Blackadder – the costume(s)

In 2000 I made Chad an Elizabethan costume. It was based on the BBC series, Black Adder. I only did it because Chad foolishly said, “if you make that, I’ll wear it.” Pffft. Challenge accepted.

My resources to replicate said costume were:

  1. Grainy VHS tape that was probably a copy of a copy
  2. Some photo copied & self-published books about how to make men’s Elizabethan costumes
  3. A few costuming web sites
  4. Some sketches I made from said VHS tape while it was on pause
  5. Janome sewing machine
  6. Babylock serger that scared the hell out of me

Surprisingly, the costume turned out OK. I’m not saying this to humble-brag. I’m saying this because my level of costuming skill at the time would rank as pretty darn low and technically lacking. I was self-taught – both sewing in general and definitely costume in particular, had no idea how to properly scale up or down a pattern, and was recreating from blurry photos. Let’s be honestly, I was mostly winging that mother.

 

The next year, I made a few modifications and updates. The slops got better for sure. Although I still had (or currently have) no real idea how I’m supposed to use that serger. 

Over Halloween our headless horseman was brazenly stolen off the porch. He was wearing the jerkin, doublet and sleeves – the most integral pieces of the costume.  

I was livid.

And yet, by then I’d made Chad a newer, fancier, slightly better gold Elizabethan costume.

It was no Black Adder, but it was pretty nice. And had been very time consuming.

Several years later with some more costuming experience, I decided to start from scratch. Historical garment resources had come a long way in 11 years. I decided the best place to start was a new chemise, which was the easy part. Although I still sucked at scaling patterns and dealing with fitment issues. I was, however, much better at muddling through via mock-ups in cheap muslin! A hard earned lesson, believe me.

Chemise done, a new set of neck and wrist ruffs were in order. There was a lot of conflicting and confusing info out there regarding construction. So I picked what seemed to make sense (having already gone through several different ways of making them) and machine embellished the 260 inches of fabric. At the very least, it was gonna be a huge upgrade from his original ruff. 

At which point I stopped,  pinned the ruffs into sections, put it aside “for a few days” and there it lay. Forgotten in a corner, a distraction for a different day.

Eight years later I decided it was time to review my costuming closet, make some alterations and perhaps see about that Black Adder costume again.  After all, costuming references had gotten a lot better since 2011!

I was off to the races – the turtle races.

Step 1: Locate and wash ruff material

Step 2: Find newer, better reference – a 44 page .pdf with photos and diagrams!

Step 3: Spend unnecessary amount of time on Pinterest looking up Black Adder

Step 4: Spend a week going back and forth about adding black trim to ruff material (see above)

Step 5: Spend 2 days searching craft stores for appropriate trim

Step 6: Start hand stitching trim to 260 inches of ruff material

 

To be continued, in hopefully less than 8 years.

chris on June 14th 2019 in Blogroll, Creativity

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