Search

UncommonCate

Crafts and Art: Cloth, Paint, Leather, Food, and More…

Category

costume

Yucca Fiber Skirt

Yucca fiber processing is an ancient art. I first became interested in yucca fiber in my time at The Clovis Site (an important archaeological site on the high plains of New Mexico). People have used yucca for ages past in every form. From raw leaves, to finely spun yucca yarn, the leaves have been used in every form. The book Treading in the Past: Sandals of the Anasazi showcases many excellent examples of yucca fiber in all forms as used in sandals. Yucca is also used for cordage, bags, nets, and really anything fiber related.

yuccaskirt4yuccaskirt5

I start by chopping down a yucca plant. I happen to have access to narrow leaf yucca. All I use is an ax. The difficulty with yucca is the pointed tips, so I begin by gathering the leaves up, holding them up with one hand, leaving the base of the plant exposed. With the other hand, I chop the plant down as if it was a small tree.

After the yucca is cut, I peel the leaves away from the main body so that each leaf is separate.

yuccaskirt6yuccaskirt8

From here there are three options that I have heard of to liberate the fiber. One is to beat the leaf with a rock, stick, or hammer pulverizing the flesh and leaving the fiber. The next is to allow the leaves to soak in a bucket of water for several weeks until the flesh of the plant begins to rot off, and then scrape off the remnants of the flesh. The third is to boil the yucca in a pot of water for several hours until the flesh becomes soft, and then scrape the flesh off. The last method is my favorite. The first method is more manual labor, and I have a tendency to pound the leaves too much and damage the fiber. The second is all to easy to allow the yucca to rot too much, also damaging the fiber. But, I think that which way is best is a matter of personal taste.

After the fiber has been liberated, it’s nice to wash off any remaining flesh. The fibers will become a whitish color when clean. The longer the fibers are scraped and peeled apart, the finer they become. Dried yucca fibers will preserve for a long time, so it’s no hurry to used processed yucca fiber. To work the fibers into something, I first soak them in water until they become soft again. My skirt contains about one and a half narrow leaf yucca plants.

yuccaskirt3 yuccaskirt2

The skirt is made in two pieces. I think of it as two opposing aprons. To make the skirt I took a buckskin lace and folded a small bundle of fiber over the top, tying it in by weaving through the bundles at the top. I repeated this until the skirt was as wide as my hips. I then repeated this for the back. I then came back and added another layer of weaving a few inches down to hold the fibers together.

yuccaskirt1 yuccaskirt01

Jester Halloween Costume

DSCN3931_2DSCN3930

A jester’s costume is supposed to be eye catching, but it also has to be flexible in nature. That might be hanging out at a Halloween Party, or it might be doing handstands and back handsprings, or both. Whatever you’ll be doing should be kept in mind as you create anything that’s meant to be worn!

Durability, comfort, and (of course!) appearance are all factors that need to be considered. I chose a stretchy fabric, which is good for flexibility, but more difficult to sew, or at least require more patience. For women’s size 10-12, I used 1 yard of red, 1/2 yard orange, and 1 1/3 yards yellow fabric, costing about $15 (US). I should note that I used pretty cheap fabric because that’s what was available and affordable, but I always regret it because it breaks down so fast. This was just a Halloween costume, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I was sad when it started to tear apart around the seams.

Patterning always (I think anyway) starts with measuring. Just to keep my measurements organized and quick to refer to, I lettered them

A: Waist circumference = ________inches

B: Hip circumference (______inches) + 12 inches (for gathering) = ______inches

C: Skirt length (waist to end of skirt) = _______inches

D: B divided by 12 = ______inches

Skirtpattern.tiffskirtliningpattern.tiff

The skirt is made in twelve identical sections of alternating color. The pattern for these sections is a rectangle with a triangle on the end. I made a pattern of newspaper, then add on the triangle to one end. I added a half inch for seam allowance around all the edges. The skirt lining is exactly the same size and shape as the skirt, but I cut this piece out in two pieces instead of twelve because its a solid color and its less sewing if you use bigger pieces.

