It took me a while to finally get started, but the Hades costume construction has begun. I started with the t-shirt piece, which will go under the toga looking piece.
For the t-shirt, I bought a medium gray knit mesh fabric. I’m hoping it might be a little cooler than other options would have been hah. For the toga, I have a nice black knit with gold sparkles, which you’ll see soon enough.
I have been wanting to try out el wire in a costume for a long time now, and saw this as a good opportunity to give it a go. The t-shirt under Hades’s toga has a zigzag design around the collar and along the sleeves. I decided to do this design in blue el wire, to match my wig. I read up on el wire usage here. I had originally been thinking about some sort of sheer casing for the el wire, but zig zag stitching with clear quilting thread over the line seemed a much more visible option. Let me say right now that most of what I have read recommends hand-stitching to attach el wire (for reasons I will explain later). I opted to use my machine, which I believe, if you are careful enough and stitch slowly, is a perfectly valid method and way better than hand-stitching (fuck that). I purchased some blue el wire from Amazon that has a battery pack and three leads with wires attached (~$10), with easy clips to remove wires and swap them out if need be.
Obviously before I messed with the el wire, I had to do a few other things.
1.) Add a pocket to the center back near the neckline for the el wire battery pack (and some extra batteries) to reside in.
2.) Add some black woven fabric around the collar and along the sleeves. This served as (a) a facing for the neckline, (b) the appropriate background color for the el wire design on Hades’s costume, and (c) a stabilizer. I read that attaching el wire to knit fabric was not the best idea since the fabric stretches but the wire doesn’t. Hence the stabilizer.
Here is where I made my first mistake – My pocket was too high and would get stitched underneath the facing piece. Ooops. Fred helped me remove some of the pocket’s height, and restitch the edges, and we were good to go. Here I am pinning down the stabilizer for the sleeves.
I did things in an interesting order here to provide some ease of access while dealing with the el wire. After the collar facings, I stitched the shoulder seams of the shirt front and back. Then I did a flat attachment of the sleeves, and added the line of stabilizer down the center. I also hemmed the sleeves while flat.
NOW it was time to begin messing with the el wire. I shoved the battery pack into its pocket (and marked where I wanted to add a stitch line to hold the pack in nice and tightly). One of the strands of wire appeared slightly longer than the others, so I opted to use that piece for the circumference of the collar, and the two other pieces for the sleeves. Here are my tips for attaching el wire:
1. Plan it out first. I used masking tape (which did leave some sticky residue on the wire and occasionally on the fabric, so maybe try something else).
2. Start from the end of the el wire and go back towards the battery pack. If you have extra el wire you don’t need, you can hide it inside your costume.
3. Use an awl to poke a hole in your fabric to let the el wire through from the inside of your garment to the outside. This will result in minimal to no fraying, though fray check is probably still a good idea.
4. Sew slowly if you use a machine, and check often if you happen to hit the wire with your needle. I hit the wire plenty of times with my machine needle, and often the el wire still worked just fine. However, hitting the machine multiple times or turning your fabric with the needle through the wire seems like a poor decision. And I will show you why.
See the unlit portion of the el wire on the left sleeve? This was probably the very last few stitches that I sewed. I had been checking the status of the wire any time I hit the needle. It took me forever to attach all the wire, and by this time I was frustrated. I think the needle went through the wire 3-4 times in the one spot, and obviously the el wire no longer works past that point. The good news is, this is a single strand attached to one of three leads in my battery pack. I have already tested detaching it and reattaching another el wire strand, and it lights right up. However, that strand is like 9 feet long, and I need like 2-3 feet. So I have ordered a second three strand pack and will swap out one of the short strands and reattach it to this sleeve.
So that is where I have left off on the t-shirt part of this, until my replacement el wire arrives. In the meantime, maybe I’ll start the toga. Regardless, I’m glad I’m finally moving forward on this one – less than 60 days till DragonCon! 😀