Lesson 2A : Theories and terminologies

[Lesson 1 is here]

I first  learned sewing and pattern drafting via various experiments (clothes alteration, taking apart clothes to see how it was done) and reading tons of books and tutorials online. This knowledge of course was then polished when I attended fashion school. 

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That phase where I mostly DIY-ed garments for myself built my dress making instinct which I think is an advantage especially for DIY costumes.  This is why in my lessons I’ll try my best to teach you theory and instinct. 

In order for me to smoothly teach you how to make cloth costumes, we’d need to learn how normal clothes are constructed and in this lesson we’ll discuss theories and terminologies first before diving in to sewing an actual garment!

Of course, my tutorials would be cloth costume centric. I’m new to armors so you have to find a different teacher for that. 

This is the (my) usual process in making DIY costumes:

1. Decide which character and costume to make. Usually this is love at first sight for me. 

2. Analyze the costume’s form or silhouette - what  style it is (Sailor collar shirt, circle skirt, ball gown dress, swallowtail coat etc) so you know what kind of pattern to draft. 

3. Draft costume pattern on paper.

4. Trace pattern to cloth, cut, sew, fill in details. 

Vocabulary of the Week

Silhouette

Silhouette is a fashion term which refers to a garment (costume or “normal” clothes) overall outline and shape.  Usually for current fashion these are predetermined per season or we deal with “regular” silhouettes (avant garde and couture not included :P). 

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(Image from furinsider.com)

But because we’re dealing with costumes here, the silhouettes we’d discuss ranges from since the beginning of clothes to 2000 years from now, Western and Eastern and Alien styles all depending on which Universe your chosen character came from. It’s crazy, and I love it.

For example

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Jojo’s Bizarre World. And their questionable taste in clothing…

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Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail and her Kimono inspired outfit (Robe of Yuen, my personal fave!)

And another personal favorite, Sinbad from Magi :Labyrinth of Magic. I swear this series is not hentai. This character just often gets robbed of his clothes. 

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We will discuss silhouettes intensively, in another post the next few lessons.

Pattern

A pattern is a paper or cardboard template of parts of a garment which are then traced onto the fabric, cut, and then sewn. This is basically the blueprint of your costume. 

For example, these straight shapes which we draft in paper

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are the parts that make a 1670’s Dragoon Coat (Image from http://www.kismeta.com/)

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(Image from http://www.kismeta.com/)

I will teach you more about this in the (near) future but for now here are additional reads:

http://www.fashioncapital.co.uk/Learning/Students/23316-Silhouette.html

Page 126-127  of

http://wps.pearsoncustom.com/wps/media/objects/2775/2842599/FA200_Brown_Ch05.pdf

Symmetry

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One thing you need to know before we start pattern drafting is that humans belong to the animal subregenum Bilateria, which means our bodies are divided in left and right halves, each half having what the other got except for some special organs. 

We are symmetrical creatures. But please tell me you don’t have another heart at the right chest. 

This state of approximate symmetry our body have should always be considered when drafting flat patterns. Though this isn’t always true in fashion, what’s on the left should be on the right applies to making your base pattern.

This is a bit far fetched but if you have time maybe you can read about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man 

See you next lesson!

Back read?  [Lesson 1 is here]

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Lesson 1 : Body Measurements

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Knowing your body measurements matters a lot in getting a good, desired fit- whether this is for everyday clothing or for cosplay. This is the very basic of basics. Your body measurement is what you will need to construct a sloper - a paper pattern you will use to construct a garment or costume fit for YOU.

I’ve excluded some measurements which can be discussed as we progress. I do not want to overwhelm you with information YET so this really is just basic. 

 If you can’t get through this, I’m afraid you’re not cut for tailoring. So I beg you, please read thoroughly before asking questions. Focus.

This measurement guide is for women’s clothes by the way. We will discuss men’s measurements next lesson. 

Before we start here are a few things I want to remind you of:

1. if you’re going to use body modifiers such as fake pecs and abs, shoulder pads to extend your shoulders, fake breasts, triple padded bras, super platform shoes, Spanx or another kind of shapewear - anything, anything that modifies your natural body shape and height- wear it when having your measurements taken. This way your costume will be tailored around your expected outcome. 

