Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Battle Plan, Post-Contact

Among military gamers (and serving military personnel, for all I know) there's a saying:  "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy."  This means, more or less, that no matter how good a plan is, real-world circumstances may reveal that it has so many problems as to be unworkable, or incapable of achieving the desired victory.

That's the sort of thing that's happened to my project for Historical Sew Fortnightly #20--Alternative Universe.  I planned to make a costume based upon the science fiction of M.A. Foster; specifically, a costume intended for "amorous dalliance" by a member of the constructed human subspecies featured in Foster's books called the ler.  This was to consist of a loose translucent blouse that tied at the hip and shoulder, and a long, flowing loincloth.  Because I saw the loincloth as the "easy" part of the project, and because I've been unusually busy at work, I figured I would wait to start until the loincloth fabric arrived.  

Well, the loincloth fabric didn't arrive from India ("Indian fabric") until a few days ago--shortly after the HSF #20 project deadline.  So any costume I make for Challenge #20 will be late (or will be forced into the "Re-do" Challenge or some other challenge).  

The fabric itself is great in some ways.  The color and motifs are exactly as pictured on the Etsy website of the vendor from whom I bought the fabric.  Unfortunately, the fabric, though very light, is not flowy; it's crisp and stiff--not at all what Foster's book depicts or the effect I wanted to achieve. It's possible that a few washings may soften it somewhat; I'm going to try that next.

But I have a bigger problem--the amount of fabric I have for the loincloth.  Because the price of this fabric was $12.00 USD a yard, I tried to economize by purchasing only two yards of the stuff. However, experimentation reveals that if I use the tuck-the-fabric under a belt in front and back method I planned, the loincloth will, at best, be knee length, not ankle or floor length as the book describes and as I wanted.   Grr.

The fabric is 44 inches wide.  I can cut it in half--into two 22-inch, two-yard long pieces--and sew them together, end to end.  This should be more than long enough for a tucked loincloth, but will be so narrow as to expose most of my thighs, which is also not an effect I intended.  Clearly, the economy I attempted to practice was a false one, because now I need to obtain MORE fabric to get the effect I originally visualized.  

But I still want to make the costume (especially since my husband really liked the glimpse he caught of me trying to tuck the too-short Indian fabric through my bead belt) so, poor economy or not, I'm going to proceed.  The question now is how, or whether, I can redesign the costume to get some use out of the fabric I already have--namely, the thin yellow jersey (jersey) and the Indian fabric.  These are the alternatives that occur to me: 

1.  Buy some plain sandwashed rayon fabric (2 1/2 yards at least) in a nice color (brown, say) for the loincloth and tuck a narrow panel of the Indian fabric over it, as an overlay.  Make the blouse from the jersey as originally planned.

2.  Give up on using the Indian fabric for the loincloth altogether.  Buy plain sandwashed rayon or something similar and use it for the loincloth; make the blouse from the jersey as planned.

3.  Buy some plain sandwashed rayon fabric in brown for the loincloth.  Make the blouse from alternating panels of the Indian fabric and the jersey.  Or (better) use the Indian fabric for the long, sash-like bottom piece of the blouse (the piece that ties at the waist), and make the rest of the blouse from the jersey.  

Right now I'm leaning toward alternative 3, but I will cheerfully listen to advice about how to proceed.  If you're at all interested in this costume idea of mine, please step up and let me know what you think in the comments.

EDIT (11/22/2014):  I took Beth S.'s advice (see Comments) and bought a yard of a soft, thin jersey to piece in to my fabric where it won't show (i.e., as the part that will actually touch my crotch). Now to do the actual washing and sewing.


  1. How about cutting your length of loincloth fabric in half perpendicular to the selvedge and adding an X inch panel of soft skin-toned fabric between the two halves. X being slightly less than the length of the crotch curve from front, down, and up to back measured from your favorite jeans. This would lengthen the skirt, put softer fabric where the loincloth could chafe, and might even give the illusion of indecency while leaving you covered. I say slightly less so the flesh-toned panel wouldn't show around the bead belt.
    Beth S

    1. Hi, Beth! That's an interesting idea; thanks. I'm not quite sure if that will give me the look I want, but it does have the advantage of preserving my original color scheme almost intact and being cheap to implement (assuming I can find a suitable colored and textured fabric, that is).

  2. Hi Cathy,

    Lovely site with lots of DIY sewing and costuming ideas--thank you and keep up the excellent work!

    I wanted to suggest another costuming resource that you and your readers may find helpful--specifically about Elizabethan costumes:

    Emma Rae Curtis | Costume SuperCenter