By the time this post goes up, I’m sure many of you will be finished (or close to finishing) your Black Friday shopping. I know I certainly will be! See, I used to be one of those people who’d hit the stores suuuuper early on Black Friday, but with so many stores doing Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday deals online, I’d much rather stay up late in the comfort of my PJs than wake up super early. Here are a few of the deals that I’ve been keeping an eye on:
Wig sales: Many wig companies, Arda and EpicCosplay included, have sales on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. I like to take advantage of these to stock up on wigs for characters I know I’ll cosplay in the coming year. This year, I picked up a curly black wig (for Wonder Woman and Zatanna) and a faux lace front (for Captain Marvel) from EpicCosplay.
Fabric sales: I love Spandex World, but I hate their shipping costs. Any time they have a sale (which isn’t often), I take advantage of it. For this sale, I picked up supplies for two commissions as well as my upcoming Captain Marvel cosplay. Their sale is going on through the end of today!
Pattern sales: Many of my favorite indie pattern companies have sales this weekend, so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to pick up a few patterns for some upcoming makes.
Circle lenses: Pinky Paradise is having a 50% off sale through December, so I picked up contacts for several of my 2015 costumes.
Of course, there are a few things as of this writing that I’m kind of tempted to brave the cold and crowds for:
Wii U: The boyfriend and I have been thinking about getting one of these for a while. He’s got his eyes on Mario Party and I’ve got my eyes on Bayonetta II. Target and Best Buy have some tempting bundle offers, but we haven’t decided whether or not we care about a fairly small savings.
A new TV: We’re looking for a new TV, and that’s actually one of the few times I’d be willing to brave Black Friday since deals are so good. I’m currently eyeing this one.
Of course, I’m also keeping an eye out on my favorite Etsy shops and small businesses for upcoming sales as well.
Welcome back to the Spandex 101 series! If you need a refresher, check out Part 1 on supplies and Part 2 on prep. Today, we’re getting into the meat of spandex construction, and I’ll also mention a few ways that you can finish off spandex projects.
First off, let’s talk stitches on a regular sewing machine. Anytime you work with spandex, you’ll want to use a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch. A regular old straight stitch just can’t stand handle the pull of spandex and will most likely pop (Note: there’s some disagreement on this. If you stretch fabric while sewing, it should theoretically hold, but I’ve never been a fan of that method). For standard stitching, go with a narrow zigzag (I normally set my machine to 2.5).
I also like to use a chain stitch with spandex, which is basically a stretch version of a straight stitch. Most of the time I use them with top-stitched appliques or with zippers. Your machine may or may not have this stitch. Make sure to check your manual!
You can also baste with a zigzag stitch within your seam allowance. I use basting stitches quite a bit with spandex. It’s great to match up pieces like side seams or neck bands and see how they look before committing to your final stitch.
A friendly reminder: make sure you’re using stretch needles! Ever tried sewing something even remotely stretchy and get skipped stitches? You’ve probably been using the wrong needle. Knit fabrics are structurally different from wovens in that they’re made from lots of loops, which helps give them their marvelous stretchiness. Stretch needles slide through those loops instead of slicing them like a regular needle. You can read more about all that good stuff here.
If you’re serging spandex, I’d recommend a basic 4-thread overlock. It’s super fast, secure, and stretches with your fabric. Make sure to check your manual for the type of thread and needles to use.
One thing to keep in mind with sergers is that you don’t want to use pins. Between the blade and the needles, they can really screw up your machine and/or potentially injure you. If you’re new to serging, I’d highly recommend basting your seams and using short zigzag stitches anywhere that your seams meet. Stretchy fabric can move around on you while sewing, so basting together those seams helps you get used to the machine instead of worrying about the fabric moving around.
Spandex is one of those marvelous fabrics that you don’t technically need to finish. The edges won’t fray (but they may curl up, just FYI!), so once you’ve sewn your seam together, you can call it a day. Of course, if you want to do something more to give the seam a little extra strength, you can add an extra row of zigzag stitching in the seam allowance.
Sergers are awesome for finishing spandex, because you can sew your seam and finish it all in one move. You can also zigzag a seam and serge the edge, but I prefer to just serge. Try it out and see what works best for you!
Hems, Holes, and Everything Inbetween
So you’ve got a garment that’s sewn together, but how do you finish those pesky arm and leg holes? Well, there’s a couple of things you can do:
As I mentioned earlier, spandex doesn’t fray, so if you’re going to be wearing boots or gloves that cover arm or leg holes, you can technically leave it unfinished and be fine. If you want a cleaner finish, a zigzag stitch is a good option. I did this with my polka dot Lady Skater hem.
