Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twill Has Been Found!

I got my order from Fashion Fabrics Club the other day, and they totally came through with the labelling of each type of fabric.

I measured the widths of each bolt and subtracted out the ratty edges (I THINK that's called the selvage) to get the total useable lenght.

Sadly, the smallest of the bolts was the one that had the best color, the red. No big deal, as my dye tests have shown that any of these colors will work equally as well. God bless cotton.

For the record, I am going with the Strawberry Red Twill, part number KKK858. Here's a link directly to that fabric. I'm going to place an order for a few yards of it right now.

That is all. Carry on.

I just ordered 8 yards. That should give me enough to make two capes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attaching Multipass Graphics

One of the bummers of being busy is that you don't find a lot of time to do multipass tutorials. But lots of folks have been asking me what I recommend for attaching the graphics to the pass once it's all put together and painted.

I recommend any one of these three products.

The each have advantages and disadvantages. I personally prefere the Mono Adhesive in the lower right hand corner. It is VERY thin, and holds just great, but it's a little difficult to work with, and to lay it down smoothly. In fact, it's almost impossible.

Second choice would be the yellow stuff. It's a lot thicker than the Mono Adhesive, but can be laid down very flat and evenly. It's a little problematic to handle, but not too difficult.

The red stuff is the easiest to use, as it has applicator tape include. So you have one surface you can handle all you want and not screw it up. It's also the thickest out of all of the three, if you care about that type of stuff.

So that's it! All of these can probably be found at Office Max, or something like it. Target usually carries both of the scotch brand tapes.

I hope that helps!

Labeled Fabric Arrives

Great news, blog readers! Today my shipment of fabric bits showed up, AND they managed to follow my directions and label them!

Now all I need to do is make a final decision about which one to use, and I will be all set to place my order. By my reckoning, any one of these will dye down to be a very good approximation of the color I want, so it's really all about the size. Assuming I have time to get around to measuring them tonight, I may very well order the stuff tomorrow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Attempt With New Pattern

A few days ago, my Kwik-Sew pattern arrived in the mail. This is my second successful transaction with the company that sells patterns online, so I guess I'm ready to commit to endorsing them!

The thing that really drew me to this pattern were the sleeves. There is a weird stripe that runs up the side of the suit that I am going to want to eliminate, and of course I don't want those pesky lower leg duo-tone thingies either. Oh, the seam up the front is a bit of a drag too. Other than that, it's dead on.

I pulled the pattern pieces out of the envelope, flattened them all out with an iron set on low heat with steam.

I then joined together the parts that I wanted to have as one peice. So the duo-tone calves got taped into place with the body panels. Good stuff.

I then needed to modify the pattern to take into account that stripe going down the side. I took the width of the stripe, then just added half of that onto each of the panels, front and back.

Then it just came down to that same old process that I followed on the previous pattern.

The one thing I did differently was the way I pinned the fabric together prior to sewing. I was sort of struggling with ways to get the fabric to stay in place while I serged. No matter how hard I tried, the fabric would always slip on one layer, so by the time I got to the tail end of my seam, there was a half inch of slippage. I tried tape, putting the pins in one way or another, and then it occurred to me that something like this might work.

And it did! I'm very happy with the results, and this is how I will be doing my pinning from now on.

Here's the results of my first time out with this pattern AND the new fabric I just got in. As is usual with these photos, the colors are not quite represented right.

My main problem here is that the shirt is WAY too big. This pattern is very different size-wise than my previous one. I am going to need to take it down a full size, maybe even two. Not a big deal. I'm getting much better at putting the shirts together, and have learned a lot of lessons along the way. I've gotten much better at making the four seams intersect in the arm pits, for example. The new trick I really picked up is trimming the fabric and seams before sewing it all together. It just makes it come together much more cleanly. I still have not figured out how to handle the collar, though I'm starting to think that the collar on the screen used suit was not sewn with a serger. It might also be rolled fabric. Stuffed. I'm not sure. I will take a look at my Bronze Armory body suit sometime and see how they did it.

