Friday, 4 July 2014

It's a Wrap!

With the peasant dress jacket still on hold (I'm not happy with the stripes and trying to find some better material) I have turned my focus to the latter-half series 1 crossover top and wrap-around skirt. I have already written about sourcing fabric and dyeing said fabric for these costume pieces in my earlier entries (see links) but now things have progressed a little.

"Thank the Gods!!"

I won't bore you with yet more details of my spending an hour or so dipping material into a vats of water in various attractive shades of bodily fluid, so I'll be brief and simply say that the crinkle cotton and heavy linen were still too bright for my liking, and noticeably different, and as such the crinkle cotton for the top (which had come out a bright burgundy) had a yellow added to it to take it to more of an orange to match the cinnamon shade of the linen, and then both had a darker brown thrown at them to tone them down a little. It is difficult to say how close the result is to the original, as the lighting on screen varies enormously. But it IS around about what I was aiming for so I started on the skirt.

Both the top and skirt for this costume feature a crossover/wraparound design. And most sewing peeps know that wrap around skirts are the easiest things to do in the world, right? RIGHT?

Wrong! This one has decided to be considerably more complicated than it first looked. Mostly due to that panel at the front.

"Xena, are you SURE nobody can see up my skirt?"

This would be easy enough to do were it just one piece of fabric that goes around as far as the end of the lower layer. However, I don't believe it does. At no point do you EVER see flappy ends of front panel waving about during any of Gab's athletic scenes, nor are there any seams or joins in the outer layers that suggest the front panel attaches to the outer layer somewhere along the line. I spent a couple of episodes freezeframing the DVD trying to see any such evidence, but nothing showed up indicating that the underpanel was in anyway attached to the wrap skirt anywhere other than the waistband. I did, however, discover that Gab was wearing white pants during the filming of "The Prodigal." Furthermore, there are NO visible seams ANYWHERE on the skirt, so all the construction is hidden in the waistband and folded over in such a way that it is invisible. Figures!

So, the downside of no visible seams is that I have nothing really to go on in terms of working out the construction. However, the upside is that I kind of have artistic licence now to put it together however I want! With this in mind, I looked to the series 3/4 skirt for inspiration.

I had been sent, courtesy of a fellow Xenite in America, some beautiful shots of a screen used series 3 & 4 Gabrielle costume. One of the things that was particularly interesting about the skirt was the structure of the layers, for underneath all the flaps and wraps was a solid piece at the back with a split in it to allow the wearer to take it on and off:

I decided this would be the most sensible way to go with this skirt also, and as such came up with a design whereby the wraparound style overskirt could be one pattern piece, the A-line underskirt with the split at the waist could be another. I experimented with a circle skirt design creating a 'toille' (a mockup in cheap fabric), chopping bits off until it hung right in order to find the right shape, and then patterned the underskirt off this also so that both would have about the right amount of fullness. The shapes I came up with, both to be cut on folds, were as follows:


The centre back seam of the underskirt is then stitched up as far as the split, leaving the split open - you know, so I have room to squeeze my bum into this thing once it's finished!

The overskirt then is sewn to the underskirt at the waist, from one of the ends up until it reaches the split, carefully arranged so that correct side will be on top once it is flipped over to conceal the seam.
The remaining length of the overskirt then has a waistband but to the right size and shape to run from the far edge of the split, up to the end. This is sewn on along the top seam, and then down the far edge of the split, for about 2/3 of the way down. This waistband serves to both enable the securing and concealment of the top edge of the overskirt, as well as strengthening the waist area and provide a sturdier backing for any fastenings.

For additional reinforcment, and also following the techniques of the series 3/4 skirt, I added cotton tape around the entire length of the waistband. This will give yet more strength to the waistband especially once I have to start adding fastenings. The end of the wraparound overskirt is secured with a hook and eye to the corresponding layer beneath, along with a press-stud at the top of the split where it meets the overskirt, as well as several strips of velcro in between to make sure everything sits in the right place and stays put!

I have used my illustrations thus far because frankly the photographs I took of this part of the process really give no indication of what seam is where. The basic construction was now complete and all that remained was to trim and distress the hemline. I had been a tad too generous with the length of the skirt and so had to shorten it by a few inches, but as I had remained consistent in the distance from waist to hem throughout the patterning, this was fairly easy. I just lopped three inches off the bottom and re-cut the curves to fit.

Shortened skirt, showing my lil knees.

The fiddly part was fraying the edges, as the hem of this skirt is not merely "distressed" like that of the peasant dress. It has about half and inch of thick frayed material around the edge. To achieve this I had to sew a seam around the edge of the skirt, about half an inch in, and then pick the threads of the linen apart and trim the longer ones back in line with the short ones. Yes that's right - EVERY SINGLE ONE. It took three hours, and I have so far only done the outer skirt and the front half of the underskirt. But it looks AMAZING.

This process really frayed my nerves. Ho ho ho!

Depending on time, I expect I will also fray the back of the underskirt sooner or later, as it may be visible when I am being athletic and stuff (yeah right!). In the meantime though, I am pretty darn proud of the skirt so far. Decent photos will follow on soon, but here is a sneak preview:

All done! Proud Gabs!

No comments:

Post a Comment