For the waist band, I made a rectangle is A inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide.

E: Neck circumference + breathing room = ______inches

F: Wrist circumference divided by four = ______inches

Picture of Pattern Making - Collar and Cuffscollar.tiff

The frilly part of the collar is six diamonds with the ends cut off. The neck band was cut at five inches wide, but got folded over in the end.

I used a pattern from another dress to make the basic shape of the bodice of this dress.

DSCN3813.JPGDSCN3820.JPG

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.instructables.com/FPP/JXUA/HNHW69UZ/FPPJXUAHNHW69UZ.LARGE.jpgDSCN3848.JPG

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.instructables.com/FXN/2ULN/HNHSDSKV/FXN2ULNHNHSDSKV.LARGE.jpgDSCN3849.JPG

I sewed the skirt outer pieces together along the long seams, adding one piece at a time until all were together. I then sewed this to the lining inside out. I turned it right side out and top stitched the lower edge to keep the edge creased in the right place. I then sewed the waist band to the skirt, because it was stretchy, I didn’t have to worry bout gathering the skirt.

DSCN3797.JPGhttps://i0.wp.com/cdn.instructables.com/FZA/223P/HNHSDSP6/FZA223PHNHSDSP6.LARGE.jpg

Next, I pieced together the bodice, and marked where I wanted the skirt to attach.

DSCN3853.JPGDSCN3861.JPGDSCN3866.JPGDSCN3869.JPGDSCN3917.JPG

I sewed the cuff and collar frills together inside out and then turned them. The cuffs have no band and just get sewn to themselves, but the collar was sewn to the neck band and closed with a snap.

DSCN3882.JPGDSCN3875.JPG

I liked the idea of small golden bells on the ends of the frills, but I didn’t like the idea of jingling as I walked, so I got a package of jingle bells, pried open one of the sides, removed the jingle inside, and closed the side again. I then sewed these on to the ends of the flaps.

Picture of Synthesis

I sewed the skirt to the bodice and put a zipper up the back. I also sewed on the collar.

DSCN3930 DSCN3931_2

Halloween fun!

 

Simple Buckskin Dress

hidedress13I have always wanted to be able to wear buckskin clothing. Buckskin is soft and fluffy, but also very durable. Buckskins have been worn as clothes and made into bags, shoes, and so much more for millennia. This dress is a very straight forward design, only requiring two deer hides (in fact, the dress is only two pieces). Luckily my hides were just big enough to get a dress out of. I was definitely on the edge of not having a large enough set of hides. Unless you have really big hides, any dress that will be larger than a size 8-10 would probably need at least one more hide (but more on that in the next step). All seams are laced together with buckskin lacing.

hidedress1hidedress3hidedress2hidedress4

I began with a dress. For a pattern, I used a fabric dress that I had made from an old scarf. Around the edges on the sides, I left about an inch for seam allowance. I left the necklines very high and cut them down to shape later. Something to remember when sewing buckskin is that there’s no need to leave a hem allowance because the edge won’t fray like fabric, although binding the edge can be a very nice touch. To cut the hides, I used a very sharp scissors that I keep for cutting fabric and leather.

Cutting and sewing buckskin is not like cutting and sewing fabric. Buckskin is very three dimensional and varies in thickness. This is all very important to keep in mind when cutting because if you cut your pieces out of the edges of a hide where it’s wavy and thin it will result in a final garment that is not as strong as it should be, is difficult to sew because of the thickness, and will not lay smoothly on the body. It is worth not squeezing every possible inch out of the hide and just using the good thick consistent part.

hidedress5hidedress6

The sides of this dress are laced. Lace is made but cutting a thin piece off an edge of a hide. In simple terms, lace is leather string. I used an awl to punch holes along the side of the dress and threaded the lace through. It’s just like sewing fabric, but on a much larger scale.

