How many conventions does it take to wear out a pair of pleather gauntlet costume gloves? In my case, it would be 8. Just before the 2016 Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I could see small tears were forming at the base and in between of some of the fingers, causing some of the seams to come undone. I thought I might be able to reinforce them using black duct tape to get one more show out of them. The duct tape was a perfect match and was nearly indistinguishable from the pleather material. Unfortunately, the pleather didn’t breathe well and, after about an hour of wearing them, my hands got warm and sweaty enough to cause most of the duct tape to peel off. I could probably mend the tears, but that would make the fingers tighter and reduce my dexterity while wearing them. The pleather has also started to dry and crack in several areas. So, it’s time to retire this pair and make another.
It’s not a decision I make lightly, because my first two attempts at making gauntlet gloves were soul-crushing failures. The third attempt was a success, but it was a success that took 11 hours. After working out some of the kinks on that third glove, I was able to make a match for it in 4 hours. It’s a significant time investment, especially considering that you can buy an inexpensive pair of costume gauntlet gloves for less than $20. But it was worth it to me, because the Sideshow Premium Format Cobra Commander that was the inspiration for my costume has shiny gloves that match his shiny boots. I was able to find a pair of boots that looked like patent leather, but I couldn’t find any retail men’s gloves that fit the bill…or the hand. So, I decided to make them myself.
The trick with men’s gloves is finding the right pattern. Several online tutorials have you trace your hand to create an easy pattern and that works extremely well for materials with a good amount of stretch. It saves you a lot of time sewing. The original pleather I used didn’t have any stretch at all and that’s what derailed my first two glove attempts using that pattern technique. The gloves needed gussets between the front and back of the glove to make up for the space lost because of the lack of stretch. Without them, they just won’t fit, even if you trace your own hand and add extra space for the hem. When I took the time to add the right size gussets and construct a typical men’s style glove, I finally ended up with a glove that fit.
To make things easier, I picked up Butterick’s Historical Gloves Pattern B5370. These patterns are designed for women’s gloves, but the women’s largest size in the pattern (9″) is the same as a men’s medium, which was a good fit for me. The only adjustment I had to make is that I had to add 1/4″ to all edges of the gussets to give my fingers more space. For larger hands, you may have to enlarge the rest of the pattern a little or find a pattern that is a closer fit. However, having a pattern for the gussets makes things much easier.
One very helpful tip I picked up at a cosplay convention panel given by Capes to Cowls Cosplay is to never cut your original pattern. Instead, copy the pattern onto a pattern tracing material and cut that instead. Not only does this save your original pattern, so you can use it again later, but if your traced pattern pieces turn out to be too large or too small, you can trim them or tape additional material to them to enlarge them and they’ll be much sturdier to work with than the original paper pattern material.
It’s also helpful to trace out all of the pattern pieces onto your material and number or letter them before cutting them, just to keep them in order and make sure you get the right gusset between the right fingers. It isn’t necessary to trace and cut out gusset patterns for both hands. Simply trace and cut out one set and then flip the pattern over to trace and cut pieces for the opposite hand.
The Butterick pattern doesn’t include a long gauntlet. To create a pattern for my gauntlet, I used the pattern tracing material to fabricate a 7″ gauntlet. When I got the right size and shape, I used the pattern to cut out craft foam to give the gauntlet its rigidity. Then I used the same pattern to cut out the pleather and added 5/8″ all around, so that I had enough hem to sew the gauntlet to the glove and still have enough material to fold over the opposite side of the foam. That technique worked well, so I’ll do the same thing again.
This time, though, I won’t be using the same pleather material. Because the material had no stretch, the sewing needle holes weakened it and the stress of opening and closing my hands put more pressure on the seams than they were able to withstand.
For the next pair, I opted for Cosplay by Yaya Han’s 4-Way Super Stretch Black Vinyl Fabric, available at Joann Fabric. At a regular retail of $29.99 per yard, it’s up there with the pricier fabrics. Luckily, it was on sale for 25% off and I had a coupon for an additional 20% off, so I was able to get a yard for $17.99. It comes in a 54″ width, so you probably don’t need a full yard, but I got it anyway to allow for mistakes. There were some cheaper metallic fabrics in the collection, but the super stretch black vinyl has the same glossy look as patent leather and seems to be able to take quite a bit of stretching without warping or losing its shine. I was able to stretch a 5″ piece to just a little under 8″ and it rebounded nicely.
The only drawback so far is that the underside (or the “wrong” side) of the fabric has a strange smell to it. My nose equates it to a fish stick, but my nose can’t always be trusted with such things. I’m airing it out to see if the smell dissipates.
I’m hoping one good pair of gloves made out of this material will be able to take much more abuse than the previous pair and last a lot longer. I poked a few holes in a small piece with a sewing needle and the holes were not nearly as destructive to the material as they were to the pleather. I could probably get away with using the much simpler hand tracing technique to make these gloves and avoid having to sew all those gussets. But I won’t. I like the look of the gloves with the gussets for this particular costume. That’s why these next two gloves have to be the best and sturdiest gloves I’ve made so far, because I don’t want to have to do this again for some time.
Check back soon for progress updates.
Read Part 2.