Monday, November 28, 2005

Hoth Leia: Boots

Update: 6/12/06
Quick note from my observations at FIDM:
The "tongue" of the boot is attached UNDER the top of the shoe. Look closely and you'll see the topstitching where the smooth leather part of the shoe forms an upside-down "V". This perplexed me in all the blurry reference photos, until I saw the real shoe and realized the smooth leather is on top of the suede. I had already attached mine "right sides together" like in regular sewing; the stitching doesn't show, and it was too thick to attempt topstitching after. A better way to do this would have been to actually cut the top of the shoe into the "V" shape, fit my "tongue" under it and stitch through both layers, resulting in the visible stitching. This would also have resulted in less bulk and automatically hidden the corners corners where the tongue attached. Click the image below to link to a larger version.

Update: 11/28/05

Well, the pieces sat on my dining room table for a week because I couldn't decide how/when to attach the straps, before or after the lining. I finally settled on catching the ends in the center back seam, but topstitching them down after the lining. My plan was to stitch through all the layers (strap, boot, lining), but I wound up being able to slip the boot onto the free arm on my machine so that the stitching on the four lower straps would be hidden.

68149800 0333463911Then I procrastinated a little more, until I realized that if Scott was going to help me attach the boot leg to the shoe base, it had to be done before he left town again! So... on Saturday I basted the straps in place; sewed up the boot and lining pieces; attached the lining, turned and topstitched all the edges; and topstitched the vinyl and velcro straps in place. My friend Jessie (pictured at left) came by and I put her to work as my pinning and pressing assistant; she did a beautiful job on the seams and saved me at least an hour or two of tedious and repetitive tasks! By midnight Saturday the pieces were ready to attach to the shoe.

Sunday after church I ran up to the shoe repair shop to see if there was a quick and/or easy way to marry the boot leg and shoe. There was--they have a special stand-up sewing machine with a spindly free arm the width of my thumb, I stood staring and wishing they would just let me use it for half an hour! However, turnaround time was over a week, and I'm leaving for L.A. on Friday. Mark at the shop was extremely helpful and advised me to use Barge cement to glue the pieces to the shoes, and a regular size sewing needle and needle-nose pliers to hand-stitch them in place. He also offered to sew them on if I did the preparatory work of measuring, marking and gluing the pieces where I wanted them (this was the time-consuming part of the job he didn't have time for). I liked this plan and conferred with Scott, but he felt that without a way to clamp the pieces while the glue dried, they might not stay where I wanted them! So after a trial run (attaching one tongue piece), we decided to hand-stitch everything, then secure it with the Barge glue.

68150000 72A312Bc0BI drew placement lines on the shoes (Nursemates won on eBay for $9.25) and put a line of basting around the bottom of each piece, so we had lines to match up. I also pressed the seam allowances up, creasing the canvas as hard as possible with a steam iron and clapper on a wood cutting board. I figured it was a lot easier than trying to get a nice turn after they were already attached to the shoe! We sewed right sides together, with the boot pieces upside down, and flipped them up into place (along the creases) afterwards.

After an hour or so we settled into a nice rhythm: I pushed the needle through the fabric, boot and shoe with a thimble on my thumb; Scott nabbed it on the other side with the pliers and pulled it through. Meanwhile I flipped the thimble to my middle finger, so I could push the needle back through from the inside. Since we were working sort of "blind", I poked until the needle tip came out along the placement line I had drawn on the shoe, then lined up the basting line on the boot over the needle tip and pushed it through. Scott grabbed it with the pliers and pulled it to the outside, and we began the next stitch. We worked with short lengths of thread to avoid tangles, and changed needles almost as often as thread because they kept bending!
68150937 C585E4D385 B
68150490 D0Bbf12Cc2When the stitching was done, we trimmed the seam allowances and then applied the Barge to seal and hold everything flat. Scott put binder clips on the boot ankles to hold them in as close as possible while the glue cured. And no, my stitches weren't that even! That's the line of machine basting you're seeing.

By the way, we started around 5PM and finished around 11:30PM, with two breaks for dinner and packing Scott's suitcase. Scott's my Hero; the next morning he was up at 4:30AM to catch a plane!

I may yet take them to Mark and have them stitched for extra security, but I think we did a really nice job. The only thing left is to try them on, cut the straps to the right length, and sew on the hook side of the velcro.

Update: 11/19/05
Well, even though my Adidas boots have performed wonderfully at four events already, I have a new motivation to make the replica boots: I'm going to the FIDM exhibit fan day! And there's going to be a costume contest; wish me luck!

I started by taping pieces of my "pattern paper" (actually a roll of soil separator from Home Depot) to the Adidas boot and tracing the general shape of what would become the two side panels. After pinning them to a nursemate shoe, trying it on and marking changes, I transferred the pattern to a sheet of outdoor canvas (the canvas will interline the fabric pieces to help stiffen them up). I also created the "tongue" piece at this time.

