S.I.G. cosplay fans, always a pleasure to see you here. First of all, my humble apologies for the shockingly long time between my previous post and this one. I will submit myself to a spanking by you if we ever meet in the analogue world.
Last time I covered making the Spectrum jacket for Captain Black, today we’re moving on to the hat.
Before we begin I will admit that I found this element to be the most difficult by far. I might be a little mad, but I willingly accept I’m not hatter. It wasn’t all that I hoped it would be (what is!?!), regardless, let’s get stuck in and hopefully you will learn something from my (many) mistakes!
A4 sheet thin clear plastic
Flexible aluminium wire (AKA Ally Wire)
White Blu tack
Black faux leather / PVC material
White thin material
Sticky backed black Velcro
Tissues, for the rivers of tears the construction will cause you 😉
One small sewing machine, chock full of attitude, and some spare needles (I bent three battling the thick material)
Large paperclips (helps to hold pieces in place whilst attaching)
Scalpel, steel ruler and cutting board (+ plasters if you’re bad with knives, I’m Scottish so know my way around a blade)
Compass (drawing not exploring kind) + fabric pencils + a round object to use when the compass inevitably pisses you off)
Clothing pins (as heavy duty as possible, especially if your base material is thick!)
Silver spray paint
Usual costume making stuff; scissors, pattern paper, gaffa tape (which is like 75% of all costumes)
Quick note: all the fabric pieces are hemmed, so if not explicitly stated assume you’ll need to leave ½ – 1 inch excess around all sides for hemming.
The Spectrum hat is an almost pillbox style, with the front and back the colour of the agent (for this costume, Captain Black, it’s all black). The top is all black with a white trim, and there are two black bits where the front of the hat meets with the back. Front and centre lies the Spectrum logo. It has a transparent peak, with a metal trim running round it. In the centre of the metal trim is a silver mouthpiece, and half the metal trim drops down to act as a microphone receiver. My version didn’t include the drop down bit, I had grand plans, but the harsh mistress of time meant I never managed to arrange that bit. Although I intend to return to it in future.
The actual on screen hat is a bit different from my final design, and I thought it important to explain the how and why! The edges of the front section are slightly concave, and the top of the hat slopes down, being taller at the front and tapering down to the back. The surrounding back sections puff out a little where they meet the front, and extend down a few centimetres below the front piece. To begin with I attempted to replicate it precisely, but being a novice costume maker, and an even novice’er milliner, I just couldn’t get it to come together and look good. My work around was simply to forget about the puffy bits, and fancy angles, and instead going for a simpler circular hat, essentially an upside down cake tin with a peak. So that’s what I did, and here’s how I did it!
For your measurements, measure your head around where you want the bottom of your hat to sit. Then measure from that point to the top of your head to ensure it has enough depth. This will help the hat to stay on your head, instead of resting atop it. Although I didn’t photograph it, I made a practice model of paper. The multiple paper cuts to my ears sucked, but the hat fit!
Front AKA Main Piece
As you can see in the image further above, my original front piece is curved, with the Spectrum logo on the front. This was to attempt the curvy-ness, but as that didn’t work, you could probably make a fully rectangular piece instead. Make this piece long enough to go round your entire head. Put it on like a bandana and hold the back together. It should be tight enough to stay on your head, but not so tight that your head starts to resemble an alien from Mars Attacks! Once you have that, hold it together, whip it off and pin it together. Then stitch it up.
Have a paper version of the Spectrum logo to hand, and blu tack it to the centre. My logo was printed on at a local printing shop. I recommend taking in several pieces of material because depending on the thickness of your chosen material their machine might not be able to print onto it, or the material might melt! Having a few pieces will allow the shop people to test it if required. If you look closely at the picture of the front you can see a little white line down the left hand side of the logo.
Where the machine pressed down it did a tiny bit of damage, and took some of the shine out of the material. It’s unlikely that anyone would notice this stuff, but being an obsessive cosplay’er that crap drives me nuts! By having the paper logo on the front it gives the printers a guide point for popping on the actual logo. Once you have a nice front bit hem the edges to make it sexy neat. Be warned that pinning and sewing is super hard with this kind of thick material. If I were starting from scratch, I’d probably chose something thinner than the black PVC blend stuff I had. There were points where I had to jam the pin in, flip the material over and hammer the pin against the table to push it through. I bent so many pins, although, equally as many retaliated by stabbing me. At one point my index finger could have won ‘best in show’ for its Hellraiser costume.
Cut a black circle, with a circumference that matches the main piece you’ve already made, PLUS, a extra inch. Annoyingly I didn’t photograph this bit, possibly because my fingers were unable to depress the button, or, I couldn’t see through the lens past my tears of pain, but, what you’re going to do is flip the material over – so the bit you don’t see is facing up. Draw a circle that is the final circumference (i.e. the same size as the main piece). Then draw little tabs from the outside to inner circle (see the image I found online).
You’re going to snip these tabs and fold them back. What they do is provide a way to attach the top to the inside of the hat. Try to be really OCD about your cutting. Cut too far and you’ll see the cuts on top of the final hat. Cut too short and when you sew it together it’ll pull the part down and make the surface uneven.
