Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mai, Avatar:TLA Wig

mai01So, I decided to cosplay Mai from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Her costume is all sorts of weird. The weirdest is her hair. It has what on first look is 2 little buns, one big bun and 2 pony tails coming from the back.






You can see here the issues that would be facing me making this wig. On closer inspection I determined that I only needed to make one bun and could do the 2 smaller bun like shapes with hair loops. Like they would be made with real hair. The style is called Ox Horns, and is a common Chinese style.

Gathering the materials:

Materials Needed:

A Base Wig
Foam Structure for Bun
Needles: Straight and Curved
Thread: Heavy Duty Button or Upholstery
Black Paint or Black Fabric
Wig head
Scissors: Sharp, short pointed ones
Rubber Bands

I bought all my wig stuff from I used a New Look Linda in Black for the base wig. For the rest of the wig I bought 2 New Look Clip-On SXL’s in black. I have most of one left over. For the inside of the bun structure I used a 3inch green Styrofoam ball from Joann’s. I use glue instead of caulk for making wigs because I do not want to put caulk near my head. The glue I have found to work the best is Aleene’s Tacky Glue. I love that stuff for all crafting projects. The hairspray I use is Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray. Amazing stuff, I like it better than Aquanet.

Getting Started: 

100_1730Put the base wig up into a low ponytail:

I carefully gathered the hair into a low ponytail that sits about an inch above the back of the wig. Leaving out the pieces for the sideburns and the bangs.  Careful to not pull the wig too tight, so as to not make it to small. To do this I Usually pad out a wig head to my head measurements with cotton batting and fabric pinned to the wig head. I then tightly bound the ponytail and cut it short. Then I sealed it with glue, working glue down into the ponytail stump to seal the fibers together.


100_1735Make an Odango/Bun:

I followed Kukkii-san from’s Odango tutorial, sort of. I carved out the foam ball and then covered it with glue and black fabric, instead of paint. Then I took one of the clip-on ponytails and took the clip out of it and stretched the wefted end as far around the ball as I could and glued it down. 100_1740Then I pulled the fibers around the ball and cut them to the right length.Then I hairsprayed the fibers until they glued themselves to the ball. I then covered the ends inside the ball with more black fabric and glue to hold them in place.


100_1743Make 2 Hair Loops for the “Ox Horns”:

I started by taking a bundle of fibers about as big around as my finger and about 5-6 inches long and stubbing both ends. I bound each end really tight ly and sealed them with glue, working glue down into the fibers to hold them together. Make 2 of these. 100_1734Then, when the stubs were dry I stitched the ends together to make the loops.






100_1732Separate out some wefts for the 2 tails:

I took apart the other clip-on and cut out about 4 wefts for each tail.






Putting it all together:

100_1748Attach the Odango to the ponytail stub:

First I pinned the odango in place from the inside of the wig. Then, using my curved needle I sewed the odango to all the places I had put a pin. I needed plyers to pull the needle through the odango.


100_1750Attach the “Ox Horns”:

First I sewed down the ends of the loops, pointing to the back of the wig. I needed plyers here to pull the needle through the stubs. The loop should be flat to the top of the wig.100_1754


Then I passed a loop of thread through the fiber loop and pulled it to the back of the stubs. Then stitched that down to the wig.100_1753 Pulling the fiber loop around the

stubs to cover them. And pulling the fiber tight to the wig.




100_1756Attach the tails:

I sewed the wefts down to the back edge of the wig. One to each side of the center seam. 100_1758



Using heavy duty thread and large whip stitches. I stitched back and forth.



Finishing Touches:

100_1731Cut the Bangs and Sideburns:

I had a friend help me with this. She cut them while I was wearing the wig to get the bangs to the right length—just at the eyebrows. The sideburns I cut just below my ears.


maiSideCut the Tails to length:

I cut the tails to the right length while wearing the wig.






Now Go Fight!!