That's it for now. Next stop is to re-attack the pattern and knock it down a size.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dye Experiments

My work on dying the new twill continues. I actually learned some really interesting lessons from my experimentation.

First up, here's a pic. This shows the original fabric that I dyed, and then three swatches on top of each one. So the three swatches are what those original fabrics turned into after some dye fun.

The first thing I did was dump each of the swatches into a dye bath, and let them sit for about an hour. The results of that are in the swatches marked A,B,C and D.

I then cut those swatches in half, and put one half back in the SAME dye bath for another hour. The results are A2, B2, C2, D2.

A day later, I mixed up a new dye bath and dunked half of THOSE swatches into it, and let them sit for about ten minutes. Those are swatches A3, etc.

Ultimately, what I have learned about dying is this: you cannot use the same dye bath twice. It might work if you put in fresh fabric, but you cannot hold a piece of fabric in the dye for say, twice as long, and expect it to turn twice as dark. I guess the way it works is that the fabric absorbs as much dye as it can from the current mix, and there comes a point where the bath is not potent enough to penetrate the fabric any further. I obviously don't understand the mechanics of it, but I certainly understand the practical ramifications of trying it.

BUT, if you mix up a fresh dye bath, you can keep it rolling.

Even better, and the best news of all is that of the fabrics I ordered, pretty much any one of them can be dyed to meet my needs. By the time I got to my third iteration of dying, I knew the color was just about where I needed it to be, and that is great.

So onward and upward. Now if I can just isolate which fabric is which, I will be able to order a few yards and get the party started.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Twill Samples Arrive

Minutes after I placed an order for some twill online, I went down to my mail box only to find that I did INDEED already order the stuff. oy.

I opened up the package, and I have to say, I was a little confused to find this:

A VERY odd assortment of colors. I thought I ordered a bunch of reds? These are all pretty weird looking, and one of them isn't even a twill. And my invoice shows that I ordered a yard of white. Please tell me which one of these is white???

So the real tragedy here is that I have no idea which fabric is which. So on the off chance i really loved the the one in the upper right, I have no way of identifying it.

Since all of the fabrics I ordered were of varying bolt widths on the website, I thought I would be smart about it and simply measure the fabrics to determine which was which. No such luck, as NONE of the lenghts matched what was on the website. Bummer

But since I had all the fabrics handy, I figured I would do some dye tests. I still need to know if it is possible to turn one of these into the color I eventually want. So I cut some swatches and gave them all a dye bath.

Holy crap, they actually ALL turned out really well. The red swatches you see on top show the new color, while the fabric under them is the original color. Quite a striking difference in most cases.

I ended up cutting those dyed swatches in half, and am double dunking them in dye just to see how deep I can get the red to go. Overall I'm really impressed and quite happy with the results. I now have a few different options for twills I can use for the inner shell of the cape, and that makes me happy.

I emailed the fabric company and kindly asked them to please label the fabric they send out this time. Sheesh.

Twill On Cape

This photo is actually about a week old, but it looks like I did not blog about it when I completed this. This was a test I did to see how well the Twill I found at the fabric store would adhere to the outer shell of the cape.

You actually can't really tell that much from the photo, but the punchline is that the twill adheres VERY well, and does not find the latex globbing through. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I DID blog about this earlier.

Either way, this is what set me on the path of finding a wide twill to use as the inner shell of the cape.

The Dark Knight Suit - Because I Don't Have Enough On My Plate

I finally gave in and OFFICIALLY started work on the Batman costume as seen in "The Dark Knight". As usual, I'm not going to do it "half way". I'm going ALL the way. Well, actually, that's not true. There is one SIGNIFICANT corner I am cutting, but I'll post more on that later. For the most part, I expect this to be a pretty high quality suit, but not absolutely top of the line.

This really all started when my buddy Brad in Australia put up for sale some of the screen accurate mesh fabric that is used for the undersuit. I think he purchased a bolt of it at some really high price, and once it's gone, it is gone. Or so the advertising copy goes. I grabbed it.

Here's a close up. I really don't know anything about it other than the fact that it is really neat looking.

