Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blue Waistcoat (v4.0) "Now with Ruff!"


I hope you're not bored of my blue waistcoat yet...cause here it is again!
This time with the ruff I just completed.

This version was originally intended for my first trip to the new-ish Nottingham festival in Simi Valley back in November. I wasn't able to go in the end, but at least I've finally got some photos to prove the outfit exists!
(Though my old computer finally gave up the ghost and very nearly took all of them with it...).
Why another variation on this piece? Mostly because I was procrastinating on another project...No, not the 1590s gown (again), this time I'd actually gone back to the English fitted gown that kicked off this blog.  But I got half-way through the foundation kirtle when I got sucked into the blackhole that is Pinterest and got a bit distracted (I swear this fitted gown is never getting made).

I started noticing that a lot of period paintings featured women in a blue (or possible black or grey) waistcoats/bodices and red skirts, usually with black guards.  This is often paired with a blue apron and a tall pinned-back hat.

Of course I already had the waistcoat and when I found the perfect hat on Esty I just had whip up a quick petticoat and apron to finish the look.

I was debating between a collar and ruff to complete the outfit (which I go into a bit on my ruff post) and ultimately opted for a ruff...mostly because I'd been wanting to try one for a while and now seemed as good a time as any.
I really like the way the ruff turned out, but in the end I don't think this style works very well for this look. Only a couple of the reference images feature a large-ish ruff (as opposed to a standing collar) and none are really set this wide.  Part of the problem this is that the ruff turned out a little too well. I was actually anticipating on failing quite a bit in my first attempt and that the ruff would have ended up a little floppier (as on the first on the two sketches above).
Another issue is that the petticoat has WAY too much volume! I tend to add extra fabric when making skirts out of linen in order to keep them from looking too anemic, but I think I wend a little overboard this time...also for this late in the period the skirt panels should be straight rather than shaped, which is making the silhouette look a little more "bell" shaped than it should.

Still, it's a look that I'd been thinking about trying for a while and at a glance I think it got pretty close to what I was going for!


And here is a bonus underwear shot of the partlet and ruff!


  1. Your work is gorgeous as always! I love the colors you picked, they look lovely together :)

    1. Thanks! This one actually goes to my husband...I had different (darker) swatches picked for the apron and petticoat, and he convinced me to go in a brighter, happier direction!
      (But then I accidentally bought both fabrics, so don't be surprised if a red linen dress shows up eventually!)

  2. Lovely! I have been looking for more info on aprons such as the one you are wearing. Is the fabric just tucked into the string or is the fabric sewn in with the edges/corners hanging?

    1. Hi Erika!

      Sorry...just seeing this now!

      The apron and apron strings are made up separately (a large rectangle with hemmed edges on all sides and some self-fabric tape with the edges tuned and finished). The the finished edge of the fabric is whip stitched to the edge of the apron string, just in the middle so that the corners are left hanging.
      I actually think these edges are dangling a little too much so I'll probably go back and stitch an additional inch on either side.

  3. Hi there! Love love LOVE this ensemble. I was wondering, with the ruff. Do you baste it onto your shift? I noticed in the very last photo shows the ruff open and not just closed around your neck like a choker. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous work!

    1. Thanks, Elisa!!
      I like how this one turned out...even if the ruff is crazy over-kill! ;)

      But yes, the ruff is just pinned to the partlet. There are no closures on the ruff band at all.
      I actually intended to baste it on for events, but found that pinning works just fine.
      (and makes it easier to turn the ruff over for multi-day events after the top side gets dirty)

      You can see it pinned to the partlet band more clearly at the bottom of this post:

      I'm actually re-setting this ruff in a week or so. I'll probably tone it down a bit with smaller sets so it's not as face-eating!

  4. This is a lovely outfit! I love lookin through your blog. Would you mind sharing which etsy seller you bought the straw hat from?

    1. Thanks so much Vicki!!

      Finding hats is always a pain...even if I remembered the seller of this hat it wouldn't have done much good as they weren't a real Vintage Merchant (Just some guy cleaning out his Aunt's garage. He found it in a shoebox and --for some ungodly reason-- decided to ship it that way the who thing arrived flattened and torn. I've coaxed it back to life but it's sadly too delicate to wear any way other than standing perfectly still.)

      I've had okay luck with vintage hats, but they are always one-off finds after scouring Ebay and Etsy for hours on end.
      Finding a contemporary source would be best, but anything I've come across so far hasn't had quite the right silhouettes and have been crazy expensive.

      Sorry, I know that's not much help...

      Because this hat is basically unwearable at events I'm still on the lookout for the perfect period hat myself! ;)