hidedress10hidedress9

To check the fit, I tried the dress on, cutting a slit in the neck line to fit my head through. I discover that the dress needed a dart in the front and the back on the arm holes because there was a loose wrinkle as the shoulders curve into the arms. I also cut the neck to shape. The lower edges that I had left rough at the bottom, I cut smooth. The back laces, to shape the back without making darts, are threaded though the side lacing. I considered darting the back to fit the curve of the lower back, but then the waist would have been too small for my shoulders to get through without adding an opening and buttons.

hidedress12hidedress11

hidedress16 hidedress15 hidedress14

“Buckskin is more than just a beautiful leather and an amazing clothing material, it is also part of the evolutionary history of the human species.” –Woniya Thibeault Buckskin Revolution

18th Century Stay (Reversible)

Picture of 18th Century Stay (Reversible)

The stay is supportive and versatile as a stand alone bodice or under a dress. I don’t know if reversibility is historically accurate, but as a modern woman I find it a nice feature, especially since stays are rather time consuming to make. I sewed this one by hand.

129.jpg114.jpg

A few words on the stay in general (feel free to skip): The stay was a staple garment in the wardrobe of a woman in the western world from the late 17th century right up until the early 20th century. I call this one an 18th century stay, but really the design was similar from the 17th century on. The stay was not worn as underwear per se, but rather over a shift (linen/cotton under-gown) which was the all-in-one women’s underwear. The stay was worn under nice dresses or as a bodice on its own (depending on time period and economic status) to provide support and to give shape. The stay is the equivalent of the modern day sports bra and lifting belt combined, providing support both in front and to the back. I am not quite clear on exact distinctions between a stay and a corset, but in my experience stays tend to have tabs at the bottom, no busk in front, and sometimes shoulder straps unlike most corsets. I am also given to understand that the stay has an English origin while the corset has more French influence. The first garment that truly resembles either of these was apparently first worn in early 16th century Spain and was simply wooden lathes held together by linen tape, so be it stay or corset, it has to be more comfortable than that.

120.jpg123.jpg

Picture of Tools and Patterns

Supplies:

  • I used less than a yard of each of my two fabrics and of the canvas interfacing.
  • All the usual sewing things: thread, needle, scissors, etc.
  • Boning: Store bought boning is hugely expensive (or at least I  think it is for what I get), so I used (and would recommend) plastic cable ties. The extra long cable ties found in the electrical department of the hardware store are almost identical to the imitation whalebone boning from the fabric stores. I got about 16 yards of cable tie (in 2 foot lengths) for the same price one yard of boning from the fabric store would have cost.
  • Wire cutters or strong scissors for cutting the cable tie
  • Ribbon or cord for lacing: I used about two yards for the back and two six inch pieces for the shoulder straps.

Pattern:

I based my stay off a Butterick pattern. My first stay was exactly off the pattern, but it was ill fitting and unwieldy because it was too thick, heavy, and it didn’t line up on my waist line which caused to pull in uncomfortably against my rib cage. For this one, I modified the pattern to line up with my waist, as well as a few other adjustments based off of some research. I found the books A History of Costume by Carl Kohler and Whatever Shall I Wear? by Mara Riley to be instructive. Also, this website was quite inspirational. Something that took me a while to figure out in my own mind was that the apex of the cuts that make the tabs is the waist line. The laces can only pull in the waist down to that point, and the tabs below this line open out to follow the natural widening on the hips below the waist line (more on this later).

Picture of Construction

12.jpg13.jpg

I cut one of each piece of the pattern from the main fabric (blue), the lining (red), and the canvas interfacing. After this I sewed the canvas to the main fabric, and then pieced the interfaced pieces together.

Picture of Channeling and Boning

The channels are formed by sewing the interfacing to the fabric. I sketched on the boning channels on the back of the interfacing with a pencil, and then ran a running stitch down each line to make a channel between the interfacing and main fabric. Boning channel placement was really somewhat arbitrary. The only stipulation based on historical examples is that the bones be within about forty-five degrees of vertical. Based on problems I had with my first stay, I made sure to extend the bones that extend into the tabs up past the top of the tabs. Otherwise they folded out, were uncomfortable and looked terrible.

