Archive for August, 2010

What single pattern could possibly be more useful to a committed costumer than the catsuit (bodysuit)? A catsuit is a costume in itself, and with a few minor alterations or props, you can suddenly make maybe almost every superhero costume, every anime pilot costume, every ninja, and hot-crime-fighting heroine costume out there. A with the right materials, a body suit does not have to be form fitting either, though that is a huge advantage to its design. But with a heavy enough lycra you can make it flare at the leg or in the sleeves. Knowledge of how to construct a catsuit is invaluable knowledge for a cosplayer.

I have worn a catsuit before, but this is my first time making one, and I would like to put together a little tutorial for beginners to let them know what they should expect from the project.

First off, we need a pattern. I used Kew Sew’s #3052, but you can find many different style body-suits, leotards, and swimwear at sewingpatterns.com. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, or want to make a form-fitting garment from scratch, you should visit the pattern school. And if you don’t want to make a pattern yourself, and you don’t want to pay for one, then you should check out the free patterns at burdastyle.com. They have a limited selection of free swimwear. And because it is free, they have a great lack of directions….so only go this route if you already know how to sew.

Okay! After you have your pattern, its time to select a fabric. I have done a lot of reading about what types of fabrics to use, but everything out there is either confusing, or intimidating! It basically boils down to this: the more lycra or spandex in the fabric, the more it will stretch. If your pattern is for swim or dance wear, then buy swim or dance wear fabric. The pattern that I am using calls for a 2-way stretch swimwear pattern that has a stretch of 75%. How do you know if your fabric is stretchy enough? There will be a guide on the back of the pattern. It shall be a long rectangle, and it will say “fabric this length (with a mark to show how long) should stretch to here (with a mark to show how long). Check your fabric against the back of the pattern before you start sewing to make sure it is stretchy enough. It’s okay to be a little too stretchy, but you do not want to be lacking in stretch.

pattern main body.

Now, what’s the difference between 2-way stretch and 4-way stretch? Well 2-way stretch only stretches along the horizontal: only two ways. But four way stretch goes both vertical and horizontal: stretching in four directions. I am using a 4-way stretch even though the pattern calls for 2-way, but you MUST NEVER use a 2-way when a pattern calls for 4-way. Remember, its always better to have too much than too little!!

pattern cut out in fabric.

The next thing to consider when choosing a lycra to work with–I am going to assume you are using lycra, because that’s what’s in the title, and that’s what I’m using, sorry if you’re not—is the weight of the fabric. Lycra comes in three weights: light, medium, and heavy. The heavier the weight, the thicker and more substantial the fabric. Makes sense. Thin lycra gives lycra a bad rap because it is very hard to feed through a sewing machine–if you don’t know what you’re doing. It tends to curl in on itself and can get stuck on the feeder-feet on the machine. Heavier weights will be easier to work with, but they will be hotter to wear. Slightly. I choose a heavyweight because I don’t want to look like I am in a leotard when I am in my costume; I want it to look more substantial than that while still being very form-fitting. Heavy-weight lycra will also help hide undergarments!!

Next is the actual sewing parts. Cut out your pattern pieces with SHARP scissors, it will be easier and cleaner, and the fabric will slip around less if your have the right tools.

close up on the stretch overlock stitch.

Okay, to start with, READ YOUR SEWING MACHINE’S MANUAL TO SEE HOW TO SET IT UP FOR STRETCH FABRICS. With my machine, I am using an over-locking stitch on the stretch setting, but those settings are different on every machine and so you need to read what it is you have to change before you begin. An overlock stretch stitch is cool because it will stretch with the fabric, making all of your seams stretchy and your finished garment easier to move in. You should also be using a stretch needle because it avoids skipped stitches. If you do these two things, sewing the lycra should be easy.

But if you are still having trouble with the way the fabric is fed through the presser foot, you can pin the lycra to a sheet of tracing aper or tissue paper along the seam. Put the tissue paper under the lycra so that the feeding-feet only need to move the rigid paper. Once the seam is complete, tear the paper away from the seam.

tracing paper pinned to the under side of the lycra.

That’s all I have on sewing lycra for now. Just follow the patterns instructions and you should be fine. Just don’t be intimidated. Working with a heavyweight lycra is 100 times easier than I thought it would be.

