I tell myself: you do not need a new outfit each year. And yet, I'll attend 5 - 6 days of Renaissance festivals each year, so whatever I make will be worn. And technically these outfits aren't all new this year; I started the pants at least 5 years ago. It just took that much longer to find matching materials and patterns for the rest of the outfit. Click through the slides to see how it was put together.
Here are the patterns used. Click on the pictures to go to the Simplicity website to see the front of the pattern envelopes. I didn't have a pattern for the underskirt; it was two pieces of fabric, gathered at the waist, each with a curved hem and attached ruffle. The corsets were custom made from the pattern on the Elizabethan Corset Generator.
In past years when attending the KC Ren Fest we've either stayed with friends or found a great deal at a hotel nearby. This year the great deal was actually in Topeka, about an hour away. We stayed at the Senate Luxury Suites in a two bedroom unit. Of course we were sewing late into the night getting buttons on everything.
And here is the infamous matching trio at the KC Ren Fest! Hubs is sporting turkey leg stains on his shirt already.
Frog and Toad, Anne and Diana, Laverne and Shirley...I think a lot of us have that one friend that you find you can't say "no" to; the one that's always leading you into adventures. So of course when my bestie "H" said she had an idea for a viking costume and could I help, I wasn't about to refuse her.
For once, I can't rightly say this was "my" project. In this case, I am playing atelier for my friend's designs, and for once it was nice to be along for the ride instead of in the driver's seat.
=The main inspiration for this design is a character from the TV show Vikings. H found a pattern in McCall's new cosplay line of patterns that had the basic elements that she wanted, and forwarded me a screenshot of the character that inspired her. We worked together to pick fabrics that would be appropriate for wearing all day outside at a renaissance festival, and also gave a nod to historical accuracy. She had already sourced a chemise style top and appropriate leggings, had been working on crafting a wide leather belt/cincher for her waist and bracers for her wrists, and made weaponry that would pass festival security. Where my work was needed was for an over-tunic and open-fronted skirt.
We settled on a beautiful buff/tan linen for the tunic and a medium dark blue linen for the skirt that would provide enough body yet also drape well for dramatic flourishes. I also added in some faux suede to make trim, as a nod to the abundance of leather in viking costume. For once, I had a commercial pattern to follow that only needed a few tweaks to fit her size. The other change I made to the pattern was to use a thin cotton voile as lining for the top, rather than using the same fabric for both front and lining fabric as suggested by the pattern. One layer of linen still had enough body to give the garments shape, and the thin cotton lining allowed the top to breathe.
As this wasn't fully my project, I didn't take as many pictures. But I will note a few features that aren't immediately visible. The outer edges of the tunic and skirt are trimmed in the faux suede that is sewn on much like bias tape, but only folded on the outside edge. Sewing through more than three layers of faux suede would have been nearly impossible for my little machine.
While the tunic is lined, the skirt is not, so I used french seams for the skirt, knowing they would be fully visible as the skirt is open in front. The tunic laces up the sides with grommets, the skirt laces together at the front waistband with grommets, and I put studs at the inner neckline corners for reinforcement at the stress point. Thanks to procrastination, I was putting in the grommets and studs the night before the fair.
The costume came together beautifully. H wasn't interested in taking pictures (and after all, this isn't her online blog!), but she made quite the sight at the festival.
This was also the festival that saw the debut of our pirate costumes, so we made quite a band of marauders going though the festival. I do hope we can all get together and get more mileage out of these costumes and characters.
Too Good to be True?
It's the holy grail of every person who makes and (tries to) fit garments to their own measurements - a pattern pre-generated to your own shape. So, when I stumbled upon the Bootstrap Fashions website, I knew I had to give it a try. That, and the pattern prices were very reasonable.
I decided on two blouse designs to give it a try; a sleeveless yoke-front blouse, and a sleeveless blouse with asymmetrical ruffle.
When you set up an account with Bootstrap fashions, you can take your body measurements, and save them to apply to any pattern you are buying. In addition, you can choose to apply some common fit adjustments like fuller bust or longer legs. If you're feeling really confident about your ability to take specific measurements for fit, you can choose a "Pro-fit" option that will allow you to manipulate the less common fitting-points of a pattern, like armhole height and bust width. You can also choose to include seam allowance for an extra 50 cents.
Bootstrap fashions includes pretty detailed step-by-step construction steps, but no pictures. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend this to a beginning sewer. For example, this blouse has a button-closure front, and so the instructions (and pattern) includes a button stand. If you've never made a shirt with this kind of button closure, it can be difficult to understand from words alone.
Ta Da! All done! I didn't know really what to expect, but I think it turned out really nicely. I didn't have to worry about the bust or waist length - which are usually a nightmare to fit on my shape, especially on a button front blouse.
The only problem I had with the fit of this blouse is in the shoulder/armseye. I chose the wider-shoulder fit option, and it turns out I really didn't need to. If I make this pattern again, I will shorten the length of the shoulder, and make the armseye a little bigger.
And, spoiler, this was the main fit issue on the other pattern I tried. For this shirt, I used a soft denim chambray with a palm-tree print and beautiful drape:
And the shirt all done! Like I mentioned above - I still want to go back and adjust the fit of the arms/shoulders, but the fit everywhere else was pretty good. The shirt is a little movement-restrictive along the upper bust, where the yoke seam is, but I think that's down to style, not sizing.
After these two shirts - I've not been scared off from trying more! I plan to make adjustments in how I take (and enter) measurements.
What is really really tempting is that Bootstrap Fashions has a custom dress-dummy pattern generator, specifically for plus size ladies. I'm sure it will take more than one go (on my part), but the thought of having a custom dummy for my other costume and apparel projects...mouthwatering!
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!