Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tutorial: Basic Bodysuit Planning

As a special thank you for over 500 likes on my page on facebook I thought I would answer one of the most frequently asked questions I get. Well, a partial answer anyway. I've gotten a TON of people asking just how I made EDI's bodysuit so here's step one to making a custom bodysuit. EDI had a different pattern because of where the seam lines needed to be (along the hips and shoulders, no side seams) but this is a basic unitard pattern which will get you started and after messing with something like this enough you'll be able to change where the seams are easy peasy.

1) Measurements
Here is a list of the measurements you'll most likely need for a basic bodysuit. I2/I3 are ones I used specifically for EDI because of the print layout so you likely won't need them unless you need a definite calf and a definite thigh. 1, 2, and 3 are only if you need a super fitted but without an underbust seam unitard and can also be ignored in most cases. Write these down on a list marked A, B, C, etc.

Now for measuring, if it says... 
Length, it is just a flat measurement, say from the center top of your shoulder to where you chest width measure is (like for B). This will never be divided on this basic layout.
Width, measure all the way around. You will divide this later.

2) Decide on Drafting or Applying To A Pattern
If you've never worked with patterns before, don't want to draft it or don't feel comfortable drawing shapes from measurements then I suggest getting a pattern and modifying it. You can also take a unitard or leotard that already fits fairly well and lay that out on top of whatever you're patterning on and use that as a guideline. In order to make this thing symmetrical I like to work in folded halves (so think folded down the center front). I'm going to walk you through drafting this from scratch as applying changes to a pattern is pretty easy. Also if you're looking to custom print a pattern that will need to conform to your shape and match up then you'll need to know how to get your shape down in 2D before you can even start making/modifying the file to be printed!

3) Top Down

So your paper or fabric is folded in half and you're ready to go with pins/markers/chalk and a measuring tape/ruler. The blue is used here to mark points of reference. Start at what will be the high point of the unitard, the shoulder seam (a) and follow the centerfold down. Once you reach a length equal to your B measurement make a little mark/ put a pin in (c). Then start measuring from there until you reach your D length and pin/mark again (e). Then one last time for the F measurement and a final pin/mark for the bottom of the torso of your unitard (g).

4) Side to Side
Start from the center fold and measure outwards at a 90 degree angle. You will need to divide your base measurements for this step by 4 and use that adjusted measurement.

5) Connect the Dots

6) Leg
Just like the previous part, make a baseline (H) then work off of that. This doesn't follow a fold or line, you kind of have to wing that initial placement but if you're worried just lay a pair of fitted pants down to get an idea of what you're going for. Start from the corner of G and measure outwards. Once you have H drawn then draw J at a 90 degree angle from the end, making sure to divide your original J measurement by 2. Then connect the free end of J back up to the the end of F there.

7) Arm
The arm is going to be the trickiest bit. Start off with M, doing just like you did with the leg and putting it at an angle. If you're not sure if you have a good angle then lay out a fitted long sleeve shirt to check. Start from the corner of A and measure outwards. Then for L, draw a line at a 90 degree angle equal to the distance of half your L measurement. K is going to be the trickiest part, divide K in half then either mark that on a seperate piece of paper or on your hard ruler and put on end flush with line M. Adjust this K paper/ruler until the other end makes contact with the edge of the torso part of the pattern, keeping that K line at a 90 degree angle to M. After that is done go ahead an connect the dots between the K/torso intersection and the free end of L.

You now have a basic bodysuit pattern for yourself. You'll need to cut in a neckline but that will change depending on what you're doing so I'm not covering that here.

8) Actual Pieces for a Bodysuit
That's a standard 3 piece basic construction with a front and a back cut in half to allow for a zip. I've used a variant of this for Knockout's undersuit except I used a stretchy enough material, separate cowl and a boat neck to avoid needing a zip.

You can expand from that basic 2 to 3 piece bodysuit pattern and start cutting that up to get something like Arcee 2.0, I used a boat neck, separate cowl and stretchy material to avoid needing a zip. Notice how I made each leg all one piece with the primary seam on the inner leg. As you start getting more experience you'll get an eye for what seams are in the original reference and what aren't and be able to change your patterns based on that. Though keep in mind with animated designs, you may have to be more crafty about adding seams that aren't there but which are out of the way like inner leg and under arm seams.

And then we have this confusing blot which is EDI. She has no outer side seams which is what make fitting it a pain. But this was drafted the same way as this tutorial just with a bit more eyeballing and a lot more awkward measurements.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Costume: EDI 1.5

Series: Mass Effect 3
Construction Time: 2 months
Cost: $217.05
Materials and Construction: Custom Printed Spandex, 4 way Metallic Spandex, Fabric Paint, Hot Glue, Sport Zipper, 12 gauge vinyl, Heelless Shoes (modded), Craft Foam, Velcro, Bra, Soda Bottle, Face Paint, Loooots of Eye Shadow Log
Debut: PAX East 2014
Final Appearance: Still in Rotation
EDI 1.0 Post
Updates to make it 1.5: Replaced painted rayon/lycra with printed spandex, removed almost all vinyl, made prop gun.

