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Race, Microaggressions, and the Costuming Community (Part 4 of the Good Costume Manners Series)

This is Part 4 of a series of posts on being a decent person while costuming. The other posts in the Good Costume Manners series are Part 1: “It’s Not Necessary to Be Mean: Snark in the Costuming and Cosplay Community”,  Part 2: “Good Intentions Don’t Excuse Bad Behavior” and Part 3: “Taking Control of Your Costuming Happiness.”

Originally for Part 4 I had been planning to write about how I’ve seen a rise in boorish behavior from people bored at home during quarantine.  (Some have decided to play gatekeeper and criticize cosplayers and historical costumers about their weight, physical resemblance to a character they’re portraying, materials, etc.)  Instead I feel like this is the time to discuss a much more toxic form of gatekeeping: racism, whether overt or subtle, purposeful or not. The past several weeks, as protests mounted about the deplorable way Black people are treated, I’ve seen members of the costume community respond in a myriad of ways that range from helpful activism, to shrugging it off as not their problem, to racist acts or comments of their own about the Black Lives Matter movement.

If you are reading this, chances are high that you are interested in cosplay, historical costuming, re-enactment, and/or vintage fashion. Chances are also high that your hobby has a disproportionately low number of BIPOC (especially Black and Brown) individuals compared to their presence in the general population and you’ve wondered why. Perhaps your local club or area is diverse but on a national level the hobbies are not. The reasons for this are too numerous and complex for a blog post but some of them are:

  1. BIPOC don’t feel welcome. (This, and what you can do about it, is going to be the focus of this post).
  2. Some hobbies are expensive and individuals from marginalized communities may have difficulty meeting the financial bar to purchase the costumes, materials, membership fees, or con badges.
  3. Some BIPOC fear that their friends and family will think they are being frivolous or “acting white.”

You, as an individual, may not have any control over the cultural and social constructs that have led to #2 and #3, but you can do something about #1.

BIPOC are not stupid. You don’t have to be overt and put up a Confederate flag on the lawn to drive people away from your hobby. BIPOC look for little clues like how many other POC are in a club, what kind of “jokes” are shared and tolerated by the membership, or if an organization has any policies on discrimination.

I’m not saying you, Reader, are a bad person. But perhaps you have tolerated some bad behavior, that behavior gets seen, and those micro-aggressions are little drops that grow into a trickle that becomes a river that POC might look at and say, “You know what, I don’t have the energy to wade through that just to play a game.”

I’d like you to consider if you have done the following things:

  • Your friend says something racist at an event but you don’t want to “kill the vibe” by calling him out because you’re afraid it’ll make everyone uncomfortable.
  • When your Black friend asks for cosplay suggestions you only suggest characters like Black Panther, Blade, and Storm.
  • There’s that one guy at your Civil War reenactment or Viking camp out who’s a little too aggressively interested in “heritage” and has some weird rants about minorities, but you decide he’s just really serious about his hobbies and keep inviting him back.
  • Your family member comments on your Facebook album of con pics, “Hey it’s Black Batman” or “Mexican Wonder Woman” and you don’t say “No, it’s just Batman and Wonder Woman” because you figure why bother correcting him?
  • You see an Asian person wearing a costume you don’t recognize but automatically assume it’s a geisha or anime character.
  • You state “I’m not into politics” because you’re afraid of alienating your sponsors or fan base.
  • Some of your fans compliment you with “It’s great to see an actual white person do this character because so many people doing it just don’t look right!” and you simply say thanks.
  • When asked what your stance is on civil rights issues you give a vague, non-committal answer about how you think everyone is important.
  • You justify following a popular costumer on Instagram or Youtube despite a history of terrible behavior because you “just like their pictures” or “I’m a fan of the work and not the person.”

I’m not saying you’re an awful person if you did those. It’s natural to want to avoid conflict and sometimes you’re not in a situation where it is safe to confront someone in person. Perhaps you have a business contract you can’t get out of.  However, those actions or inactions are seen and heard, and interpreted by people who might have otherwise been interested in joining up as a NOT WELCOME sign if they see it enough times.

What can you do?

  • If you see someone saying something racist, call them out. If they seem misguided, educate them. Maybe you can’t change their mind but someone else might see what you’re doing and know you’re not being complicit.
  • If someone makes an inappropriate joke tell them it’s not funny. If they insist, make them explain why it’s funny.
  • If a POC tries to join your club or reenactment don’t automatically try to steer them towards an ethnic character or persona because you think it’s “historically accurate.” Give them a chance to decide what they want to do.
  • If a POC does want to portray an ethnic character don’t assume they’re “trying to make a statement” or “want to be special.”
  • Speech, objects, and traditions that may have been accepted or tolerated in the past may be considered harmful in the present. Be aware that historical does not mean appropriate.
  • Google things on your own before asking your BIPOC friend to explain it; they’ve probably done it a lot and are tired of answering basic questions.
  • If you make a mistake, apologize. If someone tells you that your post is hurtful or has negative connotations, don’t double down and say “That’s not what I meant” or “That’s not how I’m using it.”
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms “performative activism,” “virtue signaling,” and “gaslighting” and why those actions make others uncomfortable.
  • Don’t pretend that because you are religious, have a history of charity work, or “don’t see race” you’re exempt from wrongdoing or criticism.
  • Also remember that people can change. Someone that made some mistakes in the past and thoroughly disavowed their former selves can be congratulated instead of continually dragged through the mud. There’s no incentive to change if you are still vilified after changing. Of course, this only applies to specific, genuine apologies and not “sorry you were offended” non-apologies. This also does not mean that as an ally you should expect your BIPOC friends to applaud every little thing you do; that would be exhausting.

Being excluded from a hobby is trivial in comparison to some of the other awful things happening in the world at the moment, and I am not a scholar or expert on race matters. I’m just a costumer that’s seen some things and want to stick to speaking about what I know. However, the point remains: Treat others as human. Don’t be an ass. Listen to your friends when they say they are hurt. Don’t talk over marginalized people with your own irrelevant anecdotes. Sharing a hashtag doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.

As an Asian American and a resident of a diverse area I tend to experience micro-aggressions because of my skin color (mainly online or when I travel), but I do not experience some of the particular and horrifying things Black costumers and reenactors encounter.  I am definitely not as eloquent and informed about this subject as I’d like to be and would prefer to defer to other more appropriate voices. For more information about the Black experience in America and discussion of problematic behavior: Cheyney McKnight of Not Your Momma’s History is a wonderful historical interpreter and educator who has a website, Instagram, Youtube, and Patreon.  Please feel free to suggest other POC costumers who strive to educate others in comments below. Thank you for reading!

