Sakura Kinomoto (Manga Volume 5 Cover Art) - Card Captor Sakura Clear Card Arc
Time to Make: 53 hours+
Timeline of Construction: March - April 2019, December 2019 - March 2020, January 2022, May 2022
Making my Sakura Kinomoto battle costume was a bit of a dream Cosplay for me. Over my many years of Cosplaying, I've always had it at the back of my mind that I would like to make a magical girl costume from Card Captor Sakura. The collection of costumes that Sakura accumulates in the Anime is like a dream come true for any Cosplayer. The sheer variety and imagination in the designs has been a big inspiration for me and I really enjoy leafing through images of her costumes just because they're so much fun to look at. Even back in the days when I first started Cosplaying in 2001, I was already a big fan of Card Captor Sakura and Syaoran was my first ever costume, so I've been admiring Sakura's outfits for years. One of the reasons I was so excited for the Card Captor Sakura Clear Card Arc revival is because I couldn't wait to see what her new costume designs would look like and I have to say that I have not been disappointed!
Right from the get-go of the release of the Clear Card Arc Anime, I was looking forward to Cosplaying from the series and I made my school uniform costume back in early 2018. As the Manga and Anime continued, I kept an eye on the designs in case something sparked my interest to Cosplay. Since I had decided to purchase a Dream Wand prop for my school uniform costume, I really wanted to find another use for the wand since it was a bit pricey so I kept looking up images from the Anime and Manga throughout 2018 and into 2019. I was kind of tempted by her cute froggy raincoat costume, but it has been mass produced by costume makers in China and looks pretty good so it wouldn't be worth the cost and trouble to make from scratch. Pretty early in 2019, I had decided to make Homura's magical girl costume, but since it took me a couple of months to go fabric shopping for that project, by the end of February, I was concerned that I might not have time to make Homura for Anime North. I decided to look for a potential second costume option and Sakura's cover art battle costume from the 5th volume of the new Manga really stood out to me. What really brought the costume to my attention was the fact that Good Smile Company had released a limited edition Nendoroid Petit figure of the design. It was bundled with volume 5 of the Manga. I loved how adorable the figure looked and I appreciated the fact the figure gave me the ability to have a 360 degree view of the design. I decided to order the figure and that cemented my desire to make the costume.
I tried to find some fabric for Sakura in early March 2019 from Fabricland, but had no luck. I spent much of March working on modifying a pattern for the costume. I decided to use the dress pattern from my Dragon Ball Super Bulma costume as the basis and I modified the bottom of each pattern piece to fit the design. Sakura's outfit has some interesting characteristics as the sides and bottom of the back are blue and the front part is white. It almost has a vest-like appearance to part of it. There is also a panel at the top of the back that's white. I had to modify the back piece to add the white panel. I had some trouble figuring out how to adjust the back to fit the panel and the sewing is a bit rough, but it turned out well enough as a pattern piece. I was able to go downtown with Pan and check out the fabric district in late March. I did find fabric for both Homura and this Sakura costume. I was kind of nervous about buying fabric for the skirt as I had no idea how much I would need to make such a full looking skirt. I also purchased some horsehair braid, which I had to guess how much to buy (and I was a bit short with my estimate). In early March I had ordered boots, buttons, gold cording, piping, decorative stars and ribbon from various sellers on Aliexpress. I had to cross my fingers that I would get everything in time for AN. I had the fabric already, but I was lacking every accessory piece and that made me nervous about working on this costume.
I made a prototype of the blouse pattern in early April 2019 to make sure I was happy with the pattern. I felt good about how it turned out, but given my nervousness about getting the accessory items in the mail, I decided to shift my focus to working on Homura again. Originally, I was just going to work on Homura for a few weeks in April and then shift back to Sakura when the accessories started arriving in the mail, but I only ever received the boots, cording, piping and ribbon. The decorative star patches and buttons eventually were lost in the mail. I never ever received them and some of the accessories took several weeks to arrive. It was pretty frustrating. It taught me to order my Cosplay supplies several months before I need them because even roughly 3 months may not give you enough time to prepare (especially if things get lost in the mail and you need to find replacements).
I put the costume on hold for most of the rest of 2019. I was feeling burnout after making Homura in April and May, but I made it my goal to get working on Sakura during the Christmas holidays. I did order and find more buttons and decorative star patches in the fall and thankfully this time everything did arrive. I've decided to refer to this Sakura costume as her band outfit. I love the pseudo military/marching band aesthetic to the outfit design. The costume has such a fun silhouette with the very structured top and in contrast, a somewhat chaotic looking puffy skirt. The costume really made me think creatively. Things like the shoulder epaulettes really drew me to the costume and I was looking forward to figuring out ways to make things work. I was actually excited to get back to work on the costume by the fall once I had given myself enough time away from sewing to not feel stressed out by it.
