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~Fai D. Flowright~

 From: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle

Worn at: MTAC 2006 and AWA 2006

Awards: Best in Show- Master at MTAC 2006 & Best In Show- Master at AWA 2006

    This costume took a very long time to finish. I worked on it on and off for about 7 months. I started it after AWA and finished it up literally at MTAC. The innermost coat was done by modifying the same pattern I used for my Vash coat. The straps are wide pieces of elastic and the buckles are reinforced craft foam. The tails on the coat are done in a swallowtail style, whereas most people do theirs as rectangles. In the reference picture that has the design on the back of the outermost coat, he's shown with swallowtails, so that's what I went with. I think it's more fitting to his style.

    The second coat came together smoothly, for the most part. I love sewing fleece because it's so forgiving. Even the ribbon sewed on like a dream. The collar was a little snippy with me at first. I wanted to cut it all as one piece, and everything was really thick so it was hard to turn it right side out and get it to look like something other than crap. The rest of the fur was easy to put on. The buckles on the sash and the coat are plywood. They were sanded and made to look smooth with wood filler before they went to the gold leafing shop (the kitchen stove).

    The third coat was a huge pain to draft, mostly because of the shoulders. I based the pattern off an existing cloak pattern I had and just kept re-drawing the modifications and doing a test sew until I got it right. This is where $1/yd Wal-Mart fabric comes in very handy. I had to modify the hood to make sure it'd lay just right, and I had to scale the cloak to size so it'd stay open in the front. The bottom also needed some tweaking to get the curve just right. Once I got the white part of the coat all together and the fleece lining in place, I started on my pattern for the design on the back. I did this by laying the coat out in the floor, and covering it with pattern paper until the entire coat was covered. Then I taped the pieces together to make one large sheet and I traced around the outside of the coat. I later did the same thing with the sleeves. After that, I put the coat away for a while and set to working on my pattern. I used Fai's phoenix tattoo that he has in the first volume of Tsubasa, and intertwined it with the bit of the design you can see in the reference pic for the coat. This step probably took about 5 hours to complete. Then with my pattern in hand, I began the task of actually painting it on. Since my pattern was so massive, I cut it down into smaller parts, and worked on it a piece at a time, starting with the phoenix. I just used regular craft paint for it and a loading brush, which now has an impressive afro from being rubbed on the cloth so much. Once all the painting was done, which I conservatively estimate to be about 40 hours, I started putting the fur on. The fur on the sleeves went on easily enough, but then I was running out of time, so I just cut strips for the band of fur around the outside and sewed the together end-to-end, then stitched them to the coat facing the lining. I then planned on turning them right side out and slip stitching them to the outside of the coat at the convention. This was fine in theory, but I failed to take into account the curve on the bottom of the cloak, and the fur's inability to go around it and still lay flat. I got down to that part and ended up having to gather the lining so that the outside of the coat would still be flat because I didn't have my fur with me to fix it properly. If you look in the pictures at the lining of the coat, you can see how baggy and bunched-up it looks. I later fixed this before I took it to AWA. I pulled all the fur off and cut a couple pieces of fur out to match the curve (which I luckily had enough left to do), and now it lays perfectly flat. Another thing I missed was the black ribbon around the sleeve. You'll notice it missing in the pictures also. That was also corrected before AWA.

    The staff was an interesting challenge. At first I wasn't even going to attempt it. I emailed someone about commissioning it for me, then he told me it'd cost about $800 to make and it'd be 7 months before I had it. Then I was willing to give it a shot. I asked him what he was planning on making it out of to give me a place to start, and he gave some tips. I went to Lowe's and spent about $20 on materials, if that much. I made my pattern and transferred it to the wood, then skipped out merrily to the garage to cut it out. I'd used this particular saw before while trying to make my Julia belt from a thick piece of wood, but this time I was working on a 1/4" piece. I failed to take into account the fact that it wouldn't require as much pressure to make the cut, so when I made my first cut I was baring down pretty hard. Of course the blade went through it like butter, right into my hand. It didn't even hurt at first, I just felt the vibration of the saw, then when that died away it started throbbing. I kept working on it for a little while, then when I started to bleed onto the wood I decided it was time to get bandaged up. I cleaned my fingers off and saw that the blade had torn my fingernail open to the nail bed on one finger and just messed up the skin on the other. I got all that covered and went back out to finish the job. Once it was cut I did all the lovely detail work before attaching it to the actual staff part. The crystal in the middle was done the night before the convention, and ended up being rushed as a result.

    Despite the difficulties, injuries and heat exhaustion, I'm very pleased with how this costume turned out. Now I'm going to hush up so you can get on with the pictures...which I wish had a better background and lighting.