Sakura Haruno - Naruto Shippuden
Time to Make: 46 hours
Timeline of Construction: February - May 2016
In early 2016 I started my usual internal debate about costume plans for the year, especially costume plans for Anime North, which I consider to be my big con of the year. Making Madoka's school uniform was still on the agenda, but I ran into concerns about getting everything done for Anime North so I decided to put off working on it. Once I had settled on postponing my Madoka costume, I decided that I still wanted to make a costume for Anime North. In early February I started brainstorming ideas of things I could make. It didn't take long for me to consider making a costume of Sakura from Naruto. This would seem like a random choice for me, but Sakura has been a favourite character of mine for years. Her strength and powers make her quite formidable and I know fandom can often overlook her character because of her feelings for Sasuke. That aside, she's a pretty awesome character and Sakura has been one of the few characters that stuck with me from the series all these years later. The last time that I Cosplayed from Naruto was in 2009 when I re-wore the Sasuke costume that I made in 2006. I can't believe that it was a decade ago that I made a Sasuke costume. Time really flies!
Anyway, when I came to the decision to Cosplay as Sakura, there were quite a few options given that the character ages and her style changes throughout the series. In the end I settled on her Shippuden outfit from after the first time skip in the series. I liked the look of her blouse and I thought that it would be one of her easier outfits to make. Boy was I ever in for a journey! I made up my mind about wanting to Cosplay as Sakura just a couple of days before my friend Kevin was visiting a fabric warehouse on February 6th called Fabric Fabric that was on the other side of town. He offered for me to come along on his fabric run as he was looking for fabric for his own AN costumes and I jumped at the chance. Turned out to be an interesting store. It was a massive warehouse and was rather chaotic. It mostly specialized in heavy duty fabrics and darker colours so I had almost given up hope on finding fabric before I spotted some nice knit and crepe fabrics towards the front of the store. I was looking for a deeper cherry red and I was mostly finding orange toned reds. Finding a nice shade of red for Sakura's blouse was a welcome surprise. I hadn't really worked much with crepe so I was hoping that it would be easy to sew. The knit fabric that I picked for the skirt and armbands was not really what I had in mind. The knit part wasn't the problem exactly because it's a stretchy fabric, which helps with making the armbands, but I was a bit stuck on the colour. In the Anime Sakura's skirt is more of a purple colour. Lilac comes to mind when I think about it. In the Manga the skirt has more of a white tone. I was looking for a lilac and not having much luck, but I found a pink knit that looked fairly nice and I decided to give that a shot just so I had something. It wasn't too expensive so I figured I could replace it if I found something better. We did stop at Fabricland afterward for thread, but I didn't see anything that I liked better. I sort of figure that the pink is a bit of a happy medium between the Manga and Anime colours. Numerous other Cosplayers as well as merch for the character tend to give the skirt more of a pink tone so I'm happy enough with my colour choice.
Having successfully purchased fabric for the costume, I had to decide my game plan for making it. Right off the bat I decided to modify an old pair of boots instead of making boot covers or buying boots to modify. I'll discuss the work I did on the boots later. I struggled a bit with picking a pattern for the blouse. I was going to buy a new pattern. I was looking to buy a pattern that was based on a Chinese blouse with a high collar. I looked at various patterns and was about to order one when I realized that years ago I had purchased a pattern for a cheongsam blouse and I had never used it. I probably bought the pattern a decade ago when I used to buy several patterns at once during sales at Fabricland. It was New Look pattern 6338. It was sized for juniors. One of my biggest problems with making costumes based on commercial patterns is that even when I follow the instructions and use the smallest pattern sizes, whatever I make tends to be two or three sizes too big for me. I then struggle to adapt the skirt or shirt down to suit my petite frame. This New Look pattern for juniors is almost perfect for me right out of the envelope. I never realized just how big the discrepancies were with commercial patterns for me, but the difference was staggering.
