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!

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  • Reply Sarah Bellem January 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    How much you wanna bet that the mooshed boob effect is because we originally patterned over your bra? But otherwise, PRETTY!!!!

  • Reply kendra January 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Sarah – I thought that too, so I actually put it on over my bra and still – mooshy boob! I think we just got enthusiastic about bust support. No big whoop!

  • Reply Bess - myladyswardrobe January 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Squeeeee!!!! It looks amazing. Well done. Can’t wait to see it in the fabric.

    I can’t train my husband in costume. He just keeps saying “No Lace! Mrs Bennett!! No lace!”


  • Reply kendra January 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Bess: BWAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAH! Michael and I have tons of Mrs Bennett jokes! I also love to tease him about Mr Hurst’s fab line about dancing, “Damn tedious waste of an evening.” Boys are funny!

  • Reply wendy January 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    oooh, pretties. One fo these is on my wish list, but way down cos of needing help fitting it.

  • Reply Jenny January 10, 2010 at 3:55 am

    I love your inspiration, and the fabric is lovely :D I made a dress inspired by The Tempest a couple years back, though it was a costume, not a historical garment by any means. Your post made me remember it. :-)

  • Reply Jeannette Ng January 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I’m not sure there’s much to say beyond it’s lovely. That you’re in quire an orange room with artificial light probably doesn’t set off the fabric to its best advantage.

    The fabric looks oddly familiar (by no means a bad way) from my many journeys into a certain cloth market, but that could just be me.

  • Reply Jessamyn January 19, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Gorgeous fabric and a great dress!

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