At this point I cut the slits from the lower hem the the waist line to make the tab. I found it important to remember that the height the tabs are cut to becomes the waist line because the tabs make the bottom open out for the hips.

110.jpg111.jpg112.jpg113.jpg

To make bones, I cut off the tie part of the cable tie, leaving a square end. I then cut the corners off with a wire cutters and filed the end round. I then laid the bone on the channel I was filling with the rounded end lined up with the end of the channel, and made a mark on the tie in line with the other end of the channel. Following which I repeated the end rounding process, starting by cutting the tie on the mark I had just made to make a square end.

19.jpg

After both ends of the bone that was now the correct length were rounded, I inserted the bone in the channel.

I made sure to leave the bones in channels that touch the edge of the fabric about a quarter inch short for hemming allowance. I also made all the longest bones first so that I could use the excess from making these to bone the smaller channels.

Picture of Finishing and Lacing

After boning, I switched gears and made the lining (which for clarity is what I’m calling the reverse side). The lining is the exact same set of pieces, sewed together with the exact same seam allowance, so that the lining comes out the exact same size as the other piece (in theory, mine didn’t, but it was close enough that it worked fine with just a little trimming). The lining just lays right on the main piece and is connected by the hemming/binding on the edge.

116.jpg

I think traditionally the edges of stays were bound with quarter inch binding, but in pursuit of reversibility with two very different colors, I folded the edges under and whip stitched the edge to finish. I like it because its inconspicuous and binds the edges strongly.

I used a leather hole punch to cut the lace holes along the back. The holes start at the top of the back and continue down the waist line at about one and half inch intervals except the last one which was at about a half inch. I don’t particularly like metal eyelets for things like this, but they are an alternative to hand finishing the eyelets like I did. Note: The waist line is also the top of the tap slits and the lace holes need to end here so that the back tabs don’t pull together too much. It took me a while to realize this.

127.jpg

It was at this point that I also attached the shoulders, which I made long on purpose so that I could fit the length now when rest was more or less finished. I laced myself in and found the right length, cutting two holes here in the shoulder strap and two matching holes in the shoulder strap attachment place on the top of the front. A short section of ribbon threads through the holes holding the strap on.

From what I’ve seen of historical examples, its more historically correct to lace in a zig-zag rather than a criss-cross pattern, but I prefer the standard modern criss-cross because it make the lacing pull in evenly. They are also laced in almost all historical examples from the bottom to the top.

125.jpg

Front lacing stays are infinitely easier to get yourself in and out than back lacing stay, but it is possible to get yourself in and out of a back lacing stay. It takes me about ten minutes to get in on my own, but if you have a buddy (or in the old days a servant) to help, it takes much less time. To get in on your own it helps to lace the stay about one third or one half way up with the shoulder straps untied, and then pull it on backwards. From here you can finish lacing it in the front and then turn the stay the right way round, holding on to the lace ends and continuing to tighten with the stay the right way round. If I’m on my own and can’t get the lace tied at top I pull the lace down and around under my arms and tie it in front, tucking the lace under the edge of the top of the stay. Then I retie the shoulder straps. You can fully lace the stay first and pull it on the right way round, but this requires a very long lace to make it wide enough to get over your shoulders or hips. I tried this and it took me about six and a half yards of lace to squeeze in fully laced, as opposed to the two yards pictured. Two yards leaves quite enough extra to tuck in at the end, six yards was down to the floor when I was fully laced in.

123.jpg120.jpg

The rest is really up to personal taste or exact historic time period representation.

