Monday, August 3, 2009

Simplicity Pattern # 4059


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Pattern # 4059 is described as a "Men's Renaissance Costume". I used it to make "The Steward" costume for the Desert Pointe Production of Into the Woods. This one pattern envelope included the patterns for sizes XS, S, M, L, & XL. I was planning on making the XL, but upon receiving the measurements for the Steward I had to revise my plan. He was a bit rounder than the XL called for. So I modified the pattern accordingly and extended many of the pieces by several inches. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
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After getting the pattern, the first thing you need is material!!! Lucky for me when Desert Pointe's Head Honcho brought me the pattern, she also brought material. The pattern calls Home Decor or Upholstery fabric. This fabric was a type of upholstery fabric, but it was chintzy! We didn't realize it at the time or we wouldn't have used it. It looks nice, but does not hold up to the wear incurred when performing onstage doing mundane things like running from giants, serving the royal family, and killing loud-mouthed Mamas.
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Also needed are a sewing machine in good working condition...
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...and a comfy, adjustable chair. I got this one several years ago at the ASU Surplus Store. Due to the stain on the seat and a tear in the upholstery, it only cost $5 (or $15, I can't remember, it was a long time ago!) .
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On the back of every pattern are list of other items you'll need: material, lining, interfacing, threads, and notions. The Head Honcho had provided me with buttons and thread. A quick run to JoAnn's got everything else listed. And then the fun began!
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I feel the need to note that I have been sewing quilts for a long time. Sewing costumes, and clothes in general, is a very different type of sewing. It took me a while to get back into the groove of being a seamstress/tailor and putting the quilting-me on the back-burner. Every so often I would slip and start making 1/4 inch seams again. Fortunately, I usually realized within a few inches, so I didn't have too much to unpick. I ended up making a note with "5/8" written on it, to help me remember better. ;)
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Doublet
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The doublet pattern was a little tricky for me at first, mostly due to my quilter's brain confusing my seamstress brain. The first problem occurred with cutting. The pattern called for cutting on the wrong side of the fabric, with right side folded together inwards. Such a simple thing, but I had to call my Mom to make sure the pattern was correct. Haha! Quilter's always cut with right sides up. Isn't that a funny thing to get stuck on!!!
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Cutting was also difficult because I was trying to figure out exactly where I should extend the pattern to accommodate for my Steward's size. His middle was 56 inches. I opted to add a few inches to the back center seam, a few inches to the side front seam, and a few inches to the front center on both sides. The result was a Doublet that was 60 inches around the mid-section and shoulders. I wanted him to be able to breathe! I wasn't as concerned with the shoulders since the sleeves are only attached to the doublet by ties and you can always adjust ties without major restitching. :)
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This is the finished doublet. I used black broadcloth for the lining. I had a good reason for picking black at the time, but can't remember that reason now. I chose the broadcloth because it's just plain 'ole good fabric!
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Here's the back. I'm not sure if you can tell in this picture that I messed up the nap with I was cutting out my pieces. I'm still not sure where I went wrong. Fortunately, the pieces went together in a rotating way, so the color difference looked like I had done it on purpose and actually added a nice touch to the doublet (not that I would ever repeat that mistake on purpose!!!).
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Sewing this costume was a real learning experience for me. My skills and vocabulary grew tremendously! One of the things I learned to use were eyelets. I purchased a kit that included eyelet tools. The eyelets are what the ties that bind the sleeves to the doublet go through. One set of eyelets were to be placed in the sleeves, the other set onto little material things made from the black lining. I had a bear of a time turning the little black pieces right-side out after sewing them together. The black pieces are to be sewn into the doublet and after sewing they are only 3/4 inches wide x 1 1/2 inches long. My fingers just didn't fit into those tiny pieces! Oh well. I got them all turned eventually.
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Before I put the eyelets in I tested them on scrap fabric, to make sure they would work properly and so I wouldn't ruin the little black pieces.
