A Blog for the Perpetually Frustrated Home Sewist

A Beary Merry Christmas


Welcome back and Happy Holidays! I'm long overdue for another post, despite finishing a number of sewing projects this year. Today's post was originally intended to be finished in time for Halloween, but seeing as the final outcome is suitable for Christmas, it has become a Christmas project. Down below, I'll be breaking down the concept, materials, and construction process for three matching garments for a group costume. If you're interested, please check out the information below!

In this post, we'll be revisiting the Otome No Sewing books yet again! My love for this series remains unmatched, and I'm always glad to reuse the books for different projects.

Today's post is a little different from my usual post, as I worked together with friends to create coordinating outfits! My coworkers (who have become some of my best friends) and I decided to plan Halloween costumes together this year. One friend and I created matching dresses, whereas my other friend chose to make a vest version with matching fabric and notions. We each entered the process with differing skill levels, but I don't think this hindered us at all. 

We spent a lot of time working together to complete these looks, and although it was a bit taxing, it was a nice change of pace to hang out in our free time to complete the project. I'm very appreciative of the snacks and energy that everyone brought to make the time more enjoyable!

A quick note: I won't be sharing any group photos (or naming anyone) at this time, partially because I'm not sure I feel totally comfortable sharing photos of other people on a public blog platform such as this. We also didn't get the chance to take blog-appropriate group photos together. However, I have some construction photos that I will share! 

This was my first time ever coordinating Halloween costumes with a group (at least on such a large scale), and even though we didn't have the opportunity to wear them out on Halloween itself (given the pandemic), it was still extremely rewarding to complete the costumes! 

I'll break down the entire planning and construction process down below. 


Although the final result of this project more closely resembles a maid costume, our original intent was to create a diner waitress or bellhop costume. Here are some of the inspiration photos we referred to when choosing a pattern and its alterations. 

It's sort of an accident that the final result looks so Christmas-y. We chose red in an attempt to find a color that would satisfy everyone's preferences (although we almost chose pink). This, combined with the white trim and puff sleeves, ended up looking a bit Ms. Clause. However, I'd argue that this look is actually more appropriate for Valentine's Day. (And I love the aesthetic of Valentine's Day, so there's no loss. 

If I had had more time, I would have tried to match my roller skates to the final look. I wanted to switch out my wheels from pink to red, and I was even tempted to switch out the toe stop to a heart shaped one (like these from Grindstone Skate Society). Ultimately, though, this was a bit too much to take on on top of everything else. (There's still time in the future, however...)


The patterns used to create these projects were taken primarily from three Japanese sewing books, each with a different take on subculture and cosplay fashion. The dresses were created using patterns from Otome No Sewing (ONS) Books 11 and 14. 

[pattern book cover photos] 

Here are the specific patterns in each that we used. The left pattern ("Diner's Waitress") comes from Book 11, and the right is from Book 11.

The bodices of the two dresses are remarkably similar. When I looked at the technical drawings found in the instruction section of each book, the only measurements that differed were the sleeve/armhole shape. Both dresses button up the front, have a flat collar, and have a full skirt. They both are a bit loose in the waist, which is tightened by a piece of elastic in across the back. This enhances the poof of the skirt! 

The two patterns differ in the sleeves and the apron. The dress in ONS 11 features a rounded circle skirt. While it's completely fine to select this option, I can't help but feel there was a slight oversight in the final outcome for this dress. Because circle skirts are cut partially on the bias, the hem may react differently to gravity when hung up; the length of the skirt may end up looking longer is some areas more than others. For this reason, some patterns may recommend hanging the skirt up for 24 hours before hemming, so the hem may be trimmed to account for any differences in length that may arise. Other patterns may simply factor this into the pattern, so the fabric itself will be cut differently. Regardless, the hem of the dress looks a little uneven, so the petticoat is visible from underneath the front of the skirt, which looks shorter than the side sections. My griping about this is a bit nitpicky, however, and it's entirely possible this hem style was intentional. (I've also ignored this in my own past projects). 

The two books also have different apron options. The ONS 11 dress includes an option for a gathered-waist half apron, and a full length apron that is essentially the same but with a upper bodice piece with four decorative buttons. Both options tie in the back, are very gathered, and make use of trim. By comparison, the ONS 14 dress features a half apron with less gathering, and a rounded edge that gives the final look more of rectangular/triangular appearance when complete. 

In the end, we selected the bodice and sleeves from Book 11, and the skirt and apron from Book 14. The options in Book 14 saved us a bit on fabric in the end, as they require less, and the half apron allowed our heart-shaped buttons to be visible on the front. 

Also, as usual, the sizing in the books skews a bit on the smaller side, at least by Western standards. I sized  up to an XL, which is not included in the book itself. I simply graded up by tracing around the size L, and then double checked that the pieces still matched up before adding seam allowances. Please make note you may fall outside of the available standard sizes if you are larger than a size US 6/8. This number is based only on my own estimation, as I'm a US 10/12, and the pattern fit perfectly after I sized up one size.  However, if your measurements are within the book's range, I do think there is enough ease to feel comfortable. 

