Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Husbeast's Fencing Doublet, Part 2 (construction at last!)

This is Part 2 of a two part series. Part 1, detailing the design and patterning process, can be found Here

With trial construction safely done, I felt ready to finally cut husband's first Proper Doublet, complete with all the bells and whistles. Inspired by Giovanni moroni's fantastic portraits, and an extant fencing doublet, I had patterned, drafted, and tested to death. There was nothing left but to start in earnest. I had decided at some point along the design process that this would be an ideal garment for him to wear to the fancy elizabethan event we were going to for our anniversary, so I was on a bit of a deadline, and with my own gown yet to make. Still, with six weeks to the event I felt comfortable getting everything done.

I had already started making the buttons, so they were well in hand, but I still needed two strips of
eyelets for the sleeves. I made those out of a fold of the the exterior fabric with the ends sewn in. It was my first time making hand eyelets and at first they went very slowly, but it quickly picked up speed as I got the hang of the process. The first strip of 15 eyelets took me three episodes of star trek, the second, half that. Then  I cut the collar and sleeve wings, and padstiched them to a layer of felt.

For the body of the doublet I used a layer of upholstery fabric, a layer of batting (Dream Angel, is a manmade fiber batting that i keep a roll of on hand. It happens to be fire retardant, in case husband ever decides to stand too close to a bonfire) I sewed the side seams of the doublet preparatory to marking the cording out. This is where I first discovered that this was, in fact the devils upholstery fabric. Ironing the seams open (after clipping the batting back to the seam line) had no apparent impact. They had to be ironed open and then whip stitched down to the batting. Once I'd done this I lined the seams up with the seams of the black Kona Cotton lining (dyed black cotton. very nice) and pinned through the seams to keep everything stable.

And started marking..... and marking, and marking.....

With it all marked I sewed the shoulder seams (which have continuous lines of stitching over them), whip stitched the seam allowances down, and started couching down perle cotton with  cording foot.  Although I knotted off the couching threads with the sewing machine, the long ends of perle cotton had to be run into the body of the doublet with a blunt needle. I soon found that it was more effective to double over stitching lines I'd already made than to start and stop continually.

With most of the cording on the body done, I corded the lines on the collar (which had already been padstitched.) that did not continue onto the doublet, then attached the collar to the doublet to finish the cording on the back neck.
Like in a modern tailored jacket, what you do with the seam allowances makes a big difference in the final result. Because I needed this collar to stand up, even though it's wide enough to flop back (large necked husbeast problems) I carefully whip stitched all the seam allowances (after some grading and clipping) down to the inside of the doublet. The mess is all covered by the collar lining later. This is where I discovered feature #2 of the devil's upholstery fabric. If you clip it (you have to clip it unless you want bunchy seams) little bits of it will then proceed to ravel OUT THROUGH THE SEAMS. Yes. Unheard of in my entire sewing life to date. The solution? as soon as I made any clips into the fabric they had to be thoroughly and immediately fraychecked.

With the collar firmly attached I could finish the last of the cording on the body of the doublet, and work all the ends in.
And move onto cording all of the tabs. They're two layers of evil upholstery fabric with a layer of batting between. After they were corded they had to all be bound with the silk dupioni bias tape, and then the bias tape hand stitched to the back. 10 minutes per tab.... 16 tabs.....

This is where I discovered another wrinkle. What looked like an enormous amount of bias tape when I made it up wasn't going to be enough to bind the tabs, the front and around the collar, much less the sleeves and armholes. I had to adapt the plan, because there wasn't any more dupioni. I scrounged enough scraps to make it up to the collar. So that meant I had to just find alternate methods for the wings, armhole, and collar.

I had already cut the collar lining, so I did have that to work with. I installed it schooched up about half an inch, and sewed the bottom edge down to keep it in place.
This gave me enough extra to fold the lining down over the outside of the jacket.
and then very carefully fold the edge under, ease it in, and sew it into place. Thankfully silk dupioni is pretty amenable to being eased, or this would have been rather a nightmare.  With that done I sewed a piece of black bias (cut from the same fabric as the lining) down over the exposed bits of collar on the inside. That had to be done all by hand so no stitching would show on the outside.
Then it was time to deal with the wings. I had sewed and turned them rather than binding them. Of course they wouldn't stay put OR flat but rolled and puffed like crazy (devils upholstery fabric strikes again) so i used some of the perle cotton and ran a line of herringbone stitch through the lining and into the padstitched felt underneath around the seam allowance on the inside. Then I pinned them down, along with the eyelet strips for the sleeves and sewed them down.

