Bookshelves! Woo!

I have such a backlog of stuff I haven’t documented that I don’t know where to start sometimes. How about bookshelves? Okay then! Ken and I finally organized the bookshelves! Look at that sweet, sweet organization. Everything is grouped together by subject and each subject is organized by height. Well, except for my paperback novels. I tried to keep series together and organize by height but the top shelf could still use some re-ordering. The important thing is my reference books on the bottom shelf are no longer leaning over and getting their spines all twisted. It pained me every time I looked at them. Now I have little metal bookends slid between them every so often to provide more support.

We had to part ways with a few books so they could all fit standing up instead of being stacked all over the tops of other books. They were mostly books we’d read already so it wasn’t so bad sending them to the next chapter in their adventure. I should probably pare them down even more (curse you, KonMari!) but I think for now I’ll let them be. They’re pretty to look at so they count as art…right? I’ve probably gone on too long about my books at this point. Whatevs, I used this as my desktop image because bookshelves are the bee’s knees!

TLJ Rey Boots

Ordered my new Rey TLJ boots from Po-Zu. It pains me that they branded them and added a zipper. I wish they had a costume edition that was identical to what was used in the movie. At the same time I understand the practical need for a zipper. Most customers probably wouldn’t buy them if they had to lace them up all the time. We’ve all become so lazy with our fancy modern conveniences like zippers and horseless carriages. Ah, well. The sizing was the same as it was for the Piper V boots so hopefully these will fit the same.

DragonCon Hiatus

DragonCon didn’t go as intended this year. Again. We may skip it in 2018. I’m in school and the start of the Fall semester is always the same week as D*C. That means I might have to put off getting there until Friday evening depending on how my classes fall, which I wouldn’t know until long after I’d already booked the room. Planning classes around the convention isn’t really doable either as the college I’m going to only offers certain classes once per year and in one time slot. Not a lot of flexibility. Then there’s the issue of losing several days of study time during the convention. That part probably wouldn’t be that bad since it’s the first week of classes but I’m paranoid about getting behind.

To add extra anxiety, we also had a cat (Lynx) in kidney failure that had to be boarded at the vet’s while we were gone so she could get her medicine and fluids. I called every morning to check on her and on day two the vet told me she probably wouldn’t last until we got home. Leaving her to die alone and scared in a cage while I was at a convention felt like a really shitty thing to do, so we packed up and left Friday night. We picked her up first thing Saturday morning hoping she’d rally once she was back home. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. She got to spend a few more hours getting lots of pets and lying on her heating pad in her favorite room, the kitchen, before quietly slipping away that evening.

Another cat, Luna, was also acting off when we left. I took her to the vet soon after we got back and found out she had hyperthyroidism. She was on meds for that for a while but she didn’t improve. I took her back to the vet where they took an X-ray that revealed a large tumor. They did surgery to remove it but discovered that it’d grown into her stomach where it was inoperable. She had to be put to sleep.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a sick cat around convention time. I think they pick up on all the chaos/anxiety and it ends up stressing them out. Stress is bad for cats, especially elderly cats which most of mine are. It can trigger health issues that are already lying in wait. I don’t know how to prevent them from getting stressed when we travel. I know they would’ve had these issues anyway and I can’t just stay home indefinitely because of it yet I can’t help but feel guilty.

I knew it.

I got an email from the Marriott early this morning informing me that they’d just noticed that my cc didn’t get charged for the remaining balance on March 1st like it should have. I guess they tried but since the card had expired between making the reservation and paying the remainder it didn’t go through. For some reason my reservation didn’t get booted when the charge couldn’t be completed and it got overlooked. I updated my cc expiration date with them months ago, long before March but the system still tried to charge the old card. I hate years when my cc is about to expire, there is always something that goes wrong. The lady who contacted me was very nice though and she got it sorted out so all’s well that ends well.

I’ve been struggling with my Luke pants for days now switching between bouts of fevered alterations and apathetic inaction when my efforts have failed. I may have to start over on them and I’m not sure I have enough fabric to do that and the shirt. Also, the fabric is now sold out. Things are not progressing as planned. This is what I get for assuming the problems with my mock up would be solved by the stretch of the wool fabric.

