cosplay thoughts | the mockup

Someone asked me on my Facebook account what a mock up was. It occurred to me that while mockups are standard in the fashion industry, a lot of cosplayers simply don’t bother with them for a myriad of reasons.

First of all, what is a mockup?

Simply put, it is a crappy version of your final project. A mockup allows you to test the fit, pattern, and construction of a garment or piece without wasting expensive materials. They are typically made of a cheap material like old bedsheets, miscellaneous remnants, or a cotton muslin with a low thread count/sq. inch. Industry professionals also suggest using a cheap material that will mimic the final product, i.e. use cheap knit to make mock ups of more expensive knit pieces.

Sounds pretty reasonable, right? After all, for us cosplayers, it is instinct that guides us to pattern out all our armor pieces before we start cutting out our thermoplastics and foam. Why can’t we do the same for fabric?

Here are reasons that I’ve heard from various people (including my young foolish self) as to why they don’t make mockups:

  1. They take way too much time. It’s true. Making a mockup requires a lot of time and if you’re working in a time crunch, you simply don’t have that luxury.
  2. It’s extra money. Okay. Sure. Muslin runs about 2.99/yard. I’ll give you that.
  3. That’s a thing? Oh Lord, that’s the most common reason I’ve ever heard.

To respond to all of these reasons, all of which are completely valid reasons to not make a mockup, I present reasons why you should make a mock up.

  1. They take way too much time. Let me paint this scenario for you: my ego, the very id of my essence, lives and dies by the mantra “go big or go home.” So when my friend handed me this image:black_lilymy first thought was, “Damn. That’s going to be a lot of satin.”And it was.I made a mock up of C.C. just so I would know exactly how much material I needed and how much time it would take. From my project notes, you know how the final product was made. My mock up took me about three weeks to perfect and it took me another three months to finish the entire dress with all of its embellishments.

    Think of it this way: had I not made my mockup, I would have spent another $100 dollars buying extra material to make up for my blunders. I was in grad school when I made this dress; I didn’t have an extra $100 dollars. No amount of coupon hoarding would have saved me from that fate.

    In short, take the time to make a mock-up. You will save more money that way in the long run. Also, the final construction process will go much smoother because your muscle memory will kick in and help you out!

  2. It’s extra money. Continuing on from the previous thought, the cost for a mock-up is quite minimal in comparison to the cost of materials. If you are smart, Jo-ann’s will often put muslins and broadcloth on sale for a decent price. During Firefly Frenzy, I bought 10 yards of muslin for $10. That’s a steal.Use your coupons and sales. If you already do that for materials, it won’t be that much to add on a couple yards of cheap cotton. Jo-ann always has a sale going on. Buy your mockup materials during one sale, and when you’re done, buy your final materials during the next. You also will not need to include extra material for mistakes if you make a mock-up and will save money in the end!
  3. That’s a thing? Yes. Yes it is. You should do the thing.

Other reasons to make a mockup:

  1. Test any weird dye baths! Got to do some gradient dyeing? You can dye your mockup first before you dye scraps of your final material to see if you need to adjust any of your dye baths or use a different technique. But ALWAYS test your final material before you dye your final garment! A lot of fabrics may not take to the dye the same way cotton muslin does.
  2. Commissions. I will not make a commission for anyone unless I have made a mockup first. I have two exceptions to that rule: One is my little brother, who is easily accessible and whose body proportions run true to industry, and the other is my best friend, Berry Bunny Cosplay, who I have made several pieces for over the years and whose proportions I am familiar with. But still. I make mockups for them too.
  3. Boredom. Too broke to buy nice materials but going out of your mind from having nothing to do? Make a mockup of one of your future projects from spare materials left over from past projects. When you do have the money to make the final costume, you’ve already made your pattern!

I hope this post gives you some extra insight about mockups! Please leave a comment if you have any questions. Alternatively, you can reach me through email or on Facebook.


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[cosplay guide] yoon | akatsuki no yona

And here it is! My secret cosplay for spring!!!

I fell in love with Akatsuki no Yona after the first five minutes. It’s everything I love in a story. There’s best friends, tragic loves, political intrigue, mysticism, bishonens, and dragons.

My secret other half must be Yoon because with the amount of marriage proposals we get, we could build our own harems. Not to mention, I take care of most of the things around my apartment. thanks baby roomies.

At the time I started this cosplay, there were only three other people in the world who had ever posted images and WIPs of Yoon. Since this blog is a conglomeration of my progress and workflow, it would only make sense that I write about what I did to build this cosplay.

Let’s begin!


This is Yoon. His anime outfit is colored slightly different from the manga version and the poncho wraps differently around him too. I chose to make the anime outfit because I loved the color scheme more. Also, with the recent completion of the anime and the mass attention Crunchyroll and Funimation has given AnY, I figured this would be a more recognizable outfit. Although in true Callie style, I combined my favorite aspects of each version into one.

