March 31, 2013

Masamune armor patterns + Craft foam heat forming test!

Back on last Friday I started drawing the patterns for Masamune's leg armor and arm guards. Basically I just looked at some references, took measurements and improvised.

Just one of my many Masamune references
After I had made a pattern I tried it around my leg/arm to check if it fit like I wanted and so on. Here's some pattern photos:

Started drawing the first pattern (leg armor)
To make sure that my patterns were symmetrical I drew one side, cut out half of it, folded it over and traced it to make the other half identical.
Leg armor pattern (front curves at top, back doesn't, hence the lines) with knee cap
Top arm guard pattern
I had to redo the lower arm guard pattern a few times because I noticed that the arm guards won't lay like straight on "top" and "bottom" of your arm.. they'd be angled a bit diagonally or eh, so that the spike of the top arm guard is turned more towards your elbow. If that makes sense.

Original pattern wasn't wide enough at top so I widened it..
Then I noticed it was maybe a bit too wide so I made secondary unfilled lines just in case...
.. but I ended up cutting them off and modifying the pattern a third time.
The final pattern is the one with the red marker on top of it.
Okay, enough of patterns. Yesterday I went to town to buy some craft foam for the project and the more I thought about it the more I felt like I wanted to make the arm guards out of craft foam instead of the polystyrene sheet.

Craft foam sheets!
(well, they are pretty bright colored but you can paint over them so it doesn't matter..)
Today I then traced the top arm guard pattern on a sheet of craft foam and cut it out.

After tracing
I didn't cut out more than one piece because I wasn't sure how to go about forming it.. or well, more like I've never done it before. I knew it was possible to form craft foam into different shapes with a heat source, like a stove burner or heat gun for example. The stove burner option wouldn't work at my home and I wasn't sure a hairdryer would do the trick so I asked stepdad if he happened to have a heat gun... and he did! Wohooo!

I took a few earlier scrap pieces of craft foam and went outside to try heat forming the foam into a new shape.

Heat gun, gloves for protection and a few scrap pieces
There was a metal rod protruding from that working table I used.. so I decided to use it as a form to test shaping the craft foam on. I just put on the gloves, rolled the craft foam piece around the rod and kept it in place with my hand while I applied heat. When it seemed like the craft foam started to get soft/floppy I turned off the heat gun and kept the foam in its new shape until it cooled down.. and this was the result:

It works! :DD
A few more tries later I had this:

The one to the right is the first try, second in middle and last try to the left
(those cuts were there before, they are not cracks that happened during the heating)
I must say while I formed the last one my hand slipped from keeping it in place on the rod and so it got a slight mark from my hand because it hadn't cooled down enough to regain it's normal.. consistency. I need to be a bit more careful with the actual arm guards then so that their surface stays nice and even. Oh and yeah, I plan to make it tomorrow!

March 29, 2013

Masamune try-on, this is what I have so far!

Today I decided to put on everything I have ready, so far, of my Masamune cosplay.. just to see how it all fit together. All armor and weapons and some smaller details are missing.. like tabi socks. I haven't tried all the at-this-moment-ready parts on before so this was the first try! I'm surprised at how flattering this thing looks on me.. I was pretty sure I'd look horrid but glad to see I was proved wrong!

Here's some photos! Oh, and yeah, used a mirror for help so they're all mirrored.
Also I didn't find the eyepatch so excuse me Masamune regained his sight for a while lol.

Today I also started making the patterns for Masamune's leg armor and arm guards. But I noticed I don't have enough craft foam at home.. which I will need to make prototypes to check that the patterns are okay and maybe also use it for the actual armor. I will go to town tomorrow and buy some. More about the armormaking then! See you all!

March 24, 2013

One-eyed Dragon rubber pants

I've actually been working on the pants for Masamune since last Sunday but I'm going to post about it now that I'm finished instead of posting multiple short updates.

Okay, so on last Sunday (17th March) I decided on what pants pattern to use.. I had been very unsure about this for quite some time. I found an okay pattern at one of these sewing magazines mom occasionally buys. I just followed the instructions in the magazine and traced out the parts I needed from the pattern sheet.

So.. much.. patterns...
But I managed to find, trace and cut out what I needed
That Sunday I didn't do anything else. On last Tuesday (19th March) I wondered if I should do a prototype version.. you know, like a mock-up of cheap fabric to check that everything works before using the real fabric. But I didn't really feel like making a prototype so I just measured the patterns and compared them to myself and it seemed okay.

