Year finished: 2009
To Do: stretch upper parts of boots
Updates since last photo: n/a
Inspiration: portraits of Admiral Daala as well as the original uniforms of the movies
My first modern tailoring project. I have had some experience with 16thC tailoring (using canvas and horsehair and felt to shape and support a doublet) but this was to test modern fit and tailoring.
I had pulled apart a suit jacket some time ago to learn the shapes and layering of interfacings and linings and some of the seam placement. However as it was ready to wear I ignored a few areas of fitting problems such as the deep armscye.
The original movie uniforms used 20thC tailoring techniques used in military uniforms and civilian suits. What they did not have was a single example of a women’s garment. So I had to work out where to alter the seams to not just allow for the curves of a female body but also for what those alterations do to the stretch of seams and thus the surface and support of the garment. There is a single shot of a woman in a uniform heavily based on the originals in the prequels- to show the fastenings are on the same side for women as well as men. It is a close up so not much else can be determined.
The fabric is a viscose polyester mix and to counter this I lined it in a soft but smooth linen.
This was one of my costumes for the 501st. It is in retirement until I can comfortably wear the boots which are too large everywhere except the very top which has heavy stitching making it difficult to stretch. I will have to separate the two layers of leather and then stretch and hand sew back together.
I tested first in flannel as a fabric that had body but also conformed somewhat to shape. AN ideal fabric to test a garment designed for wool.
I then tested in a wool flannel that I had only as scraps.
I started with the breeches, these were then trimmed and shaped to keep the outside curve.
I used a duct tape double then a standard mannequin body to start testing fitting to a form vs fitting on the body.
Piecing and underlining:
Tunic body pieces with a soft knit fusible. Note it barely skins the seam allowances to reduce bulk in the seams.
Tunic skirting one half- latest (2014-ish) exhibition photos show an extra fitting dart towards the sides (so the middle of the widest panel) yay!!!!!, I might have enough fabric to fix this as it will help fit over the illiac crest more smoothly.
Sleeve heads- note the three rows for easing! This is super important and makes a vastly easier setting in of the sleeve to the armscye. Just one row more than is normally suggested in patterns, but it makes the fabric curve fare more smoothly.
This easing is essentially to create very fine gathers, so fine that they do not cause the fabric to pucker when sewn to the body. These also pull the fabric that would stick out away from the top of the shoulder in to a soft curve
Lots of pressing of seams from the inside, lots of hand basting and a very smooth very solid torso portion is created.
The shell was finally sewn up and seam allowances trimmed.
Facings for support and structure. Shell fabric lining for the front flap only. This is seen along the inside edge of the flap. The underlayer is simply lined in linen to reduce bulk. The hem also has a standard deep but shaped facing, with seams to match the shell- I was still fitting as I was sewing. This would be best as a single continuous curved piece.
Pattern over overlap laid on hair canvas, in line with the grain (the fabric is purchased with the bias already sticthced). This was mounted on felt but I removed it as it was not necessary.
Canvas tacked in place, note the regular widely spaced single thread zig zag basting.
The felt strip across the top of the shoulder seam is a standard in tailoring. Though it can be a tightly woven tape or a strip of hair canvas as well. Overlocking is not part of bespoke tailoring! However as I was taking so long to make this I needed a temporary support for raw edges. Shoulderpads. Note these cup the outside of the upper arm. Note the pocket flaps are not full pockets- at the time of making I did not have a satisfactory method of making invisible ockets. I now have fabric options to make this possible.
Lining and finishing. The lining I used is a linen-rayon mix to keep me cool. The linen fibre wick moisture away from the body. The lining was assembled by machine but set in by hand and machine where approprite.
The hat has the correct bias trim which is so obvious now but only picked up on thanks to photographs of a costume on display.
Flaps: Bias strip, one side underlined with fusing, one side plain:
Bias tape is sewn to the outside layer first: Then turned and folded over to the back and hand sewn.
Visor: Felt fused to one side of the cap, then the shells stitched around the outside curve and the seam allowances clipped back.
Seam allowances turned to one side of the felt and treated as the underside.
Rows of concentric stitches sewn following width of machine foot and edge of curve.
Body: One piece shell one piece lining. The shell was underlined in fused calico. Underlined pieces sewn first. flaps and visor pinned in place ready to be sewn.
Belt and Buckle:
Flat aluminium plate cut with a hand craft saw. Edges sanded smooth, test placement for the greeblie marked. Buckle curved by shaping with a rubber mallet on wood with a scrap of russet to protect the surface. Vegetanned leather dyed black.
References and modifications:
https://www.flickr.c…ith/3667713545/Star Wars- The Exhibition by Toromodel, 2009
These uniforms are actually well designed to allow for shaping for complex curves, this is due to the placement and shape of the seams as well as darts. Together these manipulate the fabric in to conforming to the shape of the human body as well as allowing the use of tailoring to change the appearance of the shape of the body.
It is important to note that these are tailored garments, not dress making garments. The aim is to shape to fit but retain the tailored effect which is to create an angular shape.
Upper tunic front showing collar and dart, and pockets.
I’ve mainly used the Angels auction for referencing the front of the tunic as it is the most clearly represented. Those underbust darts really help to fit curves not just from bust to waist but in the underarm to bust area. By using darts you affect the grain of fabric around this area which helps it stretch and smooth over complex curves. In order to fit the complex curves of a bust these darts really do need to be extended to allow them to affect the shape in the upper half of the torso.
