On Pins and Broken Needles

Bathhouse Uniforms (Spirited Away)

Character Name:
Bathhouse Uniforms
Spirited Away
Debuted At:
Anime North 2016


  • Bathhouse Uniform (© Studio Ghibli)
  • Bathhouse Uniform (© Studio Ghibli)
  • Bathhouse Uniform (© Studio Ghibli)

Costumes Notes

Every now and then, I look back at some of my old costumes and debate about wearing them to a a con, but the quality of construction is far from my current standards that I'd be embarassed to wear them. This costume was partially the result of wanting to rewear my old Sen costume but cringing each time I thought about how I put it together. The other part was a want to create a simple and confortable costume that I could wear while staffing Masquerades and that I could easily instruct others on how to make so there'd be a cohesive team.

Fist thing I did was try to find the historical basis of the costume as while most of Spirited Away is set in a fantastical world, that world does seem to have some basis in historical fashion. To that end, It appeared that the uniform worn by the bathhouse workers was a variation on the japanese monpe and suikan. I was able to find instructions on how to create patterns for both of theses items and set out making up a muslin draft.

The first draft of the pants quickly revealed that I have a much larger button than traditional japanese patterns account for, so extra material had to be added to the gusset. (This also allowed for me to do a slight variation on the bottom hem of the legs and leave more material there for greater knee poof.)

With the help of Mai Sheri, I was able to source of a bolt of white broadcloth (for the undershirt) and a bolt of pink cotton sheeting (everything else) on the cheap (Ottawa's fabric selection kinda sucks, but Toronto's is much better). And then I procrastinated. And then some more. The original plan was for me to to have a full pattern drafted with instructions on how to assemble everything when I visited Mai Sheri in early March. This would allow me to just cut off the fabric I needed for my uniform from the bolt, and then leave the rest of it with her to distribute amongst the other people I had recruited to be part of the bathhouse team. As of that trip, I think I had the pants drafted and part of the top lying about in pieces in my sewing room. Needless to say, I can home with full bolts and the knowledge that I'd have to sew all the uniforms myself.

NB. This costume is a great example on why you should ALWAYS prewash your fabric (and heat dry it if the fabric allows). While the broadcloth (poly-cotton blend) didn't shrink much, I lost almost 10cm off the width (originally 150cm) of the pink (100%) cotton sheeting after pulling it out of the dryer. I don't think I lost quite the same percentage in the length of the cut, but it was definitely shorter than it started.

In the end, the uniforms didn't take too long to assemble; I could manage to make one a week in the evenings afterwork without sacrificing sleep. I think I spent an equal amount of time on each serging (so many rectangles), ironing, and machine sewing, and hand sewing. I manged to get three done (due to even more procrastination) before my con-season started in earnest. There are plans to make another two for my other green-room helper friends.

One thing I did learn when making these is while the pants are one size fits most, I still have a big booty compared to my other friends. I had used the same waist measurements for all three pants which resulted with a 2 inch gap on either side for me, and no gap for either of my friends. I'll be taking actual personal measurements for the other two uniforms that I make so that they fit a bit better.

One other note is that I didn't have a chance to finish a uniform for Yavarice before Anime North, so I shoved him into my old Haku costume with the firm instruction to not look too closely at the construction.

WIP Photos

  • Juban (undershirt) complete!
  • Pants draft version something
  • Sleeves and pants are done, shirt panels draped.
  • Sewing the waistband at work during lunch.
  • The pile of pink. I think 2.5 of the 3 uniforms are here.


  • © 2016 Cosplay for a Cure / Elemental Photography and Design
  • © 2016 Cosplay for a Cure / Elemental Photography and Design
  • © 2016 Cosplay for a Cure / Elemental Photography and Design
  • © 2016 Henrickson
  • © 2016 Henrickson
  • © 2016 Henrickson
  • © 2016 Pollux / Dioskuri Duo


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