Saturday, July 21, 2012

Putting your "Horrible" pieces together.

Please see my First Dr. Horrible Blog post for directions on creating the pattern pieces.

My husband putting on his best "Mad Scientist" face.  :D

For the final construction of the coat, you will need:

- A sewing machine, sharp scissors, chalk or bar soap for marking, an iron, and lots of pins!
- Your altered pattern pieces from Simplicity 5386 (see link above).
- Around 4 yards of 60" wide off-white cotton twill
- Matching thread.
- 1.5 yards of fusible interfacing
- 10 matching 3/4" buttons.  The ones on the original lab coat are mother-of pearl, but you can use off white as well, as I did.
- Optional: extra wide twin needles for topstitching your flat felled seams in nice straight lines.

Okay, first you need to cut out your pieces.  If you managed to get 57" to 60" wide fabric, you should be able to lay out your fabric as I explain below.

With the selvage edge folded in on BOTH sides toward the center, right sides together, place your front piece on one fold, and your back piece on the other fold and cut out.

Now open up the remaining fabric. To cut the inner front flap, fold the center front edge of your front pattern piece under 2", and place it on a single layer of fabric, grain running the same way.  You need to make sure you place the pattern piece so the RIGHT side of the fabric will be facing out at the right shoulder.
Place the Facing piece next to it, and it should be facing the opposite way.  I wanted the right side of my facing to face out also, even though it is on the inside, so I placed it that way.  Pin and cut both pieces.

You will have a large piece left fold it in half the opposite way, (down), and place your sleeve piece on this double layer, pin and cut.
At the bottom, place your collar and backs trap pieces on a double layer, pin and cut.
Cut pocket on a single layer.

You will also want to cut one piece of fusible interfacing to match your facing piece, and one for the collar piece.
Following manufacturers directions, fuse your interfacing to the WRONG side of your facing and one collar piece.

Now for the actual sewing part!

Front and front Facing:
-Using a long basting stitch, stitch 1/2" in along the outer edge of your facing. Clip just inside the stitching at the rounded area twice, and iron under.

-Place facing and front piece right sides together at right shoulder, matching raw edges, and stitch 5/8" seam along shoulder edge, armscye, and outer right side.
-Trim seam to about 1/4", turn facing to right side, and press.
-Topstitch the facing along your ironed under edge.
-You should sew in the 3 buttonholes along the shoulder, and the 4 along the side now, before sewing the front piece to the garment.  It is easier to work with at this stage.  Don't cut them though, just in case!  Wait until the collar is on to be sure your measurements were correct.

Finished front facing, view of inside.

Inner Flap:
-Take the inner flap piece, and turn the long straight inner edge under 1" and press.
-Turn the inside of this under 1/4", and press again.
-Pin and stitch close to edge.  Press again.
-Now take your inner flap and sew it to the back right shoulder, right sides together.
-Take the front piece, and sew the left shoulder, right sides together.

-Make flat felled seams along the shoulders (with the edges facing front).  This is where a double needle will come in handy, as you only have to stitch once instead of twice, and the lines will be perfectly parallel.
If you don't know how to make a flat felled seam, here is a great youtube tutorial.

Yo may want to practice a couple of times on scraps if you are new to this.  It matters which side of the seam you trim, as it will cause the upper edge to face AWAY from the trimmed seam side, and you want all the seams to be facing the same way on your coat!

Side Slits:
-Now sew your side seams, stopping just at the point where the side slit flaps begin.
-Flat fell both side seams, with edge facing forward.
-Snip in 5/8" at the top of the flaps, and Iron the flaps in (now 1-1/4" ).  Tuck the edge under 1/2", pin from the RIGHT side, and stitch close to edge.
-Do this for all 4 side slit flaps.
See how I've made diagonal tucks at the top of the side slit?  Makes a very neat finish.

