Tuesday, March 29, 2011

14th Century Gold and Green

The gold gown was made using a Rocking Horse Farm pattern that was taken in and altered for Karen. It fits without lacing and the sleeves are buttoned down the back of the arm. The green gown was made using draping and laces up the front. There are some things about these gowns that I want to change, and as we're looking at making two new 14th century kirtles this summer, hopefully I'll have a chance to correct past mistakes.

Again, the biggest issue here is that my sister has a distressing tendency to drop a dress size (or three) about fifteen minutes after I finish a gown for her. So these don't fit as nicely as I'd like them to. They'll work, but I think for the next set I'd like to try the patterns from Reconstructing History.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Purple Early Italian Gown

This gown was a pretty quick and dirty project for my sister.  I'm not sure where we were going that she needed a dress, but the whole thing was made in a short amount of time and without her to try it on.  As a result, I think it looks pretty good for what it is.  Someday I'd like to redo some parts of it, but in the meantime, it works.

I don't remember what pattern was used for this dress.  The chemise is white linen and pleated at the neckline.  The undergown is heavy purple satin and laces up the back of the bodice.  The neckline is trimmed in gold braid.

The overgown is made from red and gold damask with pearls at the neckline.  It opens down the sides.  Her belt was made from a length of tan silk and the pin at the bust was an old jewelry piece.

The sleeves are made from purple damask from my stash that happened to match the underdress.  The sleeves are one aspect that I would like to change, as they tie on with heavy purple cord that's too slippery and likes to come untied. 

The same fabric was used to make her caul.

14th Century Hood

The hood was made with a pattern from Reconstructing History.  It's gray wool fully lined with a plum linen.   The top stitching was made with contrasting thread  Very quick and easy project that I'm pretty pleased with. 

Red Elizabethan

This gown was made for my sister last summer to wear to a ball at Pennsic.  As she lives five hours away, we don't get a lot of time together, so the first incarnation of this dress was made in one weekend.  After she went home, I took another look at it and didn't like the finishing so I pulled it apart and remade parts of it.  However, since it was worn at Pennsic she's lost a bit of weight and I think the dress will have to undergo yet another redo soon.  The bodice is now way too big on her and sags in places.  It also needs sleeves at some point.  Normally I would take the whole thing and put it in our group's newbie bin and make her something new, but Karen loves this dress and wants to save it.  Plus, she sewed the pearls and trim on the top of the bodice. 

The gown is worn over a high collared chemise, an Elizabethan corset and a corded underskirt.  I used Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Women's Pattern for the gown. 

Pearling on the chemise collar:

Hat and pearled caul:

The pearled caul is made out of chiffon and banded in linen.  The hat is a black velvet Italian bonnet made from Lynn Mcmaster's patterns.  The band is trimmed in antique gold braid and pearls.  The hat pin is made from an old jewelry piece I had and some red ostrich feathers. 

Men's Red Elizabethan Middle-Upper Class

This men's outfit was made for Tyson to wear to a ball at Pennsic.  It was a pretty quick and easy project, but I wanted it to look nice as well.  The doublet and pants are made out of cotton twill with a linen shirt.  The doublet slashings are lined with gold silk.

Tyson's hat was made from the same fabric as the doublet and pants and I added a gold button as a pin and some black ostrich feathers for flair. 

Brown Velvet Upper-Middle Class

This past weekend my sister came up to visit and agreed to change clothes about a billion times so that I could photograph some of the projects that have been finished forever but somehow have never made it into pictures. 

This gown is my go-to ren faire outfit.  It's loose, comfortable, and doesn't require boning or elaborate hairdos that require 6 am wakeups. 

The gown was made using the Tudor Tailor patterns and is a loose overgown, worn over a blouse and a wool underskirt.  The gown itself is brown velvet and trimmed in gold braid.  It closes with hook and eyes at the bodice which are then covered with gold satin ribbon ties.  The gown bodice is lined in linen. 

The French Hood:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Courtesan Project

Or- This is the way we destash our space.
Last year I moved into a new house. Prior to this, my husband and I lived in a smaller home that had been renovated to make it wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, the room that worked as a sewing room was on the second floor and the staircase and hallway were too narrow for a stairlift. This meant that any time I wanted to sew, someone had to carry me up the stairs. Consequently, I spent a lot of time sewing in the dining room. This also meant that anytime I wanted anything from upstairs, someone would have to run up and I'd have to sit at the bottom of the stairs and have conversations like this:

Me: I need the black velvet.
Boy: Is this it?
Me: No, that's black linen.
Boy: How about this?
Me: No, that's black cotton.
Boy: How about THIS?
Me: No, that's black silk.
Boy: I give up. We're going to Joann's to get it.

The new house had an amazing sewing room. The woman who lived there previously had clearly been an avid sewer (as most of her stuff was still in the house when we first viewed as, along with a huge collection of antique sewing machines). There was an entire wall of cabinets, a huge work table, a sink, a small bathroom, outlets every three feet and track lighting on every available surface. The only problem? It was on the third floor. We went back and forth a little bit on the feasibility of making it accessible but in the end I won and two stairlifts went in. And now, after two staircases and four transfers, I have the perfect sewing space.

But after some hasty unpacking and about six months of stalling with no real sewing being accomplished, I realized that I needed a serious cleanout. This may have been prompted by buying some new fabric for a project only to realize that I had the same exact fabric already in a cabinet, buried under a hundred other things. Clearly I needed a different system and some better organization. A cleaner and more understandable workspace.

I spent the better part of a weekend going through a lot of what was upstairs and cleaning out a lot of drawers. I purged a lot of stuff. I also found some amazing things I forgot I had, and was inspired to sew again.

Which started the courtesan project. I had beautiful fabric but it was languishing in a dark cabinet, waiting for the "perfect" project. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that there are factories somewhere producing more beautiful fabric at this very moment and started designing.

My two models are Rebecca, a good friend, and Karen, my sister. If you look through the gallery it's pretty obvious that my baby sister is my favorite model. She's pretty agreeable about anything I want to sew her into and will willingly wear all the necessary pieces to outfits, including goofy hats and all the right underwear. I can always count on her to make my stuff look good.
So two courtesan gowns, modeled by two very lovely ladies, with an attempt to use as much as possible from what is already in the stash.
Rebecca let me go crazy with whatever I wanted to sew, so I started looking at venetian gowns of the 1590's. Around that time, portraits started showing gowns with a much lower bodice line, hitting beneath the bust. The sleeves appear to be attached to the partlet, which were beautifully decorated with jewels and lace.

In the end, this is the picture we both liked the best.  We both loved the under the bust style with  the venetian open and laced front, plus the partlet that's elaborate and pretty without necessarily having one of those ruffs that catch you as you walk through doorways.  We may amp it up a bit with some jewels and lace, like the picture above but keep the collar the same size.

Rebecca's gown is being made out of black velvet with a red silk underskirt that has gold fleur de lis on it.  I haven't found the perfect partlet fabric yet, but we're still looking. 

Karen wanted a much simpler gown, more of a courtesan-in-training as she's a bit younger than the rest of us.  She picked this portrait:
and her gown will be made out of a black and red damask I've had lying around forever.  I've had about four other people covet it and it's taken me years to find something to do with it.  I finally just bit the bullet and cut it up.  The pattern of the fabric matches the portrait pretty closely. The dress is done right now except for the sleeves and the hem, because I want to see if she wants to wear it over her underskirt for dancing.  She'll get to try it on when she comes up next weekend, so hopefully everything will fit and work out.