Thursday, March 21, 2013

Derby Shorts

If you're here, you know that we derby girls luuuurve our booty shorts. Whole brands have been built on them, in all shapes and sizes and styles. I particularly like the look of Iron Doll's ruched "Lift & Separate" shorts, but at $30 a pop and me a newbie a coupla hundred into gear already, it's not happening any time soon. I am, however, crafty, and as the mother of two girls, yes I have sparkle spandex laying around the house. So of course I googled "DIY Lift & Separate shorts" and was surprised to not find anything. And so here I am.

Before picture of my ass -- I mean shorts.
Before - Pancake Ass!
After picture of my ass- I mean shorts.
After - Lifted! Separated! Ruched!

Today's post is going to be a simple DIY, turning regular old $10 spandex booty shorts from a dance supply store into a ruched style similar to Iron Doll's. I'm probably going to fancify these up another day, and I also traced them to make some from scratch!

What you need:
  • Spandex shorts, a size or two too big if you have a choice
  • 3-5" of 1/4" wide elastic, the stretchiest you can find. I found that the clear plastic elastic was stretchier and less bulky than the regular white braided elastic, and the white elastic I had was stretchier than the black elastic I had.
  • 1 to 1-1/2 yds 1/4" wide ribbon, cord, or 1/2" wide strip of scrap spandex

  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine & thread (sorry, I know. I have an idea for hand sewing, but I haven't tested it yet.)
  • Tapestry needle or safety pin or pencil or skewer

The first thing you want to do is turn your shorts inside out and find the back seam. If there's a tag sewn in the seam, cut it out, but don't cut the stitching.

Next, fold the shorts in half at the seam, so the seam is free from any other fabric. Pin one end of your elastic to the top of the seam just under the waistband. Set your sewing machine to a medium zig-zag stitch and tack down the elastic by sewing back and forth in place a few stitches. Remove the pin, and lower the needle into the fabric.

Now, grab the elastic an inch or so below the sewing machine foot, and stretch it as far as it will go. It will get skinnier. If it breaks, just start over and don't stretch quite so far (only the flimsy plastic elastic sometimes breaks). 

I grabbed it here...
And stretched it to here!

Okay, so this is the hardest part. Line up the stretched out elastic over the seam allowance. Grab the waistband of the shorts behind the sewing machine foot, and start sewing the stretched out elastic down onto the seam allowance. I don't have a photo of this because it takes two hands. Keep sewing until you run out of elastic or the seam starts to curve, indicating it's turning into the part that's between your legs. Clip the elastic and threads, and- voila! You have back seam ruching!

This is where it helps to have shorts a size or two big- the looser they are, the more fabric you have to gather up and give you the ruched look. Be warned, too; booty shorts sold at dance stores run small. At 5'1" and 118 lbs not very many people would classify me as a large, but these shorts were a medium and didn't have much room to ruche.

Now for the easy part- the side ruching. Turn your shorts right side out and lay them flat as you would wear them, with the seam in front and the sides folded. Make tiny (really, tiny) snips about every inch down the side fold. The ones in the photo below are a little big.

The beauty of nylon/spandex is that it doesn't run or fray, so those holes are just fine like that. Cut your ribbon/cord/fabric strip in half. Now thread it through your tapestry needle and, starting at the bottom and leaving a tail, weave it in and out of the little holes. Wen you get to the top, go around the waistband and weave back down through the holes again. You could also just as easily poke the ribbon/cord/fabric strip through the holes with a pencil or a skewer, or pin a safety pin to the end and use it to weave through. Repeat on the other side.
Bottom up


Come around the waistband and back down

All the way back to the bottom
When you're done it will look something like this

Once you have done this, then tighten the sides as much as you'd like. I had to fiddle with my strip of fabric to make sure the sparkly side was out. Tie knots at the ends of your strings if you want.

And you're done! Don't they look so much better? I couldn't get a very good photo from the front, so I'm going to show you my ass again.

What's next? I prefer a wide waistband, so I'll probably replace the thin elastic waistband with a wide spandex one. I might also add a little length to the legs with a contrast band to complete the look.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Toe Guards - simple

So I'm a new derby girl, right, on a totally newly formed team, the Sitka Sound Slayers. The first day of practice, I showed up in my new gear, really not knowing anything about anything. My gear was a Christmas gift, saving me from my tendency towards over-analysis and under-decision-making. But that meant I knew even less about what I was wearing-- unable to participate in the gear chit chat going on, unable to answer what kind of skates I had on (Riedell Darts), if they were leather or PVC (PVC), or did I have hard or soft wheels (hard, 92a). I also noticed that almost everyone else had a strip of leather over their skate toes, and I did not.

When I got home, I hopped onto ye olde internets and did a little research. I discovered that one wrecks one's skate toes when one falls, hence the need for reinforcement. I discovered I could buy toe guards for a mere $8 (plus shipping, 'cuz, y'know, I live on an island in Alaska), or there were much fancier toe guards for $20-30 that looked like they might not slip to the side like the strips. I looked at both of them and thought, "I can make those!" I found a hand drawn pattern on the Internet, cut it out in paper, and found it wanting. And so here I am. I planned to just make the fitted toe cap style, but the fact is, we were starting to fall in practice, my toes were getting scuffed, and I needed to protect them now! February was a bit of a tough month, so I didn't have time to engineer the capped toe protectors I wanted. Strips it was!

So for my debut post, I present to you, DIY strip toe guards, complete with a pattern. Pretty basic if you're used to DIYing it, but it'll be nice to not have to reinvent the pattern.

Toe Guard Strip Pattern

DIY Roller Skate Toe Guards

About 8x6" square of durable no-fray material. Leather is probably best, we'll see how vinyl holds up.
Sharp scissors
X-Acto knife
Cutting mat or scrap corrugated cardboard
Leather/fabric hole punch (optional)

1. Print pattern. Adjust print size as necessary so that the box is exactly 1" square.
2. Cut outline of pattern. Fold in half lengthwise to cut out toe stop hole.
3. Trace outline onto leather.  Trace toe stop hole onto pattern.
4. Using sharp scissors, cut out toe stop.
5. Using knife (and a cutting mat or piece of scrap cardboard), cut out toe hole. Alternately, you can just cut along the + and poke the toe stop through that.
6. If desired, trim length of toe cover to one or two holes.
7a. For a generic fit, mark lace hole positions by poking a pencil through the small circles and mark the leather. Punch holes using leather punch (2nd to largest size on mine), or stick your X-Acto blade in and spin it to make a hole.
7b. For a custom fit, install toe cover on the toe stop on skate. The nut and washer go against the skate; the toe guard goes between the stop and the nut. Mark hole positions slightly lower (closer to toe) than lace holes and about 1/2" in. Cut holes as in 7a.
8. Install toe guards using your preferred lacing technique! Be sure to install it very tightly, lacing through guard holes that are lower than the eyelets your lace is going through to pull it tight. Vinyl especially will stretch, but so will lighter weight leather.

You can see the prototypes installed on my skates above. The 3-hole one is not stretched very much; I expect it to slip next time we practice. The 2-hole one is trimmed, and stretched tightly over the skate toe. I used the custom fit method for both, but used that placement to place the holes on the pattern. I used sparkle vinyl left from the skate bag I made (upcoming post!), and once I am happy with the prototypes I'll make some out of leather. I'm curious to see how long the vinyl lasts, and if it marks up the gym floor.

Up Next: Sparkle Vinyl Skate Bag (and why that was the worst material I could have chosen)