Wednesday, June 20, 2012


One last fitting to go. For a pair of leather pants that weren't quite ready last Thursday. 
Which will add up to 85 fittings since January.
Not 85 costumes, mind you. Way way more.

As a point of interest, here's a list of what I fit on one actor, in one fitting, on Thursday and all the people involved, and sometimes all in the room at the same time.
90 minutes.
One actor, Me (cutter), Susy (first hand), Paul (designer), Jenna (design assistant), Bradley (wardrobe manager), Connie (boots and shoes), Rebecca (Bijou), Eric(props), Lisa (costume breakdown).

A.Velvet jeans, under bodice 1 and sleeves, gambeson 1, belt 1, gorget 1, velvet cape, boots.
B. Same jeans, under bodice 2 with chain mail sleeves, gambeson 2, steel gorget, hooded cloak, steel breastplate, pauldrons, gauntlets, grieves, belt 2, sword, worn in various combinations.
C. Same jeans, under bodice 3 with sleeves, gambeson 3, gorget 2, velvet cape again, belt 3.

Last fitting (with fingers crossed) pair of leather pants. One actor, me, Susy, Paul, Jenna, Connie  and Bradley.

Well, I never did get a fitting proper, so I checked the fit backstage in the dressing room. Just me, and the actor wearing them.
I'm happy, they look good, and he can do everything he needs to in them, so that's done. Cross it off the list.
Now for the understudy. More fittings are coming my way.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

gambesons and gorgets

 I think we are finally getting to the finishing stages of our work on this show.
All kinds of decisions have been made such as the decorative trim closures for this black velvet gambeson, and its accompanying suede gorget.
Now we just have to make a strap for the closures to be sewn to, that enables the actor to quickly get in and out of the costume, so that will be a suede strap with snaps. I still have to cut an under placket for it, and get the real belt when the boots and shoes department has it ready.
 This gambeson and gorget are also getting closer to completion. The leather thonging still has to be attached, and the straps for it have been prepped but still need to be riveted to the garment, and all those decorations will need to be properly placed, marked , holes punched and then riveted on as well.
We also have to attach the gorget to the gambeson, so it stays in place while being worn.
This gorget is also almost done. This one has the boot liner leather base that is pictured here. The pieces of belting were a bit tricky to position, and we have scored the back of them in order to get them to bend a bit more into the shape we want. Now we need to trim them and attach lacing as well as figure out how to attach it to the tunic that is worn under it.

I fit the velvet cloak on Thursday, so Denise is working away on it. Luckily no changes were necessary and it stayed on his shoulders very well. It still needs a fair amount of work to finish it, the hem alone is about 7.5 m and the hem allowance has to be trimmed down to 2" width, and hand cross stitched. Then there will be the same amount of fur hem to be dealt with, as well as catching the two layers together. Oh, and decoration and there is quite a lot to do still.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

leather gorget part 2

We are further along in the process of making this leather gorget but still not finished.

There are so many decisions to be made and each decision often causes more questions to be asked and processes to be figured out.

In this case, I had started out thinking that we would mount the leather on the felt base. The pattern I made was for the felt and I had to calculate by trial and error how much bigger to make the leather that would cover the felt since the circumference is greater. The pieces were joined edge to edge to reduce bulk and decorative strips of the embossed leather were stitched on top of the seams. The wide strips with the acorn nuts were backed onto boot leather for strength, which made them a certain thickness, so that meant I needed a longer screw to go through the thicker leather and still have enough space left for the leather thonging to go under the acorn nut. I had to order longer brass screws which led to a 10 day wait due to  an ordering fiasco of failed faxing, minimum order fulfillment and shipping errors.

By that time, I realized that trying the bind the top edge over the felt was making it all too thick, so I ditched the felt, re cut the inside structure out of boot weight leather, and reconfigured the outer layer of existing work to fit. I also then changed the opening to the centre back since it is now a quick change item and I don't have to worry about how to make the front opening (which is more visible) functional.

We also wanted the decoration strips to not be caught in the binding at the top and bottom, but have the screws go through the strips and the top layer of leather to hold them together, but not through the lining leather.

Sometimes it is so frustrating when your finished product is your prototype.

Everything is so plain to see in retrospect, don't you think? 
The second and third versions will be much better I'm sure. In fact, I started a gorget for another character using boot liner leather. This I seamed for rigidity, as the leather that is on the outside is a bit softer than it should be. It also has similar decorative strips with acorn nuts but the strips are made of belting leather, which is almost  1/4" thick!! So even if things are the same (gorget) the materials we are given for each specific item change the game in terms of construction methods.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

velvet cape progress

Here is the fake fur lining all stitched up and ready to be basted into the cape which is made out of velveteen.
I cut the cape to have a wide standing grown-on collar, a centre back inverted pleat, and a train.
There is some structure in the collar of the cape. I cut an inner yoke of hymo, that extends into the collar and the collar section is reinforced with a layer of heavy white shirt fusible, which we laminated using stitch-wichery and then machine stitched the layers together to prevent any delamination in the future.
The hymo extends down the front edges of the cape, to provide support and stability which we will need when we get to the point of attaching the fur to the front edge.
This is the velvet being laid out on the fur in the other room where there is a free table.  

Denise started at the top and basted the two pieces together down the centre back and along the neck before attempting to baste the fronts. It is really hard to manoeuvre all this fabric around, so she will do what feels right on the flat then double check it on the stand. We will have a fitting with this, when the designer returns, so it will likely have to come apart, although I wish there were some way to not have to do that. The hems needs to be checked, as I am sure that the fur lining has lifted the overall length, and we have to make sure the actor feels okay with the length, especially at the front, since we don't want it to be a tripping hazard.

Here it is at the end of the day today (Tuesday), basted together and on a stand. The fur needs to be re-basted on the left front as you can see there is too much length there. Overall though, I think it is looking good. I should make a harness for it just in case, because it is heavy and slippery too.

Now we wait. Our designer returns on Monday so we should have a meeting, talk with the props department about the state of the armour, bijoux for placement of some decoration, boots and shoes to see if the boots they are making will be ready to fit, and then arrange the last fitting for all the costumes this character wears.

Finally today, some much needed supplies came in, and a few decisions were made so I can move forward with a stalled portion of the project.

Monday, June 4, 2012

fake fur and chain mail

    Well, I managed to get the fake fur cut out by 5 p.m. on Friday.
Susy even found some time to do a couple of stitching samples for me beforehand, just to see how it would behave at the machine.

The best way to seam this fur is to cut it on, or just inside the pattern sewing line and carefully pin then zig the raw edges together. This eliminates bulk at the seams, and is surprisingly strong- we both had a go at trying to pull it apart and couldn't. The zig stitch should actually fall over the raw edge, and if the tension is adjusted properly, you can almost pull the seam flat.

Once the seam is done, you can pull the fur out of the seam as needed with a yarn needle or even a plastic nail brush.

The cloak has bias to bias seaming over the shoulder and a straight to bias seam at the side back. In the velvet, the bias seams went together as cut, but, as you can imagine, the straight to bias had to be hung up to let the bias drop and subsequently the bias side dropped a good inch.
I don't know if a similar thing will happen with the fur, so I guess we will find out tomorrow as it is being put together.

The other thing I have to work out is how to best attach the chain mail sleeves to an under bodice that we made. I think it will entail a fabric strip with metal eyelets that is then sewn onto the bodice so the chain mail can be linked into the eyelets. Then we deal with what happens at the wrist and whether to link the chain mail to a cuff or a drawstring, because there is an armoured gauntlet glove to be worn but possibly taken off onstage.