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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – Vest Part 1

With last Friday bringing Sprocket’s wrench to a place where seaming was all that remained, I needed to keep going and come up with a new portable part of the project.  I knew I’d be going to see a movie that night and was loath to give up on the possible knitting time, so I hurried to sketch up a quick plan of attack.

sprocket2My working model of Sprocket is going to be a mix of the original (above) and this drawing I found on DeviantArt:

sprocket devartI contacted the artist, DizPlicity, on Facebook, and got permission to work from her design.  Yay!

In both cases Sprocket wears a blue ‘vest’ over black long sleeves and black pants.  A few weeks ago I went to Value Village and picked up those two items, so I tried on the top over the bra I planned to wear and took a few measurements.

The first thing I realized was that knitting the vest in the round would not work without some serious math.  I have a lot more…uh… mass in the front than I do in my back, and simply measuring around my body and dividing in 2 would result in a front that pulls, and a back that sags and bunches.  I had an idea for knitting the front in a way to incorporate bust darts for some serious shaping, but hadn’t quite figured out how to do that, so the easiest thing would be to start with the back.

My back, both in real life and for the back of the vest, is pretty straightforwards.

skylanders sprocket vest sketch 01I knocked out a fast sketch of the shape and dimensions I wanted.  I swatched my yarn (Red Heart Super Saver in Blue Suede, and 5mm Addi circs) and once I had my gauge I plopped those numbers into Excel and did the maths to write up a pattern for the back.  I decided to work from the bottom up so I could have a ways to go before getting into any shaping – perfect for darkened theater knitting.

skylanders sprocket vest wip 01

This, in case you’re wondering, is how much knitting one can get done during Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I knit the ribbing before leaving and all the rest during the movie.  By the time I got home I was only 10 rows short of my armhole decreases. skylanders sprocket vest wip 03And here’s the completed back.  Next up, the hard part – the front.


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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – Wrench Part 3

In my last post I explained how to calculate yarn yardage needed for plastic canvas stitching.  Here’s the breakdown of how that applies to my project, Sprocket’s wrench.

The following chart shows each piece I’ll need to stitch, its dimensions, and what the resulting area is (in ‘holes’).

wrenchyardage All that figuring tells me I need 189.18 yards of yarn to stitch the wrench NOT counting any edging or whipstitching to join.  Sadly I only had 160y of my first choice yarn, a skein of gray acrylic from my stash.  I went stashdiving (virtually, thanks to a long weekend spent entering everything into Ravelry) and discovered 2 other possible gray yarns.  Briggs & Little’s Tuffy in Smoke, of which I have 10 skeins, and the gray localspun wool from my frogged Linden.  I went initially to the localspun but in the light the natural wool, blended from assorted animals, was overall too creamy for this project.  There were a lot of beige tones that wouldn’t work well to represent metal.  I’d been hoping to avoid breaking into the Tuffy so I could keep the lot for some other project, but I realized that I’d been holding onto it, unused, for about 10 years now.  Time to use it.

I’ve been toting around my bag of project pieces everywhere I went, using every minute of available time to stitch.  It’s dawning on me just how close July 4th is, and how ambitious my version of this costume is, and I’m realizing I might have to cut corners somewhere, but using spare time wisely will help me get the most done.  So whether I’m waiting for my kids at daycare or sitting in a waiting room or in line at the grocery store, I’ve been pulling out a piece of canvas and stitching wherever I was.

And it paid off.  As of yesterday, June 12, the wrench pieces are complete.

skylanders sprocket wrench parts

All that remains now is to stitch them together into the assembled, 3D wrench/purse.

And then make a vest, goggles, wig, gauntlets, chest plate, belt and boots.

In two weeks.

 


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How to Calculate Yardage Needed for Plastic Canvas Stitching

how to calculate yardage for plastic canvas

Sometimes you have a project in mind, and yarn on hand, and boy it sure would suck to get mostly completed and realize you don’t have enough yarn to finish. In my case, I’m impatient.  Sunday night I had one hank of appropriately-colored gray yarn, and a gray wrench to stitch, and I would have loved to get started… but first I needed to know if I had enough yarn to fully cover the entire thing.