 

Leather Belt Bag

quiver41quiver44

quiver38This lovely little bag was made to match the Leather Quiver from last post. It functions as either a belt bag or as a quiver bag. It was made to be a quiver bag for the most part, but I have found myself wearing it as a trendy little purse alternative instead. At about six by six inches, it is perfect for a cell phone and wallet.

quiver29quiver30

 

It began as six pieces. The front, the back (identical to the back), the closure flap (identical to the front and back except slightly shorter), the belt loops, and the sides and bottom strip. I began by sewing the belt loops to the back panel (saddle stitch as usual).

quiver31Next, I attached the closure flap to the back panel. The belt loop tops are sewn into the same seam as the closure flap.

quiver32quiver33

The front and back panels were sewn to the sides and bottom strip inside out. I then turned the bag, hiding the seam and creating a more rounded look.

quiver37quiver36quiver35quiver34

A button loop and antler button finish off the bag.

     quiver39 quiver40 quiver42 The bag can now be worn at the belt or it can be attached to the quiver by a small strap. The strap is narrow enough to fit under the side lace of the quiver to hold it securely in place. I considered using a small buckle on the strap, but I decided to go low tech. As an adjustable buckle alternative, I punched holes along the strap and then used a piece of lace to tie through the holes, holding the strap at the proper length.

quiver47quiver45

Leather Quiver

quiver01quiver02

quiver03quiver04

I tried to make this quiver versatile for use in different environments. The top angle is meant to shed rain and natural forest debris as well as to protect the fletchings from general wear and tear. Since having the arrows totally covered is not as convenient when actually shooting, I decided to design for the top to be folded down for easier access when shooting. On a similar train of thought, I like to carrying a back quiver, but shooting from a belt quiver. So, I made sure to make straps that allow the quiver to be switched from one type of carry to the other quickly and easily.

quiver2

A plan was, as always, the first step. Dimensions were next. My arrows are around 28 inches, so I made the apex of the top 30 inches to completely cover the arrows. The circumference of the bottom is about 10 inches.

quiver1

I sketched out a cutting pattern on some big paper. The leather is oil tanned cow hide, which has a really nice color and texture.

quiver3quiver7

quiver5quiver6

quiver8quiver9

For decoration I decided to applique a pattern on the outer surface. It is in no way functional, but I think it looks cool and adds some dimensionality. I cut out the decorative applique from the scraps around the edges. Because this is a repetitive pattern, I made a pattern for each of the five types pieces with the stitches marked so that they would all look the same.  After laying out the pattern on the main quiver piece, I lightly marked where each piece went and labeled each place and piece with a corresponding letter to ensure that each piece ended up where it was meant to be. Each piece was then saddle stitched down.

quiver10quiver21

To close the sides, I punched a matching line holes along each edges and then laced the side up, tying the lace off at the top on the inside.

quiver13quiver11

quiver12quiver14

The bottom is a slightly squared oval. I made a paper model first, and then trimmed it down until it matched the bottom of the quiver. I then cut a leather version. The edge is once again held together with a saddle stitch. The sure up the side closure, I made sure to catch the end of the side lace in the seam at the bottom.

quiver15 quiver16 quiver17 quiver18

The straps are one inch wide with a buckle to allow the length to be adjusted and clips on the ends to allow the strap to be remove easily. The clips strap attachments are a quarter inch narrower than strap, so the strap is tapered in to accommodate this. A small loop, about 6 inches around, is attached to the top clip of the shoulder strap. This is used to suspend the quiver from a belt. 

quiver24 quiver25 quiver26 quiver27 

To make the quiver shorter for shooting ease, the top shoulder strap clip is un-clipped, the top is folded down, the D-ring to which the shoulder strap clips is passed through a slit in the quiver top, and finally the clip is re-clipped creating a whole different style. Either style can be carried at the back or the belt.

quiver03quiver04quiver01 quiver02 

Matching belt bag coming soon…   

Upcycled Sweater Shoes

Sweater Boots10

Lovely warm and soft, these shoes (or perhaps slippers) began as an accidentally shrunken wool sweater. These poor, shrunken, often high quality wool sweaters end up in thrift and consignment stores on a regular basis. They also tend to cost next to nothing, so all in all they make perfect material candidates for any felt related project. These shoes are a quick and fairly simple project that I learned at the skills gathering Echoes in Time.

I began with two wool sweaters that had been washed in a washing machine until they were fully felted. Both were good and thick which makes for a warmer and more durable material.

