It’s that time again! And this time, it’s a big one! Following my time at AnimeCon a few people have asked how I went about making my Sumomo costume from Chobits so I’m here to explain just that!
Photo by KJC Photography
Sumomo was my costume for Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup with PopcornKuma as Chii. First and foremost, we wanted to make costumes we’d enjoy bringing to life and of all the ideas we came up with, this was the one we kept going back to and liked the most. I’ve always been a fan of Chobits; way back in the day (around 2001-2002, when the anime was first announced), the wonderful art style and iconic characters were a big influence to me, so getting to cosplay from it at long last was a big plus for me!
For such a simple costume, Sumomo was actually pretty complex to design as I really wanted to bring the poofyness and rounded shape of her costume to life. It’s very doable on a small scale – but much tricker on a human scale, purely for the amount of fabric involved. I was also concerned about what fabrics to even use – I’ve never made anything like this before where it has to be fitted but also free to move, so I didn’t want to use anything too shiny, too dull, too light or too heavy. So sourcing fabrics was a toughie from the beginning.
I found a wonderful lightweight polyester satin for the baby pink. I normally cringe at satin, but this stuff is actually really nice and light and not too shiny, even under indoor lighting, so it was perfect for the sheen I wanted. I bought 16 metres of the stuff (it was all they had!) and by the end of the project I have about 1.5 metres left.. so be warned this project will use a LOT of fabric if you do it in a similar manner to mine. I did make some mistakes along the way so not all of that was on the final costume, but it was close!
I also used a heck of a lot of wadding and batting with this project to get the 3D shape under the fabrics themselves. But I’ll explain that as we go.
The fabric for the bodysuit is a two-way stretch velveteen in a wine/burgundy shade, which looked great with the wig. Technically it’s a little dark, but I like the contrast of the darker colour rather than using hot pink like a lot of references suggest. I also used the velveteen for parts on the hat, collar and sash details. I bought 3 metres of this and used most of it, but a lot of that was used patterning the bodysuit.
So as always I’ll start from the top. Sumomo’s wig and hat are sewn together as one complete piece. The wig is a Katinka in Magenta from Arda Wigs, trimmed to frame the face and to have her “boxy” fringe. There were also two sections cut either side of the fringe where lace sections were inserted for a more natural hairline where her hair is pulled backwards, which was laced by hand with help from my sister. Each panel is around 1.2 inches wide and around half an inch deep, swept back, clipped and sprayed into place.
The ponytail on the back of the hat is made from a matching Ponytail Wrap which is sewn into place and has a nice natural curl to it. I did try different techniques to make a drill curl but after numerous failed attempts (wigs are definitely not my strong point) I gave up and attached the wrap instead. I wish it had more volume, but I can always try and fix that in the future.
The hat is made from Fosshape, a heat mouldable material designed for millinery and hat design. I cut two large discs from this stuff and heated it over a dish to get the bevelled shape, then sewed them together at the edges to create the complete hat. The shape was then covered in a thin layer of batting to help puff it out rather than have a rigid shape, then covered with a large circle of the pink fabric and gathered.
All of the magenta details on the hat were attached with bondaweb and heat for a seamless look. The buttons on the sides are large plastic cover buttons covered with 2 layers of batting and handsewn to the sides. The finished hat was then handsewn to the wig while on my head to ensure it would be comfortable and supported without being too heavy when worn.
The collar is made from a wide piece of black worbla that I folded into itself, rolled out and curved around my neck.. nothing special. The worbla was then covered with the same velveteen as everything else and closes with a hook and eye on the back. This way it wasn’t very flimsy and was less likely to shift when performing than using interfacing, and also had the ‘3D’ look to it.
The bodysuit, sleeves and legs are all one piece as they’re all sewn together and fit as a single piece. So I’ll explain the bodysuit first. This works as the anchor for the rest of the costume and was the most important piece when patterning, because if the bodysuit didn’t fit nothing else would.
