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Unread 11-30-2012, 06:31 AM   #1
pink_killer
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Working with Leather

Hi guys! I'm in need of some help.

My boyfriend and I are going to cosplay Albus and Shanoa from Castlevania. We aren't too sure how to go about working with leather - serious noobs with leather working - so we were wondering if we can get some pointers, tutorials, or recommendations for people who can commission working with leather.

Because we just don't want to waste money and work on material that we have no experience with, we thought just getting commissioned would be easier and better. However, if it isn't that difficult, I'd like to give it a shot.

Here are some reference pictures

Albus

Shanoa
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Unread 11-30-2012, 08:12 AM   #2
Penlowe
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For his, real leather is optional, sure it would look great, but function-wise it isn't necessary. It could be done in either an ultrasuede (fabric that is mock suede) or a nice vinyl would work quite well, it's more beginner friendly than the real thing and a little bit cheaper. For yours, oy, I would avoid working in real leather at all costs. Corsets are made from a lot of layers, unless someone is wet forming saddle leather into said corset it would be extremely challenging to do in real leather.

They are great outfits, easily translated into real garments, I just don't think real leather is necessary to a great final finish- and I'm a fabric snob.
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Unread 11-30-2012, 09:08 AM   #3
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embossing vinyl is a bit tricky though
siding with leather if only for the embossing work
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Unread 11-30-2012, 09:37 AM   #4
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It's not really a corset, just a chestplate because her back is bare and her tattoo is visible. So, essentially, I'd imagine it being strapped onto her body via some method or snap/hook into place on the bodice.

This is where it gets tricky. For Albus, I'd assume it would be a mock leather material..I just wouldn't know how to emboss faux material...would that even work on vinyl or pleather? I've never ever tried that; this is the first costume that I'd come across with such work. His is an actual garment, not "armor" as opposed to Shanoa.

For Shanoa, I did think of doing the craft foam method. Do you think that might work?

Craft Foam Tutorial

Those are honestly the only complex part of the costume. The garments themselves are very simple.
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Unread 11-30-2012, 09:44 AM   #5
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Of course, embossing garment leather (especially complex patterns like that) ain't easy either.

The process involves a combination of heat and pressure, best applied by a press. It's actually the same process for embossing vinyl, vinyl is just more touchy. If you over heat leather, you just scorch it a bit. If you over heat vinyl, it melts.

Tooling leather is way easier (and quite a bit of fun, in my humble opinion). That just takes pressure applied by a hammer. But the type of leather involved is heavier and stiffer, and not appropriate for garments.
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Unread 11-30-2012, 10:05 AM   #6
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For the sake of ease and cost, should I just go ahead and make it out of a suede or something similar? I keep thinking about the suede and I think it would rather look nice.

Should I just do, instead of the indentation of the design, should I just go ahead and maybe raise it?

I still want to get as accurate as possible. :/ That's why I was going to go with the leather but I know that might get expensive unless I find someone who knows what they're doing with it.
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Unread 11-30-2012, 10:21 AM   #7
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If you're inexperienced and want to keep the costs down, maybe even paint or draw the complex pattern onto the surface of a suede or vinyl, instead of trying to tool it into hard leather.

I think that vest would look great in a suede-like material, and be much more comfortable to wear.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 12:08 AM   #8
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If you're saying things like "for the sake of cost and ease", I would avoid leather all together. Leather isn't really.. easy. But it's not hard. It takes patience though and you most likely will run into things that you'll have to troubleshoot and research first.
Getting started with leather is kind of pricey. You usually have to buy them by whole parts.. as in the whole shoulder, side of a cow/whatever animal the leather is coming from. Which can range from 40 to 80 dollars itself. And then tools, dye, etc. Yeah, when you're first getting started: expensive. My first run to the leather store cost me about 80 dollars? I still had to go back for more and do some troubleshooting.. and I maybe spent another 20 dollars there? So 100 dollars for my first project, but I made two Steampunk pouches and multiple bandoliers, and I still have alot of leather left over.


It's definitely not worth it if you're not intending to continue working with leather in the future after this one project. It's not really a one-project-friendly thing XD; But if you're really interested in it and want to improve, go ahead. After the start-up, it gets a little cheaper from there. When you go back to the shop, you'll only need to buy more leather if you use up the whole hide you bought the first time, maybe more dyes and finishes, and replacing any tools that break (which shouldn't happen if you buy the right ones the first time). Or if you're getting the hang of things and want to upgrade to something else. Hardware is pretty cheap (eyelets, buckles, rivets, etc) and the small things come in bulk, not like the fabric stores sell expensively lol.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 03:09 AM   #9
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Working with suede is really quite a bit like working with regular fabric. Because it is split, it is cheaper than topgrain leather. The major differences are that you want to use a different type of needle in your sewing machine, and you have to lay out your pattern pieces a little more carefully.

Luckily, with garment leather and suede, you don't really need to buy any other specialized tools (not counting the tools needed to do embossing). Most of the tools and dyes and such are for vegetable tanned leather. As mentioned, you do need to buy leather by the section of the hide, not by the yard like fabric. However, a project like a jacket would easily use up the bulk of a side of leather (I'm pretty sure that's right, I haven't done any project larger than gloves in garment leather)

Because of the cost involved, it would likely be worth the effort to sew a mockup of the pieces first. You use cheap fabric, so there isn't much risk if you screw up, it lets you tweek your pattern, and potentially, you can use it as a liner for pieces like the jacket if it comes out well.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 04:47 AM   #10
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I wouldn't use leather at all for Shanoa. Even in the game, that armor looked like black-stained steel to me. Craft foam is doable, and you can sculpt those raised gold details by applying Paperclay or something similar against the surface. Craft foam armor can be fragile, though, so you'll want to really protect the surface.

Albus could easily be wearing leather or a leather-like material. FYI, that image you linked looks like a fan rendering, not actual Konami artwork. This is the real artwork it's based on, which shows more detail:
http://www.creativeuncut.com/gallery-12/coe-albus.html

That detail work wouldn't necessarily have to be tooled or embossed, though. It could be done as linework embroidery / decorative stitching, which would give it a texture (especially if you used topstitching thread instead of regular thread). Decorative stitching would work well with garment leather or a woven imitation suede.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:29 AM   #11
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I did not realize it was backless, going to second EB on the craft foam because weight WILL be a consideration. The lighter you can get the chest piece, the easier it'll be to hang it on the garment without it pulling the dress down or off of her.

I had a thought on the guys jacket (which the more I look at it the more I like it, heck I'd wear that out on an ordinary day).
There is a quilting technique called trapunto where you sew two layers of fabric together, cut a tiny hole in the back layer and stuff as much or as little as you want. i think if you used ultrasuede you could very easily replicate the tooling via trapunto quilting. It gives the advantage of not requiring heat or extra tools and if you get a stitch too far, you can pick it out. Scroll down to Image 2 for an awesome example of trapunto
http://wkneedle.bayrose.org/Articles/Stitched.html
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