Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Double Cosplay WIP Update - BL: TPS Nisha and Crochet Sailor Saturn

Bringin' The Law!

Nisha's glove doesn't have any pink on it, so I went ahead and painted it. It only took about an hour. You know I love progress pictures so here, look at this:

It looks much better on my hand and finished. Ignore my stupid face. It looks like I'm surprised I have a hand. I'm so bad at selfies.

I ordered the other paint colors I need (as well as fabric glue) and I'm going to cut out the boot armor pieces, belt buckle, etc. from cardboard shortly, so that I can attach all of them and get started painting as soon as the stuff comes. I don't think the painting will take as long as Zer0. At least I hope it doesn't...

Mainly because I have hundreds of hours of work left on the Saturn suit.

Sailor Saturn's Bodice

The bodice (sans sleeves) took about 80 hours, give or take. I'm still not quite done with it. I need to go back and add needlepoint detail stuff and the sleeves, obvs. I want to touch up the shading and I have some ends to weave in still. I worked on it on and off over the last few weeks and it was rather daunting and tedious. I totally understand why the Sailor Senshi have to do that make-up transformation crap - this thing is hard to get into and out of. lulz

Definitely harder to get out of and I learned the hard way that I should take out my belly button ring before putting it on because it hooked right into a stitch and...well, you can figure out what happened.

There's some bunching in the back, which I don't think I can take in without making the top even harder to get onto my body. Overall, I'm satisfied though. I'm glad I switched to hdc. I feel like it's more breathable. It's still extremely heavy.

For the piping along the bottom edge, I made a strip in sc with points at either end. I sl it closed and stuffed it with polyfil then I sewed it on with a yarn needle. I attached the butt-bow to the back of the bodice. Selfie-time. I tried to keep my derp face out of these so not to distract from my yarnwork.

What Now?!

Someone remind me why I decided to do the shading in colorwork? Other than the fact that it looks really cool. It was such a pain on the bodice. It got a bit wonky in some spots, but I think I can fix it when I go back in and do the needlepoint detailing stuff that needs to happen. I don't even know if normal humans can tell. I can tell. You know what I'm really glad I didn't do? Theresa from Fable in crochet. Holy shit.

I'm nearly out of white yarn. The bodice took more than I thought it would. I'm pretty sure I have enough for the sleeves, but not enough for the gloves. I'm horrible at judging yarn amounts. I don't think I need that much more for the Silence Glaive, but again...judging yarn quantities is not one of my skills. I don't know what I'm going to work on next. Whenever I make tentative plans I don't stick to them. In theory, I want to get the sleeves done, but I may go insane and start the boots. The boot process might turn out to be neat...if it works. I need that previously mentioned fabric glue.

Everything is so exciting right now. But I need to bake some cookies.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mood Blanket Challenge 2015: Day 145?

I went ahead and finished the row then took this beast outside for a photoshoot. I really should sweep the leaves off of the porch. Have I mentioned that I hate magnolia trees? They're the shittiest trees and I was struck in the shoulder my a rogue magnolia seed pod piece of crap yesterday. My grandmother always told me not to stand under magnolias as a child because the cones would hit me in the head and I would die. I think she may have been correct.

I think something weird happened with my math and/or basic ability to count at some point recently. I seem to have 144 squares? And today is Day 145? Or is it 157? Day 1,743? I'm not sure how many days are in what months and, well, something is off. I usually do my maths each week based on the number I used in the previous week's post. WHATEVER. I can't be bothered with figuring out what happened because I have massively less boring shit to crochet like my Sailor Saturn suit (expect an update on that shortly because I finished the bodice...sans sleeves). Granny squares are for grannies and squares, dude. Errr....uh....moving on.

WHAT MATTERS RIGHT NOW IS THAT I COMPLETED ANOTHER ROW OF HIDEOUS GRANNIES. I may or may not have fallen behind or I may be ahead. Maybe I'll just start doing a row a week and screw this challenge omg.

