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Philonius' TFA X-wing vest tutorial
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Philonius ()
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:57 am    Post subject: Philonius' TFA X-wing vest tutorial Reply with quote

UPDATED: 09January2017

NOTE: (03December2017)
I know that I've been in need of finishing & updating this tutorial, and after a year of collecting better images of the real screen-used vests and making a lot of these vests, I've discovered details and come up with much better methods for putting these together. After I get caught up better with orders, I'll try to come back here and revamp it with hi-res photos of the screen vests (thanks to a few RL members out there who helped supply them), with an updated materials list and more of a guide than a straight-on instructional piece. But for now, I'll leave this here as-is.



Bear in mind: the size of this vest in the tutorial is "Large/XL", or as we jokingly used to say in historical reenacting, "real man size" (chest of about 46-50"). If you're of slender/petite build, you'll have to grade down the pattern accordingly.

YOU WILL NEED THE FOLLOWING MATERIALS:
*2 yards/meters of white smooth cotton poplin
*2 yards/meters of thin batting
*Dense, white foam padding 1/4" (6mm) thick. I used both 9x12" sheets of 6mm craft foam (I used the Darice brand, available at JoAnn), and/or large 30"x40"x1/4" I found at my leather store (intended to make therapudic insoles in shoes). The large sheets worked better especially for the longer strips needed in the back panel, but you can also splice the craft foam in the middle if you can't find the big sheets. The vests I've made so far needed 14" wide for this padded panel.
*2 yards/meters of 1/2" (1.3cm) white cotton cording (to make the round edge of the Mae West)
*1' (30.5cm) of 1" (2.5cm) white nylon webbing (to bridge the front undersides to the side panels)
*2 yards/meters of 2" (5cm) white large herringbone cotton tape (for the "kidney straps" on each side)
*1' (30.5cm) of white Velcro (to attach the chest plate to the vest)
*6"x6"sq (15x15cm) of white "athletic" Enduratex vinyl (to attach the chest plate to the vest)
--OR--
*same amount of white polyester sports jersey material, glued to a thicker material as backing
*1 3.75x6" (9.5x15.2cm) piece of black 1/8" (3mm) thick plastic (for the base of the chest plate)
*1 3.75x6" (9.5x15.2cm) piece of white 1/16" (6mm) thick plastic (for the top face of the chest plate)
(both available from TAP Plastics, http://www.tapplastics.com/)
--OR--
Instead of the above plastic sheets, some crafty folks are 3D printing the chest plates. You'll still need the athletic vinyl to attach it to though...

OK......
First off, the patterns. Here are my janky, rough patterns that I ended up making my first three vests with, after modification as I went. I used the last of my 1" grid paper for these, so hope that gives you the scale for each piece.

The back:

If you make your pattern like mine, be sure to run the center line to the folded edge of your white poplin, and cut 2 pieces of poplin, 1 piece of thin batting.

Back padded section:
Cut a 15-1/4"x16" rectangle from poplin.

Front underside panel:

Cut 4 (2 for each side) of poplin, 2 of thin batting.

Front underside padded section:

These attach to the bottom half of the underside panels above. Cut 2 on the fold of your poplin bolt.

Top "Mae West" pieces:

This is actually 2 pattern pieces in one... the complete piece is for the top/outside half, the lines drawn parallel inside the right edge are for the bottom/underside half (just fold in when cutting out the bottom/underside). This will become more apparent why it's like this as you construct it, but basically it's to hide the seam under where the 1/2" cording is. Cut 2 of each.

"Mae West" batting:

Cut 2 or 3 of each from thin batting, or 1 each from thicker batting. This is to give the upper part of the "Mae West" a lot more fluff.

The side panels:

Cut 4 (2 for each side).


ASSEMBLY

The Back:
1. Stitch together the 2 main back pieces of poplin with the matching piece of batting. Stitch the batting on top of the 2 pieces of poplin... TIP: it will stitch easier if you use a zipper foot on your machine, as it has one point and is not apt to snag on the batting as you stitch. Stitch around both sides and top, leaving the bottom edge open. Flip inside out and press out the edges, then top-stitch inside the edge at 3/8" (9mm). Fold the open bottom up into a hem and top-stitch this all the way across.