Yesterday I started the progress for real. First up was of course to put out the patterns and cut the fabric. I must say I had pretty much just enough fabric left for the pants.. the rest was used for the coat. Oh, and I saved all slightly bigger scrap pieces in case I can use them for Masamune's "wings" between his sword sheaths.. but more about that later.

Here's a few photos:

Patterns pinned in place..
... and cut out.
But while cutting I managed to prickle my hand on a pin and I didn't notice the blood until after I was done cutting.. at least I got nothing on the fabric, that would have been a bother..

Most common damage in this hobby I guess..? xD
With the front and back pieces cut out I went to start the sewing. This time I would use the overlock machine, it makes life a lot easier.. and quicker.

First thing to do was to take both front pieces, put them right sides against each other and sew them together at the.. err, crotch. xD I did the same to the back pieces of course.

While sewing..
Next step was to sew the outer seams closed. Nothing special.. I put the front and back pieces against each other, right sides together and sewed on the wrong side of the fabric.

Outer seam sewed... turns out one side has a slightly longer leg by the way
With the outer seams closed I could now go and try the pants on and see if I could even get them on because.. well, almost always when I sew something I worry I have underestimated my walrusness when measuring.

I must also mention that yesterday I wore kimono all day and well.. I didn't feel like changing just to check for a few seconds if the pants would fit...

If they fit over a kimono at least they aren't too small! :DDD
Knowing the pants weren't too small I went ahead and closed the... err, inner seams and crotch area or whatever to call it.

After I had passed the crotch seam..
When I had finished sewing that part I checked that everything was alright and that the stitching had caught on both sides of the pants... which it hadn't.

Next thing I did was that I evened out and hemmed the pant legs. The overlocking machine makes things easy because it cuts the fabric too so I didn't have to cut the excess length off myself.

Fixing a pant leg...
After that I had to add a strip of fabric to the top of the pants to keep them from falling off I moved around for a while. I had saved a bit of the fabric for this purpose back when I cut out the pants.

This was the piece that was left
(yes, I like me some Pepsi)
After I had trimmed it to a 13 cm width
After i had cut it shorter
With that done I went to sew the ends together so that I got a tube, like this:

Then I just folded it in half and put it on top of the pants upper edge, right sides together. I figured I wouldn't need to add an elastic into the "tube" because the fabric stretches a bit; instead I just cut it a bit shorter than the measure of the pant's circumference and stretched it to match with the pants while I sewed it on.

Oh well, when I was half-way with sewing the tube to the pants the overlocking machine decided to quit. Mom tried to check what was wrong with it but it just didn't want to cooperate anymore for Saturday, despite some tries to get it to sew normally.

Half finished waist-tube-thingy.. you can see to the left where it stopped sewing properly
I didn't work anymore for Saturday and so today (Sunday) I did the last fixes. I started by trying to get the overlock machine to work but it just kept doing bad stitches or no stitches at all. Mom came to help and re-thread the thing a few times until it finally worked again. I must say when I tried to re-thread it (first time ever) I noticed how this thing certainly wasn't made for left-handed people. Dx Oh well.. we got it to work so I finished sewing the rest of the tube on.

Finished waist tube thing..
With only the pant legs to fold I went to try them on. I must say they are surprisingly okay to wear.. except that when I move they make this rubberish sound.. mom actually dubbed them "rubber pants". xD Oh well, here's a photo:

I just had one thing to do now.. fold and sew the pant legs. They were a bit too long so I folded them over twice to get them to a good length. Of course I used a normal sewing machine for this.. can't do a straight stitch with an overlock...

Folded and ready for sewing..
And with that my pants for Masamune are done. Next time I'll either do some small stuff like the gloves/tabi or start with the armor making. We'll see.

See ya!

March 22, 2013

Desucon - When I thought I saw the goal line...

... I have to take a big step backwards.
Yeah, there is bad news.

I got a message at Aniki some hours ago from the carpool contact person.. seems their plans changed so I'm back to the point without a ride; without a way of getting to Desucon. Damn, that joy was short-lived..

Oh well, I'm determined to go to Desucon so I'm again looking for a carpool possibility at Aniki forums as well as here on my blog. If anyone traveling to Desucon from Kemi/Tornio/Oulu/somewhere-close-to-these sees this and wants to help a fellow congoer out please do get in touch with me! My email is to be found at the left side of the blog but you can also comment on this post.

