Making Brown Taffeta Breeches

With Cinderella done I can go back to my twice weekly updates! I’ve spent the last month trying to get my youtube videos on a schedule, and coordinating blog posts with those. I think that’s caused me to neglect blogging a bit and i’ve ended up with really long posts once a week instead of shorter ones twice weekly. That has caused a huge backlog of blog posts about projects I haven’t been filming and it’s a bit of a mess!

But i’m going to try and get it sorted out. And i’m starting with a project I began more than six months ago.

In November I made a Beaded Doublet from a variety of brown materials, lace, and pearls. I was quite happy with the finished doublet, but lacked the motivation to make the rest of the ensemble at that time. I started work on the matching pants in January and finished them in April. The tunic was finished a month later, and the hat was made two weeks ago (about an hour before I decided I wanted to photograph the costume that same day).

So after eight months of work I finally have my menswear ensemble! And now I want to make another one. Maybe if I start now it’ll be done before 2016?

Today i’ll talk about the pants or breeches, if you want a more historically correct term. Much like the doublet, this costume is really lacking in the accuracy department. It’s based off of paintings that I liked and has elements from a slew of different centuries. Going along with that theme I didn’t research or make these the historical way at all. 

I started with a home made pattern. I can’t remember how I got to this point (it was a while ago). I think I used a pattern I drafted last year as a base for the crotch slopes, then altered the length and amount of fabric in the hips. I’m pretty sure I made a mock up first and ended up removing a lot of material from the hips.

This is what the lining layer looked like once it was cut out and pinned to the brown polyester taffeta, which will be the front layer of the pants.


I cut the lining and front panels out together to make sure everything was the same size, but they were assembled separately. The taffeta layer was done first. I marked the darts out with chalk, then sewed them.

I’m pretty sure mens pants didn’t have darts in the 1600s, but men probably weren’t working with a twelve inch hip/waist difference either.


Here are the darts sewn and ironed. At this point I realized that I got a good batch of polyester taffeta. Some poly taffetas are like tarp material and will not take on any shape without becoming a puckered mess. This stuff was really thin and pressed very nicely, which was great! Especially since I only paid $8 for the two yards.


Here you can see the taffeta layer and the cotton side by side.

I left the front seven inches of the crotch open. Instead of sewing that part closed I turned the edges over by a half inch and covered the raw edge with a two inch wide strip of fusible interfacing. Eventually I’ll add eyelets to each side of the opening, which will be used to close the pants once they are worn. The interfacing will prevent the fabric from warping as badly and make the eyelets more durable.


I attached them with the wrong sides facing each other so the frayed side seams are hidden. I did that by machine sewing them together at the waist and cuffs. At the front opening I whip stitched them together by hand.


I sort of cartridge pleated the cuffs. I use that term loosely because it was really just two rows of large basting stitches that I pulled on until the cuffs were the correct width. I did use a strip of flannel to bulk up the taffeta and make the “pleats” look a little nicer.


At this point they started to look like pants! And I could try them on!


Not a flattering angle for me and taken shortly after Christmas snacking, but the fit was good! A little volume in the sides, no wonky crotch, no saggy butt. Not perfect but compared my previous pant making disasters experiences I was happy.


I sewed eyelets into the front panels. Looking back I realize these should have been much closer together. They are a whole inch and three quarters apart, what was I thinking?!

But other than that they are fine.


I cut out a waistband from the jacquard I used for part of the doublet. This is a simple two inch wide strip with interfacing on the back to make it a little sturdier.


I turned the edges over and whip stitched it onto the pants. Then I added two eyelets to either side so it could lace up as well. I did this step a few weeks after the worn picture above and by this point they were a little big in the waist! So I gathered the center back down just the tiniest bit before attaching the waistband.

When it was finished I cut a strip of cotton and pinned it over the raw edges, this will serve as lining.


I repeated this same process – though on a smaller scale – on the cuffs. They got the same jacquard band and cotton lining treatment.


And I had a completed pair of pants! I probably could have made these in a day or two if I had really tried, but the timeline doesn’t matter, what matters is that I did finish them and they actually fit.


I don’t have any pictures of the way the crotch and waistband looked (it’s all hidden by the doublet) but here is a side shot.


And the back. Okay the fit in the back isn’t great. The gathers at the waistband make it look wedgie-ish than they are. They were actually pretty comfortable to wear on the mile long trek we took in the woods to get these pictures.