Skywalker

My LED bulbs came and saved the day. When I took the incandescent bulb out again to make the switch I finally spotted the loose filament. It had a curly end so it would catch and appear unbroken sometimes like it did the first time I took it out. The intermittent contact it was making with the rest of the filament as the machine vibrated is what was causing the flickering. I always love when sewing machine troubles have simple fixes. Now let’s talk about that LED bulb. Holy crap, that thing is bright. I’m talkin’ the reflection from the slide plate is painful. However, I can clearly see what I’m working on…as soon as the spots fade from my eyes.

I worked on cleaning my glove up today and I’m pretty pleased with the results. As you can see below they were mostly covered in a silver film with occasional solid splotches. The handle of Quistis’ chain whip is silver and I found that when I put a clear coat over the metallic spray paint it lost its metallicyness and just looked grey. So what do I do? Leave it unsealed, of course. Well, with many metallic spray paints they have a film almost like dust that covers the surface. Anything that touches that surface comes away with silver “dust” on it. That was also an issue with the gunblade I made for Squall so these gloves got a double dose of fairy dust. I hung onto them and now their day of salvation is finally at hand. As always, I did my research first and found different suggestions for removing dried paint from leather. I started out with the most innocuous substance, olive oil. Supposedly it loosens the paint with enough rubbing. It didn’t work. Maybe if it were a different type of paint or if the paint hadn’t been on there for years it may have worked ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Next I tried rubbing alcohol (also did nothing), acetone-free nail polish remover (sorta removed some of it plus some dye) and I experimented with mink oil a bit (didn’t work). I finally decided to bust out the good ol’ Winsor and Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer. I’ve had this stuff for years from my BJD customizing and it’s the bee’s knees for paint removal. I’ve never used it on leather before but nothing else was working so I gave it a shot. It removed the paint almost immediately. Some of the blotches were stubborn but they came off in the end. If it weren’t for the crease marks where the fingers bend they’d almost look new. [Quick pause for a word of caution- it did take some dye off with it so if you try this, test it in an inconspicuous area first.] I still had some olive oil left so I rubbed it down with that after I got all the paint off. I may go back and wipe it down with a damp cloth to try to remove any residue from all the junk I put on it. Then maybe some black shoe polish or mink oil followed by a nice buff with a shoe brush. It took about an hour to get it looking good again but that’s including all the experimentation. The second one should take about half that time whenever I get around to it so I guess the glove situation is handled. I can do this all day, I have no shame.

I finally finished putting the zipper in the pants. I had it up to the point where I was ready to do the topstitching and decided to pull it all out to move the zipper closer to CF. I didn’t do it right in the center seam like ready-to-wear the way I originally planned. I decided I’d rather have it offset a little so I don’t have to worry about the silver zipper teeth peeking out on my all-black costume. I did add a zipper shield though- so fancy! Once that was done I went ahead and sewed the side seams and basted the inseam so I could test the fit before I apply the trim. I don’t really understand pants fitting all that well but I know a diaper butt when I see one. I’m not sure how I’ll go about fixing it. After I got them on I had to see what they looked like with the boots and belt then I decided to bust out the lightsaber. Yeah, I pranced around for a bit. It keeps up morale on tedious projects. So I have to fix the fit issues, draft and attach a waistband, and hem the cuffs and attach stirrups. Then I get to start on the shirt. 19 days left, I can do this.

Ma’am Hands, Rey, Skywalker

I bought a pair of black leather gloves from eBay for my Luke costume but when they arrived Saturday I was disappointed to find that they didn’t fit. I have fairly long fingers for a lady-person but they lack the girth that most male fingers have. This means that most women’s gloves are too short for me and men’s gloves are too baggy. I got a pair of size L women’s gloves from Target many eons ago for my Quistis costume, they’re still the only pair I’ve found that have come close to fitting. They’re covered in silver smudges from Quistis’ chain whip but I think I may have to try cleaning them up for Luke. Well, one of them.

