Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Landsknecht Cap

Final task to finish the head gear required a coif.  This garment will be worn underneath the platter hat I recently finished.  It will likely be worn during the dancing portion of the ball while the platter hat is resting on my back held on by the chin strap.  Wanted to tie the whole color scheme together and yet have something small and comfortable enough to wear when I took the huge hat off.   This will keep me from walking around the event with a bare head (which is a pet peeve of mine) and yet not be too overbearing.

I started with the same materials as the rest of the suit.  Linen lining, silk mid layer and wool shell.  I planned on slashing the wool after the construction was done, similar to the way I did the shorts.  Here are the layers attached at the middle seam and pinned to check the fit.


Finished assembly and turned right side out.  After turning I ran a series of small stitches along the edge.  The stiffness of the wool and seam treatment make the cap look like it has wings.  I know I hate this look!  I like the shape, but I don't want to have to wear a chin strap to make the silhouette look right.


The solution (which I've used in the past) was to soak the cap in hot water.  After a good soaking and squeezing I began pulling the wool into shape.  Natural materials are awesome!  Since I put the mid seam together with a series of back stitches there is a bit of stretch to it.  That is the reason I used that type of stitch.  Works well for seams around corners.  Allows me to stretch and shape the material more easily.  After soaking and stretching I placed the cap on my foam head and pinned it down to dry.  After a day it looked a bit better.


I then proceeded to do the slashing.  Silhouette looks better and when worn with the platter hat looks great.  Daughter wasn't around so I dont' have a pic with the platter hat yet.  I also chose to add a small hole at the end of the coif so that I could add a chin strap if I wanted to.  I probably won't need it, but just in case.  That was the last step on this project, but I don't have a picture of that yet.


Landsknecht Hosen

My latest recycling project.  I've been planning on making hosen for my Landsknecht outfit and until recently haven't been sure how I would do it.  I was thinking about bias cut linen, but they always sag and look funny.  I like the look of knit hose, but I'm not proficient enough to knit hose in the time I have for this project.  Solution... Thrift Store Junkie hits the road.  I came across the following two women's shirts at Salvation Army.  Made of 100% cotton and a similar pattern knit.  I planned on slicing these into strips and assembling them into the hose.  To see how they would look/feel I took the sleeve of one shirt and slipped it onto my calf.  Not the way most people try on a shirt at the store I'm sure.  I get a lot of strange looks from the women in the department wondering why I am even IN their area.  Oh well.  These looked pretty good so I got them.

Started by slicing them into even strips.  Slow going process.  Used small scissors to slice right along the knit line.  Since these were both similar knit I was able to simply count the number of rows and follow that row all the way down.  Each strip is about one inch wide.

Still nervous about spending a lot of time on something that may not work I stiched and stretched to see how it would look.  After three strips attached I liked the look enough to charge ahead.  Using a series of back stitches to ensure that the seam would hold, but still stretch a little vertically.  Works pretty well.

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Assembled 10 strips together  but before the final closure I pinned the opening closed to get an idea of the fit.  The following pics are of the inside.  I pinned them with the seam on the outside so it looks a little rough.  Was just looking for a rough idea of the number of strips.  Looks like 5 black and 5 green will do the trick.  Wanted it tight enough around the calf but not too baggy at the ankle.  I will have garters to hold the hose up as well.  I will perhaps come back in and tighten the seam up a little bit around the ankle when these are done.  Even if I don't the tightness around the ankle seems OK.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Landsknecht Doublet and Shorts Completed!

My least favorite part of this project... lacing holes.  Had about one fourth of them done, but the lacing holes to point the top and bottom had to wait until both garments were complete.  Here is the process I used.  Ease a hole into the fabric with a metal awl.  Open the hole further with a bone awl, which is about twice as wide as this one.  Results in a hole of about 1/4 inch in diameter.  That's rather tough when you consider that I'm going through three layers of wool, two of linen and one of silk.  After easing through the opening I start stitching the hole edge with a heavy cotton line.  This is the same line I used to make the laces and all the trim work so far.  I only go around the hole twice and try to make it as even and pretty as possible, but ultimately I had so many to do and I knew nobody would be scrutinizeing them I didn't care much.  I just wanted this portion done.  There are eight pairs of holes on the shorts and matching holes on the doublet.  There are three sets on the doublet to close the front and two sets on the cod piece.  In all that makes 50 of these stinking holes I had to do.


