Monday, August 31, 2015

coming up for air, and more ruffs

The season at work ended in much the same way as it progressed all year- at full speed and intensity!

I went away for a week, but once I was back home, I felt that I should just remain horizontal for as long as possible in order to replenish my mind, and get rid of the tension in my neck. I needed some time to reconnect with my husband and daughter, and do something with my garden before the neighbours complained.
I have been diligently looking for work as well, so I may have two upcoming projects. For now though, I want to make a few notes and posts about some other things I worked on this season while it is still somewhat fresh in my mind.

Before I get to that I wanted to show you the ruff that we made for the black doublet/large trunkhose costume.
This ruff was quite large (71/2" neck edge to outer edge) as the character was supposed to look like his head was on a plate. The designer wanted to support the ruff with a wire frame or supportasse. This became a project between myself and the millinery and bijoux departments.

My part of it was not only to make the ruff, but to give my co-workers a neck shape to work from.
I have seen examples of these supportasses with circular spaces for the neck, but the neck is not  circular, so we needed to start with a proper shape.
We also needed to figure out how the ruff and supportasse worked with the doublet. As well, how does the actor get into it?

Since we were using a wire frame, we determined that the ruff will sit along the top edge of the doublet collar. We have to attach the ruff to the supportasse and the whole unit to the doublet collar. It needs to be removable for both cleaning and storage as well as just to functionally put it on.

I have seen examples of wire supportasses that had "prongs" of wire that extended downwards and were inserted in channels on the collar, but we decided against that.
In the end we decided to make the grosgrain neckband of the ruff extra deep.
I believe we made it 1 3/4" deep in the end. The depth of the ruff at the neck edge was only 1 1/8" which left us with a good 1/2" of grosgrain "flange" that would tuck inside the doublet collar. We sewed snaps onto the flange and matched them to snaps that were sewn to the inside of the doublet collar.

Once the ruff was prepared, we had a fitting to confirm the fit of the doublet collar. At this stage the ruff is not completely finished- we always leave extra length in the grosgrain and of the ruff fabric to make any further adjustments.
We had prepared a flat template in light cardboard of the ruff  size with the shape of the neck cut out. Then we confirmed the angle that the designer wanted the ruff to sit at. Once the neck shape in cardboard was correct, the supportasse was made. An important note- the supportasse does not meet at the CF. It has a gap of approx 2 inches to facilitate putting it on.

We then laid the ruff on the supportasse and basted them together aligning the inside neck edges.
At this point we had a final fitting. We then removed the supportasse and finished off the ends of the grosgrain and the ruff itself, then added closures to the front of the ruff and reattached the ruff to the supportasse by hand.

The ruff was the last piece of costume that the actor puts on. Once his doublet is fastened, the ruff is put on by twisting the front edges in opposite directions just enough to get his neck through it. Then it is aligned and snapped to the doublet collar. This takes a bit of dexterity by the dresser who has to reach over the ruff and get their fingers of one hand in between the actors neck and the ruff grosgrain, to locate the snaps by feel, while with the other hand is under the ruff, supporting and pressing the snaps together from the outside. The ruff opening at centre front is snapped together last.

I think it turned out well, but I did wonder a bit about the amount of fabric needed for ruffs this large in diameter. I wondered if we should have sewn the inner neck pleats closer together, forcing more fabric into the neck circumference thereby using more fabric overall which would translate into more fabric to arrange on the outer circumference.

Just something to contemplate for the next time, but I think in the end it turned out rather well. I will have to keep my eye on it and see how it fares over a season of wear and tear. Hopefully we can get more than a few years out of a ruff as they are time consuming (expensive) to make.

Next week I hope to get some thoughts on paned and puffed sleeves onto "paper"

Sunday, August 2, 2015

catching up - Trunkhose

Well, time just seems to be in short supply these days.
We have had such an intense couple of weeks trying to get these two shows up and running. It required a few more people than expected and luckily management was able to bring in some extra hands to assist us. I am just coming up for air now!
We also have had an unusual situation in requiring a rebuild of a doublet, so we will be whipping together a new doublet at top speed, because we are scheduled to be finished our work by Friday.

Where did we leave off?
ahhh... trunkhose. I was really trying to get a pair fully documented but due to the intensity of the many aspects of my job, I cannot seem to get time to get a photo at every stage, no matter how I try!

So here is what I do have.

The breeches are gathered in at the waist and checked before the excess fabric above the waistline is cut away. We started with a large pleat at the centre front and centre back then ran gathering stitches by machine, using a heavy nylon thread in the bobbin. The two layers of silk here just managed to be gathered to size. If we couldn't gather it by machine, (the machine stitch length is limited to 5 or 6mm) our only other option was to hand stitch the gathering lines. 

Once everything is deemed to be okay, the waistband fabric is stitched to the silk. The inner trouser is put in place- you can see its seam allowances sticking out of the leg in this picture.

After that we attach the two layers together.
In this method of having an inner and outer layer, we are making the inner layer the most functional- in that the CF fly has a zipper and a structured waistband. The outer shell of silk therefore floats over top, attached at the top of the inside kneeband and at the waistline. 
The seam allowances of the gathered silk layers at the waistband are turned downwards, and live in between the inner and outer layers. this makes the waistband smooth and flat. If those seam allowances were left upwards as one would normally do with a pair of trousers, the waistline would become thicker and bulky and then the doublet would not fit over it all. 

This does take a bit of wrangling, marrying the two layers together at the waist. 

We get it all in place, basted by hand, then using a zipper foot, stitch by machine through the waistline catching all the layers together. The top edge of the silk waistband is then hand felled to the inner structured waistband to finish them. The centre front of the silk layer can either have its own closures or it can be slipped down to the CF of the inner breeches. You have a few choices in how you want them to close.

I think one of the advantages of making them like this, is that the top layer could easily be removed from the inner if you wanted to reconfigure them for someone else in the future. The inner structure is smooth against the person wearing them, the profile of the outer silk can be changed by adjusting the inner leg length, so they can be altered for a different design or taller or shorter person fairly easily.

I did get some photos of the almost finished outfit on a hanging stand, but the stand is much longer in the body than the actor wearing these so please imagine if you will, the waistlines meeting!

I hope my verbal descriptions make sense to you. Perhaps next time we make a pair of these I will get a chance to take the missing photos!