Thank you to everyone who came out to my panel! Here are my current spandex related tutorials which should help provide supplemental material for the panel.
Spandex Review – Goes over the different characteristics and experiences with a variety of spandexes.
Spandex Appliques – Step by step process of appliqueing spiders for my Spider-Woman suit.
Stretchy Piping – Quick tutorial for adding piping to spandex suits.
Spandex Neck Binding – Process for a finishing technique for stretchy garments.
Spandex Head Pieces – Basic techniques for making spandex head gear.
Spandex and Worbla Bracers – Tutorial for creating metallic looking bracers.
Here’s a hopefully easy tutorial for binding a stretchy neckline with matching fabric! I think this gives necklines a nice clean look similar to manufactured shirts.
Start with cutting out your strip of spandex, or other stretchy knit (I’m using a poly/cotton blend knit here). Make sure you are cutting it so that it stretches along the length if you are using a 2 way stretch fabric and that it is longer than the diameter of your neckline. I usually cut a two inch wide piece.
Pin and stitch your strip on to the neckline of your garment with right sides of the fabric together, and ends free at the center back of your neckline. For the ends at the back of the neck I’ll butt the pieces together with the excess hanging toward the inside of the strip, and start sewing from where it’s pinned directly on either side of the loose ends. Whatever you make your seam allowance will be how wide the binding ends up on your garment. I use about a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Also, make sure to use a stretchy stitch! I use a zigzag stitch for this part.
Sew up your ends together with whichever stitch you prefer, and cut off any excess. If you don’t feel comfortable stitching the strip on exactly from center back to center back without going over the center back on either side give yourself a little wiggle room for sewing the ends together: start and finish your stitch from the previous step further out from the center back, then sew up the center back of the binding, and then finish stitching down your strip on the neckline over the center back where you left a little gap.
Flip your binding up. You may find it helpful to press it from the right side at this point. You would definitely do that if you were doing something similar with woven fabrics instead of knits. Here’s what your binding should look similar to from the inside of your garment at this point.
From the outside of your garment topstitch down your binding. Here I’m using the widest straight stretch stitch my machine will do directly below the seam created by first stitching the binding to the neckline. You may notice I have switched from my trusty teflon foot to a foot I can see through the middle of, so I can keep a better eye on exactly where my stitching is going.
Here’s a rough guide to sewing spandex head pieces. You can use this for face covering cowls too, I just happened to be working on my Fionna hat when I documented this process.
Start with something shaped and sized like your head, it doesn’t have to be exact. I pad out a wig head with scrap fabric and then cover it in one of my homemade wig caps (what I turn all my ruined stockings into).
I find it helpful to then draw some rough guidelines on the wig cap cover. On this one I drew roughly where I was thinking of placing the ears, crown seam, and face opening. I also marked about where my eyes would be.
Cover whatever form your using for your head in something to draw on. I was very much working with what I had around home at the moment and pulled out a shopping bag. I taped and stapled it to fit more and drew my pieces out. To get smoother pieces and a better fit you could try something else like covering the head in plastic wrap, then covering that in masking tape to draw on and hold the wrap together.
2. Measure out how wide to cut strips of elastic and mark. My elastic was 1/4 in. wide and my seam allowances were 1/2 in. so my elastic strips were 1 1/2 wide to allow for all that.
3. Cut out your spandex strips.
4. Pin spandex in half with the right side out around the elastic cord.
5. Using a zipper or piping foot baste sides of spandex together close to elastic cord.
6. Admire your piping after stitching it together!
7. Sew between sections of garment to add piping detail. I recommend basting it to one section first before sewing both sections together and completely sandwiching the piping.
Whew. I finally took some time to add new content. You can now find: pictures from the 2014 Buddy Walk under Volunteer Work, pictures of Sabine and Magneto under Commissions, and new costume listings. I’ve added entries for Human Luna (Sailor Moon), Princess Luna (My Little Pony), and Bombshell Mera. I also added multiple new pictures to Scarlet Witch and Twilight Sparkle. Here’s some previews, but browse around the sections for more!