Here’s how you figure it out.

sprocket wrench wip 13

Step 1- Cut a set length of yarn.  In my case I cut a strand of yarn that is 36 inches long.  A few reasons for this- 1) my measuring tape is in inches, making that a convenient measure, 2) 36 inches = 1 yard, and yarn labels list yardage, so I won’t have to do any conversions, and 3) 36 inches is a comfortable working length for when actually stitching, so my beginning and ending tails can be reasonably included in these figures.

Note- this will only be a helpful estimate if you use yarn that is the same, or at least the same thickness, as the yarn you plan to use in your project.sprocket wrench wip 14

Step 2- Take a scrap piece of plastic canvas, the same gauge as your project, and begin stitching.

Make sure to use the same stitch you will be using in your project, as some stitches take up more yarn than others, for example cross-stitch uses more than Continental.

Keep going until the yarn is nearly done, and fasten off as usual.sprocket wrench wip 15

Step 3- Do some math.  My 36″ of yarn allowed me to fill an area that was 6 holes wide by 19 holes high.  Yes, I’m counting in HOLES, not stitches.  Why?  Because some of my pieces are oddly-shaped and the stitches I’m using are slanted and I don’t feel like having to figure out how many stitches will fill irregular areas.  Counting the holes is simply faster for me.  You can count stitches if you prefer as long as you make sure to count total STITCHES needed later.

So. 1 yard (36″) of yarn will allow me to stitch an area comprised of 114 stitches.

Then all you have to do is count the number of holes in the project (or stitches, if you’re doing it that way), divide that by your swatch yardage (in my case: 114) and the result will tell you how many yards of yarn you need to fill it.

To that resulting number I would pad it based on certain factors- areas where you have to cut excess away, areas where you accidentally used too much to tie-on and get a few stitches short on that piece, etc.  So for smaller projects I’d say this is a good way to know if a finite amount of yarn will work.  For larger projects I’d say this was a good way to estimate the minimum amount of yarn you’d need.

Make sense?

If you were going to purchase yarn for this project and the count you end up with gives you the yardage of just UNDER a ball of your required yarn, I’d spring for an extra ball.  Best case scenario: you don’t end up using it and can return it.  Middle-of-the-night-likely scenario: you remember you have that second ball once you run out of yarn.  For Sprocket’s wrench, I’m trying to avoid buying yarn.  I have two different yarns in an appropriate gray that I can use, but one of them only has one, already-started, skein.  I’d prefer to use that one, but I don’t want to risk running short.  So I’ll count up how much my pieces will use without padding for any extra.  If I see it’s pretty close to the amount of my preferred yarn I have I won’t bother starting with it, and I’ll use the other one instead.

Note– this method does NOT include yardage for whipstitching the edges together.  That’s fine with me, because some of my edges are joined with a different color, of which I have plenty, and if I run out of my gray for the sewing-up I don’t mind using a slightly different shade for the assembly.


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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – Wrench Part 2

More progress on Sprocket’s giant wrench.  First I traced out the shape for the smaller set of jaws by placing plastic canvas directly on top of my to-size sketch.  The resulting shape isn’t completely round, but I’m ok with that, considering my medium.  Plus I’m getting a slight Millennium Falcon vibe I’m completely cool with.  😀sprocket wrench wip 05

I cut out that piece and then traced it onto more plastic canvas so I’d have an exact duplicate.sprocket wrench wip 06

I used a dollar store permanent marker to do my tracing.  It didn’t rub off while I worked, either on the plastic or my hands, which was a welcome surprise.  I didn’t want to risk it showing through the stitching later, so I tested out removing it with some water and a Q-Tip I had handy.  When I saw it would work I moved to the sink and most of it came off quite easily with a quick scrub under running water.

There are five more pieces needed to complete the smaller jaw- two 3 hole by 10 hole rectangles (to connect the top and bottom at the flat ends where the jaws are open), and three strips, one for each outer edge and one for the inside curve of the jaws.