You can look forward on more on this topic once I complete the suit. I still have to work on the zipper and attaching the sleeves!

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The months of August and September. What are you doing in these months? What are you most concerned with accomplishing? Getting back into the swing of school (if you go to school) and rebuilding your fall and winter wardrobe. The latter is in many cases the far more exciting task, isn’t it?  Yup, I am enjoying the back to school shopping season. It’s just about the only time of year that I buy new -good- shoes. And you know what else is awesome about updating your wardrobe? All that old clothing that you don’t want anymore, you can save for cosplay!

So, here to help you replace the old with the new, and force that old into your “use for cosplay pile,” is an online clothing store called “Become.” Today, I’m going to take a look at their clothing and accessories department, and I’ll be taking you for the ride. Ah, yes–boots was the first place I headed. Boots are fun to shop for, even when you have no intention of buying, but this time of year, well, sometimes you do have to buy. Ahaha! I like these boots for cosplay…though they are a little pricy for that purpose, but think of how handy they’d be! XD Okay that’s enough ridiculousness in that department.

Let’s go back to some dresses. Believe it or not, they actually do have dresses for $15 and under here, though you may need to use the “search by price” option to get to them faster. This dress is cute, right? Apparently “Become”,was put together to help shoppers make good buying decisions. They put a whole bunch of products from different retailers like Old Navy, Zappos, and Talbots into one place so that shoppers can compare prices and items more easily. I hope that they make your back-to-school shopping a little easier! I shall leave you to browse and explore. Happy hunting!

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I’ve just finished another item from that historical costume accessories pattern pack. This time, I’ve made a brown “fashion corset” out of faux leather. It didn’t take much fabric at all to make. I think the pattern only called for half a yard or so. I used even less fabric actually, because the pattern was one-size-fits all, which for me usually means one-size-too-big. So I edited the pattern a tad and shrunk down the size of some of the pieces so that it wouldn’t be too big on me. I also wanted plenty of lacing showing. Perhaps if I wanted the pieces to come together and touch when laced, I wouldn’t have have to take out so much of the pattern.

This corset was a snap to make. The longest step was setting the grommets, but in total, I finished this in about 2 hours. there was no hemming or edge-stitching because of my fabric choice. The only sewing I did was stitching the front to side front, and the two back pieces together. That’s it! Lacing the thing takes longer than it did to sew it together. 😀

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PVC waist-belt corset.

The second thing I made from that sweet historical accessories pattern! A PVC corset-belty-thing! Black PVC lined with black polyester, fastened with 6 D-rings. I prefer to lace the belt so that the lining on the straps is not showing, but I decided to include a picture of the straps laced lining-side-out  just so you get an idea of what that looks like. This corset does nothing to reduce my waist; it’s just for cool looks.

PVC belt-corset, front.

PVC belt-corset 3/4 view.

belt-corset, back.

Straps with lining facing out.

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Arm Bracers

Here are some more pictures of the arm bracers that I made for a friend using imitation leather and 16 D-rings. Doesn’t watermelon look better when your forearms are fully protected?

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My interview with the folks from Nerd Caliber is up on their website!

Link to video and pictures! Or just watch the video right here.

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Butterick B5371. If you have scraps and remnants of imitation leather, vinyl, PVC, brocade, or any other type of sturdy upholstery fabric, you need this pattern. It is just wonderful. This history inspired accessories pattern pack comes with 9 easy and quick projects. Because of the nature of these heavy-duty fabrics, little hemming is required, instead, you will spend your time fusing the lining to the front, and simply edge-stitching the pieces into permanence.  This is also a great pattern pack if you have a bunch of extra cord, eyelets, and D-rings lying around because the fun projects do require a lot of these.

In total, this pattern offers four different style pouches, a waist corset, a waist belt, a normal pants belt, and two different style arm bracers/ bracelets.  So far I’ve complete two of arm bracer ‘B,’ and am half way through the construction of waist belt D. The arm bracers, which were constructed out of pleather, took about 2.5 hours each. Not bad for such a cool item!! And I probably could have made them even faster the third time around. I’m making the waist belt out of a marvelously shiny PVC. I can’t wait to finish make all of these things and FINALLY use up all the remnants in my sewing bins.

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