For a more RTW finish, try using a twin needle. This is a double pronged needle that stitches straight on the right side of a garment but has a zigzag-like stitch on the wrong side, which gives it a bit of flexibility. This isn’t quite as flexible as a regular zigzag stitch, so use it on areas like wrist and ankle openings or skirt hems.
Bands are a great finish for stretch materials, especially if you’re new to sewing them. I used this approach for Supergirl when I realized that I didn’t have quite enough length for the arm. This gave me an extra few inches to work with and was a clean finish. I use my Renfrew and Lady Skater bands a lot, but you can easily make your own!
One final technique I want to discuss is elastic. Let’s say that you’ve got an sleeveless opening or have a leotard leg hole to finish. My preferred approach is to use 3/8″ elastic. To apply it, pin the elastic to the wrong side of your fabric and baste in place. You may have to stretch the elastic as you stitch (especially around curved areas like the bum), so take your time and use as many pins as you need.
Once the elastic is basted in place, fold it over and use your regular zigzag stitch to secure the elastic. This hides your basting stitch and secures everything in place. I love this approach because it’s clean and gives you a little extra security, especially for those high hip leos! Many leotard patterns have guides for how much elastic you need. I always find that they’re a little loose for my liking, so I typically take them in a bit. Make sure to hold the elastic around yourself and see what works for you!
That’s it for this week’s post! Next week, I’ll talk about extra things that you can do with spandex, including dyeing, applying appliques, and more! It will probably be the last post in my spandex series, so if you have any questions or requests, let me know!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! I’m pretty excited for Thanksgiving this year, despite out-of-state travel plans happening last minute. I actually don’t have a lot to share this month since my con season is over for 2014, but here are the projects on my craft table right now:
Stanley Tweedle: 90% complete
You might remember me mentioning this costume back in October. I’ve spent the last few weeks researching and working on this costume. Overall, it hasn’t been a difficult project, but I have picked up a few new skills. The flap pocket is fairly time consuming, but it is so, so pretty. I really want to incorporate this into my tailored jacket. As of this posting, all I need to do in order to finish this commission is finish the pillbox hat (I’m embroidering this sucker during our drive to visit family) and finish a small bit of detail work. Can’t wait to see the final costume on its new owner!
Captain Cold and Squirrel Girl bodysuits: Research/Gathering Materials
One of my good cos-friends recently asked me to make some spandex bodysuits for her. I love working with spandex, so I was more than happy to oblige. As of right now, I’m gathering the materials for these projects and planning out patterns.
Captain Marvel: Research/Gathering Materials
Are you guys and gals as psyched about Marvel Phase 3 as I am? I did some hardcore shrieking when I saw that Carol’s getting her own movie. I’m really feeling the Carol love right now, so I’m bumping up my plans to make Captain Marvel. I’ve got all my fabric and other supplies on order and will hopefully debut this costume either at Ikkicon in January (birthday con!) or Fan Days in February.
Tailored Jacket: Gathering Materials and Muslin Making
I haven’t been able to make much progress on my tailored jacket this month with Princess Jupiter and Stanley Tweedle. However, I did finally decide to make my jacket using Butterick 5685 (pattern on the left). I thought about going with a basic peacoat pattern, but I already have one of those (even though it’s in purple and has way more belts than necessary). Hopefully I’ll have progress to share soon!
Ahhh! Thanksgiving is in less than a week! Are you ready? I keep forgetting it’s so close. But on the plus side: I’m super ready for some online Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday deals ;)
This week’s Fandom Five theme is Thanksgiving guests. Here are my picks:
Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter: I know, I know. Duh. She’s amazing. Plus, I think she’d kick ass at making an epic Thanksgiving feast.
Carol Danvers: Another “Duh, Mindy,” guest. One of the reasons I love Carol is because she just seems like an overall amazing person to hang out with. I think she’d be awesome at keeping conversation lively and fun.
Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk: Again, pretty much for the same reasons as Carol. She’s witty and sharp. I totally love Shulkie humor, which is always nice to have during these type of get-togethers. Also: karaoke.
Spiderman: Who doesn’t love a bad Spidey quip from time to time? I really enjoyed the interactions Spidey had with Carol in some of the Captain Marvel and Avengers comics. He just seems like a fun guy to have around over the holidays.
Molly Weasley: The Wesleys overall seem like the best family to hang out with over the holidays. They’re super warm, inviting, and friendly. Plus, Molly throws together a mean holiday meal. Throw in some magical clean up and she seems like the perfect Thanksgiving guest!