June has been a very busy month! On Father’s Day I joined some of my friends from Heroes Alliance for Superhero Day at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This year I attended as Supergirl and had a lot of fun! I’m really glad Fernbank invited us back for the event. Thanks to Terminus Media and Your Mojo By Jojo for photographing the event.
June 20-22 Allen and I hit the road to attend HeroesCon with some of our friends. I love HeroesCon! It’s my second favorite convention after Dragon Con. I wore two costumes and bought a bunch of comics, along with some action figures and art. Friday I cosplayed as Twilight Sparkle with my friends Morgan and Carrie as Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. I hardly get to see either of these ladies, so I’m really glad we cosplayed together! Saturday I wore my new Scarlet Witch costume for the first time! I got to hang out with lots of other Marvel costumed buddies and had a great time. I’m already looking forward to what next year’s HeroesCon may have in store! Pictures used courtesy of Carrie Wink, Pat Loika, and Contagious Media.
I had a great time at Free Comic Book Day this year at Teahouse Comics! The comics I’ve read so far have been good too. I really enjoyed the Rocket Raccoon story! I dressed up as Donna Troy for FCBD. I figured I could go a little more obscure with my cosplay choice since comic shop customers are going to know a wider variety of characters than the general public. Also, everyone likes sparklies! My friends Megan and Melissa also came out as Jesse Quick and Mystique. Spider-Girl and Deadpool stopped by the store for a bit too. There was a great turnout for FCBD this year! It was great seeing so many people come out to support their local comic shop. For me the best part was the little girls I got to see in the store. I don’t think I ever really expected there to be a time when I would really get to interact with really young girls who were excited about reading comics. I grew up watching shows like Batman but I was older than most of these girls when I started reading comics. I think this is really a great time for comic fans!
Now, I’d like to talk about what I think is a particularly important comic right now: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. I’ve been a fan of the My Little Pony franchise as long as I can remember. However, these days I feel it has really gone in some bold directions and made an important impact. Of course I enjoy the animated show too. It’s really positive and well written with a great variety of characters and fun adventurous stories. I know adult fans of the show also enjoy the pop culture references that are sometimes snuck in, like pony versions of Doctor Who and Big Lebowski characters appearing. The comic runs with these quirks even further and cranks up the level of adventure from the average show episode. Some characters are taken in interesting directions I don’t think the show would venture to take either. Bottom line is, it’s a great all ages comic that’s enjoyable for both kids and adults to read. My Little Pony is a fun comic that’s engaging for adults without unnecessarily simplifying the story or characters for younger readers. It’s constantly one of the highlights of my pull list. I’ve dropped and added some other titles over the last year and a half, but have solidly stuck with Friendship is Magic. While the target demographic for the My Little Pony franchise is obviously young girls the brony phenomenon has proven it to be relate-able and enjoyable for all kinds of people. The bronies I’ve met have also been some of the nicest people you could hope to meet in any fandom. My Little Pony comics can be a great way to get young fans of the show reading more, and possibly discover other interests and books along the way as they visit comic shops or books stores to pick up comics. I talked to a couple little girls at length about ponies during Free Comic Book Day. It was a treat to see these girls excited about comics, reading, and the virtues of these characters as well as the adventures they have. Please consider giving ponies a chance if you haven’t already!
(FCBD photos by Joyce Palmer Johnson, Frameshot, and whoever I could get to use my camera phone at the time.)
I have found working with spandex to be a continuous learning process. It is good to learn about the properties of different types of spandex so you can plan for what you want to get out of your garments.
One of the main differences between different types of spandex is the weight. The given weight of a spandex corresponds to how thick it is. Personally I generally prefer thicker spandex. Thicker spandex is a bit more forgiving and helps hide lines from undergarments. I have some friends however, who work out a lot and prefer their suits be made out of thinner spandex to help show off their definition.
