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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Court Jester

I have had no time to post lately, but for Halloween this year, my husband was a jester. We designed the costume together...last year. You may or may not remember the sketches I included at that point. I finally made it this year, and I really like how it turned out.

I used Simplicity pattern 4059 as a jumping-off point. The pants, or Venetians, were generally the right style for our design, but they were a bit on the long side, so I shortened them. I also added triangular dags to the bottom as well as bells and trim.

my dag pattern

The doublet got modified significantly more. I mainly used the main body pieces and the sleeve pieces, not the pieces for the peplum or flange (that's what the pattern calls the little part that sticks out over the sleeve at the shoulder). It is pied between a yellow brocade and a black and gold brocade. I used the same dag pattern I had made for the bottom of the Venetians to trim the bottom of the doublet, making two strips, one in each fabric. The sleeves are opposites, with one being yellow on the outside of the arm, black and gold toward the body, and the other black and gold on the outside of the arm, yellow toward the body. The whole doublet is fully lined because I find that easier than most edge finishes, and this is, of course, also adorned with lots of trim and bells.

The most unique feature of the doublet is the closures. Jon had the idea to have interlocking tabs in the shapes of playing card suits, so the yellow side has tabs alternating between hearts and diamonds, and the black and gold side has tabs alternating between clubs and spades. I used snaps to hold them down even though they are not remotely renaissance (invented in 1885, according to a quick search) because laces wouldn't work at all, buttons would require buttonholes all the way through the tabs, which was not the look we wanted, and hooks and eyes would be very finicky to open and close and would run the risk of constantly snagging the brocade. So, since they wouldn't show to the outside anyway--snaps.

I made the tabs as separate pieces from the doublet front because that way I could experiment some with the size and spacing. (We all know I rarely making muslins to test that sort of thing like I should.) I made them by cutting rectangular pieces of the outer fabrics and the lining and drawing the tab shapes on the lining in fabric pencil. I sewed lining to right side of outer fabric along the pencil lines, then cut the shapes out after sewing. Then I turned, pressed, and trimmed them.

figuring out the proportions of the shapes

Here, the tabs are finished, but only pinned in place to figure out spacing. I ultimately spaced them more, reducing the number of tabs.

The hood is mostly a copy of one I made for myself several years ago because Jon liked the fit of it, although I cut a lining to fit the mantle portion and pinned it, right sides together, to the outside of the hood, then traced on dags using the same pattern piece as before, but bending it at the narrow parts to make it fit the curve of the mantle. I sewed along that line, cut the excess fabric away, and then turned and pressed it. I sewed the gold cord on, here and everywhere else on the costume, using a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine and carefully adjusting the width of the stitch to barely pierce the fabric on one side and just miss the cord on the other side so that the stitches wrap around the cord, but don't pierce it.

The crown was made with the dag pattern. The outer layer is yellow lined with black and gold, finished with the same gold cord and bells as elsewhere on the costume. The inner layer is black and gold lined with yellow, with a layer of buckram in the middle to make those points stand up, and again, finished with the cord and bells. Once I put the two layers together, I added the black and gold trim to the bottom edge.

All fabrics were given to me by friends at different times in the past. The trim and gold cord were parts of past Cheeptrims orders to make my orders reach their minimum order cost. I bought cheap brass bells in three different sizes at JoAnn Fabrics, and I ended up using 61 bells if I have counted it up correctly. I don't really know how many yards of cord or trim are there, but it's a lot. The stockings are from Sock Dreams, and Jon made his pointy shoes quite some time ago.

Commence crazy photo shoot of my husband hammin' it up. (Please forgive the horrible lighting. He works long hours, so we had to do this after dark.)

It's so jingly!

Lastly, the choice to make the Venetians red instead of pied like the doublet was a conscious one to help me along in making Jon a Christmas elf costume (at his request). He already had a green doublet that was originally made to go under the gown below. (Historically, doublets were much more equivalent to shirts than they were to jackets.)

He also had his pointy shoes and a pair of white stockings we bought from Js Townsend some time ago to go with his Colonial outfit (if I ever finish his knee breeches). All I had to make just for the elf costume was a hat. I made his candy canes by cutting very narrow strips of red and white felt and twisting them together. On my costume, I can only take credit for the vest (made last year) and the hat (made last year or the year before).

Merry Christmas!

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