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The eyelet went into the broadcloth just fine. The trick is to gently tap them in. Unfortunately, I forgot this trick when applying the eyelets to the actual sleeve. First, I didn't test the eyelet on scrap material first. Then I failed to remove all children from my working vicinity before attempting to put in the eyelets. And boy did I pay for those rookie mistakes!!! I tapped a little too firmly with my hammer and the eyelet went straight through the fabric...leaving a gaping hole in it's place. YIKES!!! I tried to tap more lightly on the other five, but that didn't work either. Funny thing, the eyelet stayed in the black broadcloth lining just fine (except for that first hole). It was the paisley material that I had problems with. Even tapping gently, the eyelet cut through the material. Ugh. I had six holes in the sleeves and was a bit beside myself trying to figure out how to fix my mess. I ordered my children to their bedrooms, laid down on the floor, took a several deep breaths, and came up with a few ideas. I then called Stacy, another gal making costumes, to get her opinion. She very sweetly told me I could come to her house right that minute and she would help me fix it. We ended up just removing all the eyelets and Stacy sewed button-style around the holes to reinforce them. It turned out alright. While Stacy was fixing my mess, she told me about grommets. They sound wonderful. I will definitely use those next time instead of eyelets.
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This is the shoulder bill, shown as it will lay with the sleeve attached underneath. (The shoulder bill is actually called something else on this pattern, but I can't remember currently.)
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This is the shoulder bill turned back, to show how the sleeve is attached. I tried using soutache braid to attach the sleeve, but it was too flimsy to hold the sleeve in place and the ends frayed all the way to the knot. Instead, I hemmed some ribbon to use instead. The ribbon worked great and held up with all the onstage activities.
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This is a close-up of the tie. Notice how beautiful and lovely and perfect the eyelet turned out on the black broadcloth. And notice the button-hole in the sleeve. It turned out good, but I would have preferred to have matching eyelets. Oh well. The ribbon looks cute! :)
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The sleeve itself was not sewn together all the way. It was supposed to connect with buttons and loops of soutache braid. Fortunately, I had the Steward try it on before I took the time to attach the buttons and loops. I had used safety pins to keep the sleeves together while he tried it on. Turns out the sleeves were a bit tight. If he were just going to be standing around, they would have been fine. But as I mentioned before, he has a pretty active role, what with the running away and killing. Instead of buttons I hemmed up some more ribbon, attached strips on either side, and tied them in bows. The ribbon made it look even better than the buttons would have.
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During the try-on, we also noticed that the sleeve cuffs kept falling down. So I tacked those in four places to ensure they would stay up. The tacks also added a nice flare on either side of the wrist. Very cute!
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I had another problem with the placard. I made the doublet so that it was 60 inches around, technically allowing 4 extra inches to breathe. The problem was that the Steward was 56 inches around his chest. His tummy was 65 inches around! That is a nine inch difference!!! I had fortunately not sewn the buttons onto the bodice of the doublet yet. But I had already sewn in eleven soutache braid loops. The plan to fix this was simple, since I had also not finished closing in the lining. I just flipped the garment and lining wrong side out, unpicked the the placard, and put a wider placard in it's place. I also attached eleven loops of soutache braid on the placard side.
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I purchased a pair of brown 60 inch shoe laces to lace through the loops. I clipped the ends off one side of each lace then sewed the laces together to make one long lace. It looked really sharp all laced up!
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And then we ran into another problem during dress rehearsals. The Steward was lacing himself in tight! So tight that when he later sat down, he popped a few of the soutache loops. Ugh! I didn't have time to fix it, so we just trimmed those loops off. The result was not great. Well, at least not to my eye. He, and the audience, didn't seem to mind. In this picture you can see the stubs of one loop.
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I have the costume at my house to fix this problem (and one other). My solution? I bought more brown shoelaces. I am going to replace all the soutache loops with sturdy shoelace. And instead of cutting the lace into eleven two inch pieces (like I did with the soutache), I am just going to loop it in and out. Easy breezy!
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Pants
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I did not follow the instructions for the Simplicity pants, although they are beautiful. They just didn't fit the body style of my Steward. Instead of the fitted waistband, I went with an elastic waistband. I still used the pattern pieces, I just altered it quite a bit. :) After the debacle with the doublet measurements, I was careful to measure the Steward myself before cutting the pants out. In order to make the pants high enough on his waist to reach the placard (and thus not show his mid-section, because that is TACKY!), I had to extend the crotch to waistband area by several inches.
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I followed my measurements exactly. But I forgot to account for the give and take of a round person. The pants reached the placard with an inch to spare, but I didn't have any room to add the elastic. Easy solution: I cut a few inches off the legs, stitched them together into one long piece, and attached it to the waist. I then folded that piece over and sewed it into place...minus a few inches that I used to shove the elastic in through. Oh yeah! Before I flipped it over, I turned the fabric under a 1/4 inch to avoid unraveling fabric.
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Then, because I didn't want the elastic coming loose or any stitching to come undone, I sewed along the elastic seam one more time.
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Reinforcing seams is always a good idea!!! Plus two lines looks very professionally finished. :)