2. Make the back padded section by folding the poplin 29-1/4"x16" (74cm x 41cm) piece in half, stitch the end together, making a tube 14"x16" (36cm x 41cm). Flip inside out so that the seam is on the inside, and lay flat so that the seam is positioned down the center of one side, not the edge.

a. Cut 10 strips of white craft foam, 14" (36cm) long and 7/8" (2.2cm) wide. NOTE: If your craft foam comes in the 9"x12" sheets, you'll have to cut 20 strips at 7" (18cm) long, and splice the pairs together by zig-zag stitching on the machine, or joining them together with a glued strip of thin but rigid material, such as plastic sheet.
b. Mark the first stitch line for the foam pads about 1" (2.5cm) from one of the open edges, keeping the center seam centered on the opposite side. Using the zipper foot, run a stitch on top of the line. Insert a foam strip from the large open end, pressing it tightly against the first stitch. Using the zipper foot as a guide, stitch along the other side of the foam strip, keeping it tight... this will lock in the foam strip and make your first pad. Your zipper foot should be about 3/8" (9mm) wide, use the foot going the other way to make a stitch parallel to the last at 3/8" (9mm). Repeat the process of locking in the foam pads until all 10 are sewn into the poplin. You should end up with 1" (2.5cm) to 1-1/2" (3.8cm) of fabric on the other end... these ends will be folded over and stitched flat to the main back piece.

Finished piece:

3. Position the 2" (5cm) white herringbone cotton tape so that it's centered along the bottom edge of the back piece. Center and position the padded section directly above the white tape, so that the raw edge of the padded section is tucked under the top edge of the tape, and the bottom pad is just above it. Top-stitch the cotton tape in a box, running even with the side edges of the padded piece.
a. Stitch in a "box-X" in the center of the cotton tape, 4" (10cm) wide. This is the "reinforcing" of the webbing.

4. Roll the raw top edge of the padded section and top-stitch it flat to the back. DO NOT STITCH THE SIDE EDGES TO THE BACK... the padded section should be open on the sides.

The Front Underside Panels:
1. As with the main back above, stitch the two sides and the batting together. Leave the bottom (wider) edge open. Flip inside out and press out the edges, then top-stitch inside the edge at 3/8" (9mm).

2. Make the front underside padded sections by folding in half at the fold line.
a. Cut 6 strips of white craft foam, 6" (15cm) long and 7/8" (2.2cm) wide.
b. Mark the first stitch line for the foam pads about 1" (2.5cm) from one of the open edges. Using the zipper foot, run a stitch on top of the line. Insert a foam strip from the side, pressing it tightly against the first stitch. Using the zipper foot as a guide, stitch along the other side of the foam strip, keeping it tight, as with the back panel. Your zipper foot should be about 3/8" (9mm) wide, use the foot going the other way to make a stitch parallel to the last at 3/8" (9mm). Repeat the process of locking in the foam pads until all 6 are sewn into the poplin. You should end up with 1" (2.5cm) to 1-1/2" (3.8cm) of fabric on the other end... these ends will be folded over and stitched flat to the main back piece later.

3. Set these pieces aside for now.

The Side Panels:
1. As with the main back & underside panels above, stitch the two sides and the batting together. Leave the side (wider) edge open. Flip inside out and press out the edges, then top-stitch inside the edge at 3/8" (9mm).
2. Set these pieces aside for now.

The Top "Mae West" (I call it this after the old aviators' life preservers, which is a puffy looking upside-down "U"-shaped inflatable section... apparently serving the same function for Resistance pilots, from the "Pull to Inflate" emblem on the left side. What exactly does one pull to inflate on a Resistance vest, is still a mystery!):
1. The top sides of this piece will be the wider pattern, and the bottom sides will be the narrower pattern. Stitch together these tops & bottoms separately, and press the seams open. Flip inside out... notice that when laid flat, the seam is roughly an inch into the bottom half (this is done in order to hide the seam up under and behind the cotton cording that forms the outer edge of this piece). LEAVE THE INSIDE EDGES OPEN for now (this is an update on 08/2017, not shown correctly in the images below)... this will allow easier sewing of the pads, easier insertion of the batting, and better basis for stitching to the underside parts later.