-Using a long basting stitch, sew 1/2" and 3/4" inside the sleeve cap.  You will use this to gently gather the sleeve cap to ease it into the armhole.
- Sew sleeve seams, right sides together.
-Flat fell seams, again with edge facing forward.
-Pin sleeves into armholes, right sides together.  Make sure you match the notches and dots (single notch means front, double notch means back).  The dot at the sleeve cap should match the shoulder seam.
- Pin the sleeve at the bottom seam, the shoulder seam, and the 2 notched areas.  Now gently pull the bobbin thread from your gathering stitch and distribute the gathering evenly, until the sleeve fabric matches the bodice fabric, as shown.  This is only lightly gathered, so try not to get any areas where there is an actual fold or pinch in the fabric.  Pin every 1/2" through gathered area.  This helps prevent accidental pinches or folds in the fabric when sewing.  Carefully sew in sleeves.
-Flat fell your armscye seam.

-Take the un-interfaced collar piece, and sew basting stitch along the bottom, long rounded edge.
-Turn under and press along this basting line. You can trim this to 1/4" as well, after pressing.
-Pin the two collar pieces right sides together, and sew from the bottom seam line (5/8" up), up the side, across the top, and down the other side.
-Trim the seam, cut diagonally across corners, turn right side out and press.
-Sew the buttonhole on the collar.  Don't cut it though, wait until the collar is attached, just to be safe.

-With right sides together, pin collar to neck edge, starting at the edge of the faced front, and finishing at the edge of the inner flap, and sew.
-Trim inner seam, and press collar and remaining seam allowance up. The seam allowance should now be sandwiched between to two collar pieces.
-Machine topstitch stitch from the front 1/8" above seamline.  Normally I sew the inner collar in by hand so the stitching is invisible, but on this lab coat, there is topstiching here so might as well use it!
-Press again to meld stitching.

-Topstitch 1/8" in, starting at bottom of the collar near the inner flap.  Continue up and around the top of the collar until you reach the corner of the collar on the outside of the jacket.  Carefully pivot, and continue the 1/8" topstitching down the edge of the collar, the shoulder edge, armscye, and down the entire outer right side

I like to pin along an area I'm going to topstitch, it helps prevent the fabric from "creeping".
Back Tie:
With right sides together, sew all sides of the back tie, leaving a small 3" wide opening at the bottom center for turning.  Trim seams and corners, and turn right side out through opening.  Press, and slipstich the opening closed.  Sew horizontal buttonholes 3/4" in from each end.

If you are hand embroidering the Caducus, you'll want to do it before you cut it out.  If you are using an iron-on patch, do that now.
-Iron under 1/4" on sides and bottom point, 3/4" (and another 1/4") on the top.  Topstitch the top.
-Pin into place on jacket (I eyeballed the placement while hubby wore the coat, and just made sure it was straight), then topstitch it down.

Now cut all your buttonholes, and sew on all of your buttons, along the shoulder, collar, side seam, and 2 in the back.

-Turn the hem on the bottom up by 2", and under again 1/4", press and sew close to fold and press again.
-Do the same for both sleeves.

Ta Da!  You are done!  Congratulations on your new Dr.Horrible Lab coat!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A "Horrible" pattern!

So, I'd like to share part one of my tutorial on creating a Dr. Horrible lab coat.  This part will cover altering the pattern pieces, and part 2 will cover construction.

WARNING:  This blog may contain graphic images of horribly mangled pattern pieces.  If you have a weak constitution, please avert your eyes!

First of all, I'd like to talk a little bit about the history of the actual article worn in the short film.  I've read that this smock was originally created for the 1986 film Aliens, the sequel to Alien.  A number of them were made, both for men and women in the movie.  Joss Whedon used one of these on a single episode of his TV series, Firefly.  So if this info is correct, it has quite an interesting history of its own, Here is one of the female versions of this lab coat.  You'll note it looks pretty much the same, except it has a small bust dart.

Anyway, on to the instructions!
I started out using Simplicity 5386, a costume for the overcoats from the Matrix. This pattern will be heavily altered, so if you want to use it for it's original purpose, be prepared to do a lot of tracing.  I had no desire to keep the original intact, so I just altered the actual pieces as first. In the end, I made so many alterations that I traced the final pattern pieces out anyway.
There are also 2 pieces that you need to draft on your own, so in any case, you will need some tracing paper or news print.

