Mechanicsburg Vest, Part 2

I decided to line the Mechanicsburg vest in the same fabric as the shirt. Cue more rolling…not really. The fraying bits are all tucked into the middle of the fabric sandwich. Getting there was a process though. I used the vest itself as a pattern again and may have neglected that little thing called seam allowances. I was also using the pillowcase from the sheet set, and didn’t want to add more fabric. Well, once I got my armholes set in (one at a time, unlike when I was working on the kimono/vest), the front right and left were decidedly short on coverage! So I got some more strips from the top hem of the top sheet, and tacked them on, and got my top, bottom, and side seams set.

For decoration/fastening, we decided on some cute little blue buttons to go on both left and right, which we’d ultimately like to connect with some brass chain. So there’s a bit yet to go on this piece, but it’s pretty close to done.

Mechanicsburg Shirt

Unlike replicating the trousers, making another renaissance shirt (once again taking some of the bagginess out) was an experience with a smooth flow from step to step with a very hard to work with fabric. It was slippery and it wanted to shred. Constantly. I rolled every seam under and stitched them down to keep tiny magenta bits from floating around everywhere. Needless to say, there were still many tiny magenta bits floating just about everywhere.

Look at that shimmer!

Oh! I did have to go shopping for this fabric, to complement the vest-in-progress. We ended up selecting a set of sheets at Goodwill. So the collar and cuffs are from the top hem, meaning I had less fiddly sewing, holding and pinning to do to get them in place. Though I did somehow forget how I wanted to handle that part of the process, meaning the collar might sit a bit oddly. I still need to add a hook and eye at the collar, and buttons at the cuffs. NOT FUNCTIONAL BUTTONS. Not with this fabric’s propensity to shred. But I do have some pseudo-Roman coin buttons that will be perfect.


Regency Breeches

So this is me cheating again. Instead of finding a closer to period pattern, I planned to take some of the bagginess out of the renaissance trousers and just replicate the process I used before. Plus, you know, add the appropriate front closure and also some cuffs. Are they cuffs at the end of the leg? Anyway. I digress.

Yes, you’re probably saying to yourself, you digress quite a lot. Why am I making regency breeches? Let me tell you through dialogue:

Me: I have good news and bad news.
Jeff: What’s the good news?
Me: There’s a regency ball in Lansing on April 8.
Jeff: Ah, so the bad news is there’s a regency ball in Lansing on April 8? And you want to go?
Me: See, you’re getting better at this!

There you have it, folks, I need more than just a fun dress for me. I have to dress (er, let’s amend that to “put clothes on”) him too. Second pun notwithstanding. Sorry.

I got out a checked (houndstooth?) length of cotton from the stash, which was much easier to work with than the green stuff. The yoke only wobbled a little bit as I put it together. On the other hand, I learned some awkward lessons about precision cutting and piecing with patterned cloth. It looks fine from a distance, and probably even moderately close, but please don’t examine with a fine toothed comb! The other uncooperative aspect was my brain. Seriously, every piece that I could sew in the wrong direction – upside down, turned around – I did. So despite the easier sewing experience, I think it still took longer than the last version.

As for finishing touches, I actually fastened the waistband and front closure with snaps, with decorative buttons from my stash to merely give the illusion of usefulness.  The other two buttons are functional, with buttonholes and everything. Still a bit baggier than I’d like, but since I haven’t mastered trousers yet, it’ll do.


Making Tunics, Part 2

I started by sewing Jeff’s under tunic, the soft beige cotton (sacrificing the probable underskirt for the Regency dress). I mentally compared it to the vest I’d recently fitted, and knew I had a problem. Jeff couldn’t get it on. I added a triangular gusset under each arm. It was still too tight, so I added another, this time with the point up. Finally it was close enough.

I left the sides of the heavy red over tunic open through the torso. There just wasn’t enough fabric left to add back circumference. I hacked off the sleeves, put in the seams on the skirt, and called it a day. The rough, unhemmed look seemed like the best choice for this simple outfit – I guess we’ll have to hope that we won’t use them enough to need to wash them!

I moved on to the soft brown linen I wanted to be my own under tunic. As I started on the side seams, I realized I’d cut and/or sewn it at the wrong placement and rotation – I’d used the torso for the sleeves, and ended up needing center front and center back seams in addition to side seams. I started piecing it together, and added what I’d intended to be a skirt panel to the center front to get enough girth. The next panel became triangular gores on either side to widen out the hips. I added skirt panels horizontally instead of vertically, extending the length more slowly in order to get all the way around. The front was still shorter than the back by the time I was through, but it ended on the selvage so I could once again skip the hem. It was much shorter than I wanted.

