WHY I CHOSE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME
I was a wee little thing when “Samurai Jack” debuted on Cartoon Network in late 2001. It became one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I was obsessed with the time-traveling samurai hero, and treasure my first-edition action figure that my dad bought for me as a reward when I did well in school in 4th grade. Like every other Samurai Jack fan, I was disappointed that the show never had an ending, since it was canceled after Season 4. However, when it was announced that Season 5 would be created and released in 2016, I KNEW it was time to make a Jack costume.
Since I don’t make a convincing man, I decided to create a genderbent costume. In Volume 2 of the comics, Jack gets turned into a woman for a chapter, but I didn’t like his female design. So, I decided to create my own vision of what a genderbent Samurai Jack would look like, which also granted me lots of creative freedom.
HOW I MADE THIS COSTUME
There was a fascinating post on Tumblr speculating what era Samurai Jack would have come from, which will forever remain unclear, since the show is so full of anachronisms. Kimonos are descendents of the Chinese Hanfu, so I chose to create a Hanfu instead of a Kimono due to the more fluid and gown-like shape. I did not use any patterns. Instead, I studied the construction of a yukata from my closet, and collected photos of hanfus on Pinterest.
Because Jack is a prince, I wanted the costume to look regal, but still capture the simplicity of his look, since he’s not a flashy guy. I chose a white matte satin for the long-trained robe. Because the trim in promotional artworks ranges from grey to shades of purple, I layered lavender organza beneath silver brocade all along the edges of the robe and the sleeves. I blind-stitched about 20 feet of brocade by hand! That’s how I know I love sewing–even after sewing 20 feet of brocade (which frays like crazy), I was still very happy.
Not only was this my first time sewing with brocade, this was also my first time sewing a corset! A real steel-boned one with coutil! I bought Scarlett Sapsford’s Express Corset Making Course from Corsettraining.net (the price is so cheap for the quality!), which included a 2-hour instructional video on making your own corset, and downloaded her free corset belt pattern. I’m telling you, her course is GOLDEN. I bought coutil imported from England at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, and chose a brocade pattern from Joann Fabrics that would suit the color scheme and aesthetics of the costume. I chose a silver brocade with lavender flowers, butterflies, and touches of greenery. Not only did it go with the lavender and silver trim of the robe, it was also a nod to the gorgeous background art that the show became known for. I loved making this corset.
Beneath the robe and corset, I wore a lavender empire-waisted prom gown that I purchased from a thrift store and modified, and getas that I purchased from ebay. The getas have AMAZING quality–I was able to jump in them without tripping!
You also can’t have Samurai Jack without his enchanted katana that was forged by by the deities Odin, Ra, and Vishnu (that episode was badass, btw)! I bought a 40-inch wooden katana from ebay, spray-painted the blade silver, the scabbard and the crossguard black, and the hilt gold. After the paint dried, I wrapped and knotted black bias tape around the hilt while (poorly) trying to follow a Tsukamaki tutorial on Youtube.
THOUGHTS ON THIS COSTUME
This was a very comfortable costume. I actually have a strong dislike for wearing heavy makeup on a regular basis, so I liked that makeup for Samurai Jack was relatively light. Because my hair is so long and naturally black, I didn’t need a wig.
When walking around at an anime convention, it was a bit of a hassle to gather my robe so that the train wouldn’t get too dirty being dragged behind me, though it does look great when posing for photos! I’d say the most challenging part of this costume was working with materials unfamiliar to me (satin, brocade, organza), but I had so much fun, and really aimed to honor the simplicity, beauty, and epicness of the show. It was a huge honor to be awarded with the Judge’s Award at AOD’s costume contest!