Sailor Senshi Uniform Tutorial -- Part 1

Let's face it, Sailor Fukus (outfits) are HARD!!! So, I took notes when I made the two fukus pictured above.  Now I don't mean to brag, but I think these came out AMAZING!  So I'm going to share all of my secrets with you!!!

Bodysuit Basics:
The base pattern you'll need is going to be Kwik-Sew 3836.  I liked that this pattern has a lot of the ideal details that fukus have -- the underbust seamline, and the sewn in skirt with the attached trunks, etc.  I also used pieces from McCalls 6166.

I left mine open at the crotch and the dress goes on overhead and fastens at the crotch with hooks and snaps.  That way I didn't have to sneak any zippers in there.  

For fabric, I used a medium-heavy stretch satin that I found at Jo-ann Fabrics. And using a 40% off coupon I think I got it for around 6 or 7 bucks a yard.

The downside is that while the satin looks pretty, there isn’t that much of a stretch to it so the dress is difficult to get on and off.  If you use spandex you may be able to get in and out of the dress from the neck opening but either way, you won't have as much difficulty. 

Alterations to pattern:
Okay, so below are a few pictures of my modified patterns.  You'll need to figure out the exact new cutting lines, but my red lines in the photos should give you an idea. 

First, lay the the UPPER FRONTS over each other, matching the shoulder seams and center front seams.  Because I was using stretch satin, I had to use the XL size lines on the Kwik-Sew pattern for it to be big enough.  I just matched up the size of the McCalls pattern that was closest in size to the Kwik-Sew.  In the photo above I'm matching the XL on the Kwik-Sew with the 14 lines of the McCalls.  The neck lines are the only lines you need to change on the Kwik-sew.  Everything else is fine. Do the same thing for the UPPER BACKS.  It's easiest to match the shoulder seams and the Center back lines.  The back of the Kwik-Sew is a deep scoop back, so you'll definitely need to change that.

It's also possible that I used a bigger size on the upper bodice than needed so the upper portion would have a little more volume and the bottom bodice would be form fitting.  I can't remember 100% but it looks like I did. 

Next look at the LOWER FRONT piece.  It's fine just the way it is, but I prefer for there to be a more distinct "V" shape rather than the rounded seam line of the the actual garment.  You'll need to make sure that the seam of the FRONT PANTY piece (below) is drawn to match.  The lines in these pics appear straight but I think I had to curve them slightly for them to lay on the body correctly.  I suggest you do a practice run or two with muslin or something. 

The LOWER BACK piece has that same deep rounded scoop seam line.  So I just evened it off.   You'll need to alter the PANTY BACK to match.  You may have to do the same thing as the front and slight arc the lines to make them lay correctly on the body. 

Oh, and you may want to extend the crotch seam of the BACK PANTY a little.  With the lack of stretch in the satin, the extra fabric makes it easier to fasten.

Now the Kwik-Sew pattern is gonna talk about lining the UPPER FRONT and then tell you to sew channels and run ribbon through the channels to gather the front.... blah blah blah.  Now, depending on your fabric, you may want to add lining, but mostly that's for extra support as this pattern is originally intended for dance wear to be worn with no bra.  However, with the alterations to the pattern, a bra can now be worn. So you can probably skip the lining.

I DID however gather the center front just using a gathering stitch.  Just leave about 5/8" of the fabric flat at the top and bottom edges to allow for seam allowance.  According to the instructions the gathered portion should be about  2 1/4".  Once I had it gathered like I wanted it, I just ran a line of stitches down the center front with my machine to lock the gathers into place.

You can then sew the UPPER FRONT and UPPER BACK to their respective LOWER FRONT and LOWER BACK.  Then sew the FRONT to the back at the SIDE and SHOULDER seam. 

You can also sew the PANTY pieces together and add the elastic to the leg openings as per the instructions.  But do not sew them to the BODICE yet.  (Remember to not sew the crotch together if you're going to put the dress on that way.)

However, you can pin or tack it all together and test it for fit. 

You can probably use the skirt pattern pieces in the Kwik-Sew Pattern. But I opted to just draft a double circle skirt. You can do just a regular, single, circle skirt, but I like the double because it gives a nice fullness and there are only 2 seams.

Here's a diagram of how to make a double circle skirt.  Don't worry about the numbers and measurements yet... we'll get to that.

Okay, now let's look at the mathematical part.

For the inner arc we need to do some algebra or geometry or whatever to figure out how big to make the arc.

For just a normal circle skirt the formula is....

r = c /6.28

Don't freak out, let's break this down.