(This post was originally written at the beginning of June, but I didn’t feel it was the right time to share then, when so many Black voices were struggling to be heard. I hope this is the right time now, not because the struggle is over, but because I’ve been seeing non-BIPOC individuals asking what immediate, relatable, and specific actions they can start taking now in their lives among the people they encounter and to make their hobbies more welcoming).

1920s Cozy Cardigan from Wearing History Pattern

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Back in April we had some chilly weather so I made myself a soft cozy cardigan using a 1920s pattern from Wearing History.

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I had some gray and pumpkin-colored knit fabrics in my stash so when I saw that pattern I thought it was the perfect way to use up some fabric. This was a sewing pattern, no knitting knowledge required! Plus it has pockets! (I decided to color block my pockets. That is not in the pattern; if you like to keep things simple you may find it easier to make solid pockets as instructed).IMG_E7252

Because this is a pattern using stretch knit fabric I recommend that you have a serger. If you are very determined to make it you could probably zig-zag everything tightly. This pattern is meant for knit fabrics; I don’t know how it would look with woven fabrics.

This is a reproduction of an antique pattern from the 1920s so it came in only one size (42″ bust). This was not my size so I had to grade down from the pattern to make it fit me.  I also found the sleeves too baggy on me so I also had to slim them down. The pattern does not have a lot of pieces (back, fronts, collar, sleeves, pockets, waist tie) so if you have knowledge of grading you can manage it just fine. I am 5’6″ and did not have to adjust the overall length. IMG_E7253

Depending on the width of your knit fabric and your size you’ll need about 2-3 yards to make this cardigan. (Please see the size chart on the pattern listing). The knits I was using were very thin and fine so I had to self-line and double my yardage.  I used 2 yards of the pumpkin fabric, all lined with gray fabric. My collar, cuffs, ties, and pockets all used some gray as well.  I had scraps left over from both colors; I would estimate I used almost all of the 2 yards of pumpkin and about 3 yards of gray. (If you are using a thicker knit you won’t need to line so your yardage would be half of what I used).IMG_7255

This pattern is listed as “expert difficulty.” My personal opinion is that the construction is not very difficult but the reason why this is not a beginner pattern is because it comes in one size (42″ bust) so you will have to know how to grade patterns if it is not your size. (Luckily it is an open front cardigan so it can run big and has room for error!) The other reasons why Wearing History lists her “Archive Couture” patterns as advanced or expert is because some of her patterns (plus the instructions) are reproductions from antique patterns, which assumed a certain level of sewing knowledge and did not do illustrated step-by-step instructions like modern patterns.IMG_7259

PROJECT COSTS:

  • Pattern from Wearing History: $5 from her Etsy; it is on sale for now
  • 5 yards of rayon/poly/lycra rib knit: $26 plus $5 shipping from Fabric Mart.
  • Thread:~ $2

Total: ~$38

If you are looking for something comfortable to wear around the house I highly recommend this pattern! I’ve already been looking at my stash and thinking I can make another one for wearing at the office or with dresses.

Note: You may have noticed that my cardigan is used as an example on the Wearing History Etsy listing. The photos are used with my permission. I paid for the pattern myself, and was not paid to make this blog post. 4FB29124-FF35-45D2-BDBE-CB6683577E69

Vintage-Style Cowgirl Split Riding Pants / Skirt for a Western Train Ride Event

Last month I made myself a cowgirl ensemble with a pair of split riding pants (with a button on panel to turn it into a skirt) using some cheerful blue wool and the 1919-1920 riding pants pattern by Wearing History.IMG_6640

The leftover wool was used for a self-drafted matching vest, lined with the same floral cotton as my blouse. GXWCE5351

I wore the ensemble during a ride on the Sacramento River Train with my local costume guild. IMG_6583

At the event I wore the pants without the extra skirt panel, but for a future wearing I plan to use this versatile garment with the skirt panel buttoned in (which makes them surprise pants!) IMG_E6491

I used 20 silver-colored metal shank buttons that have been in my stash for years. I think I paid 25 cents a button a long time ago and have been saving them for a project that needed 20 buttons! I got the wool for a great bargain too ($20!)IMG_E6486

The blouse was up-cycled from a second-hand cotton dress! I removed the skirt and used the extra fabric to make new sleeves and cuffs (replacing the 3/4 sleeves), extend the hem of the blouse, and also line my vest.  (It would have been even less work to just cut the skirt off a few inches below the waist seam, but it had a lot of gathered material that would have created bulk below the split riding pants).ABUU0472IMG_6478

For my other accessories I wore American Duchess Tavistock boots, vintage fringed sueded gloves with studs, a wool hat with a silver emblem I got from Poshmark, and a pleather pouch from Amazon.IMG_6693IMG_6691IMG_6830

The pouch (Amazon affiliate link) had slits in the back for threading the belt through to wear as a hip pouch, plus internal loops to wear as a purse. It’s “old-time” enough that I think it’ll end up in other costume ensembles!IMG_6831

Some notes about the Wearing History pattern: It comes with a short and long version of the skirt. Since I had limited fabric I cut the shorter version and was able to get a vest out of the scraps. (I used 3 yards of 54″ wool). The pants are unlined.Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 5.23.22 PMThe skirt panel is faced with self-fabric and contains all the buttonholes while the buttons are sewn onto the pants. There are two options to attach the skirt panel. You can have one side sewn into the seam of the pants (which means you won’t lose the panel and you can make half as many buttonholes) or you can have the panel completely removable. If you have the panel attached you fold it over to one side and button it down.  I opted to have the panel completely removable because my self-faced fabric folded over would have meant 4 layers of medium-weight wool and more bulk than I wanted. (If you use a lightweight wool or other fabric you don’t have to be concerned about that).IMG_6485

The back of the skirt has an inverted box pleat that you can stitch down the center back seam. I did not do the stitching, in order to make the back more skirt-like. IMG_6501

The pants are very full so even if the skirt is buttoned in place in the front there should be plenty of range of motion due to the extra fabric in the sides and back.IMG_6595

Pattern difficulty is “advanced” according to Wearing History. This is because this is a reproduction of an antique pattern from 1919-1920 and assumes certain basic knowledge. Wearing History has added some really helpful notes, but this is not the kind of modern pattern that has step-by-step illustrations.  You should know how to make and attach a placket for the opening and the facings on the bottom hem. (These are rectangular pieces you make yourself from scraps, and are not included in the pattern).IMG_8727

I am an experienced costumer maker and have made pants before, so I did not find this pattern particularly difficult, but it is not a beginner pattern for sure. I highly recommend this pattern if you are experienced or an ambitious intermediate seamstress. It was definitely fun to wear with the rest of my guild!IMG_8713

The last 3 photos are by Lauren Moyer, one of our wonderful GBACG board members.IMG_8724

Giddyap!

