Moana | 2022


Made for : Originally for funsies and then I finished it for the Bernina Fashion Awards

Awards : Cosplay Runner Up – Northland Bernina Fashion Awards 2022

Background : I fell in love with the Moana soundtrack as soon as the film came out. Being of Māori decent myself, it was amazing to see a (small) representation of my culture on the big screen from Disney who make all the princess movies I adored. I knew I’d make her one day ~

I originally wanted to get her finished for summer last year, but lost motivation half way through. Then the Northland Bernina Fashion Awards had a cosplay section that I thought would be fun to enter, so I picked up where I left off and got her finished for that.

I’m still hoping to go take some photos at my friends batch up north this summer like we had originally planned, but for now, please enjoy the photos of me freezing my butt off at a local beach in the middle of winter.

Things used :

  • tapa cloth
  • cowrie shells
  • 1.5m monks cloth
  • cotton twine
  • mustard raw wool
  • white raw wool
  • twine
  • rafia
  • leather thonging
  • paua sheel
  • pearls of various sizes
  • interfacing
  • cream bias tape
  • red linen
  • red eylets
  • plastic boning


Heihei : *click here* to see the entire process of how Heihei was made.

Necklace : The necklace is made from hand-braided leather thonging with pearls of different sizes woven in. I attached the paua shell by drilling a hole near the top and threading through some of the leather thonging and tying it to the necklace. It does up in the back via a large pearl and loop.

Top + Sash : The top is made in two parts. First, the under-top. This was purely made as a base layer to give my bust some support and to provide a way for the over top to close. I essentially made a boob tube from two layers of red linen. One layer was interfaced and had plastic boning added to it to proved even more structure/support. Once the layers were sewn together and flipped right side out, I added several eyelets in the back and it laces up with a brown shoelace I had on hand.

The over-top and sash are made from tapa cloth. I cut it in half and used one length as a sash and the other I wet formed to my mannequin so that it would fit the contours of my body better when it was dry and stiff. I then attempted to dye it naturally/traditionally with madder root but it didn’t end up as saturated as I liked so I painted it red. I also painted on the designs on both the top and sash.

Next I hand-sewed a bunch of real cowrie shells along the bust and then tacked the cloth in three places to the linen base underneath.

I spent a few days rolling and scrunching up the sash cloth so the it wasn’t so stiff.

Underskirt : There are two layers to the under skirt. The first layer was made for comfort. I didn’t think that having the rafia texture directly on my skin would feel nice so this layer is all finished in a cotton twill tape waistband that does up with a coconut button.

The top layer is rafia that is lopped/knotted over a length of twine that ties together. This is the more traditional way of making the skirt.

Over skirt : Literally a length of plain monks cloth with the top edge folded over.

First I ironed on a length of interfacing along the top and bottom edges. This was so that when I cut the triangle shapes, the edges would not fray like mad. To ensure this further, I embroided the cut edges using a super tight and dense zigzag stitch on my machine. The top triangle then had tassel added to them.

I then drew on all the designs and hand-embroided the using raw wool, twine and pearls where appropriate.

I finished the edges with some cream bias tape.

It does up in the front with a kilt pin.

Elzabeth Swann | 2018
Ariel – Pink Dress | 2017
Ariel – Pink Dress | 2017
Ariel – Teal Dress | 2014

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