DC Bombshells Wonder Woman Cosplay (Pattern Review for Simplicity 8196)

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I usually make most of my patterns because I don’t have the patience to follow commercial patterns. Usually they don’t fit true to size and need a lot of modifications to work, so it’s faster for me to work from scratch or only use bits and pieces of a pattern. However, in preparation for teaching a panel on Sewing for Cosplay 101, which was targeted at complete beginners, I wanted to try out one of the more popular commercial costume patterns on the market so that I could use it as an example during my panel. A couple of years previously I had seen someone do an adorable variant of Wonder Woman that turned out to be Ant Lucia’s DC Bombshell Wonder Woman, and since then I’ve known that if I did a comic book character, that would most likely be my top one. While I am not a big fan of comic books, I do really enjoy the 1960s and 1970s tv shows inspired by the comic books (especially Batman and Wonder Woman). Wonder Woman is just such a great character, and this year seemed like a perfect year to cosplay a feminist icon.

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I used Simplicity’s 8196 pattern, which is an official DC licensed pattern, so it is pretty true to the source artwork. All my materials were purchased at JoAnn’s, so everything needed was readily available. I spent around $55 on sewing supplies, $75 total including my boots and wig, but I did have a few supplies at home already like craft foam, worbla, hooks and eyes, interfacing, and lining materials. I followed the pattern pretty faithfully, but I did make a few minor changes here and there, mainly for fit and ease of wearing. I was really impressed at how clear and concise the instructions were. Everything was written out in a way that I feel even a beginner could understand, especially if they took their time and referred to YouTube to break down some of the trickier techniques. Another thing I really, really appreciated was THIS PATTERN FIT TRUE TO SIZE. I followed the finished garment measurements when choosing my size, and erred on the smaller side since I wanted the costume to be very fitted. Now, normally, I ALWAYS make a mockup when making costumes. Always. If you are a beginner, don’t skip this step. BUT… I was in a hurry and skipped that part. To be honest, I am used to patterns being too big (i.e. a 26″ waist ends up being more like 30″) and so when I cut and pinned everything, I figured that I could just trim it to fit my body. I didn’t end up needing to do that, because the fit was pretty much spot on. The only thing I did have an issue with was length (the shorts were a little too low waisted and the shirt was too short, so I had to make adjustments on those), but I have a long torso so that was to be expected.

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The shirt went together fairly easily. I did find it odd that the shirt was only lined up to the bust line. It was much easier to simple line the entire thing rather than deal with collar facing (which I HATE, it’s so fussy and no matter what I do I always end up with a lumpy outline that shows through). I made a little change to the sleeve cuff, since I wanted a split cuff. It’s hard to tell in the artwork, but it kind of looks like there could be a split cuff. Either way, that was my personal preference.  I also lined the sleeve, because again, it was just easier to add in the cuff that way and also gave the gathered top of the sleeve a little more body. The collar of the shirt was easy, no problems there.

The shirt does has a front opening zipper that might be a little bit tricky for a beginner to put in, but the instructions are easy to follow.

I did have to add an extension to the bottom of the shirt. It was just way too short on me as it was, so after adding the extension the bottom ended up looking a little funky. It doesn’t matter, though, because it’s covered by the top of the shorts and belt.

I will be honest in that I have never used the satin stitch feature on my machine to make an applique or embroidered design. The need has simply never come up before in any of my costumes. But of course, her shirt has the “W” logo embroidered on the front. I was probably more nervous about that than anything else in the costume. While the pattern appears to have you satin stitch the design right onto the bodice, I did not want to risk this. I felt it would be easier and safer to make a separate applique and then hand stitch it on. Now, for my trial run, I was trying to avoid spending more money at the craft store, so I tried only using plain interfacing instead of an adhesive stabilizer. Bad idea. The satin stitch looked messy and curled up around the edges. So I ended up grabbing this Stick-N-Washaway stabilizer at JoAnn’s. It was very easy to use, and ended up being a lifesaver. Not only did it work like a dream keeping the fabric stable and keeping those satin stitches clean, I could also easily trace the design from the pattern (the sheets are conveniently printer sized so you can also print your design if you are more hi-tech than I am).  After creating my applique, I was able to place it on the shirt exactly where I wanted it to sit, and then hand stitched it in place before putting the lining in the shirt.

The shorts went together easily. I had actually sized down on these, so they fit very snugly which was what I was going for. The instructions for installing the invisible zipper were easy to follow and were actually better than the instructions on the actual zipper package. I hate putting in zippers and don’t use them often in my costumes, so I still didn’t love how it turned out, but it looks fine.

