Sakura Kinomoto - Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card
Time to Make: 41 hours
Timeline of Construction: January - March 2018
After working on my Kagome costume in the fall of 2017, I wanted to take a hiatus from sewing for a bit. My plan was to consider Kagome to be my big new costume for 2018 for Anime North and beyond and not really work on anything new until the spring. That was the thought, anyway. Once I got through Christmas, though, I started to get a bit antsy. Winter is a tough season to get through. The days feel short with how quickly it gets dark and with the cold, the days could be stifling. With the winter looming ahead, I felt compelled to find a costume to work on. I knew it would be nice to find focus especially after the events of 2017.
In early January 2018 I started brainstorming costume ideas. It was actually super tricky to find something to make. I've really crossed off almost everything from my wish list. One series that has eluded me, though, is Card Captor Sakura. My first Cosplay costume ever was Li Syaoran and that was back in 2001. My mom pretty much made that costume for me. I didn't have a wig back then or proper shoes. He was and remains one of my favourite characters and Card Captor Sakura as a whole, has a soft spot in my heart. It's probably my favourite CLAMP series. I've been off and on debating about Cosplaying as Sakura Kinomoto for a few years now. One of my favourite outfits of hers is the Happy Crown outfit that she wears in the 2nd opening of the original series. I wasn't sure the golden yellow would look good on me or that I could figure out her puffy skirt. I was looking at other Sakura options when I came across the new Card Captor Sakura: Clear Card Anime. Sakura's new school uniform immediately jumped out at me. It was super cute. The nice fitted look to it and the colour combo of black, red and white looked really sharp. It has all the telltale signs of a CLAMP design. I knew I had some nice black twill fabric leftover from my Halloween Lolita Rei costume so I thought maybe I could quickly make her uniform and it wouldn’t be too expensive. After all, I had just made two other school uniforms in the last year so a 3rd would be easy, right? Not so easy it seems!
In mid-January I started looking through my old patterns for inspiration for the uniform. I wondered if I could reuse the wonderful New Look pattern that I had used for both my Sakura Haruno and Madoka costumes. In the end I decided it would be better to use the pattern that I had copied and modified from Pan that I had used previously for my Battle of the Gods Bulma dress. I liked that the front pieces were joined with full length seams instead of princess seams. I thought that would work better for creating the illusion of a front that had a button closure. Basically I had to trace the pattern pieces from Bulma and shorten each piece. I also added a bit to the width of the front piece so I could have a bit of fabric to turn over and sew down for the fake closure. I also had to reshape the front and back neckline as the original neckline was high so I used my Madoka pattern pieces as a reference to give it a more squared shape. I made a mock of the top over the course of a week and I felt pretty good about it. I wasn't 100% sure about the sleeves, though, as the original pattern was sleeveless. I tried testing out a couple of different sleeve ideas by taking sleeve patterns straight from other patterns. One was way too fitted. In the end I settled on using a very oversized sleeve so I could reshape the sleeve as I went. I decided to use a sleeve for a pajama pattern from Simplicity pattern 2280. It was the pattern that I used previously for my young Sherry Birkin costume.
As I was finishing up the blouse mock, I took a day off of work at the end of January to go fabric shopping with Pan downtown. I needed to pick up fabric for the skirt, cuffs and tie. We looked at a few stores before we ended up back at the same fabric store where I had purchased the fabric for my Kagome costume last year. I decided to buy more of the white cotton blend fabric which was really affordable, was a nice weight and had a great opaque look. I already had the black fabric and lots of red bias tape leftover from Madoka so I had most of the fundamental fabric that I needed.
Next up I did some hunting online for some accessories. I ordered a pair of cheap mary jane shoes through eBay. I didn't want to spend too much money on shoes as I wasn't sure how well they would fit, but the shoes turned out alright. They were kind of flimsy as they're a velvet material, but the look was nice enough for what I needed. I also bought gold buttons for the blouse from eBay and a slip to wear under the skirt (although in the end I decided not to wear the slip as I didn't want to add more bulk to my skirt). Through Aliexpress I ordered a dickey shirt. A dickey shirt is basically half a shirt. It's the collar area of a shirt usually meant to be layered under vests and sweaters so it can keep you covered without dealing with a full undershirt. I wanted to get a dickey shirt because I wanted to make my blouse very fitted so I didn't want to worry about fussing with an undershirt that would add more bulk. The dickey shirt is the top 1/4 of a white dress shirt. It's pretty perfect for what I needed. It was a cheap alternative to buying and wearing a full button up dress shirt.