Until then I'll sit here biting my nails and hope for the best...

March 21, 2013

Con roll ticket blast!

Today I've been grabbing myself tickets to two anime conventions in Sweden that I will attend in July! Why? Because it's better to be early than too late and because JAG ÄR SÅ JÄVLA PEPP!! <3 Yeah, there's Desucon coming first but I'm still pepp for these!

The first con is...

Närcon had a "pre-order advantage" for those who answered their earlier attendant feedback enquiry or bought tickets to Närcon Vinter before the "Conbopaket" was released... I think. Whatever it was I was one of the people who had the privilege so that I could order the Närcon tickets already today (21st March) during the pre-release instead of having to wait until the real date - 27th March. I had gotten a personal once-only code that let me order stuff for Närcon, from tickets to Närcon t-shirts before the real date. Of course I bought myself a con ticket only a few hours after the pre-release (aka as soon as I got home from school) just to be on the safe side. I snagged myself one of the 100 SEK cheaper limited supply Early Bird tickets! They only cost 250 SEK when ordinary ticket price is 350 SEK.

And the second con is...

Not long after ordering the Närcon ticket I felt I could as well buy a Skecon ticket too while I was on the roll! Skecon had already released the tickets some time ago (400 pieces) but I hadn't instantly bought one because last year I don't think they sold out everything.. and they had 200 tickets back then. Oh well, Skecon has said this year it will be bigger and more awesome with artists and stuff. Also, last year's Skecon left a good impression on me and because I want to support con's in the north and it's a lot cheaper for me to travel there I really want to go this year too! I secured myself a Skecon ticket as well as bought one for my friend Sairu-chan!

 And here's my babies!

This also means that it's very unlikely I can go to Animecon in Kuopio, Finland, and that's because.. well.. if you look at the dates on the tickets you'll probably figure out why. If not, have this:

 5-7 July • Skecon 2013
13-14 July • Animecon 2013
25-28 July • Närcon 2013

Notice how they are all on the same month and how close Skecon and Animecon are? Skecon is one weekend and Animecon directly after on the next weekend.. and then a weekend with no con and then BOOM NÄRCON!!
With that said I don't think I really have the money to travel first to Skellefteå (which is chill distance) and then to Kuopio (not so chill distance) and then to Linköping (not chill distance). Too much for travel costs and it would feel a bit like "cake on top of cake", maybe too much of the good in such a short timespan? ^^" Err, so I think I will skip Animecon this time, even though I did enjoy it last year at Kuopio.. but unless a miracle happens aka if mom wants to go to Kuopio this year too (read: free travel) you won't see me there. :( Oh well, can't get everything in life ~

March 19, 2013

Desucon 2013 - Problems solved and cosplay plans!

I have now solved the how-to-travel-to-Desucon-and-back problem; I will seemingly travel with a group of con goers from Oulu and hey, in a motherfucking camping car to boot! <3 So much awesome! 8D I'm very happy about this!!

Oh, and I kind of half-promised earlier that when I solve the travel problem I will reveal my Desucon cosplay plans. Here goes!


Series: Fruits Basket
Character: Kazuma Sohma (manga version!)

I'm not much for shoujo manga but Fruits Basket is one of the few exceptions. It was a friend who got me to read it and while I found the first few volumes.. well.. boring.. until Kazuma appeared the story started for real. I've wanted to cosplay Kazuma for a while now (I can't find anyone who has cosplayed him by the way :S) and when Ri-kun said they could do Kyo -if I did Shishou- I was excited because hey, Kazuma is awesome and all but he just looks like a generic kimono dude and probably wouldn't be recognized without Kyo. :'( But it seems I will have a Kyo so AAAAAWWW YEEEAAAAA, this will be so much fun!


Series: Rurouni Kenshin
Character: Kenshin Himura (Hitokiri Battousai)

Kenshin, you don't need more reasons to cosplay him than that he is AWESOME. I will cosplay the Tsuiokuhen/Trust & Betrayal OVA version, aka when he was still a hitokiri. Yeah, it's the same one I debuted at Närcon Vinter last month. Kenshin was super comfortable to wear and fun so I can see myself cosplaying him a lot more in the future and the future means that the next stop is Desucon!