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This is how the seam looks from the outside. The above picture is the inside of the garment.
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When I cut the material from the legs, I measured to make sure the Steward's pants would reach his socks. Again, I didn't properly account for roundness. The pants were a couple inches to short! Just two measly inches! Argh! And I had a limited amount of fabric, which I had already used up on the pants and hat. There wasn't enough material left. And then my clever brain kicked in. I had plenty of material leftover from the doublet! I extended the pant leg by six inches with the paisley print. And it looked fabulous! Especially when paired with the doublet! :)
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I finished the leg with a thin band of elastic. Again, turning the fabric under a 1/4 inch before sewing, to avoid fraying.
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I used a double line on the hem to mirror the waistband.
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The completed pants. :)
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Then I was tired. So I took a break and ate Cheetos. I had to eat Cheetos because they are orange, so if I spilled any on the fabric it would blend right in. ;)
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And now to explain the other reason I have the costume back in my possession. The pants ripped in the back when the Steward sat down during one of the shows. They had actually ripped once before when I had him try on his costume. It was a tiny tear that I quickly patched. The patch didn't show because the doublet covered the Steward's entire rump. You can see my patch at the bottom of this giant tear, which also was covered by the long doublet. My job now is to patch this hole the best I can. Wish me luck! I will need it working with this chintzy material. :(
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A little perspective on how big the tear actually is...
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Hat
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The hat was the funnest part to make! First I cut two big half circles (it was supposed to be one complete circle, but I didn't have enough fabric together, so I improvised.) and sewed them together with the lining. Then I hand stitched around the edge (hand stitching is much easier for gathering than machine stitching) and gathered the fabric a bit. The brim is made stiff with a layer of interfacing fused to the top and bottom pieces of the main material. It was pretty simple to attach the two pieces together. I sewed a straight stitch first--double lines to hold the gather in. I had the Steward try it on and wouldn't you know...it was too tight! I trimmed off a 1/4 inch all the way around and Voila! The hat fit perfectly.
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I added single fold bias tape for comfort (and because the pattern said to!). I zigzagged a pretty little double line to keep the bias tape in place and to reinforce the hat-to-brim seams.
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Then I added a feather. I trimmed off the first two inches. There was no fluff on that part!
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The pattern said to cut a hole into the hat to feed the feather through! Are you kidding me!! I just spent a bunch of time making sure that this thing holds together and you want me to cut a hole in it! Instead, I whip-stitched the feather into place with four strands of black thread. It looks great and is sturdily in place!
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Here's Joe modeling the hat for me.
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This is the underside of the hat.
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I didn't even think about it at the time, but when I trimmed the feather the white insides were left showing. I rectified that today using a black sharpy marker.
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It looks much better now! Wish I would have though of it before the play ended.
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Finished Product
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This is the finished product...The first time I thought I was done! Hahaha! Please note that all soutache loops are in place and the pants are just a tad too short. When the Head Honcho first envisioned this costume, she wanted the Steward to wear green socks. It sounds good in theory, especially since there are some pretty greens in the paisley print. But in application, the green socks were too much. Your eye was immediately drawn down to his socks, instead of his cute smiling face!
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This is the Steward backstage on Opening Night!! In addition to the hat, doublet, and pants I made he is wearing a white long-sleeved shirt, a ruffly collar piece, white sock, schnazzy shoes, and a staff. Even with the missing soutache loops, HE LOOKS GREAT!!!
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I really am pleased with the overall look of this piece. It came together beautifully! The best part: the Steward was so excited to have a custom-made costume. He had cheesy grins even as I was tugging and pulling at his costume to make sure everything fit alright. His enthusiasm for the costume was really uplifting to see. It also encouraged me to keep plugging away. ;)

3 comments:

mce said...

it looks wonderful. that is lots of work. the tedious kind that puts knots in your neck after hours of sewing. you did great
mce

Christina said...

WOW Sarah!! It looks awesome. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I love to quilt as well, but clothing is a whole different ball game. Great Job!

Marc Taylor said...

Looks awesome!! I love that pattern, Ive used it many time. BTW The rip totally looks like the batman logo. XD