I really wanted to get this up earlier, but I severely miscalculated the amount of cord I'd need (now I'm recommending 3x the yardage of your webbing for cord) and then there was a snafu with the shipment, so long story short, I don't have my lacing finished yet and may be waiting weeks yet for the rest of my cord. But I know some of you are following this tutorial for Halloween, so I decided to just push forward and put up this segment anyway!
This part is probably the easiest part of the entire jerkin construction, but also the most time-consuming. I suggest settling in with Netflix and picking a brand new show to marathon (for my first jerkin, that was Once Upon a Time. This time, it's Twin Peaks.) or you'll never make it through!
The needle doesn't specifically have to be an upholstery needle — that's just the kind of needle I had that fit my cord through the eye. The webbing is pretty easy to sew through, so your needle doesn't need to be particularly sharp (of course, wrestling the eye through the webbing is a bit harder — I ended up with blisters from that). And here I've included my mock-up, but you might have a pattern instead! You can also use a ruler or yardstick instead of a measuring tape.
Step one is to cut strips of your webbing to match your pattern or mock-up. (You could do this step without a pattern or mock-up by cutting the appropriate number of strips to the lengths you calculated in step 2. But I find that pattern pieces really help me stay organized.)
Once you've cut out all your pieces, cut two 4"-ish segments and put them with your sleeve pieces. I promise, I'll explain it in a minute!
It's good if you have a little webbing left over! I had to re-cut one of my pieces when I made a mistake, and you might have to do the same, so hang onto your scrap.
I eyeballed my first jerkin, but I don't recommend that at all! I'm choosing to put my laces 1" apart, so I made little marker dots 1" apart using a measuring tape. Put these dots on both sides of all your pieces of webbing, except the outer edges of your sleeves and the edges of the jerkin that will meet in the front (those pieces don't get laced the same way, so the dots would show). I suggest using black marker because once it's laced with black cord, you can't see the marks. (You could also put the dots on the back if you want, but you really can't see the dots, so I didn't bother.)
Make sure to stagger your dots on adjacent pieces so that your lacing will slant the correct direction (see diagram).
You can mark all the pattern pieces up front and then lace all of them, or you can mark each piece as you lace it. It doesn't really matter! I chose to mark each piece as I laced it.
It begins! If you know how to hand sew, this will be easy peasy for you. If you don't know how to hand sew, it should still be easy peasy for you. Seriously, hand sewing is so easy.
Grab your needle and make sure the cord fits through it! Leave a little tail (you'll be using that tail to tie off your cord — so make it long enough to tie easily, but not so long that you waste a lot of cord for each row) and knot the other end.
Now all you have to do is bring the needle up through one piece of webbing where the dots are, and down through another piece where the dots are. If you're using a real leather cord like me, you might find it stubborn and difficult to work with, keeping a weird shape, and just... generally not behaving. It's super annoying.
And then you do that. That same thing. Over and over. For every strip. For hours. I hope you picked a great TV show.
Note: Make sure to leave looseness in your lacing! If you lace it tight, not only will it look wrong (Arya's has gaps between the straps), but it probably won't fit you!
If you're using the same materials and methods as me, it'll probably already look hella beat up, which is great, since distressing is a pain in the butt and the less you have to do, the better!
This is as far as I got before I ran out of lacing, but really, it's all pretty straightforward! That is, until you reach...
Okay, here's the thing about Arya's jerkin's sleeves... they're stupid. They make no sense. Sometimes I think Game of Thrones costume designers just want to mess with us.
If you stare at these photos with the same infuriated squint that I did, you will note that the section under the arm is all kinds of messed up. There appears to be a strap that is sewn in horizontally (instead of vertically like the rest of the straps), which... I guess allows the round sleeve shape to attach to the square space the jerkin body leaves for it? My best guess is that the weird random strap is serving the purpose of a gusset, although probably pretty ineffectively.
The far edges of your sleeve pattern are meant to come together on the upper arm, tacked together at one point rather than laced all the way up as the rest of the sleeve is (see it here). So the middle of the sleeve, the part I told you not to lace earlier, is the part that sits on the underarm, and the part where we have to insert the weird random divider.
The above diagram indicates where in the finished sleeve the divider goes, and how it should be laced to the others. I hope it makes sense, because whenever I try to explain it in words, I just make it more confusing. My best suggestion for you is to use pins and/or basting to fully understand how it fits into the sleeve before you do anything permanent with the edging and lacing.
And, if all else fails, just pretend the weird bit under the sleeve doesn't exist, lace the whole sleeve together normally, and still have an amazing costume.
That's it for lacing! Keep an eye out for my part 4: edging blog, which I'll put up just as soon as the rest of my cord arrives and I can catch up! If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to my blog.