Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Summer of Sewing

Earlier on in the year, I rediscovered my love of sewing. I hadn't really got my machine out at all since moving into this house almost two years ago, but over the summer I have been churning out all manner of things for LARP.

It started with the sashes I made, although the sewing was really a necessity there for me to have something to experiment with screen printing on. Once I was done with those, I started thinking about other things I could make ahead of the main LARP event on August bank holiday weekend. I don't have photos of all of the things I made, which is a shame as I did spend a week almost production lining pantaloons (more of the same as I made before), in various bright colours. My character now has eight pairs of pantaloons, which is almost enough to wear a different pair every day across all of the events I go to in a year!

What I can show you, however, is everything else I made.

I made a lot of bunting. More bunting than I think we will ever need! I could have been lazy, and used pinking shears to cut out triangles, but as I don't have any pinking shears and I wanted my triangles to be different colours on each side, I actually cut out twice as many triangles as needed and spent three days sewing them together, trimming seams, turning them around and ironing them. Three days! Then, it took me and a friend a whole afternoon to sit and pin the triangles to the bias binding. There were a lot of pins. Worth it though, as the finished bunting looked amazing strung across the back of the pavilion we built for our tourney ground.

As part of the tourney, we also decided that the Ladies of Court would hand out favours to our chosen knights. To supply the group with favours, I picked up a cheap pack of handkerchiefs on eBay and hand embroidered the initials of each of the ladies' character names into the corner. All perfectly colour matched to our groups, of course! The opposite corner of the hankie had a butterfly embellishment already included so they looked really sweet once the embroidery was done, and it had the desired effect in character when we all stood and handed them out (even if none of our chosen knights ended up winning anything).

Finally, I decided to make a banner to hang in the main command tent. As the fictional land of Albion is split into ten kingdoms, each of the kingdoms has its own heraldic shield. However, they aren't used all that widely in the game by the current group of players, so I decided to try and raise their profiles by making a banner of them.

Apologies for the terrible photo, but it's the only one I have!

I left off the heraldic devices as I was in no mood to try and sew animals and so forth. It actually made for quite a fun guessing game in character, trying to see who knew which shields were which. Each shield was cut out and sewn individually with colour matched thread (those curved hems were a nightmare!) and then sewn in place onto the banner (made from an old tablecloth I found) with black thread to highlight the outlines. The gap in the middle was filled with a tribal lion, which I screen printed onto a separate piece of fabric before sewing on.

I had to cut the stencil into 8 parts because the fabric rectangle I was using is roughly the size of an A3 sheet of paper. Which meant it took a while to print as I had to wait for each section to dry before moving on to the next. I'm quite sad that I don't have a photo of the complete finished article, but I forgot to take one before I packed up for the event and now the banner lives in the box with the rest of the faction banners. I'll try and get one at the next event in March.

The last thing I made for LARP this year is the thing I am most proud of. The most complicated sewing pattern I have used to date. A medieval doublet for my husband to wear to our winter banquet. As the NPC (non player character) he plays for us is a King, he needed a suitably posh outfit. Again, apologies for the poor quality iPhone photos, but my camera went walkies so I couldn't take decent ones at the time.

I learned so much about making things from patterns doing this outfit. It is the first thing I have made that really needed to fit properly, and since the pattern sizing doesn't exactly match my husband's measurements, I had to improvise a bit to get the waist to fit. It actually turned out rather well, so I am very pleased. I also learned a lot about things my sewing machine can do, as I needed to make buttonholes in the shirt cuffs, so had to dig out the buttonhole foot and learn how the buttonhole settings worked.

All together, the shirt, doublet and sash took about two weeks from opening the pattern and cutting the pieces out, to having a finished outfit. It was finished on the morning of the banquet, so I was really working right up to the deadline.

My next major clothing sewing challenge is going to be making a new coat for my character. I've found a pattern I love, I just need to find a fabric I want to use for it and then I can get cracking.

I'll be making the coat on the right

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