The White Devil

wd-title

So a while ago our intrepid party of adventurers destroyed a powerful necromancer’s secret Doom Lair, which was all well and good except it turned out that we’d also accidentally let loose his personal demon menagerie. Ah, Law of Unintended Consequences, we meet again.

This led to a long story arc about locating, tracking down and destroying each of the six arch-demons thus released, with the aid of the obligatory ancient apocalyptic prophecy. In a nod to the Book of Revelation the demons, like the Four Horsemen, each had their own particular domain and associated colour – red for war, brown for ill-fortune, green for corruption, purple for necromancy, and so forth.

The sixth of the pack was the demon of faith, and when the ref offered me my choice of demon lead roles I called dibs on this one, because I really like our game’s miracle system and also boss monsters are always fun. Then we decided that it should be in white.

We’d managed to scrounge up variously coloured cloaks for the other demons – your average LARP club owns a lot of robes/tunics/cloaks – but nobody had a white one, because white is a deeply impractical colour for a hobby that involves falling on your backside in the mud a lot. Which meant it was kit makin’ time!

I didn’t actually have any white fabric in, so broke my self-imposed fabric moratorium (I am officially out of storage space) with the excuse that it was for kit and would get used immediately. I went back to my old staple of cotton drill from Leeds market – at £5/m it doesn’t work out cheap if you need it in big quantities, but it’s really good quality, it’s 60″ wide and is hardwearing enough to cope with outdoor adventure and combat. It also cuts, presses and sews up like a dream.

A lot of the below photos have been colour-adjusted to a more or less successful degree. It turns out that taking half-decent detail shots of white fabric is really hard.

The cloak

“And she that wore it was called Faith; and the Void was with her …”

The cloak is a simple semicircle cut from a single length of 150cm fabric, with a semicircle removed for the neck. Then I roughly hemmed it and added a simple neckline facing as it has no hood and the neck edge is always under a lot of strain. I may tack it down – it’s understitched and topstitched but still climbs out if you don’t put the cloak on carefully.

Cutting it from a single length of fabric conveniently means that the edges where the cloak closes at the front fall along the selvage. I could probably have got away without hemming them, but turned them under just so the fluffy edge wasn’t visible. Here it is on the hanger (with the Lord Byron blouse underneath – I was testing possible underlayers):

wd-clasp-and-cloak

Some of the stitching is in grey because there’s really no call for a white LARP cloak, and now that the adventure is over it’s going home with its original commissioner (I … may have commandeered it for my own purposes after agreeing to make it) to be dyed grey.

The dress

“I call upon the powers of the illimitable Void!”

Now this is where it gets interesting …

Nuts and bolts first: the bodice is my old workhorse V8772 (versions 1-4, version 5), without sleeves and converted from being front-opening to back-opening. I traced off new copies of the front and back bodice pieces, took off the seam allowance and placket section from the front, and cut it on the fold. Conversely, I added an inch and a half to centre back to become the plackets and cut it as two pieces.

A note for anyone thinking to replicate the design: remember, because this is fake-corseted, you are not aiming to have the plackets overlap as they would for a button fastening. The CB line is actually the gap between the two pieces, with the placket folding back from it – make sure you take this into account when redrafting your back piece, and mark CB on the new piece.

I interfaced the whole five-centimetre width of the placket section, then folded twice, so the placket works out at three layers of self and two of interfacing. They are stiff and heavy, which was what I wanted – I didn’t want to tear huge holes when I was setting the eyelets – but it also made setting the eyelets a pain. Getting them in line proved basically impossible. I ended up borrowing a ginormous hole-puncher from work to make some of the holes and doing the remainder with a penknife and several differently-sized pairs of scissors. Setting the eyelets themselves was a matter of a solid table and a lot of hammering. I hope the neighbours didn’t mind …

wd-eyelets

The dress is laced all the way down the back – so about four feet – and used fifty-two eyelets and at least two metres of ribbon. It’s strictly decorative: the back of the dress is sewn together so it’ll hold even if the ribbon is removed (I did not want to take the risk of tearing the ribbon, or losing an eyelet, and having the whole dress disintegrate). The only eyelets that actually function as fastenings are the top two, which when unlaced give me the wiggle room to pull the dress on over my head.

V8772 has a collar. This doesn’t. I quite liked the boxy neckline that I got from simply omitting the collar pieces, so faced the neckline, put in a couple of tiny darts to get it to lie flatter, and left it at that. With a long-sleeved top underneath it it acquires a certain pinafore-y air, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

wd-neckline

“But wait”, you cry, “V8772 has darts, and this clearly has bodice panels!”

