Saturday, July 13, 2013

First tutorials!

San Diego Comic Con is just four days away!  WHOA.

Aside from the obvious awesomeness of going to the largest and perhaps most infamous comic convention (it is THE Comic Con people are talking about when they say Comic Con), I am really excited for this year because I am participating in a cosplay group.  

(For recent comers to the site, cosplay = costume play, the act of dressing up in costumes, usually as a character from a favorite book, movie, comic, etc.  Frequently, when I say cosplay I mean dressing up as a specific character, though others might refer to dressing up in anything other than Muggle clothes as cosplaying.)

Unfortunately, since I'm in a group, and since the group has some unspoken rule about not revealing to the outside world what it is that we are cosplaying until SDCC, I cannot in good conscience tell you anything about my costume.  However, I will tell you this: I am the gender-bent Victorian version (as I interpret it) of one of the most well-known science fiction villains.  Was that obscure enough?  I'd actually be very curious to hear your guesses.

Since I cannot tell you about what I am making until next week, here are TWO "tutorials".

1.  How to Turn a Tiny Bit of Fabric (Like a Tube) Inside-Out:

A few weeks ago as I finished my bustle and needed something to use for waist ties, I looked in my notions box to see what color ribbons I had available.  It happened that I came across a piece of bias tape in the same fabric that I was using (the piece was left over from the 1920s dress).  I had just enough of the bias tape to make two ties, exactly what I needed.

I cut the bias tape in half, folded each piece in half, and sewed along two of the three raw edges, leaving one of the short edges free.  I was then left with an inside out fabric piece that was too small for me to turn by hand.  Hmm.

I had some vague recollection of the sewing class I took many years ago, where we learned to use some kind of tube and a metal stick tool thing to turn straps for a tote inside out: you would place the tube inside the fabric pieces, then put the metal stick through the bottom of the tube and use it to grab the fabric and pull it through the tube.  (There must have been some sort of pin on the metal stick, otherwise how would it have grabbed the fabric?)  I tried to recreate that tool using a straw and wire, but the wire part failed.  I realized that the metal stick thing only served to grab the fabric at the top and pull it through the tube, so I tried again with a needle and thread.  It worked!

Here begins the tutorial for real:

You will need: 
  1. Your piece of fabric to be turned inside out, henceforth known as THE TUBE.  It should be sewn with right sides together along at least the long edge.  It does not matter if you make a seam along one of the short edges, as long as you do not do it to both.  You must leave one short edge free.  Trim seam allowances.
  2. A straw (length does not matter, but circumference does.  It should be able to fit easily inside THE TUBE.
  3. Needle and thread.  Using a double thread (whereby a single thread is knotted to itself to make a double thread) is best.  Make sure the single thread is cut at least twice as long as the length of the straw so that the double thread is the length of or is longer than the straw.

Insert your straw into THE TUBE.  Push it all the way to the other end.

Insert the needle through the end of THE TUBE so that it goes into the straw.

Play around with THE TUBE, the straw, and the needle until the needle comes out the other end of the straw.  I have found no "correct" way to do this so use logic and common sense. 

At this point, you should have the thread anchored to THE TUBE at one end of the straw with the thread traveling through the straw so that the needle is at the other end.

Gently pull on the needle whilst holding onto the straw, not THE TUBE.  THE TUBE will be sucked into the straw.  It's really cool to see, but remember that you are trying to get a relatively large amount of fabric into a very small space so you must go SLOWLY.

Once THE TUBE has been turned inside out, go ahead and cut the thread.  If you enclosed one of the short edges, use a pin or needle to pull the corner out.

Press THE TUBE and go revel in your awesomeness for using a straw to turn tubes.


Of course, as soon as I took all the pictures, guess what I found? How to turn fabric straps or tubes with a drinking straw, a tutorial by Sewmentalmama, that demonstrates the same technique, but about 20x simpler.  No "playing around with the fabric" to get a needle from one end of a straw to another. :D

2.  How to change the battery in a battery-operated pocket watch

For my costume, the one I cannot tell you about, I will be borrowing my brother's pocket watch, which has been out of battery for a very long time.  Since I initially was going to be borrowing it purely for aesthetic purposes, the lack of battery didn't matter.  However, when I realized that I won't be able to wear my watch with my costume, I suddenly had a need for a pocket watch that worked.

I brought the pocket watch over to my dad and asked him if the battery could be replaced.  I didn't see any screws on the back of the watch, so I didn't know if it was even possible.  I was getting mentally prepared for the possibility that I might have to go to a jeweler or horologist just to get the battery replaced.  Thankfully, my dad showed me the trick to opening the back, a trick which I am going to share with you!

Look around the seam of the back piece.  There should be a little gap somewhere.  Find that gap and use a large precision screwdriver to pry at it and pop off the back piece.  If you are unsure as to which part of the watch is the seam of the back piece, look at the second picture.  In it, the back piece is at the top directly under my index finger and the seam is the first line from the top.

Inside the watch you may find a plastic piece.  This piece is surprisingly important.  For my watch, it holds the battery and the actual face of the watch in place.  Gently remove it and set it aside.

Make a note of what kind of battery the watch runs on.  In the picture above, the battery looks somewhat like a nucleolus in a cell nucleus, if you can see the watch as a cell.  Watch batteries are small and round, but there are different kinds of "small."  My watch runs on a SR626.  Change the battery as you would normally change the battery: pop it out and replace it.  The best thing about replacing watch batteries is that you know immediately whether the new battery works or not because the watch will begin ticking when you put the new battery in.

To put the back piece back on, simply join it to the watch and squeeze to pop it back into place.


Well?  Your thoughts?  

Please feel free to give me feedback on my tutorials!

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