If you plan to wear a padded DD bra but had your measurements taken in your natural A cups, the costume won’t fit. Obviously. 

2. Wear as little as possible. I will need you to stick tape markers to your own skin.

3. You cannot take your measurements alone. No man is an island and you can’t reach every nook and cranny of your body. Get a slav, eh, friend to help you with this. 

4. Get your measurements every 6 months. That’s a good way to check if you’re still fit, too :)

5. Measure in front of a full length mirror if possible.

Things you need:

1. Pen and Paper, for writing down your measurements, DUH. 

2. Elastic band, as a marker for your waist.                    

3. A friend. Or your nanny. Or a slave, whichever works. 

4. Body modifier if you plan to use any.

5. Masking tape, or any kind of tape you can stick to your skin temporarily.

Ready? Let’s start

1. Front Shoulders : measure from the tip of your front left  shoulder joint to the right. This should be a straight line. 

2. Back shoulders : taken from the back, measure from the tip of your  left shoulder joint, pass through the name and then to the right joint. This should make an arc, your nape being the highest point of that arc.

3. Shoulder length : Measure from the base of your neck (where your shoulders meet your neck) to the tip of your shoulders. 

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4. Front chest : This is a horizontal measurement between your armpits. Put one end of your tape measure at the the tip of your armpits and measure in a straight line to your other armpit.  Usually this is 3 inches down your neck seam and it should not exceed your shoulder measurements. If it does you might be a very unique person or an alien. 

5. Back Chest : Back horizontal measurement between your armpits

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FIRST MARKER

Next, cut a very small tape and put it 1 inch below your left and right armpits, in line with your side seam (where you think the center of your side is, see green line in photo below. In this photo I was raising my arms so it looks like more than 1” below my armpits but its not, ok.)

6. Front Body Width: Measure from the front the width from left First marker(1” below armpits) to the right. 

7. Back Body Width: Measure from the back the width from the left first marker to the right.

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8. Bust points: The horizontal measurement from one nipple to another! Couldn’t explain it much simpler  than that!

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9. Bust point position: Measure in a straight line from the base of your neck (where your shoulders meet your neck) to your bust point

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10. Bust circumference : the biggest circumference of the upper torso passing your two bust points.  So ladies, this is your boobs generally. For men’s, we will discuss this in the next lesson. 

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Note: When taking this measurement, make sure your tape measure is perpendicular to the floor. if your tape measure slants there’s a high chance that the measurement you took is smaller than the actual bust size.

SECOND MARKER

Get your elastic band and tie it around the smallest part of your abdomen. your waist is NOT where you position you low rise jeans. Your waist is THE SMALLEST part of your abdomen, OKAY? We usually need to take different waist measurements, depending on the garment we need to produce BUT for this tutorial we’re sticking with waist as the “smallest circumference of your abdomen. Get it?

THIRD MARKER

Put a piece of tape to mark the middle of your front waist. This is usually in line with your navel. 

FOURTH MARKER

Put a piece of tape to mark the middle of your back waist. This is usually in line with your spine. 

11. Waist: Using your elastic as a guide, measure around your waist. Make sure that the tape measure is perpendicular to the floor. 

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12. Center Front Length : Measure from your center neck (just a tiny bit above the center of your collarbone) to your center front waist (Third Marker)

12. Center Back Length: Measure from your center nape to your center back waist (Fourth   Marker)

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13. Full Front Length : Measure from your high shoulder neck point (that junction where your neck meets your shoulders) down to your waist. As usual, use your waist elastic as a guide for this,okay?!

14. Full Back Length: Measure from your back high shoulder neck point down to your waist.

15. Side Seams : Measure from your first marker to where your side’s waist, again using your waist elastic as a guide. 

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16. Front Shoulder Slope: Measure from the tip of your shoulders to the center front of your waist, and use the third marker as a guide. 

17. Back Shoulder Slope : Measure from the tip of your shoulders to the center back of your waist, and use the fourthmarker as a guide. 

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18. Neck : Measure around your neck passing the nape (just above the highest and most prominent spine bone/vertebrae) and a little above the collarbones like in the photo below. Please take note of the slanted way the tape measure should be placed.

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19. Armhole : Measure around the shoulder ridge passing through your first marker (1” below the armpit)

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20. Armhole Depth : Measure from shoulder tip to the first marker. This is a vertical measurement and because your marker will be covered by your arms, you have to estimate where it is approximately located. 

