Costume for Robert Cecil (2002)

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This was a commissioned costume for a very nice fellow who
is playing Robert Cecil, the incredibly cranky hunchback. The costume was a
challenge on a couple of levels. The most obvious is that the actor wanted to
actually have a hunchback, which means that I got to make, and draft all my
patterns around, a prosthesis (ie, “oddly shaped little shoulder pillow”). That
wasn’t so much of a problem with the weskit (the red bit that you barely see
behind the black slashed doublet), but it was a royal pain in the patoot for
the doublet. See, the doublet has very long vertical slashes across the chest
and back. If you’re machining something like that, it’s easiest to make up a
bunch of separate panes and attach them to each other where they are supposed
to be attached. There are three slashes on either side of the chest and back,
making for a total of 15 pieces on the body of the doublet. Each of these pieces
is lined, which means they are all sewn right side to right side with their
linings, then turned. The right and left sides of the doublet are completely
different shapes and somewhat different sizes. And I *cannot* tell left from
right to save my life. (Honestly. I have to take my hands off the wheel and
do the “Left makes an L” think to follow directions while driving.) Needless
to say, the doublet involved about 15 nervous breakdowns and a lot of double
checking. I was doing very well until I suddenly realized that I had done an
entire set of panes backwards, started ripping things out, then realized that
that was the *back* section of the doublet and backwards was, technically, correct.
I really have to get a handle on that left and right thing…..

The costume consists of a weskit (semi-boned underdoublet)
in dark red wool crepe, the doublet, which is black wool pique trimmed with
matte silver soutache, sleeves, which are made of black fine wool and edged
with silver cord, venetians, which are of the same wool as the sleeves and have
a stripe of black velvet edged in red velveteen running down each side (the
stripe on the right conceals a pocket), and a nearly full circle, knee length
black velvet surcoat with a red velveteen turnback edged with matt silver braid.
There was a surprisingly large amount of handwork on this costume – the edges
of the weskit are neatened by hand, the doublet hem was completed by hand and
several panes in the doublet had to be edged by hand, the cording on the sleeves
had to be attached by hand, and of course, armscyes are almost always done by
hand (this was no exception) and the hook and eye tape on the weskit and doublet
was secured to the front edges of the respective garments by hand. There’s also
a hat and one of those silly nightcap looking coif thingies that go with this
costume, but I was a doofus and did not bring them to the dress rehearsal where
these pictures were taken. I’ll get more pictures with those later.

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