Karai - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)


For the longest time, Karai was a cosplay that I flip-flopped back and forth over actually making. I really love the way she has been portrayed in the 2012 series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and her design is, in my opinion, fantastic - but what put me off was the fact that instead of making the majority of her outfit by sewing, I would instead find myself building armour with materials I had little to no experience with. Not only that, but the potential wig I faced making was going to be a challenge - a blonde undercut with oddly shaped bangs did not exactly scream 'easy' to me. In the end, I decided to just go for it - I figured it was about time that I did something outside of my comfort zone again!

First, I started by tackling the wig. I knew that if I couldn't get that done, then I wouldn't want to continue with the rest of my Karai cosplay. I bought a black chest-length wig and trimmed the bangs to the length I liked, using hairspray to keep them in place. I then turned the wig around and chopped off the black wefts at the reverse, replacing them with blonde wefts instead. I cut these down as short as I needed, then used more hairspray to flatten it all against my neck. The bangs were then re-trimmed by my best friend, Loonilum, who is much better with cutting hair than I am.

Next, I moved onto the easy parts of the costume; I sewed both the black jumpsuit and grey undershirt from scratch, including feet/thumb straps to ensure the arms and legs would not ride up as I moved around while wearing it. I also stitched velcro pieces to the thighs and shoulders for the relevant armour pieces to attach to. I already owned the gloves; the earrings, socks, shoes, sword and ooze canister were all bought - and the ooze came with a minature, pre-mutated Raphael figurine inside of it! Sadly, not my favourite turtle, but it was amusing all the same.

After that, it was time to move onto the biggest element of my Karai cosplay - the armour. Using a mix of layered craft foam and EVA foam, I made the pieces that I needed and carved details into them. After a coat of PVA glue to seal the foam, I spray-painted each piece with silver paint, then dry-brushed all of them with black acrylic paint. They all attach to my body with various fastenings, including velcro, corset-style lacing and elastic. Considering this was my first ever attempt making my own set of armour, I'm really happy with how it all turned out! I would like to remake the chestpiece in the future, though, because I'm not entirely satisfied with how it sits on me and I feel it could fit a little better.

The last piece I made for this costume was the purple belt - Karai wears an obi over her armour, but I chose to make it in the style of a waist cincher. This was so the armour could be drawn in at my waist a little better, and so it would achieve a closely-fitted look more easily. It laces at the back using duchess satin loops that I made from scratch and sewed in (a technique I had never tried before but have quickly fallen in love with!), and there are two small loops across the small of my back to hold the sword in place. My sister, Mungojerrie, made the silver emblem piece on the front as an exchange for helping her with the underjacket of her Katniss Everdeen cosplay.

My make-up was done by Loonilum, who is some sort of wizard when armed with a set of make-up brushes. I received compliments on it all day, so I feel she deserves the credit and I was sure to tell everyone who asked!

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