Here is Daddy in action.  My daughter is my biggest fan I think and she is the one taking most of the photos. She got this one of Daddy in action.  One daughter was playing the violin and the other taking photos.  Sewing is much more fun when you do it to live music.  :-)

Not all the hole were finished in black.  I did the ones on the doublet in purple to make them pop a little more since these are likely the only ones anyone will even pay attention to.


After making three sets of laces I ended up not happy with any of them entirely.  I like the first set (pictured above) and will likely use those for the cod piece and lacing the doublet to the shorts.  Those laces were a little thin though.  I wanted something a little heavyer for the most commonly tied and untied ones on the front of the doublet.  I started by making the ones on the far right of the next image.  Thats a lovely cord.  Very soft cotton yarn and very strong.  I was afraid that the yarn wouldn't be strong enough.  This cord can about hold my weight.  No problem there.  A bit too thick though.  I will end up using this one for the hat chin strap.  Thick and soft and works well for that.  Not for the doublet though.  I also wanted more color.  At the time I made the middle lace I had only black and two shades of blue cotton in the house and so I tried this pattern.  Love the pattern, but not enough pop!  I like the thickness, just not the color.  Not sure I'll use this one for anything.  Probably throw it in the day pack as a backup in case something breaks.  The last one I made is my favorite.  The one on the left is made from three colors of cotton.  Instead of doubling the lines as I did on the far right version, I used only single strands.  Thickness is perfect.  Color is perfect.  Loud and bright but not TOO contrsting.  Looks good to me.  Will have to make some brass or copper tips to finish the points later.  First thing is to get the outfit wearable though.

The outfit is now wearable!!!
The only thing left to do on this is to finish the inside seam of the sleeves (which nobody will ever look at anyway) and add the metal tips to the points.  What a happy day for me when I took this picture.  Many many many hours of work and it came out as good as I would have hoped!


Have to wait until the event before I post pictures of me wearing it though.  I tried it on (more than a few times) and I love it.  Wore it around the house for an hour and sat and watched TV in it to be sure that blood flow wouldn't be impeded by the tightness of the shorts.  All is well and good and I couldn't be happier.

Masquerade Ball Leather Mask has dried

The kids were no longer asleep this time so I started by doing just a little bit more tooling.  Not a lot of definition needed because I intend to do most of the detail work with paint, but wanted to see how the tooling held up when I soaked the leather.


After tooling done, I put the leather in the sink and filled about an inch or so with hot water.  I then boiled up three pots of water and added that as well.  Let it soak for about 15 minutes.

I'm not ashamed to say that I garbage pick.  Yup, in addition to garage sale shopping and thrift store browsing I am known to drive up and down looking in trash on occasion.  I found this one on the way home from dropping the kids off at the bus in the morning.  An appartment building must have been getting a new kitchen.  They had some old cabinets and old counters on the street.  They also had this one.  This was a brand new counter top.  This is only a small chunk of it.  Looks like it was supposed to be the corner piece and it was cut wrong and tossed out.  Brand new, no scratches or anything.  I quickly grabbed it.  I chopped it into three pieces.  I use this as the base when tooling or cutting.  Very very hard stuff too!  You can also see the leather tooling set of tools that I made for another project.  All made from nails and chunks of old metal I had in the garage.

After the leather was sufficiently soaked and floppy as a wet noodle I place it on the head.  I stretched it a bit to fit the crown better and found that I had no problem at all getting the piece into position as I had hoped.  Pinned all the pieces into place.  As you can see now I planned on twisting all the fringes up.  Having them cut in wiggly shapes helped make them into odd streaming fringes as I had hoped.


Was a bit worried if this piece would dry and harden the way I had pinned it.  Let it dry for a little over a day and this is what it looked like.