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(The neckline is on the left and the right-hand armhole on the bottom left.)

No, I haven’t been performing the feats of pattern-fu necessary to convert the one into the other – although, having made up this version of the bodice, I do really like the squared-off seamlines and am thinking that a colour-blocked version could be very swish (perhaps like this Burda jacket?) What we have here is trickery:

wd-bust-tucks

The darts are joined up with pintucks on the inside that create the illusion of real seamlines on the outside. I wanted to add some interest to a very plain design without being overly fancy – embellishment, especially, does not stand up well to falling over tree roots in the mud.

The skirt is treated similarly. The skirt is a single rectangular piece, darted at the back to give it some fullness over my rear, and with the darts hidden in another set of faux seamlines. The inspiration for the whole pintuck/faux seam idea, I should note, came from Catherine Daze’s extraordinary white V1073 dress, which has a lot of complex shaping concealed under a lot of complex pintucks.

Because of the shape of the bottom of V8772 there was originally a lot of bagginess at the front at hip level, which I solved by taking a massive slice out of the waist seam. It still ended up with a distinctive drop waist. I think it works, and adds a certain Classical flavour to the ensemble. (Am I thinking Classical? The other era that springs to mind is Twenties, and I don’t think this really screams “demonic flapper”. Too long, for one thing. I am a totally different shape, for another.)

wd-stylelines

The photo’s unfortunately blurry, but it’s one of very few I got that give a half-decent full-length view of the costume. You can see the low waist here, and also just about make out the lines where the bodice dart/tucks run down into the equivalent ones on the skirt.

This skirt is about as narrow as I am comfortable with LARP kit getting. After testing whether I could wear it as originally made and deciding that I wouldn’t be able to fight in it, I cut slits up either side of the skirt to the knee (just visible in the above picture) and finished them with more self bias tape, in the manner of a jumbo-sized sleeve placket. This was the last thing I did to the dress, the evening before I had to wear it. I was so glad to find I had just enough leftover bias tape from making the armhole bindings – I had not been looking forward to making more.

wd-bias-tape

I deliberately sewed the whole thing up with narrow seam allowances to give a few extra cm of wiggle room, and in particular in order to get it to fit over the rest of my LARP gear.

The detailing

“This is my realm! You have no power over me, Lord of Swords!”

The devil’s in the details, as they say.

The costume is quite deliberately long and all-covering – long skirt, worn over long sleeves, voluminous cloak – and only approximately fitted. Part of that is the practical need to be able to be warm, comfortable and agile in it whilst LARPing outdoors in Yorkshire in February. Another part is that I wanted the full visual effect of being in white from head to toe (especially striking as it was getting dark – it’s astonishing how bright the costume is in the photos from the day). Finally, this demon had been disguising itself as a priestess to better inveigle its way into people’s confidence, and I wanted to nod to the simple shape and plain colours of medieval European monastic dress. I debated covering my head as well, but upon experimentation decided it was more important to retain the little peripheral vision I have …

As well as the pintucks disguising construction lines, I also put in some extra ones that serve no purpose other than ornamentation. My in-game explanation (not that anyone asked) was that the demon was, after all, not a person wearing clothes per se: rather, it had manifested itself a body with all necessary accoutrements pretty much in one go, and as such some of the details were a little weird.

wd-pintucks

I don’t know if or when this will get another outing. The cloak won’t, at least not in this form – it’s going off to be dyed grey. The dress, however, is staying in my own kit stash and may well make a reappearance at some future date (though probably not on this villain, given that it was epically destroyed in a sort of matter-antimatter collision with an avatar of a god …) It might even work as a surcoat, to go over chainmail. Still, even if it has limited utility, I’m very glad I made it. It was fun, it let me try some new techniques and experiment with familiar ones, and I will treasure the look on the heroes’ faces when I stepped out from behind my tree in full costume.

And finally, a proper horror-movie-poster shot of me with a sword very nearly as tall as I am – the tip is only a few inches off the ground:

wd-sword

“You cannot hinder me! I am a GOD!”

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About Craft (Alchemy)

I make things and make things up.
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2 Responses to The White Devil

  1. Pingback: I put on my robe and wizard hat | Craft (Alchemy)

  2. Pingback: Rouge et noir | Craft (Alchemy)

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