This past few weeks I’ve been working on Kat’s Engineer Shepard from Mass Effect. I am told this is some sort of multiplayer outfit variant thing and not something in the main campaign, but either way, I have a bunch of reference images and even if they are consistent, I’m a dick and I like to do my own thing anyway. Anywho:
This is going on the back of the flak jacket/harness, meant to imitate some sort of faux-kevlar, faux-body armor structure with raised sections. This is the same technique that Christine used on her Captain America shoulders –– this picture in particular shows that part. We both did it the quick and easy way, which is a nice way to do panels that need to be raised when you don’t have access to leather forming or, frankly, just don’t have the time or desire to. It’s the magic of craft foam and topstitching, baby.
Either way, draft your pattern and cut it out twice: once as a backing layer, and then a top layer. I’m using a heavy canvas for the backing and a thin, soft fashion vinyl for the top layer. The top layer needs to be cut slightly larger –– you’ll shave millimeters off your top piece with every panel, and even if a millimeter doesn’t seem like much, it adds up to leave you significantly short. You can be a little overzealous here, too, as you can always trim the excess to match the backing layer.
Next, out of craft foam, cut the shapes you want to have raised. On mine it’s those three rectangles, but yours could be just about anything –– I really just advise you plan it out ahead of time on your pattern instead of winging it, haha. Better safe than sorry.
Lay these pieces out between the layers of fabric and pin. You may want to do this in stages in case you find yourself running tight by the end –– I adjusted the next piece every time I sewed a line just to be sure I didn’t run out of slack.
Tips for topstitching:
- Use a zipper foot to get in you in real close to the edges of the foam, which, like a zipper, will prevent you from getting too close. The zipper foot will also let you ride the edge of the foam, making it a little bit easier to keep straight.
- Take your time. There’s no time limit. (Unless you’re Christine! Get back to practicing those jets!!) Topstitching is a very obvious detail and wiggly waggly lines can be very off-putting, so give it the time it is due.
- Use all those nifty features on your machine, because that is what they are there for. Most machines come with markings/notches intended for topstitching, and picking a dedicated marker will help you keep neat/straight.
- If you have a machine that does double-needle stitches, load ‘er up and do the double lines in one go.
- If you’re topstitching a vinyl or something, you’re going to want to use a teflon foot (or walking foot, but I find the teflon worlds easier.) You could use Sewer’s Aid or some other lubricant, but I loathe that shit for how messy it is. Catch-22: if you’re lucky enough to own a machine that has a teflon foot, odds are you aren’t lucky enough to own a teflon zipper foot. (I don’t even know if these exist for non-industrial machines.) The solution? Teflon stickers. I have yet to find a new source for the original set that came with my machine, as I haven’t gone through them all, but they’re removable stickers that you can put on the bottom of your standard feet to make them glide like a proper teflon foot.
That’s all I got for ya :) So sorry about the lack of updates or good progress pics on this one… I promise I’ll be better in the future.
Tomorrow, I remake almost all of Ryuko ‘cause I can.
Jenn, Who Has Heatstroke