Yeah no

Yeah no

For something so simple, the devil lies in the details. Just like Haku.

I chose cottons for the bulk of my materials because this was supposed to be something for fun and not competition. Cottons also come in a wide array of colors which made my job a lot easier. Though if I were to compete in this, I can justify the use of cottons because Yoon is a poor boy living in complete isolation with only Ik-soo for company. Cottons = practicality.

His pants, tunic, sash, and arm warmers are fairly easy to recreate. I put pockets in his pants just so I would have them but I semi-regret doing that because it only made more work for me to get them to lay flat afterwards. The trick to making his tunic sit right is the wide collar that is usually hidden under the poncho. You can really see it in these images:



Here you can see there is one other layer: a khaki or cream colored undershirt depending on the screen shot you pull up. I have one in each color but I think I’ll ultimately wear the cream undershirt. The manga version has three seams running down the front but they don’t appear to serve any kind of purpose so in the interest of time, I didn’t put them in.

I initially wanted a flannel to make his poncho because that’s why he wears it: for warmth. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a blue I liked that matched with the green I ultimately chose so it’s done in cotton. For the fringes, I went with the manga version and used three different shades of blue embroidery floss blended together to bring some depth and interest to the poncho. To attach them, I used my fringe method to make each tassel and knotted small sections. It saved me the trouble of cutting strips of cotton and sealing them with Fray Check even though the fringe method was more time consuming.

For his boots, I didn’t find a pair of tassel boots I liked so I made my own shoe covers. I got tired of buying shoes for cosplay so when my favorite boots finally got a hole in them, I put velcro around the edges of the shoe, and used them as an all-around base shoe for different cosplays. I used suede cloth to make both the boots and the fringe and sealed the edges with Fray Check.

I also used the same suede cloth to make his bag. It is lined in left over khaki cotton I had and fully functional.

Accessory time! I bought small feathers and used some packing foam to build a base for the two “cotton balls” seen at the base of his hair accessory because the feathers I bought wouldn’t fluff out enough. I covered this foam bases with fluffy feather fragments, fluffed them out to make them look organic, and sewed two small feathers. All of this was attached to a wig extension clip. I made the necklace seen in the manga just because I thought it was pretty. :3

I bought aqua blue contacts from Pinky Paradise. Yoon has beautiful sapphire colored eyes and I wanted a set that was subtle enough for every day wear but striking enough to stand out in the light. You can find my review of these lenses here.

The final piece of this cosplay was the wig and it was by far the hardest part of the entire costume. I contacted my good friend Rin for a wig styling commission and we set about finding the perfect wig.

I’m very fond of Epic Cosplay wigs so I went there first. Completely torn between their peach blonde and cocoa brown Apollo wigs, I went to Rin with the problem and we decided on the peach blonde so we could tea dye it a shade darker. But… when I went to buy it, it went out of circulation! Pretty bummed, I searched through Arda, eBay, and Amazon before stumbling across a beautiful wig on the Five Wits. It was a perfect match for color and a little long but nothing a good trim can’t fix.

Rin is a wizard with wigs and I’ve always wanted her to style something for me. Given her love for AnY, I knew she would be the only person I could trust to get this hairstyle right. The day after my wig came in, I went over to her place to have it styled!

It took me about four or five days to make all of this because I was working on my thesis at the same time. I can’t wait until photos from the Oklahoma Cosplay Shoot come in! Many thanks to Ashley for introducing this beautiful tale to me, and to Rin for her assistance with my wig. I dedicate this cosplay to you both!

Ja ne~

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kinomoto sakura || day three

I know I haven’t been posting updates but it’s been a pretty standard job so far on Sakura. Rin helped me pick out materials and I started cutting them out.

Today I decided I couldn’t put it off much longer so I went ahead and tinted the carnation pink with a mixture of pearl gray and petal pink. I’m hoping I can replicate the dye later when I finally get more carnation cotton for the shorts. I’m also using this dye bath as a starting point for dying my white knit dark fuchsia to match the darker pink of the outfit.

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judar | day one + two

I had four or six yards of black sateen lying around from Azula (didn’t need as much as I originally calculated for) and I recently got into Magi (hey, it took a lot of convincing and a certain Balbadd arc for me to fall in love with it). My favorite is the fabulous Judar, closely followed by Kougyoku but I’ve had enough of red hair and ornate dresses for the year so Judar became a serious consideration.

While working on C.C., I happened to find a package of gold bias tape and a short black zipper. It was like the cosplay gods were all but whacking me with a stick to make this cosplay. I decided to use the extra two yards of lining from C.C. for Judar instead of lining the skirt.

