June 1, 2013

Mr Freeze Part 2: Body Suit I

The Body Suit Pattern and Test

Obviously, Mr Freeze is wearing a body suit and I'm going to need to make it from scratch if I want the same shapes and lines as my design images. On the advice of Jay Tablante, I'm going with Neoprene as the material because of the way it can be lit for photography, stretches while worn, and has a bit more body to it than simple lycra/spandex.  First Step: make a pattern.  Which I have never done before.

Having not nearly enough expertise in costume making to actually draft a real pattern from scratch, I instead opted to cheat with a packing tape dummy.  Firstly, Elina (my wonderful fiancĂ©e and more-than-able maker) helped to wrap my entire body in a few layers of cling wrap followed by roughly three layers of packing tape.  Before the last layer we marked lines that might later be useful with colored electrical tape (waist, hips, chest, and center line).  After about three hours of constricted movement and the sound of tape coming off the roll, Elina cut me out with a zig-zag slit up the back (to make realignment easy) and at the ankles and wrists. I taped those cuts back together had a ghetto body mold:
I didn't matter that it wasn't perfect or rigid as the material I would make the suit from would be stretchy and flexible.  From here, I drew lines on the suit roughly matching my source design with slight alteration to make sure it would be possible to build and would work with real human body shapes.  Then I labeled seams to make the construction easier and cut it all apart.
To save myself work, I assumed that my body is reasonably symmetrical and only did half.  Wherever the actual pattern will not be cut down the center, I marked the center cut as a fold line.
Also in that half-body picture, you can see that I copied the cut out body pieces to paper, giving me an organized, labeled, non-stretchable, archivable copy of the pattern.  Next, I found a cheap, stretchy test fabric with a truly horrible pattern.  I'm testing because I want to make a suit that I could pin and alter easily, changing the pattern as required before committing to the real (expensive) material.  The process was to copy the paper patterns onto the fabric, adding a 1.5cm seam allowance on all sides.  Then I set about sewing the cut panels together along the pattern lines, horrible sides together.  I started with the torso, then the limbs, then connected all.

Here you see the completed test pattern (sans pinning/altering - afterwords it lacked the little bit of wrinkling you see around the waist and hip).  I'm wearing it inside-out in the pictures because 1. the pattern is just too gross and 2. with the pattern being a kind of icy camouflage, it camouflages the seams whereas I need to see them - d'oh.

In any case, this early planning should help immeasurably when constructing the actual suit.  This is as far as I've gotten with the body suit for now as I'm still trying to source for the right neoprene, so instead of continuing on this next time I'll jump into the goggles.  They glow.

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