Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trunk hose: the outer fabric layer

It is very difficult to stop and get photos of the process!
I have a lot of cutting to do and it is beginning to feel like not enough time to get it all done!
This is a very familiar and unwelcome bit of stress. Sigh.

Well, the under structure for the large trunk hose was discussed in the last post, and, to recap, I am building an under trouser base, onto which is attached the structure that will give the finished garment some shape. Then we will construct the outer fabric which will go over the structure and then marry the layers together.

These trunk hose need to be very large, and one of the challenges is to reduce a large amount of fabric to fit the leg, just above the knee. My pattern is approximately 100 inches from front to back fork.
I need to reduce it down to 18 1/2 inches or so. One way to reduce volumes of fabric is to cartridge pleat it. This technique is very similar to how we make our figure eight neck ruffs.

I calculated 3/4 inch pleats to be stitched at every 1/4 inch so that means every inch of finished pleating uses up 6 inches of fabric. If I made it 1inch pleats, stitched at every 1/4 inch then that would use up 8 inches of fabric.

I set up the pattern to have 84 inches of fabric to be pleated into 14 inches, and the remaining fabric to be gathered to fit the leg.

Here is the pattern being laid out.

You can see a dart here that marks a transition point between the cartridge pleated area which must be a straight line, and the area that will be just gathered.

I am using double faced silk satin here, and it will also be "pinked" or cut full of holes to show another colour of silk through the cuts.

I will leave a 3 1/2 inch fold over for cartridge pleating. The fold will be stabilized with a bit of lightweight bias wigan. This fills out the silk and also gives a sturdy edge when stitching the pleats down.
This 3 1/2 inch fold over also gives us a seam allowance to attach the coloured silk to.

I can't fit the whole leg into the picture frame!
In this photo you can see the silk attached and the 2 parallel rows of stitches for the cartridge pleats.

You must use strong thread here, and mark your stitching points accurately. you stitch down on one point and then come up through the fabric at the depth of your pleating, so ours is spaced at 3/4 inch.
We got this far in preparation before we were able to get an answer regarding the pinked cuts to be made in the black outer layer. Once we had our answer, we peeled back the yellow silk and marked out the grid of cuts to be made.
Here you can see the leg from the right side, with the pinked cuts (cuts on the bias), as well as the effect of the dart which helps the fabric turn the corner toward the inside of the leg.

After this the two fabrics are joined together as one in along the seam lines. we then serged them together to keep everything from fraying.

Next up is the pleating, and making them into a wearable garment.

Just a note of thanks to Shona for her hard work and willingness to think through the process with me!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trunkhose: thinking it through

There are a lot of things to consider when making Trunk hose.

How to get the shape or silhouette you desire is first and foremost, and how you are going to put them together is another. Bulky seam allowances and overall weight come into consideration as well. How are they going to close? How do you marry the support structure and the outer fashion layers successfully?
Remember there is no one official way to achieve this- experimentation is key!

In the distant past, I remember seeing cutters constructing the trunk-hose shape by stitching rows of gathered tulle onto a fitted trouser base much like one would when constructing a tutu, then shaping the silhouette by trimming the tulle.
Quite a lot of work to prepare, but a very sculptural approach as you cut away the tulle into the shape you desire. It is like giving the tulle a haircut to get the shape!
If the tulle is stitched densely the shape is firm and stays firm for many years.
Once the shape is achieved the cut edges of the tulle can be a problem with abrading the covering fabric  so either the tulle usually needs to be covered or the pouf fabric needs a backing.
I think that approach works well for a pair of the very short Elizabethan trunk hose, the amount of area to be covered is small and the density and weight of layers of tulle is minimal.

If I am making a larger volume trunk hose or slop style I usually start with a fitted base pair of breeches.  How fitted they are depends on the look you are trying to achieve, particularly in the placement and fit of the canion area.

Here is the base front for the really large comedy breeches. I have marked in a line below the waist where the top hip roll may sit, and also lines mid leg for the crin ruffle. Closer to the finished length, I mark the area where the grosgrain (we are cartridge pleating the lower leg to grosgrain) will come to and where the lower edge of the crin will come to. I offset the crin from the waist and lower leg seam to eliminate bulk in those seams.