The velveteen I used is two-way stretch and fits horizontally across the bust. This way the bodysuit is fitted to my shape, but isn’t able to “collapse” or fall down because the fabric doesn’t have enough give vertically. It’s also supported by the sleeves, but I’ll cover that later. The stretch keeps everything tight and flattens my body down, so it’s really flattering to wear. Sumomo is meant to be a tiny robot and looks like a child, so I designed it not to be worn with a bra and also to smooth my bust to look flatter, so the fabric is tighter towards the top of the suit than at the sides, where I needed extra stretch to move.
The bodysuit is made from two layers and closes at the top with the pink edging. The edge is handsewn into place while it was worn, as the non-stretch fabric was impossible to align any other way. The two layers also helps with the smooth fit, and makes it nice and comfortable to wear!
The sleeves were patterned to help hold the bodysuit up, so they are made in 4 parts. I’ll try and make this as clear as possible, but if you have any additional questions, please feel free to message me! Admittedly the final shape is a little different from the mockup above, but the principle is the same.
The 4 parts are; strap, inner sleeve, outer sleeve and wadding. The “strap” and “inner sleeve” are both hidden under the “outer sleeve” as the lining. You can see the lining on the first image in the collage above – the “strap” is the thinner piece and is interfaced, the main way the bodysuit is held up – it was measured to fit over my shoulders and fit comfortably, but not be too loose so it can’t slip off easily.
The “outer sleeve” and “wadding” are the same size. They are gathered and sewn to the lining separately to create as big a puff as possible when worn. While I was testing the shape I found that if they are gathered together, the pieces were smaller – but gathering them separately means they sit as individual layers on top of each other and helps create the puff.
The shape is adapted from a basic puff sleeve pattern, extended to 25 inches wide and gathered by hand to create extra volume and the puff shape. The lining is around 2/3 of the size, but that’s a rough estimate, as the shape was adjusted time and again. The image on the right is the final shape that was sewn to the bodysuit as the “outer sleeve” and “wadding”. You can see that there are two big chunks cut out – this is where it connects to the bodysuit (upper chunk) and lining (lower chunk). I found when testing the shape that there was too much fabric under the arms and the sleeves looked too bulky, so they were thinned down before being sewn together.
The sleeves were gathered by hand, hand sewn together, then reinforced with machine sewing before being closed at the edge of the bust.
The legs were made in a similar manner to the sleeves, but are much easier to understand (thankfully)! They’re basically big curved tubes that are sewn to the leg holes. The references for Sumomo show that her bodysuit has a crotch and then the legs start, so I was determined to make it accurately but keep the huge volume intact.
The left image above shows a rough pattern I used for the leg. Similar to a basic sleeve pattern, it has a taper on the outer edges where it will be sewn to the hole to correct the length. The final pattern was done in 3 parts, and the piece above became the lining – approximately 2.5 metres wide per leg. The outer leg was extended to 3 metres wide per leg, and as with the sleeves, the inside was padded with wadding – another 3 metres per leg.
The whole thing is sewn together like a big leg sandwich – outer layer, middle wadding, then the inner lining. It’s the same principle as lining any other garment, but this one has the wadding in the middle. The lining is also around 3 inches shorter than the outer fabric, which creates a puffball edge at the ankle and hides the inner layer completely when worn. They were also sewn as separate layers to create the same volume as the sleeves, and also reduce bulk around the legs – sewing them as one would have made them much lumpier (and harder to move in).
The middle image shows the outer layer sewn to the bodysuit – an awful lot of gathering went on here, and it was all sewn to the bodysuit by hand then reinforced with the machine after. The gather is a little looser at the crotch for ease when moving, and so there’d be less strain on the fabric when moving in it or sitting down, too. It took hours of standing and being sewn into this by my sister to achieve the desired shape, mostly because of how stretchy the bodysuit is – if you attempt something similar with non-stretch, it will definitely be much simpler than this was. but I’d advise fitting it first regardless.
