The 3 Hour Fencing Doublet
By Mistress Mercedes de Calafia
Many people have asked me about the fencing doublets I wear. They are good looking (always a consideration for fencers), adaptable to almost any body type, and easy to make. I'll now prove the last part by showing you how to make one in just a few hours. This article assumes some sewing knowledge, so don't try this if you've never made anything before. By the way, I know the illustrations aren't the best, but they are the best I can do. I'm a fencer, not an artist.
If you are indeed making this for SCA fencing, it must past the armor standards. I find that using heavy denim lining and a medium to heavy weight outer fabric will pass the armor punch tests. I personally like to use "Bull Denim" and densely woven brocade.
You can use any doublet pattern you wish, but I make each doublet from scratch, using a shirt that fits the person you are making this for. If you are making it for yourself, good luck, and have a friend to help you. Take the shirt and lay it on heavy muslin to make the pattern. Mark and cut the pieces that are the main body of the shirt, not including the sleeves. You don't want to cut the whole length of the shirt, just to the hips in the back. In the front, I usually make the doublet come to a point over the pelvis, for added protection to this part of the body. (See Illustration 1) Make sure to allow for seams, and ease of movement. Also, you will need to cut out a collar, and shoulder caps at this time. The collar should be about twice the width of the average shirt collar, to cover the neck as high as you can. Use the collar of your shirt as a pattern, but you will just want to cut the collar band, not the collar wing. (See illustration 1 )
Once you have the pieces cut out of muslin, you can pin them together and try them on the person you are making this for. Tailor the pieces so that it fits the body, but not too tightly. Make sure you have enough overlap in the front for buttons. Make sure the collar is the right size, not too wide, or narrow. And check that the shoulder caps fit the armholes. Once the tailoring is done, take the pins out, and you have your pattern.
Cutting the Fabric
This is pretty easy. Cut the pattern out of both the lining and outer fabric. You have already figured for seam allowances in the tailoring process.
This is the part of the process that makes this doublet my favorite. You see, in making about 40 of these I've discovered several shortcuts that cut down on the time it takes to make a regular doublet. Now, follow along carefully.
First we will construct the lining. Stitch the front shoulders to the back shoulders. If, in the tailoring you have put a seam in the back piece, stitch the back seam. Stitch the shoulder caps to the armholes. Stitch the front side seams to the backside seams. Stitch on the collar. You should have the doublet lining completely sewn together now. (See illustration 2 )
Now we will construct the outer shell. Do exactly the same thing that you just did for the lining. You will end up with two identical pieces, the lining and shell. If you get this far, then you're doing it perfectly.
Next, pin the two shells together, around the outside, starting at the bottom, two inches from the center back. Pin together the pieces all the way around the outside, going from the bottom, to the front where it will be buttoned up, to the collar, down the other side of the front, back to the bottom, and leave a gap about three inches wide from where you started buttoning. (See illustration 3 ) Sew together.
Now you will have one, inside out, piece. Pull everything right side out through the gap at the bottom. Topstitch along the outside line, folding in the selvage at the bottom and close the gap with the topstitch. At this point everything should be sewn together except the sleeves. Fold the selvage in and topstitch the sleeves closed.
Now, all you have to do is make buttonholes, and sew on the buttons, and you are done.If you have any problems, the author can be reached via email at Mistress Mercedes de Califia.