Introduction: Gambeson / Aketon / Under Armour
Fourth ible, yes another armour themed one, here we go!
The decision to make a gambeson came as soon as my girlfriend convinced me to wear my chainmail shirt to the fantasy fair. It got really uncomfortable because all the padding I had was a t-shirt, so in need of some more comfort and more realistic armour collection I designed and constructed a gambeson.
Ok so a little update, I ended up shortening the sleeves quite a bit so it wouldn't scrunch up at the elbows.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Ok so what I used (and some alternatives)
Sewing machine(ok so my sister in law took the electric sewing machine so I used a antique hand operated one, still works fine)
Tape measure(the tailor kind works easiest)
Woolen blanket, mine was 215x150cm(I know its not the traditional base material, but it makes a working end result)
Thread(preferably the colour you want for the end product)
About 3-4 straps
Clothing dye(and a suitable vessel to dye in)
Old towel(or similar piece of cloth) for a prototype (and for me to learn how to sew)
Exacto / hobby knife
Step 2: Measuring & Design
Start out by measuring all the data you need;
The width of your shoulders, chest and neck.
The circumference of your chest, neck, upper arms and wrists(make sure you leave enough spare for articulation).
The distance between the underside of your pecks / chest muscles and the lowest part of your design (mine was just above my knees).
The distance between your shoulders and your chest (going over the shoulders)
The width of the shoulder and neck part I just held a tape measure in front of my throat / shoulders while looking in a mirror. The length of the shoulder part I measured by wrapping my woolen blanket around my chest and having someone hold the end part of a tape measure on the edge of the blanket on my back, while checking the total length on the front myself.
You'll want it to be a little bigger so you have room for seams and make sure you place your designed parts so you end up with the least amount of scrap material.
Step 3: Prototype (optional)
This is where you might want to stop just to keep some of your manhood intact. However, if you don't skip this step you can make any little girl (daughter / niece / whatever) happy by making personalised doll clothes :P
I decided to teach myself sewing just for this ible, so I made a prototype to ensure my measurements were close enough and to learn basic sewing.
Start out by drawing your design (to scale) out on paper and cut it out. Next take a cutting board, place an old towel / rag ontop and place your cut out design part and secure it with some thumbtacks. Use a marker to trace and cut out the piece or just trace the design with a hobby / exacto knife.
Once all the pieces are cut, pin down all the edges to prepare for sewing, sew all the edges double ( I think the translation is to hem ?) to keep the fabric from unravelling.
To center the shoulder piece to the bottom piece I just folded both in half and marked the middle with a marker, then lined them up and sewed it together. Next I sewed the front of the shoulder piece to the bottom piece.
This was the end result for this prototype, mainly because at this scale adding the neck and sleeves would be too fiddly for my sewing skill.
Next I made a carboard model at 1:1 scale just to make sure if the measurements were about right. I simply drew out my measurements on some cardboard, cut it out and folded / curved it to fit. I just checked if all the parts were about right. (it also allowed me to check if it would conform to the size of a previous project)
Step 4: Transfer and Cut Your Design
So you designed (and made a prototype) of your soon to be gambeson, now its time to transfer it onto your fabric.
There is not really much to this step, I just used a tape measure and marker to draw out my measurements onto my woolen blanket. Next I just cut each part out.
The only difficulty I had was because I folded my blanket double so as to make it thicker. This made it a bit more difficult to mark but its not really a problem.
For the neckhole I marked out the four points and folded the marked half of the blanket 2 times (so 4 layers) on the center of the markings(not the center of the piece of blanket). Next I just cut the corner from marking to marking so as to create a square hole in the center of the markings. I cut the square hole round from the inside just by sight. After the hole was finished I just folded the piece in half again (remember the hole is now just on half the part) and traced the hole onto the other layer and cut it out. Mark the center of the front side(the shortest of the 2 longer sides) and cut it to create the front opening.
The neck piece I created by cutting my 1:1 scale prototype in half and transfered it onto the blanket, flipped it over to the other side, marked and cut allong the lines. The reason behind this is just to make it more symmetrical.
The sleeves were cut out according to the pictures but they were altered a bit during the sewing(putting it all together step).
The bottom part was just what remained of the blanket after I cut out all the other parts. Fold it around your chest(at the desired position) and mark the height you want the cut on the backside to be.(mine is just below my bottom)
Step 5: Sewing the Neck Piece
Ok so I'm not even sure its called hemming so forgive any vocabulary mistakes because I am not familiar with any sewing termanology.
Anyway, I started sewing up al the edges starting with the neckpiece. I sewed up the top edge and turned it inside out (so the seam is on the inside).The neck piece also needs small flaps on the underside to secure it onto the shoulderpiece, mine are spaced about 4cm apart. I made these by first sewing it closed at the height the neck will be and after that I just cut the remaining fabric into flaps. Next I marked out the other seams that serve as reinforcement and to make the fabric more ridged, these are also spaced about 4cm apart.
Step 6: Sewing the Shoulder Piece
Ok so now that im writing this I realise I didn't really take enough pictures of this step, but I'll try to walk you through it.
