Sunday, May 13, 2018


Eeeash...It's been nearly a year since my last post!

I've been very bad about keeping this blog updated.  A new job (and commute) has been taking up quite a lot of my time and sewing has really taken a back seat.

I have several projects that are *this* close to being complete, I just need to finish off a few accessories or seams.

This includes:
-A black loose gown which just needs to be hemmed (and have one sleeve re-set)
-A black fitted gown that is completely done, I just need to finish off a few more accessories so I can do another "Mix n' Match".
-A pair of black bodies which are done (but still thinking about adding some tabs to)
-Two new ruffs, one of which is done and the other is hemmed and pleated, it just needs to be sewn into a collar.
-And finally, a blue kirtle which still needs a quite a bit of work, but all the hard bits (like boning and pad-stitching) are done and I could probably finish it off over the course of a long weekend.

So things are happening...but nothing is in a state to be documented.

In the meantime, here is a photo from last week's Faire!
(I finally made a pair of sleeves to go with my Beige/Brown kirtle)

That's it for now! Hopefully more to follow soon...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Blue Waistcoat (v5.0) "Lost in a Crowd"

Another Faire season has come to an end and I was really hoping to have my 1590s gown finished in time for the last weekend.
However, about a week out it was clear that I just didn't have enough time to get the various pieces finished and assembled, so I decided to do a last minute pivot back to my trusty blue waistcoat.

About a year ago I spotted a little girl wearing a blue waistcoat (or possibly a doublet) in the crowd of Denis van Alsloot's epic "Festival of our Lady of the Woods" (1616).


I really liked the colour combination and decided that since I had most of the pieces already all I would have do would be make a kirtle and standing collar.
And since the outfit had been in the back of my mind for a while I even had a brown/mustard wool on hand and ready to figured it would be easy.
Famous last words.

Of course, I nearly scupper the whole thing almost immediately by accidentally felling my wool by washing it hot and throwing it in the dryer (I had been pre-shrinking a ton of linen earlier in the day and my brain must have been on auto-pilot).  Not only did it end up ridiculously thick, but the colour changed slightly and darkened so the it no longer resembled the original image as closely.

I nearly abandoned the whole thing right then and there, but cooler heads (not mine) prevailed and convince me to make do and soldier on.
I do, however, abandon the idea of a kirtle as being too time consuming a project to waste on fabric I don't really like (and let's be honest, given my usual timeframe doing a kirtle in a week would have been pushing it anyway).  So I make a petticoat instead.
Since I'm not very keen on the fabric I decide to be slightly wasteful in order to save time and cut the skirt across the grain in one long strip, rather than cutting two pieces and joining them along the selvages.  So the final petticoat is just over 120" wide, with a single seam at the centre back.

The top of the skirt is folded over by about 3" (with the selvage edge left untreated) and cartridge pleated to a linen canvas waistband.
I tried to leave the front 8" or so flat, as I usually do with my linen petticoats...but the fabric had felled so thickly that I couldn't squeeze all the pleats in and I didn't want to make the pleats much bigger since I was afraid that would effect the fit at the waist by pushing the waistline up.  So instead I fully pleated the front section with small 1/4" cartridge pleats.  Because these smaller pleats are almost indistinguishable from the larger 1/2" pleats when viewed from the outside I decide to run a row of running stitches at the centre front of the waistband to aid in dressing later.

Then the skirt is bound in self fabric tape and --like the original painting-- is trimmed with 5 rows of guarding, in this case 3/8" black wool herringbone tape.


However, the proportions are a bit off...
In the painting the trim comes up to roughly the girl's knees, whereas mine only reach the mid-calf.
I suppose I could  have used wider tape or spaced it further apart, but that would have created other  balance issues and I worried adding more trim might start to look odd with adult proportions.
And since the trim is in keeping with several Hollar etchings I decide to leave well enough alone.

After the palava with the petticoat it's clear I don't have time to experiment with making a large standing collar for the first time.
So instead I make a large linen shoulder square to roughly fill the same visual white space.
The kerchief is 30" square with a 1/8" hem all around.

However, this pushes the overall silhouette more into the 1630s/40s (and closer to my original inspiration image way back when I first decided to make a waistcoat)

Finally, I had planned to use the straw hat and apron from the last waistcoat ensemble, but in the end the apron was a tad too grey and the hat too fragile to wear at Faire.

So I whip up a new apron in a slightly brighter, more "sea-foamy" blue linen...which is top-stitched in blue linen thread for an extra bit of visual interest.
The apron is 36"x28" with just under 1/4" hems at the side and 3/8" at the bottom.  Unlike the above apron, this one is full gathered to a waistband (which is 8.5" wide).

My favourite straw hat (which is the most perfect period shape I've ever been able to find!) was sadly damaged due to careless packaging during shipping (which I'm still miffed about).
I worry it won't survive the trip to Faire and I don't want to damage it further by having to put pins in it to keep it on my head when the wind picks up.  So I have a week to find a replacement.
I briefly toy with the idea of re-blocking an old straw hat...

...but then I lucked out with an Etsy find at the last minute. It's not as tall as I would have liked, but the shape is about right for similar hats in the period.

I just have time to remove the original trim, stitch the back brim into place and cut a piece of linen bias tape for the hat band.  It frays like mad, but it'll have to do!

Finally, the foundation layers include my low necked smock, grey linen bodies and small bum roll (though really, I could have left off the roll since I think it ended up pushing the back of the jacket up a bit, causing it to bunch at the waist).

In the end it's a bit of a hodgepodge of an outfit, but I really like the simple, bold colour palette and finish just in time for the final weekend!