Another main characteristic to consider is which way a spandex stretches. Some spandex comes in both 4 way and 2 way stretch. You’ll get a stretch both vertically and horizontally with 4 way, but only in one direction with 2 way. Generally it will be easier to accommodate for your garments having a 4 way stretch. With a 2 way stretch you will need to pay closer attention to fitting and make sure you also use spandex with 2 way stretch to make your mockup.
The following weight information I provide, along with my pictures and experiences with some different types of spandex, comes from Spandex World.
Milliskin is a thinner spandex at 6oz/square yard. You can get it in either a shiny or matte finish. With it being thinner I personally would not want to make a whole bodysuit out of it. I did use red matte milliskin to make my Cassie Sandsmark Wonder Girl top.
I used shiny gold milliskin for the gold stars on my Donna Troy Wonder Girl as well as the outer fabric for the belt.
Wet look spandex is 5 oz/square yard and has a slightly shiny wet look. This can add an interesting effect to garments. I used wet look for Aquaman’s pants since I thought that would be a nice effect for an aquatic character.
Moleskin has a weight I like at 8 oz/square yard. I used matte brush finish moleskin for Spider-Woman, and my suit is very comfortable. However, the black moleskin was very full of dye. Even though I pre-washed it I still had problems with the black bleeding onto the white when washing the suit. To avoid this now I hand wash the suit as normal, tumble dry it until it is just damp and no longer very wet, then hang it to dry the rest of the way. This way gravity can’t pull water with black dye in it down through the white parts of my suit. My white moleskin was also not as opaque as I would have liked. I layered the legs of the suit with another spandex to make them more opaque.
Spandex with metallic finish is going to be more delicate as far as wear and tear goes. The finish on metallic spandex will wear off with use. I would not want to use metallic spandex for a whole suit but I do like to use it for accents and accessories. I used silver metallic spandex for Donna Troy’s belt and to cover the bracers.
I used a metallic stretch denim for Clea. The finish on the fingers of the gloves started wearing off after wearing it once. So, Clea is not a costume I plan on wearing many times.
Metallic stretch vinyl needs to be stored and handled carefully. Creases can form easily in folded stretch vinyl and damage the fabric. I used gold stretch vinyl for the Ws on my top for Cassie.
Holographic spandex seems sturdier than metallic to me, however holographic finish can crack. Subtle cracking does not seem very noticeable to me. I used holographic fish scale spandex for Mera.
Stretch velvet has a nice weight to it at 8oz/square yard. You need to pay attention to the pile with stretch velvet. The velvet will be smooth in one direction and rough in the other. You want the smoothness of the pile of velvet to go in the same direction. Pay special attention to how your patterns are laid out on your fabric in accordance with the pile before cutting out your pieces. So if your want your velvet to be smooth going downwards make sure your pattern pieces are with the pile going smooth from top to bottom of each piece when pinned on. You may need more fabric than normal for a project to account for the pile of velvet. I used black stretch velvet with silver glitter for Donna Troy.
When in doubt about about the qualities of a spandex always order a swatch. Spandex World charges small fees for swatches. Aside from examining qualities like stretch, finish, and weight I also like to get swatches so I can see how the colors look in person.
Over the winter Allen and I attended a few different events with our Heroes Alliance friends. We walked in the Children’s Christmas Parade as Supergirl and Dr. Strange. Significantly more people than we thought we’d find were excited to see Dr. Strange, which was exciting for us! We also learned the value of Dr. Strange having a warm cape during cold December events. Next we visited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite as Wonder Girl and Aquaman. We got to color with the kids and hand out presents. We also visited some children in their rooms if they couldn’t make it out for activities. This February we joined FOCUS for their Valentine’s Day party for medically fragile children as Spider-Woman and Aquaman. We has some small prints made for this event, and got to give them out to the kids. Below are a few pictures from these events. Special thanks to Your Mojo By Jojo for photographing events!