Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tutorial Part 2: Upcycled Finds into Wild Kratts Costumes for Less Than $35

Find Part 1 of this tutorial series here.
Go here for Part 3 - the final step!

Time to finish up those Wild Kratts costumes!   When I left off, the vests were pretty plain.  Time for some embellishment...

I started by buying t-shirts in the right colors from the thrift store and cutting pieces from them.  No exact measurements -- I just eye-balled what would work for the size of the vest.  I used Mod Podge Fabric to glue them in place.  I know this picture shows all this stuff positioned on my cutting mat, but you do NOT want to do your gluing on a mat like this.  Stick to a counter or some other surface that you can wipe or scrape clean.

Be careful where the Mod Podge touches your doesn't wash back out once it contacts the fibers.  It works best if you put the glue on the back of the panel and then place the panel on the vest.  I tried putting the glue on the vest first, and it was less messy, but it also caused areas where the glue bled out from under the panel.  Once they're there, you're stuck with them for good.

I started with the shoulders, then moved on to the sides.  I tried to have the panels wrap around from front to back like they do on the animated Wild Kratts' suits.

Next, I cut three circles for the front of the vest and glued them on.  Be sure to leave enough room for your creature power disc pocket!

I did a lot of this work at night or in the late, dreary afternoon, so some of these pictures aren't exactly stellar.  It's hard to see, but my next step was to do a loose satin stitch (a zigzag where the stitches are wide but very short) around all the pieces to secure the edges.  This step isn't absolutely necessary since the Mod Podge ought to hold the fabrics together forever, but I figured these might get worn and washed tons.  I stitched the edges down to protect them from fraying and to give them a cleaner look. 

Now for the part that really makes this a "creature power suit":  A place to insert creature power discs!  Start by figuring out how big you want the finished pocket to be.  SuperHusband had already made some small wooden creature power discs.  Judging from the size of the discs, which need room to get in and out of the pocket and be seen while inside, I used a coaster from a set I made for SuperHusband a couple of years ago as the size-guide for a cardboard template.  

You'll also need a couple of medium-sized pieces of aluminum foil and some fabric to match your vest panels.  You could cut these from the thrifted t-shirt if you have enough left, but you need something that will press really cleanly and has little bulk, even in multiple layers.  I used quilter's cotton.

Using the template, cut a piece of quilter's cotton slightly larger than the template for each Wild Kratt color (or only one if your little animal lover has a favorite bro).  In my case, I eye-balled it and cut the color circles between 1/4-1/2 inch larger than the template. 

Next, lay down a piece of foil, then place the color circle in the center, and center the template in the middle.  Carefully fold the foil around the cardboard template, using it to evenly secure the fabric circle in place around the cardboard. 

 When you're done, it should look something like this...

Yes, it's that scorched ironing board cover again!  Someday I'll replace it with something pretty and quilty, but for now, we'll all just have to deal with it.  At least it's getting lots of use!  :)

Use your very hot iron to press around the edges of the foil circle.  This should secure the crease in the fabric. 

Ta-Da!  Now you have two nicely-formed fabric circles.  

Time to secure your center circle to the vest.  I didn't feel like fooling with the FMP for this part, so I just did some very careful, thorough pinning.  You don't want this to shift around on the vest while you sew it down. 

Start pinning at the four compass points and then carefully fill in the gaps all the way around.   

No satin-stitching here -- you need to keep the bulk to a minimum, because there's much more to come on this pocket.  I used a loose zigzag stitch to secure the circle to the vest.  Can you see it?  See the difference between the center circle and the other circles? 

Now for the vinyl window and to turn this into a pocket...  First, cut a piece of clear vinyl exactly the size of your template.  I used 6-gauge vinyl -- you don't want this stuff to be flimsy.

Set your vinyl aside and use your color fabric (again, preferably something low-bulk like quilter's cotton) to make double fold bias binding.   In case you need a refresher, here's a quick rundown of the process:

Start with strips of fabric cut on the bias.  Mine were cut 1 1/2 inches wide. 

Join them with a diagonal seam.  Here's how you achieve that.

Trim off the excess, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Press it open.  

Now press your long strip in half, but not quite on center.  Leave one side just a hair wider. 

Now open the fold back up and press 1/4 inch in on either side.  

Fold it up the (almost) center crease again and press the whole mess into place.

One side will be slightly narrower than the other.  From the end, it should look like this.

You just made double-fold bias tape (also known as binding)!  Alternately, you could buy some at the store already made, but it's harder to color-match.  And really, it's super easy to make.

Okay, back to that pocket.

Next, I wrapped the bias binding around the edge of the vinyl.  DO NOT PIN.  So here's the thing about sewing with vinyl, leather, pleather, oilcloth, laminated cotton...

Once you make holes in it, they're there forever.  No pins, and you don't want to "over sew" it.  So we're going to walk through a process to keep your stitching and hole-making to a minimum.  Start by using binding clips instead of pins to secure it in place.  They're basically the same thing as those bendy barrettes you buy in the hair accessory section at your nearest big box store. 

As you encase your vinyl edge inside the binding, stretch the binding a bit to keep it smooth around the circle.  (This is why you made your binding from bias stretches to fit around curves!)

Don't worry about getting the ends perfect just yet.  Secure the edges and leave them for the moment.

Next, lay the vinyl circle on top of the cotton circle on your vest.  

Using your creature power discs as a guide, mark the binding on either side to determine the width of the pocket opening. These pictures are a little dark...

It's finally time to go to your machine.  First, go back to a straight stitch, and make it a little longer than normal.  Every machine is different, but I have a Janome and I think I increased mine to 2.8.  

Now, stitch your binding ONLY to the vinyl, and ONLY between the marks.  I don't have a picture of this step, unfortunately, and the picture below is a little deceiving.  It shows the stitching between the dots, but it looks like I stitched in on the vest.  I didn't.  I laid the circle on top of the vest to show that this is where the pocket opening will be.  I realized afterward that it looks a little confusing.  The point is this:  Do NOT stitch the pocket to the vest between the marks! 

Okay, now that I pounded that into your head, you actually ARE going to stitch the pocket to the vest the rest of the way around the circle.  Start by cleaning up the spot where the tails of the binding meet and securing it neatly.

Lay the circle of vinyl on top of the cotton circle on the vest.  You can't really pin it down, so sew slowly and carefully, beginning on the outside of one mark, circling around the bottom and stopping at the other mark.  Make sense?

 Now you have a fully encased vinyl pocket for your creature power discs! 

You Wild Kratts vests are complete!  All that left are the accessories...   Check in for the glove tutorial later this week! 

Need the first part of this tutorial? Find it here.
The final step - Part 3 - is here!
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Sewing!