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Picking proper fabric: Fiber content (super sexy OOOOOO)

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Picking the right fabric can make or break a costume. And I don’t mean screen correct, but I mean quality, weave, texture, pattern, shine. You don’t have to spend a fortune on getting the most accurate fabric possible, but understanding what kinda of fabrics are best to use can take your costume game to a whole new level.

I’m not going to give you a crash course on textiles or how they are sewn. Getting into the specifics of burn tests and fiber content percentages isn’t something you need to know going into your costume planning. Instead I’ll go over a few important points for you to keep in mind, and a few examples of what fabric’s I’d choose for different costumes. Originally this was just going to be one post, but I get really excited about textiles and can ramble (such a nerd about this stuff). So this post is about fiber content, the next one will be about different weaves.

When I first started sewing fiber content was something I never, ever thought about. I never looked at the end of bolts because it didn’t really matter. And when I’m sewing stuff for normal wear, I don’t think about it a whole lot. I’m not a real snooty sewer who is silk charmeuse obsessed, I sew with what I like. But with costumes I’m really anal about what fiber contents I use.

Natural fibers
Natural fibers are my favorite! Mostly because it breathes. If you’ve ever been stuck in a walkway at Dragon*Con you’ll understand the importance of being in a costume that doesn’t retain every drop of sweat.

Cotton: From the humble cotton plant, this is the best fiber ever, in my opinion, It sews well, it presses well, and It also dyes really well. You can also find all kinds of different weaves and weights. But keep in mind, not all cotton is created equal. Some are thick and lovely, while others can wrinkle badly or too lightweight. Price range $-$$$

Wool: Sheered from our cute and cuddly animal friends! From Sheep to alpacas, this bad boy also breathes and dyes well. Downsides include dry-cleaning… and it’s wool which is known for being a bit on the warm side. $$-$$$$

Linen: Are you looking for the best fabric to make your Avatar: The Last Airbender cosplay out of? Use linen. Linen is a plant based fiber from flax. It has a lovely rustic texture, is easily washable, dyeable, and sews well. Downsides include wrinkling, but that kind of adds to the charm, I think. $$-$$$

Silk: Taken from the cute little silk worm’s cocoons. I’m gonna be straight up honest with you on this one, I hardly ever use real silk for cosplay costumes. I think it’s really price prohibitive and can be a pain to work with. It’ll show water drops if your iron leaks, you may or may not have to dry clean it, it can be really slippery depending on the weave, but it’s also really lovely. You can dye and paint silk in amazing ways and get absolutely beautiful color. It feels amazing, and there’s so many different weaves and textures to choose from. It’s also an investment $$$-$$$$

Other natural fibers I don’t use much but are available include Bamboo, soy, hemp. They are basically better cotton and hemp is like a stronger variation of linen. $$-$$$$

Leather: I think we are familiar with leather. It can be luxurious, slightly stretchy (and I mean slightly), easily manipulated, you can dye it, stain it, paint it. But buying leather is a different process since you are buying hides of animal skin, and it’s measured by the square inch. It’s also pricey, and you may or may not have a desire to use animal hides for personal reasons. $$$-$$$$ More information about leather hide measuring and purchasing can be found here.

The middle child, Rayon: I’m having a stupid love affair with Rayon right now. But it’s not technically a natural fiber since it’s man made, but it’s not a synthetic material because it’s made from plant cellulose. It can be stiffer or flowy. It feels wonderful, it can breathe, and it doesn’t have to be stupid expensive. Other terms you may see include viscose, modal and lyocell. $-$$$

Synthetics
Synthetics are great because they are less expensive than natural fibers. And there is basically 2 kinds: Polyester and Nylon The downside is, they aren’t as versatile when it comes to the ability to take dye and they don’t breathe like a natural fiber does. Well, except for one big caveat: super fancy sports manufactured fabrics. Think Under Armour shirts. Those guys are polyester and sometimes nylon mixed but science has made them wickable and breathable. When I need spandex, I look here first. If I can find the color I need with a moisture management spandex I will. And it will make all the difference in the world.

