Thursday, December 25, 2014

Boot Binder Sleepsack Part IV - Second fit test

For those of you who are curious to see the 2nd prototype, here's the fit test with the internal sleeves in place:
It fit really nicely, but because the position of the arms was different... made the fit at the shoulders change near the neck. This is why it's so important to do a fit test with any alterations you make: a change in position of the arms makes the shape of the shoulders different. Edits like this can ripple though the entire pattern. So if you still want a skin tight fit, you may have to make adjustments along the way. 

 The whole leg pocket fit was unchanged from the last time. Next time: you get to see how it all turned out.

P.S. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my leather-crafty friends and pervy readers all over the world. Here's to a happy and healthy 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Prototype Process

The goal: "Perfection". Oh, that's all? 
I didn’t realize until I started making custom gear how much work was involved in achieving a “perfect” fit. (Or at least as close to perfect as I can possibly get...) As I have worked on a lot of project for different people, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and come to some conclusions…

The first might sound kind of obvious, but it’s huge: Every body is different. 
We come in all shapes and sizes. Well, duh! 

Everyone has a very different body shape, with widely varying sizes and proportions. Just considering the head, the variations between the overall shape of the head and neck, the position of the features on the face, the shape and profile of the nose, chin, brow ridge, lips, ears - there’s a staggering amount of diversity in the shape and size of individual humans. When you are talking about the whole body, the distribution of weight, shape of the shoulders, chest, back, hips, buttocks, the length of the torso, size of the hands, arm-span, length of legs. There is an incredible range. 

Recessed chins and pointy noses are just two of the countless points of differentiation. 

I know most clothing manufacturers use fit models who usually have “ideal” measurements. But how many people actually match these dimensions? There are probably very few who share that exact sizing. But I imagine all their clothes would fit wonderfully. At least all the ones made by that manufacturer using that model! How many women do you know that can always find jeans that fit? It’s an ongoing challenge for most. Based on the complexity of the shape (or should I say variety of shapes) of different women’s hip, thigh, buttock, waist area, I can appreciate the design challenge of making a perfectly fitted pair of jeans. 

A typical “build-to-fit” process for me takes at least five sessions:

First session: Initial measurements and tape wraps
Have the model assume the desired position, and use plastic wrap and duct tape to create a form in the desired shape. The wrapped form is used to create a pattern, which is used to make a test-fit garment in fabric or vinyl. Ideally this test garment is made in a material that closely mimics the weight, thickness and stretchability of the final garment. 

Challenges: This session is usually hot, stick and uncomfortable. Plastic wrap doesn’t breathe so your model can get sweaty, and the duct tape can be kind of smelly. You will get a workout pulling all that tape off of the roll. Plus it can easily take an hour or more to make a sleepsack wrap. It takes patience and time to go through this part of the process. Head wraps can be invaluable for making a fitted hood pattern, although these days I have master patterns that can be modified to fit most heads without going through that trouble. 

Second session: try on prototype, make notes, measurements and edits to workpiece. 
The first actual “try-it-on” fit session, the purpose is to try on the prototype and check for any problems. Is the fit close, but not too tight? Are the seams well placed? Do the openings end up where they belong? No bulges or bumps? Is it comfortable? Is there any part that could be let out or taken in? These questions are all considered, and if necessary a second prototype is made integrating the changes. Typically I use a centered zipper at the test phase, even if the final is going to be laced. The zipper is faster to put in, and will still give me the answer to the question of how the pattern pieces are fitting together. 

Third session. Check edits or try on prototype #2. 
Often when coming up with a completely new design, a 2nd prototype is necessary. This not only helps me zero in on the fit, but to try out different production techniques as well. Some elements might be tricky to sew, but after sewing something a few times, I start to come up with solutions along the way. I try to keep notes including “Next time” suggestions to myself for later reference. You get a lot of “eureka!” moments when making prototypes. 

Fourth session: Try on actual garment. Check for fit, problem solve, trouble-shoot. 
This is the true test of the final design in the final material. All the work from previous sessions and all the time spent in protoyping hopefully pays off at this stage with a beautifully-fitted garment. In the real world, sometimes this is where new problems arise that were not anticipated with the prototypes. Vinyl and fabric can be used to simulate leather, but sometimes the stretch is different, and something that fit perfectly in vinyl is now too tight in leather. Usually, the experience of wearing the leather version is far better for the model than the duct-tape of vinyl version (which may have been sticky, sweaty and smelly). Any necessary edits at this stage are painful, but more notes and additional edits are made to the pattern if necessary. 

Fifth session: The final result.
We’ve gone though all this to get here: a model in a form-fitted restraint that fits every curve, is tight, but soft, comfortable yet confining. We have a pattern that works, with notes and production techniques that deliver consistent high-quality results. All of  this work for a single restraint that fits a single unique individual, with every curve contour and shape beautifully enclosed. Job well done. And on to the next project!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Boot Binder Sleepsack Part III - Second Vinyl Fit Test

The fit test of the 2nd vinyl prototype went smashingly well. 

The foot pocket fit like a dream. 
The little areas of pattern that were modified from version 1 gave the desired result: still a super-tight fit, but bearable for the model. I was even able to grab my camera and take a few quick shots. 
Every curve and contour from the heels of her boots to her shoulders was beautifully encased. Her hands were tight, but not "get me out right now" tight. 
 The lower section just fit so well, I was very, very happy. This was my Christmas morning a bit early this year. 
 Here's a close-up of the front and side of the boot pocket. It's about as good as it gets. 
 I just had to mark some lines for the internal sleeves, and make some minor modifications at the shoulder to get the fit just right, and the job of the 2nd vinyl prototype was complete. I am ready now to go to real leather. 

