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----UPDATE----
I have uploaded the pictures of the main pattern pieces for the jacket to my scrapbook. Take a look if you are having troubles modifying your own pattern! (I couldn't find the pattern for the collar, I drew it on a piece of paper somewhere and I think it is gone now... sorry!)
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I have had a lot of requests asking how I made the jacket for my cosplay, so I decided I would write a quick overview of what went into making it. I will not go into excruciating detail, but if you would like more help on any particular section, please leave a comment and I would be happy to elaborate!

STEP 1: Picking fabric
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Print lots of good colored reference shots for yourself (or carry a smartphone with you) before heading to the fabric store. It goes without saying that you want to pick fabric with color that closely resembles your source, but it is also important to take into consideration things like the thickness and flexibility of your fabric. Conventions can get really hot really fast, so it is nice to have a fabric that is light and breathable, but I found that thin fabrics are also more challenging to work with. The inside lining for my jacket was very thin, which was great for keeping the costume cooler in the hot Arizona sun, but it had a tendency to bunch up little by little as I put it through the sewing machine. That made it difficult to align correctly with the fabric on the outside of the coat, which was considerably thicker.

So, select wisely!

STEP 2: Pick your pattern
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For me, it is much easier to make a costume if I have a pattern to work off of. However, this is a challenge in cosplay because most character outfits are unique in some way, and an accurate pattern doesn't exist. This is where you have to use your imagination and find something that may not be perfect, but bears similarities to the look you are going for.

For my Bolin jacket (and for the Mako jacket worn by :iconredirectlightning:), I used this pattern. It is a pattern for a civil war costume that bears little resemblance to the outfits worn by Mako and Bolin, but there are some key features from the costume that led me to it.

First, the front of the blue jacket overlaps and connects in a way similar to Bolin's.
Second, the length of the jacket is similar to Bolin's.
Third, the jacket is gathered at the waist by a belt (and chord), much like Bolin's.

These characteristics gave me a good starting point to work from, and took a lot of the guesswork out of the problem in terms of fit and sizes. (There are lots of good tutorials online that explain how to use a pattern, so I won't be addressing that here.) Nevertheless, there are some major discrepancies between Bolin's outfit and the Civil War uniform. Which leads me to...

STEP 3: Modifying your pattern
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From looking at the pictures, you can see some obvious differences between the pattern and the jacket we want. They are:

1. The collar on the pattern is short and flat.
2. The overlapping of the skirt on the pattern doesn't line up the same way as Bolin's.
3. The jacket top and skirt are separate pieces sewn together on the pattern, whereas on Bolin's they are one.
4. The back of the civil war jacket is designed to be fitted (it is made up of multiple pieces). Bolin's jacket is not fitted, and uses the sash around his waist like a belt to fit the waistline.
5. The shoulders of the civil war jacket are a bit more broad, and the sleeves longer (and for me wider) than needed for Bolin's jacket. (Remember, the sleeves on Bolin's jacket are rolled up, so you don't need a whole lot of excess.)
6. The pants are a completely different style on this pattern than what we are looking for (so I modified a simple pajama pant pattern, which I won't go into detail on here.)

With these considerations in mind, I changed the shape of the pattern as needed. A marker, scissors, paper, and tape are your friends here. Draw extra shape where it is needed, tape together pieces that should be connected, and use your reference pictures to figure out how everything should fit together. It helps to visualize how your new pieces will look by holding them up on your body. If you are fortunate enough to have a dress form the process is even easier. (I should really get one of those...)

It is too hard to describe exactly what changes I made to the pattern, so here are the pictures of the final pieces for the jacket!

Jacket Front: fav.me/d53id9q - Cut 2 of these
Jacket Back: fav.me/d53idi1 - Cut on the fold to make 1 big piece for the back
Sleeves: fav.me/d53idn9 - Cut 2 of these, obviously =P

I'm sorry I couldn't find my pattern piece for the collar, but if you have been able to make any sense of what I have said so far, you should be able to figure it out! I believe in you!

