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15th century, 16th century, 18th century, gfd, michelangelo, projects, travel

England Trip Report #2: What I Wore (and Made)

There was a mad rush of sewing to get ready for the England trip, naturally.

As previously posted, Michael’s doublet was nearing completion but he felt it was too tight.  I thought about piecing in a gusset in the CB, then realized that would just get wonky, so I literally took out the whole back and remade it.  Ugh!  I know I could have made him suffer, but I wanted him to be happy.  I really wanted to make him a hat, and bought the pattern and everything, but the timing was just too tight.  Maybe if he ever wears it again!

Final photos – and by popular request, a ruff (okay, some ruffled eyelet lace) for Sir Winston:

For me, the big project was a c. 1780 robe à la polonaise, which I took pictures of while I was making but totally neglected to do a dress diary… the reason for which will need to be another post! It’s made of red and white printed cotton (a duvet cover from Ikea), trimmed with red taffeta (which was supposedly silk when I bought it in the $7/yd silk taffeta garment district madness, but when Sarah burn tested her fabric, she reported it was not silk – bastards!), and yards of white organza ruffles.  I handsewed most of it, except I hemmed and gathered all the organza ruffles on the machine (hey, I’m not crazy!) except for the bottom ruffle on the petticoat, where the ruffling would show… and I ran out of time, so a lot of the sleeve was done on the machine.  I’m really pleased with it, especially the fit — I’m tired of always being the boobed wonder when I wear 18th c., so I made the neckline pretty cover-y — it might even be TOO narrow, but I’m not changing it now!  I do still need to add some braid to the back seams, but I can easily get that done before Costume College.  I’m thinking I’ll wear this to the Gala unless I get a wild hair to make something new… but that’s another post, too!  I promise to do a full write-up on the dress at some point, but again, more on this subject in another post.

I also remade my 1780s capote to have a poufier top (ie remade it in a couple of layers of silk organza), and retrimmed it as the green scheme made the outfit Christmas-y (I figured blue was complimentary without being matchy).  I used a vintage feather trim that I got at Costume College a few years back.  Finally, I wore the lace knitted mitts that I’ve been working on for a while – a totally modern pattern, unfortunately, as the only period patterns I could find were very butter churn-y and winter-y.

Finally, I did widen the neckline on the medieval gown — it was a rush job the night before we left, so I just put the dress on inside out, marked a wider neckline, cut some bias silk and finished it quickly.  I was worried it would stretch out or do something funky, but it seems to have worked!  I have a LOT of bust in it, but otherwise it turned out to be prettier than I’d thought and I had fun swanning about in the bluebells in it.

Oh, and I wore my green Venetian, but that’s very this-old-thing to me these days!

15th century, gfd, projects

Sausage + Sleeves = Nearly Done!

So my one hour per night sewing resolution was super helpful last week (this week, not so much).  I stayed up late on Friday just for that sense of accomplishment of having the sleeves DONE.

I did one more mockup, moving the upper/lower sleeve seam down.  Looking at it now, I think I should have angled it up even more towards the back, but what’s done is done and I was happy to move on to the real deal.  I cut the sleeves with a motif going down the front outside of the arm, and while there is a break in the pattern because of the elbow seam, I don’t think it’s very noticeable.

I also went through and fixed/reinforced all the gores that were pulling… altho one has pulled yet again.  Sigh.  So I need to get in there with some duct tape or hot glue or… I KID, I KID!

So it’s all done, minus the hem — which is going to be a total BASTARD.  I gotta start thinking of what I can offer as bribes to get someone to mark it for me!

And man, do I look like a sausage.  I’m really going to need a porn star wig (for any Pre-Raphaelite wearings) to detract from the sausageness.  Please to enjoy that monster horizontal wrinkle in back!

15th century, gfd, projects

A New Resolution

So I’ve made a new resolution:  sew for an hour every weeknight.  See, I used to be really really good at this — just a little bit of work each evening.  But for the past few years, I’ve come home exhausted and just flopped all night, leaving most of my sewing (except for hand finishing) for weekends and holidays.  I really want to avoid last minute rushes and panics, so this week I started implementing this resolution, even going so far as to calculate what time it will be in an hour and holding myself to it.

And it’s been bearing fruit!  Not tons of fruit, as that’s not the point, but it’s meant that slow and steady progress is being made, where normally it wouldn’t be.

I’m also trying to be disciplined and stay focused on my must-do list and to ignore any more CADD — if I can get through my must-sew list, then I will be free to do whatever I want!