Ready for the next step I removed all the pins and found the shape rather stiff.  Not quite as hard as I was hoping but I think I will wet it slightly again and then bake this part.  Held up really well though.  Not sure what will happen when I apply the paint.  Will have to be sure not to wet it too much.  I'm thinking that I'll coat it with a few layers of glare before painting so that way any pores which would soften with the wet paint will be filled with glare.


And the most important look?  Does it fit!?  Yes it does.  Don't mind the hat head.  Was cold in our house so I had bundled up in a heavy sweat shirt and hat most of the day.  When I wear this final mask I plan on shaving my hair down to about 1/4 inch or less.  So far this is exactly the look I had in my head when I started the project.  Yeah!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Masquerade Ball Leather Mask

A short while back I did a proof of concept on an idea I had for a leather mask for a masquerade ball that I'll be going to.  The inspiration for this mask came from the entire peacock themed Landsknecht outfit I'm working on.  Last night I took the next step in the process.

To begin the process I took my Styrofoam head that I purchased from Hobby Lobby and draped some felt over it.  I decided to use felt as it seems to perform much like wet leather does.  It stretches, but has no definitive bias and therefore you can get reasonable estimation of what the leather will be able to do.  At first I was simply looking for a rough shape.  The mask design I have in mind is not geometric and is more free flowing so exactness was not really a concern at this point.  I draped the felt over the head and shaped it a bit.  I trimmed the rough edges and then sketched my idea onto the felt.  Here is what the first mockup looked like.


 After I was happy with the overall shape of the pieces I removed the pieces and then folded it over the center line to attempt to make the shape more symmetrical.  The marker lines on the felt may not make much sense at this point but what I was planning on doing was creating the mask in at least two pieces.  There will be one piece with all the “fringes” which cover the forehead and top of my head.  Then another piece will be attached as an outer layer with more “fringes” to add more depth and shape to the appearance.  I wanted more than a simple Lone Ranger type mask.  I was really hoping for something that wraps over my head more.  I plan on shaving my head when I wear the mask so I’m hoping that the model foam head I have is a good representation of the final look.

Turns out I didn’t need much trimming to make the piece symmetrical.  I then cut the two pieces apart and mocked up a half mask.  I figured I’d make the mask as only a half and then fold that over and trace it to make the final pattern before cutting out.

Here I have applied the two layers together to get a better idea of whether or not I would like the look.  At this point I'm sure that the overall look is what I want, but I don't need to finalize the top layer yet.  Similar to working on clothing one must always start on the bottom layer.  After I finish the bottom layer I will then draft another pattern for the outer layer.  At this point it was more of a proof of concept and I was OK with moving on to the next step.... trace the pattern to paper.

Here I have made some small tweaks to the design.  I've extended the fringes just a bit and altered the way the center looks.  Looks kind of funny at this step but I am sure it will work out fine.  I envision that the fringes will be soaked and twisted.  The reason I cut them in wiggly lines was that when I twist them later I figured it would add more character.   You'll see later.


Patterns finished and transcribed onto paper.  Ready for the next step.  Real leather.

Using about 5 ounce vegetable tanned leather.   Thick enough to hold its shape when hardened, yet not too thick to be cumbersome to tool.  This is still a bit of an experiment for me.  Never having done this before I simply took a piece the thickness of my prototype.  I got the leather from the scrap bin at Tandy Leather.

After cutting out the basic shape I then softened the edges a bit.  I know they have a tool for this called an edger or a beveler.  I don't have one and opted to simply use a carefully handled disposable razor.  Worked fine for me.

I then wet the leather and began shaping.  I couldn't do any 'real' tooling a this point although I plan to.  I roughed in the shape by simply wetting the leather and pressing the tools into the leather to shape it.  Kids were in bed and I couldn't do any banging.  I'll tool in the details better later.  Initially I'm really digging the overal shape.  Ultimately I don't think this mask will require a LOT of tooling.  Just some small details here and there.  I plan on adding more "bang" to the look using bright paints.