Apr 282015

Laika’s ears have never worked when we arrived at a convention. So we’ve decided to redo her hat as a standalone item — complete with a soft circuit stitched in.

What’s a soft circuit, you ask? Basically, like a regular circuit, but with conductive thread in place of wires. Instead of pins, there’s pads, which I can stitch around with the conductive thread, to both hold the items in place and connect them. It’s actually pretty cool.

We bought an Adafruit Gemma, the smaller of their two wearable microcontroller platforms, and devised a circuit:

2015-04-02 17.59.07

Those aren’t sparks; that’s conductive thread catching the light from my flash

2015-04-02 17.59.23

You can see the circuits heading to the breadboard, where the servo leads are going to be soldered in

Unfortunately, the battery pack — a neat little job that holds two d-cell batteries — could provide enough voltage, but not nearly enough amps to power the Gemma and two servos. After doing some research, we purchased a rechargeable battery pack that could do plenty of amps — but not enough volts. So we also had to get a booster that would up-step the voltage to 5V, which would be enough for the servos.Β 

That got us almost all the way to where we wanted to go, but that’s when we discovered another problem: one of the two servos was misbehaving. Instead of going from 0 to 90 and back, it was rotating slightly backward, then rotating 180 degrees. Clearly that wasn’t going to work for the ears; however, we spent ages hunting down potential shorts, taking measurements with our multimeter, editing the servo library, and generally trying to figure out what was wrong before we finally figured it out: we needed a capacitor. The power draw from both servos together was just too much for the circuit.

But we finally got it working!

laika hat 2

Sep 262014

Chaos got me to watch Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, a show about… well… it’s not really important what it’s about πŸ™‚ The show’s all well and good, but I fell in love with this hat:

Tell me that’s not the most awesome hat of all time!

After months of rolling about my head, I came up with this sketch I like:

Image (3)

It shouldn’t be too hard. I have plenty of black slacks, so it’s just a matter of making a vest and round three at hat-making πŸ™‚

May 152014

So since our hat block turned out to be a complete failure, I still needed a hat to mount the ears from the fosshape tutorialΒ onto. Since I’ve made mini top hatsΒ before, I decided to adapt the process to make a full-sized top hat.

This is going to be pretty brief, so check out the gallery below:

It’s not the sturdiest hat in the world, but it’ll do!

hat pinnable

Sep 292013

Now for some real hatmaking, from scratch! For Nettie’s second costume, I wanted a mini top hat. Have you seen how expensive those things are? Definitely pricy impulse buys at cons! I’m working on the cheap here, so I decided to make my own.

I used a template from one of my favorite free pattern sites, Fleece Fun. Side note, I found them when I wanted to make a cape for my baby brother, who has decided to go by Darth Blaze in his superhero persona πŸ™‚ He adores the cape, and fleece is fairly cheap πŸ™‚ I actually used a red riding hood cape design, shh don’t tell anyone it was for girls πŸ˜‰ Anyway, I downloaded the smallest hat pattern, mostly because it fits on separate pages so I could print directly onto cardstock. I figured I could always do it again. I got some cheap felt (it’s less than $1 per 8.5×11″ piece at Joann Fabrics) and I had plenty of cardstock left over from the wedding to lend shape to the hat. It had been a few days since my last hatmaking adventure, so the burns from the hot glue had healed — time to fire up the glue gun again, clearly πŸ™‚


The pattern, traced onto felt.

Protip: sharp scissors help. Cutting out the felt with dull ones was torturous. They also suggested use spray adhesive for the first step. Spray adhesive is a wondrous invention… and, alas, not one I have in my crafts cabinet. So I just used hot glue all the way.

Once everything was cut out, well… nothing to it but to glue it!

And there you have it: a mostly finished tophat. I had to go to bed, but I plan to add some ribbon to tie it on next. Voila!

Sep 222013

It has been mentioned that Nettie needs a hat. Well, I am here today to reveal not one, but TWO new hats — and that only because I ran out of time for the third! Yup, that’s me, Yami the Overachiever πŸ™‚

I found two black straw hats on my last thrift shop/dollar store crawl: one that I didn’t like the feel of that I got at the thrift store for $1.07 including tax, and one that I liked rather a lot that I got at a dollar store for $4. I decided to make one big showy hat and one that’s a little more subdued, so I could pick the best for the occasion. I started with the big showy hat:

$4 floppy-brim straw hat from the dollar store

$4 floppy-brim straw hat from the dollar store

I then immediately blew my budget by spending $50 on flowers and ribbons at Michael’s craft store πŸ™‚ But I started out well!

For inspiration, I looked at both Victorian-era hats and Kentucky Derby hats, which are apparently still worn today and can get kind of intense:

Like this one from LadyDianeHats.com


Or this one, from slowfamilyonline.com. Just. What.

Chaos thinks my hat is a bit excessive… I think maybe I didn’t go far enough!

Some work in progress shots:

And the final product:

Aren't I lovely!

Aren’t I lovely! My hair’s a mess, I can’t wear a ponytail under this hat.

On to the second hat! This one was cheaper, and it shows when you touch it: it sort of crinkles like cheap plastic instead of feeling like straw. Ah well.

The hat, unadulterated

The hat, unadulterated

Right off the bat, I knew that flower and ribbon had to go. Black on black? Talk about funeral attire!

Try some red ribbon instead. Much more contrast.

Try some red ribbon instead. Much more contrast.


And poofy red flowers finish the job

And poofy red flowers finish the job

The final look is much more… Nettie-ish, I think:

hat2 final

I’m tired, and I know it

But it was still missing something. It just didn’t want to sit right on my head. I wracked my brains for inspiration a bit, until finally I thought about a hat I’d seen on a duster pattern once:

Simplicity 2581

I didn’t have netting, but what about the ribbons used to tie on mini top hats? Maybe they would help the darned hat stay on my head as well as add a little extra flair?



You’ll notice I’m making a strange face in that photo. Five minutes prior, I’d burned my finger on the hot glue, and it was just starting to really hurt as I posed. It was another hour or so before it subsided enough to go to sleep, complete with a small white blister for my troubles. C’est la vie de steampunk, I suppose.

Stay tuned, I plan to make a mini top hat once Chaos gives back my glue gun πŸ˜‰