Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One Pair of Pants into Two Costumes: BB8

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  I love Halloween so much that I even have a whole category dedicated to the holiday here on ChemKnits with over 42 posts.  I wanted to hand make coordinated costumes for my boys for their first Halloween together.  In my last post I shared the handmade R2-D2 costume I created out of an old pair of white denim pants.  In this post, I will share with you the details behind the BB8 costume I made out of the other half of this pair of pants.

One pair of pants turned into two droid costumes.  
I started out with my "blueprint" sketch of how I would convert the pair of pants into these two costumes.  For the BB8 costume, I hope to turn the widest part of these pants into a bubble that would be the spherical droid.

As my blueprint shows, I really wanted the arms to com out of the BB8 Ball.  However, as I started trying the fabric on Rowdy it would be MUCH easier to gather the fabric below his arms and then above his knees and add straps like I added straps to Lucky's costume.  It was October 15, and I wanted these done by the next weekend so I don't have a lot of choices left! Let's go with the "easy" way.

I cut the leg off where it is no longer a tube and then created some elastic casings on both edges.  I cut the elastic too long to insert into the castings so I would have plenty of space to adjust the costume.  I secured the elastic with safety pins so I could adjust it as needed.  I wasn't going to shorten the elastic until after I was done with all of the embellishments.   (This way I could test the tightening with a bow to see how it fits on my little BB8.

I straightened the tube out a bit with a basting stitch and then tried it on Rowdy.

I tried the outfit on Rowdy to see how it fit with the elastic tight.  It didn't quite stay over the bum, but it is a little bubble.  I still need to stuff it but it is staying up pretty well.  To attach the embelishments, I un-stretched the elastic and left it pinned through an opening.  I could tighten it after I have added on all of the appliques.

I wasn't not sure there was enough volume to get the orb that I want, but it is a decent first attempt.  I thought I might need to add a crotch strap to keep it from riding up, but I had plenty of extra fabric to make something work.

After it was such a pain to turn the R2D2 straps right side out, I knew that I didn't want to create straps out of the 2" pieces I had cut for BB8. I recut straps that were 3" wide, sewed a 1/4" seam with right sides facing and then turned these right side out and pressed flat.

Now it was time to get to the fun (and scary) part of this project, the embellishments.  I found a great image of BB8's circles all laid out which I used as my guide as I designed the circles.   

Originally, I planned to have any white pieces be the jeans showing through cut outs, but I realized that I wanted the circles to be pretty stiff so they are really visible on my little baby.  I went and purchased some white felt to help with this. I decided to sew all of the pieces together since I didn't know if Elmer's glue would hold in the wash.

I used a take out container to trace out the circles with a fabric pencil and cut them out from doubled over felt.  The scale is PERFECT with Rowdy's bubble droid template.  It only took 1.5 pieces of felt to make all 6 circles.

Next, it was time to decide whether I would cut out gray pieces or just do them with puffy paint. I considered doing a mixture but the puff paint was SO easy and why try to sew through three layers of felt if I didn't absolutely need to, right?

Trying to sew over puff paint was the WORST!  It stuck to the foot of the machine and the fabric couldn't move.  What could I do?  I lifted up the presser foot and just stitched freehand without using the foot to feed it.  I had my tension pretty low to begin with anyway and looking at it you almost can't tell.  Phew, I'm so glad I didn't have to hand stitch this!  (I started stitching on Wednesday with a Saturday deadline)

I wasn't going to worry about the orientation of the different circles around my BB8.  I would look at the direction of the notches and that is it.  I knew that I would need to cut two circles in half for the top and bottom of the costume, and I wasn't not sure how I was going to stitch it down.  Maybe I'd leave some gaps around where the elastic goes, sewing at the top hem and then around the bottom of the semi circle.  I suppose I could have tried to fuse the gaps with hand stitches or with some fabric glue, We'd see how it turns out once I try to bubble it.

Even once I decided not to worry too much, it was REALLY hard.  I knew they weren't all in the same orientation but I just had to go for it and make the cuts where I thought it would look the best.  I finally just went for it and put my favorite circles around the middle and cut my least favorite ones in half.