Boot Binder Sleepsack Part II - Second vinyl prototype

So at this stage the changes and edits to the pattern from prototype number 1 have been made, and the new sack is underway. 

 I'm still working on that tricky seam at the foot pocket. 
 Those 2 radically curved shapes can be a pain to keep aligned while sewing. Hence, lots of clips. 
 I'm getting a good result, and the topstitching is getting cleaner. 
 Makes a pretty radical shape. 

 I give the heel pocket a little more attention this time, trying to sew the little end piece in place. 
 It's another challenge to sew in such a tight little area. 
 I finally manage to get it sewn...
 And overall the foot pocket is looking pretty great. 

Time for a second fit-test...

PD's Insex Hood Pattern Circa 1999

Someone asked me if I had a copy of the hood pattern PD posted a long time ago on InSex since I mentioned it in my "20 Questions" post.  I managed to find a copy in the archives, and if you want you can download the original PDF here.  

The original drawstring hood pattern posted by PD circa 1999.

The hood is kind of a fitted bag which tapers at the top and provides some space for the nose while remaining un-contoured at the neck. The design calls for a drawstring just beneath the jaw, which can pull the hood tight and wrap around the neck. Another devious and ingenious design from the mind of PD. Rather simple construction, and a design that would fit a wide range of models. 

A 20 Questions update: I found out that PD does have a FetLife account and tried to contact him there, and also purchased the movie "Graphic Sexual Horror" which is available at Amazon, and is pretty much a documentary about InSex and PD. It answered a lot of questions I had about the man and the site, and I hope to post an update shortly... Thanks to all of you who contacted me with information. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Boot Binder Sleepsack Part I - Patterns and Prototypes

The Plan: to integrate the boot binder foot pocket into a complete-enclosure sleepsack.
The first boot binder prototype.
I've been working many hours lately on a sleepsack with an integrated boot-binder foot pocket - one of my "10 projects." The idea is to have sleeves that position the arms behind the back (as opposed to along the sides of the body, as with most of the sleepsacks I've completed so far) because I really wanted to emphasize the smallness of the model's waist, and create a really elongated look. Plus, how sexy is it going to be that she's in the sack with her boots on? Very sexy! To me, at least...

The foot pocket creates a pretty complex shape. It holds the legs together tightly and creates a small pocket for the heels. 

I begin with the pattern for an existing sleepsack. I have to integrate the pattern for the boot binder pocket into the sack, at just the right position. 

I found that with the model's arms in an armbinder, the waist could actually be made a bit tighter. They take up less room within the sack when they're behind her back than they would at her sides. Of course, my model thinks I'll take any excuse to make something tighter. I can't really argue with her on that one...
The image below shows the 4 foot-pocket shapes pretty clearly. The extended straight toe of the front panel, the heel extended on the rear panel, the toe piece which also creates the side of the foot pocket, and the bottom piece which forms part of the heel pocket as well. 
Once I got the pattern to where I was happy with it, I start sewing the pieces to create the prototype out of red vinyl. (Side note: She liked the red so much I decided to make the final in red for her as well!)
Even though I don't worry about gluing down the seam allowance, I still topstitch the seams to make them lay flat. I don't want to torture my model too much... Otherwise she may stop playing with me altogether. 
All the darts and other design elements get stitched. 
One tricky part is getting the piece near the foot pocket to align. You can get into trouble with precision alignment along long seams with leather, as it stretches and moves as you sew it. It's always best to design with this idea in mind, as it can create asymmetry in you final piece if you're not careful. 
I'm trying to make sure all 3 pieces come together on this one before I start sewing. 
But it's a tricky connection: Go to far, and you have a pucker. Don't go far enough, and you can end up with a gap. You definitely don't want either. 
Spoiler alert: I found a better way to do this. But I'll save that story for later. 
At this point, you can see the seams aligned pretty well. The heel pocket and side panel look just about right. See the lines lining up? 
One of the hardest things I do is sewing 2 differently shaped curved pieces to each other. The toe-pocket in particular had some tight curves that proved to be challenging. The best strategy is to keep the seam allowance on both pieces as consistent as possible. That way you can tell if they're lining up or not as you are going along. 
Coming along...
I found at this point some areas where the pattern needed adjusting. This is exactly why you test things out, and proof the pattern before making it in leather. Edits get made directly to the paper pattern. Immediately (before I forget). 
Lots of clips are employed to hold the bottom of the foot pocket in place. 
And after sewing...
This is looking pretty good. 
Starting to come together...
Now for the rear closure. 
Just need to clip and sew a couple of inches at the bottom. 
Then set in the zipper, and topstitch in place. 
...and yes. Looks pretty cool!
Cut to a few days later, and we've had a time to try it on. So, how did it go? Let's just say it was super-tight. I actually got it zipped up, but not without a struggle, and promise of a future shopping excursion. 
Even with a vinyl that could stretch, there was some seams that needed adjusting. The bonus of using red: it made it easy to mark notes on the actual prototype. 
Of course, this prompted a bout of itching on behalf of our long-suffering model, which meant I had to work quickly in order to not incur her wrath. It's bad enough that the vinyl is smelly, and doesn't breathe... That's why: no pictures. I had to get done and get her out. 
The good news is: prototype #1 gave lots of great feedback. 
I had a set of precise instructions for edits to the pattern. 
And best of all: the foot pocket fit perfectly. Or at least as close to perfect as I can make it. 
More to come...