Brad was kind enough to also pass along some suggestions on sewing the whole thing together. You need a solid black undersuit, and then this goes on top of it. The armor plates are then glued to this mesh.

Also from Brad, I purchased a pair of gloves. These things fit like... well, they fit like a glove! Perfect fit! From what brad tells me, these are off the shelf gloves with custom CNC'd knuckles. Very nice looking, and the knuckles look great.

For reference, here is a picture of the gloves being offered commercially by UD Replicas.

There are obviously some differences, but the overall effect is very similar. In fact, I dare say I prefer the rigid knuckles over the shaped leather ones.

Anyhow, I also have a belt that I started working on a while ago that got put on hold. I suppose I'll need to pull that out again eventually and finish it off.

Other than the boots, I have everything either on order or on hand for the entire suit. I think the only real unknown at this point is if the cowl will fit me when it shows up.

Blue Milliskin Arrives

The other day my ten yards of milliskin arrived from Spandex World.

Bummer is, I think they sent me the wrong stuff. Either that, or my records are way off. The stuff I got in the mail looks a lot more turquoise than what I was expecting. I think I may have gotten my swatches confused, which is another good lesson in effective record keeping.

For the record, this is the stuff I ordered. But I don't think that's what I got.

Still, all is not lost, as the fabric I received is very nice, and worst case will make for some great practice runs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wide Twill Ordered

Frankly, I cannot remember if I already ordered these samples, but it's OK. I found out today that when ordering from, you can order in fractions of a yard. For the four I ordered, I only ordered 1/8th of a yard, so the entire order was under ten dollars. That's a great deal.

For reference, I ordered the four fabrics discussed in this blog post.

Today I placed my order. I only write this down in case I forget about it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wide Twills

In order to document a certain path I am heading down, I would like to post links to a few wide-bolt Twills that I am investigating.

These are from Fashion Fabrics Club. None of them appear to be the perfect color, but I am hoping with some dye, some bleach, and some patience, I can get them to where I want them to be.

Coral Red Twill
Orange Twill - It's the wrong color, but the right width. If it's a nice fabric that I like better than one of the reds, it might be worth trying to color correct it.
Red Twill - Good color, but too small. But just by a bit. If it's REALLY great, I might consider making my cape an inch shorter than it needs to be.
Strawberry Red Twill - Right width. Not sure about the color.

I am REALLY sure I ordered a yard of each of these. But then, maybe I didn't. There's a box waiting for me at the post office which could contain what I hope is the fabric. If it's not here within a week, I will check into it.

Based on the results I have gotten recently with some samples of Twill, I am nearly convinced that this is the fabric I will use on my capes. Though the jersy knit I found earlier does the job, it has some limitations. It is very heavy, it stretches a little too much, and wet latex tends to seep through it when I'm laying it up. This leaves blobs of the stuff on the inside of the cape. Not a good look.

Another Shirt Iteration

Though the picture doesn't really show it, I essentially have the pattern working as I would like it to at this point.

There's still a TINY bit of gathering happening in the arm pits that I would prefer not to be there, but it's very minimal. The shirt fits very well, the collar is at the right height, and the seams are in the right places. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how this has come along. Sad that it took about 10 yards of rather expensive fabric and six iterations, but it was a great learning experience.

And now, I find myself on the fence. JUST as I started to get this pattern working for me, I have found a new one from Kwik-Sew that I mentioned in my previous post. I think the plan will be to take a run at the Kwik-Sew pattern once, just to see how it goes together. if it's a better pattern, and works nicely, I'll stick with that.

Body Suit Pattern Update

My pattern from Kwik Sew arrived yesterday. Again, please excuse the hideiously outdated and awful artwork on the cover:

Overall, this pattern looks VERY nice. it is much more professionally drawn up than the pattern I have been using to date. I'm glad I ordered it. The instructions are also a bit more thorough, detailed, and the patterns look much more crisp and tidy. On the existing pattern I'm using, the seams are a little sloppy and don't match up quite right.