So I’ve been working on the sleeve pattern for my Gothic Fitted/Pre-Raphaelite dress.  Being totally new to this era, I mostly followed Charlotte’s clear and useful instructions.  She’s right about the shape of the sleeve head — my dress armscye measurement was WAY longer than my bicep measurement, and even though I thought I’d flared the top of the sleeve a bit, I still had NO arm movement possible.  I futzed through a few mockups, finally flaring even more at the top and making the sleeve head curve relatively shallow, and got a nice sleeve top with some reasonable arm movement.

However, I was also getting some upsetting elbow-region wrinkles, and Tasha’s article on the “elbow hinge” was super helpful.  I ended up pinning a tuck (sort of shaped like a fish dart) in the sleeve where the wrinkling was happening, then repatterned with a straight edge for the top, measured out the width of the fish dart, and took all that out of the curved top of the bottom part of the sleeve.  It’s by no means perfect, but it helped.

I think I ended up with the seam connecting the upper & lower sleeves too high, however — I marked in Photoshop where I want to lower it to (on the last picture).  I also want the hem of the sleeve to hit my knuckles, so I need to add about an inch there.  So probably one more mockup before the pattern is finalized.

The one other good thing about this slow & steady approach is that normally, I would have made the above mentioned changes to the pattern and then just gone ahead without a final mockup (in my impatience to just get to the real deal). But since I was done with my hour of sewing for that night, I could resist that impulse and do the sensible thing of one final mockup!

15th century, gfd, projects

Fixing the Fit

It’s taken me a while to pick this back up again, even when I knew I only had to do a relatively easy fix.  Lethargy and CADD are to blame!  If you’ll recall, I’d put the basic dress together and all the lacing holes, and had Scary Mooshy Boob.  I let out the CF lacing as far as necessary to achieve Relatively Normal Boob, then put a piece of paper over me and traced the opening shape.  Then I cut that in half, and made a pattern for a small gusset to go in the side seam.  I put that in and it seems to have MOSTLY dealt with the problem, so since this dress is all about being good enough for government work, that’s done!  I am getting some horizontal wrinkles around my waist, particularly in back, but I’ve decided I’m just going to live with that.  I’ve got one front gusset that’s pulling — I did resew it, trying to create a bit more seam allowance, but it’s pulled again.  Harumph.  I will have to rip out the top of that gusset and try some fray block or something!

I also took some scary flash photos of the full length of the dress, just so you could see the skirt.

gfd, projects

So I kinda did a lot of sewing over break…

and, uh, kind of forgot to post about it.  oops!

Really, it’s because I was working on this project, and I thought it would go a little more smoothly than it has, and thought, “Eh, not really worth the trouble of making a dress diary.”  But I’ve hit a small bump, and it’s going to take longer than I thought, so here we are.

Here’s the project overview, FYI. (Sadly, there is no good way in WordPress to keep overview info like that with the related posts – grr).

I’ve decided I want a Pre-Raphaelite dress.  Throughout my teen and college years I loved the paintings of Waterhouse et al — I spent all of my European travels buying posters and postcards of Pre-Raph paintings and covering my walls with Ophelia and Flaming June.  Mostly, it was because of the romantic view of history and, of course, the costumes.

However, I already did the “take a modern pattern and wear it over a Victorian corset” thing, and I keep thinking about MAYBE doing a little bit more with the SCA than I currently do, and I saw Sarah‘s beautiful 14th & 15th century dresses, and then I had some CADD, and then I asked some questions on LJ… and the next thing you know, I’m making a Gothic Fitted Dress using the fabulous research & construction advice on Costly Thy Habit and La Cotte Simple.

Aided a LOT by Charlotte of Costly Thy Habit, I decided to go for general 15th c. fitted dress. Tasha’s article, “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Layers” helped me wrap my brain around the style, and Charlotte’s article, “Will the Real 15th Century Sleeve Please Stand Up?” helped me avoid the different color pinned on sleeve trap.

The fabric I’m using is a silk drapery sheer damask in a dark red and gold-ish.  It’s a weird fabric — it looks opaque until you hold it up to a light.  So I am underlining it in white linen.  I did debate whether to use linen for the dress, since I LOVE the dress in The Tempest… but the pretty pretty princess in me won out!  I originally bought this fabric as a mystery fabric on ebay, hoping it might work for a 16th c. Venetian.  I’m glad I didn’t use it for that, as I don’t think it’s going to hold up SUPER well because of the loose weave.  Oh well, if I can get 1-2 good wearings out of this, I’ll be happy!

