31 Aug 2014

Academy B-17F Flying Fortress Build - Cockpit

My last post about model aircraft was about the T3 Jr set I nearly finished. The decals on them were appalling, so I sort of left them half finished.

Since then I've mostly completed an Academy 72nd scale Corsair (I'll do a separate post on that once it's finished) and bought the Academy 72nd scale B-17F Flying Fortress. It's a big kit.

I bought an Eduard "Zoom" kit for the cockpit. It comes with photo-etched seatbelts, panels, and other details. It is excruciatingly detailed.

The nose holds a place for the navigator to sit, as well as the bomber's seat. I recreated a wood grain on the table by laying down a base of Desert Yellow. I used an old drybrush to drag some Red Brown across it, then passed over once more with the Desert Yellow. It came out really well - I'll be using this technique for the Sopwith Camel I have sitting in my pile of kits.

Here you can really see the detail Eduard puts into their photo-etched kits. It was very hard to put the seatbelts on, especially without the right kind of glue. Still; the detail is enough to distract the casual eye from the poorly laid down seatbelts.

I love this instrument panel. It was just a couple of sheets you stick on, and it just makes this amazing difference. The steering wheels are photo-etched too. Much more delicate than the clunky moulded parts the original kit came with.

And here's the bomber's seat! The bomb-sight doesn't look anything like the real part, and I wasn't sure which way round it should go, even from the instructions. Ah well.

As fiddly as it was to attach these parts, the frustration paid off in the end. I'll be getting hold of a vacuum-formed set of canopies and windows, so you'll be able to actually see into the craft once it's finished.

24 Aug 2014

Korra Cosplay: Shirt, part 1

Sewing Korra's shirt is becoming quite the saga.

I knew this would be the most difficult part from the beginning, due to the design of the collar.

The big problem here is that it looks impossible to pull over her head. While making the muslins for this, I discovered that there was no way to get a nice knit fabric over my head while still having it sit tightly against my neck. Using spandex would almost solve the problem, but then you'd need to make sure the collar keeps its shape. That sort of construction is beyond my ability right now. Also, spandex is usually shiny, so would make Korra look like a superhero.

I compromised by cutting a slit into the back of the collar, which will fasten closed with a loop and button. It's not accurate to the design, but come on!

I didn't have much trouble drafting up the pattern for the main part of the top, but the collar boggled me.

Despite the inside-out seams around the armholes, the second muslin I made fit pretty well (except for the collar).

In the end, I decided I would add in a front facing with interfacing to keep the front of the collar rigid. I was over the delusion that I could have it sitting tight against my neck, but as long as it kept the sharp corners I'd be happy.

The back piece cut out

A couple of tests for the collar. I later discarded the back facing - it simply wouldn't stretch over my head

Attaching the facing to the collar

Planning out the bias binding
Finishing the collar with bias binding will also give it some rigidity. The hardest part were the inverted 'V' shapes. This tutorial helped a whole lot - I just had to make sure to space them out right (a ruler helps).

I then used a tailor's ham to steam the collar into submission.

The results thus far:

The cut-out is bigger than I would like, but this shirt sucks my soul away every time I work on it, so I'm not too fussed.

I need to pick up some white knit fabric in a similar colour to the binding (it's slightly off-white), then attach the white trim to the armholes. Then the top is done!

I'm hoping to finish the shirt before the week is out. The next item is her leather wrap. Yikes! Real leather!

21 Aug 2014

Korra Cosplay: Armbands/Bracers

Believe it or not, progress has been made on my Korra cosplay.

In my last post I made Korra's pants; shortly after that I made the apron thing (haven't uploaded photos yet). At the moment it ties up at the back. I will probably put some snaps or belt carriers on the pants to hold it together.

One of my kind friends gave me some boots that are pretty much perfect. The material on the outside is plain fabric, so it will be easy to sew into. They also slouch down a bit, so I can put some suede of the right colour on it and it should have the baggy feel of Korra's boots.