2. Make the padded portions on each side by cutting down 7/8" (2.2cm wide) strips of white craft foam (longest pieces should be no longer than 6"/15cm). Do this against the pattern, using the padding placement as a guide, and making sure the correct angles are trimmed from the strips. In the end, you will have 7 foam strips for the right side and 2 for the left.

a. Mark the foam pad position lines on the top side of each piece, starting at the bottom. The lines should be at a slight angle so that when complete, the pads angle inwards.
b. As with the back and underside padded pieces, using the zipper foot, run a stitch on top of the bottom line. Insert a foam strip from the top open end, pressing it tightly against the first stitch. Using the zipper foot as a guide, stitch along the other side of the foam strip, keeping it tight, as with the back panel. Your zipper foot should be about 3/8" (9mm) wide, use the foot going the other way to make a stitch parallel to the last at 3/8" (9mm). Repeat the process of locking in the foam pads until all are sewn into the poplin.

3. Affix the Resistance emblem and "Pull to inflate" (in upside-down Aurebesh) on the left piece, above the foam padding. The "inflate" text should be centered and approximately 1/2" (1.2cm) above the top pad. The Resistance logo should be centered in the area above this... screen evidence has these all over the place, but should be somewhere centered horizontally and vertically.

4. Hem the narrow, bottom open ends of both pieces using a short hem, no more than 1/4" (0.6cm), making these into open cuffs.
5. Making the black disc "connector" for the bottom right side:
a. Cut out a donut from medium-weight leather or vinyl, 2" (5cm) outer diameter and 1-1/2" (3.8cm) inner diameter. Use white material, or paint white.
b. Cut out a disc of black mesh or screen about 1-3/4" (4.4cm) diameter, along with a black backing if the screen can be seen through. (I did mine using black metal screen from an old desk organizer, with plain black fabric as a backing.)

c. Stitch these together with the white donut on top, onto the bottom-left area of the cuffed section (under the foam pads) on the right piece.
6. Stitch together the tops of each half of the "Mae West", leaving the bottom/underside seam open. This is to allow you to insert the cotton cord for the edge and the batting for around the shoulders/neck.

7. Insert the 1/2" cotton cord into the outside edge of each half. Use the zipper foot to stitch this in, pressing it tightly as you stitch. The ends of the cord should be flush or just inside each open end.


8. Insert the batting into each half of the "Mae West". Longer pieces in the left, shorter in the right. These can be inserted loosely, and 2 or 3 layers of batting (or one thicker batting) should be used to make this section a lot more padded than the back, undersides, and side panels. When finished, top-stitch the inside edge closed all the way around, leaving the seam allowance to be attached to the underside pieces later.



The Chest Plate:
1. Trace out the lines on the piece of white plastic where the cut-outs will be, and using a good blade or Dremel, make the cuts. Make sure to save the three small pieces that fit in the cut-outs on each long side, and smooth the cut edges.
2. Glue (E-6000, Gorilla, etc) or rivet the black backing piece of plastic to the white athletic vinyl or cloth. Rivets would be good to help strengthen the bond, and you can hide the flat side of a rivet by gluing the white cut pieces over the rivets (making sure they are flat/flush with the black plastic).
3. Approximately 1/2" from each side of the plastic plate, sew a strip of white velcro to the athletic vinyl/cloth. (Later, you will stitch the other half of the velcro to the backside of the vest... this is what holds the vest together in the front.)

4. You may also choose to make an attachment method for your chest box. The box should be mostly supported via a wide belt-style clip on the back of it, to hang from the cloth loop just under the neckline on the suit's zipper placket. However, an additional attachment point can be used to prevent the box from rattling around on the front. I recommend using large rare-earth magnets, one embedded near the top of the chest plate, the other embedded in the back of the chest box. This allows it to pivot as you move and bend, but keeps the box in place. You could also use velcro or a large snap.
5. Once all other layers are attached, the cut-out white plastic pieces can then be glued down to the black backing piece. This will appear as a solid piece with grooves cut out and colored black.









MORE TO COME..............[/img]
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"The value of moving slowly is that one can always clearly see the way ahead."


Last edited by Philonius () on Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:48 pm; edited 6 times in total
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TerranCmdr ()



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is great, thank you for taking the time to write all this out!

I've been taking your photographs, straightening them out as best I can and tracing them in Photoshop to create patterns I can work from. Would you like me to post them here? Perhaps you could cross-check them for size for me as well. Smile
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JediXXL (Gil Guemes)
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I made this post a sticky so it does not get lost. Great work! Thumbs up
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Philonius ()
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you guys.... thank you Gil, I wondered how one made things "sticky"! I need to get back to it... I have a good chunk of the text finished.