It took me a while to find where I had stored the pattern in my house, but when I made a mock of the blouse using the pattern, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the fit was right away. I did have to modify the neck hole. It was a little small for my neck, but otherwise it was a fairly smooth process. The pattern had a mandarin collar, but with a side seam on the upper part of the blouse. I had to remove the side seam. The pattern also originally had a zipper in the back so I had to remove that by cutting the back as one piece on the fold. The biggest concern, of course, was cutting the zipper seam into the front of the blouse. That required a bit of praying before making the cut. I guessed where to cut based on laying down the zipper and tracing the path. Somehow that worked fairly well in the mock of the shirt. The zipper was one of my biggest worries about the costume and I was quite concerned that I would need to make a second mock if my first attempt at cutting the seam didn't work or if it the zipper was too bunchy. The only other part of the blouse that I needed to work out in the mock was the collar as I had to modify the neckline to fit my neck and I wanted to make the collar a little bigger than the one that was part of the pattern. It took a bit of trial and error to get the right fit but the one I made stood up fairly straight on the mock so I decided to roll with it.
I spent about 3 weeks making the mock before I started making the real blouse. Given that I had never worked with a juniors pattern before, I am glad that I took the time to practice and make sure it even worked for my frame. Making the real one was fairly straight forward, but using the crepe fabric for the real blouse did prove a bit challenging. My test fabric was a thicker weight fabric so it was a bit more forgiving in terms of holding shape when I was sewing the seams for a tight fit. The crepe was heavy, but very flowy so it's a bit more finicky. Getting the blouse done took about 2 and a half weeks. I struggled a bit with the finishing on it. I had to re-sew the collar several times as I didn't put enough interfacing in the front so it was a bit droopy. I also had trouble placing the collar evenly so I had to re-attach one side quite a few times. One of the reasons I decided to make a separate collar for the shirt was so I could line it with white and make sure the collar stood up quite straight. That made it very thick, however. So much so that since the neckline had facing, it meant that I had to hand sew on the collar to attach it as it was too thick to run through the machine. I sacrificed many yards of thread on the collar alone due to re-sewing parts of it. I also struggled a bit with deciding the length for the shirt. Once I picked out a zipper length and cut the front of the shirt, I was stuck with my choice. In order to make the shirt shorter, I would have to remove the zipper since it's a separating zipper. I tried to be a bit conservative with the shirt length, but I think I made it about an inch longer than what I would have liked in the end. It's something I could redo, but I would need a shorter zipper. My current zipper is 20 inches and the next size down is 18 and that seemed a bit too short. I ran into some problems finishing the sleeve holes as well because the fabric was quite thick to sew through when top stitching. For a blouse that didn't look that complicated, I sure ran into a lot of complications!
Making the Haruno symbol for the back of the shirt was also a bit tricky. I used a CD holder and a large can of soup as the template. I had to redo it twice before I was happy with the result. I kept having trouble getting the circle precise and attaching the heat 'n bond properly. It was fairly easy to make. My first attempt was with a heavy weight white fabric, but some dark fibers got trapped on it and I couldn't pin the heat 'n bond in place without leaving holes in the fabric. In the end I decided to use white felt because it's more forgiving for making clean looking edges. I just ironed it down using the heat 'n bond although I did sew down a couple of areas that weren't holding properly. I think my heat 'n bond is getting a little old and doesn't always melt properly to the fabric.
Once I finished the shirt in early April, a week later I started working on the skirt. I built the skirt on top of black spandex shorts that I ordered from Walmart. They're simple bike shorts. I have 3 pairs of them. I'm using another pair for my Splatoon costume. They're very comfy and it was nice not to have to make shorts from scratch! I did make a mock of the skirt. I drafted my own pattern for it by measuring my hips and the width of the shorts waistband. I ordered zippers for the skirt just after finishing my blouse. In the Anime Sakura's design was drawn without the obvious zipper detail in her skirt. In various official images and merch, you can see that the front and back of her skirt have a zipper opening down the middle. I decided to try zippers, but I ordered very light weight zippers. They worked well enough in the mock, but again, my skirt mock was a much heavier fabric. Once I made the actual front and back of the skirt, the zipper, when I tried it in the front, bunched up and sat weirdly. I quickly decided to abandon the zipper and just go with the Anime design where you can't see the zippers. I turned the edges of the cuts that I made for the back and front openings and I top-stitched them closed. It was actually quite time consuming because the fabric liked to flip back and I tried to keep the turned part as thin as possible so it was very hard to hold in place. The end of the openings had to be hand stitched closed as they were very finicky. I ended up redoing the back opening a couple of times on the machine before giving up and hand stitching the opening. I just couldn't get the seam to be even and it bunched up oddly. Hand stitching gave it a bit more leeway so it didn't bunch up as much, but the opening is still a bit awkward. I'm not sure if I like how it turned out. The front looks pretty good using the same method, but the back, I guess because human anatomy is a bit "bigger" in the back, sort of causes the opening to push out and not hang very flat. I did the best that I could with very stubborn fabric. A stretchy, light-weight fabric was not the greatest thing for something I needed to be fairly structured. I probably should have interfaced it, but by the time I thought to do that I was already sick of redoing parts of it so I just wanted to leave it. I did find the skirt looked pretty good in the end at Anime North based on the few photos that I have of the costume so I might just leave it as is and not bother remaking it despite the lack of zippers.