I've also made a dozen or so muslins for Korra's top - I'll dedicate a whole post to that soon.

In the meantime I distracted myself by making Korra's armbands.

I didn't feel confident that I could sew some armbands that would stay up, so I opted to make something a little more solid - some fabric bracers.

I grabbed some black craft foam (you can pick this up from any craft store - I got mine from Spotlight) and some material the same colour as her apron. This fabric is made of stretchier stuff than the apron is, so it should be able to conform to the rounded arm shape.

I used Ados glue to bind the fabric to the foam - the stuff would seep through, so I only glued on the underside of the bracer.

Now I have a bunch of these things, called grommets or eyelets or what have you. I'm pretty sure that I only have the one half of the little things. As you can see in this tutorial the grommet consists of two parts - the grommet and the washer. I was missing the washers.

So I did the unthinkable and smooshed the grommets together. You can't really tell that I did this because the eyelets will be located under the bracer and you won't be able to see the extra metal inside of them.

Here's my test piece. The Ados bonded really well - I'm glad I didn't have to run out and grab any fabric glue.

Here's the final pieces with the fabric glued on. Making the pattern is pretty straightforward. Measure around your wrist and around your arm where the bracer will come up to. Then measure the length. Remove a centimetre from the horizontal measurements so you leave a gap for the ties.

After inserting the grommets. The fabric is a little wrinkly, but remember this will be stretched around my wrist so the fabric will even out.

After adding some string and tying it on. I think I need to lace it another way - the wrist and the other end should be pulling horizontally, not downwards.

The one part that is missing is the white trim. Since I opted to make bracers, I couldn't just attach some bias binding or white ribbing to the outside.

Since the string is kind of scratchy, so I thought I might make a couple of tight fabric wristbands and put them on underneath the bracers.

Pretty happy with the effect here. I'm wearing them around to make sure the trim doesn't slip below the bracer. To fix this I would add snaps or some velcro to secure it in place.

Rarr! I feel strong!

16 Aug 2014

A Bad Case of Backwards Socks

Trust me to manage to make a pair of socks backwards.


I guess the problem was that I made the heel flap without checking properly that I was on the right side of the sock. By the time I turned back to the chart it was too late! There was no way I was going to try and frog the thing all the way back to the ankle...

Oh well. The socks are pretty comfy nonetheless, so I'm not too torn up about it. Now that I know how to make them, the next time should be a breeze!

Ravelry project here, and pattern can be found here.

Haha, I am such an idiot.

10 Aug 2014

Korra Cosplay - Pants

So I've been wanting to cosplay for a while, and this year's Armageddon (New Zealand's poor version of Comic Con) presented a good opportunity to try it out.

I picked Korra, the outspoken successor of Avatar Aang, from the series Avatar: The Legend of Korra.

Korra's outfit presented a challenge in that I don't know if the character designer considered sewing construction while creating her costume. The fitted top suggests it is made from a knit fabric, but then it has a stiff mandarin collar. She has some sort of dark blue apron which only function appears to be to hide her crotch. And then there is the leather/fur wrap held up just by a fabric belt. She also has something on her arm that everyone is adamant is an armband, but I'm going to call it a tattoo.

So I started by gathering up all the blue fabric I could find (naturally there are about five shades in the outfit) and making the big, baggy pants.

Dive weights make great fabric weights

The blue fabric is a thickly woven cotton-y woollen poly something or other. I used a pattern-making book to draft up a tracksuit-pant pattern without side seams. I made a toile out of cheap polyester and somehow it worked perfectly the first time!

I used my serger to join the seams and finish the hem and waistline, then used a twin needle on my sewing machine for the rest (hemming and making the elastic band carrier).

And the results:

They passed the boot-tuck test, as well.

They are super comfy and baggy, so I can prance about in them as much as I like. They are also going to be pretty durable, and I'm not worried about them tearing.

