Sora Re:Imagined

Image Credit: Original Kingdom Hearts cover artwork

Kingdom Hearts, developed by Square-Enix, is a popular video game franchise that combines the legendary storytelling of Tetsuya Nomura with a whole lot of Disney magic. The franchise’s story is notoriously complex. However, the game’s real draw is the ability for players to journey through their favorite Disney worlds and interact with their favorite Disney characters. The first Kingdom Hearts game was released on PlayStation 2 back in 2002, and I have enjoyed the franchise through all of its subsequent installments over the last 17 years. The series holds a special place in my heart (pun intended). In preparation for the highly anticipated 2019 release of Kingdom Hearts 3, I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. I decided to do two things; (1) replay all previous games, (2) make a costume based on my favorite character. 

Enter Sora

Image Credit: Square-Enix

Why Sora? Sora is the primary protagonist in the franchise, and his personality radiates optimism, joyfulness, and determination. Since I share an affinity with these character traits, I could always see myself as Sora. Many of my co-workers would attest to my overly optimistic approach to…well just about everything. Sora was the obvious choice, but I had no intention of making a blanket cosplay copy of any of his outfits. I wanted to create a unique version that would honor Sora’s original costume from the first game and highlight my design and style preferences. 

I’m terrible at sketching, but I had a clear image of the costume in my head. From the beginning, I knew my Sora costume’s primary elements would be a dress with princess seams and a short jacket. Keeping with KH design atheistic, I wanted to use an oversized zipper in the dress’s front, similar to Sora’s red jumpsuit. Finally, it was vital for me to incorporate enlarged pockets on the front of the dress. I wanted the pockets for two reasons; (1) functionality. Small pockets wouldn’t match my vision, and (2) the pockets would mirror the original jumpsuit design. 

Dress:

I haven’t yet mastered how to create original patterns from pattern blocks, so I do best at altering existing patterns to fit my needs. I looked for a design with princess seams and pockets. I found the perfect pattern for alteration to make my vision a reality. I modified Simplicity’s 2174 (view B). I added a front seam for the zipper, deleted the back seam, enlarged the pockets, and deleted the sleeves. I created a mockup from muslin fabric and had to make several alterations to I got the ‘right’ fit. Once I was happy with the results, I cut the final pieces using my modified pattern.  

I really like how the pockets came out. I made bellowed pockets on the front of the dress. The ‘bellowed’ part is on the inside on the dress rather than the outside like a cargo pocket. Using this technique made the pockets appear deep and spacious. The tricky part was getting everything to line up with the princess seams. I used white piping at the top of the pockets to mirror Sora’s original jumpsuit. 

Completed Dress!

Since Sora’s jacket had a blue-lined hood, I wanted to include this color for the dress’s lining. This is a minor point, as it is only visible under the armhole and at the bottom of the dress through movement. However, I enjoyed added small details to my work. 

Jacket: 

The jacket was a challenge to construct. I attempted to make my own pattern, and it worked pretty well, but I went through a lot of muslin fabric until I got it to work. The jacket’s construction consisted of multiple sections (back, front left and right, triangle shoulder pieces, sleeves, hood, bottom jacket trim, and sleeve trim). The triangle shoulder pieces gave me the most trouble. If you look at Sora’s jacket (SSSSS) you can see the white sections have some strange angles, and I wasn’t sure how to best mimic this effect. I ended up making the sleeves into two pieces to get the same type of shapes/angels for my version. 

I used a faux leather fabric, which was incredibly difficult on the machine I was using at the time. The two materials had different weights and stretch, which didn’t make it any easier. After doing a few fits before adding the sleeves, I noticed that the jacket wasn’t laying out I envisioned, it was too big. The answer? Darts! I added two darts to the back of the jacket and two more to the front. Adding the darts gave the jacket the perfect fitted appearance. 

Jacket: You can see the front and back darts

The hood was simple to make since I made a pattern from one of my sweatshirts. I lined the hood and jacket with the same blue material as the dress. The only thing I would have liked to do differently is making the hood with three seams instead of one middle seam. Hoods with two seams sit better on my head, and I think it would have looked better from the back. 

Completed Dress & Jacket!

Accessory Breakdown –  

Headband: I know Sora doesn’t have a headband, but I wanted an extra element, and I enjoy making themed headbands. Using additional zippers was a must and played around with the design until I came up with something that just clicked. I adore the way the headband came out. I think it’s my favorite piece of the entire costume. 

Necklace: I didn’t keep notes on this one, but I’m 95% confident that this is an officially licensed cosplay version probably from Hottopic. I had to adjust the chain against the neckline on the dress. 

Belt: This belt also required an extensive internet search. I tried many until I found the right color and style I wanted for the costume. It came from a seller on Amazon

Chain Belt: The chain also comes from Amazon. I ordered the 9mm silver one. 

Crown on Chain: I’m pretty sure this was on an eBay knock off necklace. I removed the necklace chain and attached it to the purchased silver chain. I would have loved to make a chain belt entirely of crowns like in Sora’s game outfit, but I couldn’t find enough crowns at least not at a reasonable price. I could have had them 3D printed, but I needed them to be metal. Hence my version only has one crown, pinned it to the front, which I think is still a good effect. 

Wrist Band: I wanted another leather element to the outfit, and I found the perfect band on Etsy.com. It came really fast, and it is super soft  

Shoes: I can’t even begin to explain how long it took me to find comfortable shoes, the right style, and the correct color. I finally found some after googling in Japanese (I was living in Japan at the time) at a website called assist-wig.com. I added three black flat-backed jewels to each to make the Mickey silhouette. I initially used hot glue to attach them, and they fell off. I reattached them with guerilla glue, which I highly recommend.  

Keyblade: This is from Bandai’s Proplica’s series of props. It has sound effects and lights up, and I think I purchased it from Bandai’s Japanese website. However, it was available stateside as well.

Image Credit: Toyark.com

Final Assessment

I learned a lot from doing this project. Most importantly, I learned I needed to upgrade my sewing machine if I was going to keep working with difficult fabrics (which I did do). Overall, I learned a lot about pattern fabrication and grew my skills as a seamstress. Out of everything I’ve made, I’m most proud of this costume. I have nothing but respect for those that make their costumes as screen accurate as possible. Still, there is freedom in creating your own original designs. I love how it came out and plan to do another Kingdom Hearts inspired design in the future. If you have any questions on how I constructed any of this costume please reach out!

Full Costume!

“May Your Heart be Your Guiding Key”

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