Cosplay WIP 2: Electric Boogaloo (AKA Swords for a Fem!Roronoa Zoro)

Oh gosh golly gee, I am up to my eyeballs in cosplay. For AnimeFest I decided I needed to go big or go home, so that’s what I’m a doin’. The stuff for Anime Overload came out pretty good, but I didn’t really get any good pictures. There’s this one of me…

and this one of Mom taken by tumblr user Tye-Dye-Flag.

So, that’s all pretty good.

Next, though, is the big leagues.

I decided a while back that I was going to make a Totoro dress, for sure. I already had the right belly colored-fabric in a comfy jersey knit. I was lucky, then, to find this grey dress in a similar weight and fabric.


This dress, though, quickly turned into a “thing.” First, it’s longer than I want, so I’m taking off about eight inches, for sure, maybe more. then I felt the the bust didn’t sit right, so I took out the elastic in the under bust stripe part. I need to figure out exactly what I want to do there. At the moment it’s all pinned up while I decide how much I want to deconstruct this bad boy.

THAT’S not the most important part.

The most important part is my Fem!Roronoa Zoro cosplay. And, of course, Zoro’s got three katanas. Well, I only have one katana. So I made two more! It was a pain in the ass. More info below…

This is where I began (my one black katana for reference.


In prepping for the design, I actually strapped on three swords and walked around my apartment (because, yeah, I have like, eight, swords…and an axe.)You know how flipping heavy three swords are? The answer is very. So I knew I needed to go as light as I could manage on the faux swords. They didn’t even really need to unsheathe, so I landed on making a scabbard/grip as one long, connected piece. With sheath in hand, I went to JoAnne’s and found some layered balsa craft wood of the right length and width. Quite swishy.


Using the sheathe as a reference, I marked about where I’d put the finger grip. On the grip side of the line, I sanded the sharp edges down and used my utility knife to shave off a few centimeters all around. Not a huge difference, but it fit better in my hand afterward.


Then I painted from the line down with a few coats of a basic tempera paint. This was going to be covered by ribbon, so it didn’t matter too much on the coverage.


Wrappped them bad boys in ribbon similar to what’s on my “real” katana. The ribbon I used was a “burlap” ribbon that I found near the netting ribbon. I was reticent at first, but it came out really great in the end.

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Next came the finger guards, after a little trial and error, I cut them from some foam boarding I literally had laying around somehow, and painted them with metallic paint. Now, here’s the thing….these ended up not working. They were waaaaaaay to thick.

What I ended up doing (and I didn’t take any pictues! grrr!) is layering some thin packaging cardboard and cardstock. The cardboard was stiff, but glossy, so it didn’t hold paint. Sandwiching it between cardstock made something stiff that held paint. Painted them using the same metallic paint, slapped on an acrylic top coat, and it was perfect.


The handle was the next part, and, again, I don’t really have great pictures because my hands were full. First, I cut some ordinary Styrofoam into some rectangles and glued them to the top where I wanted the grip to be. Then I used a knife to get a rounder shape to the edges and tried to get as oblong as possible. For the red one, then I used black vinyl tape and wrapped it as tight as I could manage around the grip. I also managed to press the Styrofoam into such a way that was closer to the shape I wanted. For the white one I did the same with gray duck tape. Then I wrapped them up with the appropriate ribbons and strings based off my reference images.


The final touch on the red scabbard was this maroon and gold part half way down it. I used string and some gold bias tape.


There were a few deliberate design decisions I made along the way. In the anime, Zoro’s swords have these gold end caps. Well, my actual sword doesn’t have those and looked stupid with the ones I made it. So, to maintain internal consistency, I left them off the white and red ones. There are a few more adjustments I might make in the meantime, too, and I need to make a frog to hold them. So much to do and only a week and a half to do it!


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