Friday, March 27, 2015

Making a Linda Danvers costume - the S shield

Eesh, this might be a long post.  Feels like it will be a long post.

OK.  Making the S shield.  This felt like it took a long time to do because I did it over several weeks, in breaks, but in reality you could probably do it in an afternoon.

I found a tutorial for making the whole costume and spent what felt like several hour studying it.  I went and bought the material - stretchy yellow and not so stretchy red.  This turned out to cause problems.  Not buying a disappearing ink pen was also an error.
Once home, I soaked the material in warm water for about half an hour to see if the colours would run. They didn't.  Then I started studying the instructions again.

The tutorial was pretty good, but I did need to work some things out myself:

  • I used this template I found and printed it out on A4 paper.  Then realised I'd probably need more than one copy in case I fucked it up, so I traced another three copies.
  • I didn't use a cardboard, or posterboard or any of that stuff.  Because I didn't have any.  Instead I just cut out the shapes I needed from the template.  This is why you need at least 2 templates - one to cut out the bit that will be your red back, and one to cut out the yellow shapes, a la:
  • I amended the template slightly as my version of the shield wasn't going to need the topmost yellow bit.  So I just didn't cut that out.
  • Iron your fabric.
  • Draw the outline of your template onto the red material - I used a pencil and this didn't work great as you could still the pencil marks afterwards.
  • If you are going to follow this tutorial exactly it is really important that your shield material is the same stretch as your t-shirt, and that you match the stretch of the fabrics to each other and to the stretch of the t-shirt.
  • When marking out the interior outlines (where to cut) be really particular about your half an inch.  Make the half an inch the same on the red and yellow pieces of fabric.
  • Baste stitch means tacking.
  • When you sew the yellow bits to the red bits make sure your outlines line up.
  • It might be better to handsew the corners.
I didn't get as far as appliquing the smaller yellow bits on, because after I'd done the big yellow bits I ended up with this:
The tension affects how the thread goes in and if you are not good at corners you end up with creased, folded up red material.  That is unwearable.

Remember how I said it 's really important to get the half inch outlines accurate and lined up?  I didn't.  This happened:
The stretch on each piece of material don't match, so sewing them together on the machine was tricky.  It also led to the sewn in yellow bits being much larger than the holes in the red bits, which in turn means that the pencil lines are visible:
I know exactly what I did wrong and I knew it would be hard for me to fix it so I decided to try another way.

I used my template again, I cut out all the shape of the red bit and marked where the yellow bits should go.  I cut out the shape of the yellow bits.  I ironed everything again.

Then I got bonda web (it's a glue that comes in sheets that can be ironed onto fabric), cut out the templates of the yellow bits - you need to put the template on the bonda web back to front.  Then I lined everything up and stuck the yellow bits on the red bits.

To do this, you need to place your red fabric on the ironing board.  Take the paper backing off your bonda web pieces, place it on the right places on the fabric.  Place the yellow bits on the bonda web.  Dampen a tea towel, place it over your fabric and press a heated up iron over the tea towel.  Do not do ironing motions, just press the iron down onto the tea towel for about 30 seconds to a minute.  Gently take the tea towel off and poke at your fabric pieces.  If it's not properly stuck down, repeat.

Tips - when cutting out your yellow fabric place the template pieces on back to front.  That way your pencil lines will be on the side of the fabric next to the red material so you won't see anything.
Never place the iron directly onto the material you are sticking together - if you do that you'll destroy the iron and the fabric.
Try and line up the bonda web and the yellow pieces as accurately as possible, otherwise you may have a bit of glue seepage.  It's not a real problem as it's not reall ynoticeable, it's just that I'm a  perfectionist.

You should now something that looks like this:
Once the material has dried use your sewing machine to sew round the edges of the yellow pieces.  This will stop it fraying and if you do it neatly it looks rather nice.

Now you need to hem the edges of the red shield.  You'll need your iron again.  Fold the red fabric over where your pencil lines are, pin them and iron them flat.  Check you have ironed against the pencil lines.  If you haven't, adjust the pins and iron it again until you've got it right.  To prevent the corners being bulky and to help your machine go over the lumpy bits you can cut little triangle shapes out of the corner's a la:
Now hem the shield, keeping the sewing machine as close to the edge of the fabric as you can.  Mine ended up looking like this:
Close up of the stitching, first one including where you can see the escaping glue next to the yellow:

I'm pretty pleased with it.  Some of the stitching could be closer to the edges, and in that last picture you'll see where I didn't quite manage to go over the red stitching and ended up with 2 lines.  It's not a big deal.

For some reason I ended up with a lot of excess thread on the back of the shield, and at various times when finishing a line of stitching I ended up with 4 threads coming out of the machine.  I have no idea why.

Next up - sewing the shield to the t-shirt.  As per advice from my expert friend I put the top on, then placed the shield where I wanted it to sit.  When I took it off I noticed it wasn't sitting right in the middle of the t-shirt, so made adjustments.  This now means that when being worn the shield is slightly off centre, because my anatomy makes it so.  I should have taken more care that the t-shirt was on straight when I tried it on. le sigh.  Anyway, it's not a big problem.

You'll want to pin the shield on the shirt, then sew it on with your sewing machine.  Go slowly so the tension in the different  fabrics doesn't cause problems.  Your machine should have a platform thing which you can put the bit of the t-shirt you want to sew, onto, with the back of it underneath the platform.  As you are feeding the material through be careful not to sew the t-shirt together...
If you do this you need to carefully unpick it.  If you unpick it make sure you don't pull on the t-shirt too much (or you'll end up with holes in the material) and unpick it from the inside.

Eventually you'll end up with this:
Now feel very proud of yourself, make yourself a cup of tea and have a biscuit.  But don't spill anything on the t-shirt.

Next post will be a write up of the con with pictures :)


SallyP said...

That's a lot of work! But the results are definitely worth it.

Saranga said...

Thank you! I'm wearing it again today.