Cosplay Notes: The Dark Lady

Photo by Jeff Clough, Editing by myself

Photo by Jeff Clough, Editing by myself

Not too long ago I realized that up until this point I’ve mostly been cosplaying comic book characters, but Atlanta doesn’t seem to have that big a comic book convention scene. There’s Dragoncon of course, but the other two big cons are Momocon and Anime Weekend Atlanta, both of which are more focused on anime than other types of nerdom (like comics or video games). So, I decided I needed to plan some anime cosplays. My buddy Kiki was the one who recommended The Black/Dark Lady from Sailor Moon. Confession time: I haven’t actually seen much of Sailor Moon (the classic anime or Crystal) or read much of the manga. Despite this, I really like her character design and loved the idea of cosplaying a villain, so I went with it.

Up until this point I had only been sewing for about one month and the most complicated thing I had sewn was my Exploding Tardis dress and a bunch of dice bags. I ended up making almost every piece of this cosplay.

Photo by Drew

Photo by Drew

Debuted:

Momocon's Fall Photoshoot 2015

The Breakdown:

  • Dress: Sewn using McCalls’s MP433 in a dark red velour and blue chiffon

  • Blouse: Sew using a hybrid of McCall’s M6796 & M7051 in a dark red chiffon with lots of fray check.

  • Shoes: Black heels already owned (still searching for the perfect red heels)

  • Scarf: Bright pink chiffon (no sewing involved)

  • Earrings: Various jewelry bits from Hobby Lobby, black acrylic paint, and sealer

  • Necklace & bracelets: Fake Leather, quartz crystals, E600 & snaps

  • Crescent moon: Etsy

  • Wig: Lulu from Arda Wigs as the base wig and two long curly clips in bubblegum

the black lady sailor moon concept art

The Process:

I began with making a muslin mock of the dress. It was my first time sewing a dress and I didn’t want to ruin the fabric I had chosen to make the dress out of. Once I felt satisfied with how the muslin version looked and I understood the instructions (it was also my first time using a pattern), I moved on to the real deal. Unfortunately I ended up scrapping it. I had used a shiny, red fabric that looked good at first, but it had noticeable puckering, the color was too light, and I didn’t like where the slits were.

On the second try I wanted to use a more velvety fabric, so I ended up using a dark red velour that had a bit of stretch. The slits were also modified to be on the sides of the dress rather than the front which turned out to be much more flattering. I also decided to skip out on the scalloping along the neckline. Her skirt also has a sheer blue that peeks out around the slits so I created a modified underskirt with an elastic waistband. I can also shift this skirt around to make the dress more conservative.

black lady cosplay sailor moon

The blouse turned out to be the most difficult piece to sew. I sewed and took it apart at least three different times in order to get the right fit. Sewing chiffon for the first time is also a major pain. My advice is that when sewing chiffon it’s extremely helpful to sew with tissue paper underneath to prevent the machine from eating the fabric. It’s easy to tear it off of the stitches once the piece is complete. Using a stretch needle and smaller stitches helps, too.

Next was the fun part: accessories! The earrings were pieced together from pieces purchased from good ol’ Hobby Lobby. Lots of wire cutting, jump rings, and a bit of paint were involved to get the earrings looking accurate. Looking at previous Dark Lady cosplays I noticed many others used white rhinestone for their necklace and bracelets. I wanted to do something a bit different. I created mine using fake leather as the base and used E6000 to glue some lovely quartz crystals I found on Etsy to the base. I sewed snaps on each piece so that I could take them off easily.

black lady cosplay sailor moon

The wig was also incredibly difficult. I’ve never done so much styling for a wig before. It took three nights and lots of hairspray and glue to get it looking spot on. I had to trim the Lulu wig up and use some roller curlers to get the kooky bangs correct. For the hair cones I used floral foam cones as a base and cut pieces of the wigs from the underside my curly clips. From there I carefully (and slowly) used a combination of E6000, hot glue, and hairspray to to style the cones. Once the cones were finished I glued them to the Lulu base wig so that they wouldn't go anywhere. The little hair curls in front were homemade hair wefts created with hair taken from the same curly clips. My wig styling skills definitely went up a few levels with this monster.

Dance tights really made a difference in making this costume not feel too exposed. The slits of the dress are extremely high and without the tights I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable wearing such a revealing cosplay. Plus they make your legs look flawless.

Photo by Christopher Booth II

Photo by Christopher Booth II

Final Thoughts:

Creating the Dark Lady helped me to become more confident in my sewing skills. I used many fabrics I’ve never used before and learned some new techniques with my sewing machine. At the photoshoot the costume was difficult to pose in (there were so many elements to it and kinks that needed to be worked out.) Luckily afterwards I immediately made all the repairs and figured out how to make the outfit easier to wear in the future. It turned out much better than I initially thought it would and can’t wait to wear it again. This costume also inspired me to watch more Sailor Moon which is always a good thing.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever cosplayed a Sailor Moon character before!