Monday, September 19, 2016

Presea - Boots, Gloves & Armour - Tales of Symphonia

Salutations! After years on the shelf, I would like to continue to take a look at how I made my Presea costume! Look here for a blast from the past: how I made the Dress and Wig! Seriously, I was posting about this in 2013 what-the-heckaroonie.

Getting this costume photoshoot worthy and documented is one of my 2016 goals and I'm pleased to say that with the costume and photoshoot done I can now finish documenting how I made it. From the depths of my computer hard-drive I have salvaged ye ancient progress photos.

Possibly the most challenging part of this costume and the main reason I put this costume on hiatus for a whole year (the other reason being my dog ate the tip off my battleaxe). This was my first time making boots, gloves and armour, and to be honest I had no idea what I was doing! I didn't get very far before I gave up. When I came back to this project a year later it was after I had done the armour for my Asuna costume and had much more sewing/patterning experience.

I started by buying and deconstructing a pair of well fitting costume gloves, from this I was able to make my own glove pattern. I made it go extra wide further up the arm so that it would be loose at the cuff.

My main problem was that the character's gloves are above the elbow, but loose fitting, meaning they essentially float there defying the laws of physics. My trouble was making them stay up without any seriously visible rigging...

It took hours of hand stitching to assemble those gloves. Above is the separate thumb piece which was slotted into the glove.

Left is my first attempt at making the boot covers, as you can see the cuff looks kind of wonky... Partially due to my inexperience working with stretch fabrics. This is where I stopped working on them for a year.
I patterned my boots to cover a cheap pair of canvas shoes I picked up at Ardenes. Above is the toe cover, left is the 2nd attempt at the boot cover. (from the inside)

I opted this time to do a fold-over cuff, which looked much cleaner, even though it isn't as accurate to the original design.
I replicated the cuffs on the gloves.

I marked where the shoe cover would be sewn to the shoes, then I hand stitched the two together. It took a while, but the result was a nice clean finished edge.
Then I sewed elastics to the inside so that the loose gloves and boots would stay up. These had to be far enough away from the edge so that they would be hidden inside. How I made the cuffs stay up was I sewed some short pieces of wire into the boot cover where it attached to the cuff.

At one point I had attempted to wire the whole boot, but I found it a) really uncomfortable, b) hard to keep it secure and c) it would be harder to pack into a suitcase, because the boots would have to remain upright. That and every time the wire got dented they were even more uncomfortable to wear... With the short wires only at the cuffs with fabric casings they were easy to fold up, and didn't cause any discomfort.
Next I got to work on the small bits of armour, following the same method as I did for Asuna. I used the leftover styrene from that costume to construct the toe and hand guards.

First I made paper patterns of the shapes I wanted, then traced them and cut them out. There were 8 pieces total. Compared to Asuna's this armour was total cakewalk.
I then made the raised bits out of craft foam, and hot glued them on.

I used the same spray paint treatment as Asuna's: primer, matte black, then silver.

I weathered with sandpaper, glued all the pieces together, then aged them with black dry-brushing.
Lastly, the shoe armour was hot glued to the boots (while I was wearing them, so the armour placement would be correct). Then I rigged the hand guards with some elastic so they would be easy to take on and off. I painted the elastic grey so it would match the gloves.

Overall this project really benefitted from me not rushing to finish it the first year and instead applying another years' worth of experience to finish the job.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Brown Cloche Hat With Feathers

Let's take a look at my final millinery project: a blocked felt hat! I decided to do a simple cloche hat decorated with feathers. 
To make a blocked felt hat, you buy a "hood" or "capeline" which is 100% wool. (Or you can buy an 100% wool hat that has already been shaped and reshape it. You can get them at H&M.) 

You heat up a tea kettle that doesn't have an automatic shut off (so it will keep boiling--just make sure it doesn't run out of water, because you need the steam and to not set anything on fire). You place the hood/capeline over the steam spout and let it steam. It should have condensation on the outside and it will be really hot when it is ready for shaping. Use tongs to take the hood/capeline off the steam and place it over your desired block. I used a round crown top. Then you stretch it over the block, tie it tight and pin it in place. Let it dry for 24 hours. 

For my cloche, the crown and brim are all one piece. I was pressed for time with moving and was going to miss the last class, so doing a one piece hat was necessary--but also, I really like this style anyway.

If I were to do a separate blocked brim, at this point I would have carefully cut off the brim with an exacto-knife and blocked it on a brim block. For a one piece hat, I applied more steam and shaped the brim while the crown was still tied down on the block. I used rolled up pieces of fabric to shape around and let it sit while it dried. During this time I trimmed off some of the excess felt  from the brim to get it closer to the finished shape that I wanted.

When it was dry, I removed it from the block and set about finishing the edge of the brim. I decided to do a simple folded edge finish. I marked my finished edge and carefully trimmed the brim, leaving a 1/2" fold allowance. I folded it over, using bulldog clips to hold it in place so I could baste it. Then I carefully ironed it before stitching it as invisibly as possible. I ironed it again after stitching. This helped to give it a crisper edge.

