Futari no HAATO BARANSU…

Ritsuko Every time I walk into JoAnn Fabrics, I get the feeling that I’m a little out of my element. However… I believe now I have all the necessary fabrics and notions to create Ritsuko’s skirt (see right). I’ll tackle the helmet later.

I think I have a reasonable pattern-plan for making a huge-ass flared pleated skirt. Being a very beginning sewer (er… one who sews? Not a drainage system, kthx), I couldn’t really come up with it myself. So, I combined a tutorial for making a pleated skirt with a tutorial for making a flared skirt… and voila! — a reasonable-sounding (looking?) plan.

However, I am determined to do this right, especially as I only have 4½ yards of medium blue cotton/poly fabric, so I can’t screw this up. My determination not to screw up was only bolstered by the fact that I just spent freaking $42 on my cosplay supplies — and that’s before making the helmet.

One question for those who sew, or who have textile-related ideas: The nice lady at JoAnn’s convinced me that felt was the way to go for the white stripe of trim on the skirt. I can’t really use ribbon, since the pattern will need to be curved to allow for the flare, and any white fabric I found wasn’t thick enough to prevent the blue from showing through when held over it. After buying three yards of white felt, though, I’m having second thoughts. I don’t think the texture of the felt will be appropriate to match with the cotton/poly skirt. I was thinking of something more fake-satiny, or the same cotton/poly as the rest of the skirt, but it’s all so thin it shows the blue through from underneath.

Any solutions to my conundrum? You have a few days to comment, as I plan to wash my blue fabric before sewing, like I’m supposed to. Strict determination to do it right, after all.

XXL tee –> tank surgery

I got it in my head tonight that I wanted to do a t-shirt surgery, and make my “Drum Corps Unplugged” shirt into a tank top. See, I always liked the design of the back better than the front, anyway, so I figured I’d shrink it to fit and make it something I might actually wear, instead of something just taking up space in the closet.

I think this one was more successful than my previous two surgeries because a.) I measured correctly, both the fabric and my body; and b.) I only had to sew in straight lines. 🙂 Still, though, it didn’t turn out exactly according to plan: I had a brain fart while I was cutting the straps, and made them narrower than I had intended, and I failed to note that my hips are bigger than my tits, making the shirt fit kind of tight and funny in places, and causing the straps to become fashion suggestions rather than anything that actually holds the shirt on.

I may wear this to tomorrow night’s drum corps show with Donna, or I may save it to wear to next Sunday’s drill camp up in St. Clair Shores MI. Or maybe it’ll be an around-the-house shirt. I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be wearing it in public, mainly because of the fit around the waist, and the straps that seem to be afraid of heights.

I’m definitely improving, though. 😀

T-Shirt Surgery Part II: RCC Halter Top

I’ve never owned a halter top, as far as I can remember. I know my mom liked them when she was younger (read: before she had me and gained weight). Eventually I figured, what the heck. I wanted to see how I’d look in one… and I’m really kind of getting into this t-shirt surgery thing. Plus, I was curious about Sheryl’s claim that halters really are made so that even those of us with ample boobage can go braless in one. O.o

I ended up combining this tutorial for a basic halter top with this one for an empire waist. I knew I’d need some semblance of support, and just having a basic, flat halter top with no tightly-fitted bodice just wasn’t going to cut it.

The Process:


Witness the hunter green RCC shirt, intact and in all its 2XL glory.


I took my fabric marking pencil and, comparing the two tutorials, drew in where I’d be cutting and sewing.

I cut off the sleeves and removed the collar, then mostly removed the back and turned some of it into the halter straps. I also took some off the bottom, to make it shorter. Once everything was cut, I finished all the newly-raw edges, then I hemmed the bottom and turned down the cutout back, where the empire drawstring would thread through. (I’m really proud of my hem. It looks tres keen, IMHO.)


This is the finished product! It’s not exactly how I’d envisioned, but it was a learning experience. I was thinking about maybe putting a white or gold edging along the neckline, but I don’t know if it turned out so well that I’ll be into putting a whole lot more work into this particular design.