Happy Memorial Day! Mood Blanket Memorial Day Monday!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

WoollyRhino Shows You How To Make A Colorwork Chart Using Stitchboard + GIMP

Using Stitchboard to make a pattern isn't rocket science by any means, but some of you might be curious about how I make all of those free charts I'm always sharing. You might be thinking, "All you do is upload a picture to Stitchboard and then it just spits it out! You don't actually do anything! Loser!"

Wrong. Sit down.

Step 1: Acquire An Image

If you pay attention in Dragon Age II, you'll see that Clan Sabrae has some banners up outside of their camp that have these fantastic horned creature skulls on them. You can also spot these banners in the background of some battlegrounds in Heroes of Dragon Age. For some reason, there are no decent quality images of this on the Internet for my usage and I couldn't just take a screengrab to use because the banners aren't completely flat and this is a disaster. I like horned things. "I want to crochet that," I said. "I'll just draw it myself."

Ta da! Even if you can't draw at all - a crappy sketch will do, I promise. I did this sketch in 45 seconds and it's not symmetrical. It's really about as good as the foldy banners. I like to draw on paper, but it can also be done directly in Photoshop or your preferred editing software. I use GIMP. It's free. I like free. Free is good.

I touched up my sketch, made it solid and made the background white for simplicity. "Touched up" is used loosely. You don't want to make anything black because Stitchboard's grid lines are black. If I'm just making a two-color project then I go with white and dark gray, usually. If you want, you can make it accurate colors (e.g. this horned beast would be white on red).

There's an option for "easy reading" where you can get away with black, but it's hard for me to see if everything looks right and it's also hard to edit after the fact because you end up changing the colors of all of your lines and life gets very hard.

My digitally edited image still looks like crap. But that doesn't matter! You'll see why soon enough.

* Yes, I also sketched one of the Fen'Harel statues from Inquisition. I do have plans for it that might be cool, but I need to simplify the details a little more to make it work.

Step 2: Upload To Stitchboard And Pick Your Stitch

I selected my crappy image above and although I intended to crochet the pattern, I picked Cross Stitch in the stitching category. This depends on your own gauge, the project and a lot of other factors. I went into this planning to make this into a crochet sticker for my backpack. My stitches will be tiny and tight enough that they will actually be very nearly squares. I would go with one of the other options if I were doing a project with more than two colors because my stitches would get taller since I'd be carrying multiple colors in the back.

Step 3: Colors, Stitches, Output

If you'll be using two colors, I recommend limiting the colors to two. You'll be surprised how many mysterious colors Stitchboard will find if you let it use the entire palette. It happens a lot around the edges of shapes. Instead of making your image not-black, you can also attempt to use the color choosing option. I have not had good luck with my attempts to use it. The colors never seem to go in the right places and I have to do editing afterward anyway.

Next, pick your stitches across - this is why I love Stitchboard the most. I can use the same image for multiple projects just by changing this number. I went with 24 because that makes a decently wide crochet sticker using super fine yarn and a size 1 hook. 

Here's a closer look at the output options. I always go with "Pattern on Screen" because I always want to edit the charts after Stitchboard spits them out. The grid options are awesome for large projects, but I don't need any additional grid lines for something that's 24 stitches.

Step 4: More Options! And LET'S SEE MY PATTERN!

None of these options were relevant to my Clan Sabrae horned beast. I don't often use them, but I have played with them to see what they all do. I encourage this as you may have a project in mind that they'll work for. Then click the amazing button at the bottom and omg LET'S SEE IT.

Step 5: My Pattern!

Well, that still doesn't look right, but I now have a nicely sized grid and the basic shape. Even if you don't use a crappy sketch, you will still end up with an imperfect pattern. I've never had Stitchboard spew out a chart that was perfect. I always have to tweak a few squares here and there, sometimes a ton of squares. This will be one of the latter thanks to my crappy sketch. You can click 'Change Setting' to go back to the previous page and dabble with the options or you can click the download button.

Step 5: Making The Chart, For Real

Once your chart is in your possession, open it up in your preferred editing software. GIMP and Photoshop are very similar. I also like to have an original version open as well for reference. In this case, I used the image from the game that I took and not my crappy sketch. My crappy sketch, after all, was just to create a flatter version of the original floppy banner.

