Making Cardcaptor Sakura’s dress: the bodice and sleeves

And we’re back into cosplay! After October MCM, I worked mainly on historical costume as it was the lull period in between conventions. I made my Linen Robe à l’Anglaise and my Early Edwardian ensemble. But in January, I started looking forwards to London MCM in May. It took me a little while to decide what to wear. With the new release of the new Cardcaptor Sakura manga and anime, the Clear Card stories, I felt the urge to revisit this childhood icon. I grew up with the show and the manga and it meant a lot to me. So I started by working on the staff, because I was curious about making a prop. I made a post about it here [add link].

This is what that dress looks like:

Image result for cardcaptor sakura film Image result for cardcaptor sakura film

Image result for cardcaptor sakura film

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The dress is worn in the second film and it’s only for a short time, so I had mostly screenshots to work off of.

First thing I did was to sketch out the costume myself, and break it down into elements or parts. Then I figured out how much fabric I needed and the hunting began. I’m really not a fan of pink (so it makes NO SENSE THAT I PICKED THIS DRESS), so I was determined to pick a very light shade of pink, kind of like blush. Satin was the clear choice for me, as it would keep the body of the bodice but would look nice gathered around the waist.

I bought this fabric at £8 p/m and I bought five meters. I also bought a few meters of half an inch and one inch wide red ribbon.

To start on the bodice, I decided to use a pattern I already had and then alter it. This dress has princess seams at the front. At first, I struggled because they look like straight seams on the original dress, and princess seams curve around the bust. However I then wrote this off due to the fact that this dress is on like an eleven year old that has no bust ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). I got out my Jane Porter pattern, as I really liked the way that bodice fit me. I cut it out of calico, put it on my dress form and correct the seams and neckline. I straightened out the seams so that they looked slightly less slanted, and I shortened the neckline to add an extra band around it.

Then I cut that up, transferred it to paper and cut it out of scrap fabric to make the final mock-up. The fit was pretty good, so I left it pretty much as was!

The fit has changed slightly since this stage. The Jane bodice and this bodice were draped over my old strapless bra. That has since been thrown away and the new bra I bought isn’t as… pushy? So the bodice looks larger around the bust. Since the bodice is fully lined and the seams are boned I’m just – just not gonna think about it.
The finished pattern

I cut this out of the satin, interlining and the lining.

I then pinned the satin and interlining (cotton twill) layer together and sewed around the edges (flatlining).

For the satin, I basted all the seams together before putting them through my sewing machine. Princess seams can be tricky, so I decided to spend the time on them. For the lining however – haha – I just sewed the seams together with my machine (however one of them had a tiny lump and I went back and re-did it, I’m not SUPER lazy I swear).

I clipped the rounded seams (very important in princess seams) and pressed the life out of it. I didn’t grade back the seams because I would be using them as boning channels. I did trim back the neckline seam, where the band meets the bodice.

I sewed down the seam allowances by hand to make boning channels. I added a boning channel at each edge of the centre back.

Then I finished the edges of the ribbon that I was going to put at the top of the bodice. I burned the edges of the satin ribbon, rolled it inwards and sewed it down by hand (I thought this gave a nicer finish). I wanted a really clean finish, so I decided to set it in when I sewed the lining to the bodice.

I put the bodice and the lining together, pinning right sides together. The ribbon was set along that top edge, in between the two layers. The wrong side of the ribbon (so the one where I sewed the edges down to) was facing the lining. Then I hand basted it together.

And sewed it together by machine.

I pressed this all. A LOT.

And it was time to start thinking about sleeves! I decided to also start with an existing pattern. I used the pattern for my 1860s ballgown since they were similar. I cut out a mock up to see, as the bodice doesn’t rest as off-the-shoulder as the ballgown does. I wasn’t very happy with the mock-up.

I think it was because the bodice isn’t quite off shoulder, the sleeve sat weirdly and looked sloped. To fight this (without having to make a proper sleeve), I altered the pattern so that it was longer and wider at the middle. I made another mock up and I liked it better, so I went ahead and cut it out of the lining and satin.

The sleeve was so full that I had to get on my chair to get it in the photo.

I also made two little tulle poofs like on my Jane dress. This is something I started doing after researching historical sleeve supports. It worked well in my Jane, and it wasn’t as much work as proper sleeve supports so I did it again! It’s basically just a long rectangle of tulle. I gathered one edge down, and finished the edges with binding (not pictured below).

Then I sewed two rows of gathering stitches on the top and bottom of the sleeves, both on the satin and the lining. (Gathering stitches are just the longest stitch length on your machine. Then you gathered it down by pulling the bobbin thread).

Toilet paper is a staple on my crafting desk. Seriously, it would’ve been such a hassle to make her staff without it, just to clean paint off everywhere and other things like that.

Then they were gathered down, to my armhole measurement and my top arm measurement (plus seam allowance and ease).

I pinned the little poofs into place, sandwiching them between the lining and the satin.

They were pinned with wrong sides together and sewed together by machine.

Then I made and attached the cuffs. These were rectangles of fabric that were folded in half and ironed. The long edges were turned inwards by half an inch and the bottom half of the sleeve was slotted in and set in by hand.

Making the cuffs.

I measured the cuff and inserted a piece of synthethic whalebone to hold its round shape. At this point I thought some decoration would be nice, so I added some red ribbon to the bottom of the cuffs and some sequins like on the bodice. Then I sewed up the sleeves side seam with a french seam.

I then attached the sleeves to the bodice by machine. I pulled the lining through and used it to cover the armhole seams for a clean finish.

I added some sequins to the neckline and the bodice was done for now! Next up, the skirt and the accessories.


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