Top to bottom: Trousers

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After two years of demon-haunted mayhem, the current campaign for my once-a-month LARP club is coming to an end. Come September, we’re kicking off an all-new sword-and-sorcery adventure, which means new characters, which means NEW KIT! My ambition for my new character was to make all of her costume (clothes, not counting equipment) myself, top to bottom …

Since I took up LARPing, the bottom half of my basic LARP outfit has been an increasingly disgusting and widely-patched pair of M&S black jeans, largely concealed by a tunic or surcoat at the top and greaves at the bottom. For the new character, whose jerkin is only hip-length and who doesn’t wear greaves (light-armoured fighters represent!) I needed something that I would be happy to have visible as part of the costume. And I’ve secretly wanted a pair of leather trousers for ages, so … 

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They hang bizarrely because leather doesn’t drape as such. After much agonising, I did use real leather, because there’s nothing else that does all the things leather does. Rather than buy new, though, I cut them out of a three-quarter-length burgundy leather coat that I scored for £6 off eBay. This is why the seamlines are so mad (the other reason they hang weirdly): the larger pattern pieces had to a) ignore grainline and b) go across existing seams in order to fit. You can tell which seams are mine because they haven’t been pressed properly. Or, y’know, at all.

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I quite like the visual effect, and it works with my concept for the character; I imagine that in-world she probably did cobble together most of her gear from other places (quite possibly from equipment looted from vanquished enemies, as is traditional in high fantasy.)

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The design is a Frankenpattern of a pattern hack: the waist-hip-crotch section is my back-yoke adaptation of the Thurlows, and the side insert, knee panel and lower leg are from MyImage 1253. I adapted the pattern to have a back knee panel as well, and cut those in dark red cotton interlock so as to have less bulk in the folds at the back of the knee when crouching. In the end there wasn’t quite enough space on the leather for all the other pieces, and so I cut the back calf piece out of the ponte as well, as well as the elasticated waistband. All the knit sections except the waistband are double-layered for warmth.

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The leather is gorgeously soft and cut beautifully – to the point it was a little disconcerting watching my rotary cutter glide through it; it was a salutary reminder that it will go through one’s fingers just as easily. The ponte came from Tia Knight Fabrics, and was also beautifully behaved.

The downside to the lovely smoothness of the leather’s right side was that it was absolute hell to sew without the top layer slipping away from the bottom layer. After a lot of cursing and a lot of seam-ripping, I stopped, had a think, and ended up sewing with one layer of paper between the leather and the presser foot, and another between the two layers of leather. There are still bits of paper caught in some of the seams. I suspect I’ll be picking them out for months.

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Once I’d figured it out, the rest of it sewed up remarkably quickly. I used a straight stitch for the leather-to-leather seams and a three-step zigzag for the leather-to-knit seams, to take advantage of what little stretch the leather had.

Like my first pair of M1253s, the lower leg on these came up long; the hem is a full 6cm deep. Otherwise they were spot on. As well as being hard-wearing and character-appropriate, they’re also surprisingly comfortable and really warm; so that’s four for four as far as the key attributes of good kit go. They’ve stood up happily to general wear around the house and to practice sparring; next step, actually taking them up the woods for the real thing …

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About Craft (Alchemy)

I make things and make things up.
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3 Responses to Top to bottom: Trousers

  1. Pingback: Top to bottom: Jerkin | Craft (Alchemy)

  2. Pingback: MyImage M1253 with red detail | Craft (Alchemy)

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