1870s Bustle Gown (Black Snail Patterns Victorian Seaside Dress)

In February my local costume guild went to see an exhibit of James Tissot paintings at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, and we dressed up in bustle gowns. The exhibit was wonderful and it was lovely to see my fellow costumers.

I made myself an 1870s bustle dress using pink and white striped floral cotton and the Victorian Seaside Dress pattern from Black Snail Patterns.

I used a cotton that was very lightweight which helped the fluffy bustle layers stay fluffed!

My shoes are American Duchess Tissot shoes that I dyed blue and made shoe clips for out of my fabric scraps.IMG_5553

The blue trim is pleated grosgrain ribbon, which I put on the collar, cuffs, belt, and skirt flounces. I made my hat using a palm fan (more on that later in this post)!IMG_5566

My buttons were made using vintage fabric over vintage covered button kits. (The bodice actually closes with hooks and bars and the buttons are decorative). I prefer this technique because it means I can adjust the fit more easily and I don’t have to make a lot of buttonholes!IMG_5579

I recommend the Black Snail pattern. It consist of a bodice with an attached “apron,” a skirt, and long sleeves. The bustle effect is achieved by having ruffled flounces on the apron and skirt, and by having hidden ribbon ties underneath the apron.

The pieces all fit together well and the sizing chart was accurate. I was impressed that even the very large pieces of the skirt panels fit together, which means the pattern was graded well.IMG_5574

The sleeve is an 1870s two-part coat sleeve with a seam down the elbow and another seam on the inside of the arm. It is loose-fitting and appropriate to the era, and the fullness of the sleeve head needs to be eased into the shoulder of the bodice.IMG_5571

I made some simplifications to the Black Snail pattern in order to speed up the project:

  • I did not bother making a skirt placket and facing for the underskirt, since the top half is covered by the apron overskirt anyway.
  • The pattern calls for the back half of the underskirt to be cartridge pleated into the waistband. I did regular pleats since the top would be hidden.
  • I cut my flounces using the straight grain instead of on the bias like the pattern calls for. This is so I could use the selvedge instead of hemming the many yards of flounced fabric. However, this meant that my flounce stripes are horizontal instead of diagonal so you should cut on the bias if you prefer the diagonal. (The other reason why I used the straight grain is because I had limited fabric and the bias cut takes up more yardage).
  • The bustle effect comes from gathering up the apron overskirt in the back with twill tape. The pattern asks you to sew pieces of tape to the bodice then sew buttons to strategic parts of the overskirt that get attached to buttonholes on the tapes. In order to skip making the buttonholes I just used tapes on the skirt as well to tie to the bodice tapes.
  • The pattern calls for self trim to cover where the skirt and flounces meet. Instead of doing that I used purchased pre-pleated grosgrain trim from Amazon (affiliate link), which is available in other colors.

Just a warning: if you purchase the pre-printed pattern please make sure you have large paper around your house. There are some pattern pieces where you are told to extend the piece by up to 15 inches. (This was done by cutting a piece through the middle, inserting some paper, then drawing lines to connect the original pieces).  I had to do this for a number of the larger pieces, and I didn’t expect to do so much assembly for a pattern I did not print at home. I’m not sure if the reason behind this was to save paper costs, but I would have gladly paid a little more for the pattern to avoid the extra work.

Here’s some photos I took of the dress in progress so you can see what the apron looks like up and down. JULE6537

Black Snail recommends 11 yards of 51″ wide fabric for this dress. I only had 9 yards of 42″ fabric but made it work by using straight grain flounces instead of cutting my flounces on the bias like the pattern recommends.

Underneath my skirt I wore a “phantom bustle” (made during a class taught by Christina Deangelo) and two antique petticoats.EEWR4333PTLV3670DEGD9186

On top I wore this custom silk brocade late Victorian corset by Redthreaded. I own several other pieces by them and they are all very well-made. They offer both ready-to-wear and custom sizing and the owner Cynthia Settje is committed to great customer service and fair treatment and wages for her employees.

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Photos by Redthreaded

My hat base was made by me using a palm fan I had around the house! I trimmed it with leftover fabric from my dress, some leftover floral trim from my 18th century shepherdess outfit, and a little bird I got from the craft store. (I am wearing glass intaglio earrings from Dames a la Mode).IMG_5599

The fabric is a long pleated rectangle with pointed ends.IMG_5595

When I said palm fan, I literally meant a palm fan.IMG_5419

I soaked it in water to soften it, cut off the handle, and molded it around a bowl.IMG_5425

After it was dry I machine-sewed the ends together and trimmed off excess. IMG_5430

Voila, a hat base!IMG_5432

For my hair I wore 3 false hair pieces: a large braided bun, a crown braid, and twist hanging from the bun.IMG_5591

I used a remnant of pink ribbon I had around the house to trim the hat, but I think for a future wearing I’d like to replace it with a much wider and longer ribbon.

Project costs (not including undergarments and accessories):

  • Pattern: $20.70 from Black Snail Patterns (purchased during a sale with free shipping).
  • 9 yards cotton fabric: $35 including shipping from Facebook
  • 25 yards pleated trim: $13.06 from Amazon (during a sudden and lucky price drop! Plus I still have leftovers!)
  • Lining: $0 (scraps pieced together from previous project leftovers)
  • Thread, notions, etc: ~$5

TOTAL: $73.16 (woohoo for bargain shopping!)

I had such a lovely time. Thank you John Carey for these photos with some of my favorite beautiful ladies!

 

 

 

2019 Costuming Year in Review

Oh it’s already February! I feel like the winter holidays happened recently but it’s already past the time I should be tallying up my 2019 costuming year in review! Each year I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount I’ve been able to make; I attribute a lot of this to the fact that if I can machine-sew or serge I will to save time!

First up, I made an Edwardian dress to wear to a Monet exhibit.IMG_7850

I wore a cotton 1830s dress to a summer picnic. (The bonnet and pelerine were reused from my winter 1830s silk dress).IMG_8621

For a wedding at a science museum I made a space dress with battery-operated twinkling lights!JJPQ1221IMG_0093

I made his and hers Roman-inspired costumes for a wine-tasting party. IMG_1198IMG_1244

For a late summer tea party I made some 1930s linen beach pajamas from a Decades of Style pattern.IMG_2109IMG_2115

I made an 1890s sweater, a wool skirt, and a Professor McGonagall-inspired deerstalker witch hat.IMG_3336

I have a tutorial for the 1890s sweater (no knitting needed!)WCIH9664

Plus a pattern for the witch hat!IMG_3350

In the fall I went to an 18th century-themed weekend getaway, where I put together a shepherdess costume (with stays by Redthreaded) and added trimming to finish a previously worn silk dress.

