This is where the fun (and hair pulling) began! With this update, I dove into hours of pinning and altering of the top in order to keep this cosplay as realistic as possible. I knew going in that this was going to be the case, but I am always up for a challenge – that is how you get better!
Once I got the pattern pieces sewn together, it was time to figure out how much altering was needed. I definitely had to take in the sides to remove the extra fabric that would add volume where it is not needed. This is tricky to do in the armpit area because puckering is a huge issue and hard to control around curves. My years of altering heavy metal t-shirts to make them more conforming to my body have really helped with this cosplay. The first side I did puckered a bunch, but I realized before working on the other side that I had the stitch length too small, which was a big part of the problem. I lengthened the stitch for the other side and it worked out so much better. The final touch was the top-stitching, which helped control the under layers of fabric and flatten out the seam. Now that both sides were sewn, there was still a little bit of puckering by the armpit, but it was a drastic improvement from what it looked like before. (You can see me alter the first side of this garment by watching our live cosplay stream!)
The sleeves of this garment turned out to be a really funny ordeal. I could not tell when draping the pattern tissue that the sleeve was not going to be needed because the torso pattern by itself was actually almost the perfect length for Toph’s top. Yet, my perfectionism screamed that it needed to be tweaked. If I just hemmed the sleeve opening to the designated line, a lot more of my arm was exposed than I wanted. I did leave about an inch and half of seam allowance, but in one spot I had accidentally cut into it too far. On top of that, since I decided not to add the sleeve, I had the issue of lining the inside of the new sleeve to cover up the inside of the seams. With all of that in mind, I decided to take on an eight-hour challenge of changing the sleeve silhouette, hiding the cut into the fabric, and lining the inside by creating a hem that goes over the edge of the fabric and extends farther into the inside of the sleeve. It took eight hours because I am a slow sewer, but I would like to add in my defense that the end result looks professionally done!
I was very intrigued by using the selvage of the fabric (the furry part) as edging, but I was worried about deviating from the look of the character and taking the details off course. However, I needed to do something about the edge of the sleeves, so I decided I might as well add some personal touches. To start transforming the sleeve into my intended look, I needed to make the custom bias tape. This was a lot easier than I thought with the use of an iron and a ruler. I basically folded the fabric over twice into an S-fold, and ironed it flat to prep it for pinning. Once it was pinned on the sleeve, I had to figure out how long to make it so it sat snugly inside. Once that circumference was figured out, I needed to sew the ends together before adding it onto the sleeves. With careful sewing and caution, I got it all on there with minimal puckering. The last thing needed for this sleeve was to sew the lining by hand onto the inside, but I think I will wait until near the end of the project to finish that.
The collar was the hardest part of this phase. Originally, I thought I had the collar silhouette finalized. But once it was sewn together and I actually tried on, I noticed that the neckline was way too low to match Toph’s look. Not only did I need to extend the collar to be tighter around my neck, but I also had to cut it right so that I could hide the fact that it was extended. This turned out to be a much bigger feat than I expected. Before I could make any real progress, I had to figure out how to make the shape of the new pattern. After several attempts, I grabbed a travel neck pillow and used that to help determine the shape. Once I got the collar piece finalized and sewn together, I had to put the garment down for a night because I was so frustrated trying to figure out how I was going to attach it. I had two goals that complicated this step: I wanted to have a clean-sewn edge down the front of the garment (meaning the collar piece had to fit in between both layers of the front pieces), and keeping it sewn snugly underneath the back piece. So basically, I was going to have the collar snake through the layers of fabric to get the desired effect. After another night and several hours of cursing, I got it pinned and sewn properly. I nearly cried with joy because I battled a lot of puckering, placement issues, and many times trying everything on while being stabbed by pins.
That is all for this update. All that’s left for the top is finishing up lower hem, and then it is time to start on the pants! Stay tuned for more updates!