TUTORIAL: Yoko's Bikini with Iron-On Vinyl

1/2 yard of black dance/swimwear fabric
1/2 yard of red dance/swimwear fabric
• red thread
• black thread
• 1 foot of red stretch iron-on vinyl
• 1 iron-on transfer sheet or silicone pressing sheet (prevents melting the fabric and the vinyl, more are optional, as they can get damaged while ironing)
• 1 already-made bikini top, preferably one around the size that you need (you're not going to cut or permanently alter this at all)
• 4 spherical red beads (I used something similar to this, fourth from the left.)

• iron and ironing board
• sewing machine
• fabric scissors (optional, but make things easier)
straight pins (lots and lots of pins)
• paper scissors (regular scissors)
• paper (2 regular 8X10 printer paper should be enough)
• pencil & eraser
• Ruler and/or measuring tape

I would highly suggest reading the directions/notes for Stretch Iron-On Vinyl on Specialty-Graphics.com to begin. I also have a few notes about iron-on vinyl of my own.

Step 1
Making the bikini pattern

There are several methods of making a pattern for a bikini top. I watched the following three on YouTube: "Design Your Own Bikini Tops" by DonMcCunn, "How to Make a Bikini" by ThreadBanger, and "How to Make a Basic Triangle Top" by GiannyL. However, this is what I ended up doing:

Remove the body string from your already-made/store-bought bikini (you can put it back in later). Flatten out and unbunch the right cup (you can leave the neck string attached) and place it face up in the middle of your paper, and lightly trace around it. You do not have to trace right up next to it, but get as close as possible. Be sure not to make your lines smaller than the actual bikini though. Move the bikini cup away from your paper and clean up your lines. At the top of the bikini where the neck string is attached, make it pointed.

Add seam allowances by measuring 5/8 of an inch away from your outline and drawing secondary lines. Keep them in the same shape as your original outline, all sides should be slightly curved. Cut out your pattern on the secondary lines, label the bottom part of the cup as "bottom" and write "right" on it on the front.

(NOTE: You can also use the left cup for this, instead of the right, just be sure you write "left" on it instead of "right".)

Step 2
Making the flames pattern

Trace your bikini pattern onto a second piece of paper near the edge of the paper. 1 1/2 inches up from the bottom, draw a curved dotted line parallel to the bottom. From that line upward, draw the flames. I used this photo as a reference. (NOTE: If you used the left bikini cup as a pattern, be sure to mirror the image.) Take note that the large middle flame faces outward from the center of the chest and comes up to about an inch and a half away from the top.

Cut out the pattern using the bottom solid line as the bottom and cutting out the flames. Label it "right".

Step 3
Cut out the fabric

Use your bikini cup pattern to cut out four cup pieces out of your black fabric. You can cut all four at once by folding your fabric twice, pin the pattern to all four layers of the fabric, and cut around it.

Measure one of the neck strings of your storebought bikini and cut two out of your black fabric. The fabric for your neck string should be the length of the storebought bikini's neck strings plus 1 inch and about 1 1/2 inches wide.

Before cutting your body string out of your red fabric, check which way your fabric stretches more. One way has more strength, and one way has more stretch. You'll want to cut your string so that it has more strength. If it has mores stretch, your threads will break when you go to put it on.

Measure the length of the body string from the store-bought bikini, and cut out a piece of fabric from your red fabric that is the length of the store-bought string plus 1 inch, and 1 and 1/2 inches wide.

Step 4
Cutting out the Flames

(This would be a good time to turn your iron on so that it can warm up.)

Place your iron-on vinyl on the table shiny side up. Put your flames patter on top of it, and trace around it with a thin permanent marker. This may be tricky, as the iron-on vinyl is slick, and the pattern may slide around. Don't worry if you mess up, it won't show on your final piece. Turn the pattern piece over and trace it again to create a mirror image of your first tracing. The angles of the outlined shapes don't matter much, as the iron-on vinyl stretches evenly in all directions, but try to place them close together and near the edges to save materials.

To make cutting easier, rough cut around your outlines. Don't worry about wasting your iron-on vinyl, you have plenty of it, especially if you traced the patterns close together and near the edges. Be sure you're using regular scissors and not fabric scissors. The plastic layer over the vinyl will dull your fabric scissors. Carefully cut out your flames on your lines. Cut as smoothly as you can, as the result of these cuts will be the final shape of the flames.

This is my resulting flame for the left bikini cup

Step 5
Ironing on the Flames

I would highly recommend taking scrap pieces of your black fabric and iron-on vinyl and testing out the iron-on process. Remember to use your iron-on transfer sheet or silicone ironing sheet to protect your fabric and your iron. Figure out what heat setting on your iron works best and the best way to peel off the plastic coating. Be very careful not to burn yourself when peeling off the plastic coating. (I'm pretty sure several of my fingers no longer have prints because of this.) (NOTE: My photo shows three different types of iron-on vinyl because I was testing different ones that I used for Yoko's boots and jacket later on.)