With the shopping out of the way, I got back to sewing. Putting together the blouse based on the mock was pretty easy. The tricky part was making and attaching the facing around the collar line. The black twill fabric was quite stiff so it was a bit tricky to get the right shape for the bust darts. I was worried about how the fake button closure would look, but it sewed nicely and looked very sharp.
Once the bulk of the black blouse was finished, I moved onto working on the skirt. I wanted to figure out the skirt before I cut out material for the cuffs and before I finished doing the hem on the blouse. I looked at some YouTube videos for suggestions on how to make the style of Sakura's skirt. Standard Anime school uniform skirts are simple knife or box pleats and are usually quite thin pleats. In the case of Sakura's, hers were very large pleats and looked to be an inverted box pleat which gives the pleats a narrowing look at the top. I had never tackled that kind of a skirt before and it seemed a bit intimidating. I was right to be intimidated. It was a big pain. I tried to make the inverted pleat skirt with the exact number of pleats based on a rectangle. That's how I had made the skirts for both Kagome and Madoka. It seemed fine as I worked on it and I did my best to visualize how to hide the zipper in a pleat. After spending several hours putting it together, I found that making the skirt with the accurate number of pleats looked really bad on me. Due to my hips, the massive pleats would open up where they're ironed in so it basically looked like I was wearing a very unflattering open umbrella. It was time to go back to the drawing board.
Pan gave me some great advice on doing the math for the pleats and also helped me justify that it was ok to add extra pleats even if that meant it wouldn’t be accurate. In the end I decided to go with 6 pleats instead of 4. It looked much more flattering. In the meantime I made about 8 attempts to pin and test out pleats before I reached the final version that I went with. It was a very time consuming process. I started working on the skirt by cutting out the fabric on February 11th, but I didn't finish the skirt until March 6th. I did take some time away from the skirt to add the cuffs to the blouse, sew some of the gold buttons to the top and to make the tie, but making the skirt was a long process. I'm really proud of how it turned out in the end, though. Even though some of the ironing is a bit off due to my multiple attempts to pleat the skirt, it still looks more flattering than my Kagome skirt and I did a pretty good job incorporating the zipper.
Making the tie was an interesting experience. I had never made a tie before. I had made several bows so I figured a tie would be pretty straight forward. I found a general tie pattern online and used it as a guide. I had trace out my own pattern, though, as the shape of Sakura's tie was unconventional and also quite short. I decided to make the tie with elastic for the neckline so it would stay in place better and be less bulky than a real tie. I had to make a little triangular piece for the top and I sewed in the lower part of the tie to the top. The triangular piece has an opening for the elastic which I use a button along with openings I cut into the elastic to make it close around my neck. I decided to make the tie with an under piece even though once I finished the tie it was pretty obvious that the under piece isn't visible when I wear it. XD It took me 2 and a half Iron Man movies to hand sew down all the red bias tape to the tie. I sat in front of the TV as I was sewing it. I had a lot of trouble getting the bias tape to sit at just the right place as it was hard to get pins to hold the material. My stitching isn't the best, but it looks alright from the front. I'm quite happy with how the tie turned out. It seemed like it would be quite difficult and in the end it was mostly just time consuming to finish all the details.
Once I had finished the skirt, I went back and figured out my hem line for my blouse. It was quite tricky to get the hem just right. I had to remember that the side seams had an opening on each side so the hem had to incorporate the openings. Also, parts of the bottom of the blouse were curved a bit so I wasn’t able to make the hem as cleanly as I would have liked. In the end, I'm ok with how it turned out. I tried my best to clean the edges and I think it turned out fairly evenly. The buttons on the blouse, though, aren't quite even though. I had to fudge my spacing a bit especially since the hem of the shirt was higher than I anticipated so I had to take off 4 of the buttons and reattach them.
The costume was almost finished. I had been nervous about how to do the school crest that she has on her left sleeve. I was thinking about trying to make something out of foam or felt when I came across PaperCranesCosplay on Etsy and they were offering embroidered patches for Card Captor Sakura. I jumped at the chance to get the patch for a fair price. It took a while to sew on, but was the perfect finishing touch.
