23 Apr 2015

Naruto headband tutorial - base

It's been over a month since Hamilton Armageddon, and I haven't even realised. In that time, I think I've spent my waking hours either reading or watching Naruto.

I finished the manga a few weeks back, no more spoilers for me! However, the anime continues on. Right now I'm up to episode 288 of Shippuden, right in the midst of fillers. I don't really mind the fillers though - sometimes they do more to develop the characters than the manga ever did.

Since I can't be spoiled too badly, I've decided it's time to dive right into some Naruto cosplay!

The first thing to make is obviously the Konoha headband. While the plate varies in size across episodes, and even on the same person, I chose a few random sizes and picked one that looked right on my own head.

Things you'll need:

  • Craft foam (usually 2mm)
  • Metal ruler
  • Sharp knife (preferably a hobby knife)
  • Crappy pearl stickers from the $2 shop used as mobile decoration
  • Worbla
  • Heat gun
  • Snaps - the kind you hammer into fabric is what I used

I made mine 13cm x 5cm. Here, you can even have the template:

After that, print it out and use a sharp hobby knife to cut it. If you look closely, you'll see I left a gap under the triangle to keep the placement correct.

This is very fiddly, and accuracy is important in the early stages. Since you'll be transferring this to foam, then layering Worbla on top, a small mistake now will be made more obvious.

Now transfer that design to foam. Having a very sharp hobby knife helps. Don't get too worried about jagged edges - the Worbla will smooth it out. Just make sure your edges are all straight around the outside. You'll end up with a small triangle left over - don't lose this, it's important!

In the previous photo, you'll see a packet of stickers I used for the rivet texture. Stick them on in sort of the right place. As long as they are symmetrical, you're all good.

Here's the fun part! Cut out some Worbla slightly bigger than the foam template. I cut mine much too large, I think. Place it shiny side up on a surface - I used some plywood; the Worbla didn't stick to it. Blast it with your heat gun until the whole thing is floppy and looks a little wet. Yuck. You can carefully move it around to make sure it isn't sticking to the table or whatever you're using.

Now take your foam template and lay it onto the Worbla. Remember using Duracel over your schoolbooks? The principal is the same. Get the angle right, then start from one end and press it gently onto the Worbla as you go. This helps minimise bubbles. Also make sure you aren't sticking the Worbla to the table.

Now take that little triangle - you didn't lose it, right? - and plop it into the right spot.

Now you'll heat the other half (shiny side up) until it is floppy and wet looking. Quickly run over the other piece - the two bits of Worbla should be warm to make a nice bond.

Using the same technique as before, lay the Worbla over the other piece. Since there are bumps and texture, you're going to get bubbles. When that happens, take a pin and piece the bubble from the side while it is still hot, then meld it down flat.

Now you'll want to bring out all the details. I'm using the end of a hobby scraper thing - it's meant to be used to apply modelling paste but it works well here. Start pressing into the hot Worbla, piercing bubbles if they come up. Press all along the outside as well. Heat the Worbla up every now and then; cold Worbla won't be easy to form.

Are you happy with it now? I hope so. Now you'll want to trim the edges. Heat the whole thing up again, then trim as close as you damn can to the foam, but not so close that the foam starts peeking out. While it's still hot, use your fingers to meld the seams downwards into nothing, then use a metal ruler to straighten all the edges up. Yes, it's hot, stop complaining.

From here you can heat form the whole thing into a curve so it fits snugly on your head, or you can move to the optional step that I'm not actually sure will work well but it looks cool anyway.

Take the male halves of four snaps, and lay them out on the underside of your headband. Draw around them so you can remember the placement. Heat up a section, then cut an "X" where the snap will go. Use your knife to peel the edges up and off the foam.

Now jam the snap in there. Fold over the Worbla, but press it down as flat as you can - you want to make sure the other half of the snap will still fit. Do one snap at a time.

Once they are all in place, let it cool down a little, then press the other halves of the snaps into place. This will ensure the Worbla cools down in the right shape.