The skirt and shorts part of the costume also had a white wrap detail. I always thought the leg wraps that a lot of the characters wear are a bit weird, but I did my best to imitate it. I used extra wide bias tape as the "bandages". It's the same trick that I used with my old Sasuke costume. In fact, the bias tape that I used was from one of Sasuke's leg bands. XD I sewed down one end of the bandages to part of the shorts and I placed several snaps around the rest of the wrap to hold everything in place and finished the end with a velcro attachment. I figured that using snaps to hold everything down was the best method to deal with the fact that the shorts are stretchy. The snaps, however, were pretty finicky. I found that if I didn't get the exact "sweet spot" for each snap so everything lined up properly, the bandages didn't hold at all. Even if I did get everything to sit properly, after about half an hour of walking the bandages gave way and slid apart. It was very frustrating at Anime North. In June, after AN, I did take a few days to sew down the bandages. I created a model of my upper leg by measuring it and stuffing old clothing pieces into a bag until it was roughly the same size as my upper thigh. Then I sealed it with tape. After that I put the shorts over the model and I was able to pin down the bandages. Slowly over a couple of days I sewed down the bandages. Hopefully it will hold up in the long run and my thighs will still be the same size to match my sewing. XD
The last part of the shorts detail was a leg pouch. I again repurposed part of my old Sasuke costume. The strap was from an old cellphone case. I used the black cellphone case and strap from before, but this time I just used the elastic strap. It closes with velcro for a tight fit. I borrowed my friend Sakura's old pouch from her Sakura costume that she made for the Team 7 group a decade ago. XD She trashed the costume, but parts of it were left with my friend Pan. I had been looking at her old wig for inspiration when I noticed that Pan still had the leg pouch. Borrowing Sakura's old pouch was much easier than making a new one from scratch and it was the perfect fit for the small gap I had between the front and back of the skirt. I appreciate my friend Sakura giving me a helping hand through her past costume!
The armbands for the costume were fairly simple to make. It was honestly the only reason to pick the fabric that I did for the skirt and armbands since it's stretchy. I just sewed a tube matching the width of the seam to the width of my arm. The fabric did stay in place fairly well because of it's stretchy quality. The gloves as well, were simple to do. I purchased elbow length pleather gloves. I ordered them back in mid-February, but they took until early April to arrive. Shipping from Asian countries to Canada has become quite slow in the last few months! I cut the gloves and created simple cuffs that I sewed down. I also took in one of the side seams to fit my arms better. I'm glad that I didn't make the gloves from scratch! I modified the gloves and armbands in just a couple of evenings. I wish the whole costume came together as easily as making the accessory parts.
The boots were actually the first thing I worked on for this costume and a point of debate for me. It took me a few days to decide what I would do about her boots. They're fairly simple black boots, except for the fact that they're open-toed. Some sellers on eBay sell pre-made ones for Sakura, but they were quite expensive. In the end I decided to butcher an old pair of boots and see if I could make them open-toed without destroying the integrity of the boots. It seems several Cosplayers have used the same method as suggestions for it came up quite a bit as I researched options for the boots. I decided to sacrifice my old Maria boots. I had purchased them at a second-hand store back in 2009 for fairly cheap. I actually thought that I hadn't used them since wearing Maria that year, but they were also my Batgirl boots that I wore in 2010, 2011 and 2014. They were starting to come apart a bit. They weren't new when I got them. The heel was quite scuffed and some of the leather material was starting to peel around the toe area. Actually working on the boots only took a couple of evenings, but working up the courage to cut the boots was a struggle! I used a utility knife to cut the layers of the boot. I had to cut through the outer part and a white liner layer. It took a while to clean up the edges and I also had to use scissors because the lining was really thick and hard to cut. Once I had a decent opening, I used black electrical tape to cover the raw edges where I had cut. I replaced the insole in each boot with a new one as the insoles were rather worn out. The insoles were white, though, so I covered the insole in a layer of black felt that I glued down in the toe area using super glue to hide any raw edges. It made the boots somewhat comfortable! Sadly after an hour or so of walking no amount of padding can make tall boots very comfortable. I got blisters after wearing the costume for a few hours at Anime North. XD I was kind of surprised that my simple lining worked out and stayed in place though. I didn't cut back the toe area quite as much as Sakura's boots in the Anime, but I'm still quite happy with the results. A bit sad that I can't use these boots again for any other costume, but hopefully I'll wear Sakura several times so the sacrifice will not be in vain!
