KLB Backpack

About 5-7 years ago, I made a bag for one of my really good friends, Kristie. At the time, she was cosplaying Kobato. She was fairly new to cosplaying and was struggling to complete her cosplay. Her birthday is the day before mine and we were going to spend the weekend of together. I decided that for her birthday gift I would make her Kobato’s bag.

A few years later, the bag was wearing thin so Kristie – now in grad school – wanted a new bag. She actually had a bag in mind, modeled off a character in some anime; to be honest, I can’t remember because at the same time I had waned out of the anime fandom. But it was a basic black cross body bag with interior pockets. I remember using a pretty Japanese-esque cotton print for the inside.

Fast forward to present day. Kristie is now living and working in Japan. She contacts me via text to ask for a 3rd bag since the 2nd is on its last legs. Only this time she was even more specific. She wanted a backpack like Marinette’s from Miraculous Ladybug.

A backpack?!

She needed a backpack since it was more convenient to wear one while biking to work. I’ve made a number of bags in my life but never a backpack. It was going to be a challenge. Kristie did tell me that if it was impossible so just make the bag a cross body. But no, the perfectionist costumer in me was DETERMINED. So I set out to make a backpack.

It was not an easy task, and I spent many moments huffing and snarling at my machine for not wanting to cooperate. I also did what I promised I would never do after Elsa: hand embroidery. Last time I stubbornly hand embroider satin, this time duck canvas.

Knowing that this bag was primarily going to be used to carry the textbooks Kristie uses in her classes, I needed to find a fabric stronger than the bottom weight twill I used in previous bags. Duck canvas seemed to be a good fabric to use. It’s sturdy and almost waterproof on its own. The only downside is it was thick and would require heavyweight thread and needles.

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To make the bag unique, I added some hand embroidered details on the front with Kristie’s initials and a free form flower and swirl design. I couldn’t replicate Mari’s design on her bag without the use of applique or an embroidery machine so I did my best approximation.

For the record, embroidering duck canvas is 50 times worse. My fingers were aching after only an hour of simple stitching. But it’s pretty, and I’ll do just about anything for family and good friends.

To reinforce the canvas and give the bag its distinct shape, I used heavyweight Pellon interfacing. The interior lining was a pretty pink cotton with gold roses.

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When making such bags, I pretty much free form everything. The bag is roughly 14 inches wide, 10 inches tall, and 4 inches thick. It has a front flap with hand embroidered initials and details, held closed by parachute clips and sports a handle to carry like a briefcase. The 2 inch wide shoulder straps are made from duck canvas, batting, and nylon cord with plastic sliders. The bag itself has one large exterior pocket on the front, one large interior pocket, and two smaller interior pocket. There is also a clip for keys.

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I’m quite pleased with the result but just hope it stands up to abuse. Japanese textbooks are much smaller than American textbooks but still. The only two requests I was not able to fulfill was a phone pocket (not enough fabric, I estimated just enough) and a zipper (2 layers duck canvas + 2 layers Pellon + 1 layer cotton = my machine was not happy).

The one thing I am most displeased about is my stitching where it’s visible. I try my hardest to make visible stitching as straight and as even as possible in everything. But the thickness of this just wouldn’t allow it. I adjusted my stitch length and tension so many times but nothing seemed to work. In the end, I gave up and decided function and strength outweighed pretty, straight stitches.

Currently, the bag is on its way to Japan, stuffed with post-Easter goodies. I’m really hoping Kristie likes it in person as much as she liked the photos (which, by the way, were taken hastily on my phone so I apologize for the pictures and the messy state of my sewing room).

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Teal Cowl

Christmas is a holiday I enjoy, but I don’t generally give gifts. If I find something for someone, I certainly won’t pass up the chance to bestow a gift on someone. However, it’s not the part of Christmas tradition my family generally participates in.

This year, I participated in a Secret Santa event with some friends. The name that was drawn for me was that of my friend Chiki; I was sent her contact info along with a link to her Amazon wish list. Of course I could have just bought something on her list, given it to her, and called my job done. But that’t not really the person I am. So, instead, I decided to use some lovely Knit Picks Galileo yarn I had been hoarding and knit her a lovely lightweight cowl.

The pattern I chose was the Lazy Knitter’s Cowl because it was an easy pattern to memorize and used the exact sport weight yarn I had. The cowl was started just before Thanksgiving; since I was going to be away for the holiday, I took the cowl with me and knit at night in the hotel. It was finished just after I returned the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The cowl was knit to a total of about 22 inches; once completed, it was wet for blocking, and dried in my closet (up high away from inquisitive cat paws) for about a week. After it was dry, the ends were woven in and two toggle-like buttons were sewn to the cast-on garter stitch edge.