I wasn’t quite sure how long they would be.  I guessed it would be one square long for each square around, but I didn’t want to assume that, cut and stitch them, and find they didn’t perfectly fit when eased around the curves.  Plus, being familiar with knitting and easing neckbands and sleeves into curves, I know sometimes you need a bit extra to ease into place.  The answer?sprocket wrench wip 07

Pac Man!

Basting, actually.  Starting with the inner piece, I cut my 10-hole-wide strip longer than I needed and basted it in place, starting with the center 4 holes and working out to either side.sprocket wrench wip 08

Voila.  A strip I know fits because it, well, fits.

😀  Amazing how that works!  Hehe.

It turned out to be 10 holes wide by 62 holes long.  Last thing for the smaller jaws was to use the same basting technique to figure out how long to cut the 2 strips for the outsides of the jaws, and they turned out to be 10 holes wide by 47 holes long.

On to the larger jaws…but first… cutting plastic canvas leaves a lot of smaller pieces, many of which can be saved and used in other projects.  The problem with keeping all the cut-offs is that they can get easily confused with the pieces I do need.

To minimize confusion, I ran a length of waste yarn through the good pieces, keeping them grouped by section so I didn’t risk mixing anything up.  Once that was done and things looked a little less messy, I moved onto the larger jaws.  I worked them the same as the smaller- tracing the shape onto plastic canvas, then cutting it out.

Instead of tracing the cut shape for my duplicate, this time I tried tracing the uncut shape and it worked just fine.  (Laying a fresh piece of plastic canvas over the one with the dark outline).  Then I cut the 2 3 hole by 10 hole pieces for the two narrow tips.

I did the same trick of basting in longer pieces to figure out how long a strip to cut for the lining of the inside of the jaws (10 holes wide by 88 holes long) and for the jaws’ outside curves (2 strips each 10 holes wide by 73 holes long.)

I completely forgot to take pics of the large jaws so picture the exact same process as the smaller ones, but… uh, bigger.

Technically I’m done, but I want to give it a little more stability on the inside, so I cut some spacers, 20 holes long by 10 holes wide, that I can tack into place along the inside of the wrench’s handle.

The last pieces to calculate and cut are the decorative trims…except…

This is where I stalled.

Because I had an idea and I wasn’t sure how to execute it.

See I figured… I’m gonna be in full costume, carrying around a giant wrench, and there was only one spot in the outfit that might work to incorporate pockets.  So between my phone, my ID, money (cus shopping!), and the entry program, I’d have ‘stuff’.  Plus I’d likely accumulate more ‘stuff’… business cards and things.  But I really don’t want to have to carry a purse.  So what if… I mean, I’m carrying around a giant, hollow object…

See where I’m going with this?

😀

The wrench is going to be my purse.

The 17″ wide handle is perfect, giving me a 5″ section I can keep my phone and ID in, and a 12″ section plenty big enough to hold a rolled-up program or any art I might get.  (I’m hoping to get something Archie-related).

The only thing giving me a hard time was how to handle the closure.  I spent some time drawing sketches and ruling stuff out, then when I hit upon a possible solution I made a little swatch to try it:

sprocket wrench wip 10

What I wasn’t sure of was whether or not a hinged lid with a stitched lip would stick out over a stitched base.  sprocket wrench wip 09Seeing how well it lays flush over an unstitched base, I’m going to go with that.  I showed my sample to Yannick and he suggested flipping it on its side, so the handle opens along its narrow end.  I told him I’d already thought of that and discounted it because I couldn’t figure out how to not make the sealing flap look silly.  He suggested hiding it along the decorative trip that would already be visible.

And just like that, it clicked.

Here’s what I’m planning:sprocket wrench wip 12sprocket wrench wip 11

Kinda like this.  Ish.

I re-cut and adjusted the top of the handle to reflect that, and then cut the 2 small and 2 large decorative trims for the jaws.

