Blue Eyes White Dragon-- Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters Cosplay Write-Up!
The Blue Eyes White Dragon has been my favorite Duel Monsters card since I was a little kid obsessed with the show. Originally, I wasn't planning to do a formal cosplay concept for a Blue Eyes cosplay at all, rather I was going to only make the ballgown for my functional garment design class. But when the ballgown came out looking so pretty, I wanted to make the accessories to go along with it, and then I of course had to make the wings.
In this write-up I'm going to discuss the steps I took to make each of the main pieces for the Blue Eyes costume: the ballgown, the armor, and the wings.
Let's start with the piece I spent the most time on, over 40 hours by itself, the ballgown! As always, I started out with a concept sketch to get a general idea of what I wanted the dress to look like. As you can see, the final gown didn't end up looking exactly like my concept sketch-- the length is longer, it's not a high-low, and the color blocking ended up looking a little different. For class, we made a mock-up garment from some cheap muslin, which I haven't pictured here but is vitally important to making sure all the pieces fit together properly, especially when you're color blocking.
I started off by sewing the corset since it was the hardest part. First I sewed the outside with the scale-like color blocking and made sure it all matched up and was the proper size. Once the outside was done, I moved on to the structure of the corset, the boning, padding, and lining, sewing everything to the lining so you wouldn't see any sewing lines on the fabric side. I sewed plastic boning onto each of the side and princess seams of the lining, then sewed a small circle of padding material to the bust circle to help keep a smooth curve on the breast. Once I had all the structure sewn into the lining, I sewed it to the outside piece of the corset and the upper part was about done! It was time to move on to the skirt.
The skirt of this gown is basically six different length circle skirts all sewn on top of each other. I measured and drafted six different circle skirt patterns getting longer and longer with each tier, cut them out of alternating colored fabric, and sewed them all together. Once I had all the layers together, I used horsehair braid along the hem of each skirt to make the skirts stiffer and more poofy. You can see in the progress photo where I only have horsehair braid on the top skirt layer that the horsehair braid is necessary to give the gown more volume. Otherwise, the skirts don't poof out, and they just ruffle and lay flat. Since the point of this silhouette was for the corset to be tight and fitted like the slim neck of a Blue Eyes, and the skirt to poof out and look larger like the body, using horsehair in the hem proved to be necessary.
Once I had all the skirt layers sewn and the dress put together, I put on the finishing touches. I put eyelets into the back of the dress so I could lace it up like a corset, then tucked all the raw seams into the lining and hand-stitched everything closed so you could not see any stitching on the outside. And that's basically everything for the dress!
In total, I made six big armor pieces (two gauntlets, two leg bracers, and two knee pads) along with the claws. All of these pieces were patterned out of paper, then I glued craft foam together to make the basic shapes. I covered the craft foam in black Worbla first, then used my heat gun to form them to my arms, legs, and fingers. I glued some fake gems I got from Michaels onto the armor pieces, then heated up and rolled some worbla scraps into thin "snakes" and wrapped it around the gems.
I used painters tape to cover all the gems so I wouldn't get spray paint on them, then took all the armor outside and used a spray primer on all of the pieces. I sanded the primer with a fine grit sandpaper, then hit it with some matte white spray paint, and sanded one last time before a final white paint layer. Then I took it all inside and went to work on detail painting, using white and baby blue acrylic paints to add highlights and shadows to the armor.
Once everything was painted, I attached the armor to my costume. I used super glue to attach all twenty of the claw pieces to a pair of opera length gloves, then used glue to stick the bracers to the gloves as well. I also used glue to stick the leg armor to a pair of white tights, originally I was going to use D-rings and elastic, but decided to use glue instead because I wanted to give the armor the effect of "floating" on my legs. You could also use velcro, it would probably be easier to get the tights on and off, and likely make it all sturdier. I, for one, enjoy gluing myself into my costume before I wear it.
I used velcro to attach the horns to my wig, and that's about all the armor pieces. The wig, by the way, is from Arda Wigs.
The frames of the wings are made from PVC pipe of all varying lengths, all 1/2" in diameter. If you want to use the same measurements as my wings, here's a list of all the pieces you'll need.
PVC pipe size list for one wing:
3x 10in pipes
1x 15in pipe
1x 20in pipe
1x 30in pipe
2x tee connectors (the T-shaped ones)
1x wing-shaped elbow connector (not sure if these have an actual name, but I found them at Lowes)
Double everything in that list to make two wings!
I used a heat gun to slowly heat up sections of the pipe and curve them so they were shaped more like Blue Eyes' wings. I then used super glue to attach all the top wing pieces (the 3 10in pipes with connectors in between them), used some clay to make a smooth shape and blend all the pieces smoothly together and make the spike on the tip of the wing. I then wrapped black worbla around the entire piece. I made some more spikes for each of the other wing tips ( for the 15, 20, and 30in pipes) and covered those in worbla, then glued them to the pipes. I took everything outside and primed, wood filled, and painted everything a bluish-white.
From there, I attached all the PVC pipes together and made sure everything fit properly. Then, I used large pieces of teal brocade fabric I purchased in Montreal cut to the size of the wings and glued the fabric to the back of the wings, being sure to fold the raw edges of the fabric inside so they wouldn't fray.
I made a harness for my back using 45 degree elbow pipe and worbla, but ended up not using it at the con because the wings were too heavy and just slipped out of the connector. I suggest using screws to drill the wings into the connecting pipe so you won't have this problem, but I am still troubleshooting. If you want more of a guide on making the harness for the wings, I suggest checking out Danielle Beaulieu's Patreon where she had a wing tutorial for only $1. It's much more comprehensive than what I've got so far!
In any case, I dealt with the problem by slipping the wings into my dress, and the corset lacing was sturdy enough to hold them in. I had to have my handler (AKA my boyfriend) adjust them every once in a while when they fell down too much, but it worked well enough for my first time wearing them.
And that's about it!