Have you ever had a project that upon completion you say “I am NEVER doing that again????” Well . . this one comes really close to that. However . . . . it did turn out pretty cool, and so I probably would . . . but with modifications! And I am more than happy to share my frustrations with you so that hopefully your project will not require using pliers as a sewing tool. Seriously. Pliers.
So I began by pulling out my measurement sheet for the cast member, and figuring out which dress form to use. My guy form is not adjustable, so that can be an issue for someone smaller. The chest measurement was just a bit bigger than my child form at max-expansion, at 31″. However, the shoulders were listed at 18″, which is more along the lines of my larger dress form. Since I don’t know these cast members as anything but a line on a spread sheet, I had to ask for a little clarification before I started.
I make mention of this, not to dis the measurements I had, but to point out the importance of measuring consistently, or having one person do all the measuring. It also is important to know where the measurements are taken. I do my “shoulder” from shoulder-blade to shoulder-blade, and I believe this one was done from the edges of the shoulders. Another difference we clarified is that when I measure “waist-to-floor” I go to about 1″ above the floor, ie hem length (with no heels). The measurements I had went all the way to-the-floor. They also measured across shoulders and then shoulder-to-wrist, whereas I do arm length from the center back around the bent arm to the wrist. Again, it doesn’t matter how you do them, as long as they are done consistently, and then how you did them is communicated to your sewers. This is the first time I’ve been on the “other” side of the measurement taking, and it was eye-opening, and I hope if I’m ever in charge of costumes again I can apply what I learned. (For measuring . . . I am also going to share that you need to check your tape measure. Some tape measures have the numbers going the same direction on both sides, and some go in opposite directions. If yours goes opposite, mark the START end with some colored tape or something. It is really easy to measure backwards and later have some odd measurements. Toward the middle of the tape measure they won’t seem that far off . . . but 3-4″ makes a big difference in the finished garment. Lesson learned).
Once I had my measurement issue clarified, I started with my base jacket:
I liked this jacket because it was slender (I’m showing it on the child dress form right now, hence the shoulder wrinkles), and it was a true red.
I began by prepping for hemming and reshaping the bottom. I began by cutting the pocket flaps off. I also measured the nape-waist measurement and marked just a bit below that.
After the jacket was marked and carefully pinned, I replaced it on the dress form to check that it didn’t pull anywhere and hung nicely. Then I ran a row of stitching along the white line.
Another recheck before cutting. Next I cut below the stitching line, leaving a seam allowance. The seam allowance was turned under and stitched in place. In a nice jacket, the lining has that little bit of extra ease . . . I eliminate that feature and just stitch them together. The lapels were turned under and pinned.
I stitched one line of stitching, checked the garment, and then trimmed off the excess fabric. A second line of stitching helps keep the “facing” in place.
Next up . . . embellishment.
I wanted to make fishing-line edged ruffles for the sleeves. I checked the sleeves to see how they fit on my free arm. I thought it was fine. I was WRONG. Make sure you have extra width. If I were doing this again I would open the sleeve seam up and splice in a piece of something red . . or even black or gold.
Next I measured the bottom of the sleeve, and about how high up I thought the ruffles would go.
I wanted to make circle ruffles. If you are going to make ruffles like these, and have not played with a circumference calculator online, I suggest you might want to before deciding on your pattern. I cut the center out like a circle skirt. This looks simple . . make a 6″ hole (so 3″ radius) . . maybe a a 1/2″ bigger on each side, so a 4″ hole. I’ve got my mental plan, but I’ll check using a circle calculator. Using the calculations I find that moving the radius of the inner cut from 3″ to 4″ changes the inner “donut hole” circumference from 19″ to 25″. But wait! 6″ + 6″ is only 12″, so 25″ is way too much . . . what went wrong? Well, the diameter isn’t 6″, that is really half of the circumference (even though laying flat it looks like the center of a circle). If we work backwards, the radius we need to make a hole to go around this sleeve is really only about 2″. Who knew sewing would take so much math and geometry?
When in doubt, make a paper pattern first. Circles can be very deceptive. At any rate, once I had my radius (at just over 2″ . . I wanted there to be a little fullness, but not too much), I looked in my cupboards to find a pattern. I used a large plastic bowl for the outer edge and a smaller bowl for the center. After I cut my first organza circle, I used that for the pattern. They do not have to be perfect, and actually, a little difference in length here and there just accentuates the waves. For your FYI, my circles had a diameter of 12″
I cut the donuts out of black and red organza, 8 each color for 16 total. Then, because it is sooooooo much fun, I edged them with heavy fishing line (I use 50 lb test weight). I did not take a picture of this. I use a small zig-zag and fold the fabric over the fishing line and zig-zag over it to hold it in place. I overlap the ends about 2-3″ to keep them secure. Then, I repeated the whole thing sewing on string sequins. That would be 32 times around the circles.