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Now, I did end up taking out the inside facing on the top of the shorts (after I “finished” them and took a photo) and replaced it with a normal waistband with a hook and eye closure. I just wasn’t comfortable with where they were sitting, they sat too low on the waist to be historically accurate for a 1950s silhouette. Also, knowing that I would be spending much of my time in this costume sitting down and leaning over a table in a panel at a convention,  I needed to be able to tuck my shirt in so that things didn’t move around too much. Adding in the waistband made a huuuge difference. I was able to sit for nearly two hours without anything coming untucked. 😉

I used your basic iron-on white star appliques from JoAnn’s on the shorts. Despite using the correct heat setting to affix them, after a few try-ons during the construction of the costume, they started to peel off. I ended up hand-sewing them down, which I know I should have done from the get-go. But again, I was short on time.

The belt was made from the 4″ wide elastic made by Simplicity, which I found in the trims and ribbons section at JoAnns. Following the instructions, I stitched it down on the ends and added hooks and eyes. I used black vinyl to make the loop for my lasso to add some texture, and now wish I had used vinyl for the whole belt since I feel like it looks more robust and “superhero-ish” than the wide elastic. While the wide elastic does give you a nice nipped in waist, I feel that a heavier vinyl or leather can also do that so I plan to remake the belt with vinyl before I wear this costume again.

My belt buckle was made using the little pattern including. It was easy to trace the design onto 1/4″ craft foam with a pencil. I then glued the two pieces together and spray painted them, dry brushing black acrylic into the grooves of the design for depth. Instead of gluing the buckle onto my belt as the instructions on the pattern indicated, I just added two brooch pin backings to the back of the buckle with E6000. Again, as I was in a rush, I didn’t seal my paint job so the paint worn off on the edges after just a couple of hours of wear.

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The bracers were not my best work and are going to definitely be remade. They were made using thin craft foam as a the base, covered in black worbla. I free-hand carved a starburst design and then affixed some star cutouts to give them some additional texture. I used back worbla for the trim as well. I hate how they turned out, mostly because the paint job ended up being a disaster. Since I waited until the last minute to paint them (we had three days of rain leading up to the con), I ended up having to paint them at the first moment that it wasn’t raining and I think it was still too humid out. My paint wouldn’t set, and even at the con I had them sitting in front of the air conditioner vent in the hotel room trying to get the paint to set (they finally ended up setting completely on by the day I had to wear them). Trying to transport bracers with sticky paint is not fun, and they ended up with quite a bit of battle damage. Because of that, I also was not able to properly distress them and fill in the grooves of the starburst design, so they just ended up looked a bit of a mess. You win some, you lose some. 😉

The boots are still a work in progress. Rather than using the boot cover pattern than comes included with the pattern, I wanted to just find a boot and modify it myself. I preferred a more cowboy style western boot for this costume, since it seems more historically accurate for a 1950s bombshell aesthetic than the fold-over boot in the artwork. A western boot also really ties in well with the lasso and the western style shirt design. I lucked out and found a perfect, medium-heeled plain western boot, and painted them over with red Angelus leather paint. (though make sure to wipe your vinyl down with acetone nail polish remover before you use this paint, it will help it to not peel or chip). I forgot to order white Angelus paint, so I will be adding the white details down the road. So instead of the white trim on the foldover and the strip, I am going to just add white to the top of the boot and then do stars on the sides of the boots.

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Hopefully if you have read this far, some of this will be helpful for those of you who are making this costume as well. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions about how I did anything!

Easy Drawstring Bag Tutorial

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I am so excited to share my first little cosplay sewing tutorial with you! Carrying a handbag or backpack with your cosplay is, for most of us, a necessary evil. Conventions usually involve long days, and with that comes the need for water, snacks, badges, and makeup/costume touch-ups, among other things. Even if you are lucky enough to score a room in a host hotel, you still need to carry your badge, phone, ID, and other essentials. A simple drawstring bag is a discreet way to stow those essentials away without detracting from the look of your costume. You can make one to match your costume using leftover fabric, a simple black one, or even out of a cute nerdy print fabric. This tutorial is for a small bag (about 8×10 inches), but you can customize the size to suit your needs. I made mine big enough to hold a bottle of water, but you could make a littler one that is just big enough for your phone/badge/ID.

There are more advanced ways to go about making these, but this is intended to be a beginner level tutorial. I’ve tried to simplify things so that someone with almost no sewing experience could do this. No patterns needed!

