Saturday, March 7, 2020

Avada Ke-jodhpur

I have loved the Holyhead Harpies for a long time--which is saying something, because sports aren't typically my jam. But an all-witch quidditch team really spoke to me, and on my first trip to  WWoHP several years ago a Harpies t-shirt was the only memorabilia I brought home. I've wanted to make a Harpies outfit for Halloween/our local sci-fi convention in past years, but since sports aren't really my jam I was having trouble getting behind a set of quidditch robes. They just look so...sporty. Not to mention I'd never be able to wear them when not doing a Harry Potter Thing.

Image result for holyhead harpies
HH illustrations by Emily Gravett from the upcoming illustrated edition of Quidditch Through the Ages

But then this fall, as my annual desire to make a Harpies uniform for Halloween re-emerged, I saw a string of Instagram posts by Emily of @sewingfrankly and Lauren of @thecosplayhistorian in which they wear adorable vintage Hogwarts uniforms and Yule Ball gowns. Which inspired me to think about vintage Holyhead Harpies--much more useful, and much more me!

yes, I am generally a ham, but the look of trepidation towards the quaffle is just naturally my face when a (sports)ball is involved.
I was even able to talk a friend into embarking on this silly project with me, so there were two of us! That's practically a team, right? Another friend happened to have a green and gold 1930s dress already, so she was dubbed our coach. I'm really pleased with the way these turned out, and running around the convention with a quaffle was a lot of fun.

suffice to say: shenanigans ensued.
 Unfortunately, hotel lighting is not the best for someday (hopefully) soon we'll do an outdoor shoot and then I can share details of the full outfit. But for today, I wanted to share a bit about my construction process of making the jodhpurs. It was...not a great process.

bubble butt, 30s style
When we decided to do vintage uniforms, I was most inspired by images like this, this, and this of early 1930s women in jodhpurs and sweaters--so that's what I set out to make. I couldn't find many patterns for vintage jodhpurs floating around the internet, but Butterick makes one (B6433) currently marketed as ideal for 20s lady detectives.

image from the Butterick pattern site of B6433. Hmmm, doesn't that ensemble look familiar? ;)
 The best thing about commercial patterns is that they tend to go on sale...and since I was shopping over Thanksgiving, I snagged both this pattern and the Simplicity retro pattern we used for the sweater for a dollar or two each. And once they arrived, I set to work!

After tracing the pattern off of the tissue, I made a mockup of the jodhpurs (without pockets) to check the fit. I ended up adding an inch to the hips, as they were a little tight on me, but otherwise things seemed fine and I moved on to cutting out my fabric: a lightweight wool houndstooth from the stash. Then I started construction--which is about when things started to go wrong.

It's been a lot of years since I used a "big 4" pattern, and I wanted to make sure I didn't cut corners. So I dutifully followed the instructions...or tried to. It turns out, the instructions were either not proofread, or everyone who tried them out ignored some bits, or they were all on a brain wavelength I was not accessing. Seriously, there were multiple steps where I either couldn't figure out what the instructions wanted at all, or after I did what the pattern described I realized that what was described was exactly backwards and I needed to do it again. UGH.

In an effort to understand what was happening, I spent a lot of time looking online for other people who had made this pattern and might have some advice to share. I couldn't find much, so I wanted to include as much detail as possible for the next person who gives this a try. (And on the flip side, if you've made this and know what I did wrong I'm happy to learn from the comments!)

So here we go!

Problem #1: The leg facing instructions end up with the wrong side out
I don't actually have a good solution to this, besides just sewing it in the other way. Each side of the ankle opening has a different facing: the self-facing and the facing.  On the self-facing side, the self-facing is basically an extra bit that is cut out as part of the pant leg, and should end up sewn wrong side to wrong side with the pant leg, so that it looks like a normal facing. This one is easy, although I am unclear why it needed to be cut as part of the pant piece and couldn't just be a normal facing.
On the facing side, the facing piece should basically hang out from the edge of the opening like a placket. When I followed the instructions, this worked...except that the wrong side of the fabric faced out. But knowing what it was supposed to be, I just ignored the instructions and sewed it the other way.

completed (corrected) facing from the inside

on the outside, this functions as a placket and goes underneath the other half of the opening (I sewed snaps on after this)

Problem #2: The front extension is never explained
After sitting with my friend and failing to figure out what the "front extension" was, I eventually was reduced to scream-crying in the kitchen while Mr. Plaid* attempted to make sense of it (no, he doesn't know anything about sewing). Eventually I thought I had it figured out--and then either I was wrong, or something about the pattern just doesn't work. Here's the pattern instruction for this step/this piece:

Notice how the extension is never shown in context of the rest of the garment? Yeah. That would have made this a lot easier! Basically where I landed is that the extension is sort of the waistband piece for the top of the back of the pocket. After attached the extension to the top of the pocket, the raw edge of the piece ends up inside the back facing when you turn under the edge of that piece and stitch it down. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures while I was doing this, but here's the piece in its final position (inside and outside). Again, this wasn't hard once I figured out what the instructions wanted me to do!

the front extension (with button hole and button) from the outside

and from the inside--notice the back waistband is folded over the raw edge of the extension before being sewn down

Problem #3: The dots don't work
The final step of construction is to sew the outside seams of the legs together from just below the knee (i.e., the top of the ankle opening) to mid-hip (i.e., the bottom of the waist opening). The pattern instructions say to match the dots on the pattern pieces and sew in between them. Except when I did this, I ended up with a front and back that were about an inch off from each other.

that super sexy pointy hip situation is a result of the fronts being longer than the backs

here's the difference when the pants are laid flat
Once more, an easy fix once I knew the problem! I ripped out the seams and re-stitched, this time matching the waists and pockets rather than the dots. Full disclosure on this one: the bottoms are a little off, so this wasn't a perfect solution. But since I never plan to wear these without boots, I'm not going to worry about it. (I think if I did want to fully fix it, I would need to re-hem the pants, correcting for the length in the hem.)

Bonus round: the pockets are also the closures
This one isn't actually a problem with the pattern, it's just really silly. The jodhpurs close with a series of buttons (mine are brown vintage Bakelite in two sizes) up the hips and at the overlapped edges of the waistband. Since this is also the location of the pockets, the pockets basically only work as pockets when the jodhpurs are fully buttoned--as soon as you unbutton them, anything inside is wont to fall out. Why??? Maybe it's period? But it seems ridiculous.

So while these jodhpurs almost killed me to make, they came out really cute in the end. I have a lot of this fabric left, so someday I'll hopefully make a matching jacket for bicycling and other "tweed" outings. But in the meantime, I look forward to further adventures on the only all-witch professional quidditch team in the league!

courtesy of Nerd Caliber