On Boxing Day 2019, I started working on Sakura again. I made the blouse using my pattern from earlier in the year and it came together fairly easily. The white panel in the back was a bit frustrating as the white fabric I used was a bit stiffer than the blue fabric and it was tricky to line up the fabrics and get them to stay in position as I tried to sew around the curves. I hadn't patterned out the collar of the blouse in advance, but thankfully, for my birthday in 2019, my father bought me a dress form, so I was able to lay out the shirt and fairly easily pattern out and test a mock of the collar. The other major tricky part of the shirt was adding the yellow strips to the back and front of the costume. The yellow creates the dividing line between the white and blue parts of the costume. I decided to just sew yellow double fold bias tape over the seam lines in my costume where the different fabrics met. It did take a couple of tries in spots to make sure my stitches were even and to properly curve around the white panel in the back, but I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. At this point I returned to work after the Christmas holiday, but in about a week and a half, I had finished the bulk of work on the blouse.
After the holidays, I worked on the shoulder epaulettes. I had purchased some felt and gold piping and I decided to try combining felt and craft foam to make a somewhat sturdy, but slightly flexible, shoulder pad. I made the base out of felt with a slightly smaller layer of craft foam white glued on top. Several weeks after I had finished making my epaulettes, I learned about bullion fringe, which is the type of fringe made with hanging cording meant for accents on curtains, bedding and such. Back in 2019, it was something that I had wanted to find for making the epaulettes, but I had no idea what this type of trim was called. I couldn't think of the right keywords to find it so I thought I had to make it myself. I used cording that I looped to create trim (as the cording unraveled easily) and I hot glued it inside the shoulder pad layer. In January 2022, however, a couple of years after making the costume, but before I ever wore the costume in public, I decided to replace the looped trim with actual bullion fringe. I bought some fringe from Aliexpress towards the end of 2021. I had to buy a second batch as the gold colour didn't match very well with the other gold trim on my costume. I cut off my looped trim and carefully fabric glued in the new fringe underneath and around the sides of the shoulder pads. Everything had been hot glued closed so it was too difficult to open the shoulder pads to remove the old fringe. Gluing the new fringe on top still looked pretty good and gave the shoulder pads neat movement. It took a couple of years, but I think the new fringe was worth the upgrade. After adding the fringe back when I first made the costume, I hot glued the gold piping around the perimeter of each epaulette. After I sewed the epaulettes to each shoulder, I used white glue and felt to make a cover for the top of each shoulder pad. I finished each shoulder pad with a small gold star patch from Dollarama that I glued in place. I was worried the epaulettes would slip down, but they actually were pretty sturdy and at the same time, not too stiff that they looked severe or limited my shoulder movement that much.
I finished up the blouse by adding 4 lengths of cording, which match up with rows of red buttons. This was a bit of a fun project. I had figure out how to connect them, but make sure they could open up in the front because I made the blouse with a separating zipper. In the back, I sewed the buttons to the blouse and I hot glued the edges of each cord to the back of each button to avoid the shredding problem I had with the cording. I used some red permanent marker to hide some of the glue and rough edges under the button so it blended a bit. In the front of the blouse, I decided to sew a column of buttons on one side and for the other side, I decided to hot glue snaps to the button on top of where I glued each edge of the cording. My father cut off the loops at the back of each button so I had a smooth edge I could glue the cording to and I was kind of surprised that it worked pretty well. It was nerve-racking gluing the cording to each button in case I made the length too short, but besides having to re-do the top button, everything else went smoothly. I'm so happy to have my dress form. It made measuring and positioning the buttons so much easier than trying it on and testing it on myself. With the buttons done, the blouse was officially finished on January 20th, 2020.
I did have to make some accessories for the costume. I made a brooch for the front of the blouse using one of the decorative gold stars. I had so much trouble trying to decide what sort of stars I wanted for the costume. Originally I wanted to find a small craft paper mâché star, but I had no luck finding one that was the right size. Instead, I ordered some moderate sized reflective star patches from Aliexpress. I actually ordered a couple of different styles since I was so uncertain of what I wanted to use. I had purchased the perfect ribbon that matched the style of Sakura's ribbon in the cover art. It has red, blue and white stripes and is even in the right order. The ribbon has wire in it so I can pose the edges. I trimmed the bottom to give the ribbon pointed edges and I glued the ribbon to the gold star along with a brooch backing to create the front brooch. I made 2 more small ribbon and star accessories for the boots. This time I used magnets instead of a brooch backing, which will hold the ribbons in place on each boot.