With that, I think all the strips (except the velcro lining bits) are cut.  Next post- how to calculate how much yarn I’ll need.


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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – Wrench part 1

The kids were remarkably cooperative in going to bed on time last night so I was able to whip through the stuff I had to do (finish making Jakob’s birthday party loot bags) so I could get to what I wanted to do: start my cosplay!

For assorted reasons involving the late hour, my inability to leave my sleeping children home alone while I went out shopping, and the contents of my craft stash, process of elimination led me to start with what I had the materials for- Sprocket’s big-ass wrench.

The first step was figuring out how big it actually is.  I started by using the official Skylanders image:

sprocket2

and then doing some calculations.  First I measured the width of her right hand’s fingers, as they appear on my screen, where they’re gripping the wrench.  I got roughly 0.5″ (adjusted for the angle).  Then I measured the wrench itself, and got roughly 5.5″.  Basic math says that her wrench is 11 times as long as the width of her knuckles.  Next I measured my own knuckles, and got 3″.  Multiplying my own knuckle width by the same 11 times gives me an estimate that my wrench should be roughly 33″ long.  Using those two sets of numbers I was able to do math (yay math!*) to figure out how large to scale up the measurements I took off my computer screen and figure out some decent approximate dimensions.

Once I had my numbers I could start to plot it out.  I taped together a few sheets of my kids’ construction paper and began to sketch out the wrench’s shape.

sprocket wrench wip 01   I didn’t think they’d miss the pink.

I sketched in pen ‘cus it was handy and I was on a roll so when I was done I went over the final shape with a colored Sharpie to make sure I used the correct outline when tracing the plastic canvas.sprocket wrench wip 02

Oh.  Yeah.  Did I not mention that?  This is going to be an entirely YARN-BASED cosplay.

*grins*

My plan is to stitch the whole thing in gray yarn with a 2nd layer for the detailing, and to join them with darker gray yarn to give the outline detail.

First up- cut my pieces.  Since the prop is going to be three-dimensional I need to cut the top, bottom and sides, plus the inside of the jaws, and then probably a few inner bracers for support.  Unfortunately my largest sheets of plastic canvas aren’t quite long enough to cut the whole length from one sheet, so I’m going to get around that by having my joins where the jaws begin, so any structural weakness will be compensated for (and any visible joins hidden by) the shape change.sprocket wrench wip 03

I have a bunch of packs of plastic canvas but only one sheet long enough to span the spanner (heh) without a join.  Luckily it’s wide enough to give me all four sides.sprocket wrench wip 04

The top and bottom are each 3″ wide by 17″ long, which translates to 20 holes by 113 holes, the sides are 1.5″ wide by 17″ long so that becomes 10 holes by 113 holes.  All the depth-giving pieces will be 10 holes wide by whatever length needed to fit easily around the curves.

I stopped at that point so I could go to bed.  Next will be the socket’s jaws and the decorative overlay, and then swatching to see how much yarn I’ll need.

*For real.  I love math.


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The Fix is In!

It’s almost June, and that means a few things; the kids will be in summer camp, I can sleep in on Sundays because swimming lessons pause over the summer, and oh yeah- I have to start working on my cosplay for September’s Montreal ComicCon!

Uh.

Waitaminute.

Three years ago it was in September.  Two years ago it was in September.  Last year I missed, but am pretty sure it was in September, right around Rosh Hashana.

This year it’s in JULY??

*pouts* Not fair.  That’s WAY LESS costume crafting time.

Three years ago I went to my first con.  I went on the Saturday with Jakob, and was blown away.  I guess I hadn’t expected to get the CON experience I’d heard about/seen online, and it was, it truly was.  Jakob was dressed up as a SuperTiger (tiger costume with a superhero cape, his idea) and had a BLAST.

mtlcon1202

He’s not normally shy but he was beyond extroverted, walking right up to people in costume and asking for pics with them, and posing for the many, many pics people asked to take of him.  I think he felt like a mini celebrity- making a “growl” face and batting at people in the crowd with his tail.  mtlcon1204

(Plus the girls loved him.)

mtlcon1201

Happy, tired tiger.