I trimmed the ends of the sleeves with some black sequin braid and some iron on gold spandex. I picked this because I had left-over strips with bonding stuff already applied from making cheer bows. Once that was done, I decided to put the ruffles about 1 cm apart, so I marked those lines on the sleeve in about 4 different places around the sleeve.
Next, I stacked 8 circles in alternating colors and threaded them on to my free arm and squished them to the center, and then I put the sleeve on, and pulled the circles over the sleeve one at a time to stitch the in place.
I started at the top, and zig-zagged the circles to the jacket, making pleats here and there to “gather” them to the sleeve. I did the top four from the top, so the stitching was on the “down” side, and then I did the bottom four in the opposite direction so that the stitching was on the “up” side. The process was not horrible in-and-of itself. What happened though, was that by the time I was getting toward the final rows, I had LOTS of fabric under my free arm, and the sleeves were getting stuck. I had to get my pliers out and PULL the fabric around the free arm in order to continue sewing. On top of that, there is a lever on the back of my machine that drops the feeddogs . . . so the fabric kept getting caught on that, AND I have this stupid catch-on-everything-and-the-masking-tape-peeled-off thread cutter on the front plate that kept catching on the underside. There was a little un-repeatable muttering going on in my sewing room! Then, one of the sleeves ended up being a bit wanky because I hadn’t kept the lining together with the fashion fabric. On the second sleeve I wised-up and added some pins to keep things in line, but on the first one I just slit the lining to loosen it because I was NOT restitching those $&#(!@ circles.
The ends of the sleeves sort of got lost, but they might show if the Baron raises his arms. I do like how the ruffles turned out. I think the ruffles easily could have extended farther up the sleeve . . . if your sewing machine could handle it–mine could’t. The advantage to doing the ruffles in one solid piece is that the edge of the ruffles are a closed circle, and in the planning stage I thought that would be easier than opening the sleeve up, sewing on the ruffles, carefully stitching the seam back up, and then going back and individually closing all of the ruffles–whether you do that by machine, hand, glue or fabric tape. Another option would be to whip them on by hand. I would probably run some zig-zag stitching along the edge of the inner circle to help reinforce it, and then sew them on by hand.
Another thought is that you could attach the ruffles on to a separate piece of fabric. Part of the pain of this process was that not only did I have to keep turning the sleeve . . . I had to keep turning the whole jacket along with it. Using a separate piece of fabric would eliminate some of that irritation. Going back to the idea of sewing them on straight . . . . if you stitched them to a flat piece of fabric, and made a point of having a bit of extra fullness along the edge that would overlap, I wonder if the gap in the ruffles would hide itself? Making these ruffles removable would have given a lot more flexibility and opportunity for future use for this jacket. The jacket alone could be a nice Prince jacket . but with the ruffles it is of limited use. If anyone else has made a jacket like this I’d love to hear about your project.
To finish up I added some fake medals that I fashioned out of some vintage earrings and ribbon, and edged the jacket with black and gold sequin braid. The button holes will still work, if you were wondering.
Last I made some epaulettes out of glitter “pleather”, fringe and braid as I did for the Prince jacket and pinned them in place.
And my project was complete:
I do like how this jacket turned out (and I do like that my sister has volunteers to snip off all those trailing threads 🙂 ). I’m really not lazy. Sort of. At least I like to tell myself that, lol.
I imagine that this will be worn over a white shirt. I think a small cravat/jabot would fill the neckline nicely. A black shirt would be another option. I assume he will have black pants (hopefully with a red stripe!) and they would also look good with this jacket. Pants with gold sequin braid would also look good.
Cost: The jacket was either $4, or 50% of that, I can’t remember. The organza was around $3/yd, and I think I used around a yardish of each color (I had a big piece, and I don’t know the exact measurements. It was from Urquid linens, and was a nice quality). The string sequins came off large rolls that run about $6/100 yards, and the other sequin trim also came from bulk purchases, but probably averaged $.50-75/yd (since I don’t pay much more than that). The pleather is $1.67/sheet, and I used about 1/3. The fringe I’ve had forever.
If you enjoyed this post, please “like” or “comment”, and considering following my blog. You can also find it on Facebook “Costumecrazed”. The more activity on the blog, the more likely it will show up in search engine results . . . and that is all about why I write this blog . . . hoping to help other people come up with creative solutions to their costuming projects.