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  1. 405th Colonial Regiment Member
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    LilTyrant's Avatar
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    Jan 22, 2012, 3:45 AM - KAT ARMOR BUILD - with custom undersuit #1

    **UPDATE**
    A quick shot of the current build progress will be updated here. Check out my latest update post for more detailed info!

    >> You can also look for updates on this and other projects at www.facebook.com/LilTyrantCostumes <<

    Prepping for SDCC Helmet/Tactical Case/Pistol Mods are done:





    *****
    Hello all!

    I'm new to armor making and this whole forum thing, but I've often felt Spartan costumes were one of those "Awesome! I should do that some time!" type of things. Finally, after some stumbling, some research, and some lurking, I realized I should make "some time" now and do it!

    My plan is to build a set of foam Kat armor with a custom undersuit. I'm going with foam in hopes it will be lighter, more comfortable, and less toxic a process than pepakura (Bondo has never been my friend ). If all goes well with this build, weapons and a Jun suit for my guy will follow. So here goes nothin'...

    Step 1: Spartan Undies - The Plan
    >> First, I sketched up how I want the undersuit to look (using a photo underlay for scale reference). This will help me out when making the pattern.
    >> I plan to make at least one prelim white model undersuit to test fit the pattern and mock up some armor pieces for sizing before moving on to the final. I'm hoping this way I can tweak the undersuit and armor to work better together.




    Step 2: Spartan Undies - Rough it Out
    >> Using my sketch as reference, I taped up my dress form (that's girl talk for mannequin) to block out the basic pattern breaks. I'm starting just with the core part of the top. The sleeves and pants will come later.





    >> Next, I cut newsprint pieces to roughly fit the dress form and match my sketch. I use newsprint because it comes in big sheets and it's cheap .





    Step 3: Spartan Undies - Make a Pattern (v1)
    >> Finally, I remove the newsprint from the dress form and retrace the pieces to clean them up and add in seam allowance. Seam allowance is the overlap created when two pieces of fabric are sewn together, since you can't sew edge to edge. Most clothes have 3/8 in. seam allowance, but you can get away with 1/4 in. if you want to save some fabric. Any less than that and you may start getting holes after wearing the garmet a few times.



    >> I always label my pattern pieces with the pattern version, the piece name, how many pieces I need to cut, and what fabric I am cutting from. Otherwise, it can start to get pretty confusing.




    That's all for now! Comments/thoughts are greatly appreciated!

    -----
    Next Up: The sewing begins
    Last edited by LilTyrant; Jun 14, 2013 at 10:14 PM.
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  3. New Recruit Dinosaur's Avatar
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    Jan 22, 2012, 4:18 AM - #2

    Pretty cool concept, and excellent start using newsprint/sheeting pattern. Thats what my mother does for costumes and I can honestly say (with bias of course) that she is the best seamstress I know.
  4. TJX62's Avatar
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    Jan 22, 2012, 11:41 AM - #3

    Wow, very nice job so far with the undesuit. I'll definetly be watching this thread and coming back to it when I start my undersuit. Out of curiosity, what program did you use to do the sketchup? Cant wait to see more!
  5. phixix's Avatar
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    Jan 22, 2012, 12:51 PM - #4

    This is looking really promising O_O Can't wait to see more progress! There aren't enough seamstresses on 405th ^_^
    It might be a little cheeky to ask at this point..But do you plan to share your pattern when you are done? :O

    -Phi
  6. 405th Southwest Regiment Member RoxyRoo's Avatar
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    Jan 22, 2012, 2:39 PM - #5

    I'm going to keep an eye on this build. The patterns look spot on to the game. Nice to see more people doing custom undersuits.
    Goodluck!
  7. New Recruit kerbyg's Avatar
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    Jan 22, 2012, 4:21 PM - #6

    Impressive! I am really looking forward to the results! I see you have a "light" and "heavy" texture fabric on the first picture, have you come to any ideas for what kind of material you would use?
  8. 405th Colonial Regiment Member
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    Jan 22, 2012, 11:58 PM - #7

    Thanks guys for all the positive feedback...it definitely helps to keep me motivated!!

    Originally Posted by Dinosaur View Post
    Pretty cool concept, and excellent start using newsprint/sheeting pattern. Thats what my mother does for costumes and I can honestly say (with bias of course) that she is the best seamstress I know.
    It always seems mothers are the best at sewing

    Originally Posted by TJX62 View Post
    Wow, very nice job so far with the undesuit. I'll definetly be watching this thread and coming back to it when I start my undersuit. Out of curiosity, what program did you use to do the sketchup? Cant wait to see more!
    Glad to contribute some undersuit info . I'll keep an eye out on your thread to see how yours goes. I did the digital sketch in Corel Painter X with a Wacom. Photoshop is awesome for rendering, but I like sketching in Painter...it feels a little more natural to me.

