24 January 2014

Krishna's Lordly Costume, Part 1: Shirt

Firstly, I have to give praise to my husband for being willing to wear whatever suits my fancy--including ruffles.  I chose well, indeed.

This costume was intended to be an interpretation of something a minor lord might wear.  The outfit was made for Krishna to wear to the Texas Renaissance Festival, and I haven't done much research on male period costume, so it is entirely imaginary.  I think it suits my faire-wear dress nicely.  K picked the fabric himself, and we got a great deal on it.  The pictures don't do the color justice at all, and I don't care enough to edit them.  Take my word for it--it is actually a rich berry/wine shade.

I used the Simplicity 4059 pattern as a base and added some of my own touches to personalize it.  I sewed the outfit with my restored 1940 Model 201 Singer and my 150th Anniversary Singer Model 2638.  There was much more hand sewing than I had expected, but it ended up giving a nice handmade effect, so I didn't mind.  This is the first post of a three part series, each focusing on a different piece of the costume.  Please excuse the dog hair and fuzz covering everything.  You learn to live with it.

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Hand Sewing on Yoke
Take a look at that beautiful hand sewing!  I loved it so much that I decided to ignore the directions to put it on the inside of the garment.  

First, let's focus on the shirt.  I decided on shirt A, since I didn't want his outfit to look too common, and I think a high collar goes better with a variety of doublet collars.  Krishna is tall and slender with wide shoulders, so fit is always an issue.  It is seriously challenging to find clothes for that man!  For this pattern, the majority of his measurements were between an XS and a S, so I had to make plenty of adjustments.  The sleeves were too short, but I handled that by extending the pattern by an inch and then adding the ruffles.   I also extended the body length by several inches.

I sewed this shirt while K was at work, without making a muslin.  I knew it wouldn't be perfect, but I was feeling ballsy.  Shockingly, the shirt was too tight across the chest and back, which restricted his arm movement.  To resolve the issue, I added diamond shaped gores under the arms.  This had an added benefit of removing the seam from his underarm, which was much more comfortable.  As I understand, it was actually quite common to add underarm gores back in the day, so I wonder why people don't do it anymore.

It took more than one try to get the diamond gores cut correctly because I didn't properly add the seam allowances.  I hadn't worked with a diamond shape like this before, so it was a great learning experience.  Since I had already sewn the shirt, I just ripped out the underarm seam and attached the diamonds.  Couldn't be easier!

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Tyndall Underarm Gore
It looks wrinkly, but you can't see that while he's wearing it.  I was counting on that fact!

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Tyndall Underarm Gore Detail
Cute stitching, right?  For me, sewing is all about the little details.

I made the ruffles by cutting a wide strip of bias fabric and then finishing the edges with a 1 cm hem.  Then, I folded the strip lengthwise before running it through my pleating attachment on my 1941 Singer machine.  It took quite a long time to learn to use the ruffler attachment correctly.  I ended up cutting scrap fabric and experimenting with each possible setting, all in a line so I could compare the different effects.  I think this is the best way to learn about new attachments, and recommend everyone try it.  It will cause less frustration if you learn everything before trying to apply it to your garment.

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Tyndall Wrist Ruffle Detail
The best part about this ruffle is how it looks like two layers, but is actually one piece of fabric.

Continuing on with the cuffs, I didn't use a typical button closure.  K requested that I make it so the sleeves could be pushed up without unbuttoning them, since TX weather is notoriously unpredictable.  I mulled over the problem for a while, then decided to simply make elastic loops.  I made a thread chain to go across the elastic at the edge of the cuff so it wouldn't gape when it was buttoned.  Problem solved.

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Alternative Cuff Closure
Looking more closely, I wish I had finished the edges on slit in the elastic.  I suppose it isn't ever too late, but honestly, I'm not going to do it unless I have to.

I used the same black velvet ribbon for the neck closure as I did for the striping on the doublet, giving the outfit a nice, cohesive look.  You'll have to trust me on that for now, since I won't post photos of the whole outfit until the series is complete.

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Collar Detail

In closing, the thing I would most like to change would be to make the collar taller.  It looked proportional before he put it on, and I even worried it would be too tall for comfort, but I shouldn't have.  I guess this is why it is best to continually try things for fit as you sew.  Come to think of it, though, it didn't really look short until he had it on for the better part of a day.  

Considering all of the new things I learned while making this shirt, I think my skills as a sewist leveled up.

Simplicity 4059 Shirt A Complete Tyndall
Here's the finished product!  I have to say that I'm proud of it, wrinkled as it is.  Although I didn't draft the pattern myself, it has enough of my own touches that I feel a real sense of ownership.

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