Sunday, August 16, 2009

Project Two

As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband is not what you would really call a "fan" of dressing up for the Renaissance Faires.  Which is weird because everyone else we know loves it.  So apparently he's this aberrant freak.

Once I figured out that I could really sew, we starting talking about what I could make for him that he wouldn't hate.  He insists that he's not a Doublet-and-Slops kid of guy, which is reasonable.  Puffy shorts are not for everyone.  But I couldn't even get him sold on a doublet and Venetian breeches.  Then I was struck with inspiration.

Justin has been talking about dressing up as a Friar for ages and ages, but we could never do anything about it because we didn't have the resources in terms of equipment and ability.  So I was all, "OMFG, dude, I'm going to make you a Friar costume, figure out how you want it to be."  I thought he'd probably just do your standard Franciscan Friar, you know, the dudes in the brown robes.  He does some searching around and ultimately shows me this:

St. Dominic.  He wants to be a Dominican Friar, aka a "Black Friar", so named for the black cloaks and cowls they wear (but it does sound rather menacing, doesn't it?).  Apparently they were quite corrupt and sold salvation for actual money, rather than penance.  So you can probably thank them for Plenary Indulgences being taken off the table back in the day.  Although I understand that Plenary Indulgences have been reinstated by the Pope, so that's some good news.  Anyway, Justin has a soft spot for war-like and/or corrupt personas, so he was very excited about this.

So we set forth to find an appropriate pattern for this get-up.  I decided to go with a Simplicity pattern, because "it's so easy, it's Simplicity", which seemed promising.  We settled on this one, because the cloak had a hood (albeit a pointy one), a cowl and sleeves already, and I figured it would be easy enough to make the minor adjustments necessary to make it into a closed robe, and then in turn a cloak with no sleeves.

I wanted to put Justin in really breathable fabrics, because he's very susceptible to heat and I didn't want him to be uncomfortable.  We chose some nice white cotton muslin for the robe and tabard, and then a heavier linen-like fabric that had a really nice drape to it.  Justin picked out some white satin to line the inside of his hood, and we got some black cording and some tassles to make him a belt.

The pattern was very straight forward and went together easily.  I didn't even have problems setting the sleeves in the armscye.  For the white closed robe, I just made the cloak without the hood or cowl.  The first slightly sticky wicket was for the front of the robe.  If I laid out the pattern as instructed, I would cut it on two layers of fabric, and have two front pieces that I would have to sew together and have a big seam down the front.  Even though most of it would be covered by the tabard, I didn't want that.  So I doubled over the fabric and cut it on the fold instead, et voila!  I had a perfect, all-in-one-piece robe front.  Another feature of the white robe that the Dominicans wear are the big cuffs on their sleeves.  That was easy enough.  I cut the sleeves as directed, and then sewed on an extra length of fabric, folded it up and tacked it in place by hand.  I thought the seam at the end of the sleeve would look nice, and also be a concrete starting point to make sure that everything was folded up evenly.  It worked out perfectly.

The tabard obviously wasn't part of the pattern, but it's really just a long rectangle with a head hole in the middle.  I think I may have modified the pattern slightly to make this happen, but I don't honestly remember what I did.  Obviously it worked, becuase we have a very respectable tabard.

So once all of that nonsense was out of the way, this is what we ended up with:

Not too shabby for a first effort, if I do say so myself.

So then it was on to the black cloak and cowl.  Once again, very straight forward.  To make the cloak without sleeves, I just basically sewed the armscye shut.  Otherwise, I constructed it exactly as instructed.  Until I got to the cowl.  The cowl in the pattern turned out to be really small and not at all what we wanted.  So I leapt rather than fell into my first pattern drafting experience.  I drew out a huge, slightly elongated circle on a piece of muslin, cut it out, cut a hole for his head and a little slash so he had room to get into it.  It ended up hanging perfectly.  Score.  So I cut that out and hemmed it.  When I made the hood, I rounded off the little point so it was more like a normal hood.  It looks better, I think.

And so this was the finished product:

Of course, he needed an awesome staff like St. Dominic's, so we re-purposed this massive wooden curtain rod that used to be in the living room (I knew I saved it for a reason!) and picked up a couple metal crosses on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

The "logo", as it were, for the Dominicans is a fleur-de-lis, so we tried to find something as fleur-de-lis-like as possible.  There were some modifications to be made to the crosses in order to get them to fit back to back.  There was some Billy Mays Mighty Putty involved.  Our friend Brad did us a major solid by helping us out with some of the metal-working and by sanding it and finishing it off for us, because he has a garage full of awesome tools (yet he has no cordless drill.  WTF.).

I was working on my costume, and the costumes of two other people simultaneously as we were approaching the day we were to head to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, so we didn't end up getting his cord belt done, and he couldn't or wouldn't settle on a rosary, but I think he looked FANTASTIC! 


Things I would do differently:

I would use a heavier fabric for the tabard than the white cotton muslin.  It doesn't hang with the kind of authority that St. Dominic's does.  Maybe St. Dominic has a bigger fabric budget than we do.  I should be able to re-create it, or double up the fabric on the original pretty easily to get a better drape for next time.

I would flatline the cowl with some of that white satin.  Justin said that when in actual use, with moving arms and things, the cowl would get pushed up, and wouldn't slide back down again.  This is something easily fixed for next time.

I wouldn't use a linen blend...I'd spend the money and go 100% genuine linen, in a lighter weight.  It was a very comfortable temperature the day we were at Bristol and Justin still observed that the cloak was a little heavy, and he was glad it wasn't any warmer outside.

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