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Photo by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs

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Photo by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs

For Rebel Legion I made a generic Jedi costume that consisted of an inner tunic, outer tunic, tabards, obi, pants, and hooded robe.

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-4

Photo by Ribidib

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My last project of 2019 (not worn until early 2020 was the 1930s crane coat dress made from a Decades of Style pattern.20200125-IMG_3624

Once again that was more than I expected! I hope you had a productive 2019 and am looking forward to 2020!

1930s Crane Coat Dress

My last project of 2019 was a 1930s coat dress using the Miss L’s Coat Dress pattern from Decades of Style.  My color scheme was inspired by Japanese cranes (featured in the embroidered appliqués on my coat).20200125-IMG_3624

(Thank you Lauren for taking all these pictures of me wearing it at the GBACG Open House!) The defining feature of this coat dress is the fabulous sleeves! All the curved black and white stripes you see are pieced together during construction; they are not appliqué. 20200125-IMG_3612

I made my coat out of a vintage twill fabric. The stripes are black cotton velvet and white canvas with a layer of sheer white organza on top. (I didn’t have any sateen in the sash and the plain canvas looked too flat next to the velvet so I added the organza to add some texture). The front of the coat features long darts, pointed lapels, a stand up collar, and big cloth-covered buttons.20200125-IMG_3621

The black and white stripes meet at the underside of the sleeve. (Not perfect but close enough for me!)IMG_4934

The back of the coat has double princess seams that are top-stitched. My collar is red rayon challis with a canvas interlining. 20200125-IMG_3617IMG_4920

All the accent materials (the velvet, canvas, organza, and rayon) are scrap pieces from past projects of mine. The buttons were purchased at a rummage sale for $2 for a large bag and I still have some left over! The main coat fabric was purchased on eBay as part of a larger lot for a bargain price. The lining was $1/yard clearance fabric. My “splurge” were the embroidered crane appliqués from Aliexpress and they still cost me less than $10, so overall I spent probably $30 on supplies to make this coat because I’m good at hoarding useful materials. =)20200125-IMG_3620

Some notes if you plan to make your own coat:

  • This is not a beginner pattern. I would not say it’s unduly difficult and the instructions are very good, but this should not be your first project!
  • You should be comfortable with fish eye darts, top-stitching, interlining, grading curves, and setting a sleeve.
  • There are a lot of pieces and a lot of steps, so make sure you have a way of labeling all the bits as you go.
  • The lining must be attached by hand so be comfortable with some hand-sewing.
  • The pattern is true to size; follow the size chart.
  • Use a mid-weight fabric. I made mine out of twill but I’ve also seen some really lovely wool and velvet versions of this coat on Instagram. You want enough structure but not something so thick that sewing the curves on the sleeves makes bulky seams.
  • This pattern takes some time but I feel like it’s quite worth it in the end! I got a lot of nice comments when I wore it and people asking if it was a real vintage coat, so Decades did a great job on the pattern.

I enjoyed making and wearing this coat. Thank you Decades of Style for the pattern! 20200125-IMG_3623

(My shoes are from American Duchess. My hat is vintage with faux pearls).

DIY Generic Jedi Costume for Rebel Legion (A Head to Toe Guide)

I’ve had some questions about how I put together my Jedi costume, which is not of any particular character that appeared in the Star Wars universe, but follows the guideline of what a Jedi would have worn in the Old Republic. This kind of costume is called a “generic Jedi” in the Rebel Legion organization, of which I am a member. I made my costume according to the Rebel Legion Jedi Costume Standards, which is a useful reference even if you want a costume for fun and not for RL approval. (Please note, I am not a RL judge and this post reflects my own experience making my costume and is not an official guide of any sort).

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-4

Photo by Ribidib

Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-1

Photo by Ribidib

The fun thing about doing a generic Jedi is you get to put a lot of your personality into it. You can choose your own colors and there are different kinds of shapes that are allowed. I’ll discuss some of the options available to you in each section.

The basic parts you need for a Jedi costume are:

  • Outer tunic (the beige part of my outfit)
  • Tabards (the blue parts that go over my shoulders and down the front)
  • Obi (the blue sash around my waist)
  • Pants or skirt
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Lightsaber
  • Lightsaber clip on belt

For RL approval you need at least 3 out of these 4 items:

  • Inner tunic (the white part of my outfit)
  • Two or more (leather or resin) pouches
  • Food capsules (the colored things on my belt)
  • Hooded robe

I didn’t want to hang too many things on my belt so I opted to have only one pouch and fulfilled my requirements by having the other items. (If you are petite you may have trouble fitting two pouches and eight food capsules onto the sides of the belt and have to opt for one pouch and four food capsules).hoodfront.JPG

My inner and outer tunics, pants, and robe are made of linen. The obi and tabards are wool. These materials were personal preferences due to breathability and durability but natural materials are not required if you are on a budget.

The RL Costume Guide linked above has suggested colors; Jedi tend to be earth-tones so you’ll see a lot of brown, black, gray, beige, etc. but other colors are approvable. My blue ensemble is not particularly common but still allowed.

OUTER TUNIC:

The outer tunic is similar to a kimono in concept in that one side folds over the other side and there are big sleeves. IMG_0407

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You can see the opening on the right side here.IMG_0408

There are lots of tutorials and free patterns online for Jedi robes and tunics, so I will not reproduce them here. However, most of those are meant for male or unisex figures. They assume you have a boxy tunic that will be fitted to you with the belt, but creates some extra bulk at the waist. I opted to have a tunic with curved princess seams in the front and back to be more figure flattering. If you are not female-bodied or you want to save time by not worrying about extra seams, the free online Jedi tunic patterns are great. Otherwise, I would modify a wrap dress pattern for your Jedi.

I already had this McCalls M6940 Game of Thrones pattern (affiliate link) for a cosplay project so I modified it:68385897_722415068187496_2174166372844568576_n

  • Start with View A (the picture on the right).
  • Tape the skirt hip gore (yellow part with the lion) pattern piece to the skirt hip (red part above it) pattern piece so that you can use it as one big pattern piece. You should not have that extra horizontal seam at your hip on your Jedi tunic.
  • Shorten the skirt. My preference is above knee-level but you can make yours shorter or longer. (For RL approval it will need to cover your butt at least). You can also have a “hi-lo” tunic where the back is longer than the front.
  • Make a wide band (about 2 inches wide) for your collar instead of the narrower one in the pattern.
  • Use different sleeves. The Jedi sleeves are big cone shapes like wizard robes. I already had Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link) so I borrowed the sleeves from that pattern, but made them longer. (For RL approval your sleeve should be knuckle-length).68369096_2548470338771719_1778429370386350080_n.jpg
  • Closures: instead of visible ties as shown on the McCall’s pattern, you want to have hidden closures on your Jedi tunic. I put hooks and bars on the right side of my tunic, and then a hidden ribbon tie on the inside left for extra security.IMG_0405IMG_0404

Unless your fabric is thick I recommend lining your tunic to give it better drape. A thin, flimsy tunic is going to look a little off if you want to look like an Old Republic Jedi or get RL approval. (If you are doing this as a casual Halloween costume then by all means do what’s quick and easy if you prefer!) I used two layers of “blanched almond” 100% linen from Fabricmart for mine. I have not used it myself but I have heard that Joann Fabrics has a “linen look” linen-rayon blend that is pretty good if you don’t have the budget for full linen. Crinkle cotton gauze is also a popular choice. You may be able to find a good polyester/cotton blend but it may be hot to wear.