64909895 5Dba5B3056After cutting all the canvas pieces out, I pinned them to the nursemate, tried it on and had Tina mark up the finished height and strap placement, as well as adjusting the center front lines. Then I duplicated all the pieces for the second boot, traced them all onto my fabric--a yard and a half of taupe-grey moleskin (can't believe how hard it was to find anything resembling grey faux suede!)--and cut. The one-and-a-quarter inch straps I cut out of a marine vinyl, a bit heavy but the best substitute I could find.

I thought the yellow chalk outlines made my cutting area look like a crime scene. :)

I want to adhere the outer layer of moleskin to the canvas, so that it doesn't give me a sagging look later. We tested Scott's upholstery spray (contact cement); quilt basting spray; and Steam-a-Seam 2, which comes in sheets. I like the Steam-a-Seam best; even though it requires a little more effort, I'm most familiar with its properties and I think it will give me reliable results. Plus I know I can sew through it.

64909575 6E31B78EeeJust for fun I pinned/clipped all the canvas and straps together and tried it on. I'm going to move the lowest strap down a little to make the fastening more secure; the finished boot isn't going to be very stiff so the only thing holding it up is going to be the fact that it's strapped to my leg.

Picked up a great pair of suede boots last night! They're cute enough that I wanted them for my regular wardrobe, but inexpensive enough that they can double as costume boots until I make up my Hoth Leia replicas; and despite the faux sherpa lining, they're not too warm for Central Florida. It was Scott's practical opinion that finally decided me on buying them. Just pay no attention to the pink Adidas logo and striping!

Woo-hoo! Won my auction for a pair of shoes that will eventually form the basis of boots for my newest costume project, Hoth Leia. For $9.25, I can experiment to my heart's content without any guilt.

I've wanted to do a Leia costume for a while, but there aren't many to choose from (she spends entire episodes in one costume), and I've never been interested in the classic white-dress-and-buns, which seems to be the costume most everyone attempts. I've always tended towards action, and costumes I'll be able to move around in somewhat comfortably!

I've got a lot of projects on the table but hope to get a jump on this before Halloween. I think I've found patterns I can alter; around here, the hard part always seems to be finding suitable fabric! It's always the wrong season to find what I need...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hoth Leia: Vest

Update: 11/20/05
58980442 Fbe81Ef5Cb O
Wow, can't believe it's been almost a month since my last update! I finished the vest on October 28, a scant 3 hours before I debuted it at my costume party! (Photo above is from The One Man Star Wars Trilogy event.)
61445951 4D370191Ff BBefore I could put the vest together, I needed to finish the final detail: the spy pockets. I got to them a day later than planned, and a good thing, too; I woke up that morning with the best idea I'd had for them yet (this has been a theme for this entire costume!). Instead of trying to hide patch pockets, I created mirror images of the outer pocket flaps on the inside. One pocket is a functional flap; the other is a zippered rectangle made of two pieces to look like the flap (amazingly, I had a 7" natural zipper in my stash!). When the vest was done, both interior pocket "flaps" exactly matched the exterior ones! And I have nice, secure places to stash my personals. :)

63743312 5F5797A5DbThe main pieces all went together according to the pattern instructions, except for the collar. I put the collar together before attaching it to the neck, since otherwise the piping would have been sewn in with no way to turn it out. After trimming out the excess batting, I understitched the collar lining, to keep the fat seam allowances from popping up and creating a ridge around the collar. They turned out nice and flat. Now I had something resembling a piped pita pocket (the curved edge sewn together, and the neck edge left open). I sewed each half of the collar to its corresponding neck--the quilted undercollar to the vest, and the top of the collar to the lining (it sounds backwards, but the collar is always worn with the "inside" showing). I wound up with the vest and lining hanging from the collar right sides together, and sewed the front edges together as per the pattern instructions, skipping the collar. It took some finagling but it turned out nice. In this photo, the whole thing resembles an upside-down "Y", and actually looks like the pattern image!

63743955 69Ce91B28CI was able to follow the pattern instructions for attaching the lining to the vest from there forward. Everything went together beautifully (with the walking foot), and I think I'll use this method for future vests, bodices, etc. whenever possible. It's sure easier to turn up a hem than to close up the armholes! When I got to the final step, the entire vest was enclosed in the back lining, which reminded me of Louise Cutting's "burrito roll" (method of attaching a yoke); so I called it the "enchilada" (photo at left)!

Finally, hems! I wanted to turn both hems up to the inside and topstitch them, instead of doing a double-fold hem. I didn't need an elastic cord casing and I thought it would look nicer. So I trimmed the whole vest up to my desired finished length plus a large seam allowance, and pinned the vest and lining until they hung properly. The only problem was, because the back lining seam went through all layers of the back/side back pieces, I couldn't turn it up without picking some of it out; and no matter how much I picked out, it wouldn't turn up, because all the seam allowances turned towards the center back. I clipped one of the seam allowances on each side so it would turn to the side-back piece, and hemmed the vest in three sections: the two front/side pieces, and the back section. So there are tiny little exposed sections that I need to go back and slip-stitch closed.

