Quest Complete!

The gamer in me can visualize the text informing me that I have gained some random amount of experience for completing my “quest” to create a Steampunk costume for DragonCon 2012.  Or perhaps I should liken this experience to tradeskilling in an MMO … “Your skill in tailoring has increased by 1!”  I’d like to believe the sewing of this costume over the past month would get me more than a single tradeskilling point, but I’ll let you be the judge of that 😉

If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that I started working on the pants for this costume early last week.  I continued that effort when I went to Elizabeth’s last Friday night.  We generally sew while the boys play poker once a month.  She sewed a pair of pants as well, as we agreed to tackle pants with zippers together.  If you are interested in her experience, it was fraught with the usual cursing and angst associated with our sewing projects, so check it out.

First pic of the post – I promised you I would share a shot of my newly created “zipper stop”.  Kinda anti-climatic, huh?  The important thing is, it works.

The next step was to actually attach the zipper to the pants at the stitched and pressed location.  Below I made a montage of the zipper process.  On top, you can see the front outside of the pants.  All you can see is a single seam.  But inside that yellow square, on the inside of the pants, is where I attached the zipper (bottom left image).  After attaching the zipper, while still sewing with the inside of the pants face up, I basted a line.  In the middle bottom picture, you can see how that basted line looked on the outside.  It served as a guide for me to make that standard u-shape you see on the front of your jeans (shown on the bottom right).

At this point, the instructions led me to believe I was done.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?  I mean, most of my jeans are not sewn shut at the front.  I am guessing this is just another quirk of pattern instructions, but the instructions never told me I was supposed to rip the basted seam.  Elizabeth double checked for me.  I waited a little while, hoping I was skimming the instructions too fast to find it.  But ultimately I just called in Fred v2.0 and ripped.  Yep, Fred got upgraded.  Hancock had quite a few fancy new seam rippers at the counter, and they were on sale.  And they had one in Fred’s green color.  So here is the new Fred:

He has both a light and a magnifying glass.  I have had to use Fred frequently since I purchased him, and do not regret the last minute at-the-counter decision to buy him.  The magnifier is a little bit strange at first, but you get used to it (P.S. Sean no need to bring your reading glasses next time we have a game night, Fred can hook you up!).

OK, back to the pants.  At this point I did a few other minor steps, such as finishing the inseam.  I did several lines of stitching at the bottom of the ‘u’ here to reinforce the seam.

And then I stitched my first-ever darts in the back of the pants.  View from the inside on the left and the outside on the right.

Now that the zipper was installed and those simple things were done, it was time to deal with the waistband.  Back when I cut this project out, I also ironed on the fusible interfacing and made some markings on the pieces.  I have decided that this pattern, Butterick 4861, is really fantastically shitty at giving instructions.  My case against this pattern includes: terminology, leaving out important parts of the instructions, and now I have to add drawings to the list.  Although frankly, I should’ve known better based on that pocket incident at Step 1.

Even now that I am done with the pants, I do not understand the pattern pictures and instructions for this portion of the pattern.  And then it was essentially repeated for the leg cuffs.  I felt like the wrong side / right side was misrepresented and in some cases I could not tell where stitching was supposed to occur.  Ultimately, I kind of ignored the pattern.  I understood the basic concept they were going for, but I just went my own way to get there.

First things first, I pinned the right side of the waistband to the right side of the pants, and stitched along the top edge to attach them together.

Next I pressed down the seam allowance along the other side of the waistband.  And then I folded the waistband in half, with the wrong sides together.  When I pinned here, I made sure the waistband on the inside of the pants overlapped with my initial stitches to attach the waistband.  This was the first “problem” with my decision.  In general, you are not supposed to stitch on the outside of the garment.  My methods here were going to force me to do just that because I sure wasn’t going to keep the inside up where I couldn’t see the line I had already stitched.  I decided I would try “stitching in the ditch”, a technique I had to learn earlier when I did facings for a dress.  This means I am stitching along a seam that I previously created, trying to make my stitches “hide” in the ditch between the two connected pieces of fabric.  And since I couldn’t see the underside of the waistband, I would just hope that I was in fact attaching it.  Below is “stitching in the ditch” in action.

I was pretty successful with this process, though I did take my time since I was afraid I would mess it up.  However, I quickly discovered my next problem.

Well bugger.  The only way I knew of to fix the open ends of the waistband with any sort of decent result was slipstitching.  And so I endeavored to not take quite as long doing it this time as I did with the coat.  It did not take me nearly as long, but this moleskin fabric was not easy to pierce with a hand needle.  Here was the result.

This picture is also a good example of why I felt the need to actually rip the seam that was down the front of the pants.  There would be no actual zipping occurring otherwise.  Anyway, that hurdle dealt with, next I had to attach a button and sew a buttonhole.  I had some trouble with this the first time I tried it.  However, this time it was smooth sailing.  The sewing part went well, though when I cut the slit down the center of the buttonhole, I was reminded of how much this fabric frays.  A LOT.  So I threw some fray check along the edges of the button hole to make it look less messy. And of course, I added a fabulous steampunk button. 🙂

I had to essentially repeat this same process on the two leg cuffs.  I also had to do a couple of extra things, such as gather around the cuff, and sew a narrow hem on the cuff.  Below is a cuff with a narrow hem, and gathering stitches ready to be pulled.  Yes, the back of the pants were apparently longer than the front.  I am over it.  Or not.  Little things like that drive me crazy.  Oh, and left out of this post was my 30 minute epic battle with the new Narrow Hem Presser Foot that I purchased for my sewing machine.  I will merely say this – I lost.  Did my narrow hems the standard way, with much grumbling and grunting.

After the gathering was completed, I wound up with this.

The only tactic I changed on the cuffs was that I decided I hate slipstitching enough to not want to go through that two more times.  I used the machine to finish edges before I “stitched in the ditch” on the cuffs.  This kind of shows the results.  In hindsight, I *think* this part is why the pictures in the pattern were so crazy.  They were trying to show this particular step and failed miserably.

Above you will see a finished cuff.  Can you tell it is getting late?  There are fewer and fewer words in between the pictures.  I did not take additional pictures of the button process on these, it was the same as above.  I am pleased to say I did not have to break in the new Fred by making him rip a buttonhole seam.  The finished pants:

And finally, the finished costume!

This picture reminds me of why I need to learn to pose for costume shots before DragonCon.  I fail at posing.  Hell, I even fail at looking happy.  But I am!  Costume is done!  On to different projects!  Huzzah!


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