INNER TUNIC: 

Although not required I highly recommend having one. It’s a layer that you can launder without having to wash your whole costume each time. You can either make a full shirt or just a dickey (false shirt with just a collar and a bit of a front and back). The important part is that the collar shows.  Mine is a full wrap shirt with a band collar about 2 inches wide. IMG_0402

As you can see it is a very simple shape, with just a snap closure, because you won’t be seeing most of it while the costume is worn. My pattern is self-drafted but you can modify any basic shirt pattern. The easiest thing would be finding a wrap blouse pattern  with a V neck to start with, but if you have some basic sewing skills you can extend one “flap” of the shirt pattern over and cut out the neckline to be a V shape.IMG_0403

Mine is made out of linen because it wicks moisture. Wearing lots of Jedi layers can get warm!

TABARDS:

When worn, tabards look like two pieces that go over your shoulders and down the front and back of your outer tunic.  They are NOT straight rectangles because they need to be angled to sit right. You can cut them out as Y-shapes but I preferred to have pieces where the seam was hidden by the obi because it saved fabric. Here is an in progress shot to show you what I mean.  The top pieces need to be long enough to cover the front and back; there is NO shoulder seam for Jedi tabards.IMG_8962.JPG

The exact dimensions are going to depend on your height and how broad your shoulders are. They should be wide enough to extend past your shoulders slightly. Mine are 5″ wide  but I am not a very large person. For the upper pieces cutting out rectangles about 6″ x 36″ wide was a good starting point for me. I am 5’6″ tall and that was enough fabric to have 0.5″ seam allowances and a lot extra to trim off when angling the ends. (The tabards are double thickness so cut 4 identical rectangles out).

The bottom half of the tabard is where you have a lot of chances to show off your personal preferences.

  • The ends can be squared off, pointed, or rounded. Mine are pointed and curved on one side.
  • The length can vary but must be at least as long as your outer tunic (for RL approval).
  • You can have the tabards meet and become one piece hanging in the front.
  • The back tabards can cross or not.
  • They can be fabric or leather.
  • You can put decorative symbols on them with paint or embroidery.IMG_8928.JPG

For the lower tabards I started with 4 rectangles that were 6″ x 28″, which like the upper tabards were enough for seam allowance and extra for trimming. My curve starts about 6 inches from the end.

I constructed the tabards by sewing the right sides together, turning them right side out, and top-stitching. They are the same on the front and back.

OBI:

The obi is the wide sash around your waist. The RL standards say that the obi should be the same width as your tabards or about the 3 times the width of your belt. I did the first option so my obi is 5″ wide, but yours should be proportional to your height and shoulder width. The length will depend on your waist measurement. You’ll want to have add at least several inches for overlap in the back, plus more for seam allowance.

The easiest obi is just a long rectangle, but a lot of people like to add texture and visual interest. Mostly this means pleating or scrunching up the top layer horizontally. I put in a series of diagonal tucks. I have not seen anyone else do this so I want to note that even though I got approved, if you are going for RL submission your judge’s opinion may vary. IMG_8956.JPG

The obi cannot have any visible closures. You can use velcro, hooks and eyes, or snaps but they must be hidden in the back overlap. (I used 2 large snaps). Some people also do not add closures and rely on the belt to keep the obi closed, but that makes it a little harder to get dressed.

I recommend sewing your tabards to your obi. (Then you put it on like a backwards vest, with the obi closure in the back).  This will keep them from shifting while you are wearing them and they will hang symmetrically without having to adjust  them each time. If you are clever about it, when you sew the tabards to the obi you will form small pockets between the tabards and obi for your credit cards and cash, or stickers and trading cards to pass out to kids.

BELT:

Leather and pleather belts are both approvable, but I chose a leather belt for durability since I plan to wear this costume a lot. My belt was custom-made for me by Mag Mel Creations on Etsy.  David does really great work and has wonderful customer service; I highly recommend his shop.

The classic Jedi belt consists of a wide belt with a skinny belt down the middle, with a buckle and studs holding the skinny belt in place.  My belt is dark brown leather and 2.5 inches wide but the width can vary depending on your height. There are different buckle types you can get but mine is the “Obi-wan” style. The buckle in front is not actually the main closure for the belt. Jedi belts overlap in the back and closes with studs (mine), Velcro, or snaps that are then hidden by a loop of leather that slides over the opening. IMG_8522.JPG

Your belt can be brown or black but should match your boots.

BOOTS:

Like the belt, your boots can be brown or black but need to coordinate with the belt. If you are following RL standards:

  • They should be tall but not extend over the knee.
  • Boots should be low-heeled.
  • Laces are not allowed.
  • Zippers are ok but need to be facing the inside of your leg.
  • Decorative buckles are ok but not if they are overly numerous.
  • I have an elastic gusset down the back of my boots, which are considered ok if they are discreet and blend in.

Like the belt, boots can be leather or pleather, but if you are going to be trooping a lot or marching in parades get some good quality leather boots to be kind to your feet!

I have very narrow calves so my options are limited, but I was able to get “Gabi” boots from Slimcalfboot.com during a sale. They also have a sister company called Wideshaftboot.com.Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 1.39.46 PM

PANTS:

Getting pants are the easiest part of the ensemble! Only a little bit between the bottom of your tunic and top of your boots show, so there’s a lot of leeway to choose pants. You may even already have some in your closet that work.

  • Pants should be plain and in a solid color.
  • If there are pockets they should be hidden by your tunic. (No cargo pants with pockets down the side of your leg).
  • Whether they close with elastic, drawstrings, or buttons doesn’t matter because it won’t show. (Your outer tunic is supposed to be long enough to cover your butt).
  • Skirts are also allowed by RL instead of pants but they are supposed to be long enough to not expose any skin.

