step 5:

Time to make your knot. I cut two pieces about 7″x3″ to fit my bow. I stitched it together with a 1/2″ seam along one short end and both long sides. Then I turned it right side out, turned the short open end to the inside, pressed, and top stitched just like the bow.

Step 6:

This next step is optional, depending on what type of bow you are making. This is the step to make the tails for the bow. For the coat I’m adding this to, I need some pretty long tails. I wanted each one to be roughly 25″ long from the center of the bow, so I cut two strips of fabric 52″x7″. Then I stitched it together just like the bow part, turned it and top stitched it.

Step 7:

Now it’s time to join the pieces together. Find the center of your bow and tails and lay them together. If you are making a bow without tails, just find the center of the bow and go to the next step. If you are doing one with tails, lay the bow and tail together with the centers matching.

Step 8:

Grab your bow and tails at the center and gather them. Wrap the knot part around the bow and tails as tight as you want, making sure that the end is in the back when you are done. Pin it in place and hand stitch the knot into place.

Attach your bow:

Position your bow wherever you need it and hand stitch it place.

Other bows made using this method:

This one is very similar to the one from the tutorial except the fabric was lighter weight, so it was interfaced.

Bows with shorter tails. These were made for Sailor Neptune from Sailor Moon. Since the bows needed to be very stiff, I interfaced the bow and tails both so that they wouldn’t sag.

And finally, the method without the tails.

Hope this was helpful to anyone needing to make bows.

Li Syaoran Dragon Knight Holster Tutorial

Well, it’s been a while since I posted anything on here, and now I come bearing a new tutorial! This one will be for Li Sayoran from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle in what has been called the Dragon Knights. I have been working on this as a commission and when I started making the holster, I thought I would make a tutorial on it in case anyone else ever wanted to tackle it.

So, here’s our reference:

Now, onto the work!

I used orange light weight vinyl and a hunter green medium weight upholstery vinyl.

Step 1

Make your pattern. My customer gave me some dimensions for the gun he was making: 4″ wide at top, the sides 1.5″ wide, 8″ tall, and tapering down to 1.5″ at the bottom. I knew I didn’t want to have too many seams on this since Syaoran’s looks pretty smooth in the picture. So I decided that there would only be one seam in the center back. So I had to do some math: for the top, I needed it to be 4×2 and 1.5×2, which equaled 11. Then I added 1/2″ for a seam allowance on each edge, bringing my total width at the top to 12″. Then I measured it out at 10″ tall, allotting the 1/2″ seam at the bottom and a little extra at the top. After that, I measured for the bottom to be 1.5×4=6. Then again, adding the 1/2″ seam allowances to both sides, bringing me to 7″. I then tapered my lines to meet from top to bottom. After that, I sketched the curve around the top since his holster doesn’t just go straight around. I then cut that curve out, using the heavy vinyl as my template, sketching half on the back of the orange vinyl, then, flipping it and sketching the other half. I did this twice. Once that was done, I used the green vinyl template to cut out the piece that would be the decoration on the holster.

Step 2

Cut out two holster pieces in the orange vinyl. You will want two because one will go to the inside as a facing. This serves a few purposes: 1) none of the white backing on the vinyl will show, and 2) since I’m using a thinner vinyl, it will give it a little more strength.

Step 3

Cut out the desired shape in green vinyl, position it (using some sort of adhesive since you don’t want to pin it…holes in vinyl don’t close back up) and applique it down. That will eliminate any of the white edging from showing around the green vinyl. I just free-handed the piece off of what you can see on Syaoran’s holster in the artwork.

Step 4

Time to make the flap. I cut two, 2″ wide pieces that were about 6″ long (you might or might not need it this long, I was just making sure I had enough). Then, mark the center and evenly sketch out the rounded edge. Stitch down both long sides with a 1/2″ seam and around the bottom edge right on your line (blending from the 1/2″ seam to the line as you work) in one long, continuous seam.

