When I was a kid I would have these amazing Halloween costumes, and we would get on our neighbors hay ride to go trick or treating (true story) and it was FREEZING, and we found ourselves dressed for winter hiding our cool costumes. When I make a costume, I try to make it functional, cool looking, but also warm so when we are finished, he doesn’t have to hide it with a jacket. All the pieces we print out, get sewn on to a red hoodie one size bigger than he is for the room needed to sew on pieces and hide wires, but also so I can layer warm clothes underneath.
With any costume, the first step is measurements. Four year old’s are small, after a few quick measurements I realized that printing out these pieces on the printer is completely practical, so I started sketching out practical shapes that could make up the different parts of armor. After a few quick prints of some of the first versions I realized that this costume has to be done in pieces so that he could move, and also they have to be sewn on securely so that the corners and edges do not become unsafe while running through neighborhoods.
We printed this project on our Robo3D, using red PLA filament. Most of this project was printed at a high resolution. Color is my thing, and I have a pet peeve about red being RED, and unfortunately true cadmium red doesn’t exist in filament yet. The red you get is what I call “construction paper red” and its weak and paler than what I want, however it’s a great base to start with.
If you are painting 3d models, you have to check out the paint Auto Air. This is not a paid ad, I have personally spent thousands of dollars on their paint in the last 15 years. This specific paint is used for airbrushing on cars, helmets, motorcycles, golf carts, snowboards essentially any non-porous surface. It has an amazing ability to adhere and not peel off of plastic surfaces even with masking layers. It also has the ability to flex. It’s safe to use because it is non-toxic and it is water-based. It can me atomized and you do not need a respirator to prevent VOC exposure because there are no VOC’s in this paint. I can spray it in the basement of my home without worrying about my son or the animals being exposed. This paint is meant to be sprayed, however I use it with a paint brush all the time. I sprayed two coats of sparklescent red on top so it has that micro flake the “real” ironman has, while richening the dull color. I didn’t have the time, so I had to fight the urge of hitting these print outs with a high build primer and wet sanding them with 400 to get rid of the printing lines.
Tinkercad is great, and even though I am sure I could have made the above shapes directly in Tinkercad, its much quicker and easier to create vector images of the shapes I wanted in Photoshop first, convert them to SVG files, and then import them into Tinkercad. This allowed me to create a more complex shape much faster. Once imported into Tinkercad, I use the “hole” feature to shape angles and contours. I duplicate, cut and shrink the parts to create panels on top. The shoulder pieces and the arm pieces I printed as flat 1 mm thick at melting points with panels on top in the front and back. I’m not trying to make anything round. Very simplified. I can’t stand using rafts and supports.
- Right Shoulder – Print 1 -In the center of this piece I waved a heat gun for about 30 seconds and then shaped it to my sons shoulder (not actually on him, plastic is HOT at its melting point).
- Left Shoulder – Print 1- In the center of this piece I waved a heat gun for about 30 seconds and then shaped it to my sons shoulder (not actually on him, plastic is HOT at its melting point).
- Hand Light – Print 2 – The piece to go into the holes does not print well, however they hold their shape so well after warming the ends and molding over each other like a snap bracelet. I can put this right over his gloves and they stay on well. They also stay on without gloves. I took apart some tea light candles that are battery operated, taped the wires to the battery so they would fit into the little cup. I cut out two circles of plastic the size of the end of the light cup, and colored them blue with a permanent marker.. From the inside there is a slight ridge to superglue this plastic to create a lens. I put the back of the cup through the hole, stick the light inside the cup and push it on to the backing. I took a hammer to get it shut well so that the hand wrap is in between the cup back and the cup with the light in it. They don’t come back apart easy.
- Center Chest – Print 1 – In my experience in sewing, anything more than weight of the fabric you are sewing into itself will cause a sag in the material, so just cutting a hole and sticking the light center into the sweatshirt wasn’t going to work. It had to be supported by a frame. This center chest piece goes right below piece #5. The holes in the piece line up with the center light cup tabs. In order to hold it in the frame I had to create a ridge around the outside. However, I couldn’t get the tabs to print well on the bottom of this ridge flush with this center chest piece, they were just too fragile. I sew the light center piece into these holes on the chest piece leaving a slight gap between the two pieces and then I sew this center chest piece to the sweatshirt.