There does appear to be a dart on the European tour uniform but it is extremely short (o the far left of the photo below, seen above the belt). Note how it follows the shallow fold. It is very difficult to see in the madrid photos, but it is there- you can see it alter the grain of the fabric.
The vertical curved seams can also be functional for shaping to fit but this is mainly on the outside panel rather than the central overlapping panel. This is one of the reasons I have not used the original seaming under the overlap because it doesn’t work as effectively over a complex curve. This is because the bust is soft and so will push and put stresses on the seams that will show through and even affect the hang of the canvas lined overlap.The pockets will be on a slightly different angle in the flat pattern pieces to have them sit perfectly horizontally when worn.
The princess seam is functional, not decorative- the direction of the fabric is altered when it is shaped over a convex curve. This is a vital adaptation at the test fitting stage. Leave the pockets out of an initial test and use a line to mark the level to make it easier to alter the main seams and then add in the pockets which will change angles as you pin and fit.
When cutting care will be needed and pressing vital to avoid the cut edge stretching.
The neck dart is vital to fit the flat fabric across the upper chest in to the neck. I am making a very shallow tuck. If you have a high ribcage this will still be very much needed.
Another thing to note is that Canon seems to have established that all uniforms fasten on the RHS. In reality uniforms, suits, sportswear tend to fasten right over left in women’s wear. However this is a modern idea and can be easily worked around when using modern patterns.
Back views showing well defined princess seams, straight side back seams and matching darts at the back skirt (they match with all the seams in the upper.)
The back is easy to adapt though just as tricky to fit as for men. Also because we do tend to come in further at the waist some of the proportions will be “off” a little. I found the best way to keep the balance of the panels was to make the back panel narrower. This way I could fit the princess seams and the extra side back seam (very straight in comparison) without making any one of them too small.
The lack of a centre back seam does make fitting a little tricky, the shoulder line and neck curve will change a little to compensate. But again this is an issue with the style- and is a general fitting issue.
The main care points here are balance of the fit of the sleeve. It just needs a bit of tweaking to get the balance of fit so the sleeves neither look too baggy nor too fitted.
Otherwise the curve of the two panels doesn’t need to change that much.
Again it is a balance of getting the right height to be in proportion. There are no seams in it so you need to take care with the curve.
There is usually a larger hip to waist ratio and so care needs to be taken in making most use of any darts and seams there are.
The skirts should sit right at the seat, due to the relative position and size of waists this can appear much longer than they are. So care with this is needed.
The European display shows what appears to be a dart that matches to the side seam of the torso:
Well not a huge amount of difference between these and previous understanding of the caps, but I did notice that the flaps have self bias trimming around them rather than being topstitched.
Along with the tunic and jodhpurs these would also have been sized to fit, though probably not custom.
And even in one scene there appears to be variation on actual size. I liked the fit of the very first cap in that post as it neither looks like his head is too big or too small for it.
I took my head circumference where the lower edge sits. The top is approx 2/3 the size of the bottom so that’s the proportion I used on my cap. I made the top a plain oval though as the slight peak happens naturally when it is worn. The visor sits to about 1.5-2cm from the ear so I took that as my visor width. The depth varies a little but I went for half the width of the cap depth and once made up it winds up a little larger due to all the fabric and interfacing. Then I made the flaps the same size and as wide as the non visored part of the cap as the back flap comes to that point or just short of it depending on the exact reference.
Due to the depth of the seat most of the shaping will be in the seat seam and the top of the side seams. Fastening is probably going to be the same. I will do a typical fly closure and probably on the same side as the original. If the tunic overlap follow masculine lines the the fly should as well.
I highly recommend using a plain sloper as a base pattern for this. Once you get the basic shape fitted you can then work on drawing in seam lines and then tweaking them. I also fitted my initial patterns with the overlap pinned just as seams. You could make it easier and put in a zip up the CF of the test pattern to take it on and off.
Due to the tight nature of riding boots it is best to follow tradition nad have the breeches cut off at the widest part of the calf. It is recommended to then sew a fitted stretchy extension with a stirrup at the bottom to help hold the breeches in place.
Free patterns to alter:
m-Sewing has lot of patterns in development, many are free to use. I have included patterns that are most easily able to be adapted, there are numerous sports coat style patterns but the seams are too far in to the side to be much use. Most of these have a traditional v neck/lapel combo but it does appear the patterns are all developed on the same block so it should be possible to alter based on other patterns listed here.
To print, open in Adobe Reader and you’ll get the option to print as a ‘poster” this will print the file over multiple pages. If I try and print from the Chrome in browser app I don’t get that option.
2 piece sleeves, darts for fitting- so seams can be modded in.
Neck ready for collar, 2 part sleeves, body seams need altering.
Good sleeve and princes seams, but collar needs major work.
Good sleeve and princes seams, but collar needs major work.
Princess seams to the shoulder! Two part sleeves, collar needs adjusting.
Yoke needs removing but the neckline would be almost ideal. Only a single piece sleeve.
Extra seams in front but adjustable, and collar needs major alteration. Two part sleeves included.
Yoke to remove, and back panel is shaped, but an option to work from.
Aside from shoulder yokes and decorative curved seams- this pattern is possibly the easiest to alter. Ignore the pockets and waist ties at the far right of the pattern.