Steampunk button necklace designed by Emily Joy Etheredge for Cosplay by McCall’s using La Mode® buttons.
There’s something especially satisfying about making your own costume accessories. It’s a great finishing touch for a handmade outfit, and for the perfectionist, it gives you a ton of control over the finished look. If you’re more of a beginner crafter, it’s also a great way to experiment and try out new materials and techniques without using up a lot of materials or time. This necklace is a fun way to use up some of the embellishment bits and pieces you might have collected, and super easy to customize to match your outfit. Click through for the pattern and full tutorial!
This project was inspired by a collection of antique gold buttons from Blumenthal Lansing® – La Mode®, available on our website here. It was created by Emily Joy Etheredge, a freelance designer for Cosplay by McCall’s. Feel free to customize the design by changing up the fabric and thread colors, and choosing buttons and other embellishments to coordinate with the rest of your look.
Gather Your Supplies
The pattern for this project is free here. Choose three large feature buttons, which can be all different or symmetrically matched, and an assortment of smaller buttons that match or coordinate in color and style. In addition to these you will need:
Scraps of Faux Leather (in two colors)
Scraps of Cotton Twill
Faux Leather Cord
Heavy decorative thread for edges
You will also need the following tools. You can sew the whole thing by hand, or use a sewing machine to speed up the gathering stitches
Assemble the Necklace
Begin by cutting your pattern pieces out of the faux leather and twill. Fray check the edges of the twill circles to make them easier to handle.
The twill circles will be used to display your large focus buttons, a bit like specimens in a museum. Before the circles are attached, the raw edges will be tucked underneath to conceal them and add a little dimension.
Sew a loose gathering stich around the edges of each twill circle. Pull up the gathering threads, drawing the raw edges together on the underside of each circle, and iron flat.
Select a large statement button and sew it to the center of each twill circle. Glue the twill circles onto the necklace front base, and tack in place around the edges using a running stitch.
Glue the necklace detail piece on top of the necklace front base, arranged so the openings frame each button. Sew a length of beads around the edges of the twill circles using a couching stitch. Sew on additional buttons and charms so that most of the detail piece is covered.
Flip the necklace over and glue on the base back to cover the stitching. Sew a decorative blanket stitch around the edges of the necklace, then punch holes into the tabs at the bottom of the necklace and at each end. Attach decorative chains to the lower openings, and add small buttons or charms so that they peep through the punch holes. Thread leather cord through the holes at each end.
M2105 uses faux fur trim around the hood and the jacket edges.
Faux fur is almost an essential for some costumes. I’m thinking of barbarians, royalty, creatures, holiday or winter-themed versions of almost any cosplay, and others. You can find glossy or shaggy fur fabrics in every imaginable color and pattern, depending on what your character demands. But fake fur can also make an awful mess, and I know there are some people out there who find it intimidating to work with. Here are a few basic tips that will help make your fur-sewing experience easier.
Faux fur is typically made from polyester, acrylic, or another synthetic material. It consists of a long fiber “pile” and a fabric backing, often a fray-resistant knit. (Most have only minimal stretch, however.) Some backings are scratchier than others, so you’ll want to take a look at what you have and decide whether your project needs a full lining. If you don’t need the lining to slide smoothly over other layers, a breathable cotton will help to prevent you from getting too warm in costume. Otherwise, look for rayon lining materials that are easy to handle and pleasantly cool to the touch.
Don’t do it! Straight cutting a fur fabric will yield an unnatural blunt edge on one side of the cut, and a mess on the other.
Cut fur from the back
Whacking into your fur with a pair of shears is a sure recipe for a fluffy mess. In addition to the drifts of fuzz that will overtake your sewing area, you can end up with a patchy look around the seams where the scissors snipped through the pile. It can also make the area of fabric close to the edge less usable for cutting your next piece, which means more waste.
Mark the direction of your pile to assist with pattern layout and clean cutting
To prevent this, flip your fur over and do your cutting from the back. Keep track of the pile direction by chalking an arrow on the backing for easy reference, and make sure all your pieces are on grain and oriented in the same direction, so you don’t get weird unintentional contrasts across the seams. (Always use the “with nap” layout for your pattern.) You can get different effects depending on which direction you orient the nap—point it down for a sleeker look, or up to get a deeper, shaggier effect.