I sewed the two back pieces of my pants together and did the topstitching around the riding seam. I also serged along all my edges like a damn professional. So far I’m pleased with how they look. I got my zipper installed all but the double row of topstitching and inserting the fly shield. While I was working, the light on my sewing machine decided to start wildly flickering when I pushed the pedal which makes for a very “someone is about to pop out of the closet and murder me” sewing experience. Just kidding, my house doesn’t have closets. The obnoxious flickering did cause me to stop working on my pants though. I was in the middle of a seam when it started and I had to prop my phone up on the machine and use its light to finish the seam. The lighting in my house already isn’t good and I’m working on black fabric so the light on my machine is pretty important. I pulled it out to examine it and I didn’t see any broken filament but it may be getting ready to blow. I’ve had the same light in there since I got the machine when I graduated high school. That’s an impressive lifespan for an incandescent bulb. I hope it’s just the bulb, if not then it’s a wiring issue and that would be bad. The dryer was running when the trouble began and my husband thought that might be causing the issue (old house, old wiring). He turned the dryer off and I tried it out and it didn’t flicker. Thinking the trouble was solved I went to sew again only to have it go back to flickering. I got trolled by my sewing machine. So now I’ve got two fancy LED bulbs winging their way here from my lord and savior, Amazon. Hopefully that’ll solve the problem and I can get back to business.

My Rey fabric showed up today. I was really surprised at how light it is. From the pictures I imagined it to be like a mid-weight home decor type fabric but it’s more like an eyelet fabric. I see now why they lined it on her costume. It may not be such a bad thing that I got the white instead of the putty since I’ll have to dye the liner fabric to match. Dyeing them both at the same time will be easier than trying to match the existing putty fabric perfectly.

Not much progress today and tomorrow isn’t looking good either. I’ve got jury duty in the morning but I’m hoping it’ll wrap up quickly and I can get back here, install my new bulb and make headway on the pants. That is if this miserable Southern humidity doesn’t sap all my energy while I’m out driving around in it. My delicate constitution just isn’t suited to global warming.

Skywalker

I got my Luke pants cut out of the wool blend. I sewed the riding seam and it’s looking promising. I still need to do the top stitching. I think I’ll go ahead and sew up the back seam so I can have a nice unbroken topstitch across the riding seam. I also want to try to center the zipper. The way the pattern I’m referencing does it the zipper ends up offset to one side. You can’t tell once the fly covers it but it bugs me. I’ve also been obsessing over the trim down the sides of the pants. The original pair had 1″ mohair trim. Try to find 1″ mohair trim. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Yeah, it isn’t easy. I was able to find companies that make it but they only do large runs. I don’t need 144 yards of mohair trim. I did find 1.5″ mohair trim on eBay so I bought some just so I’d have an example of what the real deal looks like. I thought it might also be possible to fold it under on the sides to 1″. I was able to find 1″ polyester trim that has a similar look but it’s not exact. The mohair fibers are fairly short so they give the trim a fuzzy appearance where the ends stick out, sort of like sweater fuzz. I tried to replicate the look by running some fine grit sandpaper over the polyester trim. It takes some of the shine off and makes it fuzzy but it’s still not quite right. Most people use 1″ elastic to approximate the look which is probably what I should have done instead of fixating on perfection. Either way I’ll have to decide soon because it has to be sewn on before the crotch can be done unless I want to sew it on by hand. Which I don’t. I’m down to less than a month before D*C, time is of the essence. My summer semester finished up yesterday so I’ll have more time for sewing now. I just hope it’s enough.

Here are the photos I took of the different trims, one in natural light and one with flash. I sanded about a 1″ patch at the top of the polyester trim. It’s a little difficult to make out in the pics but it’s there, I assure you. The polyester and the elastic are nearly indistinguishable and both are pretty good substitutes for mohair. No one would even notice the difference. Then why does it matter so much to me? Whyyyyy?! Because science, that’s why.

TFA Rey Boots & TLJ Rey Fabric

My Rey boots came from Po-Zu today! I was afraid they might not fit but they’re friggin’ perfect. Po-Zu put the screen accurate Rey boots on clearance because now they have special Star Wars branded Rey boots. They’re nice but the leather heels have a Star Wars brand stamped in them. Kind of a bummer for costumers. But because of them the originals were half off so I jumped on it. I was dumb and didn’t message them about sizing when I ordered because I was convinced they’d sell out in the interim. Luckily their sizing chart must be pretty spot-on. I measured out at a EUR 38 which is a USA 7. Normally I wear 8 or 8.5 so I was wary of buying the smaller size. I’m so glad I went by the chart instead of what I usually wear. I’d have Rey clown shoes otherwise and they’re sold out of this size now. I’ve been fretting for almost a month (since ordering them) for nothing. I should learn a lesson from that but I won’t.

