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21 November 2004 @ 01:51 am
My hands are going to hate me  
We have the thermostat set to a normal room temperature, but for some reason, the dining area is like a fricking oven, hence the mood. I was getting overheated tracing a pattern in there a few minutes ago (I don't want to cut it out of the tissue paper because it's a nice basic men's jacket that I want to keep around as a reference, and I'll have to alter it significantly for Rando's costume anyway, so I might as well just trace a copy on Pattern Ease and go from there).

I felt like cutting metal squares earlier today. It didn't go as easily as I thought it would. The snips I have, which can handle up to 18-gauge mild steel, evidently cut 24-gauge aluminum like butter. 24-gauge stainless steel is another story. (I later found out that this particular piece of hardware handles up to 22-gauge stainless. I had no clue that stainless was so much tougher than aluminum. No wonder it's much less workable...) You have to line up the snips with your marked line and basically squeeze like a mofo. I used both hands and I still only managed to cut about 25 (and not all at once, either) and my right hand and forearm are tired. I decided to work on marking the cutting lines instead because it needs to be done anyway and this way, I can have them all marked so I can just cut a few squares every other day or so. I'm thinking of looking for some more powerful snips to order. I may need them to round off the edges of the squares that have to be trimmed so they don't stick out over the border of the armor piece. These snips do cut curves (some actually aren't designed to), but I don't know how I'm going to manage that with my method of cutting. Maybe I can just squeeze little bits of the cut and sand the living crap out of the result with an emery cloth to get it smooth.

I ordered a fricking assload of stuff: 10 yards of cotton twill, assorted dyes and fabric paints, dyeing-related fixers and treatments, and a black cotton Lycra unitard (for Zhang He - though the unitard looks brown in the game sometimes, it's actually black, and though his has an unusually deep armhole on one side, I'm not going to replicate it because I like the symmetrical look better and I don't want to risk a boob popping out). Yay stuff.

The pants are slowly getting finished. I wound up just cutting the hem tape mess off the top with pinking shears and then pressing and pinning the waistband so I can go from there (mark, sew, and cut the buttonholes for the drawstring, install drawstring and elastic, sew waistband, w00t). This worked because a) the waist was going to wind up lower than what the pattern called for, b) I marked a new even top line first and carefully cut above it (better to cut too little off than too much), and c) when I folded the waistband over, I used the intersection of the fold with the fabric pattern as a reference to ensure that I was folding it evenly. This is one case in which using strongly patterned fabric worked out very well.
Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: New Order - True Faith
arafel on November 22nd, 2004 07:05 am (UTC)
What's Pattern Ease? (wow, the things I don't know about.) It sounds like a handy-dandy item.

My hands ache in sympathy. I don't do any metalworking but what you're putting together sounds hardcore. Why did you decide on stainless instead of aluminum? I assume you're putting together some kind of plated armor?

*grins* I was wondering how you'd handle Zhang He's top, since he only has the one-shoulder thing going. Looking forward to seeing some of the progress! :D
The Heavy Metal Matador: frylockrydain on November 22nd, 2004 04:12 pm (UTC)
Pattern Ease is basically clothlike tracing paper. It's great because it's significantly more durable than tissue paper, but it's still easy to pin and it's lightweight and drapes nicely. JoAnn's sells it in a roll on the interfacing rack.

I went with stainless because it was available in small quantities from onlinemetals.com, I didn't know it was evil to cut, and I liked the finish better than the superbright gleam of aluminum. (The squares are for Xiahou Dun's plated leg armor pieces, which seem to have a duller finish in the game.) It doesn't dent easily, either, which is a bonus if you're planning to transport your costume in luggage. (I have a not particularly thin aluminum plate that I bought to try to drape plastic over, and it got a mystery dent just from being moved around in the bathroom.) Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that the force of snipping deforms the pieces somewhat, so they have to be flattened afterward. At least I can manage to get them mostly flat with just my hands and a block of wood to bend them against (and no, it's not terribly strenuous)...and at least I got some good metalworking tips from people on cosplay.com. I'm going to hit Lowe's tomorrow and get a buffer/grinder and see if I can pick up some heavier duty cutting equipment. I'm also going to try going outside and whacking the squares with a regular hammer. A rubber hammer just doesn't cut it (but it's great for flattening duct metal if you ever need to do that).

I'll start painting Zhang He's sashes when my Dharma Trading order comes in. My stencil cutting has gone very well so far, and I got some model sandpaper to smooth the cut edges with to make them really nice. I read that embroidering satin is going to make it look puckered no matter what you do because fabric with a sheen shows every little surface deformity, so methinks this is really the best way to go for the sashes. And then I'll take pictures weeeeeee. I can't wait to see more of your progress as well. ^_^