16th century, michelangelo, projects

Doublet Nearing Completion…But I Need Advice!

Doublet!  I made one, and shockingly quickly too!  After procrastinating all Spring Break (ie working on something for myself), I forced myself to pick up this project.  Luckily I’d already done one mockup & fitting, so I was able to get most of this done in about two days.  I shock myself!  And I actually kind of enjoyed it, because I felt like I knew what I was doing.  The handwork took a bit longer — adding trim that I couldn’t machine sew on, putting in the lining.  But that’s stuff I can do on the couch on a weeknight.

But there’s an issue… I put this on Michael, and he said (very nicely), “It’s too tight!  It feels like a suit jacket that’s 1-2 sizes too small.”  Now, I have NO idea what it should feel like to wear a doublet, so I don’t know if I screwed something up or whether this is just an issue of a man who has never worn costume before (okay, he’s worn 1920s but that’s totally different).  Any guesses?  There are some wrinkles going from the front of his armscye to his underarm, so I was thinking I could open up the armhole more (UGH THE WORK!), but won’t that just make things tighter by having a bigger armscye?  I had him lift his arms up as high as he could go, so you can see his arm movement range… the back looks good – no real wrinkles – altho I’m guessing that’s where the “too small” comes in.  I could piece a strip in to make the doublet itself wider by piecing something next to the arm (UGH THE WORK), but is that even going to help?  And, is this a problem that needs fixing?

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  • Reply Trystan April 10, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Hrm… I don’t know if it’s that front wrinkle (I had a similar wrinkle on the mockup for Thomas’ doublet, & Francis said that’s really common & also really hard to pattern out of this style, so I didn’t worry about it since the fit was ok). But that little wrinkle around the back of the armscye makes me wonder if the back/shoulder area is too tight. Did Michael indicate *where* it felt too tight?

    He looks really cute tho!

    (Eeek, now I’m kinda paranoid & want to make Thomas try his on!!!)

  • Reply Kathy Lear April 10, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve made a few doublets, though none from this pattern.

    I agree – did you ask him where it felt tight? Arms or tummy?

    If tummy, from the pattern of the wrinkles I’d say you might try opening the side seam just a tad.

    Overall, beauuutiful! Congratualtions.

  • Reply Isara April 10, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I have no words of advice, but Winston looks positively regal.

  • Reply kendra April 10, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Sorry, yes it’s too tight in the shoulders — the stomach is actually a tiny bit TOO big!

  • Reply Trystan April 11, 2010 at 2:04 am

    He might just have to deal w/it being tight, bec. it may be too big of a fix… not sure how / where you could add fabric in the back (unless there just happen to be seam allowance you can let out at the shoulder & sides; not likely, I bet).

    Pester Mr. Laurel for another menswear opinion tho!

  • Reply Melissa April 11, 2010 at 3:30 am

    I’d actually open up the seam and leave the sleevehead free from about the bottom of the shoulder blade, under the arm, and a few inches past where it would otherwise join the body at the side seam. “Vented” underneath, almost. Sleeves had so many options regarding how they were fastened on and that bit of range might make the difference for him.

    I think the problem is actually that the shoulders are set too far out on the arm to be that tight and keep comfort and a good range of motion. At least with women’s clothes I find that seam usually needs to hit at the “pivot” point when you raise your arm. You could try moving the shoulder seam back toward the body a bit, just pinch the fabric while he’s wearing it, see if it helps–so you know if it’s worth putting the work into changing that.

  • Reply Melissa April 11, 2010 at 3:32 am

    …though if you have to move the shoulder seam back toward the body you’ll have to change the bottom of the armscye, too, I’d guess.

    Looks awfully pretty, though!

  • Reply Kendra April 11, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Thanks everybody for the feedback! I got super grumpy and did what super grumpy people do (well, besides throw the thing in the closet) — I took out the back piece (yes, meaning I took out the lining, collar, half the sleeves, and waist tab thingie) and replaced it. 8 hours later, and I am almost back to where I was when I started sewing today. Sigh, but at least it fits and is comfortable now! (Altho I told M that I wasn’t fixing anything else, and from now on I just want him to lie and claim it’s the most comfortable thing EVAH).

  • Reply Bess Chilver April 11, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Bit late on response as you’ve already altered it. I wonder if half the problem is that he isn’t used to much closer fitting clothing.

