Saturday, 23 June 2018

A Tale of Two Tabards - Child's Heraldic Tunic DIY

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

Looking to enlarge my costumery portfolio and try a historical era about which I knew absolutely zero, I was interested to be asked if I could help with children's costumes for a local historical venue.

The design brief was simple - the in-house stock of tabards, whilst historically accurate and made from lovely fabric - was a bit boring from a child's point of view, how could these be enlivened, maybe by adding motifs such as Crusader crosses, fleur de lys and heraldic roses?

Of course my first thought was to use applique motifs.  But these would not be interchangeable, might get a bit ragged on the edges and it would mean stitching the motifs onto completed garments which can be a bit of a faff (always so much easier to stitch motifs onto garment pieces before making up).  Not to mention would the motifs stand up to laundering (these are children's garments, after all).


child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen valleriuschild heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

Anyway, I started off by researching some heraldic motifs.  Of course there are gazillions of motifs on Pinterest etc, but there are always copyright considerations there.  So I turned to this brilliant 19th century book, "A Handbook of Ornament" by Meyer.  It is a sort of graphic design guide for the Victorian era!  Sure enough, there is a chapter on heraldic design. 

As I started working on the motif - I had chosen a particularly fierce looking large dog with a metal spiked collar - I found the solution to my stitching conundrum.  I realised that if I stitched the motif onto a shield shape this could then be attached to the tabard.  By using velcro tabs (positioned using a template to ensure accuracy of placement) the shields would be interchangeable and could be removed before laundering the garment or for repairs.  It would also mean that the children could choose their own beast!

Read on for step by step instructions of how to make the shield motif.  These are general instructions for using the fusible interfacing, so be sure to check manufacturers' own websites for full details for the product you are using.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

1. Draw or photocopy your design.  Also draw or photocopy a shield shape.  You will see here that my design combined both of these.  You can also see that I upcycled an old scarf for the shield shape.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

2. Trace the main heraldic motif onto double sided fusible interfacing.  Make sure the "paper" side is on the top.  I edited the design at this stage to eliminate some of the more fussy detailing.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

3. Place your fusible interfacing glue side down onto the "body" felt and iron it on.  Then cut the shape out.  You will see that I had to cut the animal in separate body and head pieces to fit but this doesn't matter as it will all be bonded onto the backing fabric.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

4.  Repeat these steps for details in other colours - in this case I used black felt for the eye, red felt for the tongue and yellow felt for the collar.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

The ferocious beast against my Cath Kidston ironing board cover!

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

5. Carefully peel away the interfacing paper which will leave a layer of glue which will attach the motif to your backing fabric.  This can be a bit tricky to start, so try to work apart an area on a longish smooth edge (rather than a detailed corner) as once it starts to come apart it gets easier.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

6. Iron your felt pieces onto a shield shape cut from your backing fabric.  Cut a slightly smaller shield shape from woven interfacing to use as a middle layer for the shield.  Stitch Velcro tabs onto a second piece which forms the backing of the shield. 

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

7. I stitched the motif in place for extra security and to add some detail.

8. Sandwich top and backing shields with right sides of the fabric together and the interfacing underneath, stitch round the shield sides then turn right sides out so that the interfacing is between the shield layers.  Finish off the top edge and topstitch all edges if desired.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

9. Be sure to stitch your velcro tabs in place using the template so that they will match up with the shield.

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

8. The shield shown on a velvet tabard (made from a curtain).

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

The other design I worked on was for a heraldic lion.  This tabard is made from an unused pillowcase. 

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius

child heraldic tabard diy tutorial by karen vallerius


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