    Originally Posted by phixix View Post
    This is looking really promising O_O Can't wait to see more progress! There aren't enough seamstresses on 405th ^_^
    It might be a little cheeky to ask at this point..But do you plan to share your pattern when you are done? :O

    -Phi
    Thanks! There's a lot I don't know about sewing, but I have done it before so hopefully a can help contribute a thing or two to the general 405th knowledge . I'm not sure what I'll do with the patterns yet, but it'll have to wait at least until this project is done. Prepping patterns for shared use would be quite a task in itself! Plus, it may only be minimally helpful unless someone is my same size.

    Originally Posted by RoxyRoo View Post
    I'm going to keep an eye on this build. The patterns look spot on to the game. Nice to see more people doing custom undersuits.
    Goodluck!
    I used some screen shots (and Google, of course) as reference. Screen shots are in the Reach Reference Thread if anyone needs 'em!

    Originally Posted by kerbyg View Post
    Impressive! I am really looking forward to the results! I see you have a "light" and "heavy" texture fabric on the first picture, have you come to any ideas for what kind of material you would use?
    Thanks! I'm still deciding what fabrics to use. For the heavy texture I'll probable use something like marine vinyl (pleather-ish). For the light texture I want to find something more breathable, but I'm still working that out. I might wind up overlapping a couple of different things. I'm still a ways away from the final, so we'll see how it goes!

    -----
    Hurray for Updates!

    I've started putting together the prelim white model using muslin. I've got the main pieces together, but still need to add the zipper and the stomach/back details. Muslin is the fabric of choice because:

    1. It's super cheap ($1-$2 a yard...and even cheaper if you sign up for coupons at JoAnn's...hurray!)
    2. It's a light color (the better to mark up with any changes I want to make...and the easier to see my black thread in case some seam ripping needs to happen)
    3. It doesn't have stretch (I plan on using non-stretchy fabric for the final)




    A couple of sewing tips I find helpful:

    >> Cutting is boring, but clean cuts on your pattern pieces make lining things up easier.

    >> Before pinning/sewing, always double check your pieces are going together in the right orientation, with the right sides facing each other. Having to rip out your seams and re-sew is always a bummer and can get frustrating the more complex a piece is.

    >> PINNING IS YOUR BEST FRIEND! The better you pin, the cleaner your seams turn out. But don't sew over your pins...that can lead to bent pins and broken needles (bent pins are annoying and nobody wants a needle in the eye). You may get away with it when using thin fabric, but once you go thicker or start layering up, it will become a definite problem. I am obsessed with excessively pinning. I like to use pins with big heads because they are more visible and easier to pull out as you go.

    >> One more thing on pinning: don't just pin from one end to the other. More often than not (even if you have perfectly fitting pieces), the fabric won't line up right. Use the rule of halves: put one pin in each end, then one in the middle. From there, continue inserting pins at the halfway point between each already inserted pin. Also, pin perpendicular to your seam, with the pin heads sticking out over the edge.

    >> Ironing is also your friend. Iron your fabric before you trace your pattern, and iron your seams after you sew.

    Still a long way to go (and some tweaks to make before the final), but I'm excited to be started! Hopefully I can get the zipper in soon so I can see how it actually fits on me since my dress form is a little bigger than I am. Things may slow down a little during the week due to work but I'll try to keep pluggin' away!

    -----
    Next up: Wrap up on those pesky remaining pattern pieces!
  9. 405th Colonial Regiment Member
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    Jan 25, 2012, 12:23 AM - #8

    Not a ton of progress, but I finished off the rest of the pattern pieces for the torso and got a zipper in.



    Definitely needs some tweaks before the final...I feel like the fit isn't quite what I'd like. I think I'll probably try a few other things for the padding, too. We'll see.

    Thoughts/input are appreciated!
  10. dannny's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 12:37 AM - #9

    looks super rad!
  11. New Recruit zacic's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 2:46 AM - #10

    This is really really sweet! Ive always said that I love all the projects and armor that people build on here but I have the look of the flat under suits, they just dont pop like they should! Cant wait to see more!!!
  12. Kwameninja's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 11:52 AM - #11

    woah this is coming out fantastic! cant wait to see updates!
  13. 405th Southern Regiment Member vshore100's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 12:43 PM - #12

    Awesome work with everything thus far. Man I need to get myself a sewing machine and try my hand at this.
  14. 405th Southwest Regiment Member RoxyRoo's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 1:08 PM - #13

    Nice that you have a mannequin. Those are quite handy.
    Yay! Another seamstress! And you're building the game version. I guess with our two builds people can watch both kinds of under suits. haha.