Installing a Zipper Into a Lined Garment

A couple years ago I made the decision to line most of the costumes I make. It makes the costume look better from the inside and can keep the outside looking better when wearing it. This decision did bring with it some complications, such as, how to install a zipper if the garment needs one. After making many lined garments with zippers this is the way I install one. Just as a side note, I have decided that I HATE invisible zippers and will probably never use one again. If I have to hide the zipper I will just make the fold over of one of the sides longer, so as to make a flap.
So, on to the tutorial.

Materials needed:

Sewing machine with zipper foot 
Garment you are installing the zipper in, and zipper




Determine the length and color of your zipper.

100_1828  I am installing my zipper in to the back of a 2 color dress, the top is purple and the bottom is pink. Because the majority of the seam I am installing the zipper at is purple, I am using a purple 24inch zipper.



Attaching the Zipper to the Lining

Pin the outside edge of the zipper tape to the right side of the lining, with the zipper facing up:
Either at the edge of your fabric, or aligning the zipper to your stitching line. I am aligning my zipper to the edge of my fabric because I am using about 1/2 inch seam allowances. If you have a larger seam allowance you would move the zipper tape in from the edge of the fabric. Also, you can over lap the zipper if you do not want it to show. Pin straight across the tape, going under the zipper coil. Depending on your preference, you can pin from the top of the zipper or from where bottom, placing the end of the zipper where you ended the seam you are installing the zipper in. I started from the top because I need the seam where the top meets the skirt to match on both sides of the zipper.
100_1833Sew the zipper tape to the fabric:
I run my zipper foot along the outside edge of the tape and have the needle on the inside of the foot. So, in this picture on the left of the zipper foot.

Pin the other zipper tape to the other half of the lining:100_1834
Unzip and open out the zipper. Pin the outside edge of the zipper tape to the other half or the lining, right side up, with the zipper facing up. Pin straight across the tape. I usually pin from the outside to the inside.

Sew the zipper tape to the fabric:
Again I position my zipper foot at the outside edge of the tape with the needle on the left of the foot. I run the machine fairly slowly while putting in zippers so as to maintain control. Be careful not to stich over the coil itself otherwise you will not be able to zip the zipper.


The zipper is now attached to the inside of the lining so that when you fold back the seam allowances,  the right side of the zipper is between the layers of the garment.

Attaching the Zipper to the Outside Fabric:

100_1840Fold and/or press your seam allowances:
Because I am using a Satin of indeterminate origin—I did not buy it—I do not know how safe it would be to iron it so I am folding and creasing the seam allowances by hand. With fabrics I know it is safe to use an iron on, I press my seam allowances.

100_1841Pin your seam allowance to one half of the zipper tape:

Place the folded edge close to the zipper coil, but not right against it. If you want the fabric to over lap the zipper, you can place it passed the coil. I have found that this does make it a little more difficult to zip and unzip the zipper.

100_1844Sew the seam:
I place the right edge of my zipper foot approximately 1/8 inch from the edge of my fabric, and the needle to the right of my foot. Between the edge of the fabric and the foot. Because my garment has 2 colors of fabric I have to change my thread at that seam. I back stitch a few stitches when I get to it.

100_1849Repeat the last two steps on the other half of the seam. And you have installed the zipper.



100_1854As a finishing touch I like to sew across the bottom of the  zipper.

This keeps the end of the zipper tape in place. It is also how you shorten a Zipper if it is too long.

100_1858Because my garment is 2 colors and the zipper is a dark color I needed to add a flap to the pink part of the skirt.

This flap covers the zipper so that the purple coil cant be seen. Because it wasn’t planed for it looks a little rough. I added it between the zipper tape and the folded edge of the outer fabric.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Segmented PVC Pipe Wig Stand

Since I have to do a fairly major dye job on a long wig, I decided I needed to make a wig stand. Previously for working on long wigs I used a microphone stand. However it does not fit in the tub, where I will be doing the dye work. Also, it is metal and may not take well to all the water that will be sprayed on the wig.

