Well damn... apparently you guys like this little crusade of mine...
Only time I did better than this was on my Arc Continuum review...
That really motivates me to do this project.
The following is actually slightly old... as it was written the night of, but went unfinished until today.
So, plans changed. I went to Ross Dress For Less expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. They must have changed at some point sine I was last there with my mom years and years ago, because they didn't have a single, solitary, long-sleeved shirt in the entire store. Plenty of hispanic people, but not a single pair of sweat pants or sweatshirts, no leotards, nothing even resembling what I needed.
No big deal, right? Just go to a different clothing store! I did. There was another store right by them. 99.5% womens' clothing, the rest was mens' tees. I can wear womens' clothing since I'm a twink, but it was all “vogue”, "high fashion" crap. Ultra specialized, expensive clothing for women, bright patterns and overpriced clothes for men. Even if I could have justified buying something white or another color and dying it black, I couldn't justify $30-60 price tags.
I walked out of there pissed to no end. I walked 19.8 miles in pouring down rain (Buses don't run on weekends, here. Brilliant, huh?), without an umbrella, in icy cold wind, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a hoodie, and I was about to walk 19.8 miles home empty-handed.
Ok, in my defense, it was a reasonable day when I left. Overcast, light drizzle, mildly cool out, I thought I would be fine. Even as I was walking, the rain itself wasn't even sure if it was going to rain. It kept cutting out. Just in and out with the pin-sized rain drops for an hour. A quarter of the way there, the rain kicked up with a vengeance. (Probably what I get for mocking it, frankly.)
And get this... I'm not even joking, there was an umbrella abandoned on the side of the railroad, within 5 feet of me, an hour before the rain really hit. I saw it, and said “Hey, that would be pretty handy! I could totally grab that!” And do you know what intelligent thing I did? “Nah, it's not raining that bad. It would just be a waste to bring it.”
I forgot my motto for absolutely everything ever.... It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. The one time I forget my motto, I end up sorely regretting it.
So I walk out of the second store. It's getting late, I'm getting sinister looks from ugly, rainbow-haired, ham beasts due to my hoodie saying Meninism on the front, stores are closing and I had a whole 20 miles to go, to get back home. The clouds were storm clouds as far as the eye could see, so it was getting dark extra early.
And that's when it caught my eye. Across the parking lot, cast in immaculate light where the clouds had parted: Joann's.
Ok, I'm exaggerating... it was still raining, and the sky was completely coated in clouds, but I still noticed the store, and was stuck by brilliance. I immediately went over there. They were way past closing (it was 6:30PM, they close at 6PM). Apparently they're pretty lax on their time, or their door sign's time is way out of date, because they allowed me to walk right in. I was there for almost an hour and no one complained.
For those of you who don't know, Joann's is a fabric store. One I've been to a few times, actually. And as luck would have it, among my many, many talents, I also happen to know how to work a sewing machine. And as luck would also have it, I also already have a sewing machine and an entire box of sewing supplies I got from a dead lady. (She was a senior at the retirement home my mom worked at, she kicked the bucket rather abruptly, and her family didn't want the huge kit she had, so mom took it and gave it to me. Sterling silver thimble. Score!)
Also, just FYI, sewing is not sissy or lame... Being able to sew is not only artistic, but it's one of the most practical skills a person can have. Need a costume? Make one. Favorite outfit splits a seam? Fix it. Lose a button? Sew on a new one. Zipper breaks? Replace it. Clothes don't fit right? Hem them. Hole in the knee of your jeans? A denim needle and strong machine can turn those into shorts easy. Embarrassing hole the crotch of your pants? Stitch it up. Wish an outfit had pockets? Add them. Hole in your pocket? Close it. Need a special bag? Design and make it. Sewing is one of the most overpowered skills there are.
(Warning: If this has inspired you to learn to sew, keep your fingers away from the needle, or wear thimbles on your fingers. I've seen someone stitch themselves before. It wasn't pretty. Went all the way to the bone. She had to go to the hospital to make sure it wasn't stuck in the bone of her finger. It wasn't, thankfully, but it was pretty gruesome looking.)
Anyway, back on track. So not only did I have my own sewing supplies I got from a house that got abandoned full of stuff (it was our house, people were squatting in it illegally, when we told them they had a week to get out, they burned rubber and left a lot of stuff. No, they weren't poor or homeless.) I also had the supplies I got from the old lady, and my own sewing machine.
After speaking with an employee, I was directed to the best fabric for my plans, and I bought a few yards. The whole time, I was the only male in the entire store...
Sadly, I still left mildly disappointed. They were all sold out of patterns I needed. A pattern, different from a print, is kind of like plans, or schematics, for clothing. You don't need a pattern to make something, but it can be very helpful to have them, because clothing is REALLY easy to royally screw up on. (Even with a pattern, a pair of sweatpants I made 11 years ago turned out too small for me because I messed up.)
Oh yeah, and it had started raining even harder while I was in the store, it had gotten much colder, and the wind had picked up. By the time I had gotten to the other end of the parking lot, I was already freezing. There was no way in blue-blazing hell I was going to walk 4 hours back home in monsoon weather. I had to make an emergency stop at the nearby Fred Meyer and pick up a weather resistant jacket, which I wore over my hoodie.
