Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hoods in Clear Vinyl

Ongoing hood construction experiments in vinyl, this time crystal clear. Turns out that when Karen Hsiao tried to shoot the smoky dark tinted vinyl I worked with before (see here), it looked more like patent leather than something transparent. It wasn't exactly see-through when she got it on her model. 

There will be no mistaking it this time: this stuff is totally see-through. 

Can't say I love sewing the vinyl itself. It is difficult to work with - first off because it's so hard to see. I don't know how they ever managed to make Wonder Woman's invisible plane. It's very slippery and plastic-y. Doesn't breathe at all.
 There is something very precise about it, however... and it's cool to be able to see through to the marks on the other workpieces. These pieces don't stretch or move around as you sew them. 
 It makes aligning pattern parts pretty simple. Kind of like having x-ray vision. 
 You have to triple-check everything, because it's easy to work on the "wrong" side unintentionally. On one of these, I sewed the tongue to the wrong side. But then I thought: If I can't see it, will anyone even ever notice? My guess is no.
 I suppose it's a good exercise in stitch placement control. You could definitely see it clearly if you aren't sewing exactly on the line. 
 I used double-sided sewing tape to hold the seam allowance in place along curved mouth or face openings.
 On a leather workpiece, these seams could be glued down and folded before sewing. 
 But with the vinyl, I needed a way to hold the seam allowance in place without glue. I tried freehanding it without the tape, but it proved nearly impossible to get a smooth edge. It's too hard to pull the panels apart for topstitching while guiding all the little notched parts of the seam allowance in a controlled way. 
 Tape to the rescue. You can see the 3 hood types here: 2 open face variations, and one mouth-only. 
 Once the tape is in place, I peel off the backing paper with the seam ripper. 
 This leaves just the adhesive itself behind. 

 The 3 hoods, nearly complete: 
 One other thing I got to try was using heat to help the vinyl take the shape of the head form. I hit the hood gently with the heat gun. You can see the before and after below: It definitely works! The wrinkles smoothed out, and the hood really took on the complex contours of the wood form. 
I felt like I was walking a fine line: Just enough heat to take the shape. Too much, and I felt like the vinyl could easily ripple or distort too much. 

I'm also making a set of removable face-covers for one of the open-faced hoods. These will attach with snaps around the face opening. 

 There will be one in black lamb, one in ivory lamb, and one in the clear vinyl. 

There will be an open-eye and mouth version, along with a nose-only version in each material. 
 Before topstitching...
 ...and after:
 I like how the face-covers look almost like primitive masks or some kind of modern art...

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