Interestingly enough, a discussion was recently started over at the Superhero Costuming Forum about body suits. A few users posted some great links which I would like to re-post here for reference.

This is a link I already have posted in my Links Post. It's a great website, but SLIGHTLY beyond my current skill level. I'm sure if I revisit it in a few months, it will seem like childs play.

This is actually a very interesting link. Not only does it include the pattern I just got, but it also shows one for a full body wetsuit that looks MUCH more interesting. Take a look at pattern 2335.
Kwik Sew Catalog - Mens Swim wear

Also a very interesting and informative site can be found here:

Because I am so pleased with the KwikSew pattern that arrived today, and seeing as how impressed I am with the quality, I'm going to move ahead and order pattern 2335. It has the right kind of sleeves, and looks good. This will save me the trouble of modifying the pattern I just got, and will remove some complexity. The good news is that pattern 2881 is not a total loss, as it also includes a pattern for briefs, which I will need eventually.

As before, I will order the pattern from

Seeing as how I am a man of action and all, I jumped in and ordered the new pattern from It should be here in a few days. Nice!

Micro-S Pattern For Boots Is Done.

Today I received this lovely piece in the mail from my friends over at M&K Engraving.

What you are looking at is a slab of nice leather with tons of tiny "S" symbols laser engraved on it. It is sized such that it is big enough to fit any of the panels for the boot that require it. My next step is to mold it, then cast some up and integrate them into a boot.

This OFFICIALLY brings to a close the long, drawn out quest to get this part of the costume perfected. I now have two options when it comes to the engraved panel on the boot. I can go with this one, which is on leather, or use the one that RebelScum sent me, which is on lexan. Both are VERY nice, and each have their advantages. I THINK I am leaning more towards this one, as it has the leather texture in it. It's subtle, but it contrasts sharply against the polished surface of the lexan.

Either way, I'm extremely pleased with the results of this work. As with many components of this project, this one has been a VERY long trail. Or Trial. Or both. It's an interesting lesson in how NON immediate this hobby can be sometimes. I think it was more than 2 months ago that I said on this blog "I need to get this wrapped up quickly".

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting MUCH Closer

I was JUST about getting to the point where I was going to throw in the towel on the pattern I have for the body suit. The upper body has proven to be very difficult, but then, I am just an amature.

But I have felt as if I'm getting closer and closer with each new pattern.

And tonight I finally had a breakthrough. The shirt that I put together from my latest pattern is VERY nice. I'm also starting to get a hang for what I need to change in order to get the results I want. I guess it's just a matter of getting familiar with the tools, and how the effect the materials. Just like anything else.

So when I put on the shirt as it came off the machine, it was VERY close. And it looked good. The way the sleeves work produce a very flattering cut. But it wasn't QUITE there. I was looking in the mirror, sort of tucking fabric into some seams to try to get some gathering to go away, and I kind of had a revelation about how the suit went together. I don't know how to describe it other than "I got it", and had it figured out. I also had an idea of how to fix the gathering without having to go through the process of making another pattern. I basically just put the suit back into the sewing machine, and took some fabric out where I thought it was needed. Presto!

And I think that's the lesson I've learned today. That you don't always have to go all the way back to the pattern to make change. You can do some changes direclty on the suit, and if it works, then you transfer that to the pattern.

I feel as if the pattern is just about where I need it to be. I will do one more iteration, just to confirm that I am there.

The bummer is that I burned through like FIVE yards of fabric making these shirts and sleeves. At 13 bucks a yard, that ain't cheap. I think next time, I will do all of my development work using a much cheaper fabric, if such a thing exists. Heck, the heavyweight milliskin I am interested in is only 8 bucks a yard.

Overall, it's been really fun so far, though as stated earlier, I'm glad I got to this point when I did. Any longer and I probably would have started to get frustrated. It's been fun though! I already have a prototype of the legs done, and by comparison, that's the easy part.

Now I just need to wait for more fabric to arrive so I can try putting together a full suit.

More Fabric

I ordered a few more yards of the royal blue milliskin that I found online a while back. Really great fabric. Now that I've got the serger, it makes sense that I take another run at this stuff.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Pattern?