Next I added the decorations and headband to the inside. I also gave it a label. I decided to accent it with more of that green silk I bought for the previous hat and feathers left over from my Forest Guardian costume. The goal is to stitch decorations on securely without making them look heavily stitched on,

I'm not too impressed with how the decorations turned out--specifically the feathers. I may replace them later. But I really love this shape--simple, yet elegant!

I've signed up for Millinery Part 2! So look forward to more hats, coming this fall! :D

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Edwardian Hat With Kanzashi

Let's talk about hat project #3: blocked buckram! We had to create a blocked buckram hat with crown & brim. I decided to design an Edwardian style hat. This process requires a lot of patience, as the entirety of it was painstakingly hand stitched.

I don't have photo documentation of the blocking process, but you essentially take the buckram, wet it and then stretch it over the block until there are no bumps/bubbles. Then you pin it in place and let it dry. I blocked the brim and the tip of the crown for this hat, the sloped side of the crown I flat patterned.

Once the pieces were dry I marked and cut them down to the desired size/shape. 
The crown and brim are covered and assembled separately, then sewn together. I used a layer of lambswool between the buckram and silk covering to give it a softer finish. All of the edges are finished on each buckram piece (excluding the head opening on the brim) before they are covered in the fashion fabric.

Bulldog clips are exceptionally helpful in holding your fabric in place. Also much of the finishing stitches were done with a curved needle on this project.

I first created my lining. It is a rectangle that I sewed into a loop that equaled the circumference of the brim. One edge was tacked down to the outer edge of the brim, and the other was carefully pleated into the center in a radial pattern. I made it as even as possible. I basted this down along the head size opening.

Next I draped the outer fabric layer over the top of the brim. I pulled it into place and tried to have as little rippling along the brim edge as possible. I folded the raw edge and turned it under. After basting it, I then slip stitched the edge down as invisibly as possible. The curved needle was really handy here.
To finish the crown, first I sewed down the circular pice to cover the tip. I notched the edges before folding them over the edge for a smoother finish. Then I draped the curved side band over the side. I folded over the raw top edge of the fabric aligning it just shy of the edge of the cylinder. I pinned it in place and then slip stitched the edges down. I left the center back seam open at this time. The bottom edge is simply folded up, but not attached. This meant I could still access the inside to attach the crown and brim.

I cut my head size opening hole in the brim, leaving 1/2" seam allowance. I cut notches into the seam allowance so the "tabs" could be folded up. The crown has no seam allowance--the brim seam allowance slots inside the crown, and they are stab stitched together along the brim seam allowance.

I ran into a few problems here--I didn't cut my head size opening large enough, so it didn't fit snugly inside the crown. It made sewing them together super difficult. And as a result the hat doesn't fit very well since its a touch small. But this is a learning process, so I just kind of rolled with it...

I then finished up the back seam of the crown cover. And I tacked down the lower edge in a few places.

Next was to finish the lining. I sewed the outer edge of the gros grain ribbon in along the edge of the opening. Then I carefully laid the crown lining inside. I sewed the inner edge of the ribbon to the crown lining, finishing the inside super cleanly.

You may notice I silk screened my new label into the lining! I'm getting so professional. ;D

Then I created a whole bunch of kanzashi flowers to decorate it with. Some were made of a really beautiful plum silk shot with blue. I also used more of the cream silk to match the lining. And accented with green silk "leaves".

I like the hat, but if I were to wear it (for a costume) I would probably need to fix up the size issue...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Otakuthon 2016

Salutations! This past weekend was Otakuthon: which is my second and last con of the summer! So sad! D: I wish I could have made it out for more events this year...

Overall a pretty relaxing con compared to last year--particularly Saturday. But a lot of early mornings. I was already exhausted going into this weekend though, so I needed some recovery time afterwards.

Friday: Our bus got in around 3:30 and we checked into the hotel. I got changed into Toph and we headed to pick up our badges. We did most of dealers'/artist alley before the con closed. Then we went for a dinner date in old Montréal.
Saturday: I started the day by meeting a friend from school for a delicious breakfast at Fabergé. Chocolate waffles--sooooo good. Then I attended the con in the afternoon/evening, debuting my Leia costume. Admittedly not Leia's most iconic outfit, nor a particularly sci-fi savvy event. So I went largely unnoticed, which was expected.  But I also forgot to take any pictures of the costume, besides the one silly selfie, so I am kicking myself a bit. The lace front wig went really well for my first time applying one! However it took almost an hour to get it off! Eek! (Note Blayke's "Storm Derper" costume, he spent a whole hour making it.)

Sunday: 9am photoshoot with Don Dolce Photography in Old Montréal. I decided to shoot my Toph costume rather than Leia because the timing was going to be too tight with taking off the wig AND checking out of the hotel. I wish I could have gone to watch World Cosplay Summit this year, but my 4pm bus back to Toronto made the timing too tight to go--I would have had to leave halfway through. I only got a little bit of con plague.

Overall it was a good con, though I am sad none of my friends attended this year. I think we might stay until the monday next year so that we can have a more relaxing sunday.

Hard to believe the con season is over for me? Hopefully I can make it to more events next year. For now, back to making costumes and updating the blog. And job hunting...