You can use scissors to cut fur if you’re careful to cut only the backing fabric, leaving the pile intact.
Use chalk to trace around your pattern pieces, then use a razor blade or sharp craft knife to slice through the backing only, leaving the pile intact. You can also cut with scissors, moving slowly and using the tip of the scissors to cut only the backing layer. This should allow you to separate your pieces with a minimum of shedding. Any fluff that escapes anyway can be collected with a loop of tape or lint roller.
Correct cutting technique results in a soft edge on both sides of the cut, and minimal stray fluff.
Sew from the top
If you’re sewing a single layer of fur, it’s best to do it with the fluffy side up so the pile doesn’t get snarled in the feed dogs. If the pile is very long and interferes with your presser foot, put a piece of tissue paper or transparent tear-away stabilizer on top to keep it out of the way.
For a butted seam, baste both sides to a ribbon or tape and sew with a zigzag stitch, holding the pile out of the way.
Since faux fur’s backing fabric doesn’t usually fray, and the seams will be hidden in the pile, one of the flattest, cleanest seams you can do is a butted seam. To do it, first trim off the seam allowances included in your pattern. Place your pieces edge-to-edge with the pile facing down, and lay a strip of single-fold bias tape, ribbon, or twill tape over the top. Baste both sides to the tape, by hand or with a wash-away basting tape. (Fusible tapes are an option, but should be used cautiously as fur fabrics can be very heat-sensitive.) Then flip the pieces over, brush the pile away to both sides, and sew with a wide zigzag or three-step zigzag along the join, making sure to catch both edges and the tape underneath.
After seaming faux fur, brush and fluff the pile to make the join vanish.
Keep your seams narrow and flat
If a butted seam won’t do the trick, (for example, if you’re joining fur to another fabric) then your goal should be to keep the seams as small and bulk-free as possible. Here are a couple seam types you might want to consider for your project:
– Sew an ordinary straight seam, press it open, and flatten the allowances to the backing with a zigzag or hand whipstitch. In some cases, you may want to trim or shave the pile out of the seam allowances as well.
– You can get a very narrow, compact seam by sewing the seam with a standard straight stitch, trimming your seam allowances to 1/4″, and zigzagging over the edge.
– Serged seams are narrow and neat, and the wrapped threads compress the fabric to reduce seam allowance bulk. To avoid a mess, brush the pile in away from the seam allowances before you bring your project anywhere near the cutting blade. If you can trim the seam allowances ahead of time and disengage the blade entirely, all the better. If your serger has a flatlock stitch, give that a try as well – it produces a very flat join, though it can be difficult if the fur is very thick.
A serged seam in faux fur. When brushed out, the pile covers the seam well.
Finishing and edges
After you’re done with each seam, use a yarn needle or comb to free up any pile fibers that got caught in the stitches. Give the fur a good brushing from the right side to smooth everything out. Depending on your fabric, the seam should be all but invisible from the outside. (If you’re short on fabric, you may be able to add extra piecing seams without anyone being the wiser.)
To avoid a lot of excess bulk, it’s best to avoid creating multiple layers of fur. If you have a collar that turns back, cut the under-collar from a thinner fabric in a matching color. Instead of a standard turned-up hem, consider lining your project all the way to the edge, binding the edges with a decorative trim, or using a narrow bias facing cut from matching cotton or organza. Depending on your fabric, you may not need to hem at all—just serge, zigzag, or trim the edges neatly and leave them alone.
M2016 includes instructions for a faux fur capelet.
Faux Fur resources:
Finding good quality fur fabrics can be a challenge. Shopping in person is best, since it’s difficult to accurately determine pile length, texture, and softness from a photo. If you’re ordering online, see if they’ll send you a small sample or swatch before you commit to an expensive fabric. Here are a couple stores with sizeable fur sections to get you started. You can also sometimes find good options on Etsy and eBay if you experiment with different search terms.
The right costume makes you look cool even when it’s blazing out. Fatale pattern from Ichigo Black.