I pinned the circles to the tube and machine stitched around the outside of the orange circles.  At times I needed to raise the presser foot but it was mostly okay because there was enough border between the orange and white.  Phew!  

I saw the stitched costume and felt, hey, this isn't so bad.  Even though I knew I wasn't done with the embellishments something still felt missing.

Trying the costume on Rowdy helped a lot.  Isn't he so cute?  

I used my favorite air soluble fabric marker to draw the lines and dots on the costume.  WOW, the puffy paint really brought this droid to life!  This was so AWESOME my joy in the costume just went up 100 fold!  I loved it so much that I started thinking about making a onesie for the kids or a tshirt for myself, but that would be a project for another day.

I still can't believe how complete a few little lines made this costume feel!  

As soon as the paint was dry (on both sides), I tried the whole costume on Rowdy.  I was lucky to find an orange long sleeved onesie that he could wear inside out to be the arms and some black leggings for the legs.  (I wanted tights or leggings in case it was cold on Halloween.  Un-tight pants ride up so much that they leave his legs exposed!)  

The costume looked great, but I still needed to poof out the bubble a bit.  I came up with an elaborate plan to make a pillow to tie around Rowdy, and while the idea was sound, it didn't work out quite as I expected.

I think Rowdy's face says it all.  The pillow is too stuffed and too big to work for this project.  I'm not even going to share the construction details with you because I don't want to waste blog space (and as someone who is verbose and shares a million pictures that is saying something!)  I ended up poofing the costume with some loose polyfill stuffing and removed it when Rowdy was done wearing it.  I don't know why I didn't try this in the first place!  

The nice thing about these costumes is that if they end up dirty or stained it will only add to the costumes!   R2D2 and BB-8 aren't new droids, they've lived!  They're dinged!

I separated this story into two posts because I thought it made better narrative sense.  I do have a bunch of side by side photos from the construction that I cannot resist sharing with you.

Tubes and straps!
Costume bases ready to go
The embellishment pieces
Drawing the final lines
I'm not sure what Rowdy thought of his costume, but Lucky LOVED being a pair.  We had so much fun as a little Star Wars themed family.  I'll leave you with some cute photos of the boys now, but maybe I'll share some trick-or-treating pictures in another post sometime. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

One Pair of Pants into Two Costumes: R2D2

My mom made most of my Halloween costumes when I was growing up.  It was always a lot of fun to see what she would create and I even still have some of the items she sewed!  Last year was the first year I made Lucky (and Indy) Halloween costumes.  I designed and knit a puppy lion snood so Indy could have a lion's mane and I embellished a sweat suit with home stitched loopy fringe to turn Lucky in to a Lion, too.  Previously I purchased costumes, even if I did knit Lucky some dinosaur slippers for his second Halloween.

For Halloween 2016, I wanted to create costumes for both Lucky and Rowdy.  Halloween had almost arrived and it was time for me to start creating something.  I wanted to turn the boys into Star Wars Droids, Lucky could be R2D2 and Rowdy could turn into the equally lovable BB8.  I had a large pair of white denim pants that would be perfect as the base for both droids.  I know that there is enough fabric because one leg fits over Lucky.  I just needed to take a deep breath and start cutting.

I prewashed the pants, and then all I had to do is make the bases for the boys.  Simple enough, right?  Unfortunately, I'd never sewn a garment before.  I had appliqued onto an existing garment, but never made a garment from scratch.  I sketched out a "blue print" (yes onto blue paper) of how I was hoping to construct each of the costumes.

From this plan, you can see that I had no excuse but to cut the pants in half and then breathe from there.  Right?

I worked on both projects simultaneously, but I started with Lucky's R2D2.  I took his pant leg and tried it on him to get a sense of how much I needed to take the leg in so he would be able to walk but also give us enough space to have an R2 tunic of sorts.