STEP 4: Sew it all together
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I will not go into much detail here because my assumption is you know how to work a sewing machine and sew together pieces of a pattern. Again, there are lots of good tutorials for this online if you need help. Or even better, get someone experienced to teach you how this works (thank you Mom!).

Depending on your fabric, you may need interfacing to help the jacket keep its shape and not droop while it is on you. Keep this in mind before you sew everything up!

STEP 5: Add the details
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Add the edging of the coat by cutting strips out of the same fabric used for the jacket lining and attaching where necessary. Alternatively, you can buy pre-pressed strips of fabric used for quilt edging (so long as the color matches). I did this for the edging on the under-shirt and it saved me some time.

Make the little rectangle dealies for closing the coat and connect them however you like - snaps, hooks, or even velcro work great.

STEP 6: The rest and enjoy
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Put whatever finishing touches on that you think is appropriate. I am sure I forgot something and I know I didn't cover everything. I'm very sorry!

I hope this has helped you in some way, shape, or form! If you have more questions PLEASE feel free to ask and I would be happy to respond. Thanks!
Add a Comment:
 
:iconsass-cat:
Sass-Cat Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Did you buy the under shirt or did you make it?
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:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Made it. Its actually just a collar with some fabric hanging down far enough to tuck into the jacket since it is so hot in Arizona. I couldn't bear another layer.
Reply
:iconsass-cat:
Sass-Cat Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh I see.
Yeah I live in a humid and hot place so I can understand.
Do you have a picture of how much of the hanging fabric?

Thank you
Reply
:iconsteve-ish:
Steve-ish Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Student Digital Artist
OMG i am sooo glad I came across this right now! I am going to a 4 day convention in July and i have yet to start on my Bolin costume >_< I am sucky at sewing stuff (my aunt does that portion) while I do all the cutting. I am hoping I can follow this method since i haven't exactly made a whole jacket from scratch xD I might have to go thrift store browsing first and see if i can alter one before I try doing this LOL!
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I put up pictures of the pattern pieces to give an idea of the shapes I used... but everyone's body is different, and it is impossible to explain every step of the process! I wish you the best of luck though. If you have any questions feel free to ask. :)
Reply
:iconsteve-ish:
Steve-ish Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yeah I can only imagine how hard it is to explain these things when it's not in person >_< and Thank you! I will be sure to ask you if I get stuck :D
My Sokka Water Tribe Warrior Cosplay I did last year seems easy now compared to Bolin lmao xD
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:iconarchangelablaze:
ArchangelAblaze Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2013
I realize this is an old post and am wondering if you have found your pattern for the collar? This is going to be my first cosplay, and I don't want to mess it up by having an improper model. If you don't have it, or don't want to remake it, that's fine too, but a reply would be much appreciated.
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't have the original pattern for it anymore (I eye-balled it on a piece of paper originally), but I could take a close up picture of the collar for you. I am not at home right now, but I will do it when I get back.

If there is anything else I can help with, please let me know. :)
Reply
:iconcrystal-dream:
Crystal-Dream Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you, this will be very helpful for making the Bolin costume my brother wanted to have. :)
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:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Great! Good luck!
Reply
:iconhentai-houshi-sama:
hentai-houshi-sama Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
Baha the best part is I have used this pattern before. Gonna tackle this tonight and see how far I can get! I usually draw out my own patterns, but Bo's jacket was giving me a headache. So can I ask, what did you have to do for Mako's jacket? Or what would you suggest? :3
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Or here is a better shot (though it is cut off towards the bottome...) [link]
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:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Great question! Mako's jacket is the exact same as Bolin's except for how the bottom is shaped. The is extra length in the back, which comes up to a little bit higher than where Bolin's hangs to. If you look at my modified pattern pieces, you would extend the back at the bottom to your desired length. The part of the jacket that angles up I put entirely on the front jacket pieces so that I didn't have to cut the seam at a weird angle. I hope that makes sense, if you have any questions let me know. To see how the Mako costume turned out check out :iconredirectlightning: .
Reply
:iconhentai-houshi-sama:
hentai-houshi-sama Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
That's what I was thinking. I could be wrong but it looked like you used patter piece 10 to form that shape in the front! (I could be wrong though :x) It makes more sense than you think haha. I got the pattern today and laid it out. So! Kinda hoping it sews together. (I get the fun task of being both Mako and Bolin during a weekend convention o_o)

