Thursday, June 16, 2016

Revenge of the Pluderhose: the Codpiece of DOOOM!

Making the codpiece was definitely a learning experience--the last time I did it, I cheated in the forming of the...for lack of a better word...bulgy bit.

Overall, the codpiece is formed of a ridiculous number of pieces; the bottom gusset (the photo immediately below); a pair of pieces shaped with pleats, which are used to give the 3-D bulge; the foundation piece, which is roughly the same shape as the bottom gusset and the bulgy bits after they have been sewn and laid out flat (and holds the stuffing in); plus the covering material (which I had to do in two pieces).  Seven pieces--not including any poofy bits--for a fairly small...but incredibly important...portion of the pluderhose

I did end up trimming the top down by a bit, so it didn't end up as pointy as it appears.
Alright, to start drafting, you need to have your pluderhose--or at least the foundation breeches--sewn together at the back rise.  Note that this is not really between the legs, but a bit further back--the point where the seam more or less stops tearing out if you move; you'll have to use your judgment, since you don't really want the tip of the gusset to be visible when it's being worn, but you do want it far enough back to give good movement.  You also need to make a mark in the seam of the foundation breeches at the point where you want the gusset to stop; again, this is via judgement, but should be as high as possibly, while remaining low enough to use the bathroom readily.  Remember, you must be wearing the same undergarments while fitting, as you intend to while wearing--this especially means any groin protection if you plan to fight in your pluderhose.

Basically, you need to measure the distance between the two sides of the rise, while the pants are being worn.  Take the measurements about a couple inches from the bottom of the back rise, and where the top of the gusset will be.  You also need to measure down the center from the back rise point to where the top of the gusset is planned to be--this is because the center may need to be longer than the sides. 

Draft it out as above--it came out as a shield shape on mine, oddly enough.  In all likelihood, you will want to put a convex curve on the sides, rather than making it perfectly triangular; however, straight sides are period too.  Check the fit, make any modifications needed, then remove.
I cut the bottom gusset on the bias to minimize stress and chances of blowouts.  Two layers of denim (cut on the bias) were used for the foundation of this; the period examples used the same soft leather that the foundation breeches were made from.

Now, measure from the top of the gusset, to where you want the top of the codpiece to be.  You see examples ranging from fairly low (which I think looks terrible), to almost at the waistband (further examples HERE, if you are on Pinterest).   This will be the height of the codpiece.
Joachim Ernst von Anhalt by Lucas Cranach the younger, 1563
PIETER BRUEGHEL the Elder - Flemish (Breda ca.1525-1569 Brussels)
The Sture suits.  Right to left; Svante, Nils, and Erik

The base of the codpiece needs to be the same width as the seam of the gusset (plus seam allowance down the middle), and the overall height as your desired measurement.  Remember that you do not need any seam allowances on the outside of the codpiece, since it will be bound with a strip of fabric.  Note that I didn't yet trim the ears (which are what get pointed to the rest of the garment in order to hold it in place) because I wasn't certain of how wide they would need to be.
The bulgy bit itself should be done to taste--two of the Sture examples were 5 inches down to 4, and 6 inches down to 4.  These are measured as the circumference where it begins to curve outwards, to a little above the cut--you want to leave some of this unsewn, so that there is some width to the base, and your codpiece doesn't flop side to side--and pleated down to the smaller measurement.  If you look closely, you can see the six pleats marked--I mostly eyeballed this.

Here, you can see it pleated, and the strapdown trimmed to the final shape.  Each knife pleat was approximately 1/8 of an inch deep and just tacked lightly before I sewed the two sides together.  The long seam needs to be pressed open for neatness.

And stuffed.  I tightly crammed scraps of fabric in there--just whatever was laying around.  You can use whatever you may prefer to give the feel you want, although Janet Arnold noted that traces of straw were found in one of the codpieces (but if you plan to easily wash it, take that into account).

Once it is pretty much stuffed, trace around it on the chosen foundation fabric.  Cut this out and baste around all edges and the base of the bulgy bit.

Sew the gusset on, basting the foundation layer in place there as well.  Press the seam open.  This will become the pattern for your fashion layer, which can be cut in one or two pieces (the bottom most bit of the gusset is a separate piece in both Erik and Nils' pluderhose).  Trace and cut out the layer of fashion fabric.

Lay it on top as best as you can and--guess what!--bast around all the edges again, cutting a slit for the bulgy bit to come through.  You'll trim and hem this area later.

Alternately, you could probably cut the covering the same as your support layer, pleating and sewing it the same. However, I do believe this way is simpler and definitely cleaner, even if it is more work; basically, you have the same number of seams (1), but with a separate covering for the bulge the seam is somewhat concealed under the poof.  It is also easier to hem the slashes, since they are open on one end, rather than being closed on both ends.

Now, you could spend a large amount of time being frustrated by trying to draft the covering for the bulge....or you could just drape it.  I cut a rectangle from the fashion fabric--length was approximately the circumference of the bulgy bit, and width being the widest (tallest) point.  This got folded in half, pinned in place along the seam, then I took in tucks where I wanted the slits for the poofs to come through.

After being folded open, I cut it with a fine allowance to be hemmed along all the edges.  Then hemmed.  The result?  This funky shape which reminds me of a flying gecko.

Now, the poofs are simply squares of fabric with a proportion of 2-7 to the slashes.  I.e. 2 inches of length in the slash, 7 in the poof.  However, I  did differently--about half that on one, and a bit more on the other; this was done for stylistic reasons, as well as because this fabric does not drape at this size.
They are pleated down to as little as possible at the top and bottom, and roughly gathered to length on the sides.  Then sewn in under the edges of the slashes. 

Not much is left.  Fit the cover for your bulgy bit in place, and tightly baste or sew into place around the base of the bulge.  The rest of the cover is turned under and sewn down with a slip stitch.

Then bind all the edges with a strip of fabric--you will be going from the seam at the top of the gusset, around the ears, and concealing the seam where the cover meets the foundation underneath the bulgy bit.

This ends PART III of my series of Pluderhose posts.  Now, back to PART IV, on the Construction. 

Or, back to PART II, or PART I

© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.

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