The vest pattern, on the other hand, comes from the Costume Making Book (a part of the COS Books-Heart Warming Life Series). Although I've been aware of this book series for a few years now, this was my first time actually using the patterns and seeing how they work (although my friend actually did all of the sewing himself). 

Here's the link to this book on Amazon: click here

If you're familiar with the layout and instructions in the ONS books, then this book won't be hard to understand. There are clear and detailed pictures of the construction process. Most of the completed garments are designed to follow of one a few overarching sewing processes, so there is overlap in the instructions of many patterns. For example, the book shows detailed, step-by-step photos for how to construct a notched collar blazer. The vest that we chose to work on specifically uses this as a basis for the instructions, but includes illustrations for what to do differently from this set blazer. 

Here are some photos of the garment we chose to work on. Vest Q is the exact project we worked on! 

One important note to mention is that the patterns are all technically designed to fit women's bodies. Although there are some menswear garments featured within the book, the patterns are each 

I'll discuss the specific construction process for each garment down below. 


Gathering all the materials was a bit of an endeavor. Although I really love certain aspects of the Japanese sewing environment, it can often be difficult to run down more basic dress fabrics without traveling a bit of a distance (but I live in a small city). None of the stores in my town had an appropriate fabric or amount available; eventually, however, I was able to find a suitable dress twill at a Craft Heart Tokai within my prefecture. This is the red and white twill pictured in all of the photos. 

I don't remember the exact fiber content, but it was the perfect weight and drape for this kind of costume.

I was, however, able to find the heart buttons at an Aeon mall nearby! They were a bit pricey, but I think they suited our needs perfectly. 

Although the shop 手芸のいとや is small, they have a great button selection!

The lace and other materials were found at a combination of Aeon and Craft Heart Tokai. 


As always, the ONS books provided excellent instructions and guidance. The sewing steps were straightforward, and I didn't really encounter any difficulties. If I'm being honest, there isn't much to report on here. 

One slight alteration I made to the pattern was adding simple in-seam pockets. They are nice addition to the dress, although I would change the shape of them if given the opportunity on a repeat project (they are slightly to "open," and I fear something may fall out). 

Of course, compared to an everyday dress project, the added details (primarily lace) add a lot of sewing time to this project. Here are some construction photos for the dress. 

As for headwear, I chose to make some simple bear ears and attach them to a headband. Here's the final result!

For the final DIY accessory, I made a couple shoe clips to decorate my shoes with. I achieved this by simply using some leftover heart patches (originally purchased as a set for another project that has yet to be blogged about) and gluing them to clip-on-earring backs from Daiso. 

Next let's take a closer look a the vest! 


This was my friend's first real sewing project, and I'm super impressed with how well it turned out! 

Although I've technically sewn a notched collar before, the COS Book provided really clear and thorough instructions for the process. The prep stages are particularly impressive, and I think the book demonstrates some elevated tailoring techniques (at least beyond that of a standard Big 4 commercial pattern). I wish I had taken more photos of this process- if I find some, I'll throw them on the post at a later date!


Before (finally) wrapping up this blog post, I'd like to break down how I styled this project. The tights I'm wearing in the photos are basic white heart tights which can be found on Aliexpress on Amazon for pretty cheap (depending on the vendor). The white shoes are from Unique Vintage, but unfortunately I believe they're no longer available. 

The fur jacket I found secondhand for about 1000 yen (USD $10), and I think it's a pretty good match when combined with the ears. However, in a perfect world, I would have preferred to make a matching jacket with the same fabric as the bear ears. 

I toyed around with styling this look with two separate backpacks. I found a basic white heart ita bag online, which I ultimately ended up using, but I also had a bear backpack that matched decently well. 

In the end, I think the white heart backpack works the best. 

I ended up attaching three patches to the apron. The two heart patches are available here; the shoe clips patches come with the same set. The adorable bear patch is from Magic Circle Clothing on Etsy!

The apron straps were long on my friend, so there was enough length to tie the straps this way. I think this is a super cute alternative way to tie the apron!

Underneath the skirt, I wore a small petticoat to give the dress more poof. I purchased it on Amazon, and it's not a special kind at all. 

My nails were done at a small local salon by a super talented artist! Her Instagram account is @emiremi108. 

For these photos, I did fairly tame makeup, with fake eyelashes, and a line of red eyeliner above the black. The combination of products I used on this specific day was a bit... wrong, so my makeup looked a little more blotchy up close than I would like. But not too bad. The heart clip-on earrings are from a small shop in Fukuoka I went to last year. 


Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Overall, I enjoyed the process of working on a group costume, and I hope to do it again in the future! 

I hope to be more consistent in posting in the new year, but I can't make any promises. I actually did quite a bit of sewing this year, but I have a big backlog of photos I need to go through and post. 

Lastly, I'd like to give a big thank you to my friends and coworkers for working on this project together! 

As always, feel free to ask me any questions down below! 

To see my other sewing projects with heart motifs, click here.
To see my other Halloween inspired sewing projects, click here

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