And 29 hard ones. (Please pardon the bad joke.)
For some background, you can see all my altar server posts here. I have four boys, only two old enough to serve – though the younger ones are keen as mustard. The options for fitting them out with vestments were daunting. Our local Church Supplies shop was asking big money for raglan sleeved cassocks. There was a seamstress over 100km away who had done cassocks and surplices for other boys, but distance and money were issues. Now, I’ve done Medievaloid garb before as well as good trousers for Mass and a few jackets, so I did them myself and now it’s time to try again. I couldn’t find much help on the internet last time so I resolved to put that to rights as far as i was able. So hopefully here will be all my experiences.
Earlier I made a trial run cassock in a lightweight black fabric – an old curtain funnily enough – with two piece sleeves. The sleeves turned out to be a little too tight, but with the hotter weather (southern hemisphere here) it has become the preferred cassock. The other was a better fit, but used black gaberdine, which has helped my sons learn about what happens when you overheat. If anyone from cooler climes would like a size 8 cassock, get in touch.
And in case it comes in handy, if an altar boy does feel like he is about to pass out he can go to the sacristy and get a drink of water and see if that helps.
This time I’m using black polypop “Great value-for-money polypop blend combines the benefits of polyester and cotton poplin. 65% cotton, 35% polyester. Resistent to wrinkles, stretching and shrinking , our huge range of polycotton poplin coloured fabrics are also breathable and comfortable.”. Also very cheap and widely available. I used white polypop for the surplices.
With your patience I will try to make pictures of the pattern pieces hopefully to scale at 300dpi – I’ll include some indication of scale in the picture – those paper measuring tapes you get when a midwife measures your babies head do come in handy after all!
I haven’t put much by way of markings on the patterns. To see how they are laid out keep scrolling down. You need to add seam allowances, extrapolate a skirt, add allowances for the pleat in the back and what would be the button band in the front if we weren’t using a zipper. I draw around the pattern in chalk then cut out around that leaving a fair bit of room. I’m impatient so my cutting is not the neatest, but I trim the seams before finishing them with a zig zag.
Cutting out the pieces
This is the back of the cassock – the calico is a sort of basic bodice draft designed to fit over clothes. From there I’ve extended it down to the ground and added seam allowances. The centre back is cut along the fold but with extra room for a pleat at the back. This will have a seam down the back to the waist line then a box pleat from there down.
This is the front of the cassock. To the centre I’ve left space to make the front band that will cover the zipper. I’ve cut both sides the same – later I will Carefully Think which side is which and trim accordingly. I was lazy and included the selvage here – it means you don’t have to zig zag the edge, but watch that the selvage lies flat. Sometimes the selvage can be tighter than the rest of the fabric and spoils the way it hangs. Also, now I’ve sewn it up I could have left a bit more room for the button band.
These are the collar pieces. One is interfaced with a lightweight fusible interfacing. It’s not a very neat job, I am out of practice and I know that the black hides many mistakes – or I’m just careless.
Lastly the sleeve, which I haven’t cut yet. This is my two piece draft from last time. The serious patterns like fitted sleeves, but these boys prefer a bit of room for their arms. I will modify these to hopefully make roomier sleeves.
I might just leave it here for this week and leave you hanging for the next exciting episode: Cassock finished, and how I did it.