Friday, April 29, 2011

Ladies! Steaming up Your Summer Wardrobe

It is already too hot in Dallas, TX  for much of my Steampunk garb.  So I have begun working with ideas on how to make cooler, but Steamy options for summer wear.  Our ship’s Tinker and Navigator, Lady Charity Rose, had mentioned a shortcut that her Renaissance festival friends often use.  They make bloomers to wear under their skirts by buying men’s pajamas/lounge pants pre-sewn and then cut the pants to the desired length and add lace.   We shared this project idea in one of our costuming workshops, Steampunk Alchemy, at Oklahoma Steampunk Expo a few weeks ago, but I was anxious to try it myself.  The following tutorial will give you basics.

Now I have many years of sewing experience and even two years of fashion design school so I could easily make the entire garment instead of buying the pants sewn, but I wanted to test it out as a costuming idea for those less familiar with sewing or as often happens, when you just don’t have time to make the entire garment yourself.

First you need some suitable pants.  I got a very nice black and gray pair with pinstripe at Target for around $14 in the men’s lounge wear section.  My Steamsona  is a gypsy pirate so the I decided to add some details of red and black so this would mix and match with my existing pirate wear.  Once you have your pants, decide at what length you want them to be.  It helps to have another person mark this line with chalk so you trim them to the appropriate length.  Chalk also brushes off/washes off with ease so no permanent marks are left.  

Measure around the pants legs to determine how much lace you will need.  I wanted three layers of lace but one will certainly do.  If you want a drawstring, to snug the pants below or above the knee, you will need ribbon or some form of tie.  I had some leftover red ribbon from a previous project that worked great.  I also bought some pre-sewn fabric rosettes that can be removed.  

Making a pocket for a drawstring is optional.  I used the original hem edge for this so I only had to hem the top and sides.  Then I top- stitched this pocket onto the pants.  Be sure to leave it open on the sides or you will not be able to insert the lacing!  A word to beginners here, the print I chose was striped which will be hard for beginners to match up, so if you are wanting the stripes to match use a lot of pins before you sew.

 Now you can begin to attach the lace.  Start with the uppermost layer first.  As you add layers, flip the top layer up, pinning if necessary to avoid catching the layers of lace with the thread.  Once you are done sewing, trim the loose thread and insert the ribbon through the pocket using a safety pin.  Tie knots on the end of the ribbon so it won’t fray.

Finished first layer of lace.  They actually look nice enough to wear at this point, but I like black lace so I add more layers.

Now, ladies, you have bloomers to wear buy themselves or under a skirt.  These are light, thin cotton that will be very comfortable in Texas summers.  And they have huge pockets for storage.  

 Fair Winds and Following Seas to You, ~V. Adm. Radha Narasimhan

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