Learning Curves: Alicia

I’ve been considering using this blog for some more musings, and with my current project I figured there’s no better time. I’ve been working on Alicia from Tales of Zestiria, the newest Tales of title to be announced. The design is absolutely gorgeous and I figured it’d be a fun challenge to try and make something a bit different.

This costume has the tagline of “I have no idea what I am doing”. Quite rightly so. I am pretty confused how this costume is even working, to be honest. Not that I’m complaining!

So here’s an article with what she looks like:


I can sew things reasonably well and I usually make things with my own patterns, but this costume is different. Unlike most Tales of costumes I’ve made I don’t have a 3D model here and there are only a few references out right now, all of them with inconsistencies. There’s also armour on the costume which I’ve never tried before – I’m not very good at sculpting or making things with my hands, so it’s a pretty big costume project for me, especially considering how impatient I am.

So I figured I’d throw some progress up here to show how things are working out so far and to show the fruits of my labour so far!

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So here’s the first bits of progress on the tunic and emblem; at first I painted the emblem and frankly it was a complete mess. So I scrapped it and embroidered it instead – it was machine embroidered in 12 seperate sections and had to be aligned bit by bit, which made it a long, difficult task, but the final result is pretty snazzy!

The tunic was patterned around the embroidered panel and is cut in one long piece including the front from an original pattern. The sleeves were also originally patterned to include the cut under the arm and the piping, which was pretty challenging but worked out nicely. This time spent on this tunic is probably the longest I’ve spent on a single garment for a costume and was a huge test of patience.

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And here’s some armour progress! So far these are the bracer panels. The base skeleton is made from yoga mat foam and covered in Worbla (available in the UK from Coscraft). Worbla is a heat activated mouldable thermoplastic material that hardens as it cools and is really easy to shape for armour or accessories. It’s my first time really using it on a big scale and it’s great stuff, a bit heavy when moulded but really sturdy and easy to use. It also moulds to itself so I’ve not used any glue here!

Once the armour shapes have been shaped I’ve been finger painting polyfilla onto each piece and smoothing it with water. Because the pieces are quite big altogether it’s taking a while but it’s turning out pretty nicely. Once the polyfilla has dried, I’m going to coat everything with a few layers of gesso and sand everything to smooth down the layers before spray painting the panels. It’s annoying waiting between layers, though, since the polyfilla and gesso take 2+ hours to dry per layer, and there’s tons to go!

The black panels at the top are made from clear sheets of thin polypropylene, which was spray painted black. This was also pretty terrifying. I tried making them from 3mm acrylic which went horribly wrong, whereas this stuff bends and paints and cuts so easily.


Hopefully things are gonna continue to go smoothly here, but I guess I’ll see. So far it’s pretty frustrating having to wait but I’m really excited to see how this costume turns out. I’m due to wear it at Japan Expo, Paris, this July, so I’ve got just over a month to go!!

…That and once it’s finished, I can finally say I’ve done an ‘armoured’ costume and never have to make one again!

Posted on May 12, 2014 in Cosplay, Learning Curves
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2 thoughts on “Learning Curves: Alicia

  1. Milla says:


    First, I find that your cosplay is amazing. I especially really like the way you styled the wig and the tunic back emblem!

    I would just have a question: you said that the back emblem was embroidered with a machine, but was it a special embroidered machine ? Or just a normal sewing machine?

    Cause I will do a Alicia’s cosplay for my sister (and I will wear an Lailah’s one)during next year, and I’m thinking of the best way to do it. I don’t think my sewing machine can do such things…

    Hope you can “help” me,



    1. exelia says:

      Oh wow! Thank you very much! I’m really glad you like my costume (especially the comment about the wig – I wasn’t too confident about it, so thank you!)

      The machine I used is a custom embroidery machine, not a normal sewing machine. I was lucky enough that my sister owns one so I took advantage of hers. If you want your emblem embroidered, if you know someone with access to an embroidery machine they might be willing to help you with it – if not, there are companies that can do custom embroidery for you, see if there is one locally and send in an image and dimensions and they might be able to help sort it for you. Some places can be pricey but it’s worth finding out!

      If embroidery isn’t an option there are a few other things you can try – paint (personally I didn’t like this, but it’s easier to do!), making the design and printing it on transfer paper, or appliqueing the design on. Which would be fiddly, but probably look closest to embroidery without hand embroidering it! Applique was my second choice for the emblem and it usually looks quite effective as long as you’re patient and tidy when sewing. There are tons of great tutorials online but I found that the best way to learn applique was to just try it out.
      (Example of applique – the front and back designs on my Anise cape are all appliqued on the costume – http://www.cosplayisland.co.uk/costume/view/41878)

      Good luck with your own costumes (and you’re making Lailah too! I can’t wait to see them!), please send me a photo once they’re finished!! And if you have any more questions feel free to ask too 🙂
      Heather xx

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