I knew that sewing my costume from scratch would be really time consuming, so it's one of the first things I started on. (We also ordered a few supplies from our EL tape website and started experimenting with how it worked and how we could manipulate it early on).
I needed a cheap fabric because I didn't want to pay for real leather, so I asked around at sewing stores and landed on vinyl. Vinyl is like what you use to cover tables when you need something waterproof. It had the firmness that I was hoping for, color and texture were good, the biggest downside is that it's not very breathable but since it was only a vest I figured I'd be okay.
The inside of the vinyl fabric is this yucky gray scratchy stuff, so I also bought a nice, silky black lining fabric and each piece that I cut out of vinyl had an identical piece cut out of the lining fabric and they were sewn together before I started combining any of the actual garment pieces.
I started looking for a vest pattern, which are not too hot right now I can tell you: not a lot of patterns out there. I had to buy a vintage pattern on etsy for $4.00 (from the 60s), but it had the right kind of look that I was going for.
Here are some photos I took of the process. Mostly I took photos to send to my mom and ask her questions, because like I said I knew nothing about all of this and she had to answer a million questions for me and advised me. Thanks, Mom!
Tracing out the pattern:
Cutting (below). This hurt my knees. At this point it was still all a big secret so I couldn't complain to anyone, so you get it now! Ha! Okay, sorry.
My pattern weights are glass prep dishes. By the way: you can't iron vinyl. If the fabric came with a few creases (which happens naturally on the bolt), I used my iron without touching and steamed the heck out of them. They got a little looser and I pulled and pulled and they relaxed but I'm not sure they went completely away. It didn't end up being a big problem.
Below are all the pieces cut, lined, labeled, and laid out. You'll notice that it's much longer than the finished product so I had something to work with when I wanted to create the angled hem.
Below is me in my messy, messy office/sewing room. We'll just state here that it's very messy and you will all forgive me and we will move on, now, yes? Great, thanks.
So here is everything initially sewn but with no finishing. Mom informs me around this point that yes I have to do the facings. If you don't know what a facing is, just know that it's an invisible pain in the ass that sewers have to deal with and they have all arbitrarily agreed that facings are important and yes you have to do them. Lame. Basically a facing is like a huge (unnecessary?!) hem on the inside of a garment that adds structure and neatens out the line. And yes, I did add them.
Below: Gotta keep the baby contained somehow while Mommy is serging! Check out my awesome circa-1970's serger. I had to re-thread the needle 10 times because the thickness of the vinyl layers kept messing it up. By the way: this is the first project I've ever used my serger on.
The skirt came along in due order. Except I made an entire other skirt first, and realized that it was too small once I got it mostly put together. I had read the sizing info on the pattern wrong (rookie). Had to re-buy the vinyl and lining fabric, trace a new pattern, re-cut everything from the new fabric, re-line it, and put it all together. But the zipper turned out really nice!! It was my first zipper :)
Below: Facings are in, hemming is done, zipper is added (made a mistake that still bugs me but whatever). There's even a kick-pleat in the back. I used chalk to draw how I thought the angling of the bottom should go.
At this point I started using masking tape a LOT to mark where I thought the lighting strips would end up. I borrowed a dress form (that's like a mannequin that you put sewing projects on) from a friend (thank you, Brenda!) because it's really hard to put masking tape on your own body and get an idea of how it's looking, don't you think?
Below, I've made my initial cut and I'm trying it on to see how the length looks on my body and do some additional adjustments.
And here's the finished product:
The last step was to hang the vest and skirt on the dress form and do the cutting and angling of the skirt.
Here's an unflattering picture of me trying on the finished product along with some boots that I found at a thrift store for around $4.00. I actually went back after this picture and re-hemmed the front of the skirt so it was a bit sharper, not so rounded. It looked cool but then I ended up having to wear the damn thing backwards anyway so it's not like it really mattered in the end. Oh well.
Once my vest and skirt were ready to go, I started applying masking tape to mark the design of the lighting. Adam came over and tried everything on, and I laid out the masking tape, and then I marked the edges of the masking tape with chalk so I would know where to lay the glue down later. (I used the dress form for my stuff).
Part 3: Electronics