With them tacked into place, I sewed a strip of black bias tape around the entire armhole, and (you guessed it) turned the seam allowances to the inside, graded what of it I could to reduce bulk (the felt and batting, and the jacket lining were safe choices) and whipped it down to the inside of the jacket. If you don't do this your wings will have a distressing tendency to not stay that the angle you intended for them, and may even tend to stick UP from the shoulders rather than out.
 Then I turned the bias binding to the inside, and sewed it down all around. Here you can see the finished lacing strips hiding under the wings.

With the wings on it was time to turn to the tabs. They had to be sewn on, the seam allowance turned
up to the body and stitched down, then a wide folded piece of bias tape sewn over that.  If you don't stitch the seam allowance to the body the tabs won't stick down, but instead more out, tending to look like a demented tutu. The wide folded bias tape is left free at the bottom edge, and grommets fitted in it for the points of the trunkhose. Ideally these wouldn't be grommets but more hand bound eyelets worked over metal rings. But by this point in construction I was hugely past my estimated labor time of 50 hours (5x what it took me for the practice doublet), and not even counting the making of the eyelet strips or the buttons I had more than doubled my original time estimate. I was beginning to cut corners out of desperation. I can go back later and work thread over the grommets to make them look better if I decide I care about it that much.

With the tabs on I bound the remaining front edge between the collar and tabs, and began affixing buttons. These are knotted on with the two "tails" left from construction, and then the knot fray checked, and the ends buried in the doublet.

then all that was left of the doublet proper was to work all button loops, alternating sides, all down the front of the doublet.

Then back to square one for the sleeves! The original doublet was missing the sleeves, but there's another padded, corded doublet in Patterns of Fashion that Arnold notes as a close cousin of the one I recreated, and it has sleeves. I drafted these to husband's measurements, mocked them up, pinned them to the lacing strips, and altered them.

Once altered the pattern was so funny looking I almost did a second mockup just to double check. but I decided to trust the process. I mean, none of his other patterns look like things that belong to normal humans, why should his sleeves?

I cut them out from the upholstry fabric of doom. seamed them,
sewed the seam allowances down carefully so as not to have stitches showing on the outside, and then fully lined them from the top, and finished the bottom with a scrap of the silk satin left from cutting his trunkhose out. I added a pair of buttons and button loops to each sleeve, and was finished. Ideally I would have put coordinating lacing eyelets on the top of each sleeve, but by this point I was beginning to feel desperate about getting it done, so I used a large blunt needle to sew the lacing ribbon straight through the sleeve. I'll later enlarge those holes with a bodkin and make proper eyelets.

Then I had to finish off the last details of the doublet, working any leftover threads in, and making up the tiny tassels that decorate the points of the back neck cording on the original. Using a hack I saw some time ago (actually for making miniature bows, but tassels are the same principle)  I made the tiny tassels around the tines of a dessert fork, That way you can tie off the neck between the fork tines, and just slide the whole thing off the end They turned out beautifully fluffy, and perfectly even, although I may have to use a little stitch to make them lie down flat, since they don't seem to want to do that.

And it was finally, finally, done. This thing was a true labor of love. I figure 200+ hours into the doublet once you start counting time spent making  buttons. A lot of that was extra time spent dealing with the devil's upholstery fabric, or flailing because I ran out of bias tape. Still, just the basic labor in creating this kind of extremely tailored garment is nothing to be sneezed at. I will take what I learned from this one to the next one (Which will NOT be corded and quilted) and hopefully improve my time. I have to say though, seeing husband in his suit, it was worth every minute I spent. This makes two suits done, of the four he needs, plus a proposed black velvet and blue silk court outfit.........
Doublet back

for some reason it will only let me load this photo sideways, but here's the doublet front! 
The husbeast, handsome dog that he is.

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