.

Yes,it's Super-Cran himself, Scott Cranford! Here Scott is for the very first time in the new suit. Even in neutral lighting and without a pump, Scott looks like Superman. Fantastic! As he stood there I was feeling so elated (and so exhausted) from all the hard work I almost cried. It was one of those moments when an art project comes together and works just as you planned. It's just rare. (Now why couldn't this have happened with a *Supergirl"?) 6•20•05

Suit me up, Uncle Alfred...Not.

D
uring the 2004 Metropolis Superman Celebration, I noticed My friend "Superman" Scott Cranford's 5 year old Super-suit looking a little shabby. Being inexperienced with fabrics or sewing, I wondered at the time, "How tough would it be to make a NEW and improved Superman outfit?"


10 months had gone by and the next Celebration was coming up quick, Scott and I were on the phone talking and the idea of the new suit came up again. I shared with Scott my idea and he seemed up for it, but there were some legitimate concerns. Like, could we create a suit in time, and being the cheapskate that I am, on a budget?
--Fortunately a "friend" had once-upon-a-time offered her help with making a cape and the chest and cape Superman shields. If anything, all I needed to find was the maker of a blue suit.

It seemed challenging but we decided, what the heck? Let's at least try.

We began hunting the internet for seamstresses and the Kryptonian blankets worthy to clothe Scott to make him a more convincing Superman. Scott checked around his home in LA for assistance and I sat down and 'Googled'. (I like the word, "Google.")

I researched onliine fabric stores, studying blue colored materials with textures for a couple of weeks--getting the most out of an online cut & sew education.(You have no idea what sites you'll end up visiting just by Googling-in the name "Spandex". Holy smokes.)

While it is true I posessed little knowledge of the cut & sew industry, I had even less knowledge of which materials would look ideal in person, or in photographs. More specifically which red or blue stretchy material to choose? The 'Lycra vs. Spandex' questions arose, and 'leather or. vinyl' ?, etc, etc.

As the search went on, spending a lot of money became more of a concern when I saw the pricing of some top-drawer Superhero costumes going for bigger bucks. Doubt sorta sank in and I wondered if this was such a good idea anymore. But relief and interest was regained after finding the right fabrics that I believed would yield a top-notch costume and could be made inexpensively. (Yes, I like deals!)

Was I being realistic though?

And what about the boots? Good quality boots were selling for around 300.00. Cheap boots were available but were smaller than Scott's calves and would need considerable modifications, Plus boots hadn't yet been worked into the budget.

Costume-maker search

The first costumer-shop I contacted turned out to be a very artistic bunch. You could tell from their on-line portfolio they could produce an unbelivable Superman suit. This company offered fabric sublimation and screen printing which was exactly what my design concept called for. I was stoked!

The design was emailed over for a construction consult. They agreed the suit could be made. Thinking if I could just get the blue suit from them then maybe I could keep my costs down by providing the cape, shorts and boots, provided from my "Friend." But as the story goes, the price did become an issue--I thanked them for their time and moved on.

Seamstress number two was terrific. An accomodating artist and overall just a great person. Scott emailed his measurements, I received fabric samples to look over and the green light was given. The pricing was right and within a day our project was done. A new custom made blue suit was on it's way to Scott in LA!

Scott was delivered the suit on a Saturday afternoon. He called me with some interesting news--

"Steve--this is Scott... *We* have a problem."


"Alright --ahm, Scott--what is it?"
(Couldn't imagine what was wrong.)

"The suit...it fits...like 'long johns'

"Dude...that is great!" (What else was I going to say?)


.

Wow! Sure enough, long johns.

After weeping and threatening to hang myself, the seamstress politely explained this kind of thing can happen. Measurements should be made by a professional, it was explained, A NEW suit was offered and I gladly put the noose away. Really, I was grateful with the service we got. Scott remeasured his body and soon suit 2 was on it's way.

This time it was a weekday as I waited for Scott's delivery confirmation call.

He didn't call so I called him.


"Suit come yet?"

"Not yet. But I'll call as soon as it get's here." So I waited some more.

Impatiently I called again.

"Suit come yet?"

"Yes! And I'm-- trying-- it on now! Marcella is helping me, let me call you back!"

Scott calls back.

"Ahmmmm, Steve... The suit fits...but only in the legs... nowhere else."

Disappointed I emailed the seamstress with my thanks and an apology for not being able to use the suit made for us. In turn we were graciously supplied with a fresh 3 yards of material to have someone else give it a try.

I had one last person to contact.

The Friend

For many years I've considered my 'friend' Lisa Huggins to be 'the first lady of cut and sew'. Her resume is impressive. For over 20 years she's worked as a clothing designer for various high profile companies like Vanity fair and Russell.

Originally raised a Menonyte, Lisa grew up making her own clothes. She excelled at arts and crafts too and became intuitive with fabrics and papers. Modestly Lisa laughs at me when I call her an 'expert garment fabricator'.

For a long time I wondered what she could do if she was turned loose on a Superhero suit. I mean she's problem solved every fabric imaginable, and knows color theory, Lisa's hand made quilts, bras, dresses, shirts, shower curtains, etc. So why on earth couldn't she make a Superman suit?