    What's your fabric choice for the final undersuit?
  15. 23Magnum's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 1:15 PM - #14

    Nice work. Very well explained too. You give very good tips too. Keep up the good work.
  16. 405th Pacific Regiment Member Katsu's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 2:12 PM - #15

    It could use some adjustments only if you are going for a neoprene-ish super tight fit, but like you said, such tweaks are coming. The pattern is coming along well, I am not sure how you are transfering this pattern to darker fabrics though, but then I'm no seamstress, so that will be interesting to see when the time comes. Great work so far, I may be picking your awesome brain when it comes time to make my undersuit!
    Last edited by Katsu; Jan 25, 2012 at 2:17 PM.
  17. ONE END's Avatar
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    Jan 25, 2012, 9:55 PM - #16

    Wow, great stuff! Ah the joys of pattern making...
  18. 405th Colonial Regiment Member
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    Jan 27, 2012, 1:32 AM - #17

    Thanks everyone for the kind words!

    -----
    Progress Update:
    >> Work is hectic this week, so I haven't had much time at home. I did manage to get the pattern pieces/cut fabric together for the left (non-mechanical) arm. Hopefully I can get some sewing time in tomorrow night and get the sleeve on. Fingers crossed that I won't have to work super late!
    -----

    Originally Posted by vshore100 View Post
    Man I need to get myself a sewing machine and try my hand at this.
    Do it! Sewing is not just for old ladies anymore

    Originally Posted by RoxyRoo View Post
    Nice that you have a mannequin. Those are quite handy.
    Yay! Another seamstress! And you're building the game version. I guess with our two builds people can watch both kinds of under suits. haha.

    What's your fabric choice for the final undersuit?
    Yes! Mannequins are awesome...this is only the second project I've used one on, and it definitely makes life easier. This one is on loan from my sis, so when she takes it back I'll have to get my own (now that I'm totally addicted). I'm not sure yet about the final fabric. I'll probably check out downtown LA garmet district before I decide...there may be something interesting lurking there. I'll be watching your suit, too

    Originally Posted by Katsu View Post
    I am not sure how you are transfering this pattern to darker fabrics though, but then I'm no seamstress, so that will be interesting to see when the time comes. Great work so far, I may be picking your awesome brain when it comes time to make my undersuit!
    Fabric stores usually carry some sort of white pencil/chalk for transferring patterns to dark fabrics, but (in my experience) they don't work very well. My weapon of choice is a silver sharpie. If any questions come up, feel free to ask away! Like I mentioned before, there's a lot I still don't know about sewing but I have learned a trick or two from previous mishaps

    -----
    Next Up: The weekend is coming! I foresee sewing in the future...
  19. 405th Midwest Regiment Member thorn696's Avatar
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    Jan 27, 2012, 7:30 AM - #18

    Most impressive. You're attention to the details (that most of us leave off) is Awesome. I too, am looking forward to seeing how this comes out, so thank you for taking the time to share this with us.
  20. 405th Colonial Regiment Member
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    Jan 28, 2012, 1:08 AM - #19

    Originally Posted by thorn696 View Post
    Most impressive. You're attention to the details (that most of us leave off) is Awesome. I too, am looking forward to seeing how this comes out, so thank you for taking the time to share this with us.
    Thanks! Having this thread is definitely helping to keep me on task!

    -----
    And now for a little update...

    The left arm is now attached to the main torso. Since I don't have limbs on my mannequin, I had to take measurements off of myself...which proved a bit difficult to do one handed. One trick is to use your own clothes as a guideline for fit--just be sure to take into account the stretch of the fabric. I'm still using mostly Muslin, but I've also added in some Polyester Ponte (slightly stretchy knit) and Spandex (you all know how stretchy that is) for areas that I think will need a little more range of motion (like the wrist and elbow). Again, I'm sticking with light colors for tweak marking ability.



