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Wingeo #324 Men's Victorian Frockcoat Pattern (heavily modified) 7 yards blood-red fabric, preferably cotton 7 yards lining to match outer coat fabric Many, many fabric covered buttons Fusible interfacing, about 3 yards of 15" Shoulder pads

The Wingeo #324 pattern makes three different styles of frockcoats: one from the 1830's, 1840's, and 1850's. I mostly went with the 1850's pattern due to the narrower sleeves, although the 1840's has a more full skirt--but you'll see in a moment why I rejected that style. Modifications: where to begin? First, the coat needed to be lengthened significantly as it is designed to make a knee-length coat. Fortunately, the pattern includes lengthening / shortening marks, although I doubt the designer intended the 21 inches I added as a modification. The tricky part is that I needed to do two separate lengthenings: first, the upper pieces (front, side back, etc.) needed to be lengthened by 6 inches to bring the waist of the coat to my waistline; the front skirt needed a 15-inch lengthening (15 + 6 = 21, of course); and the back required 15 inches in one place and 6 in another to properly fit together Also, the collar should be modified as Alucard's opens lower on his chest, and don't forget the shoulder capes--which I had to do my own design for entirely. I had originally intended to use the 1840's skirt styling due to its fullness, but when lengthened 21 inches, the pattern simply didn't work, so I compromised and drew in new lines of my own from the waist to the bottom along the front edge. The shoulder capes on Alucard's coat were a total improvisation on my part. Basically, I cut the edge to be sewn into the shoulder at the length of the entire sleeve opening (or about 22 inches), intending to bunch it up to half that size when sewn in to achieve the rippled effect, then cut the other edges into a semicircle to match. The pattern is supplied on normal white paper with the recommendation of transferring it to something more suitable for cutting out; I chose tracing paper in as large of sheets as I could find. Still, most pattern pieces required more than one sheet of my 28 x 36" tracing paper, so I used lots of tape, too. One last note: when modifying a pattern to any significant degree, it's a good idea to sew a test garment first. I used some $1-a-yard Wal-Mart fabric and found a number of changes I needed to make--and saved I fortunately chose to sew a test garment from $1-a-yard Wal-Mart fabric before launching into fullfledged construction. I say "fortunately" because the test garment uncovered faults in my pattern modifications that would have been difficult to correct in a half-sewn coat (like big gaps in the lower back) and additional modifications I would need to make, such as lowering the waist line. The test also allowed me to try out the sleeve capes on scrap material.

I basically followed the instructions on the pattern pieces in putting the whole thing together; many seams required easing and thus seemed somewhat counterintuitive during sewing, but overall it wasn't a terrible process.

Make sure that you clip the sleeve openings close to the seams--the notches will help reduce bulk around the sleeve's curved opening. You will also need to clip closely along the corners and grade the seams so that when turned inside out the corners are nice and crisp. You will want to press the seams very crisply to maintain the nice, straight lines of the coat to maintain that "drawn" look. myself something like $20 in potential fabric mistakes by doing so. 2 - 3 yards coarse buckram (for hat frame) 4 feet covered millinery wire 3 yards French elastic 3 yards red fabric to match Alucard's frockcoat 1 yard salmon fabric Fabric coverable buttons (4x) 1 yard hat sweatband elastic The starting point for Alucard's hat is the boater design in Classic Millinery Techniques. I made the pillbox portion a tad taller than tradition (4 1/2 inches as opposed to 3-4) since the hat would be so wide and needed to stay in proportion, but other than that the instructions there can be followed pretty much to the letter. I made the hat's diameter equal to the width of my shoulders and used geometry (Pi * d) to find the circumference and thus the length of wire I'd need for the outside.

The salmon bands were simply yard-long strips of fabric cut to two inches wide, folded over and sewn, then turned inside out. Standard fabric cover-buttons make up the rest of the design.

I will say that some of the directions in the book are a bit difficult to follow, but I was able to improvise and get through it. Assembly & Construction The first step in construction is to lay out and assemble the pillbox that makes up the upright portion of the hat. I had to slightly enlarge the headplate pattern in the book to fit, and although it works best if you have a headplate pattern to trace, I just enlarged it by hand.

