I've got a history of costuming insanity so, after talking about it for months and with an opportunity looming to attend Costume Con, it's put-up or shut-up time at my end of the world. I've been wanting to make a copy of Commodore Franky Cook's costume since I saw Sky Captain And The World of Tomorrow in the theaters, so now I'm finally getting to it.
Conclusion - 5/5/05
WOOT! It's done. Well, er, almost. I have to get a patch in the correct colors for my sleeve, but the costume made its first appearance at Costume Con 23 in Ogden, Utah and won me a Hall Award (as it's technically not finished, I decided not to compete with it) and I'm pretty darn happy with how it all turned out. Scroll to the bottom of this document to see some pix!
The place to start is always the reference photos.
To see the full-sized picture, click on the thumbnails.
These were either grabbed from the DVD, or taken from the official website.
General overall of the jacket, gorget and cap
detail of cap patch
view of arm patch, and partial cuff
A much-needed view of the back! Note the piping on the seams as per the front.
Key view of the back of the gorget
|Breaking Down The Elements - What's What and Ohmigod, How Do I Make That?|
Folkwear's Belgian Military Chef Jacket
I'm not one of those super duper people who can draft their own patterns from scratch. When I want to make something, I usually buy a commercial pattern and kitbash into an approximation of what I want. Fortunately, a pattern for the jacket was easily found.
The pattern on the left - follow the link to the retailer - is almost perfect, except for the matter of length - it's cut to just below the waist - and an issue with the arm-seam, which I will go into, below.
In terms of materials, the entire thing is black leather, with the exception of the front panel, which looks like wool, also black. The piping seemed to vary from white to slivery gray in the movie. I've taken the expeditious route and chosen white piping.
I traced the pattern pieces in my size - because I like to extend the life of my patterns more than anything else - added a few inches to the length all around, and made a muslin to judge fit. I ran into some problems because I have zero knowledge of tailoring and an ample-for-my-height bosom, but I managed to accept that the fit was going to be a little funky.
Overall, I added about five inches to the length of the jacket and redrew the back so that it went straight across. I initially cut the pattern far too long, then trimmed back, which was a bit wasteful, but it's a damn sight easier to knock stuff off than put it back on.
Materials for the Jacket
I can't afford real leather, I doubt you can either. Thank heavens for artificial substitutes! Take the time to find a decent-quality pleather, not the usual nasty 'recreational vinyl' that you find at Jo-Anne's. You want something with a decent (if faux) grain to it, and a light drape. You can flat-line it to give it the heft of real leather - that fuzzy-backed recreational vinyl you'll find at most fabric stores just doesn't drape well, in my opinion.
2.5 yards of 54" pleather - you might need more, best thing to do is make a muslin, and then determine your yardage from that. Buy another half yard if you're planning to use the same material for the gorget.
2.5 yards of medium-weight twill for flat-lining - ditto.
1 yard of 54" wool (you might need more, as this was just barely enough for me, with a 38" bust)
4 packages of white piping - about eight yards, in all.
1 yard of 2" wide velcro (you'll use some of this on the gorget, too)
Fabric Budget Busted? Some Tricks
-- Hit your thrift stores for used fake-leather jackets. Just make sure that what you buy will provide pieces large enough for your new pattern. Take your pattern pieces with you as you go a-hunting, and lay them out on the coat before you buy. Don't forget, you'll need to cut two of each pattern piece.
-- The same thrift-store trick can be done in looking for wool for the front panel. Look for long wool skirts, or coats.
-- Jo-Ann's often does sales and coupons like "50% off a single piece of fabric" so keep your eyes open for that. For my part, I haunt the discount fabric stores in San Francisco, and wait for their annual sales. I lucked out and got $16/yard pleather at nearly half off...
Sewing The Jacket
The construction was quite simple, with a couple of caveats.
-- I heartily recommend
investing in a "rolling foot" for your sewing machine before tackling
pleather. It's cheaper than fixing your machine when you've busted the
timing, or buying more pleather because it got stuck in your machine
and the seam went all wonky.
-- The arm seams in back will throw you off a bit. Despite the way the illustration looks, the seam of the sleeve does not precisely match up with the seam on the back. At least the pattern instructions made a point of mentioning that, lest you go mad trying to make them match. For a solution, I took the lazy way around of taking my assembled muslin sleeve, marking where I wanted the seam to be (you have to move it up about a half inch), cut the muslin and drew new pattern pieces from there. Don't forget to include your seam allowance!
-- As you assemble the jacket, you must
finish the lower edge before you add the front panel. I
forgot to do this, and it set me back quite a way - do-overs in
pleather are hard to arrange. Pay attention to the pattern's
-- Instead of buttons, I
laid down velcro to close the inside of the jacket, all along the outer
edge of the top panel, and a bit on the inside opposite corner, to make
putting it on a little easier. Be careful! You can machine sew the
velcro that goes on your inside panel, but you'll want to hand-sew the
upper layer of velcro just to the inside of the jacket facing, so that it
doesn't show through.
|The Gorget -
That's the Thing Around Her Neck
This thing has been keeping me up nights, I swear. let me save you one big headache: The collar is not a part of the gorget. The collar is the regular jacket collar. I went mad trying to figure out how to make a pleather facsimile gorget with a collar on it, until that back-view photo brought it home to me that the gorget is wrapped around the collar of the jacket.
Furthermore, a lot of digital jiggery-pokery was used in the film - Gwyneth Paltrow's dress was a totally different color than what you see - so I think some closure/rough details of the gorget were removed in post-production.
As of 4/2, I'm only just starting to put my item together, but here's what I've done and how I did it.
