Sunday, October 19, 2014

Woman's period waistcoat

A little while ago I posted about a waistcoat that I was cutting for a woman, and here it is all finished.
(Please forgive the dotty covering on the stand, it is a bit annoying to look at but I don't have time to change it.)

It is too bad that the detail seaming I put into the backs is lost with this fabric but hey, I know it is there.
If I was making another maybe for myself, I would either pipe the seams or make a detail of it with top stitching or something. Would look great in leather or suede.......don't you think. Not that I will ever get around to making it for myself. Sigh

Well, I guess it is not completely finished (what ever is?)  as I do not have a pretty ribbon or cording to lace the back up, but I am sure I will get something before this show goes in front of the audience.

It doesn't quite fit my stand as well as it does on the real person (what ever does?) but I am quite happy with the whole costume overall. Considering I don't do women's wear.....

Sunday, October 12, 2014

structure in period coats

When I am making period coats specifically the 18th century style with full skirts, there always is the question of what to put in them for structure and support.
The fabrics that we are given are what we have to work with and they can often be a challenge to work with.
I doubt that any of our modern fabrics have the body of some of those silks that were used then.
Most designers want the skirts of these coats to stand out and the trick is to find some kind of interfacing or interlining that will work. something with body that won't lose its oomph over time.

I have been using a sew in interfacing called "sew sure" for many years now. I find it fits the bill providing a lightweight and springy structure that lasts over time. It has a natural tendency to fold flat upon itself lengthwise (warp), but resists folding across the weft, so I cut it so the weft sits vertically at the front edge of the coat. It is also inexpensive, which helps because some of these coat skirts are quite large.

I have a woman's coat to make in a variation of the style of the men's 18th century coats. They are full skirted with pleats but ankle length. The skirts of the coat needed to be a kind of hybrid between the men's look and a woman's dress. The designer wanted the skirts to stand out but we didn't want the full structuring to come right up to the hip where the pleating and the flaring began.

So I modified the technique a bit, using the sew sure interfacing in the bottom 14 inches of the skirts panels. They couldn't just float inside, so I cut a layer of thin poly cotton and attached the sew sure to it and then flat mounted the inner structure to each panel of the coat.

Here is the back of the coat with the structure inside and the trim sewn on the back. I think it works to give the skirts body and make them stand out at the hem.
 I notice a bit of rippling going on on the right side but I think it is just sitting strangely on the stand. Will check it tomorrow.

please forgive the picture quality I am literally snapping photos as I am leaving the studio, since the deadlines are pressing!

Monday, October 6, 2014

trim layout

These period coats have scads of trim, and the placement of the trim needs to be worked out in detail according to the sketch and what the designer has chosen.
The construction of the coats would come to a standstill at some point if we don't have the trim decisions.
Luckily, the designer of this project is organized and has thought out which trim he wanted to purchase and where it would go. On top of that, the trim arrived with tags indicating what it was for and in individual bundles/bags, separated by character.
Budding designers take note! 
This is a way to impress your construction team.

The first thing I do is make a trim map on my pattern, and then lay out the trim flat on the table.
The trim choices can dictate changes to the design. For instance the design may have 12 horizontal lines between the neck and waist but the spacing change if the trim is narrow or wide.

Our designer M.G.  dropped by the studio and we tweaked the layout of the trim a bit, at which point I make a trim map for the tailor. This means a separate pattern piece that they can use as a guideline for chalking out the placement.

Here you can see the coat fronts in progress. The trim must go on by machine. No budget for handwork on that scale.
Another note for budding designers. Get to know how garments are constructed and why things need to be done in a certain order.

The coat does not sit on the body like it is pinned here. It will look even better once they sit at the correct cutaway angle.

Onwards, I have two more trim maps to complete.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

pint size

I have to say that making patterns for the woman's costume was a lesson in scale.
Having just made patterns for the men, the woman's pattern was unfamiliar in terms of what I usually see on my table.
It challenged me to some degree.
This week, I took on a project that challenged my sense of scale even more.

This is about half the chest size of the last men's shirt pattern I made! About half the hip size too for the trousers.

Since my daughter is now an adult, it has been a long time since I made something in this size.

I did find a child size hanger though.

This was a request made through a dance/skating connection, and although I am busy with the Opera project, I couldn't resist this.

I had a fitting yesterday, and all went very well. I will let you know what it was for after the event, as it is to be a bit of a surprise for the audience.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back at it

Oh my gosh, time flies.
I feel as though I have lost a month somewhere.

So back to it.
It is usually feast or famine in this business, and it is shaping up to be a bit of a feast year so far. This is good because last year was a bit lean in the fall. This fall as soon as I started on the current project, another one came along. That one will be interesting as I get to go and work in Montreal for a month, and I am really looking forward to it.

But, right now, I am moving forward on making three 18th century inspired costumes for a production. One is for a woman dressed as a man, but we are not trying to hide her shape. I rarely get to do women's wear, as there are lots of people who have that background and training.

I did feel a bit out of my element at first. Just the scale of the patterns felt unfamiliar and so small.
Of course when the patterns for the other costumes are for men with 48" chests or who are 6'5" tall  it doesn't help.
I made mock ups anyway because I didn't get a chance to measure the woman myself, and we were using the period as inspiration. The coat for the woman is ankle length and has almost 2/3 circle in fullness. It is going to take a lot of fabric, and I didn't want to mess up!