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As I anticipated, it is a lovely lightweight cowl. With the large eyelets and toggle buttons, the cowl can be worn different ways.

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The pictures show it as nearly a black color, but the yellow lighting in my home distorts the actual dark teal color of the Galileo yarn.

The cowl took less than a full skein, and I still have 4 full skeins of Galileo yarn left. I am more than certain that there will be more projects with this yarn in the future. I have a lot of lovely, deserving friends. 🙂

Elsa Coronation Dress

EDIT: I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries asking if I would make this dress again – with and without the embroidery details – for other people to purchase from me. Sorry everyone but the answer is a firm no. This dress is very special to me because of the amount of work and love I put it. I won’t be able to replicate the same level of detail because a commission would force me into it.  I also do not do commissions in general because I do not have the time and energy to devote to such a large project again.

 

I’m one of the last of my friends to jump onto the Frozen bandwagon.  For all of its faults, I still rather like it.  Elsa’s character and her song “Let It Go” really speak to the introvert, easily irritated person I can be.  I can relate a lot to Elsa since our childhoods were similar: concealing your real emotions, hiding them away from the outside world.

The cosplayer in me really wants to make and wear her Ice Queen dress.  But so many people have done it so far that I am waiting for the hype to die down a bit. Instead, I picked another of her dresses to make: the coronation gown.  Even after I chose to make this dress, I’ve been hesitant about it.  I always said I wanted the bodice to be more corset like and the design embroidered, neither of which I have a ton of (good) experience with.  But cosplayers like challenges, don’t we?

Elsa_08At this point in time the costume is not 100% finished, but it’s been a while since I’ve posted so I thought I would show some progress shots.

The black part is cotton sateen and the base satin is a peacock blue.  It was really difficult for me to find an appropriate color for Elsa’s dress; every reference image I have changes slightly, some are more green tinted, others more blue.  Blue is my favorite color and more representative of Elsa so I settled on a peacock blue that, in certain lights, turns a greenish teal color and in other lights (like on my phone) turns royal blue.  The embroidery color keeps changing as well so I used colors that complemented each other and the satin (gray blue, reddish pink, magenta, sky blue, and purple).

I’m all for accuracy, but sometimes translating animation into real life is difficult.  Fabrics just don’t always come in all the different palettes and textures animation can create.

I decided to make the bodice an actual corset for a better shape.  The only downside to this is that the small back design has to be omitted. The bodice is made from a slight modification of Simplicity 5006 (mostly I omitted the center front seam but kept everything else).  The back is lined in sky blue stretch cotton sateen and is lightly boned.

The top of the under dress was made from a really old turtleneck pattern I own and Simplicity 1727 for the collar.  Darts (not seen) were put in the front and back to give the top shape and less bulk under the bodice.  The skirt is made from Simplicity 5235 (which no longer seems to exists).  The godet was omitted and the top cut off before the skirt was sewn to the sateen.  It closes in the back with a zipper and two hooks and eyes at the collar.

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All of the embroidery is done by hand.  It’s not as neat as I would like, but I can’t justify spending money on an embroidery machine that I would use so infrequently.  Hand embroidery isn’t always neat so it gives the cosplay a personal touch.  The sateen was a lot easier to embroider than the satin surprisingly.  I bruised my fingers frequently attempting to pull the needle through without puckering the fabric too much.  In all the embroidery for everything (top, bodice, skirt, and cape) took me about 100 hours, half of which is just setting up for the embroidery.

The cape is made of fuchsia satin, dark purple satin, and dark purple velvet.  The top was made from a modified Archer pattern; the rest of the cape was draped and cut in scrap cotton before being cut in the satin.

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Originally the Arendelle emblem was to be stitched in satin then the edges embroidered, but I was running out of time.  Instead I used freezer paper, sketched the design on, ironed it to the  cape, and painted in Jacquard Lumiere textile paint in magenta.  It came out great (I’ve been told it doesn’t look like paint but heat and bond) except for the edges.  To hide them, the edges are being stitched in pale pink embroidery thread in a simple stitch.

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I only did the main emblem design for time sake.  I have all the designs for the cape edge sketched out.  I decided to omit them for time’s sake, but also because they are not always seen.  The edges are most obvious in concept art; they only appear sporadically in the film.

The crown is made of two layers of worbla with a layer of craft foam in the middle.  I attached it to a plastic headband but am contemplating cutting off the ends (it squeezes my head without the wig on) and adding hair combs/clips instead.  It is currently awaiting gesso priming and painting.  A vintage rhinestone will be placed in the center.  The brooch is also made from a vintage rhinestone, craft foam (for backing), and worbla.

