Friday, September 29, 2017

A Purrfect Costume: Masking a Cat (Part 4)

The mask was one of the easier parts of this outfit. There are a lot of side and front images for Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. They used the same fabric for the mask as the catsuit, so I would have to do the same.

First, I sketched out a mask using screenshots for reference. I based the mask off my face & eye measurements as compared to photos of Eartha Kitt wearing the mask.

I made 5 different variations, trying each one on my face to see if I captured the look.

I took the winning candidate and transferred the pattern to some Worbla. I had a very good experience using Worbla for my Hawkeye mask and decided to use it again.

I took the mask, used my heat gun to warm it up, then used a bust of myself to mold it to my face.

My intent was to use a spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the Worbla mask. I got out my silicon mat (as glue doesn't stick to it), opened the side door next to the table for ventilation (glue stinks and is not healthy to breath), and started the slow process. I did this a little bit at a time so that I woudn't get any air bubbles in the fabric.

The fabric covered mask isn't much to look at at this stage. However, I want all that excess fabric so I can carefully pull it over the edge of the mask.

At this stage, I've cut off the excess fabric and clipped curves so that I get a nice even finish.

Here's how it looks from the outside. I'm taking it nice and slow.

I forgot to take other photos of the underside, but this is what it looks like. I'm using a fast set super glue to stick the excess fabric to the underside and then trim it down. In addition, I cut out a felt mask from the template and glued it to the underside, starting at the nose then working out towards the tips. (Note: I attached the ties for the mask before finish glue'ing the felt down.)

This is the partially finished mask. At this point, I need to attach the ties.

I used flat elastic cord for the ties. The ties are going to be sandwiched between the Worbla and felt. Here's what I did:
  1. Added a scrap piece of Worbla to the inside where I would attach the ties. This extra piece is just a bit of added strength.
  2. I cut a small slit in the felt where I wanted the elastic.
  3. I super glued to elastic to the Worbla and slipped the rest through the slit.
  4. Sew'd down the elastic to the felt for added strength.

Here's the finished mask.

Read the other parts of this Catwoman Dress Diary!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Purrfect Costume: Accessorizing (Part 3)

After being frustrated with Catwoman's catsuit collar, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the belt I ordered with Etsy was delivered pretty promptly and is a near exact replica of the original. The belt was commercially available during that era. I did a search for gold scale belt on Etsy and eBay and found a number of similar looking versions and a few of the original ones too...for a fairly reasonable price!

With one less thing to worry about, I set about making the necklace for Catwoman. As I mentioned before, the original pendant was round and looked like it had a "cat" or "lion" as the center piece. There are also 3 other flat oblong pieces on either side of the center piece. From looking at the photos, it appears there are various hammered dimples on each flat oblong piece.

In other shots, you can see reflections, but I'm assuming those came from the dimples catching the light..

As much as I want to be screen accurate, there has to be some give in recreating the outfit. I couldn't find anything remotely close to "flat oblong disks with dimples" and I have no access to metal working tools. I *did* consider looking for one of those machines that flattens out coins to get the right look, but I decided to just go with pieces I could find at local crafting stores. Plus, I AM on a time crunch to get this done by October! I found inspiration from another cosplayer's work.

Consequently, I decided that I would make something that I thought the real Catwoman might appreciate and add some shiny BLING to it.

I had a lion's head pin from many years ago that I never really wore, but merely kept because I liked it. I also had a filigree pin that broke that I thought was a good size. I went to the local Joann's to find a centerpiece pendant that would work with both the lion head pin and the filigree piece.

First, I set about making the main pendant. I took apart the pendant I found at Joanns

And used jewelry wire to lash the lion in the center.

By the way, if you don't have one of these handy-dandy third hand, you really need to get one! They are so useful, especially if the arms are segmented. They are normally used for soldering purposes but are great for whenever you need that "third-hand"!

After making the centerpiece, I went to Michael's and  selected several different options that I thought would work for this necklace. It didn't matter the color as I was planning on painting them to match. I needed the "look".

I used rub-n-buff to paint over the pieces I had purchased.
( I didn't take the pendant off its card. It was actually easier to paint it this way using the third-hand.)

Painting took a little bit of time and care, but very much worth it.

These bigger pendants didn't have enough bling, so I glued some Swarovski crystals to it.
I liked how the necklace looked. It evoked the style of Catwoman, at least to me. The original Catwoman necklace is attached at the 10:00 and 2:00 locations of each oblong piece. Luckily, the smaller oblongs already had attachments in those locations. I cut off the main loop of the centerpiece, so I could build appropriate hooks at the 10 & 2 locations.