Next up I think I'll do something easy, like the apron. I'm not really looking forward to the top, although I did buy the perfect fabric for it. Stretchy knit and fluffy on the inside, so it's going to be incredibly cuddly.

31 Jul 2014

Cross Stitch - Peter Rabbit

A while ago I picked up a sweet little cross stitch kit on sale from Spotlight. I think I bought it at the end of last year and didn't think about it after that.

Recently I caught a terrible cold, so had a lot of time to sit around and do something relaxing, like cross stitch!

One thing about this kit is that while it says the thread is pre-sorted, it simply means the floss is cut and tied up in a skein, as opposed to sorted into a labelled card like the Maia kit I picked up a while ago.

This annoyed me because I couldn't match the colours to the standard DMC range, so all they might be good for after I finish is little bits of embroidery (not complaining).

So I had them sorted into a separate compartment in my embroidery case, labelled from 1 to about 16 as the pattern suggested.

Okay, one thing I really liked about this kit is the hoop. It is a rubbery outer ring that snaps into a firm plastic inner ring, so you don't get that gap from the join of traditional hoops.

The first colour I did was the pale green of the book. I think the kit is supplied with just enough to complete that colour - I had to dig through the cut off ends to complete the row!

Fortunately all the other colours were plentiful and I continued on.

I like the slightly different stitches used throughout the piece. Peter Rabbit is made mostly of half stitches, while his jacket and the background elements are full cross stitches.

And finished!

This was my first venture into backstitching, so I was worried about running out of thread due to the long stitches of the piece. I think next time I'll take smaller stitches for the straight lengths to make it a little more durable.

I'm quite happy with the result though, it's really adorable!

I'm not sure how to go about framing it though...I'll leave that for another time.

I'm still trudging through the mammoth "Wren and Magnolia" cross stitch. Distressingly, I've just about run out of one of the browns - I'm not sure if it's worth picking up a whole new skein just for a few stitches, though.

Apologies for the bad photo

21 Apr 2014

Knitting Vintage - Cardigan

A while back I picked up a couple of knitting books from the library and scanned some patterns to make. One book was Knitting Vintage by Claire Montgomerie. The book had a few really nice patterns, but also some weird "filler" patterns, like knitted jewellery, typical of newer needlecbooks

One of the patterns that stood out was the Lilac Beaded Cardigan. It looked like a really good way to learn how to start making larger items of clothing. The instructions were fine, but there were places where I felt there could have been more detail, such as when you bind of some of the stitches to form the underarm of the sleeve. A seasoned knitter who has made sweaters or cardigans before would have no trouble with this bit, but the instructions were lacking for a beginning knitter.

The cardigan is meant to be knit with mohair to give that light, fluffy feeling, but couldn't find any cheap mohair in the knitting stores around here. I went the cheap way and found some balls of acrylic that felt really nice and soft, then stuck right in.

Of course I didn't have any of the needles required to match the gauge, so I think I bought an additional 3 pairs of DPNs and 3 pairs of circular needles to get it right. Gah!

I actually started the project back in January, and I think I made about a sleeve and a half wrong because I read the pattern incorrectly. I left it for a while and made the Totoro Mittens as a break from stuffing up the instructions so bad.

Well, once I finally got started the instructions were pretty straightforward, and it was just a matter of knitting, knitting, knitting. Needless to say the Totoro mittens were much more fun to make. This cardigan was more of a slow slog. I think I got through about 12 seasons of South Park plus 3 seasons of Adventure Time while I was making this.

After joining the sleeves. I was horrified that I would get them around
the wrong way, but all went well. I really like the raised decreases.

Blocking the thing! It's blocked before adding the button bands.

Things I learned to do while making this project:

  • Forming and attaching sleeves
  • Making buttonholes
  • Mattress stitch both horizontally and vertically
  • The importance of reading instructions

The end result! Cosy and warm. I admit that mohair would have pushed it over the edge but I wasn't willing to splurge on yarn for my first cardigan project.

You can see my Ravelry project here, which includes notes and the kind of yarn I used.