After you're confident in your methods, take two pieces of your bikini cup fabric with the right (correct) sides up. That is, the side of the fabric that you want to be showing on the outside of the bikini should be facing upward. Make sure that the two pieces you choose are opposites of each-other, one should be the outside of the left cup, and the other should be the outside of the right cup. Match them to your pattern to make sure which side is which. One should match your pattern piece, the other should be the mirror image of it. To keep things organized, place the two pieces as if you were looking at a completed bikini. The right cup should be on the left, and the left cup should be on the right. Place your cut out flames the same way.

Take the left cup and the left flame piece, place them on your ironing board, and line up the flames on top of the fabric. They may not line up perfectly, it's better to have a little bit of black fabric showing at the bottom than let the vinyl go off of the fabric. The extra black will not be shown on the finished product. Iron your flames on using whatever method works for you. (I don't remember why I had pins in mine or what it was pinned to, so clearly they weren't important.)

Repeat the same for the right bikini cup.

Step 6

So I really suck at explaining sewing, and this would be a good time to turn to YouTube for help.
Here's the most advice that I can give you:
1) The Neck Strings - Use lots of pins! Sew them in half, turn them inside out, then roll hem the ends and tie them in knots.
2) The Cups - Sew the two layers of the cups together inside-out (except the bottoms), attaching the neck strings in the process, and turn right-side out.
3) The Bottom - Hem the bottoms of the cups with enough room to slide the body string through.
4) The Body Strings - (Shown above) Again, lots of pins! Sew them in half, turn them inside-out, thread them through the bottom of the bikini cups, put the beads on (two on each end), then roll hem the ends and tie them in knots.

Well, hopefully some of that helps someone. I know I'm really horrible at explaining how to sew (especially without pictures), but this was really intended to help more with the flames than the actual bikini construction, because it's a lot easier to find tutorials on how to make a bikini top. Feedback is definitely appreciated, though I cannot get any more pictures, other than of the finished project, which I will get soon.

Post-Con Cleanup (Days 584 - 588)

My sewing room is always a complete mess for at least a week before a convention. Despite any and all planning, preparation, and scheduling, I always end up sewing the night before a convention, and it's just too much trouble to clean up every night the week before.

Of course, the day after any convention is nothing but sleep, eating, and general recuperating. After that, it's just general laziness that stops me from cleaning up. However, I managed to at least pick up most things off of the floor of my sewing room and get my cosplay back onto the dress form and ironing board.

Having a clean sewing room after a convention feels just as rewarding as completing a costume (I think I mentioned this before). It's just so hard to make myself clean, haha. Hopefully I'll have it cleaned before the next cosplay event I'm going to.

Kin-Yoobi Con 2011 Cosplay Report (Days 576 - 583)

(Read my full convention writeup here.)

I wore a cosplay of time-skip Yoko from Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann to Kin-Yoobi Con. While the cosplay is not 100% finished, I was quite happy with it. I was initially worried that security would tell me that it was too revealing and ask me to change, so I did have a backup, but luckily there were no issues. I did doubt that they would ask, since I was properly covered and taped in, but it didn't hurt to have a backup.

On Day 1, I woke up freezing cold and thinking "There's no was I'm going to wear a bikini today!" So I dressed in my backup cosplay, an alternate version of Yoko (from Episode 5) with a robe, which I made to come down to my knees. Under it, I wore a pair of comfortable black shorts and a black tank top. Once I got into the main hall of the convention, I immediately thought "Oh, I am most definitely wearing a bikini today." I couldn't believe how hot it was in there! My mom was coming by later to watch my Artists' Alley booth while my boyfriend and hosted a panel (the two friends that I had watching my booth wanted to see the panel), so I called my mom and asked her to bring the rest of my cosplay things.

I took off the robe while I was setting up my booth and changed immediately after the panel.

Throughout the first day, the red "zippers" on my boots kept coming apart (the Velcro holding them on was hot-glued on). Luckily I brought my hot glue gun with me, but by the end of the day, I was out of hot glue! The zipper on the left shoe came apart almost completely, from my ankle (exposing the black boot I used as a base) to just above my knee. I had no hot glue to fix it, but all I had left to do at that point was sit behind my booth and then pack up and leave. The sole of my shoe kept coming off too (and it got all scuffed up), but I just hot glued that back on a couple of times and picked up my feet more when I walked, and it stayed on.

That night, I sewed the Velcro to the boot, which helped immensely the next day.

I had a little bit of difficulty taping myself into my top both days. Since I was sick, I got really nauseous when I looked down, and the tape is ridiculously hard to put on. You have to stick it to your skin, then peel off the paper layer over it and attach it to your clothing. It was the second step that gave me trouble. I was really in a hurry on Day 1, changing in the bathroom with my friend in the stall with me to help, so I only got four pieces on (two on the bottom and one on each side). On Day 2, I got sick in the morning (early onset of Con Plague, I believe), so I slept in and then took my time getting ready, so I managed to get all 6 pieces on where I wanted them.