For the white trim, cut a rectangle of the white material the full length of the outside of your head, with a width of roughly four/five inches. Cut a bit of ally wire the same length and lay it across the middle. Fold the material in half, and pin it all the way along, as close to the wire as you can. Again, sew along the pinned area, staying close to pins. This is to keep it tight, so it looks like a nice trim and not a baggy, uneven one. Remove the pins, and you’ll have a trim that you can bend round to fit inside the hat. The ally wire also helps the top of the hat to keep its shape.
Now pin the tabs from the top piece around the white wire piece, and sew all along the tabs. This should leave you with a bowl shape, the black bit on top, in a perfect circle, and the white material around the outside. Trim any excess white, but remember to leave a few inches to attach it to the main hat. Now turn the main piece (with the logo) inside out, and the top piece as well, then pin the top piece around the inside of the main piece. Machine sew all the way around and turn it back the right way. You will now have a circular hat, with no peak.
Spend a bit of time posing with the hat on in front of a mirror, being overly proud of your achievement.
For reasons that presently escape me, I made the sides two separate pieces, however I think one would suffice. By looking at a visual reference, you can see that the hat puffs out on each side just above the character’s ears. Put the hat on and use paperclips to mark the point just above your ears. Then measure from one paperclip, around the back to the other.
Add about an inch to the length. This is to allow to for the diagonal lines (explained soon). Also, add just over half an inch to the width, so the sides will be deeper, making it look slightly more accurate. For the diagonal lines, place a protractor at the bottom on one side and make a mark at around 105°. Cut from the bottom to the mark at the top, to get your diagonal side. You can then do the other side by simply using the first one as a template. This should make it all nice and even. Now hem and finish the sides and attach it to the main piece of the hat using Velcro. The reason I used Velcro is because with all these pieces in play the layers of material are so thick that the sewing machine doesn’t stand a chance. Also, if I tried to force my fingers to hand sew it, I’d have ended up like Rick from the Walking Dead (graphic novel version).
Get your clear plastic sheet and place the hat on top, drawing a line (in pencil or something faint, not Sharpie – put down the Sharpie!) at the front of the hat where it will be attached. You need to leave an extra few inches, if you look at the picture above, you’ll see we’re going to cut tabs at the back of the peak and fold them up to create a way to attach it to the hat.
More is more in this case. You can always cut excess, but you cannot add it! To get the peak shape, I used the peak from a military hat, combined with freehand drawing. I wish I could tell you all some amazing secret for drawing patterns, but I tend to do it mostly freehand, and looking at it from different angles with one eye closed – please use this technique if it helps you!
Once you have your peak piece, use it as a template to create another one, but make it a little longer at the front, about the same thickness as your metal wire. Then glue the two pieces together, with the longer one on the bottom. Use a glue that dries clear, and be neat and sparing – you don’t want big glue marks or huge foggy patches on the plastic. Get your ally wire and shape it around the front the peak. Leave excess on either end, so you can fold the wire to a L shape. This again gives you something to attach the wire to inside the hat. Now, to attach the metal rim, you’re going to superglue it to the longer piece of plastic at the front. I realise this is not a perfect solution, and I really wanted to cut a channel into the metal that would allow me to press the metal into the plastic to secure it. Alas I do not know how to cut channels into metal … yet!
With your whole peak section finished, now attach it to the main hat. I used gaffa tape, naturally, but now I own a glue gun, I’d likely use that. Although the other day I used it to affix a stamp to an envelope, so maybe I need to take a step back from the glue gun. Some foam or padding is a good idea where it touches your forehead, as the cut plastic tabs can be sharp and uncomfortable.
You should now have a Spectrum hat, whoop whoop! And if you have more than 50% mobility in your fingers, you are a legend!
I wanted to mention that in my pictures you’ll see a band around the back. This is hiding the join between the rear pieces.
As I said above I’d recommend using a single piece instead. There must’ve been a reason I began with separate bits, but the blood loss has clearly drained that knowledge from my brain. Also, there is a microphone receiver on the front. I didn’t have it done by the photo shoot you see, but I added it later. I made it by using some white blu tack (seems wrong written down). I shaped a little blob on the front and centre of the peak. Cut three small lengths of solder wire and press them into it to make the three lines of the receiver. Finally spray paint the whole thing silver, leave it to dry, then glue it on.
I hope I haven’t laid the cynicism of this make on too thickly. The hat was a bittersweet creation, I was completely astounded I even managed to make it in the end, and was happy to have done it. But, it wasn’t as screen accurate as I wanted. That’s really the point of cosplay for me, it’s a constant learning experience and I dig the challenges it presents me, even if it means a few injuries and frustrating moments!
I really hope this guide helped you, and as always if there is any further advice, clarifications, etc I can offer, just get in touch. Also, if you have some better tips and techniques for making the hat, I’d love to hear from you!
Next time I’ll be discussing the shirt, trousers and boots, which you’ll be relieved to know was mainly straight buys with a little customisation.
And remember, if it wasn’t meant to be fun they’d call it Coswork.
See you before a fiver,
Tweeter me @OzplayOnline