Series: Brave 10
Character: Rokuro Unno

I've been going back and forth on who to cosplay on Sunday the most but when I figured I could use Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan Saitou's wig... their hairstyles are super similar - hairtwins! I'd also get more use for my violet contacts if I did Rokuro so well, it got pretty set. Okay, while I admit I think his default outfit is more awesome I really don't have the confidence or body.. hahaha.. ha to pull that one off so I have to settle with the second (third?) best.. aka kimono!Rokuro seen during the later half of the anime. Chill cosplay except that I'll be half blind so why not? Also, eyewraps are boss and Rokuro is one of my top favorites in Brave 10 anyway. Sure the anime wasn't all that great but hey, I really enjoyed most of the characters!

These plans are not 100% set yet, there's always the possibility I might change something but I feel pretty sure about these.

March 11, 2013

Desucon - So close.. but so far away!

Earlier today I bought myself a ticket to Desucon in Finland, Lahti, which will be held 14-16 June. I really want to go there but it's very uncertain if I can yet.. but I decided after I heard that 40-50% of the tickets had already sold on the release day (which was yesterday, 10th March) that it's better to play it safe and buy a ticket so I have one in case it turns out I can go! After all it is much easier to sell a ticket if you can't go than try to find one after they're sold out..

So now I have a ticket just in case. Another problem with Desucon is that during the same weekend there's two more events in Lahti; seemingly some national rowing event and a poetry event. I'm not sure, Jäärä told me this and also told me she and some friends had already found and booked a sleeping place for the weekend. Obviously having these three events during the same time in the same city makes it hell to find hotels that aren't completely booked full already!! Luckily me and Ri-kun, after some searching, found a hotel not too far away which wasn't super expensive and had a few rooms left, so we jumped on the chance to book it before it was gone! One good thing was that it had a free-of-charge cancellation option too.

Okay, so now it seems I have most of the stuff fixed for a set trip to Desucon.. except one thing, which is the biggest problem of all - namely getting there. I really can't afford paying almost 200 € for the train tickets alone (and bus and airplane are just as expensive or even more so) and it sucks that there's no way for me to get that "student card" thingy which gives you great savings on a lot of things; I just can't get it because I study in Sweden and don't get study grant from Kela... which is a requirement for getting the card it seems. So, train/bus/plane is really not an option for me, unless very very very last resort, because Lahti is so far away from where I live and the travel costs are outrageous for someone with no current income except study grant. With that said I'm urgently searching for other cheaper options right now; a con carpool would be a life safer. I'm looking around to see if there's anyone who will pass by or start driving from northern Finland -around the Kemi/Tornio/Oulu area- who will be driving down to Desucon and has available place in the car for one person more! Of course I would pay part of the gasoline costs. :) If anyone planning a Desucon carpool from the north reads this and got interested please take contact with me through email (my email can be found to the left on the blog!) or comment on this post or, for you Finnish peeps who would rather read this carpool message in Finnish instead, you can check the thread I made at Aniki forums and contact me there by private message.

I really hope there's some kind soul somewhere out there who can help a fellow cosplayer and congoer out! :) Thank you in advance and here's a cat for you:

Oh, and Desucon cosplay plans will be revealed later, especially if I can solve this how-to-get-there-without-having-to-pay-an-arm-and-leg problem.

Until then, sayonara!~

March 7, 2013

Masamune's coat pt.3 - Trimming it!

What's up?

I've been trimming the coat all day and my neck, back and shoulders want to selfdestruct. Now I will write about the progress while it's still fresh in my mind. Beware lots of photos.

My trim of choice was a 3 cm wide roll of bias tape we had at home. I took the widest I could find because extra width wouldn't hurt and it would more likely cover what needs to be covered better.

I decided to start trimming the upper edge of the collar. Because I'm lazy at explaining how I fold things I'll show you le poorly drawn Paint-quality picture instead. It's probably easier to understand than my explanations anyway. lol

© Valkoinen Samurai
(I have no idea why I drew faces on them.. )
And after I had done that I just put the to-be-trimmed fabric between the trim so that the fold runs at the fabric's edge. Like this:

But when I had trimmed a bit of the collar's upper edge I turned it around and...

It didn't catch! D:<
Yeah, nothing to do but to unstitch it (with mini scissors, still..) and try again. But I didn't feel like trying again with the same method so I tried Plan B instead, which looked like this:

I would sew one side at a time, starting at the inside/wrong side, and make sure the bias tape was sewn on at half its width (1,5 cm) so that when I was done with one side there wouldn't be nasty surprises.. aka not enough width at the other side. Then I would just sew the other side closed. This meant there would be two stitches at one of the sides when I'm done and that's why I started at the inside.
This technique worked better for a start (even though I had to be very careful with the measuring) and after I had trimmed one side it looked like this:

Then I just stitched the trim on the other side just like I had done. But this time I didn't need to measure, just had to make sure that I pulled on the trim as much as it would go over and stitch it in place.