Notice that I initially made the pillbox too tall, going for 6 inches based upon some faulty scale measuremeants I made. I had to trim off an inch and a half from the bottom (and then reattach the wire & French elastic)... a good hour or so wasted! Assembly of the boater itself is pretty easy in that the wire is whip-stitched to the edge of the buckram, then the edge covered in French elastic (a bias-cut strip that stretches slightly to the curve of the hat edge). I used a curved upholstery needle to attach the top of the pillbox to the sides and a slender milliner's needle for most of the other work. The hat's brim I made by drawing a circle of the proper diameter (using a handy quilter's ruler I drilled a couple of extra holes in), then tracing out the center using the pattern I'd sized to my head.

I covered the two pieces in fabric seperately, then sewed them together when done. Although I know I used the incorrect stitch around the brim's outer edge (I did small whipstitches through the outer fabric and the buckram beneath it rather than slipstitches), it looks just fine overall (and was done much more quickly).

I have to say that I wouldn't want to ever work in a sweatshop after having done so much handsewing-ick, that's rough work. White men's gloves 1/2 yard white fabric for the cuffs Fabric coverable buttons (2x) Printer transfer paper

Once I decided to go with pre-made gloves, I thought the design considerably simplified. However, finding just a pair of basic white men's gloves proved far more difficult than I would have thought! Almost all had raised ridges on the back of the hand, so at first I tried a couple of pairs of women's "one size fits all" stretchy white gloves. Unfortunately, though small-boned I may be, my hands are still in proportion to my height and split the seams in women's gloves. Just as I was about to go back to my original idea of making gloves from scratch (using a pair of sacrificed women's gloves as a pattern), I decided to see if I couldn't just remove the ridges from the formal men's gloves I had found... The ridges turned out to be made simply by loose stitching in long rows, and a seam ripper across the underside of each followed by a gentle ironing removed all traces of those silly ridges. I went with Finale Gloves' basic men's gloves in "large" (men don't get stretchy gloves like women).

Alucard's sigil came from a Photoshop brush file I found online with both the sigil and the sign on Paladin Andersong's gloves, which I stamped into a 600 dpi image and printed onto transfer paper to be ironed onto the gloves. The cuffs are simple strips of white fabric with a buttonhole and fabric-covered button for closureOnce I had removed the ridges from the gloves, all I had to do was transfer the design for the sigil. This task does require a couple of close attention items:

Cut out the sigil from the transfer paper sheet leaving very little border; even the white areas will transfer to the gloves, and you don't want a big square of white visible atop the gloves. Do NOT follow the heat setting recommendations for the transfer paper if using nylon or other synthetics for the gloves--the iron will melt the fabric! Use a pressing cloth between the iron and the gloves. This will let you go a little hotter than the iron's nylon setting without melting the iron to the gloves. If possible, test to see how hot you can get the iron, because you want it as hot as possible without doing damage to the gloves through the pressing cloth. Place something hard and heat-resistant inside the gloves; I used the cardboard form that shipped inside the gloves on top of a slender board. You can't just press it on an ironing board unless you really want the thumb seams to ruin the transfer from below. A firm surface will also help in getting the transfer to stick. Press hard with the iron but be careful to make sure you aren't melting the gloves! The cuffs were simply strips of white broadcloth backed with heavy interfacing, doubled over, and sewn shut (right-sides together, obviously) and turned right-side-out, pressed, and sewn to the bottom edge of the glove's wrist opening. A buttonhole in one end and a fabric-covered button complete the assembly!
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McCall's Unisex Lined Vest Pattern 8285 (heavily modified) 2 yards dark grey fabric, preferably cotton 2 yards dark grey lining Fabric coverable buttons (6x) Vest belt buckles (2x, optional) Fusible interfacing, about 2 yards of 15"

Repeat after me: cotton is your friend. Broadcloth and muslin are fairly inexpensive, can be dyed if necessary, and both hang and sew well. You may find a cheap polyester on the discount rack, but it won't breathe well (i.e. you will roast wearing it), it may drape funny, and it can be hard to work with.

