Monday, August 15, 2016

I made a thing for the Ducal Challenge!

The 27th is Brennan & Caoilfhionn's Ducal Challenge down in Settmour Swamp. The idea of the tourney is similar to the Master Gregory Finche Memorial Tournament held at GNEW this year where every entrant crafts something to use as their entry fee, and everyone walks away with something made by an entrant. As I am still broken, I can't fence, and I actually won't be able to attend the event either. I love making cloaks and needed to time myself so I know how long it takes to make one for the future, so I decided to make one to donate in case a fencer needed an entry. So this post is more of an art post than a rapier post. Deal with it.

I don't have any real pictures of the process except for the ties, but I have a few pictures of the finished project. For all future cloaks I make I plan on actually documenting the process properly. This time I felt it more necessary to keep time. As it is, I forgot to restart my clock after stopping it several times. 

Before I made this cloak, I never used a pattern for my cloaks. I decided I wanted to fix that, so I spent hours taping together white computer paper six feet wide and 3 feet deep to accommodate the cloak, traced out my cloak I've been using as a pattern onto it. and went from there. Only after cutting out the fabric for this cloak did I realize that since I want equal dimensions for both sides, it would be a lot easier and would have saved me a bunch of time to make only half  of a pattern, and cut the fabric on a fold. This error comes back to haunt me later in the process. I have since cut my pattern in half for future projects, though. So now I have two copies of the cloak pattern, in case one gets lost.

The fabric I used for the cloak was pretty light, so I felt it necessary to add a third layer on the inside. I had significantly more of the fabric I used for the exterior, so I cut out two layers of that, and one layer of the interior. This gave me a weight that felt very nice - a bit too heavy for the way I fight cloak, but much closer to what a period cloak would weigh.  

Something I fixed on this cloak that I didn't do in cloaks past was to sew the collar to the neckline before sewing the two sides together. This makes finishing the cloak significantly easier, since now I don't need to fold the entire thing inside-out through a small hole the size of a penny. When you're dealing with the bizarre shapes of a cloak, a small hole is never big enough. 

Sewing the collar on first helped significantly, except for a few things that came back to bite me here. I mentioned before using one full pattern instead of cutting on a fold. Not a big deal normally, but one of the fabrics I used wasn't the right dimensions so I needed to cut it out in two pieces (the interior lining, not the outside). I folded the pattern in half to make this happen, adding a half inch to either side for seam allowance. Stupidly used the same half of the pattern for both halves of the interior. So as it turned out, my cloak pattern wasn't symmetrical, so the interior was a slightly different size than the outside. That caused a few issues in lining everything up, especially when you add the unusual third layer into the bunch. The important thing is I figured it all out. 

The part that took the most amount of time in this process was easily making the ties for the cloak. I did it for the cloak I made for Master Gregory's tournament, and I figured i'd just repeat the same process here. Timing myself making them, I learned exactly how long it takes to make the ties, and how much cheaper and easier it is to just buy some kind of cord and use that instead. Here are a few pictures of the process in making the ties. I don't plan on doing this ever again, unless someone is willing to pay nicely for it (even then, my fingertips will be very unhappy about it). 

Two stages here: top piece is ready to sew, bottom piece is still at the pinning stage. To pin it, I folded both sides in, and then folded the piece in half to give only one seam on the tie. This basically came down to pinning each tie three times: once for each side, then a third time bringing both sides together. This was all after folding the top inch or so of the piece to create a clean end. 

 These are a couple close-ups of the finished ties and the stitching. You can see that inch that I folded at the end, and then the stitch going all the way down. I intentionally used a different color thread here to give contrast to the tie, and because the ties are a completely different fabric than the other two used in the process. The thread is a similar color as the exterior fabric, and is actually the same thread I used for the whole project.

The rest of the pictures are various angles of the completed project. As I mentioned in my post-GNEW post, I am willing to take commissions on cloaks. If you are interested, please hit me up. We can discuss styles, sizes, fabrics, weights, and costs privately. I have begun to learn how to embroider, but that isn't something I'm a stage to put on my work quite yet. That will hopefully happen in the future. If you have any other questions about the cloak or the process, feel free to ask. I'm pretty transparent with my work.

 As you can see, I need a larger sewing table. The cloak actually overhangs it on each end, even when it's opened fully.

See how wide this thing is! My arm span is more than six feet, and my arms are nearly stretched fully.

 With these two previous pictures, I was giving a closeup of the thread I used. This is the same thread I used on the ties, and it blends very nicely here. I'm not super happy with how the ties look where they attach, but I know how to tweak things for the next cloak.

This picture was just so you could see the contrast of the interior and exterior in the same picture using the same lighting. The neat thing about the interior is I constructed it to have all the lines vertical, but when it hangs on the wearer, the ends tend to go completely horizontal. This makes it look pretty cool, and when used in combat will give some nice distraction patterns. 

And to whoever wins this, I hope you enjoy it. If you need anything done to it in the future, just let me know!