Materials and Tools

For my wig stand, I decided to make it segmented for portability, and the ability to make it taller if needed. It took me about 2 hours to make. The materials I used are PVC pipe and fittings--two 5 foot long pieces of ¾ inch pipe, three ¾ inch slip/threaded “T” connecters, nine slip/threaded3/4 inch male adapters *, six slip/threaded ¾ inch female adapters *, four3/4 inch slip end caps, and one ½ inch threaded plug; Clear PVC cleaner, Purple PVC primer, and Orange PVC cement. The tools I used are a 1&5/8 inch PVC pipe cutter, a measuring tape, a Sharpie, protective gloves, a breathing filter and safety glasses. You will need to do this in a well ventilated area because the PVC cleaner, primer and cement all have harmful and potentially flammable fumes.
*male adapters have one end with the threads on the outsid3
*female addapters have one end with the threads on the inside

Making the Base:

Step 1: Cut your pipe.

Decide how long you want each segment to be, I decided on 12 inches, and measure and mark your pipe.
Cut your pipe into segments.

 Then cut 3 of the segments in half--these will be the base. You don’t have to use a pipe cutter—a saw or a drill with a cutting disc can be used—but I have found it a really worthwhile investment since I work with PVC pipe a lot.




Step 2: Clean and Prime your pieces.

Carefully read the instructions of your cleaner, primer and cement. Wear your gloves, filter, and glasses. Clean and prime one end of 4 of the short pieces you cut, clean and prime BOTH ends of the last 2. Clean and prime the inside of the NON-THREADED “T” connecter ends and 2 of the male adapters.



Step 3: Cementing the pieces together.

 Carefully read the instructions of your PVC Cement. Wearing your safety gear, apply a thin layer of cement on the primed end of one PVC piece and the inside of one primed end of a “T” connecter.

Insert the cemented pipe into the connecter with a twisting motion. Clean off any extra cement that bubbled out. Repeat for all small PVC pieces until you have 3 longer segments with a “T” connecter in the middle. Next take one segment and cement the 2 primed male adapters, one to each end.

Set aside the base to cure.



Making the Shaft:

Step 1: Clean and Prime your pieces.

If you haven’t cut your pieces, cut them out now. Then, wearing your safety gear, clean and prime both ends of all but one segment of PVC pipe. The last segment only needs to be cleaned and primed on one end. Clean and prime the NON-THREADED ends of all your remaining adapters.





Step 2: Cement the pieces together.

Apply a thin coat of cement to each end of a piece of pipe and the primed end a male adapter and a female adapter. Using a twisting motion, insert the pipe into the adapters male on one end and female on the other. Wipe off excess cement. Repeat for all but the last piece of pipe. The last piece of pipe only gets a male adapter.
Set aside the pieces to cure.




Finishing the ends:

Step 1: Clean and Prime the pieces.

 Clean and prime the outside of the ends of the side pieces of the base and the inside of the end of the top piece of the shaft. Clean and prime the insides of the end caps, and the outside of the threaded plug.





Step 2: Cement the pieces together.

Apply a thin coat of cement to the inside of one end cap and the outside of one end of a base side piece. Insert the base side piece into the end cap with a twisting motion. Repeat on all the base side piece ends. Apply a thin coat of cement to the inside of the end of the top shaft piece. Apply a thicker coat of cement to the threads of the threaded plug. Insert the end of the plug into the end of the shaft piece. Pound the plug into the pipe end. I just hit the plug end of the piece on the floor a couple times.
Set aside pieces to cure.

At this point I suggest washing each piece thoroughly, so nothing will be left to get on your wig. I used dish soap and Windsor Newton Brush Cleaner.

Assemble the stand:

Thread the base segment with the 2 male adapters into the threaded ends of the “T” connecters.Thread segments together, male adapters to female adapters. The top segment is the one with only a male adapter. Thread the end of the shaft into the base. Do not tighten all the way down, or you will have trouble taking it apart later.

Work on your wig.