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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!

16th century, michelangelo, projects

Doublet Nearing Completion…But I Need Advice!

Doublet!  I made one, and shockingly quickly too!  After procrastinating all Spring Break (ie working on something for myself), I forced myself to pick up this project.  Luckily I’d already done one mockup & fitting, so I was able to get most of this done in about two days.  I shock myself!  And I actually kind of enjoyed it, because I felt like I knew what I was doing.  The handwork took a bit longer — adding trim that I couldn’t machine sew on, putting in the lining.  But that’s stuff I can do on the couch on a weeknight.

But there’s an issue… I put this on Michael, and he said (very nicely), “It’s too tight!  It feels like a suit jacket that’s 1-2 sizes too small.”  Now, I have NO idea what it should feel like to wear a doublet, so I don’t know if I screwed something up or whether this is just an issue of a man who has never worn costume before (okay, he’s worn 1920s but that’s totally different).  Any guesses?  There are some wrinkles going from the front of his armscye to his underarm, so I was thinking I could open up the armhole more (UGH THE WORK!), but won’t that just make things tighter by having a bigger armscye?  I had him lift his arms up as high as he could go, so you can see his arm movement range… the back looks good – no real wrinkles – altho I’m guessing that’s where the “too small” comes in.  I could piece a strip in to make the doublet itself wider by piecing something next to the arm (UGH THE WORK), but is that even going to help?  And, is this a problem that needs fixing?

16th century, michelangelo, projects

Ham Pants!

One random thing I do is make up dorky songs.  Mostly these get sung to the critters, but sometimes they are sewing-related.  This is relevant because I came up with a song about “ham pants,” and thus Michael’s trunkhose got their name.  (Okay, they were Ood Pants for a while, because the panes were very tentacle-y, but now they’re Ham Pants).

So, uh, yeah, I’ve worked on these.  A LOT!  Boy clothes are boring, I have decided.  Although I am having crazy thoughts of making some super over the top 18th century man’s outfit for myself and cross-dressing, just because 18th c. men’s clothing is fab and when will I ever have a chance to make it?  But now I am off topic.

So I made Michael’s shirt a loong while ago, working from the Tudor Tailor book.  All very easy, rectangular construction, except for the fact that the collar was about .5″ too small, so I cut a new one and somehow brilliantly cut it even SMALLER, so ended up making/attaching the collar 3 times.  Someday it will get ties at the neck and cuffs.  It will probably never get a hem (hey, I often leave my shifts unhemmed, so it’s standard practice!).

But the trunkhose were made using the Tudor Tailor sized patterns, which are EXPENSIVE given the exchange rate.  They really need a US supplier!

And let me tell you about this pattern.  It was drafted very nicely — all the pattern pieces matched up and went together.  Fitting the pants was relatively easy, as it was just a matter of fitting the fitted lining, then extending the length on the various pattern pieces to match (my husband is 6’5″).


1. The pattern sheets are HA-UGE.  I mean seriously, ridiculously, crazy huge.  I took a picture to show you how it basically covered 1/2 of the square footage of my sewing room, but I seem to have lost it.  It made tracing off the various pieces a serious pain.  Luckily the doublet is on one sheet, and the trunkhose on two, so it’s not that crazy Simplicity hunt for a tiny piece on a random sheet.  But DUDE, that’s a seriously big piece of paper.

2. Even more importantly, THE INSTRUCTIONS SUCK.  The pattern instructions included with the (scaled, not the book) pattern are exactly the same ones as in the book.  I first looked at them and though, “Eh, no problem.  I’m a pretty decent seamstress, and I don’t usually bother to follow pattern instructions anymore (when I bother to use patterns).”  But this was my first time sewing this garment, and I admit I needed a bit of guidance.  Now, yes I could have gone and read every bit of Janet Arnold and scoured the web, but I don’t think I should NEED to do this in order to make up your pattern.

There are a few more photos vs. the book, but they are faded color copies and are hard to make out.  One photo completely puzzled me until Teresa figured it out, explained it to me, AND I looked at it upside down.  It still makes no sense when I look at it right side up.