Bonus: The Flash. Who doesn’t forget something vital from the store on Thanksgiving? The Flash would be fantastic for super speedy trips to the grocery store.
No matter what you do next week, have a safe and happy holiday (or break of you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving).
Why This Costume: I covered my love of Jupiter in my Sailor Jupiter post. I adore the princess versions of the scouts in the manga and artbook, so when my friend Ohheyabear Cosplay said she wanted to cosplay princesses together, I jumped at the opportunity!
How I Made It: Construction wise, this costume isn’t too hard. It’s just a lot of layers! I blended Kwik Sew 3400 with the bust pieces of a McCall’s pattern that I can’t seem to find at the moment. Derp. I’ll post the number when I find it. There are three layers total: the outer layer made from a somewhat transparent green satin, the underlining in poly satin (the same that I used for Sailor Jupiter’s fuku!), and a lining in poly satin and chiffon.
The top layer and underlining are both made with the Kwik Sew View A train and the lining is the View B hem. To get the flower-petal look that Jupiter has, I did a rolled hem on my serger. Before I wear this costume again, I’ll add fishing wire to get a more pronounced wavy look.
The top layer also gave me some issues with the zipper. I initially tried this method of letting it hang loose in the back, but that soooo did not work with the length of my zipper. Instead, I basted the outer layer and the underlining together, but now there’s a baby pucker at the edge of the zipper. When I have time, I plan to re-do that entire zipper and seam.
To create the scoop on the front panel of the dress, I gathered both sides by about 5″.
My main trouble with fitting this dress was the outer layer. Since this layer is kind of see through, I opted to use French seams on ALL the seams. This worked well for the sides, but fitting over the bust was obnoxious. I’m still not happy with it, so I may seam rip them and just do a double-line of straight stitching instead.
My favorite part of this costume is the roses. I made several roses out of satin ribbon using this tutorial for the hips, ankles, and ponytail. I attached them to my dress and ankle ribbons with pins.
For the shoes, I took an old pair of scuffed work pumps and painted them. My original intent was to cover them in scrap fabric, but my Modge Podge dried super streaky. Since I was short on time, I used Colortool spray paint from Michaels. With my Angelus deglazer and finisher (leftover from Bombshell Wondie), it held up well. There are only a few minor stress marks. I’d like to repaint these with Angelus paint when I have a bit more time and hopefully match the shell of the dress a bit more.
Thoughts: Even with the setbacks and short time frame (around 2 weeks), I’m fairly pleased with this costume. It’s one of my cheapest cosplays this year, partly because most of the materials I used are reject Sailor Jupiter fabrics. The green satin for the shell was intended as the skirt/collar for Sailor Jupter, but it was more transparent than I anticipated and the store I bought it from didn’t accept returns. Might as well use it for another cosplay! I’d love to make some improvements to this costume over the holidays and do a proper photoshoot in a garden when the weather warms up. Ohheyabear and I braved the elements for a few outdoor shots, and I’ll be sure to share those when I get them!
That brings me to the end of my con “season” (can you really call it a season when it lasts all year?) for 2014. I’m taking a short break from personal costumes to finish up some commission work, but I’ll be back to making more early 2015. First up: MOAR CAROL! ;)
Have you started planning out or working on your 2015 costumes?
Happy Friday, everyone! I’m back on the Fandom 5 bandwagon this week with my vital smart phone apps. In no specific order:
Social Media Apps: I know, I’m such a millennial. I’m almost never on most of my social media outlets on my computer. It’s always on my phone. Instagram (@thegeekyseamstress), Twitter (@geekyseamstress), and Facebook are my main poisons.
Fotor: I love making collages for Instagram, and I use Fotor to set those up! This is one of those situations where I prefer the app version to the desktop. The app version is very simple to use and not too obnoxious in terms of advertisements.
Spotify: I love, love, love listening to music throughout the day (especially at work), and Spotify is my go-to music app. The BF is a huge music buff and has made me several fantastic mixes that I listen to on rotation. Also, I totally love the Disney playlist.
Google Apps: Cheating a little bit here, but I use so many of these. I use Hangouts for chats, Gmail for all of my e-mail needs, Drive to organize my documents, and Maps as my GPS.
Fabric: Approximately 1 yd. of navy ponte de roma leftover from my first Lady Skater.
Alterations: Added 1″ length
Notions: Thread and Wundertape.
Make it again?: Definitely. I’d like to make 1-2 more of these for work and the mini version for fun at some point. Maybe out of mermaid spandex?
Favorite parts: Same as last time. Comfort and how quickly I was able to finish it.
