Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Princess Serenity (Sailor Moon) Light Up Dress - Part II: The Sleeves

I know it may seem strange to break out the sleeves into their own post when I covered the entire dress construction in the previous post. My approach on writing is the time spent on parts and I spent DAYS constructing the sleeves. They deserve some time in the spotlight.

This is a three part series of how I constructed my Sailor Moon Crystal Princess Serenity Light Up Dress Cosplay.
Part I - The Dress
Part II - The Sleeves
Part III - The Overlay and Accessories (Coming Soon)

How did you cut your fabric?
Sewing circles is my enemy. I never like it and circles don't like me. My goal was to have sleeves that had a flat back for easy sewing, but a circle front I could puff out with some stuffing. I really liked the approach over at My Cute Bow for creating an elastic white band around your arm that you attach your sleeve puff to.

I made a circle with tails that I could overlap to sew together. See?

From finished cut to template
I created the circle template first to find my ideal puff size. After several drafts with paper towels, I determined how large the spirals/tails needed to be in order to overlap.

How did you do your loops?
Princess Serenity's sleeve design mimics a greek column scroll in all versions of the dress.

A popular cosplay approach is to roll the fabric into a ball to create the lines. This looks fabulous and adds depth to the sleeves. However, I wanted to stay closer to Sailor Moon Crystal which has gold scrolls. I tried painting the scrolls, but it looked flat. I even experimented with outlining the paint in metallic gold thread, but it wasn't the look I imaged. Break out the ribbon!

Fabric test with painted scrolls and start of thread outline. Not bad, but not what I was looking for.
I created a template scroll to lay the fabric over while I pinned the ribbon into place on the sleeves. The ribbon had wire in it; a big help to keep it holding shape. Then I would go back and sew the section. This way, I had less pins to prick me while I worked. It took one to two hours to lay and sew each scroll.
Ribbon attached to the circle finally!
How did you get the lights to only show on the gold scrolls?
My original plan was to have no lights in the sleeves. Once you start adding lights, you want more. I remember from light tests with the front circles (boob circles as some friends called them) that craft foam would block light.
My Serenity foam piece to block light in unwanted places.

Like a crazy pumpkin pattern, I cut the scroll pattern out of the foam pieces. To check the cut, I would pin the foam to the sleeve and shine a light through the bottom. A glass coffee table was very handy for this process.
Foam is pinned into place to make sure the cuts are the correct width before gluing down.
How would I attach this without showing? Turns out that E600, when applied in light layers, does not show like hot glue. The foam piece is enclosed already with no where to go. I only needed enough stick to hold it in place. This part took around one hour per sleeve.

What lights did you use?
I had plenty of white fairy lights left from my front piece. I cut stripes for each sleeve front that contained 4 lights I could bury in the stuffing.

A few led lights rolled into a circle. Ready to go in the sleeves!
 It was important to not put the lights right up against the scrolls to avoid uneven lighting. The stuffing it helps to diffuse the glow evenly across the entire scroll. Each scroll is independent so there are four lights per scroll for a total of 16 lights across the sleeves

Light it up! Sleeves with lit golden scrolls
How are you powering that?!
Thank the cosplay gods for that Sailor Moon Crystal sleeve design! In Crystal, you can see you have two circles, front and back, with a rectangle connecting the two pieces. The rectangle even folds out a bit and has little flaps! I created a pouch between the two circles that the batter could live in. A two coin cell battery holder powers each sleeve.

Sleeve before covering up the battery. I sewed a pocket to help keep things in place.

What would you have done differently?
Glue!! I was afraid to glue the ribbon down because I thought it would show in the lights. I did some testing with glue towards the end and noticed it did not show though. I could have been using it the whole time. Test early and test often.

I also should have done more to insulate my solder points. The tails on the circle allow me to only undo a few stitches to get into the electrical wiring. A good call in hindsight as I had to go into one scroll twice for repairs.

That's it for part II! I'll wrap up the final post after Dragon Con.

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