Hey, let's do that NOW while I'm thinking about it & here Smile
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Delpa Gival (Patrick Delieto)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine is almost ready. Great tutorial!
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Redwillow ()



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for taking the time to provide this info!

One question,
Quote:
Top "Mae West" pieces:
...is there a section that spans between these 2 pieces behind the neck that is not shown?...or do the ends of those 2 pieces connect to each other?
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Philonius ()
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Redwillow wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to provide this info!

One question,
Quote:
Top "Mae West" pieces:
...is there a section that spans between these 2 pieces behind the neck that is not shown?...or do the ends of those 2 pieces connect to each other?


The two ends connect at the back of neck. Sorry... That's mentioned in the directions I've been slowly working on. I have WIP type pics to go along with it. Life's been kicking my arse lately, but after R1 opens, I'll get back to it and post the complete tutorial above.
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Redwillow ()



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great! I got some fabric and my cord but joann was out of the thick white foam, so i still need to pick that up. I might start on making template pieces soon.
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Redwillow ()



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got a mock up done of the mae west part and it came out nice.

Any suggestions on where to purchase the 2" cotton herringbone? Joann only has 1" and smaller and online i only see it in $20 rolls.

....also know any source for purchasing a small qty of the athletic vinyl?
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Thanamira (Dave Leung)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Redwillow wrote:
Got a mock up done of the mae west part and it came out nice.

Any suggestions on where to purchase the 2" cotton herringbone? Joann only has 1" and smaller and online i only see it in $20 rolls.


http://www.ebay.com/itm/50MM-2-inch-wide-white-Natural-Cotton-Webbing-Apron-herringbone-Bunting-Tape-/331934862330?var=540990522879&hash=item4d48dc0bfa:m:mHyzbUiqkKjzgGM5-etkH2g

5yd, $9.

Quote:

....also know any source for purchasing a small qty of the athletic vinyl?


I couldn't find this for money or glory. I ended up getting a white meshlike vinyl at Joann's; if you're lucky, it'll be on clearance. It's mostly hidden, so I wasn't too worried about getting it exactly right. (Note: I'm still working on my costume, so we'll see if it's okay.)
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Redwillow ()



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thx for the info!

I actually ordered this for the twill tape:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/361597899023?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&var=630962237522&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

which is a little less expensive....waiting for it to come in.

I ended up using just solid white vinyl, since I could not find anything else. And you are right, on mine it's pretty much totally covered up anyway. Maybe check out what Joann has next time i'm there.
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Philonius ()
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I didn't respond right off! We got our 2" twill tape here:
https://www.twilltape.com/heavyweight-2-white-twill-tape/
That's a 72yd roll though, but $33.65 (that's only $0.47/yard), well, plus shipping. I got some from one of our guys, but I need to order myself a big roll, as I'm planning on making several more of these vests.
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Philonius ()
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That "athletic" vinyl:
The wonderful and generous Angela Anderson-Cobb mailed me the rest of what she used, a small chunk of this:


"CGPC" seems to be the maker, "Authentic Enduratex" the material. However, I surfed and couldn't find such a thing online. (Angela found it as a remnant.)

An athletic jersey material with the holes like that might be just fine... I would be inclined to back it with something a bit more stout, like the solid vinyl.
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Redwillow ()



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wondering what your opinion is on the pieces that appear to loop back between the outer and inner vests. I haven't seen any vests that have those and trying to determine what, if anything I should do about them.

Maybe just add a looping area of fabric on the back of each side behind the foam bars?





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Philonius ()
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Redwillow wrote:
wondering what your opinion is on the pieces that appear to loop back between the outer and inner vests. I haven't seen any vests that have those and trying to determine what, if anything I should do about them.

Maybe just add a looping area of fabric on the back of each side behind the foam bars?
]



Apologies, this would be a bit that would be apparent at the very end of the tutorial I still haven't finished Smile

When you sew everything together finally, you place your "Mae West" top assembly under your main assembly (back, upper fronts, and the lower sides), outside to outside as if you're making a regular seam between two pieces of fabric. Then stitch together all the way around, close to the edge. Then you can pull it all inside-out, and Viola, that gives you the roll that you're looking for on the inside edge. The fabric piece in question is just the front edge of the lower side panel, which has that curved angle shape on the bottom, wraps around the kidneys and sewn into the lower side edges of the back panel.

Make sense?
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