Witness my flubbery back! No, really, check out my keen drawstring action. The original plan had been for it to tie in the back there, but a.) I’m just not that coordinated, and b.) the drawstring (made from the leftover material off the bottom of the shirt) ended up stretching like a mofo.


Here’s a view from the side. Not a bad t-shirt surgery experiment, after all.

I have discovered two things tonight. #1: I like the way a halter top makes my shoulders look. #2: It really might be OK not to wear a bra with one of these; it’s really quite comfortable. #3: I should just buy one, instead of trying to make one that will fit properly. ;-P

My First T-Shirt Surgery

When was it? Last year? Anyway, some time ago, I got the idea that I could make t-shirts with neat designs, and started a CafePress store to that end. I made a keen design that was reminiscent of a late-70’s era tee my mom had:

So, I ordered myself a 2XL jersey with my design on it. And, when it arrived, I thought it was cool.

Then I tried it on.

OMG. I could wear it as a nightshirt. (And I did, on occasion.) I hung it in my closet, rarely to be seen again.

Until now.

When Sheryl took me on Shopping Spree Part One, she showed me a “fashionable tee” she had in her closet, and told me about the people who do t-shirt surgery to make their big, boxy tees into chic and, well, fashionable tees.

It took me a week or so, but I began to resent the oversized tees I own that are too cool to thrift, but too baggy to wear comfortably anymore. (Who’da thunk it?) So, I went to the t-shirt surgery LJ community, snooped around a while, and decided to go for it.

I didn’t have the CafePress jersey in mind as my test subject at first, but it presented itself after only a moment of closet-searching.


Look at this thing. It’s *huge* on me—and that’s saying something.


I chose a new shirt that fits me well, and used it as a template, tracing around it and then sewing on the lines. Good grief, though, look at how *huge* that shirt is!


Voila! I took a few inches off the width and the length, and added a little zig-zag stitch to the bottom for that finished-yet-unfinished look. (Actually, it’s really because I’m new to the whole sewing thing and didn’t know how to properly sew a hem into the bottom of my shirt.) I had contemplated shortening the sleeves, but decided to leave them for now.


Here’s another view of the finished shirt. My slightly surly look is due to having argued with the digital camera for over half a dozen exposures.

Now all I have to do is get rid of the spare tire around my middle, and my shirts will fit even better *without* surgery.

(Next in line for various stylistic surgeries and possible home-brewed silkscreening: my bevy of RCC shirts!)

Need My Sewing Fix

I swear to God. It?s like a fucking addiction.

I spent fifteen minutes of my 20-minute break today sketching out ideas for a new totoro hat design.

Part of me is like, didn?t you want to try making those s?mores candles tonight? or practice your mellophone? and part of me is like, OMG I might have the answer to the standee-up ears!

Seriously, though—now that I?m actually fabricating hats, coming up with ideas, and being generally creative, I can understand why it?s impossible to find actual character hat patterns online. Especially since so many people sell their hats for a profit. It?s kind of like with soy candles: it?s impossible to find all the little tips and tricks all in one place, just because individual candlemakers (myself included) are so proud of having figured it out themselves, and they?ll be damned if they?ll share their hard work with budding candlists for free.

I know that, once I get this totoro hat to look just right, I ain?t planning on posting a pattern. Buy one and seam-rip it if you really want to know the secret of the totoro hat. 😉

But that might be a while…

Totoro Hat, Take Two

Attempt #2 at a Totoro hat I’d be proud to wear to the Animarathon in April. Much closer this time. I made the hat *too* big this time, instead of not big enough, so I had to adjust the hems and do some trimming—but, hopefully, I was left with a hat that would suffice for Aaron. I also increased the size of the hatband hem width and the ears, and decreased the size of Totoro’s eyes and nose.

I’m afraid I might have to try out some other style of a more form-fitting hat, as having a loosely-fitting hat isn’t going to work with those pesky ears. Maybe you can’t tell in the photos, but they really like to flop forward and/or backward a lot, and not stay standing up. Rigid, sure, no problem, but upright? Not so much.