Step 4.1

Turn the flap right side out and top stitch 1/4″ from the edge. Also, make a thin tube of the orange and turn it right side out. This thin piece will go next to the flap and be sewn into the belt to hold the holster on.

Step 5

Mark where you want your flap and belt connector piece to go on the side without the green piece. Then, put those pieces to the right side, making sure that the bottom of the pieces is lined up with the top of the holster, or else your flap and connector will end up on the inside and will be useless.

Step 6

Turn the facing to the inside and top stitch all the way around the top edge to hold everything in place. Then you are going to want to stitch up the side seam using a 1/2″ seam. Turn right side out. (Note: Don’t be a moron like me and accidentally put the piece that will go into the belt seam behind the flap…that makes it hang awkward and now I will have to do some hand sewing on the finished piece.)

Step 7 (Finished Holster)

Last thing you want to do before moving on to your belt is to put a button hole in the flap that goes over the side to hold the gun in place and put a nice gold button on there to hold it shut. Later on, you will add it to your belt. I might add that to the tutorial later, but the belt is the easy part, the holster, not as much. I will also update in the future with the full, finished costume once the customer wears it.

D.Gray-Man Lavi Scarf Tutorial

One day I received a PM on cosplay.com from a fellow cosplayer asking how I made my scarf for Lavi. I told him to let me make a quick tutorial and I would explain it as best I could. Well, I don’t have the text anymore, so I have to re-write it here, but I still have the photos and will gladly share this with everyone now. I do have to apologize in advance for how offensively bright the fabric is in the tutorial. I have a ton of it laying around that was given to me and I use it for mock-ups and things like this.

Step 1: Planning

Before you even start, you will need to do a little planning for your length and width of your scarf. My finished scarf is pretty long, 142″x8″. I went with this length because Lavi’s scarf always seems to have a life of its own and I wanted mine to be the same. I used a flannel fabric so that I didn’t have to back it to get it to stand up around my neck, it just does it on it’s own. So, for the length, I cut four pieces 72 1/4″x9 1/4″. There’s a reason for cutting so many. I didn’t want any seams to show, particularly the center seam when joining the two lengths together. So the four pieces create the two sides of the scarf. You still with me? Also, I cut them to have a 5/8″ seam allowance on all sides, so the finished length will be what I initially stated for my scarf.

Step 2: Joining Your Pieces

Using a 5/8″ seam like I mentioned, stitch two pieces together at the ends, creating one long piece. Do it again for the remaining two pieces.

Step 3: Press the Seam Open

Press open the seams you just created. It will make the scarf lay nicer and the seam just looks cleaner if you press it. And yes, I pressed the flannel I used for my real scarf and it was fine.

Step 4: Join the Pieces

Laying the right sides of your scarf together, stitch down both long sides and one short end of your scarf with a 5/8″ seam. Trim away the seam allowance as close to the stitching as possible without cutting the thread. Turn your scarf right side out.

Step 5: Closing Your Scarf

You will now press all sides nice and flat. Once you have pressed the three sides you stitched in the last step, you will want to turn in your seam allowance on the last side and press it nice and hard so that it stays folded inside. Time for the last step.

Step 6: Top Stitch

Just go all the way around your scarf, stitching close to the edge. It will make your whole scarf look nice and clean. It takes a while, but it’s worth it in the end. Just a note, I used a contrasting thread on the fabric to be able to show what I did in the tutorial. My whole scarf was done in red.

Final Costume with My Scarf of Doom (that’s my nickname for it):

As usual, any questions or comments are welcome. I probably will get more asking about my hammer than anything. My brother made that. He wants to remake it, and if he does, I will make sure to get a tutorial for it. I get questioned on it often.

Pleats Tutorial for Madam Red from Kuroshitsuji

A little over a year ago I was asked about how I did Madam Red’s pleats, so I created a quick, six picture tutorial with explanations. Now I will share it here. If there are any questions, feel free to contact me and I will clarify or get more info to you.