I made my own pants to match my robe, but many people buy nursing scrubs or use khakis. My pattern is self-drafted but you can use a pajama pants pattern and then taper the legs a bit.IMG_0398.JPG

I added 2 pockets to the back big enough for a phone and a wallet. My waistband is elastic because that’s a lot faster than putting in a zipper and placket. IMG_0400.JPG

ROBE:

The robe is an optional item but fun! Jedi robes are very oversized with really large hoods and sleeves. I used the aforementioned Simplicity 8723 Harry Potter robe pattern (affiliate link) but made a few adjustments:

  • Wizard hoods are pointed. Jedi hoods are rounded. You’ll want to cut off the pointy tip and round out the back of your hood pattern piece.
  • You’ll need to cut your hood bigger by extending the pattern pieces in all directions. Jedi hoods are HUGE. Did I emphasize they are SUPER BIG? They are so large that when you wear them the sides of the hood cover your shoulders. hoodfront
  • When the hood is down, the back of it almost touches your butt. To get all that fabric into your neckline you’ll need to do big pleats. (Your hood does not need to be lined, but I did because I wanted all the seams and edges to be very neatly finished. I’ve seen Jedi with serged one-layered hoods get approved so it’s not necessary).robeback.JPG
  • The sleeves are humongous and long enough to cover your hands. If you are using the Harry Potter robe pattern you’ll need to extend the length of the sleeves.
  • The robe should be close to floor-length.  (The RL standard is no more than 2 inches off the floor). The HP robe pattern only goes to about knee length so you’ll want to lengthen the robe. Please note, if you plan to run, drop the robe!68369096_2548470338771719_1778429370386350080_n

POUCHES:

Jedi have leather pouches attached to their belts. (If you want to use it as a RL minimum extra you’ll need 2). The pouches are allowed to be pleather or resin. There is a lot of leeway to the pouches as long as they match the look of your belt. A lot of people use military surplus ammo pouches because they are easy to find and inexpensive. You may prefer to find a pouch large enough to hold a phone or wallet. I opted for a small pouch due to my proportions, and because I already put pockets in my pants.

My pouch is a military surplus leather slingshot pellet holder (affiliate link) that I darkened with a few layers of shoe polish and wax.

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Some Jedi belt makers will also make you a custom matching pouch if you ask.

LIGHTSABER:

Lightsabers are a very personal item with lots of possibilities. As a generic Jedi and not a specific character you can pick a design that appeals to you instead of looking for screen accuracy.  If you want a fun costume you can pick up a plastic lightsaber at a toy shop. If you want a nicer one with a metal hilt the cost varies wildly depending on design, if it has a sound board, if it can do multiple sound effects, if it can change colors, if you had a saber smith do custom engraving, etc. I’ve seen lightsabers cost anywhere between $50-$1000 or more. There are a number of companies out there making lightsabers so make Google your friend. IMG_9995

However, if you are interested in mine, it is a YDD from Amazon (affiliate link), which was recommended to me as being good for small hands. At about $80 with sound effects it is a great deal. I like the smooth look because it’s comfortable to hold. As far as I can tell it is the same as the Kyojin Tiny Giant from Pach Store, but I have not purchased from that company myself.Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 9.06.25 PM

LIGHTSABER CLIP:

There are two main ways to attach your lightsaber hilt to your belt depending on your lightsaber. If your hilt has a D ring then you will need a “hook” type of attachment and if your hilt has a Covertec wheel then you will need a Covertec-style belt clip (affiliate link).

I have a hook attachment for my belt. You can buy “Jedi lightsaber clips” but a really cost-effective way to get the look and function is to buy an archery quiver clip (which is used to hold the quiver of arrows to your belt) from a sporting goods store. Mine is a “Neet chrome belt clip” (affiliate link). One end hooks onto your belt and the other end is a hook for your D ring.

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FOOD CAPSULES:

Clipped to the belt are also little metallic pieces called “food capsules.” If you are going for RL approval you will need at least a set of 4; some people have 8. I bought my Jedi food capsules on Amazon (affiliate link), and they come in a set of 8 but I only use 4 of them.IMG_0017.JPG

HOW MUCH FABRIC DO I NEED?

The amount of fabric you use will depend on your size of course, but to give you a rough idea this is how much I used (as a 5’6″ tall slender person):

All fabric was wide widths (about 54″).

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

The cost of your Jedi costume will vary widely depending on what sort of materials you use, how fancy your lightsaber is, and whether your goal is to be Rebel Legion approvable or have a quick Halloween costume. I plan to wear this costume multiple times a year for many years and need to be comfortable during long hours so I invested in nice fabrics (all linen and wool) and high quality genuine leather boots and belt. Including my lightsaber (which was on the low end of the price range) I spent about $500. DON’T PANIC.  If you use cotton or polyester fabric and pleather boots and belt I think you could put together a Jedi for $200, or even maybe $100 if you get creative at the thrift store. If you are on a budget I’d recommend going to a thrift store and looking for used boots there, and seeing what curtains and sheets you could use to make your garments instead of buying new fabric. If you have a bit of skill you can try your hand at making your own belt as well. (If you are not looking for RL approval you have a lot more flexibility in terms of faking the look with a store-bought belt). If you skip the robe, which takes up a lot of fabric, that will bring your costs down as well.

I wrote this guide with Rebel Legion approval in mind, but if you are not interested in that you can simplify or skip items. Also please keep in mind that your goals are your goals. Don’t let anyone make you feel embarrassed if you have a low budget, like unusual color combinations, or want a costume for fun and not for official approval.

Good luck and May the Force Be With You!Miss Vivien_s Con-Ex-1

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My Rebel Legion trading card, graphics by Colin Adams (OddViking)

HEY WHAT’S UP WITH ALL THESE “AFFILIATE LINKS”?

I am required to disclose that if you buy something through the Amazon link I get a small percentage of the sale that goes towards my domain registration fees and other costs associated with hosting the many photos on this website. (I don’t generate a profit on this blog; I just hope to break even). If you feel extra generous you can buy me a “coffee.” Thank you for reading!

An 18th Century Weekend at Wagner House

This past September there was an 18th century themed weekend at Wagner House (Lakewold Gardens) in Lakewood, Washington, hosted by Vanessa of @pinksewing. The weekend consisted of a picnic and a dinner, plus a day of workshops. Jenny of Jennylafleur taught a historical hair class and Denise of Romantic Recollections taught fly fringe. Additionally, photoshoots were provided by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs and there were trunk shows from Redthreaded and Dames a la Mode.