Oh, yeah, and I still need to add whiskers. Sticky-outie whiskers, not sewn-on whiskers.

This is fun. Addictive. I *heart* fleece remnants at Hancock Fabrics.

Edit: Forgot to mention one thing. When one is cutting fabric on one’s kitchen table, it would behoove a person to make sure that the measuring tape is not unwound and laying about in close proximity to the path of the cutting implement. Otherwise, one may find oneself reattaching the end of one’s vinyl measuring tape, said tape having been severed at the three-inch mark.

Totoro Hat!

Yay! My very first Totoro hat is complete. Not bad for a first try… Next time, I’ll cut the fleece bigger to allow for seam allowances, and try to figure out how to sew the face on with the machine, instead of by hand. (My practice circles on the machine didn’t turn out too well…) Maybe make the eyes a little smaller, and the ears a little bigger.

But, for now, I’m happy. Yay, Totoro hat! I can sew… sort of. 🙂

I Must Be Retarded

I’ve got a Bachelor’s Degree, a 140+ I.Q, and three books from the library, and I STILL can’t figure out how to thread a fucking goddamn sewing machine.

I feel like a fucking moron. I want to cry. And the instructional video for Sheryl’s sewing machine won’t come out of the goddamn box.

How am I supposed to make a Totoro fursuit if I can’t even make the goddamned machine go?

Motherfucking goddamn fuck.

Update #1: Managed to remove VHS tape from box, sacrificing one fingernail in the process. Am about to watch said video.

Update #2: See? All I needed was a walkthrough. The nice lady on the tape (who looked like she was from 1986, even though the video was made in 2002) was very helpful in showing me how to thread the goddamn sewing machine. I wouldn’t have guessed any of that. Loop it through the who-huh? Tension spring? Wha…?

Anyway, I guess all’s well that ends well, whatever that means. I now have a piece of brown cloth that has half-black and half-brown test stitching haphazardly sewn through it.

This could be fun. Challenging, but fun.

Totoro Cosplay: The Saga Continues

The pattern arrived today. And all I’ve got to say is… it’s a good thing I’m starting in May/June to make a costume for January. I haven’t sewn from a pattern since 8th grade, and never on a sewing machine.

Once we get the sewing machine from Aaron’s Dad’s house, it’ll be time to go buy several yards of muslin and make a few mistakes—er, that is, a few test suits. 🙂

A little sewing help?

OK, guys—well, girls, probably. I don’t sew, but I’d like to. I have a project to complete. My plan is to attend Ohayocon in January all decked out in a homemade Totoro cosplay outfit.

This could take some explanation.

Totoro = wonderfully cute creation by Hayao Miyazaki, featured in his film Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro). One of my favoritest movies. If you’ll recall, I did some sketches of some totoros back in November.

Cosplay = where otaku (psycho crazy anime / Japanese pop-culture fans) dress up as their favorite character at a convention.

Ohayocon = the only anime convention I’ve been to so far, located in Columbus. (It’s punny—”ohayo” means “good morning,” as well as the name of our state. Erika from the Bluecoats taught me that—it was my very first word in Japanese.) Aaron and I will be attending Ohayocon for the third year in a row next January.

So, I want to dress up like the crazy people. There’s a plushie out there of Mei, one of the characters from the movie, wearing Totoro pajamas. Instead of making a giant, ugly, deformed stuffed Totoro costume, I want to make some Totoro jammies. Several months ago, I drafted an initial plan of what my costume would be like, but I’ve revised my ideas since then. Instead of a more simple sweatsuit-type outfit, I’m looking at more of a one-piece footie pajama made out of plushie pile material, with a hood attached (or separate, if necessary).

I guess my big question is, does anyone know where to get a pattern for grown-up footie pajamas? I’ll need to modify it by a.) making it out of plush instead of fleece, and b.) adding a white panel to the front belly, besides making it big enough for my fat ass. I’m starting on this project way early, because I know I’m in over my head.

Oh, yeah, and I need to thrift myself a sewing machine. And learn how to use it. D’oh!