Friday, September 20, 2013

Project Updates

Yes, I'm still working on my steampunk stuff.  I have a second corset done, and the bustle skirt, the bolero jacket and one set of spats done.  I even have a bustle pad and a petticoat.  I'll give you more details on that when I get some pictures of them.  Tonight I have a different project I'm working on.  A new cosplay.  I've had this one in the back of my mind for some time, because it's from one of my all time favorite games that's not Final Fantasy or Zelda, and it's a fairly simple outfit.

I give you Jessica Albert, from Dragon Quest VIII:
She's the sexy badass sorceress of the party.  NOT the healer, incidentally.  That job's left for the pretty boy.  She's the "I'm gonna roast these motherfuckers alive." She's also brutal with a whip.  Aaaand I suppose she's also the super obvious sex object of the game... She has a set of abilities called "Sex Appeal and her outfit can change periodically...


Anyways,  I love her.  I am doing her basic outfit, mainly because I don't want to walk around half naked.  I may do the bunny suit but that's for personal reasons and you don't get to hear about that. :D

I have the top and the skirt done.  The top is a thrifted turtleneck that's been dramatically altered, the skirt is a curtain with a petticoat made from a bedskirt.  I'll go into those more once I have pics.  Today I want to talk about her whip.  I made one!

I recently learned how to do kumihimo, a form of Japanese braiding made on a disk. Looks like this: 

It's fun and it's simple.  Shannon really enjoys it.  So anyways, I was looking around for a whip, cuz I really didn't feel Jessica's outfit would be complete without one.  And I don't want to put a lot of money in to it since it's just a prop.  A cool prop, but still a prop. I saw cheap costume ones that look like cheap costume ones, or tutorials for making them out of duct tape, which is also cheap looking.  Then I saw some tutorials for making real bullwhips out of paracord.  Now, I do not know how to do the types of braiding required for these projects (although I might learn, it would be cool to have a real bullwhip) but I did realize I know one fancy method of braiding. (See above.) I decided a kumihimo whip would be rad.  When I went for supplies, I intended to do paracord, but I found craft cord to be a much cheaper option.  I bought two skeins of 50 yds each for 2.99 each.  And used far far less than I thought I would.  And it turned out awesome.

I don't know if you can tell, but I shaped it to match the Leather whip, Jessica's starting whip.
Wrist strap, wrapped handle, little knobby bit at the end.  Although technically it is too dark brown.  Ah well.  I sacrificed color for price. 

I wanted a roughly 6' whip, not counting the handle, and based on other things I've made and other instructions I've read, I knew that a safe assumption for how much string to cut is roughly 3x the finished length. That's 18 ft for each strand, with an extra 3 feet or so for the handle.  I shot really high because I've come up short using this guess before, and I really didn't want that to happen.  So I cut each strand 25 feet long.  That was a pain in the ASS to keep from tangling, let me tell you what.  I had some kumihimo bobbins, but because of the thickness of the cord, they were held to far open for friction to keep the bobbins from unwinding, which  meant I had to pin them in place, and even that didn't always hold cuz the cord was slippery on metal pins.  It was awful.
I started with an 8 strand braid, with a core of two strands of paracord in the middle.  For the handle I added in a pen for stiffness. (I intended to use a large nail or bolt or something, but I was at work and didn't want to wait to get something else.  I worked with what I had.) I basically just stuck this in the middle, between the two paracord strands, and braided around it, wrapping it in cord.  At the end of the pen I tied a knot on top of it with the strands of paracord to keep it in place.  After the handle I continued the 8 strand braid around the strands of paracord for 2 feet. At two feet I took two of the strands, wrapped and tied them around the paracord, removing them from the braid.  I also cut off one of the strands of paracord.  I continued from there with a 6 strand braid around a single strand of paracord.  I kinda had to figure out the 6 strand braid on my own, I couldn't find anything online about it.  If you're curious, it works like this:

You work the sets of two strands just like normal, and the single strands basically just change places, moving over one space every time to keep up with the rotation of the two strand sides.  If anyone out there would like a more detailed description of this, just leave me a comment or something.  I can be clearer if you want.
I did this for another two feet.  At that point I took the two single strands and wrapped and tied them around the paracord, reducing the braid to 4 strands.  I chose the two single strands because the single strand sides use up string faster, and I didn't want any of my strands to be shorter than the otheres when I was working on my 4 strand braid.I thought I might have to cut the paracord off here, but I didn't and I'm glad. It added more solidity to the last segment.