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21. Over arm  measurement:  Measure from the tip of your shoulders to your wrist bone.

22. Under arm measurement : Measure from an inch below the armpits to your wrist bone. 

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22. arm circumference : measure around the widest part of your biceps.

23. Wrist : Measure around your wrist, where your wrist bone is. 

There are actually 3 kinds of wrist measurements but just so we don’t overwhelm you right now, we’ll stick with the basic. 

24. High Hip : circumference 4 inches below the waist. Make sure your tape measure is perpendicular to the floor when taking this measurement. 

25. Hips : approximately 8-9 inches below waist, measure around the widest part of the buttocks. 

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That is it for now~  I want you to familiarize yourself with each body parts and how to get its measurements properly so I don’t have to repeat myself on the next lessons I’ll be posting. 

Some other requests : 

1. Please don’t re upload this to a different site! Just link to my tumblr please and/or reblog.

2. Do not claim this tutorial as your own. If you do, you are a pathetic no life, delusional vermin of society. 

3. Read and try to comprehend thrice before leaving me a question to answer.

4.  I will reshoot this with better photos and a video too just in case photos are not enough.

5. Levi is my spirit animal. While I haven’t shot better photos for this tut, Levi’s head will rest on my body, DEAL WITH IT. 

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Burn my bread : Elizabeth Persona 3 Construction notes

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Like 99% of my costumes, this one was done over night.

I intended to start early though! I cut the cloth about 2 weeks or so before the event I had to wear it. But things happened (work) and I was left with no choice but to nitro sew things. 

I thought I wasn’t going to make it too, since I had work in the morning :( I had a client call hours before the event and I seriously though I wasn’t going to make it. Which was a pity because I was invited by the event organizers themselves. 

ANYWAY! Here’s how I processed things. 

Materials

I had a hard time looking for the perfect shade of blue needed for Elizabeth’s dress side panels. What I did was, since I have no time to look for the one true shade was layer a blue klopman with black organza (the NOT frosted type, God I hate the frosted ones). 

See the difference in the photo below? Left one is with organza, right one with no organza. (Though this is shot with artificial light so it appears a bit brighter in this photo)

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For the middle panels I used crepe. It’s  a really lovely textured , rich fabric. It’s one of my favorites :3 

Crepe costs 300Php per yard, 45”, Klopman is 60-100 Php, organza depends on where you buy. If you buy from Carolina’s it’s 600 per yard XD But in lower quality stores it’s just 100-200 php. 

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I placed the zipper on the back because I was in a hurry. Otherwise I would’ve made a more discreet closure for this dress.

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Back side panel right attached to center panel

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Left panel attached. That completes the back part.

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Center front panel with markings. You can barely see it here though.

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The whole front part. 

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Front and back pieces attached together.

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MY GODS this was the hardest part. FARKING CIRCLES. Do you have any idea how hard it is to mark and cut one on something as flowy as crepe?!?! SKAJSKAJSKAJS. This is the step in the whole process the took most time! GAH!

I discovered trick though in cutting circles with flimsy materials like silk, satin chiffon and the likes : Fuse it with an iron on interfacing first so it’ll have a more solid body. Mark then cut.  :P

Here’s the finished product.

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…which I already disassembled because i’m redoing it. Because I’m not happy with it. At all. 

Notes :

-The neck part should’ve been cut narrower. The collar should not be straight too.

-The day I wore this dress, I saw a freaking circle cutter for sale at Cosshope's in event store.

It cuts perfect circles. In seconds. 

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WHEREWEREYOUWHENINEEDEDYOUTHEMOST

I was so pissed that I bought one. It’s a really lovely product which I’ve been using both for work and for cosplay. :3  I’ll  write a review next time.

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This is not a sponsored post btw. I bought that with my own money :P

My next post is a tutorial and it’s about an angsty royal blood with blue hair ehehehehe. I’ve been following this manga for a while now (I think the anime is meh) And I have a huge crush on him and I don’t know why my reaction to that is COSPLAY DAT BOY. 

I swear I have a thing for nobles with blue hair. 

