Thursday, May 31, 2012

leather pants and velvet cloaks

Last week seemed to be all about leather. Leather pants, leather gorgets, leather straps, altering old leather tunics and breeches.
This week has been a bit of a blur of fittings and figuring things out, chain mail sleeves and skirts and gambesons, and last but not least, the cloak.
The cloak of not enough fabric, the cloak of fabric that was then ordered last minute, from England, and the lining of fake fur that just arrived this afternoon. Finally.
Now it is just a matter of cutting it out.
It takes a bit of time to cut large cloaks out, partly because I am interrupted often almost continually during the day and also because I have to lay everything out in order to make sure the pattern fits in the yardage I was given, and then I have to cut it out singly, piece by piece. I have an extension for my table that I can use to make it 60 inches wide which helps a lot, but is very difficult to manoeuvre around.
This cloak has a centre back wedge shaped pleat with a trained hem and a partially grown on collar, so the centre back piece is about 86" long.

This is going to be fully lined in fur. Yikes! I'll have to weigh it when it is done just out of curiosity.
These guys have a lot of heavy costume to wear with armour, chain mail, cloaks and helmets and swords.
Quick change rehearsal should be interesting!

In case you were wondering how much yardage it took....they bought me 9 yards (8.3m) and I only used 7.2m!
      Tomorrow is for more fittings and to cut the fur lining, mask and knife at the ready.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

stooped back pattern adjustment

In response to Heidi's comment, I am posting the changes I made to the pattern for a stooped back.
In the top picture is my initial draft where I opened up the centre back a full 2.5cm (1inch) as well as adding 1cm at the armhole. This was the pattern I used for my toile in muslin.
The lower photo shows the original pattern laid on top of the adjusted pattern after the toile fitting. I have added more length in the back right across the pattern as well as some extra on the CB line.
I don't think I laid them out for the photograph as well as I could have. I wanted this for my own records in case I have to make something else for this gentleman. Next time I will try to get a photo of the whole back to show all the changes. For instance, I had to adjust below the waist for a flat seat so there were many small adjustments at the fitting, that may not be reflected in how I lay this out for the picture. I didn't take photos of the pattern fronts, although I did keep the pattern for future reference.

Nett on the patterns means no seam allowance. I will often remove the seam allowances when drafting a figure like this, as I find it easier to lay the pattern pieces seam to seam to check the seam lengths and to make style line adjustments.
It was a challenging figure to deal with. I wish I had more time to finesse things, but we are pushed for time and I had only a toile fitting, then one fitting for each outfit as a baste up in fabric, and I don't think there was time for another after that. It is a bit nerve wracking at times. I did pad up a stand after the toile fitting, to reflect the changes we made, so that helped quite a bit in the process.

Friday, May 25, 2012

shoulder dart in suit pattern

 A while ago I posted about putting a shoulder dart in the back of a suit jacket and I finally took a couple of quick pictures to show you the changes to the pattern.
You will have to forgive me for the rough state of the patterns. They are working patterns, encompassing my thinking process as well as the changes that come from a fitting. I rarely have time to correct my patterns after the fact. I make the changes on the cloth and sometimes make a few notes if I can. I just don't have the time to redraw and cut out clean versions.
Anyway, we made two jackets for this individual. One was a black barathea cutaway coat and the other was the fine grey beige striped wool. On the top you can see the the back pattern for a black cutaway coat and on the bottom the changes I made to the pattern for the striped wool.

Men's jackets generally have a hidden dart in the shoulder seam.
This means the back shoulder is longer than the front shoulder. The jacket must be big enough to go over the prominence of the blade. Above the blade, you then have excess fabric that need to be handled somehow. What do you do with it? Well, usually some of it is taken care of by easing it into the shoulder seam. Some goes into the armhole where it could also be eased a bit or filled by shoulder padding.
The amount of ease depends on the figure, the style of the jacket, and the particular fabric you are using.

In this particular case, I was dealing with quite a stooped figure, and rounded blade and shoulders. The period (Edwardian) didn't call for large shoulder pads, so I had a larger amount of fabric to get rid of over the blade in addition to the stooped back.
In the top picture, for the cutaway coat, you can see that I transferred some of the excess shoulder ease into the curved frock seam, and since the fabric was plain black, I could keep the curved centre back seam and no one would notice.
In the bottom picture, which was for the striped fabric, I made changes to the pattern to straighten the CB seam, and in doing so created even more ease in the back shoulder seam, which had to be turned into a dart.
This dart was placed alongside a major stripe and is much less noticeable than the bulls eye effect that would have happened down the centre back seam if I left it like the pattern for the cutaway. I did gain a bit of extra length over the blade in this manipulation, but it seemed as though that particular fabric needed it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

khaki uniform

 We made quite a few uniforms this season! Karen was just finishing up a jacket for an understudy who didn't fit into any of the existing uniforms that were originally pulled for this show.
This uniform is made of a cotton duck from Carr textiles. It was overdyed slightly, and I really like the feel of this fabric. I don't know the fabric weight, but it had a nice hand, not too heavy or light. It was just right for what we had to make.
Here it is on the stand in process. I cut right into fabric for this, and made a few minor changes at the first and only fitting I will have with it.