I had trouble figuring out how a 4 strand kumihimo worked, I ended up having to watch several videos of people doing it to understand, but I got it.  I did this for another two feet.  Then I started on the knobby bit on the end.  First of all, The knobby bit is made out of a flip cell phone shaped eraser I had in my desk at work that I had no use for.  It was a cute eraser though.  Flipped open and closed and everything.  I glued it shut.  One side of it was neon orange, so I colored that black with a sharpie, and then covered it in glue and wrapped it in the same cord the whip was made of.  I really didn't want it to show through the braid.  I tied the paracord core around it long wise to attach it to the whip.  I did this about two or three inches away from where the braid currently was.  About an inch below the knob I took four long strand of cord and wrapped and stitched them to the paracord.  I don't know exactly how long they were, they were leftover bits, probably roughly 6' long.  I continued the 4 strand braid up to where I'd attached the other four strands.  when I met up with those, I added them to the braid, switching back to an 8 strand braid to cover the knobby bit.  In order to work the knobby bit I actually had to cut the hole in my kumihimo disk bigger so it would fit.  Luckily I have a bunch of them since they're cheap as crap.  it's just a foam disk with notches.  So I continued with an 8 strand braid around the knobby bit.  when I got it about half covered I covered the top half of the knobby bit in glue, and continued braiding.  This way the top half of strands were glued to the knob and I wouldn't have any problems with it sliding around.  That was probably pure paranoia, but better safe than sorry.  I braided about a half inch after the top, and then with a needle and thread carefully gathered up each strand and stitched them together at the top.  I used a lighter and singed all the strands, then squished them together.  They melted into a lovely plastic mass.  I did this anytime I cut or tied any of the strands, to make sure there would be no fraying or coming apart.

The handle is wrapped in three layers of cord, just wrapped around it.  The knob at the end is made of a basic three strand braid, wrapped and tied to make the wrist strap and the base.  I didn't do anything tricky there, it's just wrapped until I liked it, and then ends strategically melted and hidden.

The whole thing took me three days at work, working on it about 3-4 hours each day.  so really not that bad.  It measures 91 1/2" from tip of knob to end of wrist strap,  87 1/2" if you don't count the wrist strap, which really makes more sense.  So that's 7.2 feet.  just about perfect.  I'm extremely happy with it.

Incidentally, like I said, I way overshot with how much cord I would need.  I probably had at least 6' of each left over.  But I've always been of the opinion that too much is better than not enough.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mako-Chan's Jewelry

Something I threw together just this morning:  Makoto Kino's earrings from Sailor Moon.  I've always wanted them, they're simple and pretty.  So, a little while ago I found these gold rose shaped buttons at Walmart.  Simple coat of paint, glue them to some posts and there you go.

Oh, and it was a set of three buttons, so I made a simple chain choker to go with.   I thought the simplicity was very in character for Mako-chan.  she'd never wear anything big or flashy jewelry-wise.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thrift Store Overhaul!

So, I find those blogs that buy nasty thrift store clothes and remake them extremely inspiring, so I decided to try it myself.  I got this suit from Goodwill for $3.  It was a size 16, I think, which is several sizes too big.  The jacket was shapeless and I'm really not sure if the sleeves were supposed to be 3/4 sleeves, or were just really short.  The pants had a gathered elastic waistband and were super baggy.  They looked awful.  The nature of the black suit is such that you can't really see how bad it fit, but it was really awful.  So I took the thing apart.

First, the skirt.  I have lots of practice turning pants into skirts, I've done it half a dozen times this summer, the challenge this time was I wanted to do away with the gathered elastic waist and go to a much smoother pencil shape with a zipper.  So I cut the waistband off, cut the length to where I wanted, took out the crotch seam and stitched it into a skirt shape.  I added a zipper using some techniques I'd picked up from a pair of pants I recently made. (which I really ought to get a picture of, they turned out nice.) I added a lovely smooth waistband that you cant see, you'll just have to trust me that it's much nicer.

The jacket I cut down based on this tutorial here:

The jacket was big enough that it lent itself perfectly for the kind of double breasted look I was going for.  In fact, I may add a second row of buttons, but I'll have to go buy more first.  I had to reshape it to fit, taking in the side seams, and the seams on the back so it would actually fit me, giving the nice curvy shape you see here.  I relearned how to do buttonholes, and bound everything up with bias tape.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it came out.  Much, much sexier.

Also, for the record, it's not plain black, it's got a light blue pinstripe that doesn't show at all in the pictures.