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Till the next post! :3

「K」 Project Neko WIP

Because I couldn’t find a sexy pink haired lady willing to go naked and stick with me  like I’m the greatest man in the world, I had to make a plushie, Neko’s animal form instead :’<

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This is the first time I made a stuffed toy. It was harder than I expected :P But the same rules for tailoring, props making applies with it : Turn flat objects in t 3D form. 

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This is not a tutorial but just a show-off WIP post. I think I did badly at this since the end product couldn’t stand on it’s own at all. Boo.

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Trial photo! 

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Before the event. I still looked fine here and not like I was run over by a truck or something.

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During the event! 

As you can see, Neko couldn’t hold up her head properly. It will have to be remade. Along with the rest of this costume, which I rushed :P

There’s no WIP of the rest of Neko’s body as I finished it literally minutes before heading to the event HAHAHA. As you grow older, time for cosplay and other stuff like this gets less. It’s sad. 

Part 2 of 2. An idiot walkthrough to basic armor making by an armor idiot.

Read Part 1 here~

Part 2! Rubber sheet armor! My first armor baby (and the last of my commissions, sadly)

As this is a queued post, it will take me time to answer any question you have. But because I don’t know when I can get back to you, I’ll just write down everything I remember about making this. Sorry for the upcoming wall of text!

Materials

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Read more

Part 1 of 2. An idiot walkthrough to basic armor making by an armor idiot.

This is not really a proper tutorial. This was the product of my first time making armor of this kind. Please consider this a narrative of my first tryst with rubber sheet and armor making, and maybe by reading my experience you could learn a thing or two too.

I’ve always found rubber sheets and props makingscary. I am not familiar with this material and my greatest problem with it is it’s not cloth! It doesn’t farking bend AND flow!!!! I had no idea how to manipulate it at all. 

But there’s a similar concept shared between armor/props making and tailoring. You”turn flat materials in to 3D form” in both tailoring and props making so I thought I’d give it a try. Maybe my tailoring knowledge would help.

I was asked to make this set of costume. It’s Alicia Melchiott from Valkyria Chronicles.

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Read more

Hoop skirt construction notes

Warning: This post will be very wordy. This is my brain in present tense. And boy, I think a lot. 

I’m writing this down while munching an early lunch (blt sandwich). My schedule nowadays is just FUUUUU. September is a very busy month for designers. I’m swamped with bespoke orders for weddings, prom and debuts. I’m having fun though. Just anxious if I’ll have enough time to finish my costumes for Cosplaymania.WHICH IS IN 11 DAYS AS OF WRITING KASJDL;ASJDL;AKSDALS

Anyway I don’t know the proper way to make hoop skirts because I haven’t studied it, so    I made this based on intuition and common sense. You just need common sense for making clothes or costumes, seriously. And lots of patience.

You might remember the next photos from my previous post. 

Anyway the materials I used are Arix Clean System plastic coated steel for the hoopwire and tetoron for the cloth parts. Arix Clean System is a very lucky find. Originally I planned to get a regular clothesline wire (alambre) from Ace Hardware, twist two pieces together for strength and use that as hoopwire.

You know, it’s sometimes sad in Philippines because even if we have the magical land where you can buy almost everything called Divisoria, we STILL lack sophisticated sewing materials such as high quality boning, wadding, suit canvas, hoop wires and even sewing machines. DIY sewing is an underserved market!

Anyhow Ace Hardware is a resourceful cosplayer girl’s bestfriend. When I asked for “alambre” they gave me this 129.75 pesos 20 meter plastic coated clothesline wire. “Ma’am, wala kasi kaming alambre dito”. Sorry naman, jologs lang. 

And this thing is heaven sent. It does not lose its shape when bent, bouncy and best of all : STRONG. It’s hell to cut though. 

As for tetoron, you can buy that in any fabric store. 

A hoop skirt would probably consist of three parts. The waistband, the vertical bones and the horizontal hoops which makes the shape. This is most likely historically incorrect but I don’t give a flying ipis right now.

First step I did was get my skirt pattern, divide it into five sections and measure the length of those sections. That minus 2” is the length of each of my horizontal hoops. I deducted 2” from each hoops’ length because I’m wearing 2 garments over it, both quite bulky. If I don’t deduct the length the poofy-ness would be too much. That’s my theory anyway.