Then I went back to the rough beige almost burlap that was left. With the sleeves and side seams stitched, it was a tight fit. And a bit scratchy. I cut off the sleeves and added them to the ends of the brown tunic as a decoy longer sleeve. That eased up the fit a bit, too, I expect. Rather than fine tune any further, I got out the minuscule bit of fake leather I was saving for Jaime (where it wouldn’t have been enough) and made belt pouches. The best bit? The belts themselves are just lengths of black cotton rope…because Lily’s a chewer, and we’d already bought a 100′ coil of it to avoid the $10 charge every time she wears one out.

If I get ambitious between now and April, I might try to make us caps…

Making Tunics

(Sing the title to the tune of “Making Christmas” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I dare ya.)

Remember the friends from out of town potentially going to an SCA event only a couple of hours away this spring? I thought we might want to have something to wear. Of our own. That isn’t completely anachronistic gauzy stuff like my renaissance lady.

So I started browsing tutorials. And found one that basically consisted of “fold material in half selvage to selvage. Fold material in half again the other way. Lay folded t-shirt on top (with neckline at double folded corner). Extend lines out from sleeve (straight) and bottom of shirt (diagonal). Cut. Sew seams. Hem.”

Friends, I ended up orienting three of my four cuts incorrectly. Also I had much less fabric than anticipated for most of them. I also grabbed a random t-shirt out of the costume closet which may or may not fit Jeff anymore, did not add seam allowances, and did not account for the t-shirt’s stretch. Even my own tunics were too small. 

So do yourself a favor and when you read the early part of the directions about measuring yourself…do that, and adjust the t-shirt guide accordingly. For the rest of the adventure, tune in next time!


Mechanicsburg Vest

So I started on the vest for Jeff’s original character in the Girl Genius universe: a Mechanicsburg reporter. Spoiler: the pattern for this vest is the same as Sherlock’s, minus the flipped over collar. I’d kept out a couple of pattern pieces with the precut fabric (apparently to check on the darts? except they were already chalked) but not the directions, so I worked mostly from memory with a quick glance at Sherlock for reference on the pockets. It went pretty well! I think the top of the pocket liners weren’t attached quite right, but no one will be able to tell, and the outside looks very nice.

Much to his chagrin, I did have to put the vest on Jeff inside out to find out what else had to be done to snug up the fit. Luckily, I put it on inside out to begin with, so the pins were on the correct side. It ended up coming to an interesting point in the center back which almost makes it look like it’s made from a total of five pieces of fabric instead of three.

That’s a Wrap!

I finished up more little things, which means today has lots of pictures!

First I got out the Sherlock/Jaime shirt and whipped up some cuffs. They’re certainly not perfect, but they give the right appearance. The cuff links go right through the cuff to the shirt itself and back. They’ll need to be safety pinned on the opposite side to keep them from pivoting like they did in the picture, though. Of course, Tink wanted to help…

Then it was time to make up Sherlock’s prop bag. As with Irene’s, I took the two-sided fabric that wrapped the kimono (choosing the plaid side this time), sewed up the bottom and sides, added horizontal stitching for the bottom of each pocket, and cut open the pockets. There are spots for pipe, watch, belt, magnifying glass, hat, and scarf.

I quickly did a pair for the Doctors from the fabric cut off the bottom of the kimono, with much less detail this time. Just three big pockets for the iconic Converse tennies, K-9, and everything else (sonics and ties for both, of course, plus brainy specs and psychic paper for him and a khaki headband for me). The K-9s still take a lot of space.

One last set for the fantasy renaissance outfits, and this project is done for now. These were the kimono sleeves, so they’ve got side openings instead of front. Both hold shoes on the bottom, with hose on top for him, and outers sleeves on top for me. All of the prop bags got stitched directly to the hangers as well – so that’s a dedicated 3-4″.



2017 Sewing Goals

I’m using a time wibble again because I didn’t quite feel up to posting on the 12th; I’d made no progress to speak of on the mash up, wasn’t ready to share my embroidery progress on Cersei, and hadn’t cleared my next project (yes, I have three major WIPs now) with my sister. But I spent some time browsing sewing blogs last night, and aside from becoming more discouraged about the a-historical nature of the mash up, I think it would be worthwhile to lay out my sewing goals for the year (skipping links this post – if you’re new, browse the costume tag!):

Obviously, I need to finish up several of my current projects:

  • Finish historical mash up gown
  • Finish Cersei
  • Finish Jaime
  • Finish new repurposing project – more info on this soon!
  • And maybe finish one more item from my box of old WIPs?

Deadlines are really useful for me, and I just found out my local museum is hosting historical teas this spring, so I’d like to add:

  • Foundation garments for Irene
  • And maybe a new leg o’ mutton sleeve blouse?

