Friday, December 14, 2012

My Italian Debut, part 3

I was working on my outfit at a leisurely pace until one day I realized "Crap, I only have a month left!" Nose, meet grindstone. Multiple layers were squared away, and what hand sewn portions I could easily transport, I did.

The overgown is where I departed from by stash dipping. I did not have enough fabric to make a pretty gown, so I bought some online from Fashion Fabrics Club. It's cotton damask in white and light blue, and it took me ages to decide what side to use. I eventually chose blue with white motifs in the hope it would be slightly less stain catching, and it looked prettier with the red. When I started sewing, I noticed a bit of stretch in the material, but I've mostly ignored it.

Drafting the bodice was easy. I traced the pattern pieces of the kirtle on paper, added seam allowance around the sides, and altered the front so it had a pretty V, and the back so it had four pieces like in The Tudor Tailor. I used some of the old kirtle skirt lining for both mockup and lining for the bodice.

I ran construction seams through the sewing machine and flat felled the entire thing by hand. I had some homemade piping leftover from a previous project, and there was enough for the neckline and armscythes. I justify my dubious use of piping in that it is pretty and Gozzoli's 1491 Birth of Mary features a woman with similar edging on her gown.

Here's an interior view of the bodice. It closes in place with a clasp I had on hand for years.
I had a minor adventure in cutting. I bought 4 yards of 45" wide damask, which is enough for a woman of my size if you're creative with cutting. First things first, I marked out three panels for the skirt and used what was left for the bodice and sleeves. To save on space, I made each sleeve into two pieces and pieced in the straps of the front bodice.

Sleeves were simple. Courtesy of the Tudor Costume Page, I drafted the sleeves, turned them into and up and down pieces, and tried it on. They are workable, but later I will make improvements to the mockup. With little material left, I pieced one of the lower sleeves together. I then found out, that despite great care, I cut out two upper right sleeves. Grumble. Courtesy of piecing, I made myself an upper left sleeve and a subtle period touch of making do.

For speed's sake, they were completely baglined with more of the former skirt lining, have 1 visible machine seam per piece. I whipped them into tubes and added eyelets by hand. I used ribbon in the stash to lace the sleeves to each other and the bodice.

The skirt is a tube of three panels with a slit down the front to allow me in and out. the interior seams are machine stitched, the top and bottom hems are done by machine blind stitch, and I cartridge pleated by hand using white upholstery thread I had to buy. The slit is hemmed by hand, and for the sake of modesty closes by hooks and eyes cannibalized from another project. I can't find them anymore, but these hook and eyes snap in and out of place for security. Though I could have pinned the slit shut, I did not want pointy things in close proximity to a sensitive location.

Enough natter, here's the final result!

Aside from the damask and spool of thread, everything came from the stash. Yay for being frugal.
I am somewhere between vexed and amused that my bust takes up more space than seemingly most of the women in portraits of this period. While I can lace the kirtle tighter, I don't want to add more strain to the material the lacing rings are stitched to. If you can look closely the piping and strap piecing are visible here.

And finally, and action shot with a cosplayer of the main character! Important secrets are being conveyed.

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