But oh, don’t forget to add 4/8” on both ends of your horizontal hoop skirt, for sewing allowance. It’s width would depend on what wire you’re using. Mine’s 4/8 wide.

You have to base your hoop’s circumference (horizontal hoop lengths) on your pattern. If you just make an estimate, the outcome might not look right and your skirt might look awkward over it. You don’t want your hoop to be larger than the skirt itself.

Cut your wires according to the horizontal hoop lengths. I used two ply for each, because I think one is not strong enough.

Here’s my unsewn horizontal hoops with two extras. (I have a plan for the two extra which I did not execute in the end)

And oh, here’s my feet too.

This is how it’ll look like with wire inside. Sew the ends together, and make it with really strong stitches. Make sure the cloth or wire isn’t twisted before sewing though.  Then divide and mark with a tailor’s chalk each horizontal hoops in to nine parts. You’d need that to shape your skirt later.

Next is the vertical parts!

Cut a waistband. Mine’s just a rectangle based on my waistline (23”) + 4/8” allowance on left, right and top side. My allowance for the bottom part is about 2” because that’s where I’m stitching in the vertical bones, and I want it to be very strong. Oh, + 6/8” on the right side too for the overlapping part for buttons. 

Here’s how it looks inside out, no ironing.

Turned inside out + button tabs. I top stitched the top and sides. LEAVE THE BOTTOM PART OPEN. You still need to attach the vertical p

Waistband, finished.

Then you make 9 vertical strips. I made mine longer than the intended length (10”) for safety measures. 

Everything looks lame when not ironed out. Sew, clip (threads), press. That’s the way of a dress maker, so iron it out! 

See? Much better after some pressing, right? Top stitch the sides for strength.

Divide your waistband in to nine parts then attach your vertical bones. You don’t need to add wires inside these bones btw, unless you don’t plan to sit down while you’re wearing it.

Mark 2” across each vertical bones. You’d need this to shape your hoop skirt. 

Please excuse my fugly nails. I don’t have time to fix it at the moment.

(in the two photos above the hoop is only held up by pins. I sew it together afterwards)

My mannequin is too large for me so I had to secure the waistband to the mannequin using pins as well. I haven’t bought a size 0 dress form yet, you see. :) This will do for the meantime.

Anyway,  attach the horizontal hoops to the vertical hoops using the markings made earlier. Doing so will give you a circle skirt. However since I’m striving for an elliptical one  (less poof in front, more bulk at the back) I simply transfered values from front to back using the markings I made earlier as reference to make sure the hoop skirt I’m making will be symmetrical. It’s pretty simple, really. 

I don’t have a photo of the elliptical form but here’s me wearing it.

The V shape of the first horizontal loop is intentional btw. I still need to photo finish the front seams and cut and seal the excess vertical bones but that’s pretty much it. 

Oh, the best part about this skirt is it’s collapsible. 

I prefer hoop skirts over petticoats now. Petticoats are such pain in the buttocks for storage and comfort :P

See you at the biggest cosplay convention of the year this September 29-30 at SMX convention center! I’ll be judging for both days again for third time this year! individual and group competition only. ToRCH judges will always be foreign guests.

Give me your best shot, okay? I will also give you mine <3

For my other WIP entry, check this out.

Cat signing out and is going back to work (NOOOOOOOO!). 

Leather Dye

I’ve been looking for leather dye for some time now, since my shoe maker wasn’t able to make me a blue flatforms (for cosplay). The shoe fits nice, but I need it blue for accuracy.

I want to share this to cosplayers in Philippines just in case you don’t know yet. Leather dye is available in Heel Sew Quick, Lower Ground floor of SM Megamall. You probably passed by it a couple of times. It’s a cobbler/shoe/leather enthusiast specialty store.

They got two types of dye, the cheap ones and the expensive ones. The cheap one (213 PHP) got more color options, but got err, so-so consistency. The expensive ones costs about 545 PHP, and is fantastic <3

They got blue, green, brown, gold, black and white leather dyes. While we’re at it, they got some fantastic products for leather AND suede goods too. 

Anyway, you can always just dry brush with acrylic on leather. But if you plan to use it outside cosplay anyway, what’s a few more hundreds for proper leather dye? 

[EDIT] I forgot to say you can use the leather dye for leatherette and faux leather. :)