Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Count's New Pants

I've been meaning to do a post about Marius Leitdorf's pants for a while now and with nothing slated for tonight, it's time to limber up the fingers.

I've got a long history with these pants. Well, not exactly this pair but it was the yellow-and-purple striped silk of the first pair that started all this nonsense in the first place That pair has run their course and I felt things needed an upgrade after nearly two years on the project.

There were a few stipulations:

1. They needed to be big and poofy.
2. They needed to be loud.
3. They needed to be rich-looking.

Though there's a tidy stash of fancy fabric in the cupboard, choosing appropriate material was a challenge. At one point, I caught myself wondering if my choices were too loud but quickly realized that was the entirely wrong approach, given the character, so anything was fair game after that. I settled on a rich burgundy and a burgundy/gold silk brocade for the panes (those strips on the outside). The actual 'leg' fabric would be a burgundy/turquoise duppioni silk bought from a Punjabi cloth-house - it changes colour according to the light! I wanted to push the blue/burgundy combination a bit here since these are the Leitdorf family colours according to the Warhammer fluff.

Ultimately, the goal here was a strange trunk hose-pluderhosen hybrid so I had to wing most of it. Here's David Tennant modelling a well-made pair of trunk hose. Aaaand a terrific example of pluderhosen seen on one of Lynn McMasters' pieces (which is still one of my all-time favourite pieces of costumery...)

Starting with the basic 'pantalon' pattern from Simplicity 4059, I added width to the legs and shortened them by a few inches to just below the knee. I wanted a damned heavy pair of pants out of the deal so there is a TONNE of fabric in these things. Without the panes, the legs have three layers: the silk outer, an interlining of cotton muslin, and a lining of heavy but fine gold/blue polyester. The panes also have three layers: outer fabric, interlining of cotton muslin, and a backing of gold cotton.

Because the burgundy panes were a bit drab by themselves, I ran strips of gold braid down their centers once the interlining was basted on. Once the backing was stitched on, every pane had to be turned the right way out and pressed.

I was house-sitting at the time and Smoochy the cat figured he would help iron them. Once the panes were complete, I laid them out on the blue silk for the first time.

Loud? Hells yes. Poofy? We'll see.... I had to sew the leg fabric together first and gather the bottoms in close to the size of the leg, leaving the panes dangling at the bottom - they would be attached later once I had the bottom leg circumference finalized.

The waistband was the next step. By this point it was obvious from the weight of the pants that a simple fabric waistband wasn't going to be enough. So I created an overlapping waistband lined with heavy fusible interfacing and a length of 8 oz veg-tan leather - by adding a strap and buckle, the waistband could now function as its own belt.

For some reason, a pair of pants that you had to buckle on seemed to fit well in the Warhammer universe so I finished the bottoms the same way, turning them into an integrated set of garters.

There's about forty hours of work in these but they make such a difference to the overall appearance.

Photo by Grant Zelych - I tweaked the colour a bit. It was also taken before I had a chance to finish the bottoms which is why they look a bit tatty.

Next up for this? A new doublet. The plain black-and-yellow wool just isn't doing it. Overall, I envision the soft clothes here looking a bit like:

Still undecided about the codpiece because it seems a bit.... rude. I know all the cool German kids had sizeable ones back in the early 1500s and the chaps on the Warhammer Empire Forum are pretty sure I need one here. But that is a question for another day. Need gauntlets and proper greaves/sabatons at one point too.

Going to take a sewing hiatus for the next few months. I had planned to finish Korra for Pure Speculation two weekends ago but got a bit repulsed after delving into the Internet fandom around the show. I also thought the accusations of 'brown-facing' in some cases of Korra cosplay were particularly puerile and unwarranted so this project is getting left aside until I can clear my brain of the Internet fools and do it simply for the sake of cosplaying a great character.

Before I sign off for the night, one of the chaps at work had a good point a couple of weeks ago. He often frequents The Chive and came by to give his opinion on the cosplay scene. "You need an R2D2 bathing suit," he said. "Seriously. You spend hundreds of hours creating this brilliant work of art and what do people take photos of at Cons? The girl dressed as sexy Chewbacca." He's right, though you'll never catch me in an R2D2 bathing suit. With costuming, people like sexy and they like familiar. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I spent the last few months fighting a heated internal battle with this. Paired up with a hefty case of costume burn-out, things were looking disastrous until I threw in the towel on Korra the night before the Con - something I've never done before. But it's a good chance to step back and re-evaluate why this is an awesome hobby.

The hiatus will be grand. Do a bit of art, do a bit of riding, lots of writing, and come February, we will be back in business. Question is - can I actually hold off sewing that long? Place your bets now.


  1. my eyes are bleeding

  2. I just wanted to let you know that I really, really love your work, and I left you an award on my blog!

  3. Hooooly! Thank you! And thanks for the lovely write-up too! I had been wondering where the new followers came from... This makes my week, no lies. :)

  4. Greetings KaiserMax!!
    I stumbled upon your blog here and was entranced by the clothing that you make! Do you ever make and sell to others? I am very keen to try and have some lovely sets of hose trunks, pumpkin pants, slops...??? Help...?

    Great stuff!! Please contact me if you are able to at elissa at blackloupe dot com :)

    Elissa xo