Enchantment Under the Sea – Gloves

Gloves or "hand - fins" for my costume

Finished gloves or “hand – fins” for my costume – one shown face up, the other face down.

One of the hardest parts about this costume was the “gloves”. In the costume sketch, I really liked the look – but when I came to drafting the pattern, it got a lot harder to translate that basic sketch into something I could work from.

I wanted a fin-like glove, similar to Miss Tess’s sheer glove (below, from Pinterest) but I wanted my fingers to be free so I wouldn’t have to take the glove off and on in order to sip my drink, nibble on the delicious food I’m anticipating, or to do anything to help out with the party.

MissTess’s sheer glove

I decided what I really wanted was a fingerless glove with the top part of the glove extended into a boned fin.  Simple, right? Still, that’s where I kind of ‘hit a wall’ in terms of pattern-making. So, just like when I was making elements for other costume elements that I just couldn’t get from sketch to pattern – I “draped” the pattern.. sort of.

I never did take any draping classes – I wanted to, but when I was studying fashion design I already had an over-filled schedule, (taking both surface design and textiles streams instead of one or the other) so I never found the time to get it into my schedule. Without a dressform in my size, I didn’t really put it at the top of my list either. Thus, my “draping” is a little more “well… this should work…” than actual technique.

This time around, instead of fabric on a dressform… it was a long plastic glove, masking tape, paper, and a marker.

Taped up mock up of the  hand-fin / glove pattern

Taped up mock up of the hand-fin / glove pattern

Simplified steps:

  1. Tear off 6-8″ strips of wide masking tape
  2. Tear off 6-8″ strips of narrow masking tape (or, in my case, I tore the wide strips in half…)
  3. Put on plastic glove – I used a calving glove which goes up past my elbow. I put it on my left hand so my dominant right hand was free to use!
  4. Wrap the narrow tape across the palm and between the fingers. I was careful not to pull the tape too tightly – that’s the reason for using pre-cut strips.
  5. Move the wrapping down the hand, wrist, and lower arm. My aim was to get one layer of tape over the whole glove  up to my mid-lower arm.

Once my arm was wrapped up in tape (I only took the tape to the base of my fingers, since these were going to be fingerless gloves) I drew the seam lines and notches onto the masking tape for when I’d transfer the pattern to paper and eventually fabric. I also drew any ‘design lines’ – like where the opening would be for the thumb. I carefully cut into the masking tape and plastic glove along one of the seam lines. Then I trimmed away the excess masking tape away.

Next I used scrap paper to cut a series of fin shapes, and when I had a shape I liked, I taped the glove back in place on my arm (using painter’s tape) and taped the fin in place on the masking-tape ‘glove’ to test the look and placement.

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From here I separated the pattern pieces and traced each with pattern paper, then smoothed out all the lines, matched up notches…. and I had my pattern!

Hand fin / glove pattern and early sketches

Hand fin / glove pattern and early sketches

Instead of seams on either side of the arm, I decided to go with one side seam, and one sweeping seam creating a diagonal line across the top of the line to give a sense of movement, and to make the “fin” seem more natural and part of the garment rather than a fin sewn on top of a regular glove. This means that the pattern pieces are even stranger than a regular glove – not that I make a lot of gloves!

Hand fins - one boned, one not boned

Hand fins – one boned, one not boned

Next I sewed together the pieces:

  1. Sewing the fin tops together. I wanted to use the right and wrong sides of the same fabric, so I sewed them right and wrong sides together, then turning.
  2. I top-stitched the curves, also adding in the rib lines where boning would be inserted.
  3. Then I basted the rest of the glove together – to test the fit and the construction. Ultimately the fin piece is layered over the back of the glove, and the side seam and angled seams are sewn, followed by the thumb seam.
  4. I sewed the mini-seams between each of the fingers by hand.
  5. I added a folded cuff to the edge of the glove to finish the edge and add additional strength and length.
  6. Next I opened up a small area on the diagonal seam to slide in boning. I tried a few different things – boning types as well as lengths, opting for “German Plastic” boning, cut only to the length of the channels.
  7. Finally I re-sewed the small opening.

I could have hemmed the raw edges, but I decided that in the interest of keeping the stretch and reducing bulk, it would be easier to leave the edges raw. Since this is a fine knit, it’s not going to unravel.
I may need to wash the gloves however (in case food or drink gets on them) so I’m opting not to paint them the way that I did with the ear-fins.

One of the completed gloves, face down

One of the completed gloves, face down

Keep following the “Enchantment Under the Sea” tag – soon I’ll have the complete costume to share, so you can see how everything looks together!

Update: December 7, 2014

Enchantment Under the Sea fins being worn.

Enchantment Under the Sea fins being worn.

Here’s a sneak-preview! More posts coming soon!


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