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11  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / (Girl's) Leather Armor Tutorial on: August 29, 2009 11:49:23 AM
(Note: This is NOT dial-up friendly!)

I noticed a couple of threads a while back asking about how to make leather armor, and specifically the challenges of making it fit a girl--with boobs. My family is making all the costumes of the Pevensies from Narnia (Prince Caspian Battle outfits) which are in general detailed in another thread https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=314280.0, but I wanted to have this armor tute for anyone to see and use in it's own place.

What we're making here is actually a cuirass:

Cuirass: (kwi-rass)a cuirass is armor consisting of two parts, a breast and backpiece fastened together at the sides by means of straps and buckles. Historically, it was originally made of leather, which is where its name originates, but was later made with metal. (From http://costumes.narniaweb.com/caspiansusancuirass.asp)

What we got at the end (minus embellishments):


Part One: Make a Plaster Mold

In an incredibly messy process, John dipped strips of plaster cloth stuff into plaster mixture and covered me with them. He bought at Hobby Lobby in a big roll--two rolls covered my front and back.

The two cardboard "wings" were so that we could do both the front and the back and then separate them without cutting the fragile plaster, but they didn't work at all--or at least, we didn't really get to try them out. The plaster got so heavy as it dried that it began to pull down and make my boobs look saggy.

So I just layed down on the ground for twenty minutes so it could dry in the right place. I was counting on my bra to keep things in position, and it worked.

Our mom was able to wash the plaster out of the clothes no problem, so while I suggest wearing old clothes, it won't ruin them forever.)

Part Two: Make  a Resin Mold

John coated the inside of the mold with resin, which took ages. It was smelly and toxic, so he could only do a little at a time, leaving it outside at all times to dry.

This is what the resin mold looked like when the plaster was taken off.

Part Three: Soak Leather in water

This is armor grade super-thick leather, soaking wet. Hot water works best, and if you don't get it all wet at the same time you risk making water spots on it.

Part Four: Mold Leather

John clamped it over the mold and pressed it into the correct shape, cutting it down to a more approximate size. The clamps are rubber coated and have leather scraps between them and the cuirass--otherwise they leave big dents in the final product.

Part Five: Cut and wax leather

John cut it to the right shape and the coated it with hot wax. He uses tin snips and a sharp boxcutter to cut this super heavy leather into the right shape. The waxing process used an industrial heat gun, a pot of melted wax, and a brush. He spread the hot wax onto the leather while blowing the heat gut on it and just brushed it in until it was all the way soaked in. It shouldn't feel waxy to touch, but hard like vacuumformed plastic. The dark color is the part of the leather that has soaked up the wax, no dye used.

Compared to the resin mold, post cutting and waxing:

Part Six: Add Rivets

We cut holes in the leather where the rivets needed to go and then hammered the rivets onto the armor. There are special leather working tools that just punch holes into the leather of the size you need. John got his at Tandy Leather: http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/. For leather work he puts the leather on a plastic cutting board on top of a granite slab supported by foam sponges and then hammers the tool with a rubber mallet. We've found that this is the quietest way of hammering with the least amount of damage to tools and surroundings. (Hammering directly onto granite--without a cutting board--will break your tools!)

Then we added the rivets over the holes, hammering them into the holes we already cut.

Part Seven: The Rest
The back was much simpler to make, as we just got the leather wet, shaped it against my body, and then let it dry overnight. We thought about waxing it also, but for comfort's sake decided that the back should be more supple. John then cut the back piece to the right size and added rivets. Finally, we dyed the back piece and some laces (cut from leather) to match using a dark mahogany dye. It took about three coats to get it to match the front, and then a coat of dye sealant so that it wouldn't stain anything.

The Mostly Finished Product!

We plan to add some decorations, though not as insanely many as the ones on Susan's armor in the movie. There will be a stamped trim along the top and bottom, and some medallions riveted to it to add visual interest. I plan to wear this with a ton of costumes, not just Susan! And with the side seams open like that, it accommodates for weight loss/gain and for wearing my chain mail shirt that John made underneath it.

Here's me modeling the armor without chainmail or any other accessories we (lol John) made! (I made that dress several years ago for madrigal dinner at UT.)



I hope this was helpful!
12  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / watercolor pokemon twinchies on: July 29, 2009 01:42:08 PM
So I was painting a watercolor portrait of my with my pokemon team (of course) but my eye for composition on even just a half-sheet of paper is awful, and I ended up with my pokemon and me squashed all tiny into one corner. I've noticed as I watercolor that I do much better doing tiny details and when confined to a very small space, so when I read about inchies in the sticky in this forum, I was struck by inspiration!

I honestly tried inchies, but they were just a little bit too small for me, so I upsized to twinchies, which turned out to be absolutely perfect! It's so rewarding to be able to finish a little tiny artwork in a less than half an hour! I love it!

For my first twinchie project I decided to continue my pokemon theme, painting each member of my team in it's unevolved form, which I then mounted loosely on some red cardstock. I really love the effect!

Their nicknames are (Right to left, top to bottom) Chickychick, Bubbles, Meep, Violet, Wiggin, and Mushymush!