Originally when I asked if she could make the suit she seemed disinterested. In desparation tho' I went back and asked (begged) again for help. "Oh, I never said I *wouldn't* make the suit " she said. "I just said I wasn't all the jazzed about Batman." ( I explained to her, "It's SUPERMAN, Lisa, NOT Batm--oh nevermind.")

Once we cleared up the heroes, she got started with a mere 10 days til the Metropolis Celebration. Lisa comforted me at least by saying, "I don't do so well with deadlines". (Ahhhh.)

We made a quickie trek to JoAnns Fabric Store and fortunately found the very same Superman (the Movie) cape fabric, but a darker shade like my design called for. We also found the darker red spandex for the briefs, the stiffer red & yellow fabrics for the "S" shields, and the blue fabric had already delivered to her house.

The Plan

To make a Superman Suit that borrows unique design elements from The Movie and Comic Supermen suits.

Cape: Patterned directly off a Christoper Reeve Movie Superman cape.

Superman Shield : Basically a Superman Style-guide S, modified, then given a "hook" like the Kirk Alyn/ George Reeve Shield. It's attached to the suit similarly to the Dean Cain suit, but has some flexing qualities and doesn't bunch up like the embroidered Shield. The material has the look of metal in some photos.

Belt: Homage to Smallville. "Kryptonian Symbols" screen printed on leather. Belt buckle has design (screws) like that of the first B/W/ season of Superman w/ George Reeves. Hex screws were used to mimic the Smallville Kryptonian Key.

Blue tights: Similar in photographic appearance to the new Routh suit. The spandex we used has no sparkle shine and looks& feels like a wetsuit. Tailored to fit Scott's body.

Color tones: Very similar to the animated JLA colors. (Darker toned)

Boots: Swan/Anderson style comic style boots.

Briefs: A strongman/ wrestler cut set of briefs.

Yellow Shield: Two different fabrics used to accent and define the "S". Omition of the hard black outline was intended.

Design

My costume design remained true to the Superman character albeit subtle things were changed and details added, like the colors. I wanted the red, blue and yellow colors of early evening, just a little darker, but not Routh-like.

The blue is a deeper royal but looks brighter in hard light. The red is darker. not firebright like the movie suits. The cape was a deeper fabric buth patterned from a Reeve's cape.

Most noticibly modified were the belt and Superman Shield.


The Kryptonian Belt

Being a fan of Smallville I designed the belt to show off 'Kryptonian Symbols' . I achieved this by using a Tandy belt leather, airbrusing the base belt color (primrose yellow), then screen printing the symbols on. The characters were drawn in the computer, turned into an .ai file and output on Film to burn a screen with.

The Superman S

Even as a Superman fan, I never realized how the Superman shield had varied so from the comics , serials and movies. With all of the varities I felt I was allowed to use my own artisic license and come up with my take on it, yet still remain true to the character.

Starting off wth the DC Comics style guide 'S' I reworked it in Freehand and about 20 variations later, I decided on the one you see below. It's basically the style guide shield with the Kirk Alyn/George Reeves 'hook" on the bottom. broader and taller than the style guide it's now the shield of Scott Cranford, The Metropolis Superman/ 2000-2007.

The fabric Lisa picked was a heavier, stiffer material.No spandex used on the front Emblem. Originally I considered making a latex shield, but nixed the idea after Lisa
convinced me of this material's nice qualities. On some photos it looks metallic.

Once stitched onto the suit the results turned out very nice.
(The "S" was sewn directly on top of the blue spandex,
with little or no noticable puckering.




No more tiny "S" shield! It always bugged me that Scott's former suit sported a 'Routh' sized Superman S.
[Considerably Smaller than the Ross Shield,
but Larger than the Routh Sheild.]

CNC Machined metal buckle with all-brass
allen head screws.Imron color finish.
(The Allen head screws were used to mimic the "Kryptonian"
Ship key and design paid homage to George Reeves
1st season style buckle.)

New belt and old belt. (The new belt is all leather
with a rear velcro catch.)


Sample blue fabric we went with.
Originally thought to be
too dark, it turned out
to be the best color and fabric we've seen yet.
The blue bodysuit fits amazing and feels like
a wetsuit!

Cape 'S' and darker red material.
The yellow shield is actually two fabrics.
One is flat, and the other is spandex.
the hard black outline from the Reeve
cape was replaced with yellow stitching.


One of the boots after modification
of the crown (tops). A Spray can of
Vinyl dye covered over the
clown red color.

Boots

What a nightmare.

Let me stress that MotorCowboy boots is the ONLY place to buy Superhero boots. Those guys simply have it going on and, Jim, the owner, was the only online boot maker interested in calling me back. Unfortunately by the time I found the company, it was too late to have boots made by deadline, and we had to go to plan B.

On Ebay I found and purchased a set of red boots from a costume company in Massachusetts. Big mistake. First the boots were NOT sized correctly, as stated on the online auction, and the advertisd 0-11 boot fit more like a small size 9. They were returned and I got a size 12. They fit better but still had to be customized.

Starting with the boot crown, it was changed from a Batman-style point, to the more authentically Superman "w" crown top. I made a pattern for lisa and she stiched in a new piece of pleather. Of course the boots were the wrong color so they were Marhyde Vinyl dyed with deep red . It worked, they looked fantastic in person and on film.

Continued--

 


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