Monday, October 5, 2009

Basic Black

What your well dressed priest will be wearing this season

This pattern is quite authentic, down to the oversized pockets and 24 front buttons. It is also a very difficult pattern to find!

My next costuming gig will be all about basic black. Oh, there will be a splash of color here and there, such as Mass Vestments, but basically, I will be using most of the 20+ yards of BASIC BLACK fabric I purchased Friday to make the priest's outfit, and the habits for two nuns. This if for the play "Doubt: A Parable", starting in mid-November.

I investigated the real thing that priests' wear--these are called cassocks--I guess other ministers wear them also. I went to the store that sells them and saw the range of styles, details, fabrics, and PRICES that these things cost! The basic cotton one was a wrap-around, cost about $175. The Cadillac of cassocks was wool, made in Belguim, and cost $545! Dummy me, why am I not making these for real people instead of actors?

I tried to borrow one of these from my local parish priest. He said he hasn't owned one for a long time. He said, "Oh, I had one for a while, but then I got too fat for it, so I never bought another one." I guess we all have that problem, and it really would be a problem if you sunk $545 into a garment you outgrew! By the way, Father C, you aren't fat by any stretch of the imagination!

The design choices for this type of garment are simple, the devil is in the details. Should it be buttons or no buttons? If you choose no buttons, a lot of snaps and a belt are in order. So, I chose to make the 24 buttonholes and try to find the 24 buttons alike--this is not as easy as it seems. I've already looked on 3 stores button boards, and have come up empty. Most of them stock 12 or 15, but not 24 alike. I thought I scored the bonanzy at my last store I went to, they had more than 24 of the perfect size and style, and then when I went to count them out, THEY WERE NAVY BLUE, not black! Back to hunting again.

The other thing that is interesting is the pocket. On the more expensive cassocks, they have a very deep side slit pocket. On this pattern, not only do they have a very deep pocket, but they have a pass through, so the guy can reach into his pants pocket as well as the cassock pocket. I always wondered where they carried their handkerchiefs and note pads. Now I know.

As I said before, finding the pattern for this garment was difficult. I needed to make one for a January show, and I had to hunt in the back of the pattern drawers for this pattern. I actually had to shop at least 3 stores before I found one in stock. Then, when I unwrapped the pattern, it was missing some very vital pieces, they wrapped up two sheets of the same thing, and left out a very important piece! I had to improvise big time to overcome that problem.

Keep this one in the drawers, Butterick, you are always my 'GO TO' pattern company to find costume patterns that I need. I'm noticing that your books are getting thinner, please hang in there and keep producing good patterns, true sizing, and other good stuff!

I'll show the finished product once I get the fancy sleeves installed (very deep cuff, more storage options!), and the 24 buttons sewed on!


Ty'sMommy said...

Oh my gosh! What patter number is it? I have been looking for a pattern for a cassock. I need to make myself something like that to wear for a wedding I may be performing this spring!
And hey, I'll check my button stash - what size does it call for?

sewwhat? said...

Butterick, 6844. I found it in the back of the pattern cabinet. I bought all sizes when I found it because it is probably one that might disappear some day. It is quite authentic to the ones that are ready-made. Good luck!
I found the buttons, but thanks!