Sweater Boots1 Sweater Boots2

The Pattern: The mid-sole is simply a tracing of a foot. The front upper is made by laying a piece of paper over the foot and tracing around the edges. I cut the sole out of the slightly thicker of the two sweaters because the sole gets more wear, and then flipped the pattern over and cut out the other sole. It’s important to remember to flip the pattern over when cutting out a left and right of anything. I forget and end up with two of the same side sometimes, which is always ridiculous.

Sweater Boots3 Sweater Boots4 Sweater Boots5

So to begin, I think its best to begin at the toe and work around to one side, then return and start at the toe again and work to the other side. Otherwise, if something shifts along the way, the toe of the upper may not line up with the toe of the shoe, making the shape distinctly unlike a foot and therefore uncomfortable to wear. I like to use a saddle stitch for strength and stability.

Sweater Boots6 Sweater Boots7 Sweater Boots8 Sweater Boots9

The back is a rectangle. I cut the rectangle a little long and a bit wide because its easy to trim it down to the right size at the end. I sewed the back on, starting at the middle of the heel and then working to the side. When I arrived at the front upper, I sewed the back upper to the sides of the front upper, and repeated the process on the other side. I then trimmed the excess and folded down the top of the back upper.

Sweater Boots10

To make the shoes more durable, I added an oak tanned cowhide out-sole.

“No other garment fits form to function as exactly as footwear” – D. A. Saguto The Art of the Shoemaker

Ulltuna Helmet (Viking Helm)

Picture of Ulltuna Helmet (Viking Helm)

I made this helmet just because Vikings and their earlier ancestors are fascinating people, and it seemed like a fun project. It’s great for reenacting, renaissance fairs, or accidentally scaring the neighbors while taking a photo shoot. This style of helmet is nice because it doesn’t require large pieces of leather or pieces or leather of uniform thickness, so it can be made from scraps. The mask that covers the lower face is also completely removable for a different look. This is one of my favorite costumes.

helm47.jpg

This style of helm dates from 6th to 8th century Sweden. It evolved into the Spangenhelm in later centuries. The surviving historical examples seem to be made of metal, but it doesn’t seem unlikely that leather ones also could have existed particularly among poorer and less skilled people. I first discovered this helmet type through the website of a re-enacting group called The Ravens Warband.

Materials: Scrap leather (vegetable tanned cowhide preferred) between 5 and 10 oz weight.

Tools: razor knife, leather hole punch, ruler, bristol board or card stock for patterning, edge beveler, leather lacing or a leather lace cutter, large pot of boiling water for hardening, tongs or similar (also for the hardening process).

helm6.jpghelm4.jpg

I first made a pattern from thin card stock.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.instructables.com/F0L/BVIO/HWS3JU4A/F0LBVIOHWS3JU4A.LARGE.jpghelm8.jpg

The two most important parts of the helmet are the crest band and the brow band. The brow band is the part that wraps around the head, passing over the tops of the ears and the forehead. The crest band goes over the top of the head, connecting the to the brow band in the front and back and also extends down below the brow band in front to make the nose guard. My final helmet has an inner and outer brow band and crest band, hiding the ends of the woven pieces and the laces between the inner and outer. The outer bands will need to be about an inch longer than the inner bands to account for the thickness of the leather in between them. The remainder of the helmet consists of a basket weave of leather strips.

In my helmet, the crest and brow bands are both 1 3/4 inches wide, and the woven straps are one inch wide.

The pattern fit quite loosely because the hardening process will shrink the helmet by about ten percent. The paper mock-up felt huge, but it ended up almost perfect in the end. I used six 1-inch wide straps on each side to make the woven portion. I evenly spaced all ends along crest and brow bands. It took me a while to work out the right pattern. I numbered the woven straps and their places on the brow and crest bands will help to stay organized when putting it back together in leather. I took the pattern back apart to trace on to the leather. It was hard to take it apart after putting so much work into putting it together.

helm12.jpghelm10.jpg

I used the thickest leather I could find for the crest and the brow to maintain the structure as best as possible. One of the crest bands included the extra 2 or 3ish inches for the nose guard.