Unfortunately, the temperature hit 97 degrees that weekend and so nearly the whole outfit had to be abandoned for fear of heatstroke...which after the terrible time I had at NorCal 3 years ago is something I'm hyper aware of.
So I spent most of the first day in my red petticoat bodies and skipped the second day altogether.  (The hat did come in handy though)

I still plan to finish the standing collar eventually (since it will come in handy for some future outfits I have in the queue) and who knows, maybe I'll even turn the petticoat into a kirtle at some point in the future...


Resources & Materials

-"Dirty Beige" wool suiting from Mood Fabrics
-White linen (2.8oz) from WM Booth Draper
-Baby Blue handkerchief linen (3.7oz)  Gray Line Linen

Trim and Notions:
-Back Worsted Wool tape (3/8") from WM Booth Draper

-Black silk thread
-Beige silk thread
-White cotton thread (silk finish)
-Blue Londonderry linen thread from Threadneedle Street

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Brown Fitted Gown (v3.0) "1559 Doesburch Portrait"

Here is the second of my Mix n' Match posts featuring the re-styling of my brown fitted gown.
While I've incorporated several reoccurring elements and accessories from similar images, it's primarily an homage to the 1559 Doesburch family portrait.

I really love how this one turned out!
While I liked the colour palette of my original gown ensemble, I find I'm really enjoying my attempts at reproducing period images and much prefer the final results (and I think this might be my most successful version to date).

Working form the inside out, the outfit consists of a linen, low necked smock...

(Which is looking very wrinkly at the moment...)

...over which are worn my new wool petticoat bodies.

This is followed by a small bum roll...

...and then a black linen petticoat. The petticoat is 180" around and cartridge pleated to a waistband, leaving the front section unpleated. The small, tightly packed pleats additional volume to the hips and the really nice curve when worn under the gown...which you can really see in the finished photos at the bottom of the post.  However (as will all my petticoats) I intend to swap it out for a slightly narrower wool one later.

Then comes a pair of red wool half sleeves, lined in cream linen and bound with black wool tape.

I'm also wearing my small 1.5" ruff which is pinned to a linen partlet (all of which are worn over the petticoat bodies).

I also made a small pair of wrist ruffles, which I had intended to set into ruffs...but it just seemed like more trouble than it was worth for such small sets.
(Read: I am lazy)

Finally, on goes the gown and a black wool partlet lined in black linen.
This was made to replace my original wool partlet which met with a sad end some time ago.  Initially I had wanted to make the partlet out of velvet (as many would be), but thought it might look oddly high status given the fact that all the trim for the gown is wool tape.
So instead I found a happy compromise with a beautiful wool cashmere, which looked very spiffy without being too fancy.  This is actually placed on the gown first (I could never get it on over those sleeves otherwise), which is then slipped on and the partlet pinned at the front.

The headwear (which doesn't quite match the portrait since it's missing those crazy, spiked barbels) consists of a simple coif, worn over ear irons and topped with a rectangular linen veil.

The veil measures 20"x28" of which the first six inches or so are starched, folded to create the desired shape and pinned into place.

And then the only thing left to do is to add some jewelry!  
As in the portrait I opt for a gold chain girdle (with gold filigree pendent) and a pair of rings. Mine are set with red stones to match the sleeves. They aren't prefect period analogs, but they'll work in a pinch.

Finally, a linen cutwork handkerchief edged in lace.  
This doesn't appear in the Doesburch portrait, but it often features in images of similar gowns from the period and it was too pretty not to add!
Mine is a 19th century piece to which I've added reproduction 16th century lace from The Tudor Tailor.

Hopefully I'll be able to get some more pictures soon...but for now I'm dead chuffed with the final look!



Friday, April 21, 2017

Brown Fitted Gown: Mix 'n Match

It's been a bit of a quiet year on the blog.
But I promise more has been going on behind the scenes.
(Well, slightly more...)

Since finishing the brown fitted gown last summer I've been assembling various accessories (sleeves, petticoats, jewelry etc) in the hopes of eventually doing an epic 16th century "Mix 'n Match" photoshoot!
After all, I'd been planning on making a fitted gown for so many years...and now that I finally had one I wanted to show how functional and versatile it could be as a piece of clothing, and how many different looks could be achieved by just swapping out a few key accessories.
However, like all things (when it comes to me and sewing) it hasn't quite gone according to plan...

It's taken longer than I'd anticipated to put everything together.  And even though I've had quite a lot of the accessories finished for a while now (5 pairs of sleeves and counting!) there always seems to be something missing to complete the look.
Add to that the fact that getting dressed in just one outfit can take up the better part of an afternoon and the prospect of photographing everything in a single day quickly becomes impractical.
So instead of doing one grand post I think I'll have to roll out the different looks as opportunities present themselves.

And there's already been an unofficial kickoff of sorts to the Mix 'n Match series: the Lucas de Heere outfit I wore for last year's Nottingham Faire!

Granted, it wasn't 100% finished at the time...which is why the official kickoff is happening right now with the updated and complete version!

I know, it's pretty similar and therefore perhaps a bit of an anticlimax...but there are some notable differences.

While the huik and apron are the same, the linen petticoat has been swapped out for my new wool petticoat bodies (which have the same black trim pattern at the hem as the orignial de Heere image).
This has the added benefit of supporting the bust and smoothing out the bodice, as well as improving the overall silhouette.
I've also made a new pair of half sleeves that are a little closer to the inspiration image.

I tried to mimic the horizontal pattern in the original with narrow rows of slashing.  The wool/cotton sateen is also more in keeping with the de Heere pallet, being closer to cream than white. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out! I will definitely be playing with more slashing techniques in the future...

So now this look is now officially done!
(or at least until I decide to tackle a more period correct construction method for the huik)


And that's it!
Hopefully I'll have more looks to show in the near future.