long term costume project, step one
I”m planning a new c15th outfit. Ok, so I need yet another c15th costume like I need the proverbial hole in the head, but I wanna, so deal with it.
It’s to be a red silk velvet gown based on the one in the Petrus Christus painting of the donor and his wife. The actual gown in fairly simple, and I’m going to do it last of all. Over the next 12 months or so I’m going to make, or at least try to make because some of the pieces are a bit new and experimental for me -
- belt buckle and chape. I’ve ordered some of the new bronze clay to see how I get on with it. If I get on with it in the experimental stages I will order enough to make a large gown buckle, which will be gold plated once finished.
- enamelled plaques for the belt, based on the ones from the Chalcis hoard. This is another one of going out on a limb for me, as I haven’t done much cloisonne enamel, most of my enamelling experience is with limoge style cellwork. Then again, I taught myself to do that, so…
- Necklace, or rather collar. Again, this is pushing me and it may not work, as the piece I have in mind uses emaille en ronde bosse, another enamelling technique I haven’t tried before, combined with the copper clays, so it sort of depends on how well the matel clay experiments go (I’m hoping to use the clay as a viable alternative to casting, as I don’t have the facilities to cast metal – metal clay is expensive compared to bullion, so I don’t plan on using it a lot)
- possibly an embroidered stomacher for the gown, which will tie in with another c15th project I have as a long term goal.
- headress, which, apart from wanting a red velvet gown, is my main motivation for the whole project. The donor’s wife has the strangest bubble head hennin, round at the top rather than flat. I’ve ordered a hat form specially made for this, and once it arrives I will cover it in yellow velvet, gold brocaded tablet weave, and pearls. I’m really looking forward to doing the hat.
I also need to talk john into making me new shoes, pretty pretty ones.
Anyway, I decided to start with the easy bit, the underkirtle. Because the gown, although sumptous, will be plain, I wanted a flash of something ornate underneath it. Remember the hideous but very very cheap silk brocade I bought last year?
Well, I’ve decided to use it. I only have four metres, and the pattern is HUGE with a very long repeat, so a fitted kirtle would look a complete mess. Instead I decided to make a late c15th Italian style kirtle – the high waisted kind. I did think maybe I’d make sleeves as well so could wear it from time to time on its own, but the pattern is so hideuosly unflattering when worn all over that I looked like a pair of curtains and decided against it.
Oh, and changing the neckline a bit…
Then stitched each layer (there were two) before basting them together.
I decided to use dress rings. They aren’t really any quicker to insert than sewn eyelets, I don’t think, but they do seem stronger and less likely to fray. I hate the way sewn eyelets can pull out of shape sometimes.
Considering theres no boning at all in this, its doing an impressive (and surprisingly comfortable) job of supporting and flattening my considerable bust.
Once it was trimmed at the shoulders I didn’t really want to put binding rounds the edges or turn them in case that made it too bulky or stiff, so instead I did a machine zig zag stitch round all the edges, as eventually they were to be encased in silk anyway.
Once that was done I could get on with the fun bit – handsewing! I started with the big skirt panels. Normally I don’t bother pinning fabric as it leads to stabbing myself, but this time I did because there was an inch or so of overlap in the side of the pattern, so to match it up I had to trim quite a bit, which I prefer to do after sewing.
It ended up matching the pattern reasonably well though.
The silk, perhaps because it has so many colours, frayed a lot. I did consider hemming it at the top before attaching it to the bodice, but I didn’t really want to add too much bulk, so in the end I decided to zig zag stitch along the top, just as a fray-stop.
Pleating the skirt into the bodice was a bit of a tight squeeze, and I did try pinning it to get it even, but the thick linen is so tough I couldn’t get the pins through it properly, and in the end I just did it by eye as I went along, and it fitted Ok.
Each piece was then hemmed round the back of the linen it overlaid. I know this is not the most orthodox construction, but believe me it worked far better than the times I’ve tried making two separate bodices then trying to fit them together – no matter how exact I think I’m being it always ends up wrinkled when I do it that way.
It sticks out a lot at the skirt, and worn alone is not the most flattering thing, I grant you. But with the end purpose in mind I’m reasonably pleased with it – it gives a good shape to the bodice, is supportive, and the bottom of that skirt will look wonderful when the overgown is lifted up for walking. Ultimately all that will be seen is the bottom 18 inches or so.
The dummy is a little shorter than me, so the skirt doesn’t wrinkle at the bottom when its on me.
And in other news, Branston has a new box