Okay, some synthetics have their place; you can't make a tight, body-hugging costume like those from Gatchaman without lycra, and there's no reason to line a costume with silk when a semibreathable nylon will work at a fraction of the cost. But on the whole, stick to natural fibers whenever possible. Alucard's vest is drawn dark grey in the anime, and although this may be simply an artistic consideration as black wouldn't allow for good contrast and visible details, I chose to stick to grey. Make sure you buy enough for both the vest and pants, as they are the exact same color and should blend together well visually. You will also need about two yards of lining of a similar color. At $1 a yard, the fabric I used was a real steal and a cosplayer's dream bargain. I'd spent a long time searching for the perfect fabric; the local fabric stores didn't carry much in dark grey except too-thick, too-hot, 100% polyester suiting--and I hate synthetics; see Costumer's Rule #1 above. Fortunately, I came across a bolt marked "unknown content / origin" on the Wal-Mart bargain table and bought up all 14 3/8 yards. The feel suggested a cotton / poly blend--acceptable as opposed to 100% polyester--which I later confirmed by burning a small scrap (the cotton fibers char and the poly ones melt and then burn) The lining is a fake silk (read: nylon) I found on sale at JoAnne's for something like $2.50 a yard. My only reservation on buying bargain fabrics is that they may be tough to buy more of if needed later, but fortunately I didn't need any more than I bought. The Pattern & Modifications I started with the McCall's 8285 Unisex Lined Vest pattern, which though waist-length and single-breasted was on sale for less than a dollar at JoAnne's (it's normally around $5). I used the View F vest pattern as a basis and then went crazy with the mods. You'll be using only four pattern pieces total (five if you want the belt in the back)--I told you it was simple. I doubt the folks at McCall's expected anyone to lengthen the pattern by the whopping 8 1/2 inches that I added to make it the authentic Victorian Alucard length. However, using careful measurements and lots of extra paper, extending the pattern wasn't a problem at all using the premarked shortening / lengthening lines--and required changes to the back, front, front lining, and front facing pattern pieces. Making the pattern double-breasted wasn't difficult, either. I simply extended the bottom front edges in width by five inches each, then squared the corners off rather than using the pattern's round edges (after using a French curve to reproduce the same curve before remembering Alucard's vest is NOT rounded at the bottom!) After careful measurements from drawings of Alucard, I drew in the new front edge vertical lines and slightly adjusted the neck "V" to fit, making sure the slanted edge and the vertical edges on the front met in a sharp corner. This required basically identical changes to the front and front facing pieces. If you want to use the 8285 pattern, you may need to adjust the length by a different amount that I did. Simply measure from your waist straight down to the bottom of your crotch and add that

amount to the pattern length. More than likely extending the bottom front edge by five inches will work for the double-breasting. Make sure you angle rather than round the corners! Note to prospective female Alucard cosplayers: long Victorian waistcoats aren't made to fit a woman's hips, particularly since Alucard doesn't follow the trendy fashion of today in leaving the bottom button undone. I would suggest modifying the back piece of the pattern, redrawing the vertical sides to slant outward and give a longer bottom edge. You'd still sew them straight to the sides, but you would end up with a wider back that might help fit around the hips. The darts might need to be widened slightly as well to make it hang correctly. You could also add small slits to the sides and/or back to give the vest's bottom more "give." You can safely ignore the markings for welts, pockets, and buttons; the latter will need to be repositioned anyway. Basically, I followed the instructions supplied with the pattern and had little problems. I omitted the welts and pockets since Alucard's vest front is plain aside from the buttons, and I think I attached the lining on one side in the back where not originally intended once I figured out that I could and that doing so would strengthen the whole thing. Make sure that you clip the sleeve openings close to the seams--the notches will help reduce bulk around the sleeve's curved opening. You will also need to clip closely along the corners and grade the seams so that when turned inside out the corners are nice and crisp. You will want to press the seams very crisply to maintain the nice, straight lines along the front and bottom of the vest; though these tend to blend into Alucard's body in the anime, they'll be fairly visible on your finished costume in real life.

The buttons required complete repositioning. Being the perfectionist geek that I am, I measured from a drawing of Alucard to set up ratios specifying where his buttons fell and then transferred those to my vest. I placed the bottom button 7 inches up from the bottom edge of the vest and the two above it spaced at 3 3/4 inches each. The second row of double-breasted buttons is more for show than anything else and was placed along similar lines about six inches to the left of the first. A word on the buttons themselves: I couldn't find grey ones that matched the fabric well enough, so I went with do-it-yourself fabric covered buttons. Fabric stores carry these in many sizes. Since they are usually made of shiny metal that can show through thinner fabrics, I applied a circle of fabric cut just larger than the button front underneath the final layer; you could also paint the metal a dark grey before applying the fabric.