I did make a little pouch for the back of my skirt. I originally ordered a cheap pouch from eBay so I didn't have to make it, but when it arrived it was way too big given the length of my shirt. I just used that pouch as inspiration to make my own. In the Anime the pouch is a darker almost grey colour, but I used leftover white fabric as it was the closest thing I had on hand. I had to make the pouch fairly small. It was just a rounded bottom with a long cover. For the first time I used piping to stabilize the edges and make it look a little cleaner. I then sewed down part of the pouch to the skirt and attached the 2 edges with large snaps to hold everything in place. I really like how the pouch turned out! Probably my favourite part of the costume and it's such a small detail. XD
The final element of the costume was the headband and wig. I purchased the wig through Aliexpress in early February. I thought for quite a while before settling on a wig to use. I debated about getting an Arda wig or various pre-styled options. In the end I settled on the Aliexpress wig because it had a skin centre part. I really like getting a skin top wig when a character clearly has a skin part. Based on the photos it looked like it would be fairly accurate right out of the bag for the Shippuden version of the character. I wanted the wig to have some layering in the back and waviness as her hair is a bit choppy. I also wanted it to be just a bit below chin level. It took a couple of months to finally get the wig and when it did arrive, it wasn't quite how it was pictured. The wig wasn't quite as vibrant of a shade of pink as I had hoped and it was almost shoulder length. It was also quite thick, which really weighed down on my face and kind of took away from the Sakura feeling. Thankfully my friend Pan bailed me out by helping me cut it. She chopped off quite a bit from the front and around the sides and helped to ease back some of the awkwardly placed wefts. She also helped me centre and pin my headband so I could sew it on. I purchased a cheap headband from another Aliexpress seller. It took nearly 3 months to arrive. I almost gave up on waiting for it. XD Pan helped me hack off the metal plate from the headband fabric as it was a more orange toned red and I made a new headband from fabric leftover from my shirt so the reds would match. It was fairly easy to make. I then hot glued down the metal plate to the centre of my headband. Once the headband was pinned, I sewed it down around the edges of the metal plate and it was ready to go! Thanks to Pan for all her help with the wig and headband!
With the metal plate attached to the headband, the costume was done. I finished that step on May 16th. It wasn't quite last minute for Anime North, but the costume did drag on given that I thought I would finish the costume in just a couple of months. I completed the look with green contacts and my old plastic kunai from my Sasuke costume. I guess that prop is a decade old now! I had such a fun time wearing this costume! I can't believe that it took me about 3 months to make from start to finish. I think most people would probably take a few weeks to a month to make a costume like this, but I spent quite a bit of time backtracking and fixing different parts. One month alone was pretty much spent making mocks of the skirt and blouse. I also used up almost all the thread that I bought for the blouse and skirt. I rarely run out of thread when I'm working on a project especially if it was a brand new spool. This costume was a bit of a beast!
Cosplaying from Naruto again was kind of surreal, but very exciting. It was almost like revisiting an old friend. Naruto was one of the earliest series that I Cosplayed from and all these years later, it still has really stuck with me. I'm glad that I could Cosplay one of the female characters from the series, especially since Sakura is such a strong character and her achievements often go unrecognized by fans. I'm looking forward to when Pan makes her Shippuden Naruto costume because I'm totally ready to Cosplay with her. I guess we'll see if in another decade I'm still making costumes and if I'll be working on yet another costume from the series! XD
Events/Conventions this costume was worn to
Anime North 2016 (Saturday)