Use the Pick Color tool to make sure you've got your two colors as your background and foreground colors and then use the Fill tool to start making changes. It's way easier to make something symmetrical once it has a grid and this is why the crappiness of your sketch is ultimately irrelevant. See my progress screencaps.

And here is the final chart! This entire process took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Sometimes as I'm working on the actual project, I find that something doesn't look right in the yarn and I fix it then I go back and easily edit the chart with the Color Picker and Fill tools again.

Step 6: Use Chart, Make Thing

I made it in pink and white instead of red and white and it's really tall. Eventually, I'll get around to adhering it to my backpack. I'll probably put it on the side somewhere since it's, like, jumbo size and won't fit anywhere else. I could make a smaller version by using a smaller hook. How exciting! Dareth shiral, bitches. And happy belated birthday to Bioware! XOXOX

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Borderlands: TPS Cosplay - Nisha - Phase 1: In Which I Sewed Things

Finally, some headway with my Nisha cosplay! I predict that this will be one of my daytime costumes at Dragon*Con this year as it's probably best that I don't prance around the 90-degree daytime heat in Atlanta in my crochet Sailor Saturn. I believe this will be suitable for daytime?

A while back I went through my closet and rounded up things I already owned that I could potentially use. This included:
  • a 10-year-old pair of jeans with a big hole in them
  • a brown corduroy jacket almost as old as the jeans
  • Uggs, because who doesn't have a pair of these in the back of their closet?
  • a very old, real leather hat that belonged to my dead mom that is probably from the 80s that was grossly misshapen from things being put on top of it
  • a white tank top
Crafting Nisha's Jacket From A Totally Different Jacket

My jacket had pockets and Nisha's jacket does not so I got my seam ripper, intending to remove the pockets. The jacket was so old that the whole thing just fell apart in my hands. There were huge holes and it was a hot mess. I did not fret. The jacket needed to be shorter so I chopped off the bottom and figured I could use the excess fabric to patch the holes where the pockets were.
I also planned to use excess fabric to create the other accents on the jacket. Basically, I wanted to only use parts of the original jacket to make the Nisha jacket. Yeah, recycling! Maximum awesome for cheapest cost possible (in this!

Some weeks passed and I got around to ordering the fingerless gloves and a black sports bra to go underneath my tank top. The last piece I need is a belt, but I'm planning on making a belt with scrap fabric. I don't need a functional belt, I just need a thing that looks like a belt and to make my belt loops look larger.

Some more weeks passed and I decided to spend an entire day sewing. I literally did all of the major sewing that I needed to do for this (I think). I'll probably have to do some very minor and speedy sewing when I get around to the belt.

Bobbin-Winding 101

I wound a bobbin and a disaster immediately happened...

That is how to not wind a bobbin. 

Onward With The Jacket!

After conquering bobbin-winding I patched the holes in the jacket with fabric from the jacket and made modifications to the collar. I'm going to need to go back and probably insert a bit of cardstock into the collar to make it stand because this jacket is so old the collar won't stay popped. This means a bit more sewing, but I think I can handle it. Maybe.

And here we have the jacket and other accessories. Everything is attached to everything it needs to be attached to. If you look closely you can see that my straps aren't all the same size and you can definitely see the seams where I repaired the pocket holes. I'm banking on my mad painting skills to hide these things. Yes, the entire costume will again be in the same rad, cel-shaded style of the game like my Zer0.
First, I need to get paint. I'm probably going to use Jones Tones again. It was great for my Zer0 suit, but I only have the colors for Zer0's Sneaking Suit and I need purple and pink and crap for Nisha - that's the next phase of this project.

Nisha's Shirt and Jeans

I did some cutting of a white tank top and I'm pretty excited to freehand the skull design on it. If I can get things set up then I'll do some time-lapse filming of the painting process. 

