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TFA fabric gaskets how-to


topherhunter
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Let’s face it; those silicone Anovos gaskets suck. Unfortunately demand was high and supply was low, so I decided to try making a set of fabric gaskets myself. After a bit of reading and experimenting, I think I have a decent method down. This might look like an intimidating project, but I really think anyone who can thread a needle can manage this.

 

Materials needed:

1 set of existing gaskets or a long-sleeve t-shirt as a template

1 Sewing machine

3 spools of black thread

2 yards of headliner fabric (available many places; here’s the one I used: http://www.amazon.com/Foam-Backed-Automotive-Headliner-Black-Fabric/dp/B00O5BKN0W/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1448471199&sr=8-7&keywords=headliner+fabric)

2 yards of shiny black spandex/poly blend (again, lots of sources; here’s the one I used: http://hancockfabrics.com/black-stretch-satin-fabric-1704519.html)

1 can of Super 77 adhesive or equivalent

 

UPDATE 3/31/16: David Rodriguez (TK-11686) discovered this amazing new fabric from Yaya Han (http://www.joann.com/cosplay-by-yaya-han-4-way-ultrapreme-fabric-black/14749170.html). It looks fantastic as the top layer, replacing the black spandex/poly blend I listed above. His gaskets are works of art.

 

 

Useful tools:

Straight ruler, 1 yard/meter

Seamstress’ tape

Quality scissors and/or a cutting wheel

Fine tipped black marker

4-8 yards/meters of double-fold bias tape (for edging)

 

All told this project took me about 3 days, not counting some restarts, mistakes, and lessons learned. I suggest starting with the knees so you can get a feel for things.

 

Step 1. Cut the foam

Unroll 1-2 yards of the headliner foam, and lay your gaskets on top. If they’ve already been assembled, gently press them flat and flip them over. Trace an outline, leaving about 1 inch (2.5cm) around the edge for allowances. Cut along the outline.

 

Step 2. Cut the spandex (making sure to get the orientation right!)

This is critical: take a look at the spandex and feel how it stretches. Unless you got the fancy stuff, it will be much stretchier in one direction. That direction should end up parallel to your pleats; in other words, if you hold the gasket so the lines are right/left, the spandex should be more stretchy when you pull it on the left and right than if you pulled on the top and bottom. I learned this the hard way, as my first set of shoulders didn’t look nearly as sharp as my knees. See below:

 

 

 

RWxnwyy.jpg

 

(lower left: my knee gaskets, with sharply defined pillows/pleats; upper left: my first shoulder, with poor definition due to mis-oriented fabric; right: the new shoulder, oriented correctly)

 

As you can see, the mis-oriented spandex doesn’t pucker down well, creating shallow, poorly defined ‘pillows’ in between the stitches.

 

Ok, so you’ve learned from my mistake and laid the foam pieces on top of the spandex in the right orientation. Cut the spandex, again giving about ½” (1.25cm) allowance around the edge. This allows some slop in Step 3.

 

Step 3. Glue them together

Take the parts to a well ventilated area with some cardboard or another surface you don’t mind wrecking. Lay the headliner foam down (fabric side down, foam side up) and spray it with the Super 77. Wait a few minutes (3-5 for me, but it will vary with temperature and humidity) until the glue is very tacky.

 

Roll up the spandex from one end, and carefully lay the loose edge onto your glue-treated foam. You won’t have a lot of chances to re-orient things, as the glue is often stronger than the foam itself, and you’ll tear it. Slowly unroll the spandex onto the foam, smoothing it as best you can.

 

 

 

gImx5jb.jpg

 

 

knumZaU.jpg

 

 

04eDIIQ.jpg

 

Wait about half an hour for the glue to fully set.

 

Step 4. Mark your guideline(s)

Take the parts back to your sewing area. Lay the gasket on a firm surface trace a straight guideline for your first stitch, somewhere part way into the gasket if possible. I put the gasket on a counter, lined the bottom up to the edge of the counter, then measured 6” from there. I used a steel ruler and a fine-tipped black Sharpie marker.

 

If you can reference a few more straight, parallel lines now, go for it. About every 8-12 inches is best, so you can’t have the pleats drift too far before you get corrected by another guide line. This is also why you put the first guide partway up the piece; you’ll run stitches on either side of the guide, again limiting how badly you can drift.

 

OpQd70J.jpg

Step 5. Lay the first stitches

Take the gasket to your sewing machine. Set the machine to a fine stitch (about setting 1.5 on mine, but this will vary by machine) start the stitch with a bit of a zigzag (width 3 for me) for a half inch or so, double back, then forward (so three passes over the one spot with a zigzag). This anchors your stitch. Change to no zigzag and proceed down your guide line. When you get to the end, I found it convenient to leave the needle in the fabric but lift the presser foot, spin the piece, then lift the needle and reposition.

 

Step 6. Lay all the other stitches

Set the edge of the presser foot on the previous stitch. Run the second stitch, keeping the presser foot carefully aligned. Don’t rush this, or your pleats won’t be crisp and parallel. When you get to the end, repeat the turnaround process and keep going. Every few stitches, put in a zigzag to anchor things in case the thread starts to come loose.

 

You’ll eventually run out of bobbin thread during a run. Don’t panic, just rethread the machine, back up a few inches, and carefully trace over where you ran out.

 

Take breaks during this process, as you’ll go a little nuts running every stitch back and forth. Patience, young one.

 

Many, many stitches later...

 

Step 7. Trim

You finished the really annoying part! Go have a beverage of your choice.

 

Trim the edges so you have a clean end with both spandex and headliner.