Here is a photo of the attendees of the picnic, taken by In the Long Run Designs.wagner-house_48828852158_o

And the following are the beautifully attired dinner guests, photo also by In the Long Run Designs.48844032341_9d21e5cf42_o.jpg

Wagner House is not huge but very elegant. The rooms of the house have been converted to conference/meeting rooms. Downstairs there’s a dining room, solarium, bathroom, marbled foyer, library, and kitchen. We were not allowed upstairs but could take photos at the bottom of the stairs during dinner. In my opinion though, my favorite parts were the gardens and the beautiful woods surrounding the property! IMG_2735IMG_2731IMG_2717

I am in love with this library!IMG_2740IMG_2737IMG_2742IMG_2743

Wagner House is not set up for overnight stays so most of us stayed in a nearby hotel or Airbnb and drove to Lakewold Gardens for the events. Some guests were local to Washington state.

In the first group photo I am wearing my 18th century shepherdess costume, and you can read more about it in my previous post.(Photo by In the Long Run Designs).48867872061_9edf6e25a0_o

In the second group photo I am wearing a mauve silk Italian gown that I previously wore to the Casanova exhibit at the Legion of Honor, but added additional trim to for this event. (Photo by In the Long Run Designs).wagner-house_48829563677_o

I normally wear this dress with a large split bum pad, but it would have taken up half the space in my suitcase, so I opted for a smaller half-moon bum pad and a petticoat. More petticoats would have created a fluffier look, but sometimes we have to make allowances for travel!

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And here are photos of some of the beautiful guests! I enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones.

Here is Beth in her beautiful candy stripes.IMG_2922

Ginger is so fluffy!IMG_2934

Laina and Cathyn made a striking couple.IMG_2952

The colors that Denise and her husband wore were luminous in person.IMG_2951

Lindsey looked so pretty in pink, and I loved her hair!IMG_2946

Sacque gowns are fantastic from the back!IMG_2944

A shot of Ginger from the picnic.IMG_2904IMG_2801

Taylor and Jenny in stripes during the daytime event.IMG_2796

Guests were milling about before dinner.IMG_2966IMG_2965 2

Dinner was delightful! Vanessa took care of every detail, including limiting the number of seats at each table to fit all our giant dresses. There was also a pianist and bartender! 😉  I’m afraid my camera wasn’t good enough to do the food justice under the lighting conditions, so I’ll just provide the menu here so I can reminisce fondly:

Appetizers:
Bacon Wrapped Chili Chicken Bites
Cranberry Brie Bites
Herbed Mushroom Puffs

Dinner:
Mixed Greens Salad w/Apples, Goat Cheese, w/Balsamic Viniagrette
Tuscan Chicken
Beef Bourguignon
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Herb Zucchini
Foccacia Bread

Dessert:
Rose & Lemon Macarons
Black Forest Trifles
Vanilla Cream Puffs

As a parting gift we all received an engraved fan as a memento of the weekend, as well as a champagne and macarons enamel pin by Aimee Steinberger.

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Thank you Vanessa for a magical weekend!48844032341_9d21e5cf42_o

18th Century Shepherdess Costume

Earlier this year I got to spend a magical 18th century-themed weekend at Wagner House in Lakewood, Washington. I’ll share pictures of the event activities and the gorgeously attired attendees in my next post, but in this one I’m sharing the “18th century shepherdess” costume I put together for the picnic. It is historically inspired but not historically accurate, but was still delightful to wear!

Portraits in this post are by Gloria and Mike of In the Long Run Designs. I was lucky to have a photoshoot with them inside and outside Wagner House.48867872061_9edf6e25a0_o

Since I had to fly to the event, to be efficient with suitcase space I decided to wear an outfit where I could reuse the undergarments (stays, shift, bum pad, under petticoat) for my evening look. I already owned most of the items needed for my outfit except for the moire petticoat and embroidered apron I made.48867352163_323dd5c8f8_o.jpg

A number of small, women-owned businesses made this outfit possible! My beautiful embroidered silk stays were custom made by Redthreaded. My delightful bergere hat is a concoction by Atelier Mela. And of course, as always, American Duchess was the source of my shoes (Dunmores) and clocked stockings. I carried a little stuffed sheep that was named Sarah, at the suggestion (insistence) of Sarah of La Dauphine Costuming.48867872956_9ffc34cd0a_o

I made my petticoat in an 18th century style with front and back ties and side slits for my pockets. There are tutorials online that you can find to make your own and also one in the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking (affiliate link).  It is a simple design with one front and one back panel pleated into the waistbands. I used a vintage moire fabric I purchased from Elizabeth Emerson Designs and “rococo” ribbon trim from Mokuba.JEDE5176

I added a pleated decorative “ruffle” to the bottom of my petticoat. Due to the thickness of the cotton rayon moire the pleats don’t iron down as crisply as taffeta pleats, but the ribbon trim across the top helped!IMG_2304

I have some of this fabric left and I am thinking of making a matching jacket at some point.

For the apron I used a scrap of embroidered netting that I got from a friend. The length of the apron was determined by the size of the remnant I had. (Some of you may recognize this as a “shabby chic” curtain that is used by many cosplayers who make Queen Padme Amidala’s picnic dress!)IMG_2301

The apron is attached to a simple waistband with organza ribbon ties. The raw edges of the netting were hidden by some lace I had in the stash that were just the right color!IMG_2306.JPG

My linen shift is not actually a historically correct 18th century one, but has a drawstring neckline and sleeves so that I can adjust it for different outfits. I originally made it for my 1660s outfit, and you can find instructions for it in the post about my Cavalier dress.

My hair consisted of a wig I styled myself using tips from the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty (affiliate link) and 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling by Kendra van Cleave.IMG_2912 copyIMG_2901

Wagner House was quite beautiful and I’ll share some pictures of the rest of the weekend in my next post!48868069312_3170d2cb39_o

1890s Bicycling Sweater Tutorial and Sewing Pattern

If, like me, you’ve long admired the 1890s bicycling or sporting sweaters but did not know how to knit, this sewing tutorial and pattern is for you, no knitting required!WCIH9664

I wore this sweater to the Reno Tweed Ride, along with a wool skirt and witch hat I made. (A tutorial for the Professor McGonagall-inspired deerstalker hat is in my previous blog post).IMG_3336

This lovely example is from the Met Museum. It features a heavy knit, giant upper sleeves, fitted lower sleeves, a turtle neck collar, and buttons.The Met Museum.jpg

I have made a simplified version with a similar silhouette using 2 yards of 59″ wide  “Telio cable knit” fabric from Amazon (affiliate link). It also comes in pink, gray, and blue. It’s not a real yarn sweater knit but it is inexpensive because of its wide width, easy to get, and most importantly it is chunky and not thin. If you want a more authentic look you can look for a real cable knit fabric in cotton or wool, but it will be more pricey because those come in smaller widths. (If you end up using a “real” knit it will be stretchier so cut a slightly smaller size of pattern).

This tutorial assumes some basic pattern drafting skills and also that you have a serger. (This will keep the knit fabric from fraying and also keep the seams stretchy).

