Interested in more sewing from scratch and less alteration? Try Kamui Cosplay's tutorial!
When I created my Pokémon Go trainer’s costume at light speed the weekend after the game was released, I had no idea that it would explode into thousands of new followers and dozens of commission requests. Unfortunately, I’m really not the commissioning type — I barely have enough time to sew for myself as it is! But what I can do for all the Pokétrainer hopefuls out there is walk you through how I put together my costume, so you can take a stab at your own!
Note: My costume does not include a backpack! I ran out of time. So this tutorial will not cover the backpack.
Here are the materials I used! You don't necessarily have to use the same ones. I've specific colors based on my trainer's design, but your colors may be different.
- White baseball cap
- Black gloves
- Black yoga pants
- Black shoes with white soles
- Blue fabric (~2 yds)
- Zippers: Blue (invisible, ~20"), Yellow or white (separating, ~6-10")
- Dark blue fabric marker
- White fabric (~1 yd)
- Yellow fabric (~1 yd)
- Yellow ribbed tank top
- Ribbon: Yellow 1", black 1/2", lavender 1/4"
- Black fabric (~1/4" yd)
- Light grey & dark grey fabric (~1/4 yd each)
- 1 sheet craft foam
- Yellow and white acrylic paint
- 1" sew-on snap
You will also need thread in blue, yellow, white, black, grey, and lavender, a sewing machine, and a hot glue gun. It would be helpful to have sewing scissors, an iron, pins, a measuring tape, and a dress form (or a friend who can pin stuff on you) as well.
I'm gonna go through these in the order that I made them, which basically means... the easy stuff first!
I picked up a pair of black slip-on shoes with white soles from Walmart for about $8. Ideally, your shoes should lace, with grey laces, but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I rolled with slip-ons. You could also glue on (or make holes and lace on) grey ribbon. (If you want to interpret the shoes as charcoal grey, that's cool too. I was limited by time and resources, but you don't have to be!)
I used hot glue to apply slanted stripes of the 1" yellow ribbon onto the outside of each shoe. I ended up doing two layers because my yellow ribbon was a little thin. You might want to treat the ends with fray check first if you are using a ribbon that frays.
Grab those leggings, and put them on. Measure from the waistband to the ankle, while they're on your body! This will likely be a little longer than the length of the leg when the pants are off your body. Add 1" to that measurement, and this is your leg measurement. Now, measure around your ankle, and add 1" to that. This is your ankle measurement.
Cut some 2" wide strips of your blue fabric! You will need 2 strips that are as long as your leg measurement, and 2 that are as long as your ankle measurement. Use your iron to press a 1/2" fold on each side of those strips (so that each strip becomes 1" wide).
Now turn the leggings inside out, and rip out that center seam (the one that goes up the inside of each leg). You can use a stitch puller to separate the seam, or if you're lazy or in a hurry, just cut the whole seam out. Pin and sew your long blue strips into the middle of each leg, folded side down, so that all raw edges are concealed. If your leg measurement is longer than the leggings' length off your body, stretch the legging fabric a little as you pin and sew, so that they match. That extra 1" we added is so that you can tuck the ends of the strip under the waistband and ankle seam to conceal the raw edges.
Next, pin and sew the ankle strips along the ankle hem of the leggings. You can apply the strip directly on top like we did with the leg strip, or you can use the bottom 1/2" fold we made to sandwich the actual hem of the leggings. It's up to you.
Note: If your blue fabric has no stretch, and/or you have big feet or skinny ankles, or both, an ankle hem sewn this way might not fit over your foot. My solution to this problem was to just anchor the ankle strip on one side, and then sew in a snap, so that I could just wrap the strip around my ankle once the pants are on, and snap it into place. This is probably not the best solution, so feel free to tackle that another way.
Once you have all your blue stripes sewn in, turn those pants back inside out and sew that center seam that you ripped out before. If you don't have a serger, you can use a zigzag stitch on this so that it retains its stretch.
I wasn't lucky enough to find a hat in the split colors that I needed, so I just bought a white one and built on it. I made a paper copy of the shape of one triangular hat segment, and then used that to cut out 4 triangle panels out of my blue fabric with an added 1/2" seam allowance. I sewed those together all in a row, made sure they fit neatly over the back of my hat, and ironed under the bottom and side edges.
I tried to sew it on at first, and I do recommend at least sewing it on somewhere, for stability. But my sewing machine couldn't handle how stiff and weirdly shaped the hat was, so most of the application of the blue fabric was done with hot glue.
I did something similar with the black fabric on the brim, but didn't sew anything this time — that was all hot glue, baby!
I then used various bowls and cups in my house to trace the pokéball symbol with perfect circles onto some paper. I cut out the parts that I wanted to be yellow (and left the parts I wanted to remain white) to create a stencil. I pinned the stencil onto the hat and painted the yellow symbol on with acrylic over top. It took two layers to get the color good and vibrant, and when I removed the stencil, I touched up any edges or weak spots by hand with a smaller brush. Be careful on this step! Acrylic paint is permanent, so don't rush.
I started off with some black, wrist-length costume gloves. I chopped off the fingers and luckily the fabric didn't fray, so I didn't have to hem anything.
The trainer's gloves are cuffed, and if you look closely during the character creation section, you can see that they have a colored lining (in my case, yellow). I cut a rectangle of black and a rectangle of yellow as long as my wrist circumference (plus seam allowance!), and about 2.5" wide. I sewed the rectangles together on 3 sides, and used the fourth side to turn them inside out to get a neat seam.