While I was flippin’ out about my Rey boots I decided to look up the new pair she wears in TLJ. I’m really liking her new costume and was curious to see if any of my peeps had ferreted out the details on the new boots. No match found for them yet but they appear to be custom Po-Zu boots. In my searching I happened across a post about the entirety of her costume and found out that Mood Fabrics carries the exact match for her tunic material. It was already sold out in putty by the time I got there but they also had it in white and it happens to be 100% cotton. Time to practice my dyeing skills. A kind soul on the RPF agreed to send me a scrap of her putty colored fabric so I’d have a reference to dye by.

I said I wouldn’t do a Rey costume and now I have the beginnings of two of them -_-;

Lady Skywalker

I started off my Luke pants trial and error with McCall’s 6901. I followed the instructions and made a tissue paper muslin with it first. It was…strange. I don’t understand how you’re supposed to judge how fabric will hug the contours of your body using a piece of paper. I use that method sometimes for judging length or other simple stuff but fitting pants this way didn’t click for me. I ended up making a fabric muslin from the paper muslin. The fit wasn’t what I was going for, it was baggy and just generally icky. It would have taken a while to get the alterations right so I made the call to scrap them and start fresh.

I finally decided to make a pattern off a pair of my jeans. I laid down a layer of foam core large enough for my pants to fit on and rolled my pattern paper out over that. With everything secured in place I started pinning through the pants, paper and into the foam along the seams of my pants as though I were pinning a specimen open for dissection. Apologies for the imagery. I didn’t take pictures so I have to paint one in the garden of your mind. Anyway, I pinned pretty frequently along the seams all the way around the leg piece while it was completely flat (only works for the front). When I took the pins out I had a pattern of the pants front. I used a pencil and a french curve to connect the pin holes in the paper. After drawing in my seam allowances my pattern was ready to go. I did the back the same way but it was a little trickier since you can’t lay out the entire piece flat at one time. Also, I had to put a riding seam in it so the back was split into two pieces.

I made a muslin with some twill I had on hand and ended up with what you see below.

The fit is still a bit off but I attribute some of it to the lack of stretch in the twill. My pants I made the pattern from stretch and so does the wool blend I’ll be using for the final pants so I imagine it’ll fit better in the wool.

Supergirl Boots

In mid-August of 2015 I was working on my Supergirl boots (Helen Slater version). I had to replace the boots because my cat clawed them up beyond repair. I bought a tougher material and set to work on the new boot covers. First thing to do was to free my base canvas shoes from the damaged boot covers. Initially, I was trying to remove them with needlenose pliers and patience. That took for-friggin’-ever and was hellacious on my hands. I freed one shoe that way then I finally wised up and used a solvent, plain ol’ acetone. The acetone made quick work of what would have taken hours if I’d kept at it with the pliers. Within a few minutes I had the remaining shoe clean and ready for a new upper. I made a sturdy poster board pattern in place of my tissue pattern to make things easier since I didn’t want to put holes in my boot fabric unnecessarily. I traced out the pieces on my fabric, got them cut out and prepared to paint them.

I hadn’t been able to find just the right shade of red in a suitably sturdy/accurate fabric so I purchased white with the intention of painting it. I tested a few paints and dyes and finally decided on Angelus leather paint. I mixed it with thinner and duller, both Angelus brand, to get a consistency similar to whole milk before loading it in my airbrush. The resulting mixture was quite transparent. It took several coats to get to the color I wanted and the small spray pattern of the airbrush (and/or my lack of skill) caused it to come out mottled where I’d overlapped paint layers. Oh, I also decided that when I was painting around the edges I’d put another boot piece underneath to catch the overspray so it wouldn’t be wasted hoping that it wouldn’t leave lines. Spoiler- it left lines. Lines that were nigh impossible to hide. If I ever decide to airbrush a large area like this again I may need to get an airbrush with a larger spray pattern. I might’ve been able to just brush this on but nooooo, I had to be fancy and use an airbrush. Anyway, witness my shame below:

That, obviously, would not do so it was time for damage control. I had also purchased a can of Nu-Life color spray to test but found that when stretched enough, the finish would flake off. In the picture below you can see little white speckles, that’s where it flaked. That drawback is why I chose the Angelus over the Nu-Life. However, my boots already had a nice red non-flaking underlayer so I went ahead and sprayed them with the Nu-Life content in the knowledge that if the Nu-Life did happen to flake it wouldn’t be noticeable. It covered up the blotchiness beautifully and the color was perfect. My boots were back on track.