R is for radius, we'll use that to mark our inside arc.
C means circumference... in this case, the circumference is the waist measurement.
6.28 = 2 times Pi  -- I don't really understand that, I just know it works... have faith...

So lets say our waist is 30 inches.  The formula would be

R = 30 divided by 6.28
R =   4.77

Or about 4 3/4"

You would then measure from the inner corner of the fabric where the folds meet and measure out mark 4 3/4" in an arc--you can also use a compass or a length of string and two pencils, etc.


Since we're doing a DOUBLE circle skirt, that means we're using 2 full circles.  1 circle is the skirt front, the other is the skirt back.  So we need to divide our measurement by 2 or your inner circle will be 60 inches once you sew both pieces together.  If you want a really gathered skirt, or a pleated skirt, that would be okay.

Another note.  These skirts actually use your high hip measurement, not your waist, so, to find the length of the skirt, you can tack/pin the body suit together and put it on, or on your mannequin, and measure from the garment's waist seam at the hip around your body for your "waist" measurement.  And don't worry about following the "V" of the seam line just measure like normal. 

 For the length of the skirt measure from the garment's waist seam at the hip and down to however long you want the skirt to be.  I always add a few inches to the length  for seam allowance and room to adjust later... remember, it's easier to cut fabric away than it is to add it later so it's better if the skirt starts out too long and you have to trim away the excess. 

Go ahead and sew the skirt pieces together at the side seams, and attach the skirt to the panty.  Remember that when you get to the "V" part of the front, you'll want to keep the skirt edges even with the rest of the skirt, so it will NOT match the edge of the panty.  You can trim way that bit of excess fabric later.

 Next pin your skirt/panty combo to the bodice again and mark out your final hem. 

One thing I did was made the skirt shorter at the side seams and longer in the front and back--it's not necessary, but more an ascetic thing.  Once you have that set, just finish the hem with a rolled/shirt-tail hem.

This took some trial and error to get a collar that would lay properly. Again there are a few how-to’s online.

Just a side note on this link.  If you're using stretch fabric, remember your body suit pattern is printed smaller than the actual bodysuit will be when you're wearing it.  So, I suggest putting the dress on a mannequin to adjust the pattern and do a practice run out of muslin.  I had to remake my collars because the original versions weren't drafted correctly and didn't lay flat. 

P.S. The fabric I used for the skirt and collar (and bows) was the stretch satin charmeuse from $6.00 per yard and they have the right colors for all of the sailors.

You’ll need to interface all of the collar pieces as well.  The other thing I did was made a facing for the collar that wraps under the neck line of the bodice so you don't see any white body suit.  Just make another copy of your collar pattern and cut it down to, like, a 2 1/2" horseshoe shape... and you'll have to taper the ends to fit in the collar points.

View of the facing of the collar.

Basically they’re rectangles of fabric. The bows are each two pieces. A bow and then the tail.

Here are the dimensions for each piece.  You will need to cut two of each and you can adjust the dimensions if necessary.

Front Bow:  7 x 13
Front Bow Tail:  7 x 15
Back Bow:  11 x 18
Back Bow Tail:  8 x 13

Sew around all four sides of each pair of rectangles right sides together.  Leave about a 2 inch opening at the center of the long edges so you can turn them and go ahead and turn them.  You can press them if you want.

Instead of interfacing, I used 6" horsehair braid inside the bows.  The horsehair keeps it shape WAY better than interfacing does.  Seriously, I can pull these dresses out of their bags after months of storage and the bows pop right up to their giant perky selves.

For the bows (not the tails) you're going to cut a piece of braid 2 times the length of the bow plus about 1" for overlap.  So, 15" for the front bow.  Cover the cut edges of the braid in bias tape and sew that down.  Now make bring the taped edges together and sew the braid into a loop.  Stuff that into the Front bow and work it into position.  Work the bias tape seam into one of the bow edges.

You're going to the same thing for the back bow but you'll need to sew two widths of horsehair together along the long edge to make it wide enough.

For the tails, just cut a piece of braid the same length as the tail.  Bias tape the cut edges and stuff into the bow tails.

All that's left is to center the Bows to the tails and gather the centers and stitch into place.  You can then cover the center with a scrap piece of fabric for the knot.

I also made the front bow centers kind of flat to accommodate for the brooch.

Click here for Pt. 2 of the tutorial


  1. Jason, i come back to your blog at least once a week so I can learn a bit more from you. I really enjoy your enthusiasm for cosplay and for the art of sewing! Keep up the awesome work, so I can read about it!

  2. *blush* Thank you for the kind words! Yes! I will keep making and doing stuff and there will be blogs about it!!!


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