Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Question and Answer, 8/20/08

I just finished cleaning up for the night - tonight was mostly working on cutting the padding out in preparation for gluing and stitching. I noticed some questions, so I think I'll try and do a Q&A post every Wednesday - post your questions in the comments, and I'll answer them, plus I'll collect interesting ones from other posts.

From the comments elsewhere, benjamin slayter sort-of asked "Also, if you are interested in selling plans for said costume, we'd be interested."
How about I one up you a bit there, benjamin? For the Tauren proper, you'll need a pattern you can buy, and a pattern you can't buy. The pattern you can buy is Simplicity 2853. The pattern you can't buy is the one for the slipcovers for the hooves, and I'm not allowed to share it myself. I'm not ready to share the pattern for the gloves, because I found a fatal flaw in it. Of course, the Simplicity 2853 pattern leaves you going "well frak, that doesn't look ANYTHING like a Tauren." It also has problems, so here's a quick overview of the modifications you'll be making to set A for a Tauren.
  1. You'll be keeping the "belly" (cut 2) with the 3/8" seam allowance on the outer edge only. You'll need fur and lining cuts. Instead of two pieces, cut this as one by tracing all but the flat edge, and joining there. Normally the zipper goes there, and you don't want it there.
  2. For female Tauren, you'll be keeping the belly as two cuts for the lining. Use a 1/2-1" binding, and sew in your cups. I recommend additional padding to suit generally. For the fur cut, first trace your pattern to fabric, then fit it. You WILL have to play with this.
  3. The zipper is quite simple; just find your centerline, and cut down the back. Problem solved! (You've accounted for the zipper slack with the front modifications.)
  4. Pad it however you like. I recommend a mix of 1-2" closed cell foam for a base, polyfill to suit, and then quilt batting over top. Sew this into your lining; it will give you a more realistic look, and be more resistant to crush and shift.
Because I'm using a lot of natural materials, I run into the fatal flaw of natural materials - you can't really use patterns with them. You have to follow the nap of the fur, which might not agree with your pattern. In fact, it almost NEVER agrees with your pattern. Because of the way the head has to be constructed, it's very individual, so it can't be patterned anyways. What I recommend is to build your framing or foam out first, and making adjustments as you need. Now grab yourself a lot of non-stretch (VERY important) fabric or Swedish tracing paper, or whatever you like. Test how it lays across your head to figure out the pattern for your head.
There are some catches and tricks with the head. For Tauren, the nap (direction of the hairs of the fur) goes from nose toward mane, and there is a somewhat sharp cut where the muzzle ends and the eyes are. You want to avoid having a cut in the fur where these two points join, as it will show, so give yourself room.

Someone (sorry, I forgot your name) asked, paraphrasing, "what equipment do I need to build a Tauren?" Also, the question has been posed, "what equipment do you use?"

Using the pattern above, you'll need a basic sewing machine, lots of thread, lots of fur, lots of glue, lots of foam or wire, lots more thread. You don't necessarily need a Serger or overlock, but I strongly recommend it. That will get you from point A to point B, but will rely heavily on your individual skill for the quality.
Because I work with leather and natural materials frequently, and do other sewing, I use quite a wide array of equipment. My basic sewing machine is a Bernina Activa 210; I chose it because it is very utility oriented, and is one of the few electronics capable of sewing leather. It can and will go through Springbok hide easily. Its support in the utility role is a Bernina 1008, a fully mechanical sewing machine, that I find myself using less and less these days.
For Serging / Overlock, I use a Baby Lock Evolve - the absolute top of the line for serging, especially decorative stitching. More stitches than you can shake a stick at, but you will pay. Most folks just do not need an Evolve; mine replaced a Bernina 700D, and I could have easily done this with a 700D. However, unless you've been serging for a while, I recommend a standard sewing machine with an overlock stitch. Fur is incredibly difficult to serge.
My other frequently used tools include an assortment of hand needles, Gingher dressmaker's scissors, an assortment of measuring tapes, four utility knives, leather scissors (these are different from regular scissors,) two Olfa rotary cutters, an Olfa point cutter, a large mallet, some iron I found on sale at Sears, some ironing board I found at a garage sale, a rubber mallet, and enough presser feet and needles to entirely restock the sewing shop I frequent. :)

So bring on your questions, just leave a comment or send an email to yetama -at- error404 -dot- nls -dot- net with "Q&A" in the subject, and I'll answer as many as I can next Wednesday!

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