My belt first off wasn't accurate, I didn't have time to make the one that I wanted. Also, it didn't stay where I wanted it to. As I said, I intended to make an accurate belt, and I was waiting until then to put belt loops on the shorts to keep it where I wanted. However, without the accurate belt, I never attached the loops, so the belt that I had didn't stay where I wanted it. Ah well. The shorts also didn't entirely do what I wanted them to, but they made my butt look good, so I won't complain.

My jacket fit a little odd, but it was really hard to tell with all of that hair in the way. The iron-on details began peeling off at some point too, hopefully I can just iron those back on more carefully and they'll stay. If not, there's always hot glue! (I hate that this costume is so dependent on hot glue though.) The hidden pocket that I made for my cell phone was a little big, and my phone fell out of it several times, which I now blame for the phone's weak vibrating tone (it sounds sickly).

The wig was very heavy, I had to wear the ponytail over my shoulder the entire time, and the wig still slid backward all the time. I need more bobby pins, I think. I also recently read up on the best ways to secure a heavy wig, so I'm going to try those as well. Toward the end of Day 1, I actually ended up buying pain killers from a vending machine because the weight of the wig made my neck hurt so badly. I secured it better on Day 2, I still had to readjust it once, but I didn't end up with a head/neck-ache at least.

It was also a bit of a pain to keep constantly combing the wig out. I was advised to comb it with a wide-toothed comb every hour, which I tried to do, but by the end of Day 1, it was a mess. When I got home that night, I brushed it and was half-way finished when it fell off of the table and sent me back to Square One. Apparently my cursing and angrily throwing the comb down scared my friends a bit. I really need to get silicone spray, and I also now keep all of my long wigs in loose braids, because it's just too frustrating to have to comb them out constantly.

Around 4:30pm on Day 2, the rest of my TTGL group showed up for the cosplay contest. I think they all looked fantastic, and I'm so proud of what little work I did to help with the prop (appropriately named "Dead Kamina"). They took Best In Show in the cosplay contest, though I couldn't compete because I was Emcee. (I'd like to take a minute here to clarify that, yes, these are my good friends, and yes, I'm staff and Emcee of the cosplay contest, but I am not a judge, and I did not talk with any of the judges about contestants at any point of the day.) I wish that they could have been there for more time, or at least that I could have spent more time with them, but it was a very busy day.

At the end of the weekend, Yoko came out a little worse-for-wear, but I more or less know what needs to be done before the next time I wear it.

As Good as it Gets (Days 562 - 566)

So Yoko definitely isn't 100% finished. She's maybe 95% finished, and I'm not happy with one of the boots at all, but she's wearable enough for Kin-Yoobi Con. No pics yet, you'll have to wait until post-con for that. You'll also have to wait until post-con for information about making the cosplay because I just can't be bothered to do a write-up right now.

Basically, I've been freaking out over everything; finishing my cosplay, finishing commissions, making hats, updating the panel, and finishing things for the actual convention. This will most likely be my last blog post before the convention. So here's a summary of the con and the stuff I'm doing at it.

Kin-Yoobi Con ~ Friday - Saturday, August 5th - 6th, 10am - 9pm
We're celebrating our fifth anniversary this year which means even more fun-filled fandom-based events and big name special guests."
I'll be staffing the convention, running several events including Anime Jeopardy and the Cosplay Contest as well as participating in the Anime Date Auction.

'Magikarp: A History' at Kin-Yoobi Con ~ Friday, 11am
"Hit 'em with a splash attack! Join us to learn everything that you never knew that you wanted to know about Magikarp. We'll give you an in-depth look at Magikarp's behavior, anime appearances, in-game capabilities, and more!"
My boyfriend and I are hosting this panel, we have hosted it twice before, once at Animation on Display, and once at Fanime. It is exactly what it sounds like: a panel about the Pokemon Magikarp.

Rose's Fleece Hats at Kin-Yoobi Con ~ All day, both days
Rose's Fleece Hats is the name I use to promote the fleece hats that I make and sell. I will have an Artist's Alley booth to sell these, necklaces, hair ribbons, bracelets, and earrings.

BAC at Kin-Yoobi Con ~ Friday, 2pm & Saturday, 3pm
Bay Area Conventions (BAC) is a group that has interest in conventions, photography, and cosplay. Meetups and gatherings are set up as social events. The group includes people from all over the San Fransisco Bay Area.

Ratgirl and Para~Somnia at Kin-Yoobi 2011! ~ All day, both days
My friend Tricia (Ratgirl) and a friend of hers will also have an Artist's Alley booth there!

Dai Gurren Dan at Kin-Yoobi Con ~ Saturday
My friend's Gurren Lagann group (including myself, of course) will be chillin' at Kin-Yoobi this Saturday as well. No link to the Facebook event itself because it's a private event, but we'll be there!

I do believe you can now understand exactly why I feel so swamped, haha. You'll hear from me after the convention~!