Reader Christopher J. has pointed me in the direction of a pattern I'm going to try out. Despite the HIDEOUS 70's style artwork for this pattern, I'm thinking it might actually suit my needs.

BEWARE the hideous artwork on the 2881

Not only does it have a shirt with Raglan sleeves, but it also has briefs, which I will need eventually. May as well give this a shot. If upon first test it's a better pattern than the one I am struggling with now, I think it will be easier to mod this one. Should it fit.

Thanks CJ for the tip! I appreciate it!

More Serger Action

Even though today was supposed to be dedicated to a "deep clean and re-org" of my apartment, I ended up doing a bunch of dorking around with my new serger instead. So it goes.

Yesterday was wildly productive, and I'm not sure if it's just a newfound burst of enthusiasm linked to the new machine, or if it's just the fact that the machine is so darn efficient that I can get all kinds of stuff done.

What's kind of funny is that with this new serger, it is not the machine that is the long pole in the tent. With my old machine, I would basically spend MOST of my time rethreading it, re-sewing, stripping out bad stitches, etc. Just a real piece of agony. But now I find that the bulk of my time is spent on refining the pattern, tracing onto material, cutting and pinning. The actual sewing takes just a minute or two per seam. Just amazing.

After version 1.0 of the top part of the suit, I found a lot of places that needed to be improved upon. I took my existing pattern and made a series of modifications to it. Along the way, I also learned a lot about how the pattern is SUPPOSED to work, and the things that are wrong with it that hinder this. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, but overall the pattern is pretty sloppy. The seams do not line up quite right, nor do they match. I originally thought this was just me, and I didn't know what I was doing. But the more I play with the pattern, and the more I put samples together, I realize that it's just a tad sloppy. Kind of a bummer, but it has proven to be a really great learning experience.

Here is a picture of the modified pattern that I came up with. You can see where I've grafted on new sections. I've also removed some material here and there to get a better fit.

Here's the finished version 2.0 shirt. The collar is a million times better than the last, but still not perfect. Still some research to do on that one, but it's getting there.

In general, my modifications were about half and half, hit or miss. Some of the stuff I did worked, and some of the other changes did not. As I said earlier, I'm learning how the pattern works, and figuring it out more and more as I go along. I'm very happy with how things are coming together so far. By my estimates, it's really just a matter of refining the pattern until it is exactly where I want it to be.

With that said, I percieve the main barrier to this effort to be momentum. Or lack of it. I can TOTALLY see myself getting burned out on this, as it is taking HOURS to put together just one top. With that in mind, I started looking for ways to improve my process, and make the entire thing go faster.

Some of the things I did were simple. For example, I was using a fine point sharpie to mark my fabric. I switched to a regular point. It glides much better, and goes WAY faster. Technique is also important too. The tip of the pen is the trailing edge of the pen, not the leading one. This stops the fabric from bunching up, and lets me go way faster. Having thicker lines also makes cutting much easier. Before there was a lot of squinting. Now I can just cruise along.

The real breakthrough came from the cutting technique. I switched from scissors to a cutting wheel. This allows me to go so much faster. I also get much smoother lines, which is a big plus.

Before, I would lay my fabric down on the kitchen floor, tape it into place, then lay my pattern on top of it. Then I would draw around it with my fine tip sharpie.

The new plan is that I just lay the fabric down on my cutting board, place the pattern on top of it (no tape involved anywhere), lay a couple weights on top of the pattern, and get to tracing with the regular tip sharpie. Without even picking up the fabric, I then go in with my cutting wheel and get my final shape.

To reposition, I just spin the cutting board with the fabric on top of it. That way I'm not crawling all around the kitchen trying to get it from the best angle.

Aw jeeze, and I forgot to mention that previously, I was ironing the fabric before cutting it. The new batch of fabric I have is folded, and not just thrown into a bag, so it doesn't need as much attention. But not ironing cuts a few minutes straight off the top of the process. So far I have not had any problems with unironed fabric. When it gets laid on the cutting board with the pattern on top, it flattens out nicely.