I patched and exerted the effort to take in the jeans because they were hella baggy. I patched them with excess fabric I cut away from the legs. The bottoms of the jeans will be tucked into my boots and I left just enough that they stay tucked. I'm going to be using more of the excess denim to make wider, fake belt loops. My belt buckle and the accents on Nisha's boots will be made of cardboard. I also need to remember to get fabric glue. Fabric glue and paint. Boom.

Once I round up the paint colors I need then I hope to spend at least one day a week working on this. If I pull this off then I'll also have a riveting blog post once a week as well. Knowing me, I'm going to continue procrastinating and will be forced to paint for hours and hours on end with no sleep in the days leading up to Dragon*Con.

I'm going to cheat and use my grenade and shield from last year and I may or may not get around to making myself some revolvers. If I do make revolvers they'll be made of trash, which is always fun. There are lots of WIP pictures of my Zer0 cosplay from last year over on Facebook. And a whole page dedicated to the build here if you're unfamiliar.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mood Blanket Challenge 2015: Day 138 or Thereabouts

Hark! It's Monday. The day when I hold myself accountable to this stupid blanket. Here are my squares. I'll finish this row this week and attach it. I'm almost out of scrap yarn, but I just bought a bunch of new yarn for a few new projects. This means there will be some exciting, new, never-before-seen colors in this blanket. Wow. Getting crazy. Living on the edge.

I'll make up for this extra boring post with some other posts this week. I did some work on my BL:TPS Nisha cosplay, I'll be back to working on Crochet Sailor Saturn AND I made a snarky tutorial that I'm vaguely excited about. Vaguely excited is a mood, right? Apparently "vaguely excited" is represented by some browns according to this blanket. Poop is brown. Excited poops? Uuuuuuhhhhhh.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crochet Stickers? Stick-On Patches? What Are These?!

Wtf Are Crochet Stickers?!
Well, a lot of people make embroidered patches. I've accepted the fact that I don't find sewing particularly enjoyable in any form. I do, on the other hand, find crocheting to be quite enjoyable. I'm sure someone else out there in the world has made crochet patches before. I know everyone makes crochet appliqu├ęs. I'm not sure if anyone has given them adhesive backing to make application effortless for the laziest of humans.

Again, I don't find sewing very enjoyable. It's a necessary evil and a means to an end in my book. Then I asked myself, "Self, what is the absolute easiest way to attach a thing to another thing that involves no sewing whatsoever?"

After a mere moment of thought, I responded to my inquiry with, "Adhesive, duh."

So I poked around the mighty Interwebs and found some double-sided, peel-off fabric adhesive sheets. Thus crochet stickers were born. I guess they could also be called stick-on crochet patches...yarn patches...yarn stickers. Whatever.

I like a lot of things and I like to make things based on things I like. So far, all of the stickers are things I like, but I can make other things if other people want other things. I made myself the N7 logo (with a pink accent and pink border) from Mass Effect a while back. It adorns my decades-old Jansport backpack. I machine-stitched it on over the old logo prior to my adhesive epiphany.

Once upon a time I also had a grand idea to cover my entire shoulder bag with these to make it look like a patchwork crochet bag instead of a $20 Target bag. If/when I get around to this I'll post some pictures.

Each sticker is made of super fine yarn and I used either a size 1 hook or size 5. Size 5 came into play with any designs that were more than 25 or so stitches across because I didn't want these to be ginormous.

About The Adhesive Backing

The adhesive backing is Aleene's Fabric Fusion. It's made for fabric so it's hardcore as far as adhesives go and will also stick to other surfaces if you wanted to put one of these on a notebook or something. The only caveat is that it doesn't stick so well to super stretchy, synthetic materials like nylon and spandex. Don't put one of these on your leotard. The Internet says not to put it on sweatpants either. I recommend these for bags and backpacks and although the adhesive should hold through the washing machine, the designs themselves are made partially of wool, so they can't be machine washed.

Small Stickers

The smallest of the small stickers is the Mass Effect Omega logo. Who didn't love Aria T'Loak and her couch? It measures in at 2" x 3". Also in the small category is the Borderlands Vaulthunter logo (in three color combos), Mass Effect N7 and Cerberus, along with the Eye of the Crimson King from the Dark Tower series, and the Doctor Who logo. I think I might be able to get the Doctor Who logo a little smaller if I try hard. I can tweak the sizes of most designs a little bit in both the larger and smaller directions.