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I started this project around March 25 and hope to finish it by the end of next week (April 16).  It’s probably the most involved costume I have ever made simply for the time and all the techniques used.  It looks great on a dress form so I am very hopeful it will look good put together.

Wrapped in Red

One of my goals was to complete the Effortless Cardigan.  I love cardigans (I think I’ve said that before) and this cardigan is especially fun because of the long front pieces you can wrap around.  I wanted to knit this in alpaca yarn (my current favorite fiber) and my local store had just enough Paca Tweed by Plymouth Yarns in a gorgeous red wine color (I later learned that Paca Tweed is discontinued so I got lucky).

The yarn is aran weight and the pattern called for worsted.  This resulted in the fit being fine but the length being longer than the pattern called for.  This suited me just fine because I was feeling like the body was too short for my tastes.  I feel like the sleeves are too short even though I knitted them an inch longer than called for, but I can’t be bothered to undo all my ribbing.

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Speaking of ribbing…this cardigan had so much of it. I didn’t realize how long it was taking me to do the ribbing until I got to the collar part. Nearly 5 hours for 18 rows of 186 stitches. The bottom ribbing had over 200 stitches, and each side had 46 stitches. Needless to say, I am taking some time to rest my wrists and shoulders before tackling my next knitting projects (hats and cowls for gifts).

Blocking this was…interesting. Blocking always makes my projects larger than intended even when I am on target with gauge. I don’t overly manhandle my knitting either; I roll the project onto itself once to get out as much water as possible, then wrap it in towels and step on it a few times to get out excess water. I never wring or stretch the project while it is wet, and yet it still manages to come out larger than anticipated.  Maybe I should knit a size smaller next time?

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It’s also a bit of a pain to block projects when you have cats.  I love my four legged babies, and Kulin is so good and leaves my projects alone.  But Kuro…if you don’t watch him, he will try to eat the pins and in so doing snags his claws on the stitches.  The night I first blocked this project, he kept me up half the time being a pain in my bum.  The next night I used our drying rack since the cardigan was dry enough not to stretch out.  Kuro has nearly ruined three projects this way.  Our spare bedroom doesn’t get air circulating enough to dry projects, and we hate locking him out of the bedrooms.  Guess I’ll have to keep finding ways to get him to behave (none of the usual techniques work on him).

I still love wearing cardigans, but I think I am done with knitting them. I still have 3 more sweaters on my to-do list but thankfully they are all pullovers.

Three Cardigans For The New Year

Before 2013 ended, I finished knitting two cardigans by Andi Satterlund and was in the process for finishing a Ginny Weasley inspired owl cardigan. I didn’t call any of them “done” since I didn’t block them. Each of them has a lovingly made mistake somewhere that just goes to show how imperfect of a knitter I am.

Marion is the first cardigan by Andi that I completed knitting in September. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Dove Heather. The yarn was originally intended for a Hermione fair isle sweater but I frogged the project.  The bottom band and neck band were completed before I discovered the wonderful thing known as a stretchy bind off.  I also made one tiny mistake in the cabling on the right side but it’s not very noticeable. I plan to knit Marion in a lovely yellow at some point.

imageHortencia is the second cardigan by Andi that I started and completed in November. It was actually done as a test knit for her pattern.  Knit in Cascade 220 Heathers in a lovely shade of dusty purple, it’s a cropped cardigan with full length sleeves and a collar. I have the perfect dress to wear with it, and the heathered yarn makes it lovely to pair with other pieces. The mistake in Hortencia is in the collar; somewhere on the left side I picked up two stitches in the same place resulting in a hole. However, due to the wide collar the hole is safely hidden from sight.

imageGinny’s cardigan is knit from Berroco Vintage DK in a dark teal color. I picked the yarn for it’s washability and it’s color. If I had to go back and do it again, I think I would have chosen Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca instead since the nylon strands in Vintage DK felt “weird” in my hands (I find I am more of a wool/alpaca blend kind of girl).  I make a mistake on the third owl from the bottom, but it’s not very noticeable. I left off the decorative pockets since they are not very functional in their small size (I need functional pockets). Blocking this was a bit of a pain since the Vintage DK contains nylon and acrylic, neither of which blocks very well.

imageIt took me so long to consider these cardigans complete because I have been adverse to blocking. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but wool/wool blend with alpaca definitely blocks better than wool blend with nylon/acrylic.  It takes a long time to dry though; I had to lock the projects in my room while they dried to prevent one of my cats from playing with them and ruining all my hard work.

While I love wearing cardigans, I am slowly not liking knitting them. Except for Andi’s cardigans (which are cropped and quick knits), they take forever.  I thought I would never get done with Ginny’s cardigan.  The back and forth knit and purl rows were starting to drive me crazy. I have one more cardigan on my 2014 plans but the rest are pullovers.