As much of a hit as EDI 1.0 was I still was never very happy with it. It looked like a costume not like her and that's not what I go for. Then one day while poking around the N7 facebook group I found EDI's texture file (thanks Dani De Wald for uploading those texture files!) and thought it'd be fun to poke around that for reference imagery. Around that time I was already looking into getting some other fabrics custom printed (notably a backdrop) and while looking at my various options I noticed one company offered printed spandex. After seeing the results when used in a bodysuit (thanks rpf-ers who've custom printed Spiderman costumes) I thought why not try something like that for EDI. That would let me get all those details and retain the stretch and basically be as close to looking like I walked out of the game as possible.
I have no idea what I'm dooooooooing
The biggest issue was I haven't really done much photo editing. Coloring pictures I've drawn sure but not... manipulating or anything like that. And there was a lot of that since EDI is proportioned differently than I am. I spent probably 40 hours messing with the image because seriously I had no idea what I was doing.
And now y'all have a vague idea of my size and shape.
But after coming up with some measurements that would hopefully make sure this all sewed together nicely I remeasured about 12 times then did my final adjustments. In the end I wish I would have made the torso a bit narrower, by like 4 inches total in the waist and 2 inches in the hips.
This is what the fabric looked like if you laid it out flat. I had extra printed to make leggings and a leotard too.
Then I sent off the proof to Fabric on Demand and after a few emails to confirm it was formatted/sized right and parting with $80 for two yards of fabric my fabric was queued to print. It was over the holidays so it took longer to print but that was fine since I was in World Cosplay Summit mode.
Avatar Paca approves of this fabric.
Then I got a box with my fabric in it! The spandex is middle of the road in every respect but the print came out nicely so that's what mattered. I never did find a good overlay material though so I just left the overlays out all together. Honestly the hardest part was making sure the fabric was printed in the right proportions, after that it was just cutting it out and sewing it together. Other than the feet and headsock part at least. You can see some extra panels of braiding type areas which I made feeties and a head covering out of. I also had the fun matter of ripping some of the seams on my previous EDI in order to harvest the sleeves and parts of the legs. Ripping stretch stitch takes forever, just fyi.
I pin in the direction I want to sew so I have something to aim for.
Then it was a lot of pinning and sewing. Sometimes I did a contrasting thread color in order to reflect the line detailing like on the torso back.

Other times I used a light grey thread and trimmed the fabric right near the seam since spandex doesn't really fray. Most notably done on the cut our parts of the knees. Then I used a special stretch fabric glue in order to add on the knee details. It took a long time to dry so I got comfortable and marathoned My Cat From Hell until it was good. The silver bars that go down the calf were reused from my previous costume and they're just hot glued on. I also had to attach the chest armor which actually threads in and out so the armor boobs are on the outside of the bodysuit and the shoulder straps and chest band are underneath the suit. It's permanently attached though I did have to get help in the hotel room at PAX East in order to glue the back of the shoulder part into place. But that was a one time deal (and thanks for the help guys).
As you can see I have far more make up for EDI than costume parts
There's not many parts to EDI, and this is something I'm trying to extend to other costumes, just having it all put together and slipping it on is so nice. She's one of the quickest costumes I can get in to. It literally took me about 30-45 minutes both at PAX East and A-kon to get into her and that's including putting contacts in.
After robot-ing for about 12 hours.
There were two other updates for EDI, the first being new make-up. One of my friends who is a Homestuck told me the secret of the trolls and OMG yes. Snazaroo is the best face paint. That up there is after a full day of wear, there's only a few parts where it rubbed off but that was under EDI's bangs so hidden. Barely any creasing by the mouth and none that is noticeable in photos. Going to see about using white instead of grey as my base from now on though since the grey is too blue toned in pictures. But luckily my local Michael's actually carries the white so I don't even have to get that off the internet like the gray!
I added some black paper along the edges to hide the obvious layers after this shot was taken.
And last but not least there is my quick and easy and in no way worries TSA prop gun. It's layers of foam glued together with printed out pics of the gun glued on top. The gun i a little small (about 10.5" long) but matches well with my body suit since they're at about the same pixelation.

And that's it! The only thing I need to improve this costume are to take it in at the waist a little more and to figure out an almost entirely transparent fabric that breathes and has stretch so I can do those overlays because yes the lack of overlays bothers me. Oh and gain feeties of steel since I just can't quite go a full day in those super fab shoes. Almost, but like an hour shy. But that's why I have my Joker carry a spare pair of much more comfortable but not too out of place strappy wedges.