Happy New Year, Nerds! How were your holidays? Did you all see Rise of Skywalker? I did! And that’s all I’ll say on that because while I may be new to blogging I am not new to the internet…
Anyway! When I last left off, I had finished assembling two Republic-era Jedi Robes. One thing I underestimated was how much easier it is to sew when you’re doing so out in the open. My next project, making a tunic for my brother, was going to have to be done in secret.
Why secret? My brother is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for. If he wants it, he buys it. This means every Christmas, my entire family has to start getting really creative. Add to this the fact that we’re both living at home at the moment and there was absolutely nowhere for me to hide while I worked.
My mother pointed out that I could probably cut and sew the whole thing right in front of him without him noticing. I decided to try this out. So there I am cutting the pattern, when in walks my brother followed by his girlfriend, and I hear him utter the dreaded words:
“What are you working on?”
“A dress”, I reply, too quickly.
“Is this for the robe thing you’re doing?”, she asks me.
“No!” I basically shout. “It’s…uh….Satine’s dress. Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore!”
Two utterly blank expressions stare back at me. “Oh ok”, my brother finally says. “Good luck!”
Thank the Force neither of them have seen The Clone Wars because I cannot Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo 10 meters of light brown wool into this:
Fabric cut, it was now time to start sewing. For the pattern I used Simplicity 5840, which is the same kit I got the robe pattern from.
I was in for one challenge after another with the tunic that made the robes look really simple in comparison, not the least of which was the literal blood that went into the whole thing.
Challenge 1: Is the whole thing crooked?
Step one was to line up the shoulder seams and sew, but I couldn’t get them to line up without throwing off the rest of the seams. I was convinced I’d either cut the pattern or the fabric wrong, and with my deadline of December 19 looming ever closer, I threw the entire project in the car and drove up to my local Fabricland.
The lovely ladies there very gently explained that it was fine, I hadn’t done anything wrong, and that it would all adjust and line up as I went.
Challenge 2: The length
As I mentioned in my last post, adjustments had to be made to the hem length to accommodate height. But where I could measure the robe against my brother, I couldn’t do the same with the tunic. My solution was to add the same length to the tunic as I did for the robe, plus a couple of extra inches “just in case”.
Challenge 3: The fabric
The instructions call for a lightweight, linen-type fabric, so I did the obvious and bought brown wool because what difference could it possibly make?
Oh, my sweet summer child.
Granted, the fabric type didn’t really matter when it came to the shirt itself. As long as my brother didn’t overheat while wearing that and the robe it would be fine. The problems with the fabric started to show themselves with the tunic belt.
The belt is a large oval-ish panel that wraps around most of the waist once, and is brought back to the front by thinner bands of fabric attached to either end. This is assembled by sewing the edges of each band together then flipping it outside in to hide the raw edge.
Easy enough for thin lightweight linen. Not so much for wool.
I could have made the seam smaller, it’s true, but it wasn’t going to pass through either way so I just rolled with it.
As for the panel portion, that was a bit easier to stitch and flip the seam to the inside. For this part, I also gave myself too much of a seam allowance (instructions? me? apparently, I laugh in the face of instructions), but it worked out well enough.
Using a more flexible fabric, like linen, would probably have allowed me to sew most of the panel shut, leaving a small opening for everything to pass through. But that was not my reality. I made the bold and TOTALLY INTENTIONAL choice of leaving a smartphone sized opening on top of the panel so my brother would have somewhere to store his phone. This is what my brother, an industrial designer, told me is called a “design consideration”. Even, apparently, when it happens by mistake.
One design element that the pattern didn’t call for, and that I actually did do on purpose, is the part of the tunic I like the most.
Last Spring, for fun, I decided to teach myself how to read and write Aurebesh, one of the writing forms seen in Star Wars, during a particularly slow few days at work. Flash-forward to me finishing up the tunic, I wanted to add a little personal touch. One trip to the craft store, and one YouTube embroidery tutorial later, I had a scrap of fabric embroidered with my brother’s name in Aurebesh:
Once the tunic was done, it became a question of when to present him with it. The answer revealed itself when, during our Star Wars rewatch (Revenge of the Sith) he looked around at me and asked “any idea where I can get one of those shirts?”
As a matter of fact, I did.