Start by hemming the sides, the bottom and the frontside cut (see picture 3) and flip it inside out through the neckhole. Next I just placed the neck piece ontop to see where the flaps would end up. Knowing where the flaps ended I sewed on 2 reinforcement lines, again about 4cm apart(remember this is done while the piece is inside out with the seams on the inside)
This is where it gets tricky, get your neckpiece into the neckhole between the two layers of the shoulder piece and secure it with (safety)pins. That way the flaps are on the inside of the gambeson wich keeps them from unraveling (I hope). Now just sew it on, this is probably the most difficult and fiddly part of this ible.
When you have the neckpiece secured onto the shoulderpiece you can add more reinforcements, this is done after the neckpiece is secured because it helps secure the flaps on the inside.
*I altered the part somewhat after the pictures were taken, to conform to my shoulders I folded the center of the back a little bit and sewed it to itself to get the shoulders at an angle*
Step 7: Sewing the Bottom
Alright so I fiddled about a bit on how to sew up all the edges on the bottom part. My solution was to use some of the trimming that I took off the blanket and work it into the back cut. First I tried it out on a test piece (I didn't take enough pictures of the real part).
To get the trimming conjoined with the bottom seam yet still able to cover the seam of the cut, I made a test piece by taking two scrap pieces of blanket and a short piece of the trimming. First fold the trimming double and place it ontop of the scrap blanket piece so that the open side of the folded trimming is away from the seam.(picture 3) Place the other scrap piece ontop and sew up the "side" part.(picture 3, 4 and 5) Now you can flip the testpiece inside out(picture 6) and fold the trimming over the edge the seam will be(picture 7 and 8).
Now that you know how to close up the last seam of the bottom piece you need to get the correct length of trimming to use. Just take a large piece of trimming and secure one end to the first corner with some (safety)pins (picture 9) and follow the cut with the trimming to the other corner. Add a little bit to the length to accommodate the semicircle on the top of the cut.(picture 1 and 10) Secure the other side to the second corner.
Sew up all the edges except the cut in the middle, this ensures that the trimming is secured in both the corners (picture 11). Flip the whole part inside out (picture 12). Now you can start adding the reinforcements (again about 4cm apart) up to the middle cut. To secure the middle cut and the trimming I just sewed on the trimming on one side of the part, thus sewing the two layers of blanket together. Then I flipped the part over, pulled the trimming over the previous seam and traced it with a new seam. now just add the middle reinforcement and you are done.
Step 8: Sewing the Sleeves
So you have sleeves cut (I did alter the measurements a little) and its time to sew them up.
Start out by marking the positions of the reinforcements, remember the sleeves taper off so the markings at the wrist are closer together. My reinforcements are 4cm apart at the shoulders and 2cm apart at the wrist. Next trace a straight line with a ruler / tapemeasure / cardboard to be sure you get the reinforcements straight.
After marking sew in the reinforcements.
Now in my case I couldn't sew together the four layers of blanket at the same time, so I sewed the inner two together first and then sewed the others ontop. Remember to leave a space at the wrist side to add trimming to later, about 12cm was left open on my sleeves.
To make the sleeves look a little better and to close up the seam, I added trimming like on the back cut. To add the trimming I made sure the trimming comes out at an angle, secured it on one side and cut off the excess trimming.
Now you can stretch the trimming over the edge and sew it ontop of the previous seam. Cut off the excess trimming coming from the angled part and add a few seams on the corner to strengthen it.Now you are done! pull it inside out and start doing the other sleeve.....
Step 9: Dyeing (optional)
Just get a container and some dye follow the instructions from the package and let it dry. Because its quite big you might need to dye multiple times.
Step 10: Putting It All Together
I already covered the neckpiece in a previous step so it won't be mentioned here (apart from this line:P).
The first thing I did was hand sew the shoulder piece to the bottom piece just to make sure everything was lined up (didn't take pictures sorry). You could also use (safety)pins, however I found that they were too flimsy to keep the parts together. Next I sewed the front parts of the shoulder piece onto the bottom using a sewing machine, it would probably be better to start with the back. Just remove the hand-sewed seam in the same manner you would remove pins(pull it out just ahead of your machined seam).
Once you have the bottom attached to the shoulder piece you can try it on for the first time!
Ok so now its time to add the sleeves, I tried to do this with a sewing machine but after breaking 2 needles I gave up and did it by hand. To figure out where the sleeves need to be I just put on a sleeve, put on the jacket and have someone mark the position of the shoulder edge on the sleeve. Take everything off and line up the marked sleeve with the shoulder and sew it on. Repeat this process for the other sleeve and lets move on to the straps!
*sidenote: if you want to dye your project do it before adding the straps so the (fake) leather doesn't deteriorate. *
Put on the project and while looking in a mirror just figure out the positions of the straps, make sure they are equally spaced (mine are positioned at / near the top of my ribcage(just below the collarbones), the bottom of the shoulder piece, my belly button and one in between the last two.)
Sew on the straps and you are done! now you are safe from all sorts of pummeling!
(seriously don't blame me if you do something stupid like get hurt)