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SURCOAT TUTORIAL

by Leanne Mallory

  Supplies

You are going to use:
wool in the amount needed for your height
black thread
pins
hand sewing needles
really sharp scissors
tailor's chalk or tailor's pencil
paper and tape for modifying the pattern
McCall's Pattern 2802
measuring tape and ruler
bandaids

How much material you need depends on two things - the width of the material available, and your height in armour.

For someone who is ~ 6'7" with a 68" center back seam, and a 52" chest, the minimum to buy is 12' 6" of 60" wide material. For someone shorter, you could get away with using less, but to be SURE, modify the pattern FIRST, then lay it out on the floor to see how much material you need OR take your pattern into the fabric store and lay it out on top of the fabric on the store's cutting table. It's far better to err on the side of more, not less, since the length of the surcoat means if you don't buy enough, you will be going back to purchase more material than if you had bought enough in the first place.

  Pattern

McCall's pattern 2802 has been discontinued, but its view A is the closest match for the Vader surcoat. It needs to be modified before it can be used.

The surcoat as given in the pattern is too short, so you will need to add length to it. This is fairly easy to do. First unfold your pattern piece and measure the distance down the back fold. Next, put on your Vader boots with whatever lifts you might be using and have someone measure the distance from the back of your neck to the floor. This will give a rough approximation for how long the center back of the surcoat needs to be. If this measurement is, for example, 60", you will need to add about 24" to a medium sized pattern because the distance down the back of the pattern (39", less the hem allowance in the medium) is no where near long enough. Always add a few inches more than you need to be on the safe side. Cutting away excess material is easy. For someone ~6'7", 32" will need to be added to the pattern length.

To modify the length, cut the pattern out and tape paper to the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces and the front facing piece. You will need to add enough paper to draw the added length onto it. Using a ruler, extend the center back fold by the amount that you need (in our example, with a medium sized pattern, this would be 24"). Do the same on the side seams and center front. Mark the new hem by drawing a line between the center front/back and the side seams end.

If you are going to leave the side seams open, you will need to cut four facing strips 2" longer than the length the seam will be open.

Note: You might be able to track this pattern down on-line or find it second hand, but is anyone is truly stuck, post a note on the Forum to that effect and someone will help you with that.

  Sewing the Surcoat Togather

After cutting your pieces out, follow the sewing instructions which are given with the pattern. You will need to leave the side seams open (ROTS) or sew them completely for certain versions.

  Front Darts (ROTS, ESB, ROTJ)

There are six darts (folds in the fabric held in place with stitches), three on each side in the front. These run from the waist partway up the chest, stopping about halfway between the top of the belt and the chest armour. Have a look at the photos from Dec. 2005 and August 2006 in the Vader calendar, to see where they go. Exact placement will depend on how big you are, but they are evenly placed across each of the front panels. The darts do not continue below the waistline.

The image to the left shows approximately where the darts would go.

  Hemming

Hang the surcoat up for a few days to let the material stretch and relax before hemming it. You will have to put on your chest armour (ANH only) and boots (all versions) to hem your surcoat. If you don’t, you won’t get the length correct. It is best to get a friend to help with this, and you may need to adjust the hem, so take your time with it.