The third image shows the legs with the wadding inside (also gathered and sewn into the bodysuit by hand), with the lining too. All that’s left here was to gather the ankles. It looks like a huge skirt until it’s gathered in place!
The ankles were gathered tightly then enforced with elastic and hand sewn closed. A thin elastic panel around 8 inches when stretched was added so the ankles are nice and secure – no risk of my feet slipping into the legs. It also means it’s nice and fitted by my feet, as you can only see a tiny bit of her foot under those big pants!
The legs were a LOT of work and took the longest of anything on the costume; but I hope the pictures explain why I did it this way. While researching the costume I couldn’t find any other cosplayers who had done it in a similar way, and I really wanted to create the illusion that I was shorter than I am by making them as puffy as possible. They’re still not perfect – but it’s difficult to make something so exaggerated look realistic, and I’m happy with the result regardless!
Again, if you need any further advice on creating something similar please ask and I’ll be happy to help where I can!
The sash was made from the same polyester as everything else. The design has a watercolour style gradient dye, and this was the first time I’d ever dyed polyester so this was.. interesting.
The sash itself is approximately 110 inches long and made from one long piece of fabric. I measured each piece roughly and marked where the dye would need to be added and dyed up to on the fabric to get the right lengths and also the dye on the bow at the back first, then got my supplies. The width of the sash is approximately 10 inches and cut on the fold for ease when applying the design.
I dyed the fabric with a blend of Crimson and Pink iDye Poly, heated in a pan and lowered gradually into the mix. To achieve the colour I have and design it was dyed 3 times; not a fun process. It’s very messy, especially with a high volume of fabric. I’ve done gradient dye with Dylon before and it was never as tedious as this, so personally I don’t recommend it, but needs must with synthetic fabric!
Once the fabric was dyed, tested and rinsed, the patterns were applied to each edge. The patterns are cut from the same velveteen as the bodysuit and hat and applied with bondaweb for a seamless look. The inside of the sash is also padded with a layer of batting to give it a more 3D effect, and also help it hang flat rather than collapsing when worn.
The sash is worn as a big loop around my waist and closes at the back hidden by the little bow. The bow is tied with a fake wrap and inside the wrap is the hook and bar, where it secures in place. I can pull and extend the longer panel of the sash to loosen it and step inside of it then close it after – so it’s really comfortably fitted and also helps stop it from moving too much when worn. It also means it always looks perfect when worn rather than being different lengths every time.
The beads for the sash were sourced from 2 different suppliers; the teardrop beads were bought from Yummy Treasures on Etsy, and the light pink round beads were from VJW Jewellery. The teardrop beads were also dyed with the same dye as the fabric, then coated with layers of gloss and sewn to the bottom of the sash by hand. The longer sash has 11 sets of beads and the shorter sash has 10 sets of beads to create the illusion that one is larger than the other.
The teardrop beads are probably my favourite part of the costume, even though they are so small. When dyeing them I rinsed them with nailpolish remover which gave them a matte, marbled effect, which I just love and it also means they are a solid colour rather than semi-transparent so they look nicer in every light.
Finally the accessories! The shoes were easy – I managed to find some in basically the same colour as the costume so they’re nothing too special. I did wear some comfortable insoles to ensure they wouldn’t slip off my feet on stage though!
I also painted a tambourine for our performance. I hunted for a red 6-jingle tambourine to no avail.. so it was easier to just paint it the right colour. All of the jingles were glued in place for our performance as the tambourine was too loud for me to hear the audio otherwise. I also had a little white whistle for our performance from eBay.
I also created a blanket for our performance inspired by “A City With No People”, pictured above; this was one of Chii’s props, but I thought it was cute to incorporate Chobits into the set visually too!
…And that’s it. I think! Sumomo was made over the course of around 3 months, and was a big learning curve for me. Despite the design and process being quite simple, it took a lot of effort and support to create this costume, so I wanted to share as much as possible.
If you have any questions with this costume, techniques or anything else, please feel free to ask and I’ll try my best to help!