Also, I skipped the step that attached the two collar halves on the inside by sewing together the seam allowances; so I'll need to go back and stitch in the ditch a couple of inches along the neck to hold them together. Probably won't get around to that until I have to send it to the dry cleaners!

The final vest turned out so luxuriously nice, Tina and Lisa suggested I find a nice brooch to hide the velcro in the chest ID pocket so I can wear it out with jeans! I'm debating removing the velcro, if I can think of another way to attach the ID... perhaps jewelry pin backs, like on a tie tack?

Update: 10/19/05
This morning before class I topstitched the pocket flaps down. They turned out really nice and were what caught Tina's eye when I pulled the pieces out in class:

If you look at the seam on the left, you can also see how nicely the quilting lines up across the seam, thanks to Scott! Last night I had the pieces basted together and laid out on the table, trying to figure out how to draw the quilting across seams that aren't straight lines. He suggested drawing the first two lines from the outside (front edge) to the middle (center back), then working outwards from there. (Click below for a larger image; the quilting lines are in light blue.)

We did a little fudging around the curves, but the front panel squares are all on 45-degrees and it looks fantastic (as far as we could tell from reference photos, the quilting lines don't match up. We just thought it was a nice touch.). The funny thing is, I had hoped to get to this part earlier in the day; but if I had, I would have missed out on Scott's most excellent solution.

With all the detail work done (except the spy pockets, I keep forgetting them), today I started putting the major pieces together. I'm mostly going to follow the Jalie pattern instructions on this, although I'm not sure I'll understand how they get the lining in there until I'm actually at that step. It looks like an ingenious way to get the armholes stitched while they're still flat, and I'm all for that! The one thing I'll have to change for sure is putting the collar on *after* the lining instead of before (the collar piping interferes with the pattern method). I've also decided to shorten the length and hem it differently.

I'm really happy with my fabric choice on this. After prewashing, it kept its sheen but took on a soft, smooth hand, almost like sandwashed silk. With the quilting, it really has that outerwear look and feel, and I think the color is just right.

My love affair with "Piper" (the piping foot) and "Walker" (the dual-feed foot) continues. They are a cinch to use and really help everything go together without a lot of effort. Oh, and the water-soluble disappearing ink pen is the best thing since sliced bread!

Update: 10/18/05
A good day's work:

The three yoke pieces and collar are actually the lining. No quilting is visible in reference photos, so to keep the batting from shifting I decided to quilt the lining.

Also today I made all the piping, the chest ID pocket (my props arrived from Corellian Exports last night, yay!), and the front pocket flaps. Lots of detail work, slow going, totally worth it.


Post: 10/05/2005
For Hoth Leia's vest, I'm working with Jalie #2450, which is just about as close as you can get to the real thing! Other than eliminating the zipper/placket and changing the shape of the collar, the only adjustments I plan are cosmetic (different quilting pattern, and add the chest ID pocket). After looking at a few more reference photos, I've also decided to add faux front pockets. I'll probably add spy pockets on the inside for stashing money, ID, car keys, etc.

Today in class I basted together a muslin and checked it for fit. For once, I'll actually be making a pattern all of one size, instead of multi-sizing it to fit my hips! For the collar, I followed the pattern at the neckline, but ignored the top edge and cut it way huge. Then I basted it on and stood in front of a mirror with reference photos while Tina drew the right shape (which appears to continue the line of the vest front edge). I'm thrilled with the outcome:

Lastly, we drew on the chest ID pocket. While I'm waiting for my Denver Fabrics order to arrive, I'll draw the quilting and faux pocket lines. Otherwise, I'm done until I have the fabric in hand.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Jessie's Official!

My friend Jessie's costume was accepted for membership in the Rebel Legion. She's a first-time member so it's very exciting! She made a great Barris Offee costume (she even looks like her), including embossing the velvet herself! Her costume profile is here. Even better, she recently joined my sewing class so I get to see her every week!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Narnia Standards

62267491 Bc2235C374
Today's project: Standards, for the children's ministry's new Narnia theme. These banners will hang in pairs from poles stationed around the visitor room, which loosely recreates the scene pictured in this screensaver. It's a rush job ("I forget if you're the kind of person that's energized by the last-minute rush", the Generational Pastor Sylvia left on my voicemail), so I was just going to steam-a-seam the edges, but taught myself to serge a 2-thread rolled edge after Tina suggested it instead (2 threads, because that's all I had enough matching thread for; and I was using up different shades of leftover spools for that!). I'm pretty pleased with the results, although the orange fabric kept unraveling (while I serged it, unbelievable!), so I repaired those edges with a tiny zig-zag and some fray-block. And now I know what those sinister-looking dagger-like attachments (the stitch finger and 2-thread converter) for the serger are!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hoth Leia is Official!

I submitted my newest costume to the Rebel Legion in the wee hours of this morning, and it was approved before breakfast. That was fast! Click to see the costume profile or my user profile (with links to both of my RL costumes).