February 23, 2011

Boot Cover Tutorial Part 1

Boot covers.

Two words that can ring fear into the hearts of any cosplayer out there. But how else are we to create those weird and bizarre boots or shoes that artists so lovingly come up with (besides writing them nasty letters telling them to choose footwear you can buy in the store).

I've done a few boots over the past few costumes, and have sort of figured out how to make a decent boot cover, and attach it to a pair of shoes. This tutorial is designed to help you out with that.

For this tutorial I'll be covering Vyse's Boots.

Egads, where did you get those from Vyse??

As you can see, his boots are a tad....strange looking, and really, I don't think you could find boots that look like that in ANY store. Naturally, I was UP FOR THE CHALLENGE. (That and I said I'd have it done for Shuto Con in March). 

Before I even start cutting out any fabric, patterns, or what have you, there are a few important steps to take when making your costume's shoes. 

1.) Collecting Reference Images

This is a very important step (especially if you are planning on entering in any sort of craftsmanship contest). You need good pictures of what your character's shoes look like. Searching the web looking for screenshots, or taking your own, or perhaps finding official artwork from the game. Namely, you want to find AUTHENTIC images. Fan art does NOT COUNT. 

So I went about finding some shots of Vyse that I could find!

I like to get all views I can of the outfit.
Another official piece of Vyse artwork.
From these images (as well as turning on the gamecube and looking at the Vyse onscreen), I came to the conclusion that in every type of art, his shoes were slightly different shades of brown. On the bright side, this means I have a bit of a selection when it comes to choosing my pleather I plan on using.

His boots have that weird shape they were totally into in Japan at that time (schoolgirl socks anyone?), and have a rather distinct shape for the bottom. The top, kinda like regular pirate boots. This was my guideline for STEP 2:

2.) Finding Your Base Shoes

Bootcovers are exactly what they mean. They are covers you place overtop of boots (or shoes) to give it the effect of being an entirely different shoe. Namely, you can't find them in the store as is.

My favorite places to start looking are at the good ol' Salvation Army/Thrift Stores. You can find shoes dirt cheap, and that way you won't feel bad if you have to mutilate the shoe later (see step 3). You can buy shoes if you really want to, but I don't recommend it.

You'll want to start searching early if you plan on getting shoes from a thrift store - as there is no standard "stock" of footwear. Me? Well, I happen to be a shoeaholic, so I just happened to have the exact boots available

Yes. I'm a loser. I collect thrift store shoes.

Now it was time for me to start preparing my shoes for covering. Onto STEP 3.

3.) Preparing Your Shoes for Covering

Probably one of the most important steps is getting your shoes prepared for covering. Depending on the shape of your shoe/boot, this could mean a lot of different things. In my case, I needed to get rid of all the extra strappy bits, so I had a clean surface to work on. And speaking of clean, I needed to wash down these boots, as whoever had them before apparently went TROMPING THROUGH MUD before donating them.

I took a wet papertowel/cloth, and gently wiped down the boots. I wasn't too worried about destroying the boots, as I'll be covering them with an entirely new fabric.

Next I had to remove all the little decorative bits. *SOB* I love harness boots, and it killed me to have to tear these off, but I did.

See how far away my hand is from that blade?
That's right, kids, SAFETY FIRST.

I used a large utility blade to slice off the harness parts. BE CAREFUL. (I'm personally terrified of them, for reasons I shall not recant here, maybe at a later time). It took a few times going over, but I got them clean off.

Blasted loopy things.

I also wanted to remove the little leather loops at the top, to make the sides as smooth as possible. I tried to use the utility blade, but after almost taking out a finger (again), I chose my heavy-duty fabric scissors.

At this time, my boots were ready to go!

Now I was ready to start making my Vyse Boots!

NEXT UP: Finding the Materials, Making the Boot Pattern, and Sewing the Bootcover (also known as, how to break your sewing machine in 3 easy steps).

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