    Hurray for an arm , but still more tweaks in store before the final. The elbow area will need to move down and loosen up, and the armpit area needs to be tighter. I may play with some other options for elbow assembly (depending on the effects of loosening). Bending the elbow all of the way is currently quite difficult

    Sewing with Spandex (and other such super stretchy material) can sometimes get ugly. I haven't worked with stretchy material very often, but a couple of things that help me out are:

    >> Use some sort of tear-away stabilizer or interfacing (they sell it by the yard and in pre-cut packages at JoAnn's). Pinning the stabilizer to the stretchy fabric helps to prevent the material from stretching all over the place (yuck) when you sew. Once you're done sewing, you just tear the stabilizer away!

    >> Spandex is stretchy...your regular old stitch is not. Regular stitches break when you force them to stretch. Pay attention to where your seams are on your garmet. Wherever the seam falls, ask yourself, "Does it need to stretch here?" If the answer is "yes" then you need to use a stitch that stretches. I suspect most machines come with a stitch that will stretch. Mine has two, that look like this:



    There are a few types of stretch stitches, so if you don't know what's what, you can always test your stitches on a scrap of fabric and see which one is stretchy.

    -----
    Normally at this point in a white model, I don't bother doing the other arm (since they're usually symmetrical and use the same pattern pieces). Unfortunately, Kat's arms don't match...so on to arm #2!
  21. New Recruit Syko's Avatar
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    Jan 28, 2012, 2:04 AM - #20

    This is looking amazing! I love the way you are explaining everything... now if I could have the operator just upload some sewing skills I'd be a happy costumer. I can't wait to see what goodies you're going to post next!
  22. Annanymous's Avatar
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    Jan 31, 2012, 10:12 PM - #21

    This looks great!! I'm so excited to see this progress.
    I too am goingto be doing a custom reach undersuit soon, so I was curious at to what foamy material you are using to make the details? Is it just some soft foam sheet that you cut out and then sew some fabric over (and then sew it to the main part of the suit?)
    Thanks, and can't wait to see more
  23. 405th Midwest Regiment Member Prettyfloralbonnet's Avatar
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    Jan 31, 2012, 10:59 PM - #22

    Looking forward to seeing how this progresses. I tried experimenting with craft foam, vinyl, and lycra and the results were unclean and unreliable. My sewing machine just couldn't handle the materials together.
  24. 405th Mountain Regiment Member ACDCrockr209's Avatar
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    Feb 1, 2012, 2:38 AM - #23

    Wow, dudette! You're doing an AMAZING job!

    Can't wait to see it all done!
  25. New Recruit zacic's Avatar
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    Feb 1, 2012, 7:01 PM - #24

    looking good, looking good! I was thinking of doing a similar method for a star wars undersuit.
  26. 405th Colonial Regiment Member
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    Feb 1, 2012, 11:24 PM - #25

    Thanks everyone for the support! It definitely helps to keep me workin'

    Originally Posted by Annanymous View Post
    I too am goingto be doing a custom reach undersuit soon, so I was curious at to what foamy material you are using to make the details? Is it just some soft foam sheet that you cut out and then sew some fabric over (and then sew it to the main part of the suit?)
    Thanks, and can't wait to see more
    I'm using a couple of different things (and may still mess around with some other options). Right now, the hip pads are NU-Foam (densified batting used for chair cushions) inserted into an enclosed pocket. No stitches actually go into the foam, so it's kind of like a pillow. The NU-foam is a little stiffer than I'd like, so I might try something else (depending on how it acts with the final fabric). The stomach, neck, and elbow detail just have regular quilting batting sewn into the body, like an extra layer of fabric. The shoulder is a knit fabric layered on top of itself like an applique, so no foam. Hope that answers your question! That's awesome that you're gonna make a suit too. I'll have to check out your thread and see how it goes!

    -----

    I haven't made a lot of progress, but wanted to give an update since it's been a bit since my last post...

    I've attached the right (mechanical) arm to the torso, so now I have a better idea of how much is really going to need to change. Sorry for the cruddy pictures ...the camera was on a funky setting and I didn't realize it until after I had already started seam ripping the model. Hopefully you can still kind of see what's going on. The red marks are where I've started noting some of the needed changes with a Sharpie. I like to mark the model while I'm wearing it, so I have a better idea of where things actually line up.



    Unfortunately, as much as I was trying to avoid using a lot of stretchy fabric, it looks like my movement will be too limited if I don't . My machine doesn't have a lot of versatility with super stretchy stuff, so it'll be a challenge. I'm working on making some tweaks to the arm/shoulder area, then testing out the adjusted pattern using the final fabric (for a more realistic fit). If I'm lucky and the pattern works out, then I can use the tweaked arms/shoulders for the final. We shall see...

    -----
    Back to the newsprint for some pattern tweaks...then on to a new set of arms!

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