My next major task was to make the hat. This was probably my least favourite part of the costume and an element that I was most unsure about designing. I've only ever made a couple of hat and fascinator style accessories so I was feeling pretty clueless about how to proceed especially since I didn't want to position the hat at the very top of my head. I have to work around the pre-styled ahoge in my wig so there were some hiccups in how the hat would need to sit. I think I made the whole thing way too overly complicated. Since making my hat, I've noticed that other people have made costume hats with just simple fabric and it looks great. I designed mine with a layer of craft foam on the sides and in the bottom so it would conform to my head shape. I created casings for the sides using blue fabric and I hot glued each finished side of the hat to the sides of the craft foam base. My hope was to give the hat some support so it wouldn't droop or become shapeless. It took several hours to hand sew the yellow piping to each side of the hat. It was super finicky to hold in place as I created small stitches. I watched so many things on Netflix as I worked on the hat. I was a little nervous about the hat sagging outwards still, so I added a little bit of cardboard inside the hat on each side to create a backbone and hold everything together.
When the sides were done, I still had the problem of designing the top of the hat, which was white. I was concerned that just creating the top it would sag inwards so I decided, after trying different materials, to stuff the middle of the hat with some stuffing. I glued the sides of the white fabric down to the inner part of the hat using fabric glue. The finishing touches were gluing some fabric stars in 2 sizes to the left side of the hat to match Sakura's hat design and I needed to figure out a way that I could wear the hat. Now if I had made the hat out of straight fabric, this would have probably been fairly easy. With my cardboard and craft foam base, my hat was kind of big and slightly heavy and with the sort of off to the side positioning I needed to achieve, it was awkward. I tried to glue a large hair clip to the bottom of the hat, but there wasn't enough wefting or hair at the place in the wig where I needed the hat to sit that it would stay up. I had to think of something else. My second plan was to default to what Adrien used for my Princess Peach crown, which was magnets. I ordered 2 sets of moderately sized thin magnets and I glued one side to the hat and positioned the other side inside of my wig so the magnets would dynamically hold their position. Thankfully, it worked and the hat looked alright. I just feel like my concerns about the support structure were unnecessary and my biggest foil was making the hat too big to begin with. A smaller, simple fabric hat would hold just as well as my overly complicated stuffed cardboard and craft foam one. My hat looked a little wide from above and I'm not quite sure if I liked the effect. Live and learn! I also struggled a bit with wearing the hat. I decided to debut this costume at YetiCon 2022 when it was quite windy. The wind actually managed to push one of the magnets out of alignment due to how thin the wefting was in my wig and the hat was loose on my head. Ordinarily magnets would do the job no problem, but they definitely couldn't stand up very well to extreme weather conditions.
The final element to the costume was a bit intimidating to me. I needed to make a gathered circle skirt. I've made several skirts over the last few years. I've made school uniform skirts with box pleats and knife pleats, but I've never really made a short circle skirt with intense fullness. I really loved the contrast the costume had with the very fitted top versus the very big and ruffled looking skirt. It looks super cute on the figure. I really wanted to achieve a fullness with my skirt, but I was quite worried that I hadn't purchased enough fabric for the project. I'm pretty terrible at calculating dimensions especially in relation to something I'm not super familiar with. Luckily, Pan was willing to help me calculate the ratios for the skirt length and width. I went over to her place on the Family Day holiday in February and she helped me lay out paper to create a pattern. We made one full circle skirt, which we agreed would probably look best with 3 full skirts gathered together. Thankfully, it turned out that I had purchased enough fabric the year before. I think I purchased a little over 5 yards of pink material and I really only needed around 4 so I still have quite a bit leftover. Once the pattern was made, it was pretty straightforward. I cut out 3 copies of the skirt and sewed each panel together. Along the bottom of the skirt, I sewed a layer of 1 inch thick horsehair braid. The horsehair braid gives the bottom of the skirt some support and structure so it sticks out instead of falling flat. I attached the horsehair braid along the outside of the skirt and turned it inward creating a rolled hem. I actually did not buy enough horsehair braid. I was about 15 inches short. Thankfully, I had some leftover horsehair braid from my Tennis Princess Peach dress that I made several years ago. It was the same shade of pink, but 1/4 of an inch wider. For the small amount I needed, I figured it was ok to use it. Trying to cover the raw edge where the 2 types of braid met was a nightmare. I had to sew a piece of bias tape overtop to it to keep it from shredding.
