Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sailor Pluto Progress

So, I'm very slowly making progress on my Sailor Pluto costume. It doesn't go very quickly, which is why I started now even though I intend for it to be a Halloween costume.

First, I finished my leotard.

It fits perfectly. I realize it looks a little awkward in the picture, I had not yet sewn in the snaps in the crotch, I was just checking fit. This it with the slimming leotard underneath as well. I was able to put the seam at the bust line like I wanted to give the illusion of the breastplate thing, and I actually added a few layers of quilt batting to the top part just to emphasize it. Also when I actually wear this costume I will be wearing an absurdly padded bra just to get me closer to that anime style bust size. :P

I also tried adding an actual corset underneath everything:

I mean, obviously it adds some weird lines at the bottom, and there are ridges where the bones of the corset are, but I don't think that bothers me. And adding the corset tucks in my waist to also got me closer to those anime proportions. So I will probably go ahead and wear a corset with this costume. The collar is done too, but I forgot to take pictures of it.

So, when I first started planning this costume, I was going to be doing it with my friend Sheali who was going to be Sailor Saturn. So we decided to do the super sailor version just to make her life easier, because regular Sailor Saturn has that crazy crystal brooch and winged sleeve thingies. All the super sailors have simple heart shaped brooches and just the little extra sheer bit added to the sleeves, not to difficult. But since I'm now doing this on my own, I don't want to do the super version. But I'd already bought the heart shaped brooch. I attempted to sand it into a round shape, but it was going to end up too small. And take eight million years to get it to look nice again.  So I just bought a new one:

Starlit Creations on Etsy, just a great shop. It's the same one where I bought the heart shaped ones to begin with. I'm very happy with it. 

Also the little bottles you see in the background are my tinted contact lenses:

The boots came out really nicely, too.  So, like I said earlier, I was just going to cut down a pair of thigh high boots to the correct shape:

To create the white trim I used bias tape, but the stuff I had wasn't wide enough, so I ironed it flat and then refolded it to the width I wanted.

The fabric was rather thin and see through, plus I immediately had concerns about stains and general grunginess that is attracted to white fabric. So I added a coat of clear polycrylic, which of course made it more see through, so I then painted over it with a layer of white acrylic paint, and then another coat of polycrylic. The white cuffs are now very stiff, but after lining the inside with some satin ribbon, it's not uncomfortable. And my white borders are stain proof, which is the main goal. It took much longer than I felt like it should have to get the fabric arranged and sew on, but the end result is good.

Sigh. I just hate pointed toe shoes. I feel like the look weird. They don't, as far as I can tell, I'm pretty sure its just the view from above that looks weird to me, but no one else. I'm just crazy. And the pointed toe is probably good, because it's supposed to make your legs look longer, and those anime sailor scouts are like 90% leg.

The skirt is in progress now, this is the fabric with all the pleats pinned down:

However, it's too long. I was just going to leave the pleats as they were and cut the skirt shorter, but then that messes with the precise measuring I did for the width of each pleat, so I think I'm going to have to cut the fabric down and then just repleat it, which is mildly annoying. But I want it to be right, I want to make sure the skirt is full enough. I'm fully prepared to make a mini petticoat if I must to fill it out. I have black tulle even. Reality defying anime outfits are so annoying! And this one isn't even one of the most difficult ones. I'm just picky.

I'm also gradually, very gradually, working on the staff. The picture on the left is a general pile of supplies, wooden board for the key parts, wooden balls for the round parts, etc. I even found the correct hardware to install screw parts in the staff so it can be taken apart if necessary. The picture on the right is my paper pattern for the head, along with my notes on the size and shape of each segment of the staff. There's a whole second page of those you can't see. The paper pattern will be transferred to cardboard which will be sprayed with expanding foam, carved, covered in paper mache and painted. I don't yet have all the orb parts for the head of the staff, I'm not quite sure how I'm doing that yet. 

The gloves are done as well:

I now understand why people use cording to fill the cuffs. I did quilt batting, and while it seems puffy enough, it flattens out when I wear it. Sewing channels around cording just seems so annoying though! Sigh. But there's a decent chance I'm gonna redo this if I have enough fabric left, which it looks like I will. Fuller puffs will just look so much nicer. This isn't bad, but I can probably do better. But if I redo it, it will be after absolutely everything else is done and I just have some time left, because this is fine. It just could be better. 

However, while making the gloves I tried to make my serger finish the edges, with like four layers of quilt batting in there. The end result was my serger freaked the hell out and something got knocked way, way out of alignment, making my serger unusable. So my serger is in the shop right now and I've kind of put sewing on hold until I get it back. I can redo the skirt pleats and whatnot without it, but I really want it for finishing. So my attention is shifting towards the staff right now, since I don't need the serger to do that. I'm making progress....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Too much downtime? Time to blog again I suppose.