Before you attach the cuff, separate the gloves into the two halves, just like we did with the pants. Sew a strip of the 1/4" purple ribbon on top of the 1" yellow ribbon, and then sew that yellow ribbon onto the glove. The ribbon goes from underneath the cuff (I started it all the way at the wrist, where the cuff is attached) to the knuckle where the glove separates into fingers.
Put the gloves back together, and then sew the unfinished edge of the cuff rectangles to the wrist of the glove, so that the raw edge is concealed when the cuff is turned down.
If you're like me and you accidentally sewed the cuff on before you affixed the ribbons, you can just glue the yellow ribbon down. Whoops!
The belt has two different shades of grey on it, so I interpreted that literally and used a light grey and a dark grey fabric to make it. I measured the hip area where I wanted the belt to sit, and then cut two 2.5" strips of the dark grey in that length, and one 2" strip of the light grey in that length. I sewed the dark grey strips into a tube, turned it inside out, and ironed it. Then I ironed under 1/2" on either side of the light grey fabric (turning it into a 1" strip) and sewed it down to the dark grey strip.
The belt connects in an asymmetrical way, so I added a few little strips of black and grey fabric to mimic the closure. You can kinda do what you want with this; this section of the design is so small that there really isn't a good way to be "accurate" to it. Finally, sew on the giant snap as the belt closure. Make sure to try it on to make sure it sits right on your hips.
For the pokéball buckle, I cut two of the same circle of white craft foam, and then cut out the middle of one of them to create the design. I painted the cut circle (which was now in two parts) with yellow acrylic, and when it was dry, I glued them to the full circle. Then, attach the buckle straight to the belt. I used glue for this, too.
Phew, getting to the complicated stuff! Personally, I drape all of my own patterns on my dress form, and then tailor them as needed onto my body. I do this by making a mock-up (or a few) out of cheap, thrift store bedsheets, and then when I get it to fit right, I cut apart that mock-up and use it as a pattern.
If you are not comfortable with this kind of sewing, here are a few free tutorials/patterns for womens rompers online: One, two, three. In my opinion, the most important thing to do for this costume is to ensure that the romper doesn't have a waist seam. That means the above patterns will still need to be modified.
Some other things to note with the romper are that it has a rounded neckline, and it's fitted in the waist, but the shorts stand out from the body. I made mine sleeveless, since it's all going to be concealed anyway. My romper closes with a zipper up the back. Also, my romper material is a pretty stiff, almost canvas-y material. Not saying that's the best choice, it's just what I had at my local fabric store that was the right color.
Once your romper's basic construction is done, it's time to embellish. The cuffs of the pants are white, so I added some 2" white strips (with 1/2" folded and ironed down, yet again) to the hems of the shorts. There is a pokéball motif on the outer thigh, so I used the same stencil technique that I used on the hat to paint that motif in white acrylic. If your fabric is not as stiff as mine, you might consider using a fabric paint instead, or even doing appliqué.
The romper also has a subtle pattern on the fabric. I used a dark blue fabric marker to draw mine on. I went over the darker lines several times with point of the marker, and for the mid-toned shaded areas, I went over them once, quickly, with the flat of the marker. I did a sketch of how I think the pattern goes (since you can't see all of it under the jacket.)
Jackets are hard! I'm kind of stunned that mine even worked. Again, I draped mine myself, but you have a few options if you don't want to do that. One, you could buy a jacket pattern. If you specifically want a varsity jacket pattern, here's an option complete with the cuffs, but you could really use any fitted jacket pattern as a base for showing you how to create the torso and sleeves.
Another option is to use a jacket you already have as a guide for creating a mock-up, and then using that mock-up as your pattern.
No matter what you end up doing, you'll probably need to alter the jacket to be shorter, since the trainer's jacket is cropped. I just recommend putting on your mock-up and pinning it where you want it to stop on your body, and then taking it off and cutting where you pinned.
My jacket is lined, so I cut two of the torso pieces, one from the yellow fabric, and one from some extra white fabric. The yellow is a stretch, but it doesn't really matter, since the lining is not stretchy. It only mattered in that I had to switch to a stretch needle after getting annoyed and confused about why my machine was refusing to do its job!
The sleeves only go to just past the elbow, and the elastic cuffs keep them above the elbow so they get bunched up a little. There's a zipper closure in the front, so that you can zip it partially to get that bowed open shape. The jacket also has a little collar, which is easy — just two strips of white fabric, sewn together, turned, pressed, and attached to the neckline.
Note: Make sure to sew those yellow 1" ribbons down the sleeves before you sew the sleeves together, or on!
For the ribbed cuffs and hem, I couldn't find the fabric I wanted, so I bought a ribbed yellow tank top from the thrift store and cut strips of it to make my trim. Remember that if you want this to maintain its stretch, you should sew with a zigzag stitch, or a serger.
Cut a length of black ribbon to create your choker! You could give it a fancy closure, like a snap or jewelry clasp, or you could just tie it in a loose knot.
If you want a backpack, make that! I can't help you with that, but good luck and godspeed.
A pokéball makes a great prop for this, as do plush pokémon. And of course, your phone adds a nice little meta touch!
As for a wig, if your real hair doesn't work or you want more volume, I used an Arda Wigs Jeannie in Cobalt Blue, which is a retired color for that wig, but Royal Blue would also be great! I had to trim both the bangs and the ponytail. If you want a full ponytail but don't want to wear a wig, you could pick up a ponytail clip-in that matches your hair. Warning that a wig doesn't fit well under a baseball cap, so keep that in mind!
I did my standard "pretty girl makeup" for this, although you might want to consider a more natural lip than I used if you want to be accurate. Circle lenses might be a nice touch for this character, since it's anime style.
Did you create a Pokémon Go trainer cosplay using this tutorial? I want to see!