We had SO much fun, in fact, that we went back again on the Sunday, and brought Yannick and Henri.  And this time I had to dress up too.  I borrowed my sister’s Little Red Riding Hood costume (hey, she’s in a ton of media, comics and video games… Uh, Red, not my sister) and though it was a pain navigating the double stroller around, we had a really great time.  (Maybe a bit less for Yannick, who had to keep smiling as he took pics of me with all the people who came up and asked).  Heh.

mtlcon1203

In 2013 I went back again, this time just me and Yannick, no kids.  I did my first ever homemade cosplay, but I still have yet to post pics of it here so instead here’s a quick hint at who I played:mtlcon1301Last year I didn’t go, mostly because life was a bit too hectic, and also because I hadn’t had a chance to make the one cosplay that’s been burning a hole in my brain since I got the idea.

I still haven’t had the time, but I did have another idea, one that I’d first had about two years ago when my kids began playing Skylanders.  I muddled it around last night and think I’ve settled.

Sprocket!

sprocket2

I’ve loved the character since my boys (and I) first started playing the game.  First of all, she’s a girl.  And her element is Tech.  And she’s tough.  And wields a big ass wrench and rides a freaking cannon!

sprocket3 sprocket4

Her official Skylanders bio says:

Personality

Resourceful, Sprocket isn’t one to sit back and let others do the work. She jumps in with both armoured feet, creating solutions for every problem imaginable.[1]

Biography

Sprocket was raised with all the privileges of a rich, proper Golding. But she cared little for fancy things. Instead, she spent most of her time growing up in her uncle’s workshop, learning how to build and fix his many mechanical inventions. But everything changed on the day her uncle mysteriously vanished. When she eventually discovered that Kaos had been behind his disappearance, she constructed a battle suit and went after him, leaving the luxury and comfort of her family’s wealth behind. From that moment on, Sprocket was dedicated to fighting the forces of evil, whilst never losing hope that she would reunite with her beloved uncle.

Awwww yeah!

What officially sold me on the idea, however, was when I hit upon how I plan to make the wrench.  The best part is that not only will it be lightweight, but if it works the way I think it will, it will have an enclosed compartment to hold my phone and wallet and stuff.

I’m not planning on sticking exactly to the costume as shown, though.  I found a Deviant Art drawing someone did of Sprocket, and have asked permission to cosplay as that version instead.  It’s simpler, more realistic, but still identifiable.

The really best part?  One of this year’s con guests is Jewel Staite!!!  I will be going to ComicCon dressed up as a female mechanic and (hopefully) get to meet one of THE most awesome female mechanics – Firefly’s Kaylee!  *kermit arm flail*

 

 


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how to make a viking vest

Henri has wanted to be a viking for a while now.  Not for Halloween, I mean he wants to be a viking in general.  (It’s either viking or pirate, depending on the day).

Jakob got a light-up viking helmet at the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, and unfortunately when we brought Henri the next day they were all sold out of helmets, so he got a Toothless plushie instead.  (Jakob, you’ll remember, got the one I knitted for his birthday…which I think I never blogged.  Oops).

The kids share the helmet, and last month when it was time to pick costumes for ComicCon (which I think I also forgot to blog…crap) Henri REALLY wanted to wear the helmet and be a viking, but a quick search through the closets revealed that we didn’t have any viking clothes.  All we had even close to a viking vest (like Hiccup wears in the movie) was a gray zippered sweatshirt-style vest.  The kids dressed as Avengers instead but Henri had it stuck in his mind that that was his viking vest and he has worn it non-stop ever since.  He’s worn it to school on back-to-back days, he’s worn it over his fall jacket, he wears it around the house, and on more times than I can count I check on him at night to find that he’s put it on over his pjs and worn it to sleep.

(Something about a 3 year old with tousled sleep hair in footie-pjs, amirite?)