I'm a sporadic blogger. You know this. Don't judge me.


I do have a few new projects to blog about. This first one is nearly a year old... haha, oops.

So I needed a Christmas gift for my boyfriend. I'd known him for a little while now, but this was the first gift giving opportunity I'd had for him. Well, technically the second, but I let his birthday slip by, and then of course he got me a fantastic gift for my birthday, a little stuffed beefalo from Don't Starve, that I just love to pieces.

See? There he is, hanging out with Chester on my desk at work. I named him Bill. Beefalo Bill. And of course then I felt bad for not getting him a birthday present, so I wanted to make the Christmas gift awesome.

So, Stu loves older classic video games, he likes to watch a lot of speedruns and things like that, and one of his favorites is Mega Man. I had previously seen other things where people would crochet afghans of 8 bit characters using granny squares for the pixels, and I'd always wanted to try it. So I found a good image of classic Mega Man, and using Excel I drew it out, and filled the blocks with the corresponding colors so I would know how many blocks of each color I needed to make. The pattern, if you want it, looks like this:

I was shooting for a roughly full/queen sized blanket. I found a simple pattern online for a solid block granny square, and left off the last round so each square ended up about 2" across. I thought about making the squares bigger, but the blanket would have ended up massive and taken way longer and way way way more yarn. As it was I severely underestimated how long it would take to make it. I knew Stu was going to visit his parents for Christmas and wouldn't be home until a little bit after that, so I had a grace period, but as the time came, it turns out I only had the squares for Mega Man himself done, hadn't even started the background yet. He looked great, all sewn together, but I knew I'd be at this for months if I made squares for the background too. So I ended up just doing endless row upon row of solid double crochets for the backdrop. Still took a while, but much less time. And it made him stand out a bit more. I completed him right around New Year's.

Stu loved it, and still uses it every night as his comforter at home. :D

So, I am also starting a new project. Well, I say starting, it's one that's been half in the works for years, but I've never been able to finish it.

This bitch.

That's right, I've finally decided that this year is when I will finally finish my Sailor Pluto costume and achieve my dream of having a sailor senshi costume.

I intended to do it last year, but when October hit I was too busy doing things like getting divorced and moving out to my own place to be able to do something like create a detailed costume for myself. I had already bought a brooch and some gloves and a wig, so at least that stuff is already done this year. Although that isn't much, there's still a lot to do. I have some plans, and I'm going to put it all here just to organize my thoughts in my head.

Boots- I have a pair of black thigh high boots that I bought several years ago and have worn exactly zero times. Turns out without a specific costume in mind there's really no reason for me to own thigh high boots. So I'm going to cut them down and add the white stripe and they'll be perfect.

Gloves- bought last year, as I said. Hilariously enough it took three tries to get the right gloves. I wanted them matte, not shiny satin and apparently lots of sellers think matte means "SUPER SHINY NASTY CHEAP LOOKING SATIN."I had some disagreements with some merchants. But I did finally find a good pair, I just need to add the black cuffs to them, which will maybe take me a half hour, if I do it in slow motion. :P

Leotard- this is a two phase thing. part one is actually a white body shaper leotard that I have purchased. At the time I bought it because of my self consciousness with my weight, I thought I could use it to slim down a bit and look better. I have since lost a bunch of weight (more on that later) and am less worried about it, but I'm still going to use it just for smoothing everything. The second part is a white leotard I'm going to make. I can't just wear the body shaper because it's too sheer. I have started on this, I'll provide more details on what I'm doing once I'm done with this list.

Skirt- I'm going to sew this. I have this really nice matte part cotton part satin fabric that's thick and lovely and I am very excited to see how it turns out.

Collar- Same.

Bows- Same. I have some burgundy of the exact same fabric that's just perfect.

Choker- I mean, it's really just a ribbon. Not a big issue. Although it occurs to me that I don't actually have any black ribbon... Haha. Might have to go get that. For the gem on the choker I intended to find something at the craft store but I found an Etsy seller who makes really nice looking gems intended for Sailor Pluto, so I decided to just go with that.

Earrings- Pluto's are fairly distinctive. I found a youtube video with a very detailed walkthrough to make them out of oven bake clay, which I have done and was fairly pleased with them. I think I made them too small though, I might redo it. We'll see.

Tiara- I was going to make one out of foam, but I found an Etsy seller- the same one I bought the choker gem from- that makes really lovely ones out of brass. I do not have the capability to work with metal, and these ones are so pretty. Which how much this costume means to me and how perfect I want it to be, I decided to splurge and go ahead and buy it. It's in the mail now, I can't wait to see it.

Brooch- purchased off of Etsy last year. Pretty sure I know where it is...

