I have been sitting on this project idea for over two years and have finally decided to just stop procrastinating and do it. Welcome to a brand new blog/video series where I take the much loved characters from Studio Ghibli films and turn them into vintage/pinup girls. I’ve always loved Studio Ghibli, especially in their portrayal of female characters, so this project seeks to embrace strong females, empowerment, vintage fashion and the joys of thrifting, crafting, sewing and a little bit of online shopping. Hopefully, if we don’t fall behind, I wish to release a new character every month and create at least one iconic outfit in with a vintage twist. To kick things off, I will be starting with one of my favourite Ghibli films, Kiki’s Delivery Service. I hope you are as excited about this project as I am!
Kiki’s Delivery Service came out in 1989 and follows the story of a thirteen year old witch named Kiki. As customery within her witch culture, at the age of thirteen, she must leave her family and home to live away for a year in order to discover her magic, abilities and inner strength. She takes her best friend JiJi the cat along with her and they end up in a lovely town by the ocean. Kiki goes on an adventure of self discovery, navigating new friendships and tries to find what makes her special, unique but most of all, what her spirit is made out of. She has quite the adventure and overcomes a few personal obstacles. I personally have always related to Kiki especially when she feels she has lost her magic. This is always how depression feels to me and I know it’ll eventually pass and I will just grow stronger and carry on reaching for my dreams.
Before Kiki leaves her home, her mother gives her a black dress to wear and even though Kiki would have preferred white or lilac dress, her mother insists that “witches have always worn this colour”. As this dress is super important to Kiki, her family and her witchy heritage, the simple black dress became symbolic and iconic throughout the rest of the film. Kiki has her classic black dress throughout the film which will be the first look we recreate.
The dress is a very simple shift dress with no frills or anything fancy; one moment in the film, Kiki see’s a pretty pair of red shoes in a shop window with a bow on them and she falls in love with them. I decided to adapt the bow from the shoes and Kiki’s iconic dress together for this project. As Kiki is very young, I didn’t want her dress to be overly slinky or tight. It’s need to be comfortable enough for her to jump onto her broom and zoom away as needed. The pattern I decided to use was the Charm Pattern Day and Night dress. I used the round neckline bodice with the bow collar and added short sleeves.
I sewed the dress over two days and am really happy with how it turned out. This was my first time using the pattern and although it took me a little while to get my head around the ‘choose your own adventure’ style of pattern instructions, the dress came out really lovely. I used about 4 metres of black cotton fabric (I accidentally bought only 2 metres to begin with so I had to go back to the store on day two) purchased from Homecraft Textiles. I didn’t use any lining for the dress and completely forgot to add pockets. I made the skirt using a simple rectangle skirt method and I made sure the skirt was a tad longer than what I would normally make. I wanted to keep a bit of innocence around the Kiki character so a longer skirt would help achieve this idea.
As for the bow that Kiki wears on her head, I cut out a long rectangle of red cotton and tied that around my head. At first I was going to make more of a head wrap but I think her short flowing hair adds to her sweetness and I didn’t want to take that away. Although Kiki doesn’t really accessorise much, I did add a simple brooch which is a resin depiction of the bread wreath made for her in the film from I love Crafty. For shoes I just wore simple Melissa brand shoes in a red/orange colour, funnily enough, they had a little bow on them just like the ones she admired in the film.
So, how did it turn out?
After sitting on this project for over two years, I am finding it very exciting that I’ve finally launched this idea into the universe. I hope to see this project grow but I really welcome your feedback especially in how I present this idea on video. Do you prefer me filming and talking to the camera as I go or do you enjoy watching a montage with a voice over? I am also playing with the idea of how far I should push the artistic license of the characters when it comes to turning them into vintage/pinup figures. I know I can’t give everyone what they want when it comes to an idea like this but I do hope to push and challenge myself when it comes to learning and trying new patterns, materials and skills.If you come up with a great idea for a Ghibli film character costume, please feel free to send it to me as I’d love to see it. The best place to catch me is on Instagram.
Thank you for joining me at the start of such an exciting project. I can’t wait to merge my love of vintage and retro fashion with some of my favourite bits of pop culture. Ghibli holds a very special place in my heart and especially the character of Kiki, to begin this venture with her is very special to me and I hope I learn as much about myself as Kiki did on her own little adventure. I really hope to see you all next month with another instalment, I will be dropping clues on my Instagram about what my next Ghibli film will be. Oh and if you think of a good name for this series, let me know! After two years of brain storming I’ve come up with nothing.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.