As we slog through some of the hottest days of the year, it’s hard to think about getting all dressed up. Sunny days may be great for the beach, but they’re definitely not ideal for wearing complicated multi-layered outfits. Sure, if your costume involves a swimsuit you’re all set, but that seriously limits your options. So what to do if your favorite convention lands smack in the middle of the summer heat? Do you have to sacrifice cosplay splendor in the name of comfort? Here are our best tips for keeping cool in costume.
Linen, rayon, and cotton are some of the most comfortable fabrics to wear in hot weather.
Natural fabrics and open weaves are your friend…
Synthetic fabrics may be inexpensive and wrinkle-free, but beware of polyester in summer heat. Sticky, sweaty, smelly! Breathable plant-based fibers like cotton, linen, and rayon will be much more comfortable to wear, and more pleasant for the people who sit next to you at panels. Look for light, open weaves like gauze for even more comfort – they’ll be cool and comfortable even if you need a couple layers for opacity. Natural fibers of course are prone to wrinkling, especially when heat and moisture are involved, but you can turn this to your advantage by choosing rugged, weathered characters for whom a little extra rumple just adds to the effect.
Moisture-wicking microfiber spandex, wet-look spandex, and metallic mesh
…Unless your outfit is skintight.
Much as we love cotton and linen, they’re not going to cut it if you need a bodysuit or other skintight outfit. Tight-fitting clothing is generally going to be sweatier than loose and floaty, especially when spandex is a factor. So for this type of costume, you want to pick up some tricks from athletic clothing. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics that pull the sweat away from your skin so it can evaporate and cool you off, or use stretch mesh for parts of your outfit (if appropriate for your costume.) Online shopping will be key if you don’t have a good local source for athletic fabrics, so plan ahead.
Great cosplay fabrics, but not in hot weather.
Where possible, avoid coated fabrics like faux leather and metallics, as the coating is usually some kind of plastic film that will multiply your overheating problems. (Been there. Will not be wearing head-to-toe black pleather in June again.) If you really need that shiny look, wet-look spandex or dotted metallic foil will be slightly more comfortable, and metallic mesh can be layered over other fabrics to add luster and interesting texture without sacrificing breathability.
The visible facing of this jacket is made of velvet, but the rest of the body is lined in lightweight muslin, and the sleeves are lined with slippery rayon so it doesn’t snag on other layers.
Lighten up the layers.
If you’ve got a many-layered costume, your hot-weather goal will be to keep each layer as light and bulk-free as possible. Leave pieces unlined if possible, or choose lightweight, breathable cotton linings like muslin or voile. If you have pieces like a jacket and vest that won’t ever be worn separately, consider combining them into a single garment so you can cut away the extra layers in the areas where they’re not visible.
If your plan looks like this you’d better hope that convention center has really good air conditioning.
That said, sometimes layering can be a good thing: for difficult-to-clean costumes, a machine-washable under-layer is a must. A cotton or linen shirt or chemise will help to prevent stains and smells on your delicate outer garments.
Mesh, net, and lace can be used strategically for ventilation.
Have you ever noticed little eyelets in the armpit of a windbreaker or raincoat? Those are there to make the jacket breathable even though the fabric isn’t. Consider doing the same for your cosplay, especially if it’s made in a dense or synthetic fabric – you can use metal eyelets if they suit the aesthetic of the costume, or hand sew them if you’re going for a historical look. Mesh inserts and open fabrics like lace are also good ways to up the breathability of your costume.
Staying hydrated is essential for long convention days, especially in hot weather. You may not want to lug the extra weight, but carrying your own water bottle can be the difference between a fun day and collapsing into an exquisitely costumed heap. Incorporate a bag or deep pockets into your costume, or even make a dedicated water bottle carrier that matches the rest of your outfit. If it saves you a bit of waiting in line for the water fountain, it’ll be worth it.
Mysstic pattern from Cosplay by McCall’s, in crushed velvet.
Few fabrics do “deep and mysterious” the way velvet does. The subtle luster and rich colors make it perfect for witchy, gothic looks like the two newest designs in the Cosplay by McCall’s collection, or for the regal garb of kings and nobles. Although not always the most beginner-friendly fabric, working with velvet doesn’t have to be painful either. And if drama is your thing, you’re going to want to learn to sew with it. So let’s talk about some of our favorite tips for getting the most from this tricky-but-rewarding fabric.
Different types of velvet are suitable for different projects, so the first thing you can do to ensure a successful result is to choose an appropriate fabric. High quality velvets have a dense, even pile and soft hand, while less expensive versions may be sparse or stiff and scratchy.
Polyester velvet is relatively inexpensive, but varies in quality. Shop in person or order swatches to make sure you’re happy with a particular fabric.
Rayon velvet is usually softer and richer looking, but more expensive.
Acetate blend velvets are often very beautiful and silky, but delicate and easily crushed or damaged by heat. Handle and store them with care to avoid wrinkles that may be hard to get out again.
Cotton velvet (red) and a polyester velour with a similar finish
Velveteen is probably the easiest type of velvet to sew. Usually made of cotton, or sometimes synthetic, it has a short pile with a matte finish and is very stable and structured. It’s a good choice for coats and some dresses, but is often stiffer than other velvets and not as soft.
Rayon/cotton blend crushed velvets
Crushed velvet can be made from many different fibers. It has a pronounced texture created by crushing the pile into patterns, which may be regular or totally random. It is one of the more forgiving velvets to sew as the texture can help to hide any imperfections.
Polyester/spandex stretch velvets
Stretch velvet or velour has a knit instead of a woven base and is usually a blend of polyester and spandex. It is available in two-way and four-way stretch varieties, both plain and crushed. For bodysuits, leggings, and similar, you’ll need both vertical and horizontal stretch to ensure a comfortable fit. For dresses and gowns, horizontal stretch is sufficient—vertical stretch will just give make the dress sag.
Burnout or devoré velvet has been treated to remove the pile in certain areas, so you can see the (often sheer) base fabric. It’s available in geometric designs like the ones shown here, as well as florals, paisley, and other decorative patterns. Use it for capes, scarves, and lined garments; especially with a contrasting fabric underneath to show off the open areas.
Embossed velvet has a pattern created by selectively crushing the pile. You can make your own designs by placing the velvet face down over a clean rubber stamp and gently pressing from the back with a warm iron. Make sure to test on scraps before tackling your yardage; some velvets respond better to this technique than others.
Silk/rayon velvet is generally on the expensive side, and it shows. It is extremely soft and lustrous with a heavy, liquid drape. Crushed and burnout versions are available as well.
Sewing with velvet
Before starting to sew your velvet, it’s a good idea to do some experimenting with scraps. See how much the fabric frays and sheds, as you may want to cut out your project with wider seam allowances to allow for any loss at the edges. If your fabric does fray a lot, it’s a good idea to finish the edges with a zigzag or serger stitch immediately after cutting and before beginning the assembly.
Hand basting is often the best way to keep slippery velvet seams aligned.
Sew strips together to get a feel for how the fabric handles, and see if it creeps or skews. If you find it difficult to keep the edges aligned with pins alone, or if the fabric creeps and bunches as you sew, you may need to resort to hand basting. This may take a little longer, but gives you far more control. A walking or even-feed foot may also help if you have one for your machine.
Velvet changes color depending on how the light hits it. This one is a rayon/cotton blend.
All velvet has a nap, which means that the pile fibers have a distinct direction to them. The fabric will feel smoother when rubbed along the nap, and reflect the light differently depending on which direction it’s oriented. Decide when beginning your project which direction you prefer, and always use the “with nap” layout when cutting out your pattern to avoid abrupt color shifts across seams.
Many types of velvet, including this 100% rayon, will be permanently crushed if you press them directly with the iron.
The other slightly tricky thing about working with velvet is avoiding damage from the iron. Especially when working with delicate velvets like silk or acetate blends, it’s easy to permanently crush or mar the pile. The safest way to flatten seams in velvet is to steam with the iron held a half inch above the fabric and then finger press. On hardier velvets, you may be safe to press the velvet face down on a fluffy towel or scrap of velveteen. A needle board, which has a bed of metal spikes to support the velvet backing without crushing the pile, may be a useful investment if you work with velvet regularly. Or, skirt the issue entirely and flatten seams by topstitching by hand or machine. (A hand pickstitch will all but disappear into the pile.)
Because velvet is tricky to press without damage, it’s a good idea to avoid wrinkles as much as you can. Instead of folding your yardage for storage, loosely fold along the cross grain and then hang with a skirt hanger clipped to the selvage. Similarly, finished garments should be stored on a hanger and not shoved into a crowded closet.
My favorite part of almost any costume is in the details. That may mean quilting, fabric manipulation, embroidery, appliqué, trims, or other techniques depending on the feel of the costume, but I always like to find some way to add texture, richness, and depth to each piece. Today I’m going to talk about a cording technique that’s been used on a few of the Cosplay by McCall’s patterns to give decorative appliqué a more dimensional look. You can see the effect in the sample above, which is a detail of the appliqué that our designer created for M2081.
This is a useful method if you have a little bit of a fancy brocade or tapestry fabric that you want to highlight but not enough to use it for the main fabric; if you want the look of large-scale embroidery without having to do it all by hand; or if you’ve found a great print, but it’s too lightweight or the wrong type of fabric for your project. The couched cord embellishments cover the edges of the appliqués, giving them a neat, finished look with a hand-worked effect. You can see how our designer used this corded appliqué technique on Cosplay by McCall’s patterns here and here, and read on for the full tutorial.
Choose a bold appliqué fabric that won’t be overshadowed by the embellishment. Simple, graphic prints are easiest to start with.
First, choose your motifs for the appliqué. Some fabric designs are more suitable than others; you want one with clearly defined motifs that can be pulled out and used in isolation. Pick a bold design that will read well from a distance, and won’t be overshadowed by the corded embellishment. Simple, graphic designs with a solid outline are easiest to work with.
For the hand-couched cording, you will need decorative cord or thread and a matching all-purpose or decorative thread. Satin rattail cord is a good option for this technique; you can often find it in the trim section but try bead stores for the thinner, firmer version used for jewelry cord as it will be easier to work with and give you a crisper outline. You could also use embroidery floss, yarn, or a narrow braid. A narrow cord applied in multiple rows will give a bold outline that’s flexible enough to turn tight corners. Experiment to find the color and texture that looks best with your fabrics.
Trim close to the outline of each appliqué motif, allowing for the width of cording you plan to add. This one is being applied to a heavy cotton sateen.
When you’ve selected your appliqués, cut them out with a sharp pair of trimming scissors. If you will be using a single row of cording, cut right up to the edge of the motif. If the fabric frays or you want the bolder look of multiple cording rows, allow a border of the appropriate width. If needed, use a dab of fabric glue around the edges to prevent fraying. Then, determine how the designs will be placed. If you want a symmetrical design, make sure you’ve chosen an appliqué fabric that includes mirror-image motifs. If you’re going for a more organic look, just think about how to place the designs so that they will highlight the design of the garment.
Work-in-progress shot from the designer of M2081. She embellished each panel with appliqués cut from a printed floral fabric, using a decorative cord to cover the edges of the appliqué.
Our designer suggests cutting out the garment pieces and serging or otherwise finishing the edges to prevent fraying, then completing all the appliqué before you proceed to assemble the garment. This minimizes the amount of extra fabric you will have to deal with while you work on the embellishment, making it a bit easier to handle. Temporarily secure the appliqués with a fabric glue stick to prevent them from shifting while you work; this will also allow you to carefully peel them up and reposition them if needed. Do not cut off designs that hang over the edges of the garment pieces, but leave them hanging free until after you’ve assembled the garment. Hold the appliqués back out of the way as you sew, so that afterward you can lay the free edges across the seams, seamlessly merging the design all the way around the garment.
Appliqué zigzagged in place. If using this method, multiple rows of cording will be needed to conceal the stitching.
If you intend to apply multiple rows of cording, and if you’re using a fabric that’s prone to fraying, you can secure the edges of the appliqué by sewing all the way around the outside with a zigzag stitch. This doesn’t need to be as dense as a satin stitch that would be visible on the finished garment; try a stitch width of 3mm and a length of 0.7mm for a start. If you have trouble seeing what you’re doing, a clear or open-toe sewing machine foot can help.
Begin the couching by stitching the end of the cord in place. Seal the end and neatly trim before you begin.
Tidy up any stray threads before starting the embroidery. Thread a hand needle with decorative thread, or all-purpose thread in a color that matches your decorative cord. If using rattail cord or braid, you will need to seal the end with a fabric glue or fray stopper, cleanly trim, and secure on the right side of the fabric with a few hand stitches in your anchoring thread. After securing the cord end, bring the needle up right on the line where you want the cord to go. Loop the thread over the cord, stick the needle back into the fabric right next to where it came up, and come up again about 1/4″—3/8″ away on the same line. (You can make the stitches even closer together if trying to secure a tight curve, or longer if the line is long and straight.) You don’t need to worry about keeping the entire cord in position as you sew it on; just hold the next inch or so in place so you can sew over it.
This motif is corded with a single row of embroidery floss. Additional rows will be added to conceal the stitching around the outside edge.
You can also do the couching with an embroidery floss or thin yarn, which creates a softer, flatter, more irregular line. If the cord is thin enough to fit through a tapestry needle, you can conceal the ends on the back side of the fabric instead of sealing them and securing on the surface. Use a few stitches from your securing thread to secure them to avoid the bulk of a knot.
When working with softer threads, pay attention to how tight you pull them. Leave the cord loose enough to form smooth curves between the securing stitches instead of jerky dot-to-dot lines. If applying multiple rows of cord, stagger the securing stitches so that you don’t get obvious breaks in the line.
As you near the end of a line, trim the cord to length and seal before you finish stitching it down.
When you approach the end of a line, or a tight corner where you want to break the cording to create a sharp point, measure out how much cord you need to finish the row and cut it to length. Dip the end of the cord in fabric glue or fray stopper to seal it, holding it away from the fabric until it dries so you don’t leave marks, then finish stitching it down. If using a soft yarn or floss, leave enough extra length to thread through a tapestry needle and secure on the underside.
Outline the topmost layer of appliqué first, then proceed to the lower layers and any internal details. When you run into intersecting lines, it’s up to you whether to cross the cord or break it off and start fresh on the other side. If crossing the cords, space your securing stitches a little further from the intersection so that the overlapping row of cord will flow smoothly over the other instead of creating a tight lump.
If the motifs are large in scale or worked over a large area of the garment, you may find that an embroidery hoop hinders you more than it helps. Instead, our designer suggests laying the fabric over a large notebook or drawing board. The hard surface supports the fabric and keeps it smooth and flat, while also preventing you from sewing through more layers than you intend. She also suggests having a few good movies lined up, as this process is a little time-consuming!
Appliqué with satin cord
Corded appliqué would also be a great technique to combine with other embellishments, like embroidery or beadwork. As with the cording, use the print or design of the appliqué fabric as a guide for placing decorative stitching, beads, or even additional layers of appliqué—allowing you to create complex, layered, multi-colored designs without having to draw out any of the shapes yourself.
Finished appliqué with up to three rows of embroidery floss
Once the appliqué is all done, or during the assembly of the garment, you may wish to press the embellished pieces. This can be a little tricky, as the cording creates lumps and bumps that can cause hot spots or crinkles if you’re not careful. To solve this the designer padded her ironing board with a piece of batting, held in place with a layer of clean, lightweight cotton. This extra cushion cradles the embellishment, so that the fabric base remains nice and smooth. This is a good idea any time you’re working with bulky embellishments, and the padding can be secured temporarily by pinning it to your ironing board cover. Remember, always press embellished fabrics from the back side to avoid damaging your hard work!
Cording adds texture and dimension to your appliqués
We hope you found this tutorial useful! We’d love to hear how you plan to use this technique, if you’re thinking of giving it a try. Also, it’s been a while since we did a big how-to like this, but we’d like to do more of them in the future. Are there techniques you’d like to see us cover here? Let us know in the comments!