The pattern pieces were drafted to fit a woman with a 34″ bust and 28″ waist (or slightly larger because of the stretch). If you are busty or have a soft belly I have an alternative pattern piece for the front that will fit at least a 36″ bust and 30″ waist, with some extra stretch for slightly larger measurements. (If you don’t fit these measurements I will explain what to do below as well).

All pieces include a 1/2″ seam allowance.

BODICE PATTERNIMG_4296

The pattern pieces for the front (red lines) and back (purple lines) of the sweater resemble a sleeveless top. They are mostly the same except the front piece is a little wider and the neckline is cut a little lower. If you are flat-chested or like a tighter fit use two of the back pattern pieces (and cut the neckline lower on one piece to make it a front). If you use two back pieces this will fit a 34″ bust/28″ waist. If you use the front and back this will fit a 36″ bust/30″ waist. This will fit larger sizes depending on how stretchy your fabric is.

For each piece FOLD YOUR FABRIC IN HALF and put the pattern piece on top, with the folded edge on the right. When you cut through 2 layers of fabric and open them you will have a complete pattern piece. Do not cut the fold!

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If you are slightly larger than the measurements you can scoot the pattern piece towards the left and add extra inches to the folded size.

If you are very different from the measurements you can make your own pattern by taking a sweater that fits you and tracing the main body as a guide. Remember to add seam allowances! IMG_5443

BODICE CONSTRUCTION

After you have your front and back, sew them (right sides) together at the sides using your serger. Repeat by sewing the shoulders together. (Note: on the extant sweaters the shoulders are not sewn together but fastened by buttons. If you prefer that look then you’ll want to not sew your shoulders closed at this part. You’ll also want to extend the top shoulder area of your front bodice piece to ensure an overlap, and serge the raw edges. I opted to sew my shoulders closed because my fabric is stretchy enough that the neck opening was sufficient).

For an extra fitted look (or if you’re wearing a corset) I recommend putting it on inside out, pinching out any excess on the side, marking it with chalk, and sewing and trimming the excess. Do this before you put on the sleeves or collar!

To keep the raw edges from fraying, also serge along the edges of your armholes, neck opening, and bottom hem. Turn up the excess length on the bottom hem and stitch down with your preferred technique (with your serger, zig-zag stitch on sewing machine, or straight stitch if you don’t mind losing horizontal stretch).

You should now have a sleeveless top.

UPPER AND LOWER SLEEVE PATTERN

Each sleeve consists of two parts: a large puffed upper sleeve and a fitted tube-like lower sleeve.IMG_4302IMG_4303IMG_4290

As you can see, the upper sleeve is huge. (The sleeves are the main reason I chose a wide width knitted fabric). If you are uncomfortable drafting a curved sleeve head based on the diagram above you can start with an existing large puffed sleeve pattern from your collection. Perhaps you have a Regency or Victorian dress pattern in your stash? Trace that puffed sleeve, then slice it down the vertical center. Pull the two halves apart. Further. Keep going. Yes, they really are that big. Then fill in the missing middle by tracing your new pattern on another (really large) piece of paper. If the sleeve isn’t tall enough to match the measurements given, you can also slice it horizontally and extend.

The lower sleeve is mostly a tube that tapers below the elbow. I have long slender arms; you may have to widen this part of the pattern if you have a more athletic build.

SLEEVE CONSTRUCTION

Sew the long edges of the lower sleeve (right sides) together to make a tube. (Again, use your serger for the sleeve construction to avoid fraying).

Sew the straight edges of the upper sleeve (right sides) together to make a giant um, thing. Serge all edges of your sleeve openings now because it may be too thick to put through your serger once it is gathered/pleated.

Gather the bottom opening of the upper sleeve so that it fits into the top part of the lower sleeve and sew the two parts together. You should now have something resembling a chicken drumstick. IMG_5459

When worn, you will push part of the lower sleeve up so that the bottom of the upper sleeve hangs over it, like the next photo:IMG_3032

Pleat the top part of the upper sleeve to fit into the armhole of your top. The direction of your pleats is a matter of personal preference, but just make sure you mirror them on the other sleeve. IMG_3298

Put on the sweater, push the lower sleeve to the desired location as described above, and mark where you want your sleeve to end (at the wrist).

Fold up the excess at the end of the sleeve and stitch down to have a finished edge in the same way you did the bodice hem.

COLLAR PATTERN

The turtleneck collar is based on trapezoids. Fold your fabric in half and put the shorter edge of the trapezoid against the fold and cut out your shape, ending up with sort of a hourglass drum. Do this twice.

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COLLAR CONSTRUCTION

For each piece you are going to fold it down the center horizontally, right sides together (so that it is inside out). Sew the side seams and then flip it right side out. The top doesn’t need to be sewn because it was on the fold. Serge the bottom (long edge) shut.

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Pin the collar pieces to the neck opening of your bodice. The front and back collar pieces are going to overlap on the sides where you put your closures. You will want the front to overlap the back on the outside. Sew the collar pieces to the neck opening, right sides together so that the serged seams are hidden inside when worn.IMG_5494

For closures you will add buttons on each side of the collar. The number will vary depending on the size of your buttons. IMG_3361

I put hidden snaps on my collar because my knit was too thick to put through the buttonholer on my sewing machine, and I was not about to make buttonholes by hand! If you’re not as lazy as me or you have a thinner knit you can certainly make buttonholes for your buttons.IMG_3037

Now you are done and your 1890s sweater is ready for a Tweed ride, historical costume event, or even everyday wear as history bounding!

PROJECT COSTS:

I paid $23.06 including shipping and tax for 2 yards of “Telio cable knit” fabric from Amazon (affiliate link). The buttons, snaps, and thread were items previously purchased cheaply and/or in bulk so my total cost was about ~$25 for this project. Obviously, your costs will differ depending on what kind of fabric and buttons you buy, but this is to demonstrate that a historical sweater doesn’t need to be expensive!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I hope this tutorial was an understandable and accessible way for people who cannot knit (or don’t have the time) to make an 1890s sweater. If you make one with my tutorial please comment below or send me a message on Instagram @freshfrippery and let me know!

For those of you brave souls who actually want to knit your own, there is a knitting pattern for an 1890s sweater by Kelsey Patton on Ravelry. 

For now I am wearing my sweater with a wool skirt but I have plans to make some bicycling pants in the future.

Have fun and go on splendid adventures with your sweater!

I am happy to provide all patterns and tutorials for for free on my blog. It is absolutely optional, but if you would like to donate towards my domain registration and the data costs of hosting the many photos on my site, consider buying me a “coffee”: https://ko-fi.com/freshfrippery.  Thank you!Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 9.28.46 PM

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