I bribed Sarah to come over and drape the pattern on me, because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of draping on a dress form — it’s one thing if you’re draping over a corset, but if we’re talking JUST body then I know my dress form isn’t going to be close enough to my shape.  She came up with a lovely drape using the curved front method, which I faithfully took a picture of and now can’t find.

I used Charlotte’s dress fitting & construction articles to figure out the gores and how to insert them, although for some reason I was picturing super narrow gores (like say maybe 7-10″ wide at the bottom), so thought I had tons of fabric.  Luckily I asked some questions of Charlotte on LJ before I cut, and realized that I needed as much fabric as I could get into the gores — I ended up with 8 gores about 29″ wide which, with the straight panels which are cut in one with the bodice, meant a hem of about 270″ (which is apparently just about the least I could get away with).  I had to use most of the fabric (don’t worry, there’s a piece left over for sleeves) and put in half of the gores upside down… luckily I don’t think it’s too apparent.

As I was sewing, I kept going and reading more and more research about these dresses (mostly from Charlotte & Tasha’s sites, but also searching out images etc.).  I’m glad that I did in that I was originally going to put the lacing in the CB, which apparently there is no evidence of, so phew on that… but it got a bit silly as really, what I want is a decently-period-but-good-enough-for-government-work medieval dress to swan about it.  I do, however, have a nice extension of my costume image morgue now into the 1400s, and maybe someday I’ll make a burgundian overdress for this and… oh no, a dark path opens before me!  Watch out, soon I’ll be wearing hennins!  (Side note:  I am immensely proud that I have trained my husband as to the term “hennin.”  About once a year we’ll be looking at something in a museum/on TV/whatever and I’ll say, “And what’s that pointy hat called?” and he’ll say, “Hennin!” and I’ll beam with pride.  Boys!  They are trainable!)

So I flatlined everything, cut gores, slit panels, sewed in 10 million gores, faced the neckline and CF, and made 10,000 lacing holes so that I could finally have a try on (what? make lacing strips? that’s far too practical!).  All went well — I was even impressed that I really DIDN’T need to wear any sort of bust support underneath — until I kept tightening the lace and ended up with the mashed boobs of doom.  Ooops.  Looks kind of weird from the front, looks REALLY weird from the side.  I found if I opened up the CF about 2″ over the bust that it looks lovely, so I’m going to open up the side seam and put a gusset in each side.

Then, it’ll be on to sleeve and hem land!

1775 maja, 1780s stays, gfd, planning, projects

Winter Break Is Upon Us

Which means it’s time for the sewing room to get cleaned and used!  I’ve been knitting a lot lately — it’s cold and I’m lazy, and knitting requires no getting up off the couch.  I’ve finished one mitt, from a very modern pattern, that will be used for 18th century, but now that I have almost two weeks off, I need to get more ambitious.

My early 2010 docket looks like this:

A medieval and/or Pre-Raphaelite dress, for a Pre-Raphaelite event.  I’m torn between doing something very historically accurate so that I can use it for SCA purposes, or going all Waterhouse-y because hey, no one’s going to kick me out of an SCA event for not being historically accurate!  I have some silk damask drapery sheer fabric (it’s weird, you can’t tell that it’s sheer until you hold it up to the light) that I’m thinking I’ll use, lined with linen.  I’m going to hire Sarah to drape the dress on me because it needs to be draped on the body, and my arms aren’t that long.

A man’s Elizabethan outfit — shirt, trunkhose & canions, doublet, and hat.  Sit down for this one – my husband is going to get gussied up for a 16th century event!  Oh, and HE chose the puffy pants option over Venetians!  Color me shocked! I’ve ordered the Tudor Tailor pattern as hello, boy clothes are not my forte, but until it shows up I can’t do much except for the shirt.

Those are the two things I NEED to make before May, and is probably more than enough!  So I won’t continue to ponder new 16th century and 18th century outfits for myself.  I am debating whether I want to make a machine-made version of my new 18th century stays, as the handsewn-outfit-from-hell Maja project is going to get pushed back to summer/fall.  I did start hand sewing a new 18th century shift, then realized halfway through that it was ridiculous to hand sew a new shift when I desperately need one NOW, and it will get a lot of heavy wear & machine washing.  So I finished it on the machine!  I’ll make the handsewn one once the Maja dress is actually made.