Some resources I relied on were the film itself, with heavy use of the pause button.  Then I was lucky to find many structural pictures (inside, outside, back and front) of the the female version of the actual costume found here.
This was a really helpful look at the details that are hard to see on the film, such as the inner flap.    It's a good starting point, but it really only covers the basics, and I think would make a very rough, though passable, costume as is.

Here are instructions for creating each piece, using Simplicity 5386.
Meld pattern pieces 1 and 2 together, overlapping the seam allowance at shoulder and waistline (it will vary greatly elsewhere).  You won't need pieces 1a and 2a unless you are extremely tall, over 6'2.
Next, cut the pattern along the "Center front" marking, straight down all the way to the hemline. Then draw a straight line from the lower armscye point parallel to the center front line, all the way to the hemline to create a straight side seam. Next measure about 4" down from the waistline, and create a 1/2" wide tab extending down to the hem as shown.  These will form the hems of the side slits.  You can remove this extension from the RIGHT side of the front piece, where the front facing and buttons will be. Here is the altered pattern piece, and my finished  pattern tracing:

Optional fitting changes:
I also altered the neckline and the armscye, as you can see.  I brought the shoulder point in 1", and the bottom of the armscye up 1".  I curved the armscye in deeper, to keep the original seam length the same.  This prevented the sleeve from pulling up on the bicep when my husband lifted his arms, and gave a much better fit.
The neckline I lowered by 3/8", as my hubby has a large neck.

Meld pattern pieces pieces 3 and 4 together, again overlapping the seam allowance, Follow the same steps as for the front piece.

I made the same neck, shoulder, and armscye alterations here as I did on the front piece, again these are optional as they were made for fitting specifically to my husband..
The arm alterations were a result of fitting 3 muslins (yes, 3!) on my husband.  With the pattern as is, he couldn't raise his arms more than a few inches without getting pulling at the bicep and under the armpit, and I think this is a common problem, with costumes especially. Despite being a pretty broad shouldered man, the shoulder point was sitting at LEAST 1" too far out on him.  And then the neck was too tight, so I made that a bit larger for comfort.

Inner front flap:
Fold the center line of the front piece under 2", and just cut the front piece on a single layer (make sure you have the fabric facing so the right side will be facing out at the RIGHT shoulder!).  This piece will also need the 1/2" tab around 5" below the waist for side slit hem.

Front facing:
Lay your tracing paper or news print over your completely altered  front piece, and trace along the shoulder and armscythe and down the side (ignoring the 1/2" side slit hem flap).  At the shoulder, measure 3-1/2" down.  At the side, measure 6" in.  Connect these two lines with a gentle arc at the shoulder corner, as seen below. This is the same shape that can be seen on the original coat.  This piece will give your buttonholes stability, and also add a distinctive bit of top-stitching, just like the original coat!

The sleeve:
You can leave unaltered, if you wish, but the shoulder point will likely bee too long, and leave you with a poorly fitting sleeve.  I personally needed to lengthen it by 2" (the coat also has a very deep 2" sleeve hem).  I also widened it at the armscye about 1/2" on each side, and shortened the sleeve cap by 3/4" (to fit my newly changed armscye shapes on the front and back pieces).  Again, this allowed a much greater range of movement for my husband, but this will entirely depend on your body shape!  It isn't too difficult to make a muslin of the bodice and sleeves only, and test the fit of this on yourself, to see if you might want to make similar alterations.  Old sheets make great muslin material, as you'll see later in this post. :D

The collar:
I must admit that I followed this helpful tutorial.  But, it ended up making a piece that was about 1" too long, (even after including seam allowance), and the curve needs to be adjusted to stay equal, but it is a starting place. Make sure and measure it to your finished neckline!

I also found this collar to be far too tall, so I shortened it by 1/2" on my final version.

The Back Tie:

Make the width 3-1/4" (5/8" seam allowance).  The length should be the width of the back piece minus about 4"

The Pocket:
You can either embroider the caduceus yourself, or buy an iron on patch.  There are some on e-bay that are listed specifically for this costume.  My husband did not want the Caducus on his pocket at this time, so my pocket is blank.

I cut a piece 5x5 with a 1.5" point on the bottom, and ironed under 1/4" all around, 3/4" on the top, and eyeballed where to place it on his chest.

