Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Forest Guardian - Belt, Bracers & Quiver

Greetings! Welcome to part 2 of Forest Guardian. If you want to look at my pants, shirt and cape, go here!

Thanks to EleventhPhotograph for taking some nice shots of me at Costume Con!

I must say, I am very inexperienced at working with leather, but I daresay I learned a great deal on this project! Namely that leather stretches a lot when you try to sew layers together. You can't pin it, but mini bulldog clips work surprisingly well. I suggest picking up a pack from Staples (or any other local office  supply store) if you are going to do this, its worth it. I have red and green ones! :) Also get a leather needle for your sewing machine.

You may notice that there are 2 different colours of leather used in this project; I used the 2 different sides of my main leather (the leather side and the suede side) as well as a matching suede for reinforcement purposes. Any outer detail is done with the suede side of the leather, while the inner reinforcement layers are done in suede.

I started with the bracers. First I patterned my shape in paper, when I was satisfied I cut out 3 for each arm: 1 suede, 1 leather, 1 leather (with the middle cut out).

I sewed the suede and leather layers together, then sewed the fancy outline piece on suede side out.

Then I attached the loops for the lacing. It was basically a strip of suede with circles cut out of the middle folded in half. (Above you can see it folded and open) These were sewn on following the top stitching line of the inner part of the topmost detail piece. I added one more loop above where my middle finger would be on the inside so I could take the end of the lace and secure my hand into the bracer. They were designed to go over the top of the hands, and without that loop they would just flap awkwardly. The bracers are strong enough, but still bend easily at the wrists allowing me full range of motion.
Next I made 2 pouches for the belt. One is a coin purse, the other was for my cellphone. I didn't have any pockets in this garment, so the pouches were both practical from a wearers point of view as well as a design point of view. Meaning most adventuring type characters would need a place to put stuff.

The coin purse was actually based off the dice bag of a friend of mine at D&D. It was made using a strip of leather with an eye shaped piece of suede attached to each side. the suede was pinched and folded evenly along the top edge where I marked and punched holes for the laces. When pulled tight the laces cinch in the top, closing the purse. I attached a loop at the back to hang it off the belt.

The second pouch, or my ye olde cellphone pocket was made by simply plopping my phone down on the leather and drawing a rounded shape slightly bigger than it. I cut 2 pieces like this and attached beltloops to the back piece before sewing them together. Then I made a fancy flap to go over the top.

 The belt itself is both decorative and functional. It had to be strong enough to support the weight of the quiver and pouches while still remaining tight and holding the layers in place at the waist. Like the bracers there is a piece of leather with a piece of suede underneath to give a bit more support. Visually I didn't want any buckles on this costume, I wanted all the closures to be done with ties, because it looks more organic/more handmade. The belt folds under itself and the narrower section is threaded through a slit in the belt.

This is then cinched tight with a tie. On the surface of the belt there are belt loops that hold up the ties. This keeps the pouches and quiver from shifting positions. The tie is simply 4 different laces sewn together at each end with a triangle of leather. There are a couple feathers hanging off the end as a detail.

The quiver itself was a big rectangle with a "cuff" added at the top to make it a little more fancy.

Attached to the main piece on the inside is a thin strip of styrene plastic (leftover from Asuna) to provide reinforcement and help the quiver keep shape when the arrows are removed. I simply sewed a piece of suede over it to attach it. The stitching is visible on the back of the quiver, but that part is to the inside and is therefore unnoticeable. (Though there are 3 pieces pictured I only ended up putting in 1!) I was going to make the quiver lined with an extra layer of suede to hide the reinforcement, but that didn't work well so I scrapped that bit.

I used bulldog clips to "pin" the quiver into it's finished shape and marked where the beltloops needed to go. I attached the beltloops to the back of the quiver, then stitched the bottom in, before closing up the side seam.

In the original design, the quiver was actually supposed to go at the shoulder, but with the straps, embroidered panel and cape that area was going to be too busy. Also I didn't want the straps to tug on any of the embroidery. So it was a last minute decision to move it to the hip, but was worried I would get called out on this for inaccuracy because I know next to nothing about archery. Incidentally I was told by a fellow costumer in the greenroom that it was actually a perfectly accepted location for the quiver (apparently used by Olympic athletes, or so I was told) more logical than a back quiver in certain circumstances. Woo!

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