  • *1/4 yard fashion fabric (this will be the exterior visible part of your bag, I chose my Hogwarts house colors – Hufflepuff pride!)
  • *1/4 yard lining fabric
  • 56″ inches of silky cording (you can buy packages of this in the jewelry section, or in the trims-by-the-yard at most craft stores)
  • Thread to match fabric
  • Fabric marking pencil
  • Seam Ripper
  • Safety pin
  • Pins
  • Fray Check

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Estimated crafting time: 2 hrs // Skill Level: Beginner/Novice

*Note on fabrics: 1/4 yard is just a reference, but to be honest I’ve always made these with just the scraps I have laying around my studio! Also, for the lining, I recommend a heavyweight, slick lining fabric like taffeta. JoAnn’s sells a one that I love – I can’t remember the name but it’s usually about $9.99 a yard in their Special Occasion fabrics section.

To start, take your fashion fabric (if it is wrinkly, make sure it is ironed flat first!) and lay it flat on your cutting board. You will need 2 rectangles. Measure out your rectangle with your marking pencil (or you can eyeball it, easy to do if you have a rotary cutting board). You can make it any size you like, really, just remember that all of your pieces must be the same size. My pieces were 9″ x 11″ , and when finished my bag was about 8″ x 10″. Cut  two rectangles of this fabric.
Repeat this process for your lining fabric. You can use one of the first rectangles you cut as your “pattern”, if you like.

You should end up with four rectangles: two of your fashion fabric and two of your lining fabric.

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Now comes the sewing bit. Take your two pieces of fashion fabric. Pin them together as pictured below, leaving the top part of the rectangle open. Then take your lining fabric. Pin them together as pictured, leaving the top part open as well as a 3″ inch opening on the lower side of the bag. It doesn’t have to be in an exact spot, just as long as you leave an opening. It may not make sense now, but once you sew everything together, this will be your only way to turn the bag right side out! Sew your pinned parts.

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Once you’ve sewn these parts together, you will have two “pockets”, and your lining (the black one on my project) will have an opening.

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Snip the bottom corners on both your lining and your fashion fabric. This will ensure that the corners of your bag look sharp and tidy when all is said and done.

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Now press the sewn edges of both “pockets” as shown. Again, this is to ensure your seams are all crisp and sharp when the project is completed.

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Next, take your lining pocket and turn it right side out. Your fashion fabric should still be inside out. Take the top opening of your lining pocket and the the top opening of your fashion fabric pocket and pin these together as pictured. The raw edges of both the lining and the fashion fabric should both be visible.

 

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Sew this together.  It should look like this.

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Turn your bag right side out. Straighten everything out. Go ahead and iron all of the seams flat, poking out the corners so they are nice and sharp.

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Return to that little part of the lining we left open, and hand stitch the opening closed. You can do this however neatly you like, since no one will see it. The main thing is that you want to make sure it is closed up tightly – you don’t want your lipstick or your ID slipping through that opening and getting lost between the lining!

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Next up, you are going mark both sides of your bag, at least 1″ inch from the top opening (you could go wider, it depends on how big of a ruffle you want at the top), as pictured. I just used tailor’s chalk for clarity and because my fabric was light-colored, but you can mark this with pins, too. Next, mark another line about 3/4″ (don’t go any narrower than this, you will have a lot of cord to thread through here!) of an inch below this line, as pictured. Sew along these lines around the entire perimeter of your bag. You now have two parallel lines. This is going to be the channel for your drawstring cord.

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Now, carefully make two tiny snips each between your parallel lines by the seam line. Repeat on the other side of bag. You should have four snips. You can either finish these raw cuts but making a little buttonhole stitch by hand with embroidery thread, or if you are in a hurry (as I usually am), you can just dab some Fray Check on the raw cuts. (be careful with Fray Check if your fabric is thin – I accidentally used too much and it ended up seeping through the lining and staining my fashion fabric! woops!)

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Now, take your first piece of cording, cord #1. You are going to thread this through the channel you made. I find it is easiest if I attach a safety pin to the end of the cord to help guide it through the channel. Bring cord #1 allll the way around, back to the notch next to where you started. Pull it out, and bring your two ends together and knot them. You can dab some fray check or melt your knot together with a hot tip to keep the knot from coming undone.

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Starting on the OTHER side of the bag, repeat this. You will end up with loops on each side of your bag. You should be able to securely pull them open and closed with ease.

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There you have it, you now have a handy little bag to match your cosplay! It is easy to adorn with lace, beads, or anything else you like to customize it and match to your cosplay. Be creative and make it yours! Since I need a cute little bag to go with a Victorian Hufflepuff costume I am making, I decided to embellish mine by handstitching some lace and beads on.

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Thanks so much for reading this, I hope some of you found this helpful. If you found it useful, please feel free to let me know and share this link with your friends!