My daughter attended Nan Desu Kan 2013 last September. 2012 was the first year she attended but this year she wanted to go in costume! One of her favorite anime shows is “Attack on Titan” and she wanted to attend as one of the soldiers:
I nearly had a heart attack! She would need a custom made shirt, jacket (with embroidered patches), strapping, and a “skirt”. Thankfully I knew I could buy the pants and the boots. And I would need to complete all of this in about a month.
In this post, I’ll only talk about the shirt and the jacket. These were the two easier items, by my reckoning. Though not shown in the photos, the strapping was very complicated, requiring at least 6 buckles, many belt loops, and a great deal of thinking. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put the strapping together so that my daughter could actually get in and out of it by herself! In the end, the straps did not match identically with the photos and drawings I was referring to, but came out close enough.
I started with the easiest thing first. Her shirt could be created by simply taking a simple long sleeve top and adding a V notch at the neckline with grommets and a little leather lacing. I already had Kwik Sew 3766 in my stash:
and converted it to simple beige top like this:
I have a friend at work who also sews and has long touted the benefits of having a grommet tool. I can thank her for having the grommets and tool at hand! The fabric came from Hancock Fabrics and was some kind of simple polyester knit. For the V notch, I made a U shaped facing, placed it right side down on the front of the shirt, stitched a narrow V, cut down the middle of the V, and inverted the facing to the wrong side of the shirt front. I then top stitched the edge of the notch. For the neckline, I took the neckband and stitched the two ends closed before applying it to my neckline. I hand stitched down the raw edge on the backside so it didn’t stick out.
The jacket was a bit trickier. I’m not a big jacket sewer so I had to actually find a pattern I thought I could modify. I chose McCall’s “Palmer Pletsch Classic Fit: The Perfect Jacket” M6172:
This is a simple princess seam jacket with nice 2-piece sleeves. I knew I would need to modify the lapel and collar, and shorten the jacket overall. I also knew I would not line the jacket. I would have to add patch pockets with a flap over the top and shoulder epaulets.
Lapel modification. I needed to change the jacket so that it would no longer overlap at the front for buttons but would simply meet together in front. I also needed to make the lapel more angular. The following shows the modified pattern underneath the original pattern. You can also see that I have shortened the jacket considerably.
Collar modification. The collar needed to stand up to match the “Attack on Titan” soldier jacket. It took several drafts and mockups to get the collar to look right. In the end, I had to tack it down with some thread to keep it neatly in place. In the following, you can see that I made the collar wider (to get it to stand up) and shortened it from side-to-side. This would keep the collar separate from the lapel.
Shoulder epaulets. Before I stitched the sleeves to the jacket body, I made two epaulets and two loops through which the epaulets were to be threaded (see photo below). The epaulets were pointed on one end where the button was attached. The square end (or raw, open end) was basted onto the jacket, covering the shoulder seam. The loop was hand stitched down in place and the button simply sewn through the epaulet and the jacket (i.e. no button hole). Finally the sleeve was attached.
Machine embroidery. My daughter chose to be part of the “Survey Corp”. She needed the emblem on each shoulder, one on the left pocket, and a huge one on her back. I digitized the logo in Stitch Era Liberty and saved it in two sizes. The smaller size fit into my 5″ x 7″ hoop and the larger fit into the biggest hoop I have: 8″ x 12″. I really didn’t want to stitch directly onto the jacket, so I chose to make “patches” that I could then adhere to the jacket with Heat-N-Bond. For the patch fabric, I used some gray canvas and no stabilizer (it was pretty stiff as is). I embroidered the design onto the canvas and carefully trimmed it when finished. I then applied the Heat-N-Bond as instructed and it actually worked quite nicely!
Patch pockets. I added the pockets and pocket flaps to the jacket as one of the last steps. I adhered one of the patches to some fabric and then cut out a pocket shape around the patch (I used a home-made plastic template for the pocket shape). I pressed the edges under, top stitched the top of the pocket, and then top stitched the rest of the pocket onto the jacket. I also made a plastic template for the pocket flap – two pieces per flap sewed right-sides-in and turned. I just stitched the flap directly onto the jacket above the pocket and then sewed a decorative button on it.
Overall, the jacket was a *lot* of work but really turned out beautifully. I’m quite proud of it. My daughter wore it to Nan Desu Kan and also for Halloween. She may never wear it again, but I think we’ll hang on to it for a long time.