I think that oddish and mareep are my favorites painting-wise, but I love chickychick's little plume that sticks out beyond the 2x2 inchie--I couldn't bear to chop it off! Oddly enough, oddish was the first one I painted, and Mareep was the last!
13  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Narnia shirt and gauntlets (pic heavy) on: July 23, 2009 06:39:45 PM

This project has a story with it, of course. I'm the oldest of three, and my brothers and I love both costumes and Narnia, particularly since growing up we always played that we were Susan, Peter, and Edmund respectively. When the movies came out we set out to make the three of us Narnia costumes! (We plan to draft our cousin, who happens to resemble the three of us strongly and is about the right age, to be Lucy for the purposes of photos.)

So technically this is still an in-process project, since not all the parts of the project are done. But I'm so excited and proud of the pieces we have completed, I just have to share!

John and I are doing the bulk of the work, with me in textiles and John in leather and armor, with Nick as Gopher and Cleaner-Upper.

The first layer is the shirt, which I made from a modified Butterick 5008 http://www.butterick.com/item/B5008.htm?tab=costumes&page=1
I used a brown cotton twill for the material, with three metal grommets for the neck closure and buttonholes on the cuffs, all tied up with a bit of leather lacing.

The embroidery was hand drawn onto the collar and cuffs using reference pics of Peter's armor: http://costumes.narniaweb.com/pc_pevensiesfiles/55.JPG (His motif is the Oak Leaf, so we wanted to mimic that if possible on several articles of the costume) I'm planning on doing Nick's (Edmund's) shirt in the same way, but with his motif instead)

The next layer is the arm guards which I think are also called guantlets but I'm not totally up to date on all the armor vocab, sorry. John patterned, tooled, dyed, and constructed these by hand by himself.

Then the next layer: CHAIN MAIL
This is incredibly epic. John has now completed not just one but THREE complete chain mail shirts by hand. As a computer science major at UNL, he spent two entire semesters worth of classes (He claimed it helped him stay awake) and countless other hours cutting rings and making little swatches of chain mail which he  later put together into bigger swatches and eventually make into the shirts.

This shirt is made from aluminum. John buys quarter mile spools of aluminum wire, uses a home-made cranking machine to wind it into a long spiral, then clips each ring off of the spiral into hundreds of rings. Then it's just a matter of using two pairs of needle-nose pliers to bend them together.

Then is the belt, which John also cut, tooled, and dyed:

Here's a shot of the production of the belt:

He's also working on making the plate armor gloves too. The one he's wearing in the pics is made from aluminum, and is just a prototype. The sword he's holding was bought at a Ren Faire and needs a lot of work, but it's a great place to start for casting a copy of Peter's sword!

And an cool-guy shot for fun:

Obviously we still have a ton to do. The red tunic will go over the chain mail and then the plate armor will go over that! I also have to make his pants. Smiley But it's really coming along!

And so that this post isn't totally about John, here's the so-far on my Susan costume, which is just her silver underdress. (She wears it UNDER the purple dress in the movie.)

14  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Sailor Jupiter costume (with basic how-to) on: June 22, 2009 10:35:58 PM
So, it only just occurred to me that I can post old costumes on here to share with people. I've made a bunch, but let's start with my favorite! I wore this to AKON last year in 2008.

Sailor Jupiter! I made everything but the leotard and gloves, which all had to be modified to fit the costume.

I'm currently working on a website which will include a pretty complete tutorial, but here's the highlights:

The leotard
was made a v-neck by simply adding a gathering stitch down the front few inches in the center.
The skirt was made from a cheerleading skirt pattern and interfaced completely, and I had to change the direction of the pleats to fit the reference. It was also shortened somewhat and we used snaps in the back to ease the getting on and getting off process. (I wore pink boyshorts underneath for my modesty's sake!)
The skirt roll or band or whatever you call it was spandex rolled up into a roll and basted closed, and then basted onto the top of the skirt.
The bows are interfaced and the medallion in the middle of the chest bow was made from sculpey and then painted green.
The earrings were purchased from Claire's,
The shoes were found at Ross for cheap and then spray painted green using floral paint. That trick was taught to me by my costume professor at my university. It worked really well!
The sleeve puffs were made out of white spandex and stuffed with fiberfill before being attached to the leotard.
The tiara is made of craft foam spray painted gold with a fake jewel glued to the front. It attaches around the back of my head with a piece of elastic.

My friends all made their own costumes as well (with some help from me and the girl playing Sailor Moon--the only ones with any formal costume training!) so that we could be an awesome sailor scout group. Cause it's only fun when you're with the rest of the scouts! Each of our costumes was made a little differently, which you can see if you look closely at the pictures, but I think that they all turned out great! (This was Mercury and Mars' first sewing projects.)

Thanks for looking!
15  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Petal Sleeve Help on: May 12, 2009 09:40:42 PM
Long time lurker, first time poster...my time of desperate need has brought me forth!

I'm working on reconstructing the long sleeves on my wedding dress into short petal sleeves like this:

And the closest thing to instructions that I can find is this picture:

But what are the two shapes? I've been messing around draping my sleeves, but I can't figure out what shape the pieces of sleeve need to be for them to look right. All my sewing books and patterns and stuff are packed up since I'm moving in with my husband-to-be after the wedding (which is in ten days) so those references are shot. I'm not tomorrow or this weekend so I do have time to finish it no problem...I just need to figure out how.

Any found or made tutes or diagrams would be really great. Thanks!
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