These changes to my technique were both thought up during the night, and also just kind of came together accidentally. I forgot I had a cutting board and wheel, but remembered when I was snoozing. Go figure. Some of the stuff like not moving around the kitchen, and not switching from kitchen to living room just evolved out of the process.

Newly equipped with my sped up process, I decided to start again from scratch with the pattern, but hit it hard with the modifications. My first two suit tops certainly showed me a lot, and I knew where I needed to change the master pattern. As you can see from the photo above, I tweaked the patterns so much that it became sort of hard to work with them much further, so I am just starting from the beginning.

I went with the sleeve first. It was a little short, and didn't quite fit snugly enough on my forearm.

Five tries later, and I had a perfect pattern for my arms.

I can honestly say that had I not gone through that process improvement cycle and gotten my technique refined, I probably would have given up after sleeve number three. I didn't time how long it took me to make each one, but there's probably not more than a couple of hours work here. I would say that using my original process, it would have taken an hour per sleeve. With the new refinements, I'm down to about 20 minutes. It is a significant difference.

I guess the lesson/point from this post is that process is everything, especially for something like this that is very labor intensive, and where there are MANY different approaches and techniques for each step along the way.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Serger Has Arrived

Well, it's pretty much nerd heaven here in Columbus today, as my brand new Brother Serger arrived today via UPS.

While here, I will give a quick plug for WalMart. Yup, I actually got the thing online at I blush. While I don't think this will secure me a place of honor at People Of Wal-Mart, I still feel a little icky about it. I must confess though, for me, the main deterrent to shopping at Wal-Mart is physically being in the store. Shopping online doesn't offer the same, er... CHALLENGES that you find in the actual brick and mortar locations.

Alas, I am ranting, when I should be raving. Let me start out by saying that this machine is absolutely amazing. Just stunning. I can't believe I've lived this long without owning one. This particular machine, the Brother 1034D is an entry level model which I picked up for under 200 dollars. Oh, and shipping was 4.95. And it arrived about three days after I ordered it. Logistics aside, it's just an amazing machine.

I cannot really compare it to OTHER sergers, as this is not only the first one I have ever owned, but also the first one I have ever played with. What I can tell you for sure is this: it took me about five minutes to go from taped up box to sewing seams up. It was immensely easy to thread, and I was tearing it up immediately after that.

Here's what the machine looks like out of the box, all rigged for sewing.

All the weird colored threads are what came with the machine. Just demo threads, I presume.

Some people like to bronze their kids first shoes. I like to take photos of my very first stitch.

And here's the very first time I joined two pieces of fabric. I know. Kinda nerdy. But here's the thing. With my old sewing machine, I had reached my wits end. The thing is always breaking threads, dropping stitches, always doing something wrong. It's really frustrating and tedious to deal with. I don't like it. So you can imagine my surprise when this little beast threaded up really quickly and started producing REALLY excellent results right away.

With the new machine up and running, I thought it was time to take another run at the Superman Returns body suit. Right now I'm just working on refining the pattern for the top half. The legs are pretty much done. I did a lot of fudging of the store bought pattern, and came up with these. This is the pattern for the sleeve, the front of the torso, and half of the back of the torso.

The most time in this entire project was spent not only getting the pattern together, but also cutting the fabric. The actual sewing was the fastest part of the entire affair. Here are the final results.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this, even though it is not perfect. I must point out that the machine did not stutter ONCE!! I did not have to rethread it once, it didn't drop a stitch. It's just a total dream to work with. And it's REALLY fast too. I can chew through fabric like nobody's business. I am very impressed with this machine. I suppose the real test will be to see how long it can maintain this level of excellence. I don't really plan on beating it up at all, so hopefully it will serve me for many projects to come.