Not all synthetics are stretchy like spandex, but they can be much cheaper than their natural alternatives. But there is a downside, if you aren’t careful you can melt it if ironing it too high, and sometimes it’s hard to get a good press.

And my favorite synthetic: Faux leather/pleather. It’s still pricey, but is no where near as pricey as real leather. It doesn’t have the same texture or share the same richness as real leather, but you can buy it by the bolt, and they make some really nice ones these days.

Tip sparkle rightA note on dying synthetics: They make dye for polyester. There is one called iDye by Jacquard (it will say “for Polyester”) and Rit just came out with a new formulation called Dyemore which I wanted to try, but nowhere local carries it right now. I recently tried iDye and, straight up, those colors are rich and intense (not what I was looking for at the time) and mixing colors can be a bit of a challenge, especially with their “mess free bags” which dissolve when water touches them. Not ideal for measuring it out 1 teaspoon at a time.

Nylon CAN take dye really well (and normally does) or it can be stupid stubborn and won’t take any. It’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Fiber blends
This is what happens when a natural fiber and a synthetic fiber fall in love. Who cares if their love isn’t natural? So they run away together and have a fabric baby that is part natural fiber/part synthetic. Like if a human and a robot had a baby and it was born Robocop. They are kinda freaks, but can also be REALLY AWESOME!

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Like stretch denim. Something most people have fallen in love with. It’s denim (cotton) with a little spandex to keep it stretchy. So it fits all your curves, is flexible to move in, and can allow you to take your jeans off on the 3rd wear without having to unbutton them.

Or blend poplin: 65% Polyester/ 35% cotton. Semi breathable, crisp, irons well, resists fading, and resists wrinkles! Its no wonder it’s used for uniforms.

When not making magical happy things that defy normal laws of fabric physics, they create cheap alternatives of more expensive types of fabric. For example: You know you need a wool texture for a coat, but wool is $20 a yard, a wool/poly blend can cost half that! But you are reducing the breathability a bit, so it might actually make you sweat more than normal wool would.

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So you’re ready to shop but aren’t sure where to find the fiber content? If you’re in a fabric store, check the end of the bolt. It’s mandated by law to have the fiber content listed. Online fabric stores will have it listed in the product description.

What’s your experience with fiber content? Is it something you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about? Are there fiber types you like to use? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Until next time…

*banner photo credit http:[email protected]/15786685051

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Cosplay Starter Kit: Planning your costume (Part 2)

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Last time I talked a bit about narrowing your costume selection down, and this time I’m going to go into the nitty gritty of planning out the costume. You can do this for all of your costumes first, and then narrow down or you can do it after. If you’re new to making costumes, you might want to do this step first because it will help you figure out all the bits and pieces for each costume and you can evaluate your time, skills, and costs early. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I have a pretty good grasp of what skills I have etc so I’m comfortable estimating that on the front end.

I’m a visual person, so I’ve created some worksheets, you can get these for free (Yes! Free!) These are pretty great because you can 3-hole punch ’em, put them in a binder and keep them for future reference if needed.

 

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Now for the meat and potatoes of today’s post: here’s how I plan out my costumes and use the planning sheets. My examples are digital so they are easier to read, but I do a lot of sketching by hand too.

Aquaman
I’m bookin’ it to squeeze in my Aquaman costume by HeroesCon (a mere 3 weeks away) between some swimsuit commissions and a wedding dress, so planning is crucial!

Page 1: Reference Shots
First things first, Grab all the reference pictures you can find. The internet is full of great shots (normally) but you also might need to go straight to the source material and/or sketch stuff out. I usually do both. I was lucky enough to have the artist sketch out the costume details for me (thanks, twitter!). I also grabbed different Aquaman shots for color, shapes, and specifics.
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Page 2: Costume sketches
The next bits aren’t too far off of industry fashion line sewing:
I start drawing out all the bits and pieces. ALL OF THEM. Don’t skimp on this stage. The drawings don’t need to be works of art, but need to be clear enough so you know what you’re doing. Draw the front, the back, accessories, shoes. Get it all out there. Not only will this help you figure out everything you need, a lot of time it helps you get your mind around how things need to be constructed, or process you might need to learn.

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Page 3: Costume Materials  Fabric
This is a sewing blog of sorts, and I personally hate refashioning, but if you are buying and/or altering ready to wear, you can go looking for pieces that fit what you’re looking for right now. But you might want to stay tuned to this part because it could help you find the pieces you need a little easier.

If you are not comfortable drafting your own pattern, now is the time to look for appropriate ones. You have your sketch, and all patterns have technical sketches! This is probably the coolest thing I nerd out about with patterns. It’s so easy to get distracted (or lured in) by how cool the picture looks on the envelope, but we are looking at the black and white line drawing. This shows us the bones of the pattern. I like to do this whether I use a pattern or draft my own because it also helps me estimate the yardage I’ll need of specific fabrics.

I’ll be using McCalls 7122 (view c) for the dress:

McCalls M7122

 

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I chose this pattern because it doesn’t have a lot of sewn in shaping like darts, and I like the raglan sleeve because it’s less easing I’ll have to do inserting the sleeve, which with sequin fabric that’s pretty pricey and not the easiest thing to work with, seems like a plus. I’ll be making some changes though, I need to raise and lengthen the neckline to make it boat shaped neckline, and take in and shorten the bottom of the skirt as well.

The leggings I’ll be self drafting because it goes over shoes, but this McCalls pattern also has a legging patten I can use if I want. Yippie! I’ll be drafting the cape because it can’t be that hard, right? (This is how I get myself in trouble.)

I then went online and grabbed some swatches, but you can glue or pin on actual fabric swatches here as well. You can order these online or check with your local fabric store, they might give them to you for free!

Now that the blueprint has been set, I can work out the costs and keep track of the fabric I need to buy. I know from the pattern envelope I need at least 2 yards of fabric, so I’m rounding up to 3 Just in case. I’m just a round up/play it on the safe side kinda gal.

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I’ve never worked with sequins to this capacity before so I want to make sure I have enough in the event of mistakes, and apparently you need extra sequins so I know I’ll be covered. The sequin fabric is somewhat stretchy, based on a power mesh backing so I’ll need a lining as well. I also learned from the internet that you should always line sequin dress because they can be scratchy. I also am utilizing some spandex from my stash for the legging and the cape that’s left over from bridesmaids dresses. I also know I’m using gold stretch pleather for the belt, so I put that down here as well.SG Costume planning worksheets_2015

Once my fabric is picked out, I can put down where to buy it (really important incase you need to order more) and the cost. Finally, I try to think of all the notions I’ll need; zippers thread, elastic, etc and put that down. I can now add up all the costs and get an estimate for how much money I’ll be spending on fabric. Yay and boo, all at the same time.

Page 4: Costume Materials — Props and Accessories
The last page! Or maybe pages, depending on your costume. I use the same process as page 3. I drew out my Trident design in illustrator so I’d have quick reference (I have it actual size elsewhere), a quick side view of the earring, and a list of the other accessories since they are pretty well laid out on the sketch. You might need to do a bit of thinking here to try and wrestle out how exactly you plan on making all your prop pieces so you accurately choose your materials.

I crammed all mine on page because there isn’t a lot of detailed pieces, but you might want several pages with deeply outlined materials and budget costs for each accessory piece.

I listed and sketched out the accessories I’ll need to the side and just added all the costs together. You can see I tried to list every darn thing I could think of that I’d need to make everything. You can put wig costs, shoe costs, plus base materials here.

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Then add up your costs from page 3 and page 4. Maybe scream, maybe cry, maybe get really excited because it will cost less than you think. Whatever your reaction, you’re ready to start making!

Next time I’ll be talking a bit about different kinds of fabrics for those unsure about what fabrics to choose.

*While writing this post I found a phone app called Cosplanner which you can track all your costuming planning the same way digitally. It’s pretty cool! But I like having the sheets to reference because they are bigger and I can take notes and draw on them. But I’m an old fuddy duddy that’s stuck in my analog ways.

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Weekly round-up 5.15.15

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I joke I have my own little Toothless (well, 2 of them now). And by joke I mean clutch them close to my chest and cry whenever I watch How to Train Your Dragon. Now you can make your very own Toothless with this tutorial  (7 part tutorial series on Deviant Art)

I really enjoy taking ridiculous selfies with my cats. This is Midna, btw.
I really enjoy taking ridiculous selfies with my cats. This is Midna, own lil’ Toothless. She treats me like a tree.

Did you know by putting fishing line in the narrow hem of you petticoat can get you from square dancer to anime approved?

Apparently you can make your own Worbla if you have ingenuity. Here’s a video tutorial outlining how to do it. Personally buying it pre-made is worth paying the extra few bucks if for not other reason than to save my sanity (and my marriage).

This amazing set of Cigarette cards depicting possible professions for women from the the 1880s popped up in feed recently.  I want to make them all!! I’m definitely drawn towards the Amazon King, personally.

Also, Nimona is out this week. If you didn’t follow along online, I’d suggest picking it up. I got mine this week and can’t wait to read the epilogue!

Did you know the Princess Leia ceremonial gown from A New Hope had been lost for years? It was recently found and restored to the best of their ability and was displayed at Star Wars week in Anaheim. You can look at all the amazing details here. Makes me wish I wasn’t already married so I could make this for my wedding dress and make my 10-year-old self’s dreams come true.

Last but not least, I just finished watching Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. One part Enders Game mixed with one part Waterworld, if Waterworld was a good movie. As of right now it’s on Crunchy Roll and Netflix and I recommend it!

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Cosplay Starter Kit: Planning your costume (Part 1 )

starterkit_1It’s love at first sight. You see it, you need it, you want to make and be inside that wonderful outfit. You love the character, you love everything about their costume and you’re ready to to get elbow deep in fabric, silicone, latex, Worbla whatever to make sure this beautiful vision you see becomes a reality. You stare at photos online, dreaming of what it would be like to put on those wings and show your love to the world.

It’s so easy to get excited and get lost in the process that things don’t turn out quite as you planned. Maybe the fabric isn’t right or it doesn’t fit how you wanted. You are convinced evenly distributed spray paint is a thing of myth. You’ve cried more times over something going wrong, and you have 2 days before you leave for the con, and you just cut two left sleeves out of your last bit of fabric. Or your clear coat won’t dry, or accidentally bleach half of your perfectly dyed fabric cleaning the washing machine…

I get it. I mean, I reeeallllyyy get it! Through trial and error, and working in a deadline focused industry, I’ve learned over the years how to properly plan a large project, and no project is larger than a cosplay (not true, but it feels that way).

Planning a costume is the most fun! I plan more costumes than I could manage to possibly make. It’s a process full of possibilities and excitement! And if you’re anything like me, you love finding out everything you can about the character, costumes, materials needed and reverse engineering how something might go together. But I’m no fool, It can also be really daunting if you’ve never done it before. Here at Seams Geeky we try to take as much confusion out of the process as possible. That means lots and lots of research and planning, including calendars and budget sheets.

Ok, first things first. You bought your con tickets and hotel a year in advance, and now you just need to figure out what to wear!

Figuring out what costume(s) you want to make 
Dig through your files (or pinterest boards), meditate, search your soul and determine what costume or costumes you want to make. Gather them all! Then start sorting through all of them and narrow it down.

First: Evaluate skill level.
This isn’t the end-all-be-all but you need to start with what you are comfortable with. Making a costume is great because you learn SO much each time you make something. What skills do you already posses? What skills are you confident in? What fabrics are you comfortable using?

Next: What skills do you want to learn?
Want to work with Worbla but never had before? Great! Never made a petticoat and want to learn? Fantastic! The best part of running into battle (and I consider every costume a battle) is it’s a trial by fire.

But you have to have time to learn. You’re probably not going to get it right the first time, so onto part 3:

What is your time line?
Do you have a whole year to make one costume? Do you have 2 months? Do you feel confident that you can learn what you need to in time, or will you be slapping it together at the end?

Now this one is optional: Think about your body image.
It’s a tough subject to talk about, especially with cosplay, so I want to be clear that I’m not saying throw out costumes because you’re worried you don’t have the same proportions. Screw that nonsense, wear what you want! What I’m saying is: If you think you need to lose 20 pounds before you can wear the cosplay, you should lose the 20 pounds (or be well on the way to losing it) before starting construction.

Tip sparkle rightI try to emphasize this with any custom garment I make:
A body can change a lot, by building muscle, by losing fat, so once you start making your costume, try to stay the same weight. The last thing you want is to have to take in 2 inches because now it doesn’t fit right. That’s a lot of last minute stress you don’t need.

I was talking to a client the other night about a costume, and she mentioned she wanted to lose some weight and I had to let her know that her costume would take about 2 months to make, so come July, she has to stop losing weight and stay the same size, otherwise she’ll risk the costume not fitting.

And finally, what is your most favorite that you HAVE to make right now? Because it’d be nice if the world was all puppies and rainbows and we did everything by the books, but sometimes passion completely wins out!

*Drum roll please*
My 2015 Cosplay list I put together the end of last year with a focus of getting several complete for DragonCon. Here’s why I chose each one per my narrowing parameters:

I’ve done a decent amount of comic cosplays in the past, and I was trying to diversify a bit this year. I originally wanted to do 1 Comic Character, 1 anime character, and 1 Video Game character. Cover my trifecta of geekiness. Somehow, though It ended up being very anime heavy. I don’t mind this, because anime is my FAVORITE, and it’s how the cards of fate fell.

Nova Prime

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Why is that? I NEED TO MAKE IT. The second I saw Glenn Close walk on screen in the uniform, I knew it was destiny. That’s a #5. But I also know I can accomplish it. There’s going to be some pattern drafting, a little bit of molding and casting (enough to learn from, but not too much to feel overwhelmed. And if need be, I can do some last minute foam pieces), and I have a friend who’s going to style the wig. DONE!

Meryl and Milly:
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I’m REALLY excited about this because I get to cosplay with my bestie! The outfits are mostly sewn, so that’s in my wheelhouse. Plus, we are totally Meryl and Milly. It’s going to be great. I do have some apprehensions with the guns, but if the big stun gun doesn’t get made, it won’t kill the costume and there’s some derringer Air Softs out there in a crunch.

Kuranosuke from Princess Jellyfish:
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If you haven’t caught on by now: Princess Jellyfish Forever (PJF). Also, I want that dress, and it’ll be fun to make without being too stressful. And I love Kuranosuke. I also think it’s funny to be  girl dressing as a boy dressing like a girl…

I had two optionals, but they needed to get set aside for another day. But then this came along:

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That’s a combination of all things I love, genderbend, Aquaman, and a dream casting of Charlize Theron AS Aquaman. Plus, Jordan Gibson dress me the full body costume for costume reference because he’s awesome. I’ll also get to play with Worbla, which has been on my list a long time.

So I had to say goddbye to Kuranosuke. For now.

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Coming up in part 2: getting into the nitty gritty of costume specifics, plus a freebie for everyone!

What are your cosplay plans for the year? Do you have any apprenstions? I’d love to see what you plan on working on!

 

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The Power of Practice

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Oh man, just the idea of practicing things gives me cold sweats. I remember as a kid taking piano lessons and procrastinating on practicing and then I’d go into my next lesson embarrassed because I still sucked at playing Frère Jacques. I think there’s two parts to that equation: 1) I had no desire to play Frère Jacques (rock and roll, please) and 2) practicing is scary because you screw up. A lot. And that can take a toll on your self esteem.

I mean, this is true of everything we have to practice. It’s not like I understood the quadratic equation the first time I tried it, but because my homework sheet had 20 problems I had to answer using it, I
eventually figured it out. But when it comes to hobbies or extracurriculars, it’s up to us to tell ourselves its something we want to learn. And that’s hard. For one thing, it’s really sucks not understanding it the first time. I think we all have grand dreams of being perfect the first time around. We are just SO awesome, and that can’t be THAT hard. We’re bound to be prodigies. And for some people, they are. And for the rest of us, well we have to work for it. Which means you have to motivate yourself to get there. And we can all get there with one simple attribute:

Blind stubbornness.

Seriously.

You have to pump yourself up, play “Eye of the Tiger” or “Don’t Stop Believing,” or “I Believe I Can Fly.” Whatever your poison (Hey, if “Talk Dirty to Me” is your thing, go for it!). If you need to pin up a piece of paper entering your crafting space and jump through it, do it! I do this:

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And then you tackle your project. And screw up, rip it out, re-cut it, re-glue it, and probably cry a few time along the way. But you can’t give up, because you are gonna own it (literally and figuratively) when you’re done!

You all know I’m a huge fan of sewing. It’s my favorite. I’m comfortable with it, I’ve been doing it for years, and I’m always trying to get better by trying new things. Once you learn the basics, you have to try new things. It gets really boring if you don’t.

My one word of advice here, take baby steps. Don’t try and make a ball gown your first time out if you haven’t sewn before.

That nonsense is tricky. There’s usually a lot of technique that goes into a fancy gown. I mean you can do it, but it’s real easy to get frustrated and drop everything. Lots of tears, anger, “I sucks” and a crushed crafting self esteem. And that’s no fun. This stuff should be fun!

 

Tip sparkle leftNow in respect to cosplay, man, we are swimming in some uncharted waters (unless you went to school for it). So I’m gonna drop some SeamsGeeky™ Wisdom on you: practice on something smaller first.

 

Shocking, I know. But that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. I mean, we want that sweet, sweet movie accurate Black Widow catsuit NOW! But from experience, cosplay isn’t cheap and the last thing you want to mess something up half way with your $25 (or more!) a yard fabric because you jumped into the deep end before you knew how to kick.

Sewing breaks down into levels of techniques and skills which add up to the knowledge of making something. You kinda have to build up your own mental toolbox before taking on something crazy.

• Sewing a straight seam
• Knowing what are the best tools for the job
• Understanding how patterns look and how they go together
• Pattern alterations
• Understanding textiles and textile best practices
• Fabric grain
• When to machine stitch, when to hand stitch
• The right interfacing for the job
• Fit (this is the hardest, I think)
• Tailoring
• Draping

I could go on for days. And there is, like, a billion variations on themes. It seems overwhelming, I know.

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So when I want to learn something, I break down what exactly I want to learn. I HATE learning with “samples.” I don’t want to insert a zipper into a square of fabric, I want something usable at the end, not just a zipper randomly floating around my sewing room. I don’t have the time or space for that. So I figure out a project where I can use a new skill and try it hands-on then complete that project. And I try not to make it too hard on myself.

Need to learn how to put in a zipper? Sew up a simple, unlined skirt (from a  sewing pattern. Online sewing tutorials when your learning can suck, and having an instruction sheet really helps) out of a basic cotton. Seriously. You get something usable you can be proud of (Self Esteem Booster!) And you’ll have learned how to put in a zipper, and gotten better at cutting out patterns, understanding pattern shapes, sewing a straight seam, seam finishing, probably interfacing, hemming, and most importantly, putting in that zipper. (the cotton helps you hide those holes if you have to rip it out and redo it).

Rinse. Repeat. You’re going to get better and better every time. I had an art teacher who told me, “Draw it 3 times, and you’ll be amazed how much better the last one looks. Then do it 3 more.” But drawing an apple 6 times is boring. 3 skirts and 3 dresses to add to my closet? Plus with all the amazing licensed fabric there is now, you can fill out your geek wardrobe and have much more fun.

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Anytime I try something new, I try to do it in a small scale on a wearable project first. And I’m probably going to repeat this over and over. In every post. From here to eternity. The main reason I like doing things this way is because it boosts your self esteem, which is hard to keep up sometimes. That way when you’re ready tackle that costume, you feel armed with the skills to figure it out! Scared to work with spandex? Make some leggings or a swimsuit. Unsure of leather? Make a bag, or add some leather accents to a jacket. When you spend 3 months on a costume, you want to be proud of it, so you need that firm foundation. I mean, every costume is it’s own adventure, and it can feel like you are running full steam in one direction, and hoping that it’s the right way.

We are all students in the classroom of life (<——cheesy, but I don’t care). And new things always seem scary, but you have to face it sometimes. You might need to amp yourself to start, but you don’t have to run if you just learned to crawl.

You totally have this under control. You got this! You can do anything!

And I’ll collectively help as much as I can!

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Fabric stashes—a cautionary tale

The Benefits and Pitfalls of a Sewing Stockpile

When you first start sewing, the whole world of clothing… changes.

Shopping for clothes isn’t as fun anymore. Because you look at
something and go “Pshhh! I could make that.” And you could! It might
take some research and skill, but you could make that, and it would
fit better, you’d love it more, and it won’t cost as much!

(Side note: Most of those are lies. Sewing for yourself can get<
expensive quickly. Yes, you can save money, but only if you compare
yourself to designer or high end clothes. I stopped thinking about
sewing as saving money a long time ago, instead I think about it as
“I’d rather pay more for something that fits.” And sometimes I
don’t love it more. Sometimes I wear it once then donate it.)

Thoughts of a wardrobe or cute clothes in cat prints and chevrons
float across your mind’s eye. “YES! THIS IS EVERYTHING!” So you go to
the fabric store, and browse for the perfect fabric (which I guarantee
isn’t there). You might not find the perfect fabric for what you
wanted, but Novelty prints are 30% off, and that X-Wing print is
calling your name! You HAVE to buy it! You NEEEEEED IT! More than you
needed anything in the entire world (please picture 23 year old Laurel
at the fabric store stopping herself from a toddler size meltdown over
Star Wars fabric before realizing “I’m an adult, I can buy whatever I
want.”) Oh, and this star fabric will make a perfect skirt, and I
think I need dress pants for work…. and Simplicity patters are 5 for $10.
Before you know it, you’ve spent $250 on a bunch of fabric, notions, thread, and patterns. You get home, and are SUPER excited about everything you’re going to make RIGHT NOW! You’ve seen Project Runway, you know that a ballgown can be made in 8 hours,
and you’re just making a few dresses and skirts, you’ll get all this
done tonight if you don’t sleep!

Then your best friend calls and asks if you want to go out to
dinner, so you leave the bag untouched on your floor for another day.
You forget about it. Maybe you even add a few more.

Yeah, pretty much something like this.

Then one day while playing video games you go, “Huh. Didn’t I buy some
Star Wars fabric?” You realize you’ve accumulated this huge
backlog of projects, some of which you don’t even want to make
anymore. Did you really buy “Peace and Love” flannel? *face palm*

Stashes are the most wonderful thing in the world to accumulate, then the worst thing to have.

Well not the worst, but it can get a bit daunting, and most of it
isn’t needed. (Well, that’s not true either… I’m a bit of a stash
addict, still in denial) there are certain things you want to have on
hand at all times.  If I had a Sewing and Crafting fairy when I first
started, the first thing she’d say is “Don’t buy something unless you
have a project for it.” But that’s no fun.

When I go to fabric shopping now, I bring a list of what I’m looking for, the
yardage I need, notions, what to get if on sale, etc. I also find I am
more likely to plan projects now because space is limited, and I’m
more focused on what I make and do.

Tip sparkle leftCosplay tip: If you have several projects planned out for sometime in the future, keep a list of fabrics and notions you need on hand at all times because when you want blue pleather Murphy’s Law says you won’t be able just the right one. You never know when you might find just what you need.