Other thoughts: I completed this project during a mini-stay/sewcation I took last week. It was a palate cleanser of sorts. I’ve been in a massive funk over the last few weeks, so I wanted something quick and easy to recalibrate myself. This project definitely fits the bill. Since I’d already cut the pattern for Mabel #1, it didn’t take much time at all to cut the pieces for this version. I think it took 3 episodes of Archer from cutting to hemming.
There’s really not a lot to say about this. My first Mabel is a regular wardrobe staple, and hopefully this one will be as well. The ponte de roma is a little lighter than my first one, so I do have to be careful about undergarment lumps and bumps. With fall coming on, I think it’ll be perfect with thick tights and cardigans. It’s nice to have another Mabel in rotation!
Since November is also Nerdvember, I decided to style this ensemble with one of my favorite nerdy pieces: my House Targeryan cardigan! Unfortunately, I can’t find it on the HBO site anymore. I swear, I wear this thing at least once a week. It pretty much goes with my entire wardrobe.
Do you watch Game of Thrones? Which house is your favorite?
Hello and welcome to part 2 of my Spandex 101 series! If you need a refresher on part 1, you can view that here.
Thank you so much for your feedback on the last post! I knew a lot of you wanted to know more about spandex, but the collective response totally blew me away. Again, if you have specific requests for topics, feel free to ask!
Today, I’m going to talk a little bit a bout pretreating your fabric, my go-to patterns, and basic modifications. I had hoped to include basic techniques as well, but this post is hefty enough as is. Next week!
Pretreating Spandex and You: A Love-Hate Relationship
Prepare your eyeballs, because I am going to confess to something scandalous: I rarely wash/pre-treat my spandex. The horror! But… not really. See, spandex is one of those magical fabrics that doesn’t really shrink. The only time that I might pre-treat my fabric is if I think colors might bleed into each other, but that’s pretty rare for me.
With costumes, I find that you have to think outside of the pre-wash “rule”. The idea is actually to treat your fabric as you intend to wash it later. I don’t know about you guys, but my full costumes never go directly in the wash. Since they’re only worn a handful of times (5-7 wears for a well-loved costume), most of the time I’ll spot clean stains and high funk areas and also Febreeze them. As soon as I get out of costume, it goes on a hanger to air dry, which also helps with odor and cleanliness. Since I wear a ton of layers with spandex, this also keeps the fabric from directly touching my skin.
Another benefit to not pre-washing spandex: it helps your fabric lay flat when cutting. When spandex gets thrown in the wash and dries, it tends to curl at the edges, sometimes by several inches. That is SUPER annoying to deal with when you’re cutting fabric.
Speaking of cutting, I mentioned last time that a rotary cutter and mat is my preferred cutting method. This is true for almost all of my sewing creations, but especially spandex. Spandex likes to slide around on itself when cutting, so being able to lay it flat on my cutting table and just go to town really alleviates some frustration. As I mentioned last time, this can be somewhat costly, but the cost is totally worth it, especially if you think you’ll make a lot of spandex costumes.
Pro-tip: if you have any resistance whatsoever when cutting, either sharpen or get a new rotary blade. Seriously, it is not worth the wrist pain to tough it out. Your lines will be cleaner and your wrists will thank you.
One more pro-tip: When cutting, point the rotary AWAY from you and always be mindful of retracting the blade. Those mofos are sharp and no one needs a trip to the ER or to get blood in spandex.
Superhero costumes often have all sorts of crazy design elements to them, and unless you’ve stumbled across a magical resource of superhero specific patterns (please share. I will give you Internet hugs and cupcakes), you’re going to have to make your own patterns for designs. Fortunately, there are lots of awesome basic designs that you can use as templates. Here are a few of my favorites:
Kwik Sew has tons of fantastic spandex friendly patterns for both men and women. Some of my favorites are 3154 (sadly OOP, but check eBay and Etsy!), 3052, 3636 and 3029 . Their instructions are also great. P.S., Check out WindoftheStars video on patterns.
Jalie is a name that comes up often with skating/dance patterns. They have a huge selection, but I haven’t purchased any of their patterns yet. If anyone’s tried them, let me know what you think!
Green Pepper’s Crystal Lake pattern (a.k.a. the sailor fuku pattern) is a good basic skater pattern. It only has one seam up the back, so there’s not a lot of places to muck up if you’re new to spandex. The only real down side is that it’s fairly limited in size, so proceed with caution. I used this pattern for my mom’s Supergirl.
To draft some of those crazy designs, I typically create a muslin (mock-up) out of cheap spandex. Do be mindful of stretchiness, because you don’t want to make a mock-up of 4-way stretch then do a final version in 2-way stretch. It’ll look all kinds of wonky.