One more question! Do you have a rough guess at how long you made your sleeve? It looks like you cut it off, then made it long enough to roll up? I think?
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I honestly couldn't tell you on the sleeve, my thought was only "make it long enough to roll up but no longer or you will sweat to death"... Arizona is hot XD

A warning though, the pattern has the sleeve poof out a bit too much where it connects, so I took it down slightly so it looked less like a suit coat.
Reply
:iconhentai-houshi-sama:
hentai-houshi-sama Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012
Yeah, you have to factor in when you bend your arm, it gets shorter. I got an idea last night since I cut out the pattern and added fudge room. (AKA in case I screw up! ><

I found out the hard way! Haha no worries, though, I will make it better in like, two shakes! Thanks for all your help, seriously!~ ;)
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem! Can't wait to see the results :D
Reply
:iconorangepickles:
OrangePickles Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Student Digital Artist
oh wow, thanks for this, only problem is that, i have 0 skills in fabric or anything, I don't know where to start or begin xD
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:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That limits your options, but one way to start is to search used clothes stores like goodwill for clothes that bear some similarity and modifying them. It won't always work out perfectly, but it can get you some ideas. :)

Anyone can use some scissors, velcro, and a hot glue gun. :)
Reply
:iconorangepickles:
OrangePickles Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I'll try that :O
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That's totally how I started, and then I steadily learned some sewing basics and bought a sewing machine. The android costume and piranha plant costumes in my gallery required zero sewing. :D
Reply
:iconorangepickles:
OrangePickles Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Alright, Wish me luck lol
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:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Good luck!
Reply
:iconorangepickles:
OrangePickles Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Student Digital Artist
; 3; thanks
Reply
:iconchunkymonkey921:
chunkymonkey921 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Student Photographer
well it didn't help me much since I'm not planning on making a costume anytime soon. It was however an interesting read and I did enjoy the bit about modifying the pattern. I guess when I looked at the costume originally, while it was cool, it was just a costume. But I really don't have the kind of vision to take an existing pattern and modify it so I gained a huge amount of respect for you and the costume. :)
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Also, I ran into your sisters at PCC and saw their booth and all their cosplay photos. Honestly, I was pretty jealous. I want to do fun stuff like that with a group.

Josh and I are really trying to get into it. Tara wants to do the photography and editing, but I assume she will cosplay too if we do something that interests her. Asaka says she is in post pregnancy, and of course Baby Dopp is in whether he/she likes it or not.
Reply
:iconchunkymonkey921:
chunkymonkey921 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012  Student Photographer
yeah, they're pretty crazy with all their photo shoots and stuff. It kinda just worked out with courtney as a fashion designer and Aubrey as a makeup artist and Brianna as a...Brianna. Did you see the stuff they did for the Hunger Games? It was pretty crazy. Don't know what they'll do when Brianna goes on her mission...

I didn't know you guys were pregnant! Congratulations! Am I like...super late on that? Oh well.

You guys would make a good cosplay group. You and Josh seem to be pretty good at it from what I'm seen. I'm very glad the art of cosplay in america has become more refined. And yes, of course Baby Dopp has no choice in it. =P
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yep, we are expecting early december. We will know the gender next month. :D
Reply
:iconagam720:
Agam720 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks :D I'm really trying to get more into cosplay and prop making. I find it to be really fun and a worthwhile use of my time. I have needed a productive hobby for a while and I feel like I have finally found a match. The real trouble is picking a costume. I am soooo picky XD
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June 13, 2012
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