So without any more rambling on and on…here is what I stash away for a rainy day:

Basically try to keep on hand any notion you will completely forget to buy

  • Elastics
    varying sizes and colors and types
  • Buttons
    A lot of time I buy buttons specifically for projects but I also capitalize of good deals, like those bags of assorted shirt buttons and throw them all in my button bucket.
  • Various other closures
    sew on, snaps, hook and eyes, grommets
  • Velcro
    I usually but 1 inch wide in white and black. You can dye
    white velcro really easily to match projects. See more about dying
    here. You can cut it thinner if you want. I personally like this snag
    free the best.
  • Zippers
    I like to have a variety of zippers in various colors, lengths, and types. Invisible being my favorite, but both kinds are handy, and I always opt for longer vs shorter because shortening zippers is easy
  • Interfacing
    Various kinds, fusible, sew-in, black, white, woven, non-woven) and recently I’ve started using fusible interfacing on a roll for small area like neck bands, button plackets, or inserting zippers. You can get bias cut (sometimes called wigan) or on-grain straight cut
  • Muslin
    I buy this by the bolt, but just having a few yards on hand can be a life saver
  • Sewing machine needles
    In various sizes and for various tasks (stretch, microtex heavyweight, twin, topstitching, etc.)
  • Thread
    I always keep white, black, and light grey. I like to buy these in big spools so I have lots on hand)
  • Fabric basics in basic colors
    White cotton jersey, spandex, lining fabric, broadcloth and voile or batiste, a few satins, denim and twills to name a few. Whatever you sew with the most, have some basic colors on hand
  • Fun miscellaneous trims
    Stretch lace, normal lace, bias binding, piping, rick rack, ribbon, etc for when your project just needs a little something special
  • Dye (optional)
    You may have figured by now I do I decent amount of dying, so I have a large tupperware stored away with different dyes in a variety of colors
  • Any materials needed for niche items (optional)
    For example, I love sewing corsets so I like to keep steel boning, grommet, coutil, and laces on hand so I don’t have to wait for an order to come in. Some items are hard to get, or you get a better price for buying in a larger quantity so it’s nice to have a little stockpile for last minute projects.

I never feel guilty about having a bunch of this stuff stocked away. The fun prints and stuff? Those are things I try to buy on an “as-need” (and as I mentioned above, sometimes you NEEEEED things for no rational reason) basis.

How big is your stash? Do you find it valuable? What kind of things do
you stash away?

header photo credit: Buzzfarmers via flickr (creative commons license)
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Weekly round-up

Binding header

Guys, I’m not gonna lie: I’m really obsessed with Kimonos right now, so I’ll try to keep this roundup as Kimono-light as possible. Luckily, the husband and I saw the new Avengers: Age of Ultron last night, so it won’t be all Kimono all the time.

I know the pictures have been out awhile, but seriously, how great is that Ombré jacket Wanda wears?

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I’ve been spending a decent amount time trying to find Ombré leather dying tutorials online, and coming up with nada, but here’s a basic leather dying tutorial to get you started on experimenting. Thanks e-how! I’m pretty sure the rusty nail or the tea option is the best way to get an even ombré.

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Just love the Ombré look but not comfortable working with leather? Why not ombré a cotton twill then wax it? Costume designer Alexandra Byrne (my personal costuming hero and costume designer for a good share of the Marvel movies including Age of Ultron) has used a variety ways giving wovens unique finishes to emulate and pair with leather.

How to Ombré dip dye

Otter Wax tutorial video

I’ve done a lot (and I mean A LOT) of research concerning kimonos in a very short period of time. Did you know most Kimono silk is still hand painted? And you have to apprentice for a minimum of 7 years! It’s a process called Yuzen, and it’s really impressive to watch.

I’ve been watching Death Parade (stupid name, really interesting anime). The opening song is so much fun and is done by a band named Bradio. Here’s it is to jump start your weekend! Have a great one!