14 Sep 2014

Korra Cosplay - Fur wrap

Making the fur wrap for Korra's costume introduced me to working with leather, sheepskin, and best of all, ADOS super glue.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the fur wrap is for. A convenient sitting place? To keep your bum warm? Your guess is as good as mine.

Probably just to match her boots

I started by buying a leather scrap from a fabric store. I would have used synthetic, but it seems to create a bit of shine when a camera is using flash. I also wanted a more natural, water-tribish look.

I was also going to use a fur trim, but when considering what to use for the white trim on the boots, I decided on sheepskin (shearling).

The trick would be finding some - you'd think in a country where sheep outnumber the population seven to one, it would be easy. Not so! It took me a good long while browsing through thrift shops, TradeMe and souvenir stores to find a reasonably priced sheepskin rug.

Next, I needed to wash it. It smelled of old people and must. About five rinses in warm water did it. The rainy and cold weather didn't really help with drying, but it got there after about three days.

In the meantime, I began work on the leather. Since it was my first time working with leather, I was pretty nervous! Once it's cut, it's cut, and I only had enough to cut out one skirt.

I started by marking out where to cut on the wrong (right) side, then used a ruler and a rotary cutter to cut everything out.

Since the sheepskin, leather, and layers inside would make it quite heavy, I designed the skirt to have a belt hidden inside to hold it up. I would then cover it with the blue fabric belt to be more accurate to the original design.

This was probably the most enjoyable part of the process - making a belt fastening! I started by cutting a strip, then removing a slot where the buckle would go.

After I had it folded over, a mushed a belt loop in there along with a generous amount of ADOS glue. Dive weights to the rescue again!

To reinforce the glue, I pierced two holes and crushed a rivet into each. Solid!

I also cut and sewed a lining from some blue fabric, and made some pockets for holding phone, keys, and cash.

Now onto the sheepskin! I used the rotary cutter to score the leather from the back, then ripped the pieces out. This preserved the natural edges of the wool instead of cutting hard lines into it.

 More glue was used to attach the trim to the leather.

Here it is all bonded together.

Ever paranoid about it falling apart, I cut some more leather strips and glued them onto the join between the sheepskin and the leather.

The final piece of the puzzle - two fabric belt covers for the leather fastener. The wider parts are tubes that will encase the belt.

I used the last of the leather scraps to join the lining. By this point I had run out of glue, but I'm pretty confident this isn't going to fall apart any time soon.

Here you can see the leather belt peeking out of the fabric enclosure.

And the final result.

I really love how it turned out. The dark blue apron underneath sneaks out the top, so I'll need to figure out something to keep it in line.

I'm also not a fan of the bracers any more. I think I'll just make some fabric ones - then I won't require assistance every time I need to put them on!

The end is sight, though. The boots I'm wearing in the photo above need to be covered in the right fabric, I need to make the hair ornaments, and I need to sort out her armband/tattoo thing. But after that...it might be the end.

6 Sep 2014

Korra Cosplay - Shirt, part 2

I last left Korra's top with the majority of it complete, save for the armholes and other finishing details.

Hemming was fairly painless. I overlocked the edge, then turned it over and sewed it down with the twin needle.

The next part was pretty daunting - sewing together the white armhole trim. The muslin fit together pretty well. I couldn't find a similar fabric in white, so I got some plain jersey instead. This meant the armholes would be made of a much thinner material than the main body.

To give the armholes some rigidity, I drafted up some facing patterns and reinforced them with some interfacing.

I was so paranoid that I would put these on the wrong way. Pinning everything together and sewing one step at a time insured I didn't sew anything backwards.

I did do one thing wrong, though. Instead of sewing the facings together, then the armholes together, and then attaching it all, I sewed the facings to the armholes first. This meant that the shoulder seams weren't self-enclosing, so I had to do some tidy-up afterwards to hide the seams from the outside.

Apart from that, a good pressing and it's looking good!

I wore it around the house for a bit while I packed up, and I can assure you that it is mighty comfy. I'm just hoping it won't be too hot for Armageddon.

At this point I still hadn't made the closure for the back (it was a bit of a mess - untidy bias binding, rough stitching).

I made some binding from the shirt material and enclosed the gap. Then I continued the neck binding around the top, sealing it all off.

I found a button in my stash that is quite pretty (and sort of water-tribey, I thought) and made a little loop out of some cording to fasten it.

I anticipated the top to be the hardest part of the costume, and it certainly was a big challenge - but I've since started on the fur wrap and it's turned into a much bigger beast than I had imagined it could be...

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.