Monday, December 19, 2016

Brown Fitted Gown (v2.0) "Now with Huik!"

Here is what I hope to be the final construction/dress diary entry for my brown fitted gown now that all the loose ends have been (literally) tied up...Only this time it's been re-accessorised in the style of a Lucas de Heere print!
This is the first time I've actually tried to reproduce a documented period image and while it wasn't totally successful the process was a lot of fun and definitely one I'd like to repeat.

I've actually had this image in the back of my mind since before I started work on brown gown, but only just barely...
The original design had been locked for a while but at some point last year I realized that (while not exactly the same in style and cut) the gown could easily do double duty for the de Heere outfit by swapping out some key accessories.

So with the Nottingham Faire looming that's exactly what I decided to do!
This would also give me an opportunity (read: deadline) to finish up some interior edges and other bits and bobs that I hadn't gotten around to in time for the SoCal faire last spring. It also dove-tailed nicely with my plans to make a new support garment in the form of petticoat bodies. More on that later... (or not, as the case may be).

But first off, the front edges...

As you may remember, while the bottom edge of the skirt was bound with self-fabric bias tape the front edges were just folded back and basted down behind the trim.

So the first thing to do was to cover those raw edges.
I used a strip of black linen roughly 3" wide (the same fabric I used to line the bodice) which runs the length of the front of the skirt. The edges are folded under and sewn into place, catching only inner fold of the fabric at the front and behind the last line of trim at the back (to keep it from showing on the outside).
This also has the added befit of adding a bit more weight to the front edges which hopefully will help them lay more smoothly.


So that's it! Skirt done.

Next, the sleeves!
To begin with I definitely had to finish off the raw, interior edges of the armscye. But before I did that I also decided to baste in the support structure I made earlier, just to see how it would look.

So here is boned structure...

...and here is the result!

Definitely an improvement! 
And as an added benefit it made slipping the gown on and off much easier, since the sleeves were now effