Spirited Away: Recreating Chihiro

Cosplay, Costume Construction

spirited_away posterIn the years since completing the NCC course, it’s become increasingly apparent that I won’t get around to making things for myself. Just as well, then, that I have lovely friends like Becca who come to me with projects – first a Tinkerbell tutu, and now recreating anime character Chihiro from the film Spirited Away

In the film, Chihiro travels to the spirit world and must work in a bathhouse (for spirits, obvs) in order to free her parents. The costume pictured in the poster is Chihiro’s bathhouse work uniform, which is what Becca asked me to help her make.

Step one was puzzling out the pattern, which is where handy cosplay fan sites come in!

Sen's Costume part 1

Sen's Costume Part 2

Thank you so much to Rynarts and the magic of Google image search for providing these brilliant sketches – I couldn’t have done it without you! Once I saw the costume broken down this way, I was able to work out (in miniature) an adapted tunic pattern that would achieve a similar look.

chihiro paper pattern

Step two was to get some fabric for a toile, cut a hole out for Becca to poke her head through, get it on her, and start snipping away until we got a shape similar to the one above. It took a bit of trial and error – we made two toiles in the end, adjusting things like the length of the shoulder slits, sleeve width, neck shape, etc. The final pattern was much more triangular (narrower under the sleeves and wider at the bottom) as Becca is a 3D human. Here she is cutting it out in the fabric!

Becca cutting

Speaking of fabric, we found the perfect materials at Fabworks in Dewsbury – now open Saturdays!! It’s quite a springy, linen blend that we think looked quite authentic – hardy fabric for manual labour in a bathhouse. The springiness was especially helpful for creating the bunched up effect when Chihiro ties her sleeves up and out of the way with a tasuki cord (as expertly illustrated above). There was a perfect remnant in one of the scrap baskets for the sash, and we got a wide roll of grosgrain ribbon for the tasuki cord.

After about 5 hours of cutting and sewing, we had the top half sorted:

chihiro

Then it was time to work on the trousers. This was stressing me out a bit, since I’ve not got much experience making trousers and wasn’t sure I’d be able to sort out a pattern. After hmm-ing and ahh-ing and messing about with Ben’s breeches pattern, I remembered I had a spare pair of suit trousers that Ben and I had bought for £3 from a charity shop with the intention of taking apart and using as a pattern for something else (a project which never materialized, but no matter). And lo!

Chihiro trouser pattern

Becca came round for another evening of cutting and sewing, and the trousers were a straightforward sew once the pattern was sorted. The trickiest part was adding in white godets to the sides, which we added to suggest the trousers were open at the sides as per the drawing. Besides that there was nothing fancy – just drawstrings at the waist and hems of the trouser legs to finish. I should mention as well that Becca did all the sewing, top and bottom, herself!

Et voila:

Chihiro final

Pretty chuffed with the result. Maybe one of these days I’ll make something for myself…

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8 thoughts on “Spirited Away: Recreating Chihiro

  1. Hello! I love this Chihiro costume! It worked out perfectly. I am also interested in makinga Chihiro costume, and of my searches on the interwebs, yours is the best tutorial I have come across. Is there possibly a way for you to post or email me the sewing patterns you used? That’s where I’m finding myself in trouble. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Anna, thanks so much! I don’t have a pattern as such, just some scraps of fabric that I cut around the edges of to make the general shape – but I can make one for you! Leave it with me. 🙂

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  2. Hello. I just saw this and compared to the ones that they are selling, this one looks a whole lot better! I was wondering if I can buy one from you guys if you can make me one. Would that be possible?

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