In order to make the skirt look full and ruffled, I sewed a basting stitch along the top of the super long skirt and I had to carefully pull the stitches to condense the skirt. I actually sliced my finger from the tension of continually pulling and pushing the gathering. XD When I had fully gathered the skirt, I sewed over the top of the skirt to hold the gathers. I then sewed the final side seam to make it a complete circle and I added an invisible zipper to the side. The last thing I needed to do was create a waistband. It was just a simple piece of fabric that I cut on a fold. I added a layer of interfacing for stability although I did find it very difficult to sew the waistband over the heavy gathering. It made the waistband a bit off-kilter and wrinkled as it was tough to keep the top of the skirt edge in place. After attaching the waistband, I realized I had made the skirt a little tight. This became a huge problem as it was slightly too tight when I first finished the costume, but then the pandemic happened and over the course of the next couple of years before I could wear Sakura, I gained a little bit more weight so the skirt basically didn't fit at all. In May of 2022 when it seemed certain that I could wear the costume soon, I decided to remake the waistband, reattach the zipper and open up some of the gathering so the skirt would fit me better. It was still really difficult to attach the waistband over all the gathering stitches, but I finally was able to wrangle it enough for it to basically stay in place. I was able to give myself quite a bit of room so hopefully I won't be forced to retire this costume before I'm ready. The pandemic did change my measurements enough that I do have to give up on ever re-wearing a few old costumes like Snow White or Wendy and it's a shame. That really teaches you to always leave a generous amount of seam allowance because you might need to make adjustments later. I think the skirt turned out pretty well in terms of volume. It's certainly the puffiest mini skirt I've ever made. I'm not sure if it's quite as full as the design calls for. When I first saw the Nendoroid Petit I thought maybe Sakura had a multilayered skirt on as it's so full it looks like two skirts put together. I think the look I achieved is a pretty good interpretation and I'm happy that I can add a gathered circle skirt to the list of skirt styles that I've made.
I finished the skirt on March 2nd, 2020 and I received my magnets for the hat and I completed the hat on March 4th. My original goal for finishing the costume was to have it done for Anime North 2020 so I was really proud of myself for finishing it nearly 3 months in advance. I had never finished a costume for a con so early. Having said that, along came a little something called COVID-19 that absolutely steamrolled through the lives of everyone in 2020. I had decided to wear Sakura to Toronto ComiCON in mid-March since I had finished it so early, but a week before the con, the convention was cancelled as fears about the spread of the virus here in Canada were ramping up in the days before the con. Never would I have thought that it would also lead to the cancellation of Anime North too and just about every event in 2020. Definitely smart to see things cancelled with the reality, but it was certainly a sad experience to see all my favourite events that I've been attending for years get cancelled one by one. It actually made me regret rushing to work on the costume in January and February. I should have been going to the movies and mall more if I had thought I would have to spend weeks in isolation with things shut down when sewing would be a perfect use of my time. Working on my Sakura costume was actually fairly spread out, though. I started buying supplies and working on patterning for the blouse in March 2019, but I pretty much shelved the costume by early April. I started sewing again in late December 2019 and fully finished the costume in early March 2020. Overall, it took me about 3 and a half months to finish the costume and that's not a bad pace with a full-time job (when I actually had to leave the house). I'm really glad I stuck with the costume after plans to work on it fell through in early 2019 and I think I learned a lot in the construction process. It certainly let me be creative with things like adding the cording to the front of the blouse and making the epaulettes. Sakura's designs have always been so inspiring to me so it was a blast finally portraying one of her magical girl designs.
This was a very obscure costume. Truly only Manga fans might recognize this design, but thanks to my props like the Dream wand, it was at least somewhat recognizable. I did very much appreciate the compliments I received on my costume. I really didn't expect the costume to get much notice, but I received so many nice comments as I posted progress shots on my Instagram. This costume reminded me how much fun it can be to be creative when making a costume and one of the neat aspects of working on an obscure and under Cosplayed design is that you can take some liberties in the creation process. It was nice to finally get to wear Sakura at YetiCon 2022 after making the costume 2 years earlier. It was just a shame that I only wore it for a couple of hours due to the windy weather and I didn't get a chance to get many photos of the costume. I adore how cute this costume looks and how comfy it is so I'm looking forward to re-wearing this costume in the future.
Events/Conventions this costume was worn to
YetiCon 2022 (Saturday)