Medium Stickers

Currently in the medium category is a lot of Dragon Age heraldry and some Destiny logos. I made charts for a lot more Dragon Age heraldry than I actually made. I don't keep a lot of this size yarn on hand and I had limited colors (which is also why Dead Orbit is missing from the Destiny designs too). There are some things I simply wanted to be in accurate colors. Apparently the Antivan Crows was not one such thing as I was compelled to make it in pink.

Anywho, the smallest of the medium-sized patches is the Kirkwall sigil at 3" x 4". Future War Cult is obviously the widest at 5". I'm just giving you these numbers for a frames of reference while looking at these things. As you can see with your eyeballs, I've also made the Circle of Magi, Qunari and Antivan Crows heraldry from Dragon Age then I whipped up FWC and New Monarchy from Destiny. Once more, there is some flexibility in the sizes if you want a custom one of these.

Large Stickers

The largest of the stickers have a little less variation possibilities as far as sizes go. The only ones I think I can make smaller are the Horde emblem from WoW and the Legion of the Dead from Dragon Age. The Hylian Royal Crest and Seekers of Truth cannot get smaller. The blue Hylian crest is actually slightly larger than the red one because I gave it a bit more of a border...for experimental purposes?

The Hylian Royal Crest is 5" across like the FWC logo, but I made it with a size 5 hook, which is smaller, so it's more stitches and actually takes a bit longer. I won't bore you with too many of these technical details. Just trust that I thought long and hard about these three categories since I based pricing on size.

The Future And Customization Prospects

I have a few other Doctor-themed ideas bouncing around thanks to some dialogue on Facebook. If it turns out that people like these then I'll happily make more. The smallest ones don't take long at all and I can also do monograms in fancy script or, you know, the missing logos like poor, neglected Dead Orbit. I can also make these from acrylic yarn so they can be put on washable items if there's interest. Right now though, my colors are limited and I want to use what I've got.

Personally, I don't understand the appeal of monograms. They remind me of having to put my initials on my Lisa Frank lunchbox in kindergarten so the other kid with the same lunchbox wouldn't get confused and eat my banana and mayonnaise sandwich on accident. I'm not compelled to have my initials on things as an adult, but I know other people are.

How To Buy One

Venture over to Etsy and you should be able to figure it out. This is the first time I've listed physical items as more than one and the first time I've used the variation function, so I hope it works like I think it works? If there's a particular logo you want that I haven't made then just ask. I seriously might have the pattern made already, especially if it happens to be Dragon Age heraldry. Hint hint. If you know me, you know I've been on a helluva DA kick lately. I'm a huge fan of extremely convoluted fantasy worlds and Thedas is nothing if not convoluted.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mood Blanket Challenge 2015: Day 131

Words cannot express how immensely tired I am of working on this and posting around it weekly. I've stuck to my Monday posts and I haven't fallen behind on my squares, but I am suffering from major ennui. I guess that's what it's a "challenge," innit? I keep thinking that if I felt more feelings and actually picked a color each day based somehow on my emotion that this would be more fun. I mostly pick colors based on what is on to of my scrap bin or what is closest to me. If you look closely at my pictures of the bulk of the blanket from last week you should be able to spot some of my Sailor Saturn colors - this is because I was working with those colors at the time, which put them in close proximity to my hands for making squares.

This past week I made it a point to use the pointlessly small balls of scrap yarn that I saved for no good reason. There wasn't even enough of any of them to make a full one of these tiny granny squares. Why would I save them? My aversion to wasting yarn has crossed a line. These squares were a wake-up call.

I can't wait to be done with this. One can never have too many blankets. Especially if one insists upon keeping it freezing in the house during winter to save on the gas bill. I have some vague plans for a blanket that won't bore me to the point of tears, but said plans are very tentative and I'm going to keep them vague so not to get anyone's hopes up. I will say that said blanket will be a major masterpiece of tapestry crochet to rival all tapestry crochet ever before.

