To begin the construction of the final jerkin I had to cut all the pattern pieces out of the top fabric (wool) and the lining fabric. To each of these pattern pieces I also had to add seam allowances of an inch. This meant I had to measure an inch round every piece on both fabrics.
Once all of the pattern pieces had been cut out of the material the construction could begin. Joining all of the wooden pattern pieces together was a fairly straight forward task due to the experience that I already had from previous studies. All of the seams literally had to be joined using simple straight stick, pretty standard. To complete this I pinned and tacked all of the pieces together then sewed them along the seam allowance line.
When moving onto sewing the lining together, it began to get a little more complicated. I begun by sewing the 3 top pieces together the same way as I did with the wool. I then had to sew the 3 skirt panels together separately as well.
The next step was to attach the lining to the top fabric. I did this using both the sewing machines and hand stitching. I found it very difficult to attach the armholes to the lining as it required a lot of awkward sewing and twisting and turning of the fabric. I am, however, pleased with the finish on the arm holes. It was important to remember to snip the seams between the wool and the lining in order to get a sharp seam when the garment is worn.
The last step of constructing my medieval jerkin was to add in a fastening. The historical fastenings for this garment were made up of 4 eyelets and string. There were 2 eyelids on either side of the garments opening. To do this we made holes in the material and then used a button hole stitch to make sure they maintained their shape, and didn’t fray.
The next step in creating our medieval jerkins, was to cut materials using our pattern pieces. For fitting purposes we decided to make a toile first. This means constructing the garment using cheaper materials, such as calico, in order to check it fits the model correctly. I personally was thankful for the decision to do this, as I have never been very good at fitting garments to models.
To create our toile we cut each pattern piece out in calico and tacked it together making sure to match all the seems. By doing this I was able to iron out all the fitting issues that I had. I put the toile onto my model inside out, this allowed me to get at the seems easily. The toile highlighted the fact that my skirt wasn’t quite right. It was not flared enough to fit in with the time period. I had to alter this by cutting slits and filling them with more material.
Another element of the garment that needed attention was the arm holes. We pattern cut our arm holes to the basic block, therefore the shape was not accurate to a jerkin. To rectify this I had to shorten the width of the arm holes and increase the length. This meant that the shoulder seem ended in the correct place and allowed for increased movement within the garment.
The alterations that I made to the toile then had to be translated into the pattern. I had to re lay each of the pieces onto my pattern and use carbon paper to draw on the new lines. I found this process a little stressful and confusing, as it was really important for each side of the pattern to match.
Toile | side view | back view | front view
Now that the pattern has been modified and completed I can begin to cut out the material intended for the jerkin.
Another skill that we are being introduced to through this course is the art of pattern cutting. Our first task is to create a medieval Jerkin (waistcoat) to fit a member of the class. This garment happens to be in keeping with our current project.
To begin the process we paired off and took measurements of our partners. These measurements, then allowed us to draw out a basic mens block onto pattern paper. The reason we drew a mens block, regardless of the gender of our model, is the fact that a jerkin is a mens garment. This fact is important to remember in the theatre world, as actors and actresses often have to play the opposite gender.
After drawing our basic blocks, we needed to adapt them into the shape accurate to the jerkin. This involved us cutting along the waist line on both the front and the back. The reason for this is that a jerkin has an almost flared skirt section that extends from the waist. We also extended the arm holes to allow ease of movement, and moved the shoulder seems slightly.
The section of the pattern pieces from the waist down were used to create the skirt. We cut them into sections which we then flared out and traced to create the skirt. The skirt was to be as long or as short as we liked, and as full or as straight as we liked. This allows us to create garments that are better suited for our models.