WARNING: Applying heat to metal makes the metal very hot. These snaps are metal. I hope I don't need to explain any further.

The last step is to heat form the whole thing. Rest it on something with the right shape (I placed a piece of foam on my head then let it rest there) and wait for it to cool down.

And that's it! That's the base. Next up we'll be sealing and painting, and making the fabric component.

The idea behind the snaps is that you can make a different fabric component to attach to it. This headband would be fine for Naruto, Iruka, Kakashi, Shikamaru etc. Just swap em out!

18 Mar 2015

Hamilton Armageddon!

After so many late nights finishing off my PA Jane cosplay, it was awesome to finally bring it out at a con!

The convention started early for a lot of us with a picnic and photoshoot on Friday at the Hamilton Gardens.

I pulled out my Season 4 Korra for the occasion. The shoes are now more durable (ADOS instead of hot glue) and I've weathered the garments a little more.

Here are my favourite photos from the day!

Photo credit: Dan Hardwick

Photo credit: NichelleMedia Photography

Staying in Tauranga meant getting up early and driving to Hamilton in the morning, but with Courtney of Sparky Cosplay, one and a half hours passed almost too quickly!

We had about 15 minutes at the actual event before running out to our group photoshoot at the gardens. There are so many different kinds of scenes, it was easy to find a setting for all of our characters.

The four of us - Kealy-Ann, Brooke, Courtney, and I - had Cyren from Pixiscene Cosmedia as our photographer. We all got some really incredible shots! Here are my favourites.

Our full group!

After the photoshoot, we headed back to Claudelands Arena to experience the rest of the con, which included the Cosplay parade, and buying excessive amounts of merchandise!

The next day Courtney brought out Six Tails from Naruto, and I was Korra (season 4) again.

Hamilton Armageddon certainly has a different atmosphere to Auckland. There is a greater percentage of people cosplaying, and it's easier to run into friends! I had such a fantastic time, and bought a whole lot of merchandise.

The competition had only a small amount of contestants compared to last year. Most of them being our friends, we got a lot of cheering done. Our voices were hoarse by the end!

By the end of it all everyone was already making excited plans for Wellington Armageddon. I'm going to be making my Witch King costume for the competition, and on one of the other days I'll be wearing PA Jane. So that leaves one day where I will most likely be Korra - only, which Korra? There are a fair few months to decide, but I might be making something new....again!

9 Mar 2015

Post Apocalyptic Jane nears completion!

Hamilton Armageddon is less than a week away now (*internal screaming*) but I'm progressing pretty quickly.

I'm nearly finished making my first (ish) prop! The spearhead from one of the earlier scenes, when Tarzan is fighting the leopard.

Camping mats! They are very squishy and difficult to rough-handle.

After attacking it with a dremel

First pieces of Worbla - so nervous!

Post worbla! It's hard!

Several coats of gesso sanded down, then three coats of a PVA/water mix

I just realised I did so much last week. I finished the petticoat, the leather poncho, the armband, and I did a lot of weathering.

A pair of gloves I picked up from First Scene's garage sale

Cutting holes and roughing them up with sandpaper

Using dark foundation and soft artist's pastel chalk to apply dirt and blood stains
While working on leather belts and closures, I had the awful realisation I've done all of the buckles wrong. Ugh!

I also stumbled across a Gaelic fair while out with Louella - the re-enactment actors let us wear their helmets!


3 Mar 2015

Cosplay Shenanigans: Me Tarzan, You Petticoat

My weekly post has degraded into a fortnightly one, but I have an excuse - I climbed Mt Taranaki this weekend!

Not exactly cosplay related, but it was cool! It also meant I had no time on the weekend to work on Jane!

I have got a bit of progress to show, however. I found this wonderful tutorial on how to make a Victorian petticoat. Thankfully mine didn't have to be floor length. I dug out a couple of metres of white cotton that I don't remember buying, let alone what I bought it for. Now it's going to become a petticoat!