I cut two of each of the weave pieces. Cutting both the leather pieces off the same pattern kept the woven portions more symmetrical. I almost forgot to flip the pattern over when cutting the second set, which would have left me with two of the same side.

Picture of Weaving

I laced the ends of the brow band together so that it forms a circle, and then attached the crest band on opposite sides of the brow band so that it formed a half circle (see picture). For the visible portions of the helmet, I put the grain side (smooth side) out for a better appearance.

helm14.jpg

After that, I punched six holes evenly spaced on each side of the crest band, and in the end of each weaving piece. Then I laced them on to the crest matching the hole in the end to the corresponding hole in the crest band.

helm18.jpg

I repeated the process with the brow band and other ends of the weavers.

helm21.jpghelm22.jpg

To tighten the whole thing up, I decided to punch holes in each intersection in the woven areas and run a lace around the helmet going through each hole. This makes a sort of thin inner net that becomes part of the woven areas, but I were to make this helmet again, I wouldn’t do this step. In the hardening process, the thin exposed lacing spanning the holes in the weaving became very brittle because it hardens so much faster than the thicker leather in the rest of the helmet.

Picture of Outer Bands and Neck and Cheek Guards

I laced the brow band in the front, and the crest band over it, leaving the nose guard sticking down below the brow band.

helm39.jpg

Next, I cut five neck guard rectangles, approximately 1 1/2 by 6 inches, and cheek guards, approximately 6 by 3-4 inches.

https://i1.wp.com/cdn.instructables.com/F20/UE0V/HWS3JV3B/F20UE0VHWS3JV3B.LARGE.jpghelm40.jpg

I cut tabs of corresponding width to each neck and cheek guards, and then laced them into the bottom edge of the brow band. By hardening the helmet separately and lacing on the the guards later, the unhardened laces act as hinge so the guards can move freely. The cheek guard tabs have an extra hole in the front to attach the mask later on.

Picture of Touching Uphelm37.jpg

Beveling the edges (basically rounding the edges) made the overall appearance a lot cleaner. It tricks the eye into missing the smaller imperfections. Burnishing the edges a little bit smooths things out as well.

Picture of Hardeninghelm43.jpg

Hardening makes the leather very stiff and a little brittle. It also darkening the leather. For an even darker color, a little tea in the water will dye it quite nicely. I didn’t dye this helmet, but I did dye some arm guards I had made previously to match the helmet by soaking them in some cooled Earl Grey tea. When hardening, I think it’s better to err on the side of too soft because leather can always be re-hardened, but if it gets over cooked it can become far too brittle and structurally weak.

I began by wetting the the leather until it was thoroughly soaked through. This helps it to shrink less in the hardening process. I boiled enough water to cover the helmet. When the water was boiling, I dipped the helmet in using a pair of tongs, and held it in the water for somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds.

It shrank slightly and pulled out of shape. While it was still hot, I re-shaped the helmet by pulling it into the proper shape, and when it was cool enough, I put it on my head. (No pictures for this part because I didn’t have enough hands for the camera). Wet leather shapes very easily, so it wasn’t too hard to bring back to the right shape. I’ve had a couple of the thinner bands crack a little, but luckily they didn’t crack all the way through and are not really visible.

I repeated the hardening process for each of the neck and cheek guards as well as the face guard. The bottom of the neck guards curve out to accommodate the outward curve of the shoulders.

Picture of Attaching the Guardshelm59.jpg

The neck guards and cheek guards laced onto the corresponding tabs.
Picture of Think About a Hat

I later knitted a nice little wool hat cushions the inside of the helmet, and fills in any left over space. It also allows air to circulate under the brow band. The wool hat makes all the difference it the world when wearing the helmet.

Picture of Wear It!

helm48.jpghelm49.jpghelm54.jpg

All the hard work paid off in the end. This helmet is both scary and awesome (I think so anyway). It’s also all the more awesome for being completely hand made. It’s very satisfying to say “I made it” when someone asks where I bought it.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