Book 4: Balance was the final season of The Legend of Korra. Three years had passed since the end of Book 3 and Korra was an adult in her own right. She was still likely to make mistakes but she could do so without various parental figures constantly looking over her shoulder. In Book 4, I found a deeper connection with Korra than I had before.
I was eager to cosplay her again, encouraged by the coincidental decision to cut my own hair to nearly an appropriate length right before Season 4 started. I thought this would be a small costume update. It ultimately became an entirely new costume, including modifications to the boots.
I first sported my new ‘do with my Season 1 Korra costume at the 2014 GeekGirlCon.
To convey her transition to adulthood (and internal crisis of identity), Korra has cast aside her outfit and hairstyle from seasons 1-3. For the first half of the season she is masquerading as an Earth Kingdom subject. We don’t see the reveal of her new Avatar outfit until episode 7.
Korra’s Season 1 top was made with two pattern pieces, front and back (trim not included). Her Season 4 shirt is 5 pieces! The back is a single piece and the front is divided into four pieces.
This pattern breakdown assumes a couple things about how I would wear it:
- The body suit opened at the crotch and was pulled on over my head. (As opposed to one that zips up the back and you step into the leg openings (similar to a swimsuit.)
- I wanted to replicate the seam lines of the animation
- That I was working with spandex or another knit fabric with high retraction.
I drafted the pattern myself and I’ll explain how in the next paragraph. But there are so many bodysuit and dance leotard sewing patterns out there.
- Simplicity 8286 – you would need to modify the shoulders because it uses raglan sleeves, but it includes a high collar.
- Jalie Patterns – a vast number of sewing patterns for activewear, ice skating, dance, etc. You will need to make a number of seam line modifications but any of these would be good starting blocks.
- Yaya Han for McCalls – Her zippered catsuit has the princess seam lines (but switch the zipper to the back). She also created a long sleeve spandex top that could be useful.
- You can also trace a pattern off of a one-piece swinsuit, an athletic top, or a super fitted t-shirt that you already own!
I started with the pattern I used for my Season 1 body suit (which was based on a long-sleeve fitted shirt pattern). I added the princess seams, the deeper v-neck, and overlaped collar seam.
I did not create a separate collar, because I wanted to avoid a bulky seam around my neck. But I am starting to think that the angled grain line of the collar is why it is drooping on my costume, so maybe a separate collar would have been better.
How did I know where to put the pricess seams? I put on my old version and put a couple safety pins where I wanted the seam to fall on my bust and torso, when when I took off the body suit, I could measure the “unstretched” distance between the side seam and princess seam, then translate that to the pattern. If I did not already have a self-drafted pattern I would have bought a commercial pattern.
TIP – remember to add seam allowances to new seam lines you have added to a pattern. If you don’t, it will be smaller and tighter than you intended.
TIP – use at least 4 snaps with a couple inches of fabric overlap at the crotch. I’ve had two snaps pull out because I didn’t knot the thread tightly enough. Honestly, the bodysuit is only necessary if you want to prevent the spandex from riding up. Otherwise, a long fitted top will work, perhaps you can snap it to your pants waistband?
Adding trim to the extended collar and the armholes. The trim is 2-inch wide white spandex, that has been folded in half and then stitched to the main fabric using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. The length of each strip will equal the length or circumference of your armholes and collar lines, plus an extra inch for overlap and adjustments.
TIP – attach the trim to the “faux placket” and collar BEFORE attaching the front A & B together.
Korra’s new armbands extend past her wrist halfway up her hand and include a thumb hole. They are effectively long fingerless gloves.
I traced my arms and hand and cut out the fabric on the fold. I added only a small amount of seam allowance because I want the spandex to be very fitted.
I took apart and traced a pair of worn-out cotton pajama pants and added a drawstring waistband. I prefer draw string over elastic because elastic can ride up or get too loose and slide down over time.
This Simplicty 2061 pattern is also a good option – it has both knit and woven lounge pant options. Or if you aren’t in the mood to make these, I encourage you to look for navy PJ pants. The pants themselves are partially covered by boots and by her skirts, so you have some wiggle room on the details.
I used a french terry knit, bought from Pacific Fabrics. Similar fabrics available online here and here. French Terry gives a weight to the pants (Korra is from the arctic after all) that you don’t get from jersey knit, and has more movement and flexibility than super thick sweatpants material.
Brown Suede & Blue Skirt
These pieces have always required a bit of fitting trial-and-error. I drafted the pieces based on an existing pencil skirt pattern, without the waist darts.
I end up safety pinning these pieces to each other. I haven’t decided how I want to attach them. I might add buttons, easy to take apart for the bathroom, but sturdy.
The brown suede is upholstery microsuede and the blue is a cotton poly blend that might normally be used for apparel – it was in the remnant bin at Joann’s.
Pentagon Belt Buckle
Made of 1 layer cardboard, 2 layers foam, and 1 layer of worbla that is at least 1 inch wider on all sides so it is big enough to wrap around the back side.
Sanding and layering gesso along the inner edges of the top was challenging, but it is not noticeable.
Paint is: Craft Smart acrylic paint, in Sailing Sky (available from Michaels, Joanns, etc.)
I attached the buckle to the front of the skirt with adhesive velcro, which after 2 conventions and a photoshoot has fallen off. I will likely use glue to reattach the velcro. I wanted to use snaps but haven’t found a glue strong enough to hold one side to the back of the buckle.
Purchased from Amazon, but I cannot find them anymore. I still want to stain or paint the straps a darker brown, but this is such a minor change. I’m less concerned with the boots matching perfectly because most people don’t look at your feet.
Changes & Improvements
I would like to figure out how to get the collar to stop rolling. I think the answer may be some combination of knit interfacing and lightweight boning (or the plastic collar stays used in men’s shirts). Or, possibly lightweight flesh-tone mesh stitched to either side. Other than that, I am incredibly happy with this costume.
For those of you working on a full Team Avatar group, or who want to cosplay Korrasami in all their glory, check out my friend Lauren’s Asami costume write-up and her tutorial for the glove.
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