As for the pattern, there are definitely things I need to change about it. The sleeves need to be lenghtened and tightened up a little around the forearm. The collar needs to be tightened up a little. Stuff like that. The original pattern is also kind of a mess. What I originally thought were just things about the pattern that I did not understand turned out to be genuine shortcomings of it. For example, some of the seams do not line up properly. One half will be an inch longer than the other, or something like that. Just a little sloppy. Nothing I cannot fix, and for 12 dollars, I suppose I should not really complain. The great news about the pattern I'm using as a base is that it is fundamentally correct in its design. I just need to clean it up a little, and make it fit my corpse a little better.

I am thinking of spending some time tonight modding the pattern, but I just don't know if I have it in me to go the whole distance again. I think start to finish, it took about six hours to get that blue shirt finished. I'm sure this time will be quicker, but I am feeling a tad worn out at this point.

I guess at this point, I'm just SO happy to not be dealing with the never ending stream of frustrations I had with my old machine. It makes me think I might want to pick up a traditional sewing machine from Brother, since this serger seems so great. As for my reconditioned Omega, it still has ONE thing going for it: it can sew through REALLY thick stuff. This will come in hand when I sew up the next cape. Other than that, I'm just about ready to chuck it out the window.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Legs Pattern Test Is Good

My first test of scratch built pants turned out pretty well. And yes, I realize that there are two different colors used here!!

I made these using some scraps I had lying around, and the point was to see if I could make them with a single seam on the inside of the legs, just like the screen used Superman Returns costume. Turned out it worked pretty good. I am not sure what the backside of the screen used suit looked like, but I know that the front had a "fly" type operation for easy access. I will be reproducing that to the best of my ability.

These were made entirely from a pattern made from the ground up by me. No store bought patterns used here, sir! There are definitely some things I will change, namely scaling the entire thing down a bit.

Overall, this is really good news and great progress. I think my next test will be with material a bit closer to the final product. I also need to start working on the torso pattern. For that, I am indeed going to modify the existing pattern that I have used in the past. I like the way the sleeves and the torso work together. I will probably try to modify it to move the side seams around to the back a little, though this is not critical to me. I would be OK if the seams were still on the sides, but I'm going to take a stab at it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More Fabric Has Been Ordered - Twill!

I did a little digging around today for Twill, now that I am very hot on that fabric. I found a number of choices at an online store that I have dealt with before, though none of them were perfect. There was a very nice looking red, but it was ONE inch too short for my purposes. But then I got to thinking that if it's perfect, and will work out of the box, maybe I could just shave an inch off the cape. Nobody would notice. There were some other choices that are close in color, and I'm thinking maybe with a little dye work they could become perfect. Not sure. Anyhow, samples are ordered.

Pattern Work, Leather

Last night I did a bunch of pattern work on the body suit. I cut out all of the panels, though I think I'm only going to use the upper body portion for the final suit. I'm going to totally re-do the legs from the ground up. But there is some stuff from the pattern I'm doing to use, namely the inseam. That's sort of done well on my pattern and I may as well preserve it. Recall that my plan is to have seams only on the inside of the legs.

As for the torso, the pattern is actually pretty good, though I will need to move the zipper to the back. I've already made the necessary modifications to the pattern to accommodate this. I will need to remove the seam from the front though, which is really just a matter of taping the two front halves of the pattern together. No brainer.

The overall plan is to create NEW patterns using my butcher paper roll that is sitting in my closet. I will use that pattern on all future suits.

Also of interest is that I ordered a panel of laser cut micro-S's today from MKEngraving. Though i already have this part covered by some stuff that RebelScum sent me, I want another option. I know the work that MKE does is really top notch, and they are very fast with the turnaround. I expect they will finish up my order within a week or so.

I am also still hoping to hear from my friend Thom about the Returns boots he was wearing at DC. They would make an excellent base, as they were a really good overall shape.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Sewing Machine Inbound

After Dragon*Con, I have been struck with a new wave of enthusiasm for this Superman Returns costume. One of the things I have wanted to get for many many years is a good serger. This is a type of sewing machine that is essential for sewing stretchy fabrics. I did a little bit of research on the internet, found what appears to be a decent quality entry level machine, and pulled the trigger. It should arrive in about a week.