Step 1: The Start


First you will want to cut all your fabric that will be pleated. Since it will take so much fabric, you will want to go ahead and also stitch together all the lengths that you will need to make each part. It is up to your discretion how tall each pleat should be, but remember to factor in both the seam allowance at the top and the hem at the bottom. I always fold my hem in twice to encase the raw edge and then stitch it down before I start. Once all that is done, get a measuring gauge or ruler, or something that is the width you want for the pleats. I chose to make them all 1″ pleats, so each pleat actually takes 3″ of fabric. So that will create the math for each piece. Say the circumference of the bottom of your skirt is about 72″ around. You will then need to do a little math: 72×3=225″ is the total amount you need for pleats. But again, remember seams. You will want to leave enough at the start and end of the strip you cut to put the seam together once you finish all the pleating. Does all this make sense?

Step 2: First Fold


Okay, so once you have set down whatever you are using to gauge your pleat width, fold back the fabric at the edge. Don’t fold back all of it if you are using a really long piece, as it will take you forever. You can complete this step and the next one all together, but I did them separately in this picture just for the sake of explanation.

Step 3: Fold Back


Just fold the fabric back at the edge of the pleat and you are ready for the next step.

Step 4: Iron


That’s the logical next step right? Just hold down the folds and place a good, hot iron right on it. I use steam when I iron in pleats too, just for extra reinforcement.

Step 5: On to the next one!


After getting the first pleat ironed down, move your gauge or ruler or whatever you are using to measure right next to the edge of the first pleat and start the process over again…and again and again and again. It’s sorta like lather, rinse, repeat. Trust me, it will take a while. I think I logged 6 hours of cutting, hemming, pleating and stitching for this one costume and there’s about 20 yards of fabric that got turned into pleats.

Step 6: Finished Pleats


Don’t mind the fact that I didn’t get the last pleat completed. I just cut a long strip of fabric without measuring. I always pin each pleat into place once it’s pressed to keep it from getting out of control and unfolding while I work on the piece. Each of my pieces was so long I had to drape them over a chair as I moved them off the ironing board.

Finished Cosplay Front:


Finished Cosplay Back:


More images can be found in these galleries: here and here and here

A little side note about the trio of Kuroshitsuji cosplay that my Madam Red costume was a part of: we won a Best Craftsmanship Award in A-kon’s Friday Hall Cosplay Contest at A-kon 21 in 2010.

If you have any questions about any of the costumes in this trio, please, feel free to ask.

Shippuden Haruno Sakura Tutorial

Over the last number of years, I’ve been asked about how I made my best friend’s Sakura costume. We made the costume for her back in 2006 when Shippuden was first starting in the manga and had to figure out a number of things. The main thing was the zipper and skirt. And I’ve created a tutorial for anyone who is curious about the process. I was happy to have been invited to write a guest post and this was one of the first things that came to mind to share since I’ve been asked about it so much for the last five years. If something needs clarifying, I will do my best to help. Also, I might add the boots to this some time since I get asked about those too. For now, on to the tutorial.

Step 1: Complete your shirt

Shippuden Haruno Sakura Tutorial

Just follow the directions for whatever pattern you use to make the basic shirt, omitting any kind of closures it may tell you to put in. And then step back and look at this poor, unassuming little shirt. It doesn’t realize it’s about to be split right down the middle!

Step 2: Zipper Placement

Shippuden Haruno Sakura Tutorial

Time for the work. So you will want to get a separating zipper, and one a little longer because you have to compensate for the curve. Now, lay it out on the shirt where you want to have it in the finished product. Pin it directly to the shirt as you get it where you want it. You will have to clip the zipper tape to get the curve, so just take the tip of your scissors and clip it to just before you hit the teeth.

Step 3: Sketching the Line


After you have your zipper where you want it, slowly pull the pins, holding down the zipper with one hand. As you pull the zipper away from the shirt, take chalk or a light colored pencil and trace where the teeth of the zipper meet. This is where you will be cutting in the next step.

