Current Projects

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hamilton - King George Crown / Collar Part III

Some severely backdated progress on King George's accoutrements, but I've been super busy with costumes for the upcoming Labyrinth Masquerade at the end of the month (more on that soon).

I’ve been putting off this part of the crown for a long time, but I finally found the right gold paint which made me realize that the end of this thing is actually kind of in sight. So I sat down and hashed out the actual foundation of the crown. Sorry there aren’t many photos, but I was kind of making things up as I went and didn't think to stop.

The hat base is a cheap velour bowler from a Halloween store.

The brim was wider than I needed, so I had earlier cut it down by half. It ended up being too small compared to the diameter of the crown, but luckily I had saved the cut-off brim piece (pays to be a hoarder), so I glued and stitched it back on. Putting the crown over the brim, I marked where the crown sat, and then cut the brim back down along that line with about 1/2” of allowance. From there I did a bunch of measuring and marked where the center top ball/cross piece will sit and punched a hole for that.

I had also earlier cut the red velvet cover for the top, so that was technically ready to go. But I made another dumb whoopsie and had to fix it first. I cut the circle down by an inch thinking it was too large/full, but after gathering the edge and testing it with the hat and crown, I realized the velvet was too tight and the gathers weren’t doing much. Which made it too flat and low compared to the height of the crosses and fleur-de-lis around the edge, and the fullness didn’t match the reference photos. It needed padding underneath for support, which meant the velvet was now too small and I needed that extra inch back. I do have more of the velvet, but I didn’t want to throw away the piece I was already using, so I repeated the hat fix and sewed/glued the strip of fabric back on. This was really unnecessary, but it did work and it made me feel good about not wasting materials I guess.

In the meantime, I glued very thin and semi-flat pieces of poly fill to the very top edge of the hat like a halo.
I built it up slowly, testing it with the velvet and crown, and ended up with two thin layers. I regathered the velvet and put it on, then put the crown over that, and voila! It looked like it was supposed to. I marked where I wanted the velvet to sit (a little higher than level with the brim so I’d get yet more more fullness on the top) and glued it down, shaping the gathers as I went. I gathered it a little too tightly in the front so I ran out of gathers towards the end and the back is kind of flat, but it should be disguised well enough by everything else.

It’s a small step, but I also made the slot in the ball for the top cross piece.

And then it was starting to look like a real thing!

I finally got some new gold paint - Plaid Liquid Leaf in brass - and repainted the collar pieces.
This paint is kind of a miracle. I’m still trying to figure out how to get a smooth enough application for the large crown pieces, but the color and shine are close to exactly what I wanted for everything. Leagues better than any acrylic or spray I’ve ever used. 

I also got some of the right color acrylic for the collar cross and repainted that (I don’t think I took any photos of it before, but I initially used a random medium blue I already had, and I didn’t like it at all). The blue was sealed with a heavy coat of Crystal Clear to make it look more enameled, and then the gold was redone with the Liquid Leaf and the stones were glued on.

All the other pieces got their red stones after repainting too.

Biggest progress was on the actual construction of the crown pieces. I ultimately decided on zip ties as the best/easiest way to connect the strips securely. I cut a square of the same plastic rent sign everything else was made from and cut/sanded a hole on each side and a slit in the middle, and cut matching holes in one end of each strip.

After a few tests with scrap strips, I zip-tied the actual strips to the square so the thick end of the tie was hidden underneath the square. Then I glued the other ends of the strips to the inside back of each cross along the base (I was originally going to zip tie the base of the strips too, but I realized the fur doesn’t cover enough of the bottom of the crown so any holes in that horizontal cross/fleur-de-lis strip would show). The ball was then glued into the slit in the middle of the square.

To attach the ball to the top of the hat, I marked the placement of the ball then removed the whole plastic crown piece. I cut a small hole in the center top of the hat base and velvet cover and stitched the velvet to the hat around that hole.

The whole thing was covered with a few layers of plastic bags to protect it during painting, then I slipped the crown piece back on and pushed the ball and square down to rest against the top of the hat and into the hole. I glued the peg from the ball into the hole pretty liberally and used a little heavy-duty thread and a piece of wire on the inside to reinforce it (the wire was glued over as well).

Once the strips and top were secure, I glued on the ball chain trim and started on the filigree squares.
And tada! Actual crown finally!

In the meantime I've scrapped the idea of making the garter separate from the pants. I wanted it separate so I could get another piece done, but it's just so much easier to sew the rhinestone trim directly on the pants. I've also decided I need to make the scepter too, so now that the crown is coming along I might start researching that.