And then Jeff and I are planning to at least hang out outside of Comic Con this year singing nerdy music, so we want some more costumes for that. We’ll take Cersei and Jaime one day, and we could easily use Sherlock and Irene again, so then I’ll only need to choose 1 or 2 of the following pairs:

  • Inara & Atherton Wing (from Firefly’s “Shindig” episode)
  • Rincewind or Vimes and Susan (from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series)
  • Mechanicsburg reporter and false female Jäger (inspired by webcomic Girl Genius)
  • Or (and this is my newest idea, and thus a late addition to the list) Giselle and Robert (from Enchanted, because my mom has a very appropriate set of floral curtains she’d like to replace)

Plus one stretch goal, I think, using a nice pale yellow from my stash:

  • Regency day dress

A New Shirt for Sherlock

So in reality it is now December. Jeff read through the archives this week and sheepishly came downstairs to tell me that he enjoyed it and he’d really like me to write more. He’s even set it up for RSS, apparently. Therefore, using the magic of publishing dates (break? what break?), I plan to flood his feed. *evil grin*

Fittingly enough, this first post is about him. Er, his clothes. That new shirt for Sherlock we were planning on (which will also be part of the base for Jaime) was ready in time for him to wear to the local ComicCon (marathon-made the night before, of course).

Honestly it’s been so long I’ve almost forgotten the exact details of how I made it…and it doesn’t seem to be in the costume closet, so I can’t check seams. Because I couldn’t possibly go upstairs right now. Nope.

So I started with a big piece of white fabric from my stash – the only one that we felt was really the right texture to translate to Jaime. I’d planned to use the renaissance shirt pattern again, but despite being a lot of fabric, it wasn’t enough fabric. So I draped it.

By which I mean I folded it over itself, cut a T for the neckline, and shoved it over Jeff’s head. (I did ask first!) I made him stick his arms out and pinned the bottom seam of the sleeve in place – with a few adjustments for desired elbow motion. Then we discovered it sat funny at the shoulders, so I ended up cutting the original arms out and shifting the rough outline of the torso lower so I could put in proper shoulder seams.

The finished Sherlock look!

I think I did some pretty good 3-D thinking, building a lining into the neckline (which is rounded in back and has a straight line opening
down the center front). By which I mean none of it ended up attached to the “right” side of the fabric. Hooray!

I got to use a massive cheat on the cuffs – they were right on the selvage. And then we cut into them to add cufflinks… If I ever upgrade the piece at all, adding detachable cuffs so it looks more formal for Sherlock is item #1.

Renaissance Man

My renaissance man (all from Simplicity 4059) turned out to be an interesting exercise. Each piece went together very differently.


The doublet – fancy gold paisley on shiny black brocade and black liner and thread from the stash, plus ten phenomenal gold buttons my sister picked out at Field’s. I faced quite a dilemma cutting this one, since the armpit/shoulder angle is quite different for each size, and I had to make a multi-size fit. As with Sherlock’s vest, I cheated and didn’t line this piece, so it too is a bit flimsy. I ended up taking in a bit at the back of the neck to improve the fit, but we’ll need to switch from loop attachments for the buttonholes to actual buttonholes, which should snug up the fit some more. I’m going to recruit help for those.

The shirt – off-white cotton purchased for 14124450_10100534014921766_8135100569807480212_othe project, plus white thread, interfacing, 2 mother of pearl buttons, and lace from the stash. This piece was a joy to build. The fabric moved so consistently through the machine that I felt like I’d suddenly gotten massively better at sewing. I hand sewed the cuffs and hem just like I was supposed to, and it is clearly the most proficiently-built piece from the entire weekend.

The breeches – green fabric, interfacing, lacing, and thread from the stash, plus 3 neat black buttons my sister found at Field’s. After the shirt, this piece was a nightmare. For some reason the fabric was double thick, but when you pulled the layers apart (which was quite easy) it was no longer fit for use. Luckily I figured this out before cutting. The grain would not behave, and I had the darnedest time telling what the pattern was asking me to do. I put the yoke together wrong – wrong pieces, and sewed terribly off-kilter. The best that can be said is that I got to practice putting in grommets with the tool I’d bought over a year before (and I had enough sample grommets to do
them 14086278_10100537213252286_8151797378300252391_oin green!). Oh! And I discovered that the best way to thread lacing through the hem at the knee is to take a USB to mini-USB cable and inch it through, then tie the lacing on and pull the cable back. At least they fit, and the yoke is more or less hidden by the doublet, not to mention accessory #1:

A sword – what can I say? Jeff likes swords. They’re proliferating, so it’s nice to have an appropriate one he could simply pull out for this costume. We belted it on with a regular belt and some kind of cheap holster-y thing off Amazon that you drop the scabbard into. Of course he also wore:

Hose – from the local costume shop. Not actually hose, he tells me. They’re socks. And he’ll probably need points or garters or something because they kept drooping. Anyway, the point is his lower legs were covered. And he also wore:

Shoes – we didn’t like the options at the costume shop, so picked up a pair of jazz shoes at the dance wear store. But of course nothing is complete without:

The re-used hat and high school renaissance outfit.

A hat – we actually used the hat from his last renaissance outfit (which since it was from high school no longer fits). It would be good to rebuild it in a nicer fabric, but in the meantime I picked up a peacock feather and sewed it on.