He stops strangers to point out his “viking vest”, but commented a few weeks ago how “it’s not a REAL viking vest, Mommy, because it has a zipper and REAL viking vests have buttons”.  Oh.  Right.  ‘Cus vikings didn’t have zippers.

I promised I’d make him a viking vest, and yesterday I did just that.  I took photos throughout so if you want to make one, you can too.

I used some fur fabric my neighbor gave me, a sheet of newspaper, a sharpie & a pair of scissors, plus a sharp large-eyed needle, black acrylic yarn and white cotton yarn.  The only other thing you need is a vest that fits your child (or you!).

I started by laying the vest on the paper and traced half of it.  I used my finger to push down then traced to know where the neckline in the middle lined up.

I knew I wanted to add some length to the bottom and the armhole so it would fit him longer, as well as lowering the neckline to a v-neck, so I made those changes on my template.

I cut it out and checked against the vest.

I decided I wanted to make the neckline more sloped so marked off the changes on the pattern…

…then cut it out and checked again.

I was happy with the shape so I traced it onto my fabric.  It’s hard to see, but I traced out the half-vest pattern, flipped it and traced again for the other front, then traced it back-to-back, flipped, for a piece to fit the back.  The only thing I didn’t realize is that the fur fabric had a direction to it in which the fur laid flat.  I tried to be as economical with the fabric as possible so didn’t have a choice, but you would probably rather make sure you’re lying the pieces with the fur running from up to down, like natural fur.

I cut the pieces out on the porch which was a great idea because there were bits of fur flying EVERYWHERE.  I used my fingers to fluff up and pick at all the edges to make sure I’d gotten as many stray cut bits as possible before bringing it into the house.

I used a sharp needle and black chunky acrylic yarn from a big-box store to work a blanket stitch edging around each piece.  I eyeballed it, placing the stitches roughly 0.5″ apart, and 0.5″ down into the fabric.

The simple edging really gave the pieces a finished, yet still “handmade by Vikings” look.  (In this light you can see my fur runs in the opposite direction from how the vest will be worn, oops!)

This is the inside of the pieces, for those who like that kinda thing.  🙂

I used the same black yarn to seam the two sides and the shoulders together.  I did something similar to mattress stitch, butting up the two pieces to be joined and catching a loop from each edge all the way along.

Almost done!

Inside shot.

For a finishing touch I used white worsted-weight cotton yarn (dishcloth cotton) and made large stitches across the joined pieces.  This is purely decorative, but makes it look like Vikings really made it! according to my 3 and 5 year olds, and I trust them.

This is Henri’s final costume- a green long-sleeved tee, brown cords, his new vest and the light-up plastic helmet.  I may make a Viking axe if I have time/remember by Halloween.

Henri the Brave!

Back view.

He thought he was dancing for me.  I just wanted to see the decorative stitches.

That’s one happy Viking!


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My First Costume: SuperHero

Presenting my latest pattern, now available both through Knit Picks or Ravelry.

My First Costume: SuperHero

Some of you may remember the Superman costume I’d knit for Jakob when he was a baby.  This is my update of that pattern.

The pattern is knit toe-up, in (mostly) one piece.  The legs are knit first then joined for the briefs, then the sleeves are knit and finally the body, which is knit in one piece from the yoke up.  I included short-row shaping in the diaper area to give more room and a better fit.

There are photo instructions on how to make the optional cape.

The Power Princess chart is included…

as well as the chart for your little SuperStar.

Not only that, but I provided a blank chart and instructions on how to personalize the pattern, so you can put your own image, your child’s initial or anything you like!  (That’s how I made the original Superman version…I’m just saying…)

I was very lucky to have my friend’s daughter Maya model for me, and her father Avi take the photos.  (If you like his work, he is an amazing Montreal-area photographer.  You can see more of his work on his website).

I hope you like the pattern.  I have been having requests for it ever since Jakob’s version came out, but life got in the way and it wasn’t until now that I was able to get it out into the world.  I would have loved to have had it ready in time for Hallowe’en this year, but at least now it is out there and ready, early enough for next year.  (So you’ve got a whole year to knit!)

Enjoy!