Hair- Like I said, I bought a wig. And then just a few weeks ago I found the same wig for much cheaper. So I bought it again. I have a tutorial for how to take a wig apart and sew it into another wig to make it thicker and nicer, and in every picture, Pluto's hair is impossibly thick. I know I won't get it anywhere near hers because I have to live in reality where we have physics, but that doesn't mean I can't try and make my hair a little thicker at least. Plus with adding more hair I can style it better.

Eyes- I have bought some burgundy tinted contact lenses just to make sure I get every detail right.

The Time Key Staff- Ooooohhhh this is the big one. But if I'm going to do this I'm gonna do it right. I'm pretty sure this is doable. Wooden dowel for the main part, cut in segments with steel rods and screws added so that it can be twisted apart for easy storage and transportation. Details will be created out of foam covered in paper mache for sturdiness, I think, and the top part will be carved foam and probably some kind of Christmas ornament for the orb. My plan is still very vague for this part, and I think a lot of it will depend on what I can find.

So, I said I had started on the leotard. Now, I've done EXTENSIVE research on techniques and tutorials and patterns and whatnot for this pattern. There is one particular pattern that is recommended time and time again for sailor scout outfits, but of course it's an old discontinued pattern and not super easy to find. I'm sure I could find something, but turns out I'm too cheap if I think I can do it myself. So I'm starting with trying to make my own pattern.

I started with an old swimsuit:

Still fits and everything, it just got all faded in the sun so I quit wearing it. So I cut it to pieces.

Removed the bit of ruched fabric in front, the elastic from the butt, and cut across the middle to lengthen the whole thing, due to my white fabric not having enough stretch vertically. I have concerns about my fabric not being quite right, but we'll see what happens. I cut that out and sewed the pieces together to come up with something that fit almost perfectly. Still too short for my torso, but everything else was good.

I took the white fabric pieces apart, and in the interest of symmetry cut them in half and traced one half onto paper (adding two inches of length in the middle) twice, flipped one side over and taped them together for a reasonably functional looking pattern.

Uhg. Not gonna lie, I hate how wide that pattern looks. But it does have to stretch all the way around me. And it really did fit nicely in the mockup. I've cut out the actual pieces now and will sew them together soon to see how it looks.

The problem I've run into now is that I don't have enough fabric to make the breastplate thing.

You know, that thing. The top part of the leotard. Most cosplayers interpret that as a whole second piece that they make and attach over top. I do not have enough fabric left to do that and I don't really want to go get more. So I'm hoping that the extra two inches of length I added to the patterns will be just slightly too long so I can just cut a seam there and sew it back together to make that line. If not I suppose I'll just have to go get more fabric.

So! Another thing. I mentioned I lost a bunch of weight. Well, I have had a few previous posts on this blog where I've complained about my weight. (Oh, 162 lb Jessica, how silly and naive you were.) Well, I continued to gain weight. All my attempts to fix it were half assed and quickly petered out. But then my marriage started falling apart. I realized I wanted to leave but it took me about another year to do so. And in that year the stress of it went and doubled my weight gain. Not my weight, my weight gain. I weighed in at one point at 194 pounds. Then I finally moved out and all that stress lifted and I realized that this whole thing was bullshit and it was time to get real. I hated my body, but I was starting to annoy myself by complaining about it. My opinion was if you're not doing anything to fix it, then quit bitching about it. 

I started collecting workout videos on Pinterest and I bought a kettlebell. Just a little 15 pounder. And somehow, I'm really not sure how, I came up with the willpower to get up early before work and workout. I've always been so, so bad at it. It was patchy there for a bit. Anytime I was hungover, or just really tired I'd skip the workout. But then I started getting stronger.

I think the real tipping point was near the beginning of March I did a 2 week clean eating challenge, one that had all the meals planned out and a grocery shopping list and everything. I followed it pretty closely, not perfectly but any subs I made were within the basic guidelines of the plan. And I focused really hard on my workouts. As a result I learned of a lot of healthy foods I liked, quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes, chickpeas. And I started to get some momentum on my workouts, I got on a streak. And I didn't want to break that streak. I don't remember if I missed any workouts in March, but I don't think so. And I lost 8 pounds that month. 

Since then my workout streak has remained unbroken. I workout every day I go to work. Holidays are an exception, I get an extra rest day then, and I don't workout on weekends. Eating healthy has gotten easier, and I still allow indulgences on weekends. I couldn't keep up that weight loss pace and still keep my sanity, but I've settled at a pretty solid 3 or so pounds a month. I've lost more than 20 pounds and gained muscles I forgot I had. I had to buy heavier kettlebells, twice! And I can do push ups again! Like, 4 or 5 maybe, but still! I was only able to do that in high school when I was in color guard. 

I have a few before and after pictures, but no really good current ones, I'll post something once I get those taken. But there is a very visible difference, I fit into my clothes again and I feel amazing. Basically, everything is awesome right now. :)