Most importantly (and this goes for the book too):  they tell you to do some things out of order.  To wit, in case anyone else decides to make up this pattern from the scaled pattern or the book:  Go ahead and put the darts in the trunkhose lining bottom, but do NOT gather and/or attach the trunkhose lining top to the waistband UNTIL you have figured out the panes length.  Do what I did:  attach the panes at the bottom of the trunkhose lining, then figure out the pane lengths, then gather/attach the trunkhose lining top to the waistband, then cartridge pleat the panes.  Also, I have no idea if it’s because I was making a larger size, but I found that there really wasn’t much fabric to cartridge pleat in the panes.  I mean, I had to gather them, yes, but they basically made waves rather than tight cartridge pleats.  I doubt it’s period, but if I ever made these again, I would just do two rows of gathering stitches across all the tops of the panes, sew that to the waistband; then I would gather the trunkhose lining and hand sew it to the waistband/panes (I think it would be too thick to machine sew; you’ll have to handsew anyway if you cartridge pleat).

Some positives?  Again, all the pattern pieces went together well.  I would personally think about adding some balance marks, but hey, I didn’t need them.

One thing that could go either way:  the patterns are drafted without seam allowance.  This will be great if you work like me, where you make mockups and worry about the seamlines, perfect your pattern, and then add seam allowance — it saved me the step of removing the seam allowance before making a mockup.  But I know that freaks some people out, so I thought I’d note it.

So, they are done, minus lacing holes.  And the husband is super cute, because I put him into his shirt and Ham Pants to check that they were done, and then told him I was done, and he said, “Hey, don’t you have a blog where you post photos?”  So he gets a gold star for volunteering to have dorky photos of himself wearing Ham Pants on the interwebs.  Winston just walked right into the photo and sat very nicely for his portrait, so I had to include him too.

Yes, the Ham Pants(TM) are mostly black, so it’s hard to tell what’s going on here… but they’re done, and minus some loose cartridge pleating, I’d say they’re decently well made.  And I am now SO over boys clothes, and really just want to work on my own stuff (which, I admit, I did last weekend… but more on that in another post!).

16th century, michelangelo, projects

Boys Are Skerry

But I’m making one an outfit, anyway!  Okay, he’s my husband, so he gets special dispensation from the skerry-ness (altho I still may need a lot of hand holding through this process, as I don’t DO boys’ clothes as a rule).  There’s a 16th century event coming up that he is (SIT DOWN FOR THIS ONE) attending, so I’m going to make him an outfit!

The inspiration: Moroni’s Gentile Cavaliere, 1564-5

The inspiration: Moroni’s Gentile Cavaliere, 1564-5

Specifically, a 1560s Italian gentleman’s ensemble.  I wasn’t terribly picky about geography or decade, so long as it was 16th century; I had vague ideas that if I made his Italian, it would coordinate nicely with my Italian wardrobe; but it was only once I found specific paintings I liked, it all worked out, as they happened to be Italian!

I bought the Tudor Tailor Elizabethan Peascod Doublet & Trunkhose pattern, as yes I could spend 10,000 hours sizing up out of The Tudor Tailor… or I could accept that I don’t love men’s clothing (or know them very well), so having someone do that work for me was worth the insane cost of the pattern.  (I get SOME credit for scaling up the shirt pattern from TT, altho that was so not hard).

Originally, I was thinking all wool — I thought the more straightforward masculine-by-contemporary-definitions, the more comfortable he’d be.  He’s a winter color-wise (which has been WEIRD to shop for, as I am all about the warm colors), so we were thinking blue and black.  But when we had a design consult the other night, we veered off and ended up with the idea of all black wool, with dark silver silk damask accents.  Be still, my beating heart!

So here’s the plan:

  • Shirt (mostly done, will post about that soon)
  • Doublet in black wool flannel
  • Trunkhose and canions in black wool flannel
  • Dark silver accents, as in the Moroni portrait (swapping the gold for silver):  dark silver silk damask for the trunkhose lining, and dark silver couched braid on the doublet

I spent a LONG time looking for the silver damask, and was shocked at how little I could find that fit my mental image.  I finally found this 80% silk/20% poly damask on ebay.  Now I’m on the hunt for some kind of dark silver braid/cord that looks like the trim in the painting.  So far I can’t find anything closer than soutache braid, but it seems like there should be some other options?  I’ve checked MJ Trim, ebay, Farmhouse fabrics, minidolls… all my usual trim sources!  Even checked Calontir, but they’re all about the jacquard celtic stuff.  So I’m still hunting – suggestions welcome!