Thursday, January 2, 2014

Skirts Make the Man

Breakfast at the worktable. Pretty good start to the second day of the New Year.

I bit the bullet and remade the tunic bodice since the original just wasn't working. Decided to do things a bit differently this time. It's funny actually - being some nine years into this whole costuming gig, I'm finding that stuff isn't good enough. What would have passed six years ago needs to be taken apart and completely redone today. While the finished product is a delight in itself, the process has become just as rewarding. That being said, there are still plenty of times where I want to pitch the sewing machine out the window.


The bodice became double-breasted with a grown-on collar. I was watching The Blue Max while sewing on the trim and realized that I had subconsciously made it a bit similar to the uniforms of First World War German pilots, which have always been wonderfully dashing (especially when worn by Karl Michael Vogler):

I did the trim with the help of Claire Schaffer's terrific Couture Sewing Techniques. It's a great reference if you want to level up your handwork.


Trim is always a barrel of laughs. I fell-stitched it from the outside, wrapped it over the raw edge, and bound it to the inside. A few clips here and there around the neck edge helped it curve better. It doesn't lay was flat as it could but it could be worse. There's a heavy canvas interlining in there to give it a bit of body too. I didn't want bulk seam allowances so I basted them down. It wasn't possible to do the same to the outer fabric but I still wanted nice clean seams there so I cut narrow strips of Stitch Witchery, inserted it under the seam allowances, and pressed it. The Stitch Witchery acts like glue so it worked out pretty well. Just make sure you use a pressing cloth otherwise it makes a hell of a mess on your iron.

Because I really want to push the 'uniform' aspect with this, the lining is double-toned so I can have a nice red turn-back if I want. The idea here is to look just as sexy when I'm half-dressed as when I've got the full works on.

It will close with a concealed placket eventually. I'm still debating whether it needs an extra strip of black and white trim just outside the red; this particular chap is the Lieutenant after all...

The skirts also underwent some tweaking. I added a layer of canvas to the second skirt to help with the stiffness problem (thanks for the input there, everyone!) and did up the appliques. 

 Blogger is flipping stuff on me again so you'll just have to look at it upside down. I am still an applique n00b so my edges aren't as smooth as they could be. If anyone's got tips or tricks, I'm all ears!

Lastly, I pulled the third skirt off the original bodice. The double-breast set-up of the new bodice presented some difficulties for attaching it because the front split of the skirts doesn't line up with the front opening of the bodice (which is off to the side). In the end, I decided to button it to the inside of the bodice and the reasons were two-fold: the second and first skirts are going to be strung on a belt so having the third skirt inside the bodice cuts down on the outside bulk. It also stops the tunic from working itself up and over the skirts if I sit down or bend over.


It doesn't look like a lot on paper but these few details have been lurking in the back of my brain since March so it's nice to have them out of the way. Next steps? Carry on with the skirts, finish the arm-holes, and get started on the armour pattern.

There have been a few developments on the side - cast a new nose for Marius, decided on this summer's main project, and some utter craziness planned for late summer. More details to follow. Or if you can't wait that long, there's always Facebook!