You might be thinking “Bas, you idiot! You were wearing shorts! A jacket isn't going to help! Why didn't you get weather resistant sweat pants to go with it?”
Because I had already thought I was spending $44.95 for a $90 jacket, and wasn't about to spend another $60 on pants. Turns out the mark-down price was totally wrong, it was a double sale, so I only spent $28 on the jacket when I got to the register. I didn't feel like going back for pants, though. They had $140 jackets with heat coils in them. Wish I had had the kind of money to afford those...
So you might be wondering how I got home in pouring down rain and icy wind wearing shorts. Didn't bother me that much, frankly. The jacket was all I needed for the entire trip.
Yes, I did get sick. It's currently 76 degrees in my apartment and my teeth are chattering like it's 30 degrees in here.
Was it worth it? Nope. Well, ok, somewhat. I can barely walk, by the time I got home, I couldn't stand without severe pain. I had to drag my tall chair into the kitchen in order to cook my dinner on the stove because it was so painful to stand, it nearly made me break out into tears from distress to be on my feet for even 20 seconds. After resting for a few hours, I can stand up, but humorously, I walk like a disfigured freak because I walk with a double limp now. A 39+ mile trip has left my leg muscles stiff and sore. I almost couldn't get back home because the pain was excruciating on the last two miles. I actually had to sit at a bus stop before the last block stretch because it hurt so bad it felt like my shin bones had split vertically. Even as I was only 10 feet from my door, I had to sit on the public bench for a good two minutes because it hurt so bad. I'm also sick, as mentioned above. I'm suffering severe chills even though I should be burning up after running my heater for so long and at such a high temp. And I'm going to end up going over my mocap suit budget goal of $30 (fabric's expensive). And the trip cost me all together $56 including the emergency jacket.
But on the plus side, it did get me to stop dragging my feet and buy the new jacket I wanted to get. 50% polyester just isn't good for freezing temperatures. It also showed me that my new shoes are so much better than my old ones. 12 miles in my old ones would have left my feet blistered. 40 miles in my new ones, and I don't have a single blister on the bottoms of my feet. And third and finally, if I make my own suit from scratch, rather than buy a base, I can customize it in any way I want. The suit is now completely under my control. All I need are patterns.
Before I get on with it, for those who are worried about me... I'm fine. My trip was on the 18th, at the time of writing this it's the 20th (well, the 1 AM on the 21st) By the time I went to bed that night, (well, technically it was the next day, because it was sunup) I had already stopped limping and regained the ability to stand without mind-encompassing pain. By morning, I was no longer suffering from chills, and it no longer hurt to walk. Today, my leg muscles are just a little sore and stiff, but I'm perfectly fine. How well do I feel? Well enough to walk 2 miles from the hardware store carrying a 2inch by 4inch by 12foot douglas fir board on my shoulder, twice, in two hours. I may be a 5' 6" computer nerd, twink, but I'm a tough 5' 6" computer nerd, twink.
I heal like a beast lately. I once burnt my finger pretty bad on my hot glue gun, and by the very next day it didn't hurt a bit. I couldn't even see the red mark anymore.
(Oh, and no, the boards have absolutely nothing to do with motion capture. It's part of a completely different and totally unrelated project.)
Anyway... as mentioned, I was in Joann's for an hour, scrounging through their pattern selection. I couldn't believe it... No normal clothing. It was all vogue, all fashion, all dresses, tuxedos, designer clothing, etc, and as per usual, it was 90% womens'. I was looking for either a one-piece outfit (not the anime...) or a two-piece that I could just make into one piece. If you've never sewn an outfit before, waistbands can be a massive pain in the ass, so I wanted to make my suit into a single item so that I didn't have to try to sew a pair of pants.
I grabbed catalogue book after catalogue book... Captain America costume pattern? Sold out. Deadpool costume pattern? Sold out. Batman costume pattern? Kids only. Superman costume pattern? Kids only. Ninja Turtles costume pattern? Sew-on decals only. Spiderman costume pattern? Iron-on logo and web decal only. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy costume pattern? Obviously women only, but in stock. They were the only one-piece items they still had in stock.
You know.... that suddenly just hit me. I've been all over the place this year, trying to shop for project parts or electronics, and no matter where I go, anything I went there looking for is out. Walmart for bike chains? The entire bike accessories isle is barren. Fred Meyer for bike chains? Everything related to bike chains is sold out. Big 5 Sporting Goods store? They sell bikes, but no bike chains. Walmart for Rust-oleum? Nope. They don't sell anything Rust-oleum. Fred Meyer for Rust-oleum? Nope. Nothing Rust-oleum there either. Home Depot for Rust-oleum? Sold out. Walmart for sweatpants because shorts and jeans are no good for freezing weather? Out of stock except for 4XL and 6XL, and I'm a size medium... (also, their sweatpants displays were loaded up with sweatshirts....) Fred Meyer for sweatpants? $60-$120 for ultra performance weather proof sweats, sold out of literally everything else. And those are the only stores within 6 miles of me.