- Top Center Chest – Print 1 – The buttons on this piece may or may not print well. I glued some of the extra buttons I printed on top of these.
- Light Center – Print 1 – I got AA Battery powered Christmas lights in blue from Walmart for $2 (the one time I was actually Happy about the Xmas Decorations in October). I stuffed the lights into the cup, there is a hole in the backing of the cup for the wires to come out. It does not come apart after it has been closed. I needed a hammer to get the backing in. It is important to remember that the frame from the center chest piece is on the cup before hammering on the back. I then lined the holes up to the center chest piece, sewed it to the piece before sewing the chest piece to the sweatshirt. There is a slit cut into the fabric, the back of the cup is stuff through the sweatshirt. I glued the edge of the fabric around the cup with a glue gun and duct taped the battery back to the inside of the sweatshirt.
- Back Rockets – Print 1 – I took a reflective piece of gold paper and glue gunned this to the back of this piece so that you can see it through the vent-like structures. This looks really cool, but my main reason for doing this is safety. Kids are small, and it is dark outside, and I want him to glow and reflect light as much as possible so cars can see him too.
- Lower Abs – Print 2 – These are fun. I decided to do these this way because they fall over the hoodie pocket, and I didn’t want this area to be constricted because I sewed them on so the front hoodie pocket behind these scale like pieces is still functional. The design of these pieces allows complete movement similar to some medieval armors. There are three sizes. I start with the smallest right below the Center Light. I sew the middle, then the sides. The next piece goes halfway underneath the top piece. I anchor using the middle and then sew the ends. Repeat. The bottom of these scale like pieces is suppose to remain unattached so they don’t constrict bending over or stuffing the pocket.
- Forearm Wraps – Print 2 – I warmed the ends of this piece with a heat gun, and molded them around acrylic paint bottles so they wrap around the arm. I had to check the curve of the bend a few times so that it didn’t pinch his arm, keeping in mind the space the sweatshirt takes up underneath. This piece stays well but still has to be anchored with sewing or they fall off easy. On the piece for the left arm, I glue gunned the extra buttons so he could turn on and off his “blasters” and his “rocket launchers.”
- Inside Bicep – Print 2 – I sewed these on the inside biceps of the arms facing forward. I painted them pearlized black and antique gold.
- Side Abs – Print 1 – Both right and left sides are in one file so only one needed to be printed. I sewed these along each side of the center of the chest. I had more pieces for the sides but had to take them off because they interfered with movement and were downright uncomfortable.
- Mask Tabs – Print 2 – I melted these with a sauntering iron into the top of the mask to be sewn into the hoodie.
- Extra Buttons – Print 2 – I used a glue gun and glued these to the left forearm piece and on the top center chest piece. They are his favorite part of the costume. He turns his back rockets on and off and his “hand blasters.”
I did not print this. You can get the mask on amazon, and it came originally with the strap behind the ear and light up eyes. My son wears very thick glasses and depends on them to see, so as much as he loved it, he couldn’t wear it. I thought about printing it up but it was 3 weeks into October and we were still waiting on filament we ordered a month before.
I cut the strap and took a screw driver to the screws holding in the light. I noticed the plastic around the eyes that illuminates was white and the lights were blue. I threw away the white piece, pulled the lights out and took my sauntering iron with a razor on the end and cut the battery pack out of the plastic so I could save the lights. Next I took the plastic tabs I printed (#12) and melted them onto the top of the mask so the hole ends are sticking out. I sew the mask into the inside of the hoodie so that when he has the hoodie on it hangs in front of his face so he can still wear his glasses. This also makes it much easier for him if he doesn’t want to wear it, he just takes the hoodie off and it sits on top of his head. These tabs secure it nicely but hes four years old, so just in case I also seal this sewing with a glue gun.