And don't forget to mosey on over to my Facebook. I'm having a giveaway and the deadline is Wednesday.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mood Blanket Challenge 2015: Day 124

I have 126 squares. Winning!

I took it outside to capture the truly ugly squares. In addition to being covered in cat hair, it's now got some nature parts on it - mainly, magnolia leaves. Magnolia trees are the shittiest of all trees. I've run out of things to say about this you can maybe tell. Here are pictures.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Crochet Cosplay WIP: Beginning The Sailor Saturn Bodice

I finally got back to work on this monumental task. I decided to dive into the bodice, which I anticipated to be the most difficult part. It's proving to be quite challenging. Again, I'm trying to avoid the Sailor Sack look and I'm going for a form-fitting top that doesn't strangle me, further smash my already flat chest nor pinch my armpits. Oh, and I also want to be able to get in and out of it easily.

The nature of crochet doesn't allow me to make a big crochet fabric panel and then cut the fabric to the appropriate size and shape. I have to shape and properly size each the same I go...while also concerning myself with the ridiculous shading I was compelled to do. It's involving a lot of strategic increases and decreases and constantly checking measurements to ensure that everything is happening as it should. It's quite tedious. By "quite tedious," I mean "really, really tedious." Soon I'll be a Level 90 Crochet Sorcerer Queen though.

In order to make the shaping slightly easier I divided up the bodice into a bunch of smaller parts in simpler shapes to be seamed together. The above image is the first section being tested with the collar and bow. After I made the corresponding back section I did some shaping of the armholes (see the images below). Armholes are one of my weaknesses, but I believe I succeeded this time by actually sticking to my measurements. There's not much that's worse than wearing something that pinches your pits, man.

I've finished the top half of the bodice and it consisted of four sections (not including the collar and the bow). It took me about 30 hours over the last three days - for you curious folks.

I switched from a single crochet stitch to half-double to give it a little more stretch without having large gaps between stitches. I stayed with a size F hook and I'm still using Caron Simply Soft yarn.

The collar and bow are officially attached. I even wore the absurd, midriff-displaying, incomplete version around the house for a while after weaving in my ends. It's comfortable and fits well (I could easily be Slutty Sailor Saturn if I saw fit to do so). It comes on and off over my head easily enough.'s heavy. It's a sweater though. My dumb ass is going to be prancing around Atlanta in a sweater. Pure brilliance, I know. Genius. At least the skirt is short so I'll have some air flow, right?

I may make the sleeves before I take on the bottom portion of the bodice. The bottom part is really what will determine whether or not I'm Sailor Sack Saturn or not. At the moment, I'll be doing the bottom in three sections and then going back and doing the piping or whatever that's around the bottom edge. I may or may not use a bit of velcro to secure the bodice to the skirt when I'm done to hold it all together.

Backtracking to the sleeves: I'll probably make one sleeve and then do some time-lapse filming of the second sleeve. I promise it will be at a better angle than my first video and I'll try not be wearing distracting pants.

I found a nice (and free) bikini pattern on Ravelry and I'm going to make myself some crochet underpants for complete crochet costume solidarity. If all goes well the only part of my ensemble that won't be crochet is my earrings. I even saw some crochet-covered boots on Pinterest a while back which looked pretty crappy, but I think I can master the art form if I can pull off this bodice. I'm still going with some fingerless mitts for my gloves, but I may switch to sport weight yarn for them. How I'm going to make the tiara is still in the air. I need to do further research and if it doesn't work out I guess I can just paint the Saturn symbol on my forehead. Have I said all of this before? Whatever. Recap!

Also, my Nisha cosplay, which is largely so my abs don't go to waste this year - I'm going to get all of the sewing done soon and then start the painting. I might do some time-lapse video of some of the painting. I have all of the parts and I just need to snag some paint in the appropriate colors. I'm going to freehand the skull on her shirt. That would be fun to watch some time-lapse video of...I think. And maybe painting the hat?

Happy crafting, pals! XOXOX