YES. ‘Tis I, the Very Very Beginner Cosplayer, presenting you today with an tutorial! No, really: I know that I’m not an experienced sewer. But I have made an actual tangible costume, and whilst I was making this I desperately wanted a tutorial. So I thought I’d take you through how I made my Jehan cosplay, and hopefully it can help any of you if you’re a beginner to sewing like me!
Yes… um, more Les Mis. If you didn’t already know I discuss it incessantly. I’M SORRY TO THOSE OF YOU WHO MIGHT BE FED UP. Most of this tutorial is going to be a basic cosplay waistcoat, though, so it’s pretty all-purpose. You can use it for any of Les Amis apart from Enjolras, and any other costume that requires a waistcoat. (I call it a cosplay waistcoat because I really don’t recommend you use it as an actual waistcoat. Whilst it may look good to the viewer, it doesn’t have any lining or anything.)
1. design your costume
This is more important if you’re cosplaying a character from a book. Cosplaying book characters is super fun because you get a lot more freedom in your design, but you do have less visual references. Jehan’s clothing isn’t really mentioned in the book (except that he dresses badly!) so I decided to go with his costume from the 2012 movie. I also looked a bit at the photo book I got when I saw the musical and some other Jean Prouvaire cosplays.
I decided to cut the jacket so that I didn’t overheat at the con. My final list of costume elements was:
- ginger wig
- flower crown
- red necktie
- red, white and blue cockade
- blue waistcoat
- cream/brown trousers
- shoes in similar shade to trousers
I made my cockade (the little ribbon badge thing) and waistcoat, but I sourced everything else from Amazon (wig, necktie) or my own wardrobe. You’ll probably realise that the flower crown isn’t very accurate to the costume, but Jehan is a flower child and I LOVE FLOWER CROWNS. So I wanted to wear a flower crown. As you can see below my trousers and shoes ended up being brown instead of cream, but the only other thing that changed from my original list was the ribbon I used to tie up my hair.
That was a rather broad step, but ah well. To make my cockade I bought a length of red, white and blue striped ribbon, and the followed a mixture of tutorials from American Duchess and Yarn Blarn. I just sewed on the button and safety pin at the end rather than using a glue gun, and I found that ironing as I made the creases was a great help. It’s not the most perfect cockade ever, but hey!
Now onto the waistcoat. This part’s going to be the longest — I think I’ll get into sub-steps. 😛
1. Cut out your fabric
First of all you need to make or find a pattern. I drew around a waistcoat of my father’s and shrunk it with some help, but I do recommend you buy one instead. If you are drawing your own pattern, make sure each side is the same size: I used two front and one back panels, three in total. If you’re making lapels make sure you leave some fabric for those. Then, draw around the patters onto your fabric and cut everything out.
2. Sew the panel edges together
TRUST ME. This part is actually super easy, and it’s really cool to be able to wear your waistcoat after it. You’re going to be sewing these seams on the inside, so turn your panels the wrong way around, press them together, and literally just sew along the edge. (Don’t sew the two front ones together, though.) If you’re just doing 3 panels like me then you only need to sew two seams — between each of the front panels. You cans See that I had to sew along mine a couple of times to make mine fit smaller.
3. Turn in the collar
This is also pretty simple! Turning in makes sure that you’re left with a nice clean edge and stops the fabric from fraying. Just turn over a small amount of material at the collar into the inside of your waistcoat and sew along there.
4. Turn in the armholes
This is slightly more difficult, because these aren’t straight lines. It basically works like before, except you need to make sure you keep changing the amount you turn in as you go around otherwise your circle will become a straight line. Also, beware of fabric catching like it did mine!
5. Turn in the all the other sides
This is all around the front sides and the bottom. Just turn over some fabric into the inside of your waistcoat and sew along.
6. Do the lapels
If you’re making lapels measure and cut four triangles out from your fabric. if I made this again I’d do my lapels bigger, because once I turned them in they were a bit small. Sew the two pieces together along the short edge — inside out — and then you have two lapels! Place them along your main waistcoat and then just sew them on straight.
7. Do the buttons
(By the way, this part requires hand stitching.) My waistcoat is a slightly different design to the movie, and as you can see here I’ve got blue buttons. First of all lay your waistcoat down and line up the buttons on your preferred side. You can even use a ruler to check if they’re evenly space. Mark their space with a pencil. Then sew them on, criss-crossing the thread and going over it several times.
Then place the other side over and draw a vertical line in pencil over where the middle of your button is underneath. This is going to be your buttonhole, so make sure it’s lined up. Then cut a little further than your line — it needs to be a tiny bit bigger than the button itself.
Now blanket stitch all around that hole you cut. Your stitches need to be close together since they’re the only thing that will keep the material from fraying. But if you’re going to have your waistcoat done up all of the time it’s fine if they’re not pretty!
8. Darts (optional)
The darts are those little lines you see along the front that give the waistcoat some shaping. To make these just mark where you want the line to be, fold in a tiny bit of your fabric along the inside and sew along it. Make sure it’s the same on both sides!
YAY now all you have to do is cut off all the loose threads and your waistcoat is complete! 😀
3. accessories and makeup
Now it’s really up to you — you can choose which accessories and other clothes elements you need you’d like depending on your costume. Since my wig is ginger I did a makeup test for ginger-y eyebrows and freckles.
Aand that’s it! You have completed this cosplay tutorial. If you do try it then I’d love to see your photos. This Saturday I’m heading off to MCM London with my Jehan cosplay, and hopefully I’ll see some other Les Mis cosplayers there! 🙂 For my next cosplay project I’m thinking of either Baron von Gikkingen from Studio Ghibli or Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic. I SHALL KEEP YOU UPDATED.