After cutting all the pieces out, I started assembling the frills. Messed up a bit by not making them long enough. I made them twice as long as the across-back measurement, not twice as long as the actual back piece. Whoops! I reduced my four frills to three, and split one between two of the others to make it longer.

With my overlocker working really well right now, I joined the trim to all the frills, and assembled the front and side panels.

Each frill was then gathered and sewn down onto the back panel.

I decided to use elastic to gather the back, because I'm lazy and it means it will fit over my head.

Then the side panels were sewn to the back, catching the frills along the way.

And here's the result when worn over the bustle. So poofy! Now I need to trim the bottom, attach the lace, then start ripping it all up!

19 Feb 2015

Simplicity 9891: The Elven Dress

What would you do if you won a pass to Hobbiton? Sew an Elven dress to wear, of course! No...?

Two weeks before Hobbiton, I picked out a pattern - Simplicity 9891. I liked the collar on View C, but didn't like the bell sleeves. I decided I would combine it with View A, and have the chiffon sleeves.

That weekend I made a toile, minus the sleeves. I was really happy with the size, not so happy with the bust, however I didn't have time to adjust it. I finished the toile sometime in the evening on Friday, then went fabric shopping on Sunday (one week before Hobbiton!). Saturday was a beach day!

While I was initially going to find a nice, elfish silver for the main fabric, I stumbled across something I couldn't resist.

A printed cotton from Japan, with metallic ink that caught the light. It was just sooooo pretty! Also, on sale! How could I say no? I also bought some light blue polyester chiffon, and a thick fabric (cannot remember the type for the life of me) for the collar and yoke. I also bought some hefty fusible interfacing.

Time to start sewing the real thing! One problem - our small dining table wasn't long enough to cut the full length panels. I had to do some awkward fabric shifting while I was pinning everything. Cutting the fabric is probably my least favourite part. I just want to start sewing it already!

The eternal dilemma - what is the laziest way I can finish these seams? I decided against sewing everything together with the overlocker, and instead finished the seams on all seven panels before assembling them with the sewing machine. This meant I could press the seams open, which gives the seams a crisper look on the outside. It also reduced the bulk at intersections with the yoke.

Sewing the yoke was fun, but the fabric I got frayed every which way. Why didn't I finish those seams with the overlocker? I have no idea why not. I just didn't, and that was stupid. Also, after sewing it all together, I realised the interfacing was way too stiff. It made the collar stick up all awesome, but the front of the yoke didn't sit flat.

On Sunday evening I had the main bodice all together, minus the hem and the hook and eye closure at the neck.

Monday meant back to work, so I only had the evenings and Saturday to finish the dress. Somehow I only got around to sewing two nights that week. I stayed up way too late one night cutting the sleeves out. I also managed to smash a jar I was using as a paperweight onto the ground at midnight. I assembled the sleeves on another night, and left everything else for Saturday.

As I started sewing the set-in sleeves, I realised that this dress has no armhole facing. I could have made some if I realised sooner. Now I had these notched, ratty seams that you could see from the outside. Argh! After some intense pressing, and some stitching to keep it all in place, the result was acceptable. Fortunately the sleeves set in really nicely. Probably thanks to the slightly stretchy polyester.

Next up, I got to test out the hemming assist contraption on my dress form. It was pretty quick to use, although a neater result would have come from hand sewing with a catchstitch or slipstitch. This just produces a running stitch with a controlled stitch length.

At this point it was only the afternoon on Saturday, so I decided to make some pockets to keep all my elvish goodies, and finally got around to fixing up the $2 shop ears I bought. Some lipstick applied with a brush made a huge difference. I sprayed them with a fixative (meant for pencil drawings but whatever), and they looked infinitely better. Not quite the quality of the silicone ears that Courty made, but from a distance, they'd do.

And here's the final result.

Close up of the collar and yoke
Zipper - my dress form's neck is a bit bigger than mine

See what we got up to as Elves in Hobbiton!