Because all of the pieces were of varying sizes, I needed to make some custom jump rings to hook everything together at the 10:00 and 2:00 positions. The commercial jump rings that I had (lower left) were either too big or too small.

I wire-wrapped eye pins to the larger side pendants so they could attach to the smaller ones, which luckily had them (as they are parts of a bracelet.)

It took a while for me to get the jump rings to look and hang correctly. I made several different sized rings to get the right look. I still need to attach a counterweight to the back portion so it hangs correctly on the costume, but I won't do that until I've got everything put together and it can be done during the final fitting.

Overall, I'm rather pleased with how it turned out.

Read the other parts of this Catwoman Dress Diary!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Purrfect Costume: Building a Catsuit (Part 2)

This year seems to be the year of "easy" costumes that I've previously made. For SDCC 2017, I used the same pattern for David Bowie's Blackstar as I did for SDCC 2015 --- the 10th Doctor Suit. Last month, I made myself a Ghawazee that I made myself years ago...oh, and TWO separate Doctor Who themed corsets.

For Catwoman, it appears to be no different. I am re-using my bodysuit pattern that I used for Shego. Lucky for me, the Catwoman outfit is a lot more straightforward than the harlequin pattern for Shego.

If you look closely at all the catsuits, you'll see that there's a center seam down the front and a seam at the waist. This indicates that for the front, there's at least 4 pieces for the front half (2 fronts, 2 leg pieces).

It's a little harder to tell with the back, but I suspect there's no waist seam there.

Given that information, I set to modifying my existing bodysuit pattern. The back didn't need any modification. I opted not to hide the back seam as I was using an invisible zipper and I'm guessing that they needed to hide the metal zipper teeth that would reflect light on stage.

While we were in the LA Garment District, I went looking for fabric that would look like what they used. I thought I found a decent substitute in a 4-way stretch black metal spandex. I bought enough to make at least two outfits, just in case...which I found I did need!

I found actual photos AFTER I bought the fabric and discovered that it was still being manufactured -- albeit as a 2-way stretch fabric that by various accounts is very uncomfortable to wear (from other Catwoman cosplayers)
(actual fabric from the costume)

But, for all intents and purposes, my looks pretty darn close. Plus, it's 4 way stretch that is extremely forgiving and very comfortable. (I'll take comfort over complete screen accurate any day!)

As always, I made notes before I started pattern modification.

I set about modifying my existing pattern and adding the necessary seam allowances for the different pieces.

I realized that the collar might prove tricky -- there's enough fabric to make it ruffle at the neckline while maintaining a smooth seam. It was a bit difficult to tell from screenshots if the collar was a single or two piece.

I was pleasantly surprised at how fast the entire body of the costume came together. Once I made test swatches using my serger (to find out the appropriate settings for this material), the body came together in half an evening.

I even made sure all of the seams matched, especially since these seams were going to be on a predominant area on my body!

In these photos, I hadn't yet cut out the collar / neckline for the Eartha Kitt version of the suit. I decided to cut out the extra fabric from the collar/neck area once I was comfortable with how the collar should go together. I didn't want to make a mistake -- better to measure a dozen times and cut once!

I was a little suspicious at how quickly it came together. I was worried I had done something wrong, but I tried it on and it fit, albeit a little more snugly than I wanted. The original Catwoman outfit wasn't quite form-fitting. You could see the fabric wrinkle in certain shots.

I took a look at the original fabric from which I created my pattern --- the original bodysuit fabric, and realized that THAT fabric was a lot thinner and stretchier than my Catwoman fabric. The metallic layer on the Catwoman fabric made it thicker and less stretchy.

I took a deep breath and told myself this first one was merely a mock-up and that I had been smart to buy so much extra fabric. I consulted with my Viking and we agreed that I needed to increase all of the side seams by 1/4", which give me 1/2" ease on either side. I made a second version, which fit fairly well, with enough fabric left over for all the other parts. I could always sell/give away the first body suit or use it to create a V-neck version of the outfit.

However, the main body of the outfit was very easy to put together. I had a deep foreboding that the last 10% --- the collar --- was going to be a pain in the rear, which, by the way,  IT IS!

I'll probably write another post on the collar itself because I'm quite frustrated with it and decided to go ahead and work on some other parts of this costume and come back to it later.

Read the other parts of this Catwoman Dress Diary!