I hate living here.... I'm getting really sick of this place. I've lived here my whole life, and it wasn't always this bad. It's just that lately it's been falling apart. And it's not just one city. It's all over the valley. Hell, until the new mayor was elected, my city was dying a very slow and gradual death. (3 whole plazas, all three of them were more than half vacant, and in the 4 years I've lived here, shops kept leaving, and none were moving in. You know it's a bad sign when no one wants to rent out your stores.)
Back on topic. Like I said, I couldn't believe it. A store that would be the go-to place for costumes and cosplay didn't have any costume patterns in the style I was looking for. Or they were sold out when they did. They didn't even have a generic leotard pattern. I figured "well, if I got a mens' leotard with legs, I could just add sleeves to the design, and it would be fine." Nope.
I had to leave the store with only my fabric, and as I said in part one, it was cold, pouring down rain, and getting really late, and I had a 4 hour walk ahead of me after already taking a 4 hour walk to get there. I couldn't exactly look around for other fabric stores. They'd likely be closed, and it would have been a waste of time, anyway.
When I got home, I searched for pattern stores online. Huge mistake. Went to fabric.com, and it's even worse searching the website for something than it was searching the catalogues in the store.
So I went to Amazon instead, and decided on a Batman costume pattern. We're talking old school, Adam West Batman.
You know the one....
I'm not doing, I'm not doing it, I'm not doing it...
Resisted! Thank god! Thought I was going to lose that battle...
As soon as my pattern arrives, I'll begin putting together my project guide.
For those who don't have a sewing machine, or a friend/family with a sewing machine, don't worry. I'll be going over alternate options for making a mocap suit.
And for anyone just tuning in: Like I said in my previous post, I'm going to be documenting everything in my design from suit to studio to software in a crusade to make dirt cheap mocapping available to all indies, and I'll be giving away my complete guide absolutely free, once it's done.
So let's take a look at the damage so far...
Suit Budget Goal: $30
My Spending: Fabric $23.37 (on sale), Anti-fray Seam Protector $4.99, Pattern $10.95 + $7.36 S&H. Total = $46.67
Yep... thanks to my area being really shit for buying specific items, I went almost $17 over my goal. But hey, $47 for something that would cost around $3000, give or take, if bought from suppliers, is a damn good deal all the same!
That's just how much it will end up costing me, specifically, though. If you want to follow my steps to the letter, but don't have a sewing machine, you'd have to buy one, and mine was $260 or so, if memory serves. It was 5 years ago... I don't remember how much it costed at the time. Although, hang on...
Mine is a Singer Brilliance, digital sewing machine, which can be picked up on Amazon ranging from $90 to $220. I also have an entire box full of thread of many different colors, needles of every variety, pins, buttons, snaps, a pair of ultra sharp scissors, a seam ripper, and a fairly heavy-duty hot glue gun, plus experience in sewing. (I took Fiber Arts in high school, because I didn't know what "fiber arts" meant. I showed up to find the room full of sewing machines, and decided I'd take the class anyway. Turned out to be a smart move.)
My guide will cover all the projected costs, no matter what you choose to do to make yours. It will also give tips on selecting a sewing machine for people interested in getting one. However, if you don't already know how to use one of the machines, you'll have to learn how, because I'm not going to teach you. Too much to cover, and way too many different kinds of machines to account for.
Warning: Don't just run out and buy any old sewing machine. There is a difference, and a very big one. For example: Older sewing machines are extremely complicated compared to newer designs, and are a nightmare to set up. Newer ones have a better bobbin system that saves a lot of the hassle of trying to get it ready to sew. They also come with more intuitive stitch selections, and often come with many, many more stitch types than the older models. My mom's machine was ancient and only had 14 stitch types, mine has 99. (Yes, stitch type matters, too.)
My machine is a Singer Brilliance, but you might want to get a Husqvarna Viking, which is far superior to mine (although insanely more expensive.) The Viking was the first machine I learned how to use. It was a Husqvarna Viking Lily 555. I had a Brother at some point (sewing machine, not sibling) but it wasn't a digital one and I didn't like it. It also had too few stitch kinds. I think I only had it for a year before buying my Singer and giving my Brother to my mom, because her old one was super warn out, and old as shit. (That sounded really weird... "I gave my Brother to my mom"... "Here, mom, I don't want my brother anymore. You can have him. I have a singer now, and he's much better.")
Anyway, I can't get started until I have my pattern, and it's supposed to take until Saturday to get here. But that's ok... It gives me plenty of time to think about how to do the markers. I want them to be removable so that the suit can be machine washable. I have cats, and cat hair gets everywhere, and on everything. Also mocapping is sweaty business.... you're doing a lot of physical activity in your suit, so in order to avoid having suits get nasty from body oils and sweat, I need to find a way of making these things washable, but also to do the washing part without wrecking the all-important markers. I've given it some thought already, (8 hours of walking gives you plenty of time to think) but I don't have anything solid just yet. I'm still working on how to accomplish that without making them stick way off the suit. And I'm still working out the marker size. Some suits have them really small, some suits have them relatively large, and some have a size in between.
Either way, it will all be in the plans.