I made the pants in a night after being completely frustrated with C.C.’s ridiculous corset. I eyeballed the pattern and serged it without trying them on. Even with the added elastic at the ankles and waist, there was still too much fabric to get the right look so I took in four inches from both sides. I intended to add pockets but forgot to the first time around, so having to take in the sides was a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to put my pockets in. Even though pockets are not culturally accurate, some of the recent panels in the manga suggest that Judar may actually have pockets after all.

The only thing I didn’t do was sew the waistband in because of a very important point.

Because Judar’s outfit is so simplistic, a big part of the cosplay is his slim physique and obvious abdominal muscles. Being nearly twenty pounds overweight and entirely self-conscious, I knew there was no way I could bring myself to wear this cosplay no matter how much I loved it. An elegant solution that would kill two birds with one stone was to work out! This is not so much as a NYR, but as a direct order from my physicians (read: my doctor father and therapist mother).

Back to cosplay, the only thing I was missing was an adequate amount of white fabric. I didn’t have enough from previous projects so I went to Jo-ann’s with the intention of finding a white chiffon.

However, chiffon was too sheer for my purpose and David Tutera had a nice stretch taffeta with a texture I liked. They didn’t have it in white and the other whites in the case collection would not suit my needs at all. I did find silk duponi but the $25/yd price tag was a serious issue. Luckily, the bridal collection and duponi were 30% but it was a tough decision to make.

I also picked up another package of gold bias tape in case the one I had ran out. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a seam and running out. I am collecting the Worbla scraps from Azula to make his wand.

I will not work on Judar until after graduation and I am in a little better shape for an accurate fit! But I just couldn’t resist. XD

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c.c. [black lily] | day… something. thirty-five?

Oh man. December is always super busy for me but I have surprisingly been keeping on top of things regarding C.C. Maybe not as much as I should have but… there is only so much I can take before I go crazy.

I am pretty much done with machine work at this point. The only things left to sew by machine are ribbons for the front of the corset and the armbands. I also need to fix one side of the waist on the main dress because it’s like half an inch too long. Then… it’s hand stitching galore!

Finished sewing the binding on the corset and inserted the bands for the puff sleeve. Just need to adjust the creases of the ribbons in the front and figure out how I’m going to close it in the back.

I scrapped putting in a full lining in the skirt, having it be redundant with a trained petticoat. My attempt to make a ruffled petticoat as per Joshua Hart’s instructions [see his extremely helpful tutorial on his Facebook!] were an epic failure but it wasn’t for naught. Instead of making a removable baleyeuse, I stitched ruffles to the underside of my trained petticoat and put in the failed ruffled petticoat as part of the baleyeuse. It have me a good amount of puff in an otherwise late train. I could put in another layer of tulle/ruffles to help even out the flow a little better but I decided to first fix my cheap-ass crinoline.

Ugh. I should have been done with this dress by now and started work on Lelouch but honestly, it’s so close to being done, I just can’t stop now….

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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 480 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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lelouch [black lily] | day one + two

After the disaster that was C.C.’s corset, I knew I needed to take a break before I did something stupid. I had been putting off Lelouch in favor of finishing C.C. but now… it was time.

Sarah had a tailed coat in the closet so I took off C.C. and put it on my form. I had practiced draping on a summer blazer for Gou,but now it was time to see if I remembered how to do it. I draped muslin over the tails and started drawing with my pen.

To my utter delight, I had a perfect replica of her tails with the modifications to the front for Lelouch.

However, I forgot to add seam allowance and it was a little tight.

I redid my mockup with a 1-inch addition. It needed to be taken in at the center back seam but we decided it was okay to have the coat a little roomy to account for the layers underneath.

Then came the hardest part: the train.

Sarah wanted a cathedral train because of her tendency to trip, but we both knew deep deep inside that the coat would have a monarch train because of the way it drapes in Lelouch’s arms. We played around with extra muslin until we had a length long enough to drape in her arms and wide enough to get it through both arms. A little bit of pattern manipulation meant that I could cut one half of the coat out of a single piece of unfolded lining with darting to true it size and enough fabric to have a single seam running down the back.

Unfortunately, that meant buying more very expensive fabric.

One half of the back of her coat took three yard of fabric, meaning there is six yards of fabric in the back alone. I wanted us to make the most of pre-Thanksgiving sales and we managed to get another four yards of empire velvet and three yards of anti-static lining for $52. We discovered that velvet has a smaller width than lining (44″ to 58″) so we have to take in the lining  somewhere.

I cut out all the velvet pieces of the coat, sans the trim and collar, and was delighted to find my calculations were correct and I had enough velvet blocks to cut my missing pieces.

I still have to cut the last piece of lining and stitch the shells together but I’m ready to start on the collar, cuffs, and appliques!

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