Alex's LARP coat

The Fire Elemental


Nel asked me to do this for her at a point when she felt unequal to the challenge.  I was happy to do this.  I love fun stuff like this!  She sent this LOOOOVERLY black velvet with just a hint of red to it when it catches the light, and two colours for the lining: there wasn't enough of the red, so she added in the green.  This will work, but it might be fun...


First off: the pattern!  This is an older Butterick pattern, no 6765, one size in the pack.  It has now been re-issued as a multi-sized pattern, no.6844. On taking it out and inspecting it, one can easily see that it's based very firmly on an 18th Century cut.  It's very like both the Redcoats pattern and the JP Ryan pattern used for the Town Crier project.

B6844.jpg (62229 bytes)  B6844.gif (26033 bytes)

After some minor alterations for length, the fist two major sections of the pattern were laid out on the lining.  I thought that as this is for a Fire Elemental, and the lining will show as he walks, it would be a good idea to cut the main front and back sections from the red lining fabric, leaving the sleeves and the side/back sections for the green fabric.  These two sections are very large, and didn't quite fit, which allowed for some jiggery-pokery with the stuff!


When I found that the pattern didn't quite fit on the fabric, a decision needed to be made about where to piece the pattern...

As the lining skirt might show in use, I decided to piece at the top rather than in the traditional hem area.  

lininglayout1.JPG (102803 bytes)  missingbits1.JPG (102004 bytes)  missingbits2.JPG (112881 bytes) Here you can see how much needs to be added into the front and back shoulders, and at the side above the waist.  Not a lot, but it is vital to ge it right...
addingbits1.JPG (93642 bytes)  addingbits3.JPG (113843 bytes)  addingbits2.JPG (87204 bytes) After cutting the pieces out, I used the off-cuts to add the missing areas back in, checking that I had plenty for the new seam allowances!

Once the pieces were pinned in place, I checked that they all lined up and fit the pattern...  It's nice when you can match stripes exactly on a job like this, but it certainly isn't essential in an area that will be so well hidden in use!  For this sort of lining piecing, it's more important to get the fabric grain line matching than the pattern.

addingbits4.JPG (83224 bytes)  addingbits5.JPG (96532 bytes)  addingbits6.JPG (113876 bytes)
It would have been so much easier if I hadn't needed to get the main sections out of the red lining...  There's a lot more of thid here greed and navy stripe! greenlininglayout.JPG (136497 bytes)  hemlength.JPG (121654 bytes) No joining of pieces needed here...  Just the usual bit added to the hem.
sparegreenlining.JPG (81982 bytes) The spare lining looked like a lot crumpled up on the end of the bench, and when I spread it out to fold it, I found there was more left than I had used! moreleft.JPG (99193 bytes)
Once I had the lining cut, I could spread the velvet out...  There are certain things you have to do with velvet, and the most important is make sure all the pattern pieces are the same way up!  The pile direction makes a big difference to velvet. velvetcut1.JPG (101998 bytes)  Traditional velvet like this (as opposed to something like a knitted velour or panne velvet, with a longer pile) is cut with the pile facing UP the cloth: this allows for a richer, darker look to the garment.  You can, naturally, cut it out whatever way you like, but do make sure all the pattern pieces are laid out the same way, or some panels of the garment will be darker than others because of the way the pile catches the light!
velvetcut2.JPG (98340 bytes) I put the velvet on the cutting table with the TOP towards the camera: that makes it easy to remember to place the pattern pieces all the same way up!

The fabric wasn't quite wide enough to cut both fronts out with it doubled, once the extra length had been added, so more than the usual number of pieces were cut on single fabric...  Note the ingenious use of cans of cat food as fabric weights!

velvetcut3.JPG (113010 bytes)
There wasn't a large enough piece left after cutting the two fronts to cut the side backs out doubled either, so they too needed to be laid out on a single layer. velvetcut6.JPG (113713 bytes) When you do this, you have to remember to cut mirror image pieces, so that you have a right and a left, as well as placing them both in the same direction on the fabric!

When the fabric is an odd shape after cutting lots of other bits out, it pays to have a second copy of some of the pattern pieces...  Note also the ingenious use of the lining as pattern in this instance!

velvetcut8.JPG (39455 bytes) Once everything was cut, there didn't seem to be much left!  Actually, the only bits of red lining left were mere inches square, so I just tossed them.  There's enough green to line a coat, and enough odd shapes chunks of velvet to make a corset or bodice for an Elizabethan project, and possibly for narrow sleeves...  But I must remember that the collar pattern is missing, and I'll need a bit for that!  I can send the odd shaped scraps off for the covered buttons. velvetcut9.JPG (77688 bytes)