I also had to make sure the stitch from the other side would be hidden by the bias tape...
When I was done I thought everything was alright. Until I took a closer inspection.

Seems okay right?
 But when I lifted the "flap" a bit... (oh why did I even sew that far from the edge anyway..?)

Time to unstitch.. again. I must say I was annoyed at this point. Unstitching sure is a bother, especially when the right equipment is missing. It takes longer with scissors and obviously you have to be careful so you don't cut the fabric accidentally...

Unstitching - Scissors style...
When I was done unstitching and decided to try again, well.. nothing happened because the sewing thread had magically escaped from the needle. What the hell.

They see me fleein', they hatin'
Okay, I was starting to get annoyed at this point. Really. What's with all these fuck-ups piling up when I have barely started? My face was like.. oh, I know.. Masamune himself can demonstrate:

Yeah, go figure. I bit my lip and continued. For some reason the trim decided to do like I wanted this time and you know what... it looked okay = Good. Next thing to do was to figure out how to get a nice change of direction on the collar trim because now I would be going downwards. I played around with folding the end in different ways and figured the basic fold (like on that poorly painted tutorial) worked the best, except that the folded trim edge I folded over to the fabric's other side and when I folded the trim lengthwise that folded edge got hidden. This photo doesn't show it clearly but at least something:

When I had settled on how to that bias tape direction change thingy-whatever-to-call-it I just continued to sew along the front body of the coat until I got to the first spike. When I got to the spike I folded in the edge of the trim (which I had now cut off from the roll) somehow so that it was sort of point shaped.

One side of the trim attached (Plan B style)
I then just sewed the trim on to the outside side too and when that was done I added the trim to the other half of the coat too... I started this time at the first spike and made my way up to the collar.  Of course when I got to the collar I just had to screw up again.

Dat stitch.
Yeah, unstitch again and fix it. It was a measurement mistake, there wasn't 1,5 cm on both sides so the side with less suffered..

Just showing how I made the other side of the collar when I got to that point where the direction changed...
After I had fixed the collar issue I had both front outsides (center trims) of the coat, well, trimmed. I thought I had been through hell already but hell was just starting... all those spikes were next up. Oh lord.

Front center trims done.. now to get spiked...
Now I don't feel like I even know how to explain how I did the trim around those spikes so I will just post the photos I took during the process instead. Oh, when I did the spikes I switched to my first way of attaching the trim, aka sewing both sides of the trim closed at the same time.

Finished spike point (V-shaped)
I did a slight cut in the middle when I got to the upside down V-angles..
... and folded the trim edges so that they met. (other side not folded/sewn on picture yet)
Oh, and while I was sewing at one point I noticed the machine sewed on the same spot and just wouldn't move. Okay sure there was a lot of fabric layers there but it seemed weird it wouldn't move even if I helped to push the fabric... and the machine sounded weird so after a few tries to get it to move I took the fabric out and checked the threads.

The mischief maker - knotted bobbin thread
Soon after that the sewing machine decided a knotted bobbin thread wasn't the only misfortune it wanted to inflict on me. The sewing needle broke too. Fucking great...

Sure isn't my day today...
Oh well, a lot of painstaking care and tedious hours later I had finished all the spikes. I went through hell and survived!

The outside looks nicer because I sewed on the outside and it's the side that will show anyway..

I took a break because my body was killing me.. but I decided I would finish the coat today so I came back after about 20 minutes to trim the arm openings. I had to think a while how I would go about trimming them because as I mentioned in the earlier post they are V-shaped and not curved/rounded. This makes attaching the trim all around a hassle and difficult. I decided not to add trim completely around.

Sewing arm opening trim..
(I took off a part of the sewing machine so I could put the sleeve around it and roll it around)
Finished arm opening trim
Close-up of arm hole end..
And with that Masamune's battle coat is finished. It took forever and was a major pain in the ass but it is finally done!

And now I really don't even want to see bias tape or think about trimming anything for the next few years. Even thinking about getting to work with armoring seems that much more pleasant...

Bye bye!