Part of this last school year’s projects was the Famous Person Project. It started with a conversation with his Language Arts teacher followed by a list of people he, with help from his teacher, had picked. Then we (he and I) narrowed it down to three. And at school it became one.
Over the course of the project they researched their person, made a presentation and a few other things. The very last part was the Famous Person Wax Museum, an at school event where the students dressed as the subject of their project and did a short speech.
As the title clearly hints at, my boy picked Leonardo Da Vinci. Costume-wise he really doesn’t realize what he is asking for. My mind begins spinning. First, first I need a pattern. There was a time when I was a regular at Ren Faires, so maybe I have something in the box of costume patterns. I go digging through that and find something that is perfect, an old Butterick Ren pattern. Wonderful, now I just need fabrics and trim. I read through to see how much is needed and considered my totes of fabric, and secondarily my bolts of fabric, then boxes of trim..
Fabric totes – there’s another stack or two behind this one…
I recall some not plain fabric I’ve picked up in the last year or so from thrift shops and pull that out, looking at how much yardage there is. I have munchkin come in and we talk about it since I know if he isn’t on board whatever gets made won’t be worn. As particular about clothing, even costumes, as I am, I totally get it. We go through the same process with the trim, this one found at the annual Quilt Shows back room garage sale where they sell fabric at $0.50 per pound. I pull together coordinating threads and the bolt of lining fabric for just that and put all this stuff in a project box so I have it all together.
Now that it is organized I can address the pattern itself. As I’ve gotten to the point over the years that I really don’t like cutting the originals, I pulled out my roll of transfer paper and set to do that. I call him in and take his measurements to see which of the sizes is closest for him.
As I’m unfolding the pattern sheets and looking for the pieces required, I come to the realization that this packet only contains the adult size patterns. Oh boy. I do a little bit of research to see if the child size is out there somewhere for purchase. I do find one copy for about $30 plus shipping. Then I think to look at the copyright date. 1998. Oh, that’s why. I also consider the calendar. It is a Thursday afternoon and he needs the costume the following Thursday. Yeah, even if I were willing to spend the money on the pattern – I’m not – it wouldn’t arrive in time for any progress to be made.
So I transfer the smallest size adult pieces to my transfer paper, taping pieces together where necessary. It is the top part of the doublet that needs the most adjustment. The bottom part, which is from the waist down, can be left at the original length. He stands there while I fold and tape into the right size, both front and back. The transfer and adjustment took most of the rest of Thursday evening. Then I started cutting the fabric out. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were sewing days, using a little workhorse of a vintage Singer, the 185J made in Canada.
Friday, after work, I begin sewing, and I go until I’m too tired to see straight and have to frog some seams.
As I’m getting the pieces assembled and considering them, I’m realizing the lining will absolutely be necessary. Since the fabric is essentially home decor fabric, I can, at least, skip dealing with interfacing. Stitching continues on Saturday. The lining is more challenging to cut and sew being what it is, but I get through quite a bit of that even with the afternoon work stoppage for our shift of kitty care at the local animal adoption center as well as fittings as pieces were put together. I am able to move on to the hand stitching of the trim. When my fingers tire I get the hat prepped. A quick basting stitch lets me pull the edges into gathers. I pin the trim into place and pick the feathers I want to use. Those get bundled and glue applied to the shafts to set them.
Sunday I continue on the trim and finish off the hat. I get him to try it on but he won’t leave it on long enough for a photo. Stinker.
Thursday arrives and off to school we go. He is so excited about his costume he puts it on early to show his teachers. I am able to stay through the Wax Museum event but then must head to work and conference calls and what not.
I’m super pleased with how it all turned out, and apparently he really likes the hat as he was still wearing it when I picked him up from school that afternoon.
And for the second part of the post title – The Sewing Stash – I did not need to buy a single thing for this project. Everything was pulled from my stash. I sometimes see posts around social media from people who say they only buy fabric when they have a project to work on. I work on things the other way around. I get the fabric and accessories first and see what ideas bloom, or in this case, what need arises. As noted earlier, the outer fabric and trim were bought at thrift shops/ garage sales. The bolt of lining fabric I got for free several years ago with a few other bolts via a Freecycle post. The feathers were from an old craft project. And I have many needles and lots of thread.
I’m not sure when or if he will ever wear this again, but once he grows out of it, I plan on donating to a local children’s theatre.
The images below show the project process.
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