In this detail picture you can see the finishing treatment we used on the pockets and flaps. The pocket pleat is stitched closed from behind, and then the pocket was bagged out with silesia. We finished the top edge with a narrow bias binding of the same silesia. The pocket was then topstitched onto the front. The flap was interfaced and then bagged out with silesia and topstitched. The top edge was serged, then stitched in place before being folded down and topstitched along the top edge. 

The sleeves have a grown on gusset for specific movement the actor needs to do onstage. The green cuffs are interfaced, then the top edge is faced back with silesia, then joined in the round and slipped over the sleeves. The hem of the sleeve and the cuff were then joineed together and turned as one to the inside, and finished, then the lining was brought down and hand finished in place. This does allow easier alteration in that the cuff isn't stitched into the sleeve seam. If you want to maintain the proportion of the cuff and lengthen or shorten the sleeve in the future, you don't have to unpick the sleeve seam.

This was a different technique to the wool uniforms. The wool uniform cuffs and sleeves were too bulky to turn together at the hem, so the sleeve hem was cut raw at the finished length and the cuff hem allowance wrapped over that raw edge to the inside, where it was hemmed and finished by hand.

Here it is all finished and ready to go. He will wear a Sam Browne with this, and it will sit in the belt hooks provided, and the fabric epaulettes can be unbuttoned if needed to put the strap through. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

leather gorget

And now for something different. Onto the next show and its designs. The designs include making
some leather gorgets. A gorget being a leather or steel piece of armour worn to protect the throat. From the french word gorge, for throat. On a suit jacket you have the gorge line,  which is specifically the  seam line that joins the collar to the lapel.

 I started by draping a shape in muslin on the stand. After that is done, I transfer my muslin to the table and carefully mark the seam lines and matching points before taking it apart and tracing through to paper. The I recheck the shape and walk all the seam lines so they can be sewn properly, correcting the lines at the top and bottom edges.
For my mock-up or toile, I found a scrap of heavy overcoat melton, fused some canvas to it and cut out all my shapes. The seams were butted together and zigged instead of using a traditional seam allowance. This keeps everything flat, and reduces bulk.
 I did a bit of playing around with possibly using cording as a detail as well as using wide twill tape to stand in for strips of leather. I'm not sure which way the designer will want to go, so for the next fitting, I will return with this toile, but I cut some leather for one side of it. This is a weight of cowhide suitable for boots, and I am not sure if it should be heavier. Well, I don't want to waste leather, so I will just leave it like this and see what the designer thinks. I'm sure this will get some decorative studding as well.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

waistcoat, double breasted

It has been so busy lately that I haven't had much time to post anything other than snippets of what we have done, but finally the frantic pace has eased slightly, for the time being.

I thought you might like to see both the pattern and finished product of a DB waistcoat we made recently.
As you can see by the darting, it was made for someone who carries their weight in the front other words a corpulent cut.
The centre front seam carries some of the shaping in the dart between the panels, and the rest of the shaping is accomplished in a horizontal dart into the waist pocket.
Double breasted waistcoats will always have a slight amount of darting in the CF seam, or along the neck edge, but this one has a bit more than average.

The lapel shape is created by closing the dart along the neckline, then drawing in the desired shape on the pattern...OOPS, the collar pattern I photographed was for the other waistcoat we made for him. Oh well.
The notch collar version, I cut apart so there was a seam between the "lapel" and "collar" and the finished lapel in the picture below has a shawl collar. These collars are laid flat and caught into the shoulder seam, rather than having a collar with a stand that is attached to the back neck like the earlier Victorian style posted here.

The pin visible on the centre front is marking the placement of a hole for a watch chain. We carefully opened a small section of the seam, cut through the hymo, and opened the same small area on the facing seam, secured the stitching well. The other option is to cut an eyelet hole and handwork around it with silk thread and a buttonhole stitch, but I prefer to just open up the seam. The fabric then is not cut.
The back is simply lining, inside and out, with a belt or strap and buckle for adjustments.

Friday, May 4, 2012

another uniform...

Sometimes when working in the tailoring department, you can find yourself working on a lot of dark colours, so it is almost a shock to the system to suddenly have colour to work on!

Our uniform of a different colour had some inspiration from the New Years Day mummers parade of Philadelphia.
Mummers parade? Who knew?
Mummers in Canada are associated with a Christmas tradition mostly in Newfoundland of masked or disguised neighbours showing up at your door for merrymaking. So I didn't really have a clue about the parade in Philly.
Holy Cow!
Well this is just tame by comparison, but fun anyway.
The pants are orange by the way, with the yellow and red trim centered on a wide green stripe.
Oh and theres the sash and rosette too. And a gold and red decorated sword belt with a sword too. (Didn't have it to photograph as is was in the weapons lock-up).

Now that this is up and on stage, I am onto some understudy fittings with some extra costumes being built and the next show, which will not be as bright as this.