Here is my waistcoat toile after the fitting. I decided to offset the princess seam from the bust point so it was less obvious (in my mind anyway) but in the back, I used inspiration from the dresses and corsets of the period for my seam placement. The designer wanted lacing up the back which gave me that idea.

My judy is just a bit bigger and certainly less squishy than the real person, so the fit doesn't look optimal, but it was good.

I did have to pin up some extra length in the back and reshape the armhole a bit and move the collar to account for the bulk of the shirt and stock/cravat that she will wear.

I think I may give the hem a bit better shape, it looks a bit blah, and it needs a pocket placement.

I like the back so much it reminded me of an idea I had years ago to make myself a similar waistcoat. never got around to it then and probably won't now either, but hey you never know.

Now I have altered the pattern and just have to cut it out of this. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

creating a waistband unit

This is a technique I used for the waistband on a stylized "Egyptian" shendyt. The fabric for the waistband was flimsy (lame´ and organza on the bias), so I was not going to cut a waistband to sew to the shendyt and interface later. I needed to create a solid waistband unit to apply once the body of the shendyt was ready.

We also use this technique for military tunic collars that need substantial interfacing, or any other time when you need a stiff interfacing but don't want that interfacing to go into the seam allowances.

I thought this would be a good tutorial, but only after we got through most of the process, so these first photos are just samples.

First, you need to determine what the structure of the waistband will be. In this case I used two layers of hymo fused together with stitch witch fusible web. Then I stitched through the layers so they would not ever delaminate. Essential for long term use!

Prep, then cut the waistband (or collar) interfacing to the finished size.

Cut a layer of cotton silesia on the bias. This should be bigger than the waistband interfacing. Stitch it to the waistband interfacing. Make sure it is on the side that faces outwards, so your fashion fabric will sit against it. (this cushions and protects the flimsy fabric from the roughness of the hymo. Trim the silesia so you have 1/2" extending beyond the interfacing on all sides.
With a military collar in wool you would attach the cotton to the inside, allowing the fibres from the hymo to "grab" the wool and then the cotton on the inside gives you something to cross stitch to later.

Rough cut a layer each of lame´and organza on the bias, big enough to allow seam allowances on all sides. Don't worry about being precise here. Slightly bigger is better. Oh and if you are working with lame´, press it first because it shrinks!
Baste the organza over the lame´ by hand. Once down the middle and along each edge as well.

Lay the lame´ and organza over the interfacing layer, and baste in place. Since I was using the lame´on the bias I didn't have to ease it on, but if you are making a collar, and your outer fabric is on grain, you should baste it in place over your hand or on a convex surface. If you baste it flat on the table then try to curve it around a neck, the outer fabric will be short and will forever try to return to being flat, pulling and distorting the collar. You will regret that collar!

Go to the machine and stitch around the interfacing, not right up against it, but a few millimeters or 1/8" away.  You want to be able to leave this stitching in forever.
Stitch through the silesia and the outer fabric only.

Cut a layer of silesia or lining to finish the inside of the waistband. Cut this on the straight grain- the same grain as the interfacing.

Put the lining and the interfaced piece right sides together and bag out the upper edge of the waistband.

Press and trim the seam allowances and then under stitch, turning the lining to the inside of the waistband.

Baste the lining to the inside by hand.

I like to leave the ends open and finish them by hand.

Now you have a waistband unit that you can sew to the waist of the shendyt.

Sew it on, do not catch the silesia/lining in your seam. Trim the seam allowances, and cross stitch them up to the inside of the waistband if desired.

Finish the ends by hand, and slip stitch the lining in place along the waistline.

Install the closures. In this case a press in hook and bar at the CF, and sewn on snaps on the over and under lap ends of the waistband. Since the ends of the waistband cross over at an angle,  onto the body of the shendyt, we used a small square of twill tape for support under the snaps.

Did I take a picture of the finished shendyt?  No, I didn't.
Why? I don't know.
It has been a crazy season and my wits are at their end. I will show you the clever loincloth inside the shendyt later. I took pictures of that.
Now for a week off,  maybe go to the beach, maybe read a book. I will return then.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Creating Armour

  My working life is never boring due to the fact that I may be called upon to make almost anything in any given season, and the only common denominator is menswear. Usually that means tailoring which I love to do, but at other times it could be spandex bodysuits or togas, or what I was doing last week, which was armour.
We needed Roman style armour to go with the togas and chitons required in one of the shows I have been assigned. We had some in stock but all in big sizes and not in great shape, or the right colour of leather for the designer.
So I took a look at what we had and drafted up a set of armour in a smaller size.
I started with a general fit using a very heavy denim fused with canvas, tweaked that a bit and moved onto a set in 5mm thick industrial felt, fit that and then tweaked the pattern a bit more before it was cut in leather.

This is the armour in water buffalo hide, in an unfinished state.
The fronts are quick changed in advance so that you can adjust the fit slightly with the straps but the strap mechanism then snaps over so the buckles do not have to be undone to get in and out of it.
The shoulder pieces still need to be riveted down to the body and we need to attach a d-ring on the shoulders for the capes to attach. The designer was contemplating adding a removable apron front, so that may still need to be worked out.

There is a lot of hardware involved- close to 220 rivets per set, 8 sets of buckles, 20 D-rings, 8 sets of snaps, its a lot of hammering.
The backs are adjustable by lacing tighter or looser, so these should fit  quite a few of our guys.

This was a fun project to do, and something that comes along only once in a while, but it certainly keeps things interesting.

They will also be a welcome addition to our stock for future use.