Saturday, February 11, 2012
The 1890's cycling costume that I'm working on right now shows off a bit of leg, so I need to pay more attention to my footwear than normal. I usually just wear a pair of black pumps and black stockings with my Victorian costumes, but I decided to make myself a pair or tall spats, also known as gaiters, for this costume. I actually have a period pattern for knee-high gaiters taken from a Victorian fashion magazine, but I've discovered from previous attempts to make them that my ankles and feet are way too big to fit the pattern very well. So instead of making a lot of alterations to that pattern, I thought it might be fun to show you haw to make your very own spats pattern. These work great with steampunk and neo-Victorian outfits too if you are not into the historical costuming thing.
If you didn't do this while the form was still on your body, draw a line down the outside of the leg for the button opening. I started drawing this opening like Victorian button boots where the edge curves to the front of the foot, but then I looked up some pictures of tall spats, and I realized that this line should be straight and end between the heel and the buckle that holds the spat on your foot. I corrected this before I cut it out. You will also need to draw the shape that you want the bottom and top edges to be. Some period spats had a little dip where the strap that goes under your foot attaches, but others are smooth all the way around the bottom.
BTW, I ended up with a curve in my pattern when I cut the button opening line down the side of the leg. I haven't noticed this shape in period spats - it is usually very straight. I'm not sure if I am going to keep it curvy or try to straighten the edge out some more.
Step 9: Make a mockup and try on your gaiters or spats. I made my mockup out of craft felt, but anything sturdy like thick denim or upholstery fabric would also work great. Pin them closed on the side, then mark any areas that need adjustments. On my gaiters, I had to take out some of the curve over the calf, and I also tweaked the shape of the flap over the foot a bit. Transfer your adjustments back to the paper pattern, and if necessary, make a 2nd mockup to test your changes.
Congratulations! You now have a custom pattern for Victorian or Edwardian spats!
Traditionally, spats and gaiters were made out of wool felt, leather, or canvas, but you could also make them out of other types of fabric. And if you didn't want them to button up the sides, lacing or buckles would do the trick nicely as well. At this point, I need to go buy some fabric and buttons, but then I hope to come back with Part 2 of this tutorial to tell you how to construct your fabulous footwear.