Friday, February 20, 2015

Project: By hand- Thorfinn from Vinland Saga

It’s been a while since I’ve written any progress posts about my costumes. Some of the most recent projects have been just something I’ve occupied myself with or sparkled from the curiosity to try new techniques and material combinations. I also think that last year I lost something essential from this hobby. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but could describe it at enthusiasm of a sort.

I made new costumes last year and I really liked some of them and felt that I succeeded with them. But I can’t say I felt as passionate with any of them as I felt with Amira for example. I’ve been wondering why I couldn’t reach the same thrill with them as I did with her. Only now I understand that the characters just weren’t as dear and important to me as Amira and Otoyomegatari as a whole are! It seems that for me only reading and knowing the source material just isn’t enough. I need to be passionate about it to feel content.

Well, everything changed last fall, when I introduced myself to a historical manga about Vikings. Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura is just plain awesome! I was sold after couple of chapters and after I overcame the hesitance I had about cosplaying a male character, new costume project was ready to begin!

The character I chose was Thorfinn, the main protagonist of Vinland Saga. The version I started working on is probably the most recognizable design of Thorfinn; the teenage warrior during the years of the Dane invasion. I really wanted to do the ground work properly and honor the vast amount of research Yukimura have made for the manga.

I read some literature and looked up information about the patterning, stitching and materials used in Viking clothing. At some point I decided that I wanted to do something special and really authentic with the costume; sew it completely by hand. The project name in the title was actually something what we used when I discussed with Yoki about the costume, emphasizing the BY HAND bit with very throaty, vikingly yell of a sort.

It took me some time to find the right materials for the costume. It was winter season, but it became really tricky to gather suitable fabrics. It was actually a good thing, because I was forced not to rush the project, but to concentrate on different phases properly before moving onwards to the next one.

The undergarments I made from brown linen, possibly linen-cotton mix. The patterns for the trousers I drew based on a reconstructed Viking pants patterns using my measurements. The tunic is based on really generic medieval pattern I found from one of our costuming books. I sew the garments together with cotton thread and decorated them with different sorts of embroidery stitches.

The outer tunic and the capelet are made from wool with fake fur lining. To fit the color of the wooI better, I used tea to dye the white cotton thread used on the stitching. Lining the tunic's sleeves and the capelet gave some broadness to my shoulders and gave me slightly more masculine silhouette. The pattern I drafted myself, because Yukimura had pretty fine detailed images of the outfit and it was quite easy to pick the required shapes from them.

For the leather parts I used both real and fake leather. For the shoes I made an insole from stacked wool, because I didn’t want to freeze my feet when walking outside.

The dirks or short swords I made from plywood. Never again will I craft plywood props during winter, because working outside in the cold with power tools and all the clothes you could possibly have on is not fun at all… The grip for the heritage blade I made from Worbla. For the second blade I stitched a piece of pleather over the plywood after I had sanded it to the right shape.

The last thing to do was to weather and dirty everything up! I used acrylic paints diluted with water to add stains to the clothes. The costume was finished three days before the debut at Desucon Frostbite. I also was able to finish a long cape for Thorfinn, which he wears during winter season, but because the costume is hot as it is I didn’t feel the need to wear it at Frostbite.

The wig was a long one, which I cut and styled. I also added some highlights to it with Copic markers. The concacts are fully dyed lenses in color apricot. For the second day of the convention I found my misplaced make-ups and was able to add scars and cuts to my hands and face. And what come's to the basic make-up, I used Yumi's instuctions for male contouring as a reference.

At Frostbite, I got chosen to the Hall Cosplay Competition with the costume and won the first prize! I have never competed in said category, so I was super exited to even be picked from the crowd. Best wishes to everybody who were at the backstage on Saturday! I finally was able to push my shyness on the background and actually talk to people. And huge thanks to the stage managers, Ilona and the sweetest and most helpful cosplay mamas imaginable!

I’m hoping to have the costume photoshooted in some point during the winter, because it’s definitely not a summer costume. And yes, and the enthusiasm is been restored!


  1. Your costumes always manage to amaze me! Looks very good and I'm super impressed that you did this by hand. Congrats for the first prize, you totally deserve it!

  2. Wow this looks super cool! Great work! It's very amazing all the research and effort you put into this costume!

    Man, I should really get myself to read this manga too, I've had it on my "plan to read" list for a few years already... xD

    1. Thank you! And yes, yes, yes you should definately read it! ^o^

  3. Looks awesome, and it's even more awesome that you did it by hand!! The manga sounds good, should check it maybe :>