strange_doings: (Default)
strange_doings ([personal profile] strange_doings) wrote2013-03-31 09:28 pm
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Prototype: hero hoodies

I'm working on the prototypes for superhero armor hoodies, I've got one done and one in progress. The first one taught me a lot, I'm already changing things up for #2. If these go well, and I get some good feedback, they may be up for sale soon.

So, I suppose the first thing to admit that "hoodie" is sort of the wrong term for what's coming off the sewing table. In the design process, I started with a basic hoodie style - zip front, hood, etc. As I worked on incorporating all the Hero Suit armor details onto the body of the hoodie, it became clear that the first thing to go was the zip. They had to be straightforward sweatshirts instead. Pullovers! That way, the clearly symmetrical shapes on the front of the armor could be preserved without a big split down the middle. The second change was the hoods. I wanted to make hoods that look like the helmets, but fitting them with the collar was getting complicated. So, the hoods will henceforth be detachable - and optional.

The sweatshirt base is solid black, thick and warm. All the detailing on the top - white, gray, dark gray, green, and yellow on this version - is t-shirt knit. All the applique shapes are topstitched on except for the yellow circles on the sleeves, those are satin-stitched on to make them stand out. I think the straight-stitching is the best way to go with the knits, the curves were surprisingly easy to maintain.

The back of the suits have less detail, and it's more abstract, but all the better for the large applique pieces. The center also has a black-on-black applique piece down the lower back with a ladder-stitch shape, to simulate the backbone piece on the Hero Suit.

A quick shot of the sleeves from the side show some of the detail. They are symmetrical front to back, simulating the shoulder pauldrons and gauntlets as flat pieces.

What I'm already changing:

I'm altering the collar to actually have a full ribbed collar underneath, the better for flexibility, as I've discovered that the sweatshirt knit is not all that stretchy after all. That will also give me a spot to which to attach velcro for the detachable hood (which I haven't prototyped yet).

I'm also going to change how the standing collar and collar trim is attached. It's pretty difficult to do a standard mitered corner and sandwiched trim when you're working with knits, and there's got to be a much faster and easier way to accomplish the same look.

I also would like to invest in some ball-point needles and a walking foot so that my machine will not fight with the knit so much. I so rarely work with knits, this is something of a first so I don't have the "proper" equipment on hand. If I start to produce these on a regular basis, proper equipment will be a must.

Prototype #2 will be the Bunny, pink and raspberry with blue and purple accents. I will prototype the hood to go with it, and if it turns out well, I'll be selling the prototype in order to fund the investment of equipment. This Tiger prototype is mine, all mine! It's very comfy, warm and snuggly with layered knits as they are. It's the sort of shirt that will be great for fall and winter when layered with a black shirt underneath, or worn alone in warmer weather.

The only real worry is that there is so much work involved in the piecing and applique on these pullovers, that they're going to be expensive. Never mind that the base sweatshirt fabric is ridiculously expensive on its own. I refuse to buy it at full price. The jersey knits for the applique are not so bad, and a little purchase goes a long way - a fraction of a yard will supply multiple shirts. But even with my patterns drafted, the piecing is still going to take time. I don't think it will be possible to sell these shirts for less than $75. For a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted fandom clothing item, that's not bad, but a lot of nerds may be put off when they can just get screen-painted Marvel sweatshirts at Kohl's for half that.

The real difference is, I won't (and can't) copy licensed items, so I'm staying away from the comic book heroes. Instead, I'll offer custom one-of-a-kind armor pullovers based on other properties: Tiger & Bunny, Gundam, Koei Warriors even. I may put up photos of the prototypes as examples, and let the customer determine the design. All I need is reference pictures and I can draft almost anything - but drafting a custom design will require a charge as well. It took me three days to draft the shapes for the Tiger pullover. Drafting a Gundam or a video game warrior from scratch all over again takes time, and time is money.

Thanks for checking it out! I'd appreciate feedback if anyone has any!