Here is the crin sewn to the mid leg lines. I think we decided to move them closer together than where I had originally marked after seeing how it looked on the stand.
The base will be made with a zip front closure and you can see a waistband has been sewn on with the finished side to the inside.

We tried a gathered single layer of heavier crin at the waist here, but it didn't give much of a "shelf" so we gathered up that loose edge and made a "hip roll"

You can create "hip rolls" by cutting a rectangle or oblong shape of crin to start. Cut the crin double the finished width  you need. Serge the cut edges of the crin. Sew gathering stitches along each long edge of the crin. Use a heavy thread like Bell thread in the bobbin to reduce thread breakage and frustration!
Gather the long edges of the shape down to the size you wish and sew each gathered edge to a piece of twill tape. You can then sew one twill tape edge to the base, and sew the other edge below it in a parallel line. If you sew them close together you get more horizontal distance and rigidity and further apart will give a more gentle shape and support. Crin comes in different weight, so that can be used to your advantage if you use the heavier for the area that needs more support, and the lighter for less.

We have found that sewing the crin into modular forms is easier to move around to create shapes.
I think that sewing the crin directly to the fitted under base can be a nightmare to modify or alter, so we are trying to attach it first to twill tape, then sew the twill tape to the base. if you want to move a layer up or down, it is a simple matter to unpick it and sew it elsewhere.

I also like to use the light crin as an overall under layer/pouf to both give shape and to protect the outer fabric. You can see that it has been sewn on so that it rolls up and over  for a bit more lift. you can see that there is still an inch of space there below the waistband as I want to leave space for the seam allowance of the fashion fabric once we get to that layer.

At this point, we draped the mock up leg over the shape to see if this was heading in the right direction.
I darted (horizontally) the large piece of crin at the front and back edges at the level of the mid leg to reinforce the shape and to reduce excess length in those areas.
We will tack the mid leg riffle to the out bag so it doesn't fall down. I think if this needed even more support I could sew in a horizontal piece of nylon boning to support the circumference, but I will wait and see what the designer thinks first.
It is a good idea as you are going along to think of what you can do to make changes if required. Not everything works as well as you might hope the first time so have a strategy!

Once one side is good, we do the same to the other side and then sew the two legs together. This pair is going to get big fast! Sideways through the door big.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trunkhose part 1

I think I am bored with the weekly pictures of my table, are you?
We will just continue on with some other items then shall we?

 I leave it to you to look through the Internet to your heart's content for images. 
a disclaimer: I am not in the business of pedantic historical reproduction. I am interpreting a designers vision in modern fabrics for a specific theatrical purpose.

Not my favourite garment to make.
You may think it is strange for someone who works in this milieu but there you have it- I confess to not enjoying making them. I think it is because I have never had the luxury of time to dissect what I am doing and why. They have turned out well enough in the past, but now I have to make some more and I am determined to document what I am doing and why, and maybe learn to love accept them.

First thing first- there are many ways of approaching and constructing them and I have made them in a number of different ways over the years. Luckily for me, I also have access to the past. I mean a costume warehouse of 60 years of costumes, so I can and sometimes have a critical look at what cutters did in the near and not so near past at work.

So the first thing I have been doing is to draft up a pair of breeches that will provide the base of support to build the trunkhose on.
Trunkhose for the theatre need support structures (most of the time) to maintain their shape and silhouette. The shape varies from shorty short Elizabethan trunkhose to round "pumpkin pants" to teardrop shaped fully padded versions, or just enormous unpaned slop styles.
The support they need is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical control keep the length of the outer layer in place. If you just made longer breeches and pushed them higher on the leg, you create a shape but what keeps it from slipping down to its former position?
Horizontal control of the silhouette is often needed to maintain the shape after the vertical length is controlled. What will help them hold their shape over the long term? If there is no support, over time and wearing and dry cleaning they tend to collapse and droop, and that may not be what you want to happen.

This is a rough start to the process in these photos. 
In a perfect world, I would have a separate fitting for the under breech, but time is precious, so I generally mock up only one leg of the truck hose, allowing me to fit the under breech and give the designer a look at a rough silhouette of the trunkhose on the other leg. 

I have a very large "comedy" pair of breeches to make as well as this paned version, so I will try to be diligent and document the process for each of them over the next few weeks. 
Stay tuned.