 

Step 8. Finish the edges

Use bias tape, scrap fabric, or your favorite method to sew a trim onto what will be the exposed edges of the gasket.

 

bDkzo2e.jpg

Step 9. Close the tubes

(Depending on your sewing machine, armor setup, etc., you may need to attach velcro now.) Take some time to test-fit the gaskets, making sure you’ve got the diameters right. It’s easy to make them smaller, but no fun to fix an arm or leg that gets too small. Fold the tubes so they’re inside out and sew them closed.

 

Step 10. Attach velcro, magnets, glue, the Force, etc.

Use your favorite method to affix the armor bits, strapping, etc.

 

Step 11. Put everything on

 

Step 12. Dance a jig now that you can move!

 
Finished knee gaskets:
 
MqRllls.jpg
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  • 3 weeks later...
Quote

Imperial Gaskets isn’t able to keep up with demand

 

 

Imperial Gaskets is keeping up just fine. Can we make 200 sets over night? No we can't! Do we make a quality product with satisfaction guaranteed? Yes we do! Do we run an honest business with awesome customer service? Yes we do! 

 

Contact ImperialGaskets@gmail.com to get on the list for screen accuracy, durability and comfort.

 

Topher, I regret that you had to wait so long for a set of Mrs.TK4205 sewn cloth gaskets. As you can now see, they take a very long time to make. Now imagine having to sew a couple hundred sets of them. My rubber gaskets are going out in much greater numbers, as I can pour rubber faster than I can sew.

 

Buy Imperial Gaskets. They're good enough for the President!

 

owMb0hx.jpg

Edited by gmrhodes13
photo updated gmrhodes13 2021
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No worries man. I just heard my name:)

 

Other than the mention of myself and the dreaded anivose gaskets, your tutorial is helpful and most needed at this time. Also, at the end of the day, that's what it's always about here; Troopers helping troopers.

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks for this tutorial. I bought some foam and black bathing suit material from a fabric store to try and make some. Made some small test pieces. Didn't have any glue for these so straight lines were a bit challenging but I am sure it will be a bit easier if the fabric is glued on. The materials were quite cheap so no harm in trying some. :)

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My girlfriend found this helpful video for me. May help in keeping the lines straight.

 

 

Edited by gmrhodes13
link not working, removed gmrhodes13 2021
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As long as the first line is straight and reference points along the way it should be fine.

 

This is a really great tutorial and thanks topherhunter on the kind words on my attempts of my own versions

 

I'm getting closer to being done and they are coming out excellent!

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N910A using Tapatalk

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  • 2 weeks later...
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So, I've got all the materials for this, but I don't have a set of gaskets to use as a starter point. How would you use a long sleeve t-shirt as a template instead?

 

Sorry, haven't been on the forums much for a while. As Zuko said, you can take a raglan shirt (sleeves are attached via angled seams running from the armpit to the neck, rather than vertical seams running around the armpit). Cut it up the side and down the inside of the sleeve to open it into a flat pattern, or just cut the seams and pattern after the shirt sleeve.

 

Hope that makes sense!

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  • 2 months later...

I've been looking at the design of the neck seal, and wonder if this method for making the gaskets would work for the neck seal as well. I know neck seals are normally leather (or leather like), but the design of the first order neck seals looks like it could be the same as the gaskets. Thoughts?

 

 

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I've been looking at the design of the neck seal, and wonder if this method for making the gaskets would work for the neck seal as well. I know neck seals are normally leather (or leather like), but the design of the first order neck seals looks like it could be the same as the gaskets. Thoughts?

 

I'm also wondering about this and hoping someone can answer this question. They look the same, but there could be some small detail we're missing. Can the experts weigh in?

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  • 5 months later...

Hey All, 
Just curious in how big a difference in breathability these cloth gaskets are vs rubber or latex? I assume some, but a lot of the materials don't seem super breathable still.  At least they seem more form fitting and comfortable. What are your experiences with both?
My problem right now is bunching (you can see in this pic).  I can put everything on by myself except for the arm armor, so whoever helps me struggles to get everything up high enough to start with because of the bunching, so my elbows end up with limited range and I can't touch my bucket.  Not because of the gaskets, they are thin and pliable, but more because the armor isn't quite in the right spot.  Maybe I need to trim the armor too? 
Either way, the rubber/latex gaskets I have are super sweaty.  I don't have an issue sliding over the under shirt (it's smooth spandexy stuff).  I'm interested in making some cloth ones if it makes a HUGE difference in sweatiness. I can already assume that the fit and comfort will be better.  Besides, how are you guys cleaning your rubber ones?  Do you rinse them out? Or just spray them with lysol?  I glued mine into the arm and leg sections.  If I made cloth ones, I'd use velcro so I can remove and wash them.

------------

Yes, I know the side arm is upsidedown.  The upper screw hole in the plastic holster busted open and it was hanging upsidedown the rest of the time.  I need to make a metal cover plate.

Edited by gmrhodes13
link not working, removed gmrhodes13 2021
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I have both latex and cloth gaskets (both of which are from Imperial Gaskets) and the breathability difference is stark. The latex gaskets have the breathability of a wetsuit or a rubber body glove (which means they don't breathe at all), the cloth gaskets are more like a sweater or thick shirt. As far as cleaning goes, I simply wipe out my latex gaskets with a wet cloth.

 

For dealing with the bunching, my shoulder gaskets are connected to the ab armor via a couple of nylon straps - they both pull the gaskets down and hold the armor up.

 

Yes, it looks like part of your mobility problem at the elbows is that your upper arm armor is too long.

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