More photos soon along with the post about the hat and tunic. I didn’t do a very good job documenting the process of either of those things, but I’ll try to cobble together post about them.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Brown Beaded Doublet

This project is a bit of a mess. I originally wanted to make a Renaissance doublet but I also really wanted it to have tabs, which is more of a 17th century thing (seen here). It ended up being a combination of both, which is kind of weird, but I like how it looks!

This idea began as side project to a brown renaissance dress which is loosely based off of this painting. But I was in the mood to make something structured, so the doublet became my first priority. The dress will get made later on.


I’ve been collecting fabrics for these projects for a while. I bought some brown stretch fabric last year for another project but the jacquard, brown trim, and taffeta are all materials I bought to match it. I also ended up using some trim from my stash, ivory glass pearls, and some small seed beads.


The first step was drafting my pattern. Since I wanted this to have a flat front I decided to sew it without bust seams. Draping a pattern like this on my dress form is very difficult (unless it’s low cut) because my dress form has a very defined bust.

So I decided to go back to the basic draping technique I used when I first started sewing: The bag method. In case you are unfamiliar with this I shall enlighten you.

I started out with a piece of fabric that was big enough to fit over my shoulders and hips. I sewed it into a tube and cut two slits for “Arm holes”, if you are drafting a symmetrical garment the seam should be in the front so you can keep it (relatively) centered.

Photo on 10-29-14 at 3.44 PM

Then put it over your head and pin it at the shoulders so it stays on.

Photo on 10-29-14 at 3.49 PM

Now it’s time for pinning. I began by putting a few pins in on each side and tried to keep things even.

Photo on 10-29-14 at 3.53 PM

Then you add even more pins and do the best you can to shape the garment to your size.

Photo on 10-29-14 at 3.59 PM

When you are happy with how it fits mark out the arm holds, neck hole, waistline, and any other details. Pick one side that will be used as your pattern and focus on it.

Photo on 10-29-14 at 4.06 PM

When you are done unpin yourself on one side (the side you won’t be using as a pattern) or cut yourself out of it. You’ll probably be left with something like this. Use a marker to go over the lines where your pins are, then remove the pins and cut along the lines you drew.


Now you’ll have something that resembles a pattern!


Since I needed mine to have a zig sag shape I ended up chopping my draft into pieces.


Once I was happy with it I turned it into a paper pattern.


I used that pattern to make a mock up, which looked like this! All it needed was to be taken in at the shoulder and have a dart added in the back.

Photo on 11-1-14 at 12.20 PM

Once my pattern was adjusted it was time for cutting and assembly! Since there are so many points I decided to hem each piece separately, then bind them together. This way I could have more control over corners and make things look smoother.


After I cut out all the pieces I marked out the hem, turned the edges over, and sewed them in place.


Then I stitched them all together! I should have used tape or pins to keep them together during this part. I ended up with really uneven edges…


Once the main body of the garment was sewn together I started adding the details. I debated about what to do for a long time and ultimately decided on using the brown lace to cover the edges, then beading it.

It took a long time but was really easy to do!


The beads used were 6mm ivory glass pearls and some glass seed beads from joanns.


After beading both sides I sewed up the back seam. If I use this pattern again i’ll cut it without the back seam, because it sort of ruins the design for me. It would bother me a lot less if the pin tucks lined up, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make that happen.


Then I sewed the lower piece on, i’m not sure what to call this part. I’m sure there is a proper term but I haven’t researched enough to find it!


Then I added the waist ties. I debated a lot about what to add at the waist, I had originally planned on more brown lace but I didn’t have enough pearls to use the same beading pattern for it. I also had some ivory venice lace but it looked out of place.

I finally decided on this small cotton lace! I think it’s just the right size and looks nice with the other materials.


I tried a few different beading patterns but ultimately decided to bead it vertically which I think looks neat!


When all the beading was finished I trimmed the front edge and rolled it over to create a finished edge.


I also folded the arm holes over a half inch to create a hem. Now it’s ready for lining!


I made the lining the exact same way as the bodice…just without all the beaded details! All the pieces were cut out and the edges were marked.


The edges were sewn over and the pieces were bound together. The lining looks much smoother than the outside because  I used my machine for it and actually pinned things.



The lower piece of lining was stiffened with a layer of medium buckram. I used this to create shape in the finished garment.


The buckram was basted down and then the edges were sewn over it.



The lower piece was attached to the rest of the bodice. I also hemmed the arm holes and neckline of the lining.


At this point the lining and bodice are both mostly done and ready to be sewn together. But the lining can’t be added until the sleeves are done, and the sleeve making process will be in another post! So this is all for today.

Thanks for reading!