I saw two main options for the garment.  I could make a shift dress or a tube with two straps that can be adjusted.  I think the tube with the adjustable straps will be easier to get on and off plus I wouldn't have to worry about stretch in the neck region.  I could handle sewing a tube, right?   I didn't think I had enough length to create proper sleeveless-sleeves anyway.  My instinct to do a tube dress with straps was right on target.

I could've pinned the costume on Lucky... but I had a feeling that my 3 year old would not cooperate.  I therefore basted along the outside line drawn with my machine (stitch length 4).  I can always rip out the stitches if it is too tight, or reinforce it if it is perfect.

I cut two straps that are just over 2.25" wide.  I wasn't sure if they'd be long enough so I made Lucky try on the costume - pins and all.  (I had already pressed down the hems) Gulp!

There was plenty of space with the straps on the front and back so I knew that I would be able to adjust this to different heights.  I would need to pick up some more velcro but now I can stitch the body of the costume together and get ready to embellish it.  I sewed a 1/4" seam on each strap and then turned them right side out and pressed them flat.  This was SUCH A PAIN!  It was so hard to get the denim to turn right side out.

Now it is time to start embellishing! Using the linked image as a guide, I cut shapes to create my R2.   I purchased craft felt and planned to cut out most of the shapes and then further decorate with puffy paint.  I started with the blue stripes on the front.  All three blue stripes are the same width.  I cut the two notched pieces together so they would be identical.

I removed some pieces from the back because I didn't have quite enough space for all of the sockets. I thought I'd draw on some of the white rectangles with puffy paint.  I hadn't decided if I was going to try to make some arm guards for Lucky to wear or not, we'll see how the rest of the body comes together before I add an additional accessory to make that he might not even be willing to wear.

I wasn't sure if the gray on gray was too subtle, but once it dried the metallic shimmer was really nice.

I learned an important lesson.  It is HARD to sew over puffy paint.  I really should have sewn down the felt first and then embellished it.  I had to sew on the  machine with the presser foot up to get this to stop sticking.  

I pinned the felt down to to the garment.  I probably over pinned but if I was going to be sewing without the presser foot then I needed to have it secure.

Before I started sewing down the felt, I realized that I should pin the straps to the garment NOW rather than later.  I didn't want to have to sew through my beautiful blue stripe to attach the straps later.  I quickly stitched the straps on in white, crossing my fingers that their placement would be good for Lucky.  I quickly tried the costume on him and it was GREAT!

My brother asked me if I planned to add some wire to it to help it hold its droid shape, but the stiff fabric does a pretty good job, in my opinion.  It looks a bit like a dress but Lucky can move in it and he seems genuinely thrilled to be wearing it.  Now I just have to do the last few finishing details!  (And finish baby brother's costume!)

I love my AIR SOLUBLE FABRIC MARKERS.  I used these and a straight edge to make the white markings I wanted to put on the costume.  I tested the white puffy paint on the background and it showed up as well as the gray on gray did, so I decided to go for the more subtle details.  If I didn't get a chance to finish the back before Saturday as I wait for this to dry it will be okay.  Hopefully I did the paint light enough that it doesn't leak through to the other side because I didn't put anything between the two layers of fabric.

It looked great!  Now I just had to flip it over and do the back.  I was going to wait until the very last minute to install the velcro because I could always tie it on Lucky like a halter top if I need to.  Paint drying takes precedence.

Just in time for Halloween I stitched some velcro onto the straps and back of the costume.  I wanted the straps to be adjustable so it could fit over coats or tshirts, depending on the weather.  

The costume was a hit!  Lucky loved his R2D2 costume and now that we're full on into winter he loves wearing his hat around as a winter hat.  I'm not sure if the costume will still fit him come Purim, but it would be nice to see him use it again this year.  Certainly all of the effort was worth it.  I love that I created this!  (The kid AND the costume!)  

I don't have the energy to make Indy a costume this year, but I do know that we will be able to reprise some of his costumes from the past to take some epic pictures with Lucky and Rowdy.  In the next post I'll share what I did to create Rowdy's BB8 costume.  If you think I'm happy with Lucky's costume, just wait until you see more pictures of the pair of them together.