At this point, you should cut the bottom of the patterns at your estimated hem length. The length should hit 2" to 3" below the knee, and it has a deep 2" hem as well, so make sure you add 2-1/4" to your finished hem estimate.

About buttonhole placement;  the buttonholes on the shoulder and collar are perpendicular to the shoulder line (vertical), and approx 2" apart (this will vary depending on the size you cut, and if you alter the shoulder point, as I did .  The buttonholes down the side are also perpendicular to the edge, (horizontal), and approx 4" apart.  The bottom button should land about 2" below the top of the side slit.

Here is my finished full muslin with the sleeve tucked behind, showing how the buttonholes sit, and the nicely topstitched front facing.
Yeah yeah, I know it looks like a hospital gown....or maybe a really ugly mumu.  Old sheets I tell ya!  The collar on this is not yet shortened, and it is far too big for my little dress form (looks really long, too, but it hits my hubby correctly), but you get the idea.

So now you have your pattern ready to go!  Go out and get yourself the perfect fabric (a fine cotton twill is perfect), and remember, the coat is NOT white, it is cream colored, so try and find yourself a slightly off white if you want to be really authentic. :D

See my next blog post for cutting and construction instructions of the lab coat.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The (abbreviated) Secret World Adventures of Nynaeve. Spoilers!

(Warning: Major Spoiler Alert!)

This has been the strangest month of my life!

A while back, I swallowed a bee in my sleep, and when I woke up, I could manipulate Anima (that means "Do Magic" for you laypersons").
A few days later, I was forcefully recruited into the Illuminati.  Well, they didn't give me much choice in the matter, anyway. Jeeze, and I always thought they were fiction created by crazy conspiracy theorists!
On the bright side, they have a pretty cool uniform!  I'm not a fan of the gas mask, but hey, when in Rome....

So my Illuminati handlers inform me that the earthquake in Tokyo wasn't an earthquake, it was...something far more supernatural.  Think "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".  Some sort of rift opened up and all hell came spilling out.
And it isn't happening just in Tokyo either.  I'm sent to a small island town off the coast of Main, called Kingsmouth, to investigate possible paranormal activity.  Yeah, the zombocalypse is well under way in this little town.

And it isn't just zombies.  Something even worse came in with some fishermen.  A bank of fog, and some super creepy sea monsters.  Not to worry though, a guy in a junkyard gave me a flamethrower!

Still, I prefer my Rifle, since it shoots Anima bullets, I never need to reload!
Kingsmouth was full of all sorts of frightening things, including Justin Bieber....yikes!!

After plowing through a lot of zombies, getting my fortune read, and following a siren song to a guy who stole a magic sword (and escaped with it), I was getting ready to leave Kingsmouth when I encountered an Orochi Suit.  This guy seemed to think he could send me off to investigate some very dangerous extreme mutations.  He implied I was expendable, he even called me a "redshirt"!  That I was, in fact, wearing a red shirt was entirely irrelevant.

I meant to take pictures of the Cthulu like monster we found inside, but I was too busy staying alive. :/

Just outside of Kingsmouth is the Savage Coast.  Right away, some hotel owner mentions he's got a demon problem in one of his rooms.  Well, his whole hotel really.   But, one of his tenants has apparently disappeared into the hellmouth...thingy...   Not to worry, me and my friends can take care of that!

I'll need to wear something less skimpy if I'm going to hell.

Well, it turns out that after fighting through half of hell itself, the guy doesn't even want to be rescued.  He would prefer to stay in the demon world, because he's lost his attachment to humanity, or something, blah blah.  Well, who can blame him?  That Demon lady friend of his has really nice....eyes.

There is quite a lot to do in the Savage Coast, and a lot of it seems to have to do with the lighthouse dwelling Stepthen Ki...I mean, Sam Kreig.  And bugs. I hate bugs.  Moving on.

Going on to Blue Mountain, this place is dark and very creepy.  I die...erm...get exhausted, a lot.  But I work on my combat skills, and pretty soon, I'm back in the swing of things.

