August 7, 2013

Shinsengumi banner and pride!

 Greetings!

For a pretty long time now I've wanted to add something extra to my Hakuouki cosplays, namely a shinsengumi nobori - a banner or flag or whatever you want to call it. They had at least two different ones in Hakuouki that were shown in the openings (at least first and second season) and in some anime scenes. I had been smart and screencaped a scene in Reimeiroku long time ago with both banners visible for future reference. Aaw yeah!


So my plan was to make the big red one. Back in 25th June I started the project and I ran around mom's house pretty much all-day working on the banner like a madman. I must have been crazy because basically all bodyparts that could have hurt physically did so the whole day and still I kept working on it.. my feet hurt so much it was tiresome to stand, back hurt so I couldn't sit unless I leaned against something, hands hurt, arms hurt etc.

Oh well, what I did first was drawing those kanji on pattern paper and cutting them out.

This worked as my second reference
The two dots are placed inaccurately, I just put them somewhere
Remember the broomstick I bought earlier? Well, it would be used as a flag pole for this project. I already had a 2 meter long one which I got from grandpa's house and the one I bought earlier was 1,5 meter long. I placed them in an approximate position and used them as a sort of frame to figure out how much fabric I would need; I just cut out a fitting piece. The red fabric I got from the attic by the way.

Fabric cut out and broomsticks used as size reference
I had a perfectly sized scrap piece of white fabric left over from earlier cosplays that I used to make the "white mountain stripes". The length of the white fabric piece was just enough to cover the front and back of the red fabric (I want the design on both sides) and this was without me measuring them to fit in advance. Awesome.

"White mountain stripes" ready to be cut out
After cutting them out I went to sew them on. I first sewed a straight stitch along the bottom.


And then I sewed the white parts on with longer-than-usual stitches close to the edges to secure them in place.


And after that I sewed a narrow zizgzag on top to keep them from fraying. Also this made it look cleaner and nicer.


I then prepared to do the same for the kanji but first I had to take some yellow fabric, trace the parts onto it and cut them out. It was very tedious I must say... but I managed. With the kanji pieces cut out I tried positioning them on the fabric to figure out where I wanted them to be.

Looks promising ~
I kept working on sewing on the kanji over the next coming days and well, it proved to be a pain in the ass. I first decided to sew some straight stitches here and there to keep parts of it in place so that the kanji wouldn't move around too much from its desired position when I started zigzaging around them. Well, the whole "let's secure it with straight stitches" plan turned out to be very tedious and I got fed up with it pretty quick. I wondered why I seemingly more often than not want to do things the hard and/or most ambitious way? *coughappliquécough* I could just have fabric glued the thing on and call it done but my perfectionist side thought fabric glue would make a mess, "bleed" on top of the fabric that is being glued and besides it stinks and would make the kanji stiff and well.. a stiff flag is not sure if gusta. So yeah, no fabric glue for me.
I also tried handsewing the kanji on at one point but quickly decided it was just as annoying as machine sewing. I let it be for a few days and on 28th June I felt like trying to work on it again.

Straight helping/securing stitches to keep it in place
Edges zigzaged and trimmed
Several hours later I had this and man did it feel friggin' good!


...
Only problem - the joy was short-lived.
There was another kanji waiting to be appliquéd to the other side of the flag; the cut-out appliqué pieces in the small heap next to the sewing machine probably morphed into Cosplay Satan of Thousand Slow Deaths at this point and burned holes in me, one stitch at a time. After all, I had been a good boy and planned to have the design on both sides of the flag because that would be cooler and OH GOD WHY DO I INFLICT THIS TORTURE ON MYSELF??


After forever had passed I was done with the other side of the flag. I'm pleased with it though so it wasn't a complete hell.

Don't mind the wrinkles, this was taken before I ironed it..
Now the only thing left was to fix those holding loop things so that I can mount the flag on the pole. I first thought to make them out of the same red fabric as the flag itself but figured it would be less work to just use bias tape. Only problem was that it seemed mom's "fabric storage" didn't have any red bias tape, only shiny red ribbons in different widths and I'd rather not have shiny flag loops.. just no. 

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......

Okay, so June went and July did too without me touching the flag. I didn't have time (and July was filled with anime conventions) but at some point I went to check some fabric stores in town but they didn't have any red ribbon that I thought would work; it was either too narrow, too wide, not the right shade of red or it was shiny. I decided "fuck red ribbons, I'll go with white" and then remembered mom had the 3 cm wide natural white ribbon that I had used for Masamune's coat trims. Yes!
On 7th August I checked the white ribbon against the flag and decided it was the way to go! But firrrrrrrrst I had to sew the flag closed because I realized my earlier plan to first attach the flag loops and then sew the flag closed wouldn't work because, well, the loops would be in the way. Duh.

Sewing flag closed
With the flag sewn closed I started measuring how long I wanted the ribbon loops to be and then I measured the spacing, aka how much distance I wanted between each flag loop. With that done I started cutting out the loops in the right lengths and pinning them in place.

One flag loop pinned in place
After I had cut out all the loops and pinned them in place I just had left to sew them on. This was quite a challenge because I just had to hope that the loop's other side (the side being against the sewing machine) would be of the same length and that I would sew both sides on at the same try. I had some weird luck because I managed to get pretty much all loops -except two or three- on with no problems, woot!

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About the pole I didn't have to do that much. I started working on it back on 25th June too.
I took a rasp (a coarse file for woodworking) and marked on the longer pole where I wanted the notch to be for the crossbar and then I just.. well, made a notch.

Notch after sanding (it cracked a little..)
I went to get the jigsaw to saw the shorter 1,5 meter pole in half - it would be the crossbar. Of course I sanded the sawed ends afterwards.

Pole sawed in half
On 26th June I started the painting mission. Not so much to say about it. The black paint is actually for house inside walls and shit but I've used it for wooden cosplay props before and never had a problem. Paint as paint, neh?

Preparations complete
Painting started! (this is the now 75 cm crossbar)
I asked Jäätynyt Enkeli to come outside and help a bit and to be a drying-pole-holder while I painted the taller main flag pole. When the painting was done we waved the poles around like hooligans until they were dry. :DD I then took the poles to the back entrance of the house and put them to dry a little bit more, just in case. I had to do some touch-ups because of some mishaps too.

That table was an awesome pole drying surface
the gaps in it were just right to keep the pole from rolling away.

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Okay, so with that the pole was done and the flag too!
With both done only the "how to assemble this" part remained. I had planned to keep the flag as travel-friendly as possible and that meant I didn't want to hot glue the crossbar in place with the flag on or else I couldn't disassemble it for easy traveling/storage.
I checked around and found a roll of black elastic ribbon that I figured could work in keeping the crossbar in place, booyah! So I just cut out a fitting piece of it, zigzaged the ends and tied it around the crossbar and boom, say hello to my sisäkumi shinsengumi flag!

FINALLYYYYYYYY
I don't know if it's very noticeable but the crossbar isn't straight because there's just a length of elastic holding it in place at a certain point (that isn't in balance either).. and the pole I made the crossbar out of is actually a bit thicker/heavier than the pole I used for the main flag pole itself. I'm not sure if it's even possible to get it super straight without hot gluing or securing it in place foreverrrr but I don't mind; I'd rather the flag be easy to take apart so I don't go around hitting random people in the train with it or something else hazardous. xD

Yeah, that's that. I'll totally be taking this banner with me to future cons whenever I'm donned in a shinsengumi outfit and feel like bringing it along!

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