Dressing Merry Men




Fall is finally here!  I love this time of year.  The weather is just perfect for me.  I love tall boots and scarves.  I think the leaves changing colors is gorgeous.  This is also one of my busiest sewing times of the year.  In the fall, my husband and I go to the Ohio Renaissance Festival with our friends and we host a Halloween Murder Mystery party. This means I pretty much spend September and  October frantically sewing costumes for everyone because no matter how early I decide what to sew I leave it until the last minute to start.  This September was no different!

After going to the renaissance festival last year my nephew decided we all needed to dress up as characters from Robin Hood.  Of course he wanted to be Robin Hood.  He decided his dad would be Little John.  We looked at a lot of past versions of the Little John character, before deciding on the Kevin Durand interpretation from the 2010 Robin Hood movie.


My most important rule when developing a costume idea and picking out the fabrics is making sure they have varying textures that provide a depth and a more everyday renaissance clothing and not just a costume.  This means I stay away from super bright colors that were not authentic to the period.  I do use synthetic fibers that give me the look of natural fibers. They also tend to be a little more cost effective.  For  the pants, I used Butterick 4574 and picked 3 yards of Brown Bull Denim for it.  This is one of my go to fabrics for pants costuming because of the great twill weave and variety of colors available. For the cowl, I redrafted Simplicity 9887 to be a short cowl and used 1 yard of Natural Midweight Linen, which gives a great contrast. For the tunic, I used Simplicity 4059 with 3 yards of Brown Lightweight Snakeskin Designer Pleather.  I redrafted everything about this pattern and added a sleeve to match it to my costume inspiration piece.  The combination of these three fabrics provides visual interest and depth to the costume.


One of the main details from the inspiration costume I wanted to incorporate was the angled lines that all meet at the waist.  To do this I chalked lines onto the right side of each piece.  I kept mine 4″ apart, and I made sure to keep the same angles for each piece. I then cut 45 – 1″ strips.  I ended up using about 40 of them in the end.


I placed one stripe face to face with the right side of my tunic.  I stitched the stripe down at 1/4″ right along my chalk line.  I repeated this until I had all the stripes stitched down.


Next, I tri-folded the stripe and stitched down.  I picked a decorative stitch that worked well with the overall costume look I was going for.  I had tested out several of the different decorative stitches on my machine with some scrap fabrics.  I highly recommend doing this first so you can see how it sews up and looks before stitching on your garment.


Once done, I trimmed all excess off and lined up all the pieces together to make sure the stripes were matching up.  After  I was satisfied with how they looked I stitched the tunic as normal.


One of the  main changes I made to the pattern was to eliminate the center front opening and instead make it open at the side seams with grommets for a lace up closure.  I did also add a full lining in brown cotton to the garment to hide the seams and my decorative stitching on the reverse side.  I think the entire costume turned out pretty great.  When comparing the inspiration piece I think I achieved the look I was going for.  After seeing it in action all day, I am going to add more grommets for next year, as a decorative element similar to the inspiration piece.


Since you got to see the Little John costume I thought you might like to see the rest of the costumes I pulled together this year and previously.  We have Robin Hood in the middle with Robin the Boy Wonder to his left appropriately wearing Batman boots.  To the right of Hood we have a dinosaur princess and another princess with Maid Marian behind them.  I have no Robin Hood character.  My husband, in the brown hooded tunic, was Will Scarlet complete with red pants that you cannot see.  We all had such a great time at the fair.

I hope you enjoyed this costuming adventure as much as I did.  Now, I am off to start sewing Sherlock Holmes themed costumes for our 5th annual murder mystery party in a few weeks.

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