Once my mock-up is created, I’ll draw out the lines of the design that I need and add seam allowances if necessary. I’ll then cut up the design, make it pretty on paper, and use that paper design as my final pattern. This can take some trial and error, but it’s my favorite way of creating design elements. It works great for both inlays and appliques!
Just like other sewing projects, you have a ton of options with spandex to make a project fit you better. The most basic modifications are for height. This is where I find it helpful to look at drafting information on patterns. Kwik Sew women’s patterns are drafted for 5’6″ and accommodate for various cups based on size (a fun bit of information ONLY found on their fitting guide. Ugh). So for example, I’m typically a L in Kwik Sew patterns, and L-XL sizes are drafted for D cups, which works perfectly for me. Fortunately, you don’t really need to do FBAs for stretchy fabrics, since the stretch takes care of that for you. But it might be something to look at if you need more (or less) room with the bust or hips.
To add or reduce length for height, simply cut at the appropriate cut lines and add or reduce your length, blending between your cut pattern pieces as needed. I’m 5’10”, so I typically add 3-4″ to most of my Kwik Sew patterns. A large bust might also mean that you need more length to accommodate everything. If you make a muslin and notice the fabric uh… riding up your lady bits, that’s a good indicator to add a bit of length.
A note for choosing sizes: Wear your intended shapewear when taking measurements and choosing sizes. This is applicable to all patterns, but it’s still worth mentioning. I’ve mentioned before that I wear shapewear with spandex, which means that I often have to grade between several sizes.
Here are a few other basic modifications:
Shifting zippers: If you’ve got a leo or a catsuit and want to move a back zip to the front (or front to back), simply subtract the seam allowance from the pattern piece for the zipper, cut the altered piece on the fabric fold, and add the zipper seam allowance to your intended pattern piece.
Adding a zipper: Many stretchy patterns have a large hole in the back or a scoop neckline to allow the wearer to put on the garment without zips. To get past this, I just take my ruler and draw a line up the fabric using the pattern piece as a guide. If the pattern piece is supposed to be cut on the fold, add in a seam allowance (I usually use 1/2″)
Going sleeveless: My go-to leo pattern is Kwik Sew 3154. I’ve used it for several turtleneck leotards, but many of the designs are sleeveless. For that alteration, I ditch the sleeve and finish the arm hole with 3/8″ elastic. I’ll describe this process more in my next post.
That’s it for this week’s post! I hope it helps. I covered a lot of information today, so if you need any clarifications, please feel free to ask in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. Next week, I’ll talk about construction techniques and how to finish projects. Again, if you have any suggestions for topics I’d love to hear them!
Alterations: Blended bodice patterns together and added 3″ length to skirt.
Notions: Elastic and Wundertape.
Make it again?: I’ll definitely make another Lady Skater, though I’m not sure about another Lady Skater-frew. I love it, but I think one is enough (for now).
Favorite parts: Same as the lasttwo skaters. I really adore the cowl on this top. It feels like wearing a giant (but very pretty) sweater!
Other thoughts: I really don’t have anything new to say that I haven’t mentioned with my navy and black and white Lady Skaters. It’s super comfortable and very quick to put together. Honestly, the longest part of construction was my pattern alterations. I paid careful mind to alterations, since the Renfew top uses a 5/8″ seam allowance and the Lady Skater uses 3/8″.
Basically, I laid the Lady Skater bodice over the Renfew pattern and blended the two together. I left the neckline and arm scythe of the Renfew alone so that I wouldn’t mess up the neckline or the sleeves. I thought about adding length to the sleeves, but I’m glad I didn’t, since they’re a little too long as is. The sleeve length doesn’t bother me too much, since I like slightly longer sleeves on my sweaters.
To make sure the dress would fit okay, I basted the sides together down to the waist before I serged it. I did have to take in the sleeves and the upper part of the bodice a bit (still could probably take them in more), but again, that’s primarily because I was dealing with two different seam allowances.
As I mentioned, I really like the giant cowl on this dress. I think I’ll make a cowl neck Renfrew top soon. I took Tasia’s advice and stitched down the seam allowance to the neckline, which makes a nice finish. I used a zig-zag stitch, but I think I’ll use my twin needle in the future.
Overall, I love this dress! My only complaint about it is the material is prone to pilling. I’m having this problem with my other skaters too. I need to de-pill them and probably start hand washing them. Boo. Still, they’re pretty and fun to wear!
Have you made a Lady Skater hack? How did it turn out?