I made this in a distressingly mundane way. I took a great big circle of paper, cut out a hole in the middle that matched my collar size, cut a slit from the outer to the inner edge, put it around my neck, taped the slit shut and, standing in front of the mirror with a reference picture in front of me, drew a shape that I thought matched the gorget.
See that 'wedge' cut from the back? That is what will make the gorget lie flat once it's on. I determine the amount that had to be cut out simply by folding the paper circle around my neck, and making a note of where the folds were.
Assembling the Gorget (I recommend making a practice one, first. It's helped me so far!)
-- Make your paper pattern. Trace it onto buckram and cut out.
-- Cut two pieces of felt big enough for you to plunk your buckram onto. Glue the felt to the buckram. Be generous with the adhesive. Glue a second layer of felt on top of the first. Let it dry completely before moving on.
-- I tried a mockup with a single layer
of felt and, honestly, it was a bit flimsy. I tried again with two
layers of felt, and it was a lot better.
| At left is a
picture of the back of the gorget, once it has been covered with the
pleather. As you can see, a fair bit of clipping was required to make
Click on the picture for a larger view.
Straps To the Gorget
It's time consuming, but looks fab. You need a packet of rivets for jeans, and the handy little tool for setting them: see below:
I got these rivets and the
tool at Michael's Craft Store - and couldn't find hide nor hair of them
at either of my local JoAnn's , so be prepared to hunt around for them.
The rivets are $5 per pack, and if you're careful, you need exactly 24
(one package) for the gorget. So don't lose any!
|Once you've made
your straps by cutting buckram, covering it with felt (single layer)
and pleather, make sure the straps are narrow enough to fit your
buckles. For me, this was made easier by the fact that I was using
buckles from a pair of thrift-store shoes, so I measured the straps on
the shoes and used that as my guide for cutting the buckram and felt.
Riveting the gorget isn't too difficult, not does it require much strength - a couple of whacks from a rubber mallet sufficed for each rivet. However, you want to take your time and be very painstaking when determining where to set your rivets, lest they get all non-symmetrical. Us costume-wonks tend to be a bit perfectionist, I've noticed.
An attempt to describe how I mucked about
with measurements, bits of paper and the reference pictures in order to
rivet the gorget would bore you to tears. Suffice it to say that, after
mucking up one (too small) the second one came out fine (see pix, below
- when it's not far too late for me to be mucking about online, I'll
get better pix of the gorget up)
Patches on the Jacket And Cap
Tricky, but you've got options.
As per the strapping for the gorget, you can cut buckram, cover it in fabric, cover it in pleather and put a buckle on it.
Or you can hit the stores looking for something that's a close match. Given that it's fairly basic - looks like it's 3" wide, black plastic with a dull silver buckle - that might be possible and plausible. Heck, scavenge around at your local Tap Plastics and/or hardware store, and you might find a plastic that will work, although cutting a smooth, straight edge on it might be challenging.
Simplicity in itself. Jolie wore plain black spandex leggings under the jacket. I don't know about you, but I'm going to splurge on a full-body catsuit, because I'll need it for another costume I'm planning (Rebecca Fogg) and dual-duty is twice as nice! Besides, I need something between my torso and that jacket!
Unfortunately, we don't see many shots of the boots in the movie. I've got to go back to make a screen grab to be sure, but from what I remember, she wore knee-high black boots of a leather to match the jacket. There boots were flat or had only a very slight heel to them. There were two or three silver buckles up the outside of each boot, and the style of them was much like the belt buckle. As my budget is already cramped, I've found some thrift-store boots that are almost good enough - the heel's a little dressy - and, time permitting, I will kitbash some buckles onto them.
Jolie is wearing a garrison cap (aka 'flight cap' aka 'a very rude nickname that Johanna won't repeat here'). You can find flight caps at any military surplus store or wheedle a military friend of yours to pick one up for you. Try to get a woman's cap, if you can, not a guy's cap - they're different shapes in front.
Unfortunately, they don't come in black. A friend of mine managed to dye a khaki one black, and here what she said about it:
comment on this is that you might not want to put the cap in the drier,
but let it air-dry. If you must throw it in the dryer, put it on the
delicate setting, as polyester ain't too fond of hot dryers, either.
This is a work in progress. When I'm done, I will post pictures of the final ensemble. As of 4/2/05, the jacket is almost complete and I've just begun the final attempt at the gorget. I have a deadline of 4/17 to finish this outfit in order to have it ready in time for Costume Con at the end of the month (I'm losing a chunk of April to a vacation) so tune in after that date for the final pix and my thoughts!
|More of a
Conclusion Than the Prior One
Here it is! Don't mind the quality of the pix or the fact that it's hanging on a stand that's nowhere near my size. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view. I still have to kitbash my way through the back closure for the gorget - I'm starting to rather desperately envision strategically placed velcro all over the dam' place to keep it close to the garment, but I'm going to let these adhesive fumes clear from my head, first.
I'm already thinking in terms of a "second generation" jacket, just for the learning experience of it. I'm learning more about how to draft/tweak patterns, and I'm playing with something called a Bonfit Patterner (you can find 'em fairly cheap on ebay) which, in theory, allows one to draft patterns from scratch. In the case of the Belgian chef's jacket pattern, I'm more just hoping to tweak the commercial pattern for a better fit over the bust (sigh) and re-draft the armsyces for a tighter sleeve (thus necessitating the zipper mentioned, above). As I'm perennially broke, I'll no doubt stick to pleather for the construction, but you never know...
And finally... me in the costume!
Costume Con 23.
Click on thumbnail for larger view.
Thanks to LJer trystbat for this pic!
Click on the pic for a larger version
(notice that I've finished the gorget, finally)
Costume Con 23.
Again, click on thumbnail for larger view.
Thanks to LJer iamradar for this pic!
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