We know duct tape does more than tape ducts. But did you know how useful it is for cosplay? And I’m not talking duct tape dresses (though those are rad). I’m talking about one of the hardest things about sewing- making a pattern that fits you right.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. Find Your Reference.

That was easy enough for me. I made the film outfit for Ratchet from Ratchet and Clank

Things to note are those WEIRD underarm blue things and seams that don’t actually physically work (thanks Insomniac!). I’d have to get as close as possible- not loosing the spirit of the vertical orange panels, but also make it actually something I could build.

2. Wrap and Tape

Let’s start with taping me up. Use saran wrap to cover all the areas you want to cover, crisscrossing, then use lots of short duct tape pieces to slowly work out the shape. Don’t do long strips; they kink easily, stick to themselves, and don’t take the right shape you need.

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Figure out the general shape of the object. Is it loose? Tight? Where do the sleeves/waist/collar/hems fall?

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And unless the design is asymmetrical, do only one half, so you can make two identical pieces. Don’t try to do the whole body; it will actually fit LESS well when done.

Ratchet’s shirt is very tight fitting, so I needed to account for that. And both ladies and gents, remember to wear whatever undergarments you plan on wearing for the actual costume. If this is going over a corset, a chest binder, push up, or compression wear, your shape will be very different than over your normal attire. I’m normally a DD, but I bind for my costumes, so I had to remember to wear my compression top here too, or the sizing would be off.

3. Cut ALL THE THINGS

Cut the saran wrap off, and trim down the object (shirt, pants, hat, whatever, down the center line. Start sketching out the seams needed.

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Trim along seams. Make sure you label where things attach, so you can put them back together, like a puzzle.

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4. Actual Patterning

Time to make pattern. I give myself a half-inch seam allowance (that is, half an inch around where the duct tape pieces are) and meticulously label my patterns so someone else could use them (marking what attaches to what, etc).

Ratchet’s shoes, for example.

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5. Mockup Design

Next, cut out the pieces, and attach them to cheap, crappy fabric. Muslin works well, or discarded old holey sheets (not holy sheets, you probably don’t want to use those). You’re making a test with this, not strutting the runway.

Remember that since we old did HALF the object, you want to fold the fabric in half and cut two pieces of everything you’ve made, one a mirror image of the other.

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My tankbot decided to observe.

So did my cat.

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You can see the fabric is folded over, so I get two of everything.

Time to cut.

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Baste (sew quickly with big big stitches) all your pieces together to re-biuld the object. You want big, crappy loose stitches; if you need to take something out or in (and you will) it will be easier.

Don’t hem anything, either.

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Try it on and see what does or doesn’t work. If you notice, I have some black lines on my mockup. The back is too broad, the arms too narrow, the shirt too short, even without a hem.

THIS IS WHY YOU MOCK ON CHEAP CRAPPY FABRIC. A stitch in time saves nine indeed.

6. Patterning Mrk 2: Electric Bugaloo

Time to modify the original pattern.

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Piece E (under the armpit) has extra tabs added, most of the pieces have been made longer, based on my markup.

7. Finally Time To Make “The Thing”

NOW, only now, can we cut out of our real fabric. As I mentioned in the Cosplay thread from last week, I caniballized a few T-shirts for some of the fabric I needed; correct color and texture, and cheaper than buying navy jersey.

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Stitching it up for realsies.

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8. Showing Off

And the finished piece. The harness pattern was also made via the duct tape method, after I wore the shirt for fitting.

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Happy sewing!

Questions? In part 2, I’ll be doing duct tape dummies, or making a pattern to fit for someone who’s far away. I’ll be making Apollo Justice’s vest for RerTV as an example.