Sunday, September 19, 2010

A new project - a Santa costume - part 1 - pattern development

Yes I'm still alive, and a bit stupid since I've added more projects to my "to do list"

Over the past week, I've attended a few callouts for fire and rescue, worked 5 days, and also attended a course (pump operations)
In the "spare" time I attended training for vollies, salvaged the shafting from 7 gas struts (see my earlier shed tip about that), and commenced this new project.

The Santa suit...
One of the fundraising activties carried out by the volunteer Fire and Rescue involves hiring out a "Santa" for local parties. Santa shows up in a 1950 Bedford fire truck (with original lights and siren) and is escorted into the party by a VFRS member... the kids love it, and it's fun work.
The santa costume worn by the volunteer is one of a few, some privately owned, and a couple owned by the brigade - after using one last year which was getting a little long in the tooth, I decided to make my own.

I bought the fabric through Spotlight, and made the pattern up myself.

This posting will discuss the development of the pattern.

Santa's outfit comprises a jacket, a pair of pants, a hat, and some trimmings (not to mention a jolly old fat guy in the middle)
This project will make the jacket (with internal pocket for gloves), 2 pairs of pants, a couple of hats, a belt, and maybe some spats (overboots)

I started the pattern development by grabbing some cardboard wrappers from whiteboards we bought at work - the large sheets of thin cardboard became my primary working material, and also protected the fabric from picking up stains from the trestle table I set up to work from.

I laid out my turnout coat on the cardboard and traced out the key dimensions of the arms, shoulder, waist, and inner/outer seams of the pants.

Figure 1 - using my turnout coat to start the tracing of dimensions

Figure 2. Adjusted tracing of the arm panel, and leg panel

Since I don't have any of that wide thin paper used for making patterns, and I'm not going to cut up my meagre stash of interfacing for a pattern I'll only use once in a blue moon, I decided to fall back on my old trick of using plastic sheet for the pattern material. (I have a stash of tranlucent builder's plastic used for covering gear during cyclones)

The plastic was laid over the tracing, and drawn through with a permanent marker (sharpie, Nikko, whatever your local term is). During this tracing, I made adjustments to the dimensions for cutting/ seam alowance, and changed the cut of the jacket to a more "universal" fit.

Figure 3. Tracing jacket back panel on to translucent plastic

The adjustments made to the pattern included making places for folding the fabric when cutting, and rearranging the seams for joining the arms so they had a natural fit when reaching.

Figure 4. marking on the arm panel plastic to show cuts, direction of fur lay, and number of panels.

Since I was planning on using a crushed velour for the main suit fabric, I had to mark on the lay of the fur (direction) so it looked proper when assembled.

Figure 5. Pants panel patterns.

The last part of the pattern work at this stage was to capture the notes regarding how the suit was to look and go together. Figure 6 shows the notes made regarding the fit of the jacket, placement of fur trim, and trimmings such as pockets and belt loops.

Figure 6. Pattern notes

The next installments will cover the making of the jacket, and belt - hopefully within the next 7 days I'll get the suit finished, then I'll get the documentation done.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jeanie's Bottle

I know, I know... I promised myself I'd keep this up to date, and regularly updated... plans of mice and men. Lots of things to blame, but ultimately it rests with me to update this record more often.
Over the past month I've probably spent a whopping total of 12 hours in the shed, and 4 of those hours was for someone else's benefit...

To partially redeem myself from the lack of updates, here is the documentation of a project I did 18 months ago (or so)

My wife is a fan of the TV show "I Dream of Jeannie".. for those with more money than I, you can purchase reproductions of the Jeannie bottle... I didn't have the money to spare so I looked at making one for my wife.

I started with some ceramic blanks purchased through Ebay - the original bottle was a glass bottle (Jim Beam 1969) modified and painted up by the studio, then after the success of the show, Jim Beam issued a regular run of the glass bottles for collectors - they go for around $80-100 USD on Ebay... the ceramic blanks cost around $25-35 USD each.

Figure 1. Ceramic bottle blanks

The blanks arrived (after some hiccups with post) and I primed and sanded them several times using automotive spray primer, and 600-800 wet and dry paper.

Figure 2. Primed bottles in box

The bottles were stored in a cardboard box whenever the paint was drying, or not being worked on.. partly to prevent dust settling on the paint, but also to prevent the bottles from being seen by the recipient. Typically whenever I make a present for my wife (or children) I will make it in secret, and only give it to them once it's completed.

After suitable layers of primer and sanding, the bottle was spray painted with 2 coats of cheap gold spraypaint (for base colour), then 3 layers of metallic gold paint. The final coats of gold were supposed to be able to give me a polished gold finish - it came out more like satin over brass, but that was OK... the "original" bottle would have been enamel over brass, and that was the effect I was trying to achieve.

Then started the painting of the colours - I started with some thin coats of a translucent purple so the gold/brass could come through, then added opaque detailing.

 Figure 3. Bottom of bottle showing base "gold" coat under translucent colouring.

My guide to colours and placement was a number of photos taken from the web, and a $5 painting/template guide I purchased on Ebay - Apparently there are about 5-6 different bottles shown on the show (Jeannie - Season 1, Jeannie -  the rest of the seasons, then other characters) This paint scheme is the "Jeannie - Season 2 onwards" colouring.

 Figure 4. Colours applied according to the painting guide

Adding the detail was painstaking at best. I've never used brushes so fine, and I never realised how much my hands shake when doing this kind of work. I had to rub back the work here and there, or paint over the occasional error, but generally it came out OK.

Once completed (or as close as I dared) I then started applying coat after coat of clear decoupage varnish over the entire thing to seal it all, and to add some slight gloss to the finish.

Figure 5. Varnish drying on finished bottle.

Once completed I wrapped them up for a Christmas gift. Below is the photo she took after unwrapping them. Everything we own is photographed for insurance purposes, and typically on our kitchen table.

Figure 6. Finished bottles as unwrapped.

One day I'll figure out how to make and fit a Barbara Eden in the bottles, but until then, I'll continue working on making my own (and my wife's) wishes come true by hard work instead of a "blinky head nod".

The paints were predominantly "Jo Sonia" glass paint, and folk art paint, and the spray paints were those left over from model rocketry.
Hours to "build" was in the order of 50-60 hours of work, plus about the same again waiting for paint/ varnish to dry.

Projects coming up:
MOT spotwelders, indicator stand repairs, taper turning attachment construction, lathe stand/motor construction just to name a few.