Characters: Satsuki Kusakabe (草壁 サツキ) & Mei Kusakabe (草壁 メイ)
Film: My Neighbor Totoro | となりのトトロ
Variant: Spring Outfits
Debut: MiniCon 2018
My daughter has come to love the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro. I figured this would be a fun family cosplay to do together since she enjoys the movie so much and the character designs are both iconic and simple to recreate.
I started out by purchasing base shirts for the two of us. The Children’s Place has really cute uniform polos in toddler sizes AND they were on sale, so I went with that for Mei. I actually bought two sizes so she can continue to wear the costume a bit longer. Finding a shirt for Satsuki was a bit more challenging, as it was a bit more difficult to find a fitted women’s polo in my size. I went with a white polo from Old Navy in white, and ended up dying it myself with RIT dye I already had. Using the formula for Aspen Gold (only with tan instead of taupe), I achieved the bright sunshine color I was hoping for.
The next step was purchasing the appropriate fabrics for Mei’s dress and Satsuki’s skirt. Fine Fabrics had the perfect choices. Satsuki’s fabric is a polyester knit that I had to double up on because it was so thin (thankfully I had purchased extra!). I used my usual hand-drafted circle skirt pattern (using this as a resource) and cut 2 circles, layering them on top of each other. The waistband stretches in width so I can just slip the skirt on with no closures. The straps stretch lengthwise for comfort and were sewn to the waistband. Matching buttons were sewn on the straps.
Meanwhile, I utilized a commercial pattern (McCall’s 7375) and a magenta ponte knit for Mei’s dress. I also made a muslin mock-up as a test, since I’m still new to sewing for children. Although my daughter is 3 at the time of making the dress, she wears a 3T or a 4T depending on the brand of clothing. I sized up to a 4T on the pattern just to be safe. I also wanted her to be able to enjoy the costume and wear it many times, so sizing up just made sense. After making neckline modifications and adding a seam to the back, I cut out the ponte and sewed the real thing. I also made the bloomers from a thin cotton, using a digital pattern from Etsy.
For Mei’s accessories, I got lucky with finding a straw hat at the dollar store. I added the pink ribbon with hot glue. Her shoes were purchased at Wal-Mart on sale, and painted with Angelus leather paint (about 1 tbsp yellow with 2 drops of orange) that I had on hand from other projects. It took a bit of hunting for the hair ties with red balls, but I finally found them at a grocery store of all places. Mei’s bag is just a cell phone purse from Amazon, though I may try making a more accurate version in the future.
Satsuki’s shoes were also a Wal-Mart sale find. Because they have canvas uppers, I figured dying them would be the best route — I used the Marina formula this time. The dye job came out a little uneven with darker marks at the top (probably because the shoes were large and difficult to stir), but overall I am happy with the results. I opted for an inexpensive wig on Amazon since this costume is pretty simple and just for fun. The quality is decent for the price I paid.