Step 4: Here comes the scary part!


After the zipper is completely away from the shirt and the line is visible, take a deep breath and cut the sucker right down the line. It’s scary to cut up all that hard work, I know. But trust me, it’s not that bad.

Step 5: Pinning the Zipper


Once everything is all cut out, separate the two sides of your zipper and begin to pin them in. You will want to turn under the shirt fabric just a bit to hide the raw edges. And if you need to do so, clip a bit of the fabric to make it easier to turn, and it’s much smoother looking on the front too.

Step 6: Stitching down the zipper


Stitch the zipper down using a zipper foot. It will make life much easier, trust me.

Step 7: The Zipper’s Done!


And that’s how it should look^^

Step 8: Tools


Here’s the secret to my circles. I use Heat N Bond on the back of white cotton fabric and then draw the circles with a cd tower and the top from a ready-made cake icing container. Woo…the secret is out!

Step 9: Placement


Center the circle wherever you choose for it to sit. Make sure you are happy with it where it is before you iron.

Step 10: Pressing


I just follow the directions on the Heat N Bond. Press with no steam with a damp pressing cloth for about ten seconds. Just read the directions on whatever you use and you will be fine.

Step 11: Voila!

We have a circle!

Step 12: Materials


So here is what I used for the skirt. I already cut out the front and back pieces. Cut two pieces each for the front and back. This will hide all raw edges and give you a nice smooth skirt. The back is slightly wider than the front. Also shown are the zippers, buckles, and grommets used for the skirt. Time to start working!

Step 13: Putting it together


You will want to stitch the two fronts together with probably a 5/8″ seam, that’s just standard. Stitch around both sides and the top. Once sewn, trim the seams and clip the corners and turn it right side out. I always press between each step, but that will be up to you as you work.

Step 14: Cutting


In the center, you will want to mark how high up your zipper goes. For this skirt, the customer is longer legged, so I used a 12″ zipper. I usually use a 7″, but compensate for height. Once marked, just cut through both layers to that point. Easy enough!

Step 15: Pinned


Once it’s all cut, place the zipper in the cut, I usually cut off the little 5/8″ extra on the tape so that I can just encase the zipper in the hem. You will want to fold over the sides on the zipper tape to hide the raw edges, then fold the hem over one side and then just even it out on the back.

Step 16: Top Stitched


This is what it will look like once all the top stitching is done.

Step 17: Buckles


I just cut strips a little over twice the size of the inside of the buckle and stitch them together, turn them right sides out, press, and then stitch the buckles in and put in a few grommets to make it easier to close. They are then just stitched down into place where I need them to be on the skirts. Make sure to put the pieces with the buckles on the back of the skirt and the pieces with the grommets on the front.

Step 18: Front and Back


Buckles and straps all on and it’s ready to wear! For the easiest wear, sew the front and back pieces to the front and back of the shorts you plan to wear with this costume. It will make it easier in the long run…trust me.

Step 19: Final Product


A nice side view of the skirt all completed.

And the entire costume in action:


This method can be applied to Sakura’s dress as well as her Shippuden shirt. Here’s a finished version of her sleeveless dress I made a while back.

A little info about me while we are at it since I think I should introduce myself in my first post.

I am a 28 year-old cosplayer who works in retail as a profession, but am a designer at heart. I have been cosplaying for ten years now and have learned a trick or two in the process. I sew for myself, friends, and do commission work, so I’m always making costumes when I’m not working at my real job. Feel free to comment with questions, concerns, or anything else you might have! If you want to ask me something more in depth than comments allow, you can contact me at my email: mehdiaraiise@gmail.com I use that one for anything and everything cosplay related.

Coming soon: Pleating tutorial for Madam Red from Kuroshitsuji and a scarf tutorial for Lavi from D.Gray-Man.