Sewing is something that has always been an interest of mine from a very young age. Almost everyone on my mother’s side of the family sewed or use to sew, at some point. I remember seeing both my aunt and my mother use my great grandmother’s old sewing machine. I believe that was the first machine I ever learned to sew on.
How I Got into Sewing
I was 14 when I got my first sewing machine as a birthday present, but I didn’t really pick up sewing seriously until I was 16. I had sewn one dress from a commercial pattern prior to not touching my machine for a good year or so, but that was nothing compared to what I’d be getting into. Since I was 12 years old, it was my dream to make costumes or cosplays. I attended my first anime/comic convention in 2016 and discovered the world of cosplay for the first time in person. I instantly knew that this would drive me to teach myself how to sew.
What is Cosplay?
Cosplay is where you dress up as your favorite character from anime, cartoons, movies, etc. I never really had the ambition to jump into cosplay. I saw it as a wonderful art form and a great form of self expression. I really loved the handmade costumes and thought what a flex it would be to wear the things you make. While I could have bought my costumes, I really wanted to make my own because of the deep connections I have with the characters. I really wanted to dedicate myself to the characters and I felt that making their outfits would bring me closer to that. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to make your costume though. This is just what drives me.
Learning to Make Different Garments
I quickly gained a lot of experience with making different types of garments. I love displaying my own sewing work on myself, but I really only got to do that at conventions. I honestly wanted to be able to wear my work whenever I wanted to, but not look out of place in a general setting.
While teaching myself how to sew over the last six years, I’ve taught myself a lot of things, including pattern drafting. I am a big fashion lover, from the Japanese kawaii styles to the goth/punk looks that I wear in between. I have a broad range!
In 2018, after a year and a half of sewing cosplays, I thought about my love for fashion and how I can make complicated costumes. Since I’m constantly tight on money, why don’t I make my own garments? And that is when another branch formed on my hobby tree! I became a bit more serious about making my own garments that I could wear every day, in between working on my cosplays.
Types of Garments I Learned to Sew
I started with the basics. I learned how to make cute sailor-style uniforms, skirts, and dresses, and other things I already knew how to make from previous costumes. I am a big lover of Lolita fashion, especially the big, gathered skirts on the dresses. It’s something that I jumped into making immediately. While that fashion has its own set of rules, I made some dresses which can specifically be worn both in the fashion and out of it casually!
From learning how to make sailor styled uniforms with pleated skirts, I taught myself how to edit the top pattern into different blouses. From learning how to make Lolita dresses, I taught myself how to edit the bodice pattern into more casual bustier/corset tops. I was learning so much about how easy it is to morph existing costume patterns into actual fashion pieces.
To me it is a big flex to make something wonderful out of raw materials and proudly wear it around. As a power wheelchair user, I also find that proudly wearing my work offers a good distraction from the absolute truck of a power wheelchair that I drive. This is something that a lot of people automatically look at and not because I decorated it.
Wearing what I make also leads to conversations about my hobbies and shows that people with disabilities are unique individuals. We have our own things that we are passionate about and good at!
Making Accessible Clothing
Another way that sewing has empowered me, as a disabled individual specifically, it has allowed me to create custom more accessible garments for my body that make me feel beautiful.
Yesterday, I finished a gorgeous white and black lace bustier top that is fully lined underwired, cupped and boned, but has absolutely no finicky closures to it and it slips over my head! In a world where there isn’t much comparatively for accessible clothes, having the skills so that I can create my own is something that I’m super proud of.
I am allowed to feel great and beautiful in my body and should have garments that compliment that energy! Upon typing this last paragraph, I have just received news that I can start working on my accessible sewing room at the end of January. As somebody who has been forced to sew in her kitchen/living room for a few years, this news is exciting! I can’t wait to share with you the process for that and just how helpful it will be. I am very excited to continue making costumes and other things in a space that will be 100% accessible to me and my own.
About Chrysanthemum Chan: Chrysanthemum is an award-winning cosplayer and Quantum brand ambassador. She enjoys fashion, cosplay and music and has a TikTok channel with over 380,000 followers. Click here to learn more about Chrysanthemum.
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