    A friend of mine, Peter, has dreadful trouble with fitting around his right armscye. He’s tried everything but he always finds that area is too tight. Three of us costumers at Kentwell have tried to resolve the problem.

    Then I watched how he walked normally – he has a very slight list to the front. I suggested he stand upright and more relaxed normally and then do the same thing in the doublet – and lo and behold – the doublet wasn’t tight any longer. He was fighting with modern posture in a period made doublet. Bit like us women insisting on leaning foreward in corsets and therefore fighting against them rather than working with the corset.

    Is the doublet fitting M now?

  • Reply kendra April 11, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Bess – I do think you could be right, this is the FIRST time he’s ever worn any kind of non-modern suit-like period costume…but I also know that when I fit it, I thought there was a little too much fabric in the shoulder blades that I took out, which I’m now thinking might have been about 1″ wearing ease. He is happy with the fit now in terms of comfort, and I don’t want him to be miserable in it, so I think in the end all will be well. Although I am bummed about the lost sewing day!

  • Reply Bess Chilver April 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    For what its being worn for, its not worth while being all absolutely authentic about it in terms of fit.
    Its a pain having lost a full day of sewing on other things, but at least M will be happy in it.

  • Reply Larue April 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I’ve seen this problem with a lot of Highland Dancers (who have to wear very tight velvet vests/jackets), and one thing I always check is the shape of the shoulders. It might just be the way he is standing, but in the closeup where his arms are at his side, the left shoulder looks to be sloping farther down than the right shoulder. Maybe a small bit of shoulder pad in that shoulder would raise it to be even with the other, pull the armsyce up a bit, and make it more comfortable on both sides. Just a thought, anyway.

  • Reply Trystan April 11, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    WOW! You’re a better person that I for re-doing the whole back!!! I’d have made my husband suffer ;-)

  • Reply David April 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I really like your website and all the effort you put in your costumes. Great!
    Just one comment (probably too late anyways) on the doublet :
    The sleeves are set in too far from the centre front and back. As well, the shoulder is too wide. If you look at paintings, there’s no ease at all in the body itself. And the shoulder is usually even smaller than the real shoulder of the wearer. If there’s enough ease in the sleevehead (grown-on gusset), this combination provides the best range of movement. When the arm is moved, the body of the doublet shouldn’t move at all (as for women’s clothes – i think you experienced that already).
    And another thing about the sleeves : The right sleeve is set in correctly (concerning the pitch). The left sleeve isn’t set in the same way at all (front notch lower, back notch higher). It’s twisted and hangs strangely.

    Besides that, he looks really nice. Did you stuff anything inside the trunkhose’s lining to make it appear that full or is it the quality of the lining fabric itself?



  • Reply izodiea April 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I’m glad to hear you got the problem fixed, even if it did mean a lot of work :( I know for myself I try to make all my costumes as comfortable as possible, If I have to suffer through wearing something (even if I love it) part of me never wants to wear it again. And since you said this was his first…?
    I’m looking forward to the final product! When you go to this event, do you know which of your costumes you are going to wear to match your gentleman?

  • Reply kendra April 12, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    David – I wondered about the armscye placement, but I (think I) looked at the pics of the doublets in Tudor Tailor and it seemed like the armscye was at a similar point. But yeah, I can see how that would affect things. Luckily I did noticed the incorrectly-placed sleeve when I posted these pics (no balance marks on the pattern, and that’s what happens when you foolishly decide to wing it!) so I fixed that when I redid the back. Sigh.

    Izodiea: yeah, that was my thinking too — he’s already going to feel silly in the outfit, he should at least be vaguely comfy! I don’t know yet which outfit I’ll wear — probably the green one? Nothing I have coordinates with him (he’s a cool color person, I’m a warm), sadly.

  • Reply Trixi April 13, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Beautiful work!!

    On my end my spouse complains of how confining clothes worn by used to be from the 18th century waistcoats to his antebellum dress suits. It’s all that baggy fitted clothing that he has grown accustomed to wearing.


  • Reply izodiea April 14, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Oooh! I think the green one would look really good paired with the black. Maybe if you had time you could make him a hat in a color to warm him up a bit? Gold, or copper or bronze, to match your red hair, or the trim on your dress.

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