The final element of the costume was the wig. I purchased a pre-styled wig from an eBay seller back in January. The wig was pretty cheap, but I picked it because it was one of the only character specific wig options that had a colour I liked. In the new Anime Sakura appears with more of a blonde shade of hair, but I always preferred her brown hair from the original series. Most of the wig options were fairly light shades of brown or pretty much blonde so I bought the one that was fairly dark, but also suited her new Anime look. It seemed pretty good at first glance, but it arrived with the pre-styled ahoge facing the wrong direction. I had to spend an hour stripping the glue in it. I was able to reshape the ahoge although that took two tries as I styled it to suit the original Anime series at first. In the new Anime her ahoge face towards the back. I fixed the wig up just two nights before March Toronto ComiCON. Thankfully Pan helped me out a lot by trimming the bangs, the back of the wig and the long hair parts. I tried to fluff up the bangs a bit before Pan trimmed them. I'm really grateful that she helped me out with the wig.
The whole costume came together in about 2 months. I finished the sewing on March 10th. I started working on a test version of the blouse on January 15th and I started working on the blouse for real on January 24th. For me it was still a moderately quick project. I sort of expected to finish it in February so it took a little longer than expected, but I was quite surprised by how nicely it turned out! After my fifth attempt to shape the skirt pleats, I didn't think I would ever make it work and yet the shirt and skirt fit beautifully. I did learn from this that I probably should have made the pleated skirt with a circle skirt base. Never tried that before, but it would have been more forgiving with how the large pleats needed to be set. I still think that it turned out quite well and although it seemed a bit ridiculous to make a 3rd school uniform in a year, it's getting to be my forte.
I had some fun props with me for this costume. I picked out a couple of Sakura cards that were bootleg releases. Although they don't suit the new series, I've always wanted to pose with a version of the Clow cards. I found an old clear DVD case that I cut out to match the blank version of the cards. A pretty simple and plain prop. I'm considering buying a card from Aliexpress of one of the new Clear card variants from when the new cards are sealed. I'm also debating about buying a prop Dream wand, but I'm still considering it. Finally I did buy a cute little Kero plush. It's actually 1/1 scale so it's super tiny. It's very nicely detailed, though, and was a fun character prop to pose with. Made it very clear that I was Cosplaying as Sakura. :3
It was a great experience getting to Cosplay from one of my favourite Anime series. I really enjoyed watching CCS when I was a teenager so it was nice to finally Cosplay as Sakura and once I finished the costume, I could finally watch the series I was going to be Cosplaying from. XD I decided to make the costume based on seeing concept art and merchandise only. I spent so much time planning and sewing that I didn't have time to watch the series. It's great that so many classic series are getting updates and continuations now though.
It gave me a great sense of pride to finish another costume and for the blouse to look as nicely fitted as it turned out. I feel like my tailoring ability has taken a huge leap forward in the last couple of years and after the struggles I had making the skirt, I'm happy that I have the patience and perseverance to tackle frustrating problems now. Working with Kris Byers again at Toronto ComiCON 2018 was lots of fun and she was very encouraging to help me get some fun character shots.
In late April 2018, I spent a couple of hours updating the costume by swapping out the original gold buttons, as they were very shiny, with some matte buttons. I also bought some lightweight lace that I sewed on just at the point where the red bias tape is. It goes evenly around the whole bottom of the skirt so I don't have to worry about it hanging funny and I think it's not too heavy. I kept it subtle by only letting it stick out by a couple of centimeters. In the animation the underskirt only shows through in some scenes, but I think it's a cute addition. After wearing this costume to March Toronto Comicon, I also fixed up my wig to be more accurate. I ordered a Clear Card prop card of Flight, which is made from acrylic, from an Aliexpress seller. I also purchased a Dream wand prop from another Aliexpress seller. The wand maker appears to be called Magic Girl. I thought it would up the recognition factor and I think the new Dream wand is quite beautiful. It's my favourite of Sakura's wands and I love the new wing design on it. It took nearly 2 months to get my wand once I ordered it in late March, and it arrived the week of AN. My father helped me assemble it and it looked great. I got tons of compliments on my uniform, wig and of course, on the wand. It was worth buying for sure. I'm looking forward to doing a shoot of this costume in the future with my new costume props. :3
Events/Conventions this costume was worn to
Toronto Comicon 2018 (Sunday) & Anime North 2018 (Saturday)
Pan, Kris Byers Photography & Adrien