Later on, I run into Old Joe down at the Trailer Park.  Old Joe likes to sleep, watch static on his TV, and talk.  Boy, he talks a lot!  He tells me about how people are having trouble with their dreams, and also about some difficulty at the local mine.

Ok, I really hate the mine.  It's dark in here and easy to get lost. Fortunately, my new Blood Magic Coat (and the rifle I got in Hell), glow in the dark!

After resolving issues with the spirits of some dead miners, Joe wants to send me on a Dream Quest sort of thing. Inhale the smoke, he says....

And soon enough, back to the mine I go.  Seems like the guy who stole the magic sword in Kingsmouth is still causing problems. I need to get that sword from him, he's a bad, bad man.

When I find him, he tells me how awesome he is ~yawn~, and how I'll never get the sword from him.  He rambles on a bit, really, typical Villain Monologue.

Anyway, long story short, he's wrong, and I kick his....behind. However, there are some unforeseen circumstances, and I'm unable to recover the sword myself. His "lady friend" from Kingsmouth takes it instead.  Oh bother.  I can see this is going to come back and haunt me later. :(

Ami, Old Joe's Daughter, is able to rescue me from the mine, somehow.  She and her daughter proceed to have quite the family spat right there in front of me, and it seems it's up to me to set things right...again.  The entire family is broken up, and after talking to them some more, they all agree to work together.  I'm supposed to meet them by the bigfoot camp.

Turns out there is some sort of Anima well up there where the Bigfoot live.  Who'd have guessed it?  Ami and her family convince me to drink the green water.  It'll be good for me, like a potion. Right?  RIGHT??

Wait..wah?  Hey!

The next thing I know, I'm in some strange alternate dimension where a disembodied voice promises me great power, and tries to convince me to accept this power and ditch the Illuminati.  I can rule the world!  Mwahahahah. haha...ha
I get brief glimpses of the lives of some very interesting historical figures, and a beautiful view of the universe.

In the end, I have to make a choice.  To take the power...or not.   Choice made.

Ohhh ouchy...holy cow that magic green water gave me quite the hangover!  5 more minutes mom.

Well, the Illuminati aren't too thrilled with my little act in Blue Mountain, so I get a bit of a dressing down but this cold faced...lady.  But someone else is in more horse doodoo than me.  If I want to redeem myself, I need to find a turncoat, someone went over to the Dragons.

After I find the Dragon turncoat, I'm still understandably stressed, so I decide to blow off some steam by doing headstands on some scaffolding in New York.  Whew.  I feel better!

Then I head over to London to do a bit of clothes shopping.  Pangea, lovely!

But hey, my handlers have yet another job for me, an important one.  I guess they aren't that mad at me after all.  Seems the Templars have some relic they'd like me to fetch.  Yeah.....that one sucked.

Ok, I finally get the Templar artifact, that was NOT easy, and I'm shipped off to Egypt, where I meet this very unhappy woman.  There is a lot of bad stuff going on here in Egypt, cults uprisings, mummies, old gods coming back from the dead, etc. But I got a this rockin' new poncho and some John Lennon glasses (not to mention Vintage leather pants!), so I'm ready for anything. :D

Ok, maybe not anything.  This poor man needed to use a higher SPF.  And some Axe body spray might help, too...not to mention some OFF bug spray.

The Orochi group have their fingers over here in Egypt, too, of course.  Actually, it seems like a fair amount of the problems are directly their fault. Still, you can't blame the grunts.  They are just "following orders".
This Orachi agent sure did talk a lot while blowing her infected ex-comrades to smithereens, mostly whining about something or other.  Honestly lady, less QQ and more pew pew!

The Orochi apparently lost a lot of people down some ancient dig site, and yet again, I'm headed down to find out what happened to the survivors (if there are any).  Ankh, here we come!  I change into some camo before meeting up with the baddies down here.
Who does this guy think he is anyway?  Mad scientist with a grudge.


Who'd have thought, we actually survived that!  Lots of fun...can't wait to go really.

It seems that I'm back on the good side with my Illuminati handlers, they like the work I'm doing in Egypt (I bet it's the pancho), so they give me another promotion.  I wonder what's next?

To be continued.....