In preparation for that machine, I am revisiting the body suit pattern I purchased a while back. I'm going to take another stab at doing a test build, but making a lot of mods to the pattern as I go. For example, the zipper will be in the back, the leg seams will only be on the inside, and I will probably move the side seams towards the back a bit. It should be a good exercise for me.

In other pretty exciting news, I heard back from Ricky Broussard about getting some fabric custom printed with my own diamond artwork on it. Basically, it's no problem. It's not cheap, but it's no problem. This is great news. This will allow me not only to get the diamond pattern PERFECT, but I will also be able to include the racing stripes in the fabric. On the screen used suit, these details were all screen printed. My research has shown that this will simply be cost prohibitive for a one off suit. I don't have the means or interest in setting up a screen print shop in my garage, which means I will have to outsource it. Just the setup costs for an oversized screen will run me many hundreds of dollars. At this point, I am willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of screen used accuracy if it will go virtually unnoticed to even the most sophisticated observer.

Overall, a really great day, and I'm very happy with the prospect of getting the fabric printed by Ricky. I am also pretty sure I know which blue I'm going to go with for the body suit. The color is VERY close in match to the screen used fabric, though not perfect. But it's the closest I've found. It's also a very nice fabric that has a nice feel to it. I think it will work out great.

New Fabric Find Looks Very Promising

I made a run to the fabric store at lunch time today, primarily to pick up some stuff for sewing stretch fabrics together. More on that in a later post.

While I was there, I figured I would peruse the fabrics to see if something caught my eye that might be useful in the cape. I was in luck! I found SOMETHING that looks REALLY promising. It's a twill that is 100% cotton. It's really light, has a nice hand, and looks like it will flow very nicely.

As you can see, my excitement got the better of me, and I wanted to do an adhesion test with the cape I had laid up previously. Keep in mind that the current latex layup in the cape mold was done mainly to clean the mold, and also to get a feel for how many coats of latex I will need to do. So it's not like I was wasting good latex.

The bottom line is that the fabric worked VERY well. It stuck to the latex very nicely, and did not bleed through AT ALL. One of the drawbacks of the stuff I was using before was the bleed through. The latex would push through the fabric and you'd end up with gobs of the stuff on the inner surface of the cape. With this new stuff... not so much.

Not only does it stick well, but because it's 100% cotton, it means it will take dye very nicely. This is critical to me, and is very exciting.

Now that I have this fabric, the next trick is to find it in wide bolt. I was originally looking for gabardine, but almost all the gabardines I found were a poly/cotton blend, which makes dying problematic.

Anyhow, good stuff.

Here's a couple of pictures from Dragon*Con. I'm dressed as Smallville's Clark Kent. Red Jacket. See if you can find me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Latex For Capes

I ordered some more latex today, as I used up my existing supply on my current test cape. As usual, I got it from Monster Club.

I am still looking for a good source for wide-bolt fabric that will meet my needs. I suppose I should do some more searching today.

Laser Update

I am back from Dragon*Con, and more pumped than ever to finish this suit up. I saw some really great costumes this week, and it's totally gotten me re-energized and ready to go.

With that said, today I sent some more information and final details to one of my laser cutting resources on getting some leather engraved with the micro-s pattern. At this point, I'm really just covering my bases. I already have 2 options all squared away, but I think this last one might yield the most perfect results, so naturally I am pursuing it. Nothing much else to report for today.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cape Process Refined

I had a couple brain storms the other day about doing the cape layup. Now that I am getting closer and closer to perfecting my technique (both in terms of materials used and actual/physical mechinations) I figured it was time to take another run at making one.

The real secret to success here is equipment. I went to Lowe's the other day and picked up an extension pole for my paint roller. That one tiny piece of technology has turned cape layup from a pain in the rear to a quick little bit of fun.

In ONE evening and about 20 minutes of work, I laid down four coats of latex rubber into the cape mold.

I am documenting my process in my new notebook, but will probably repeat it here eventually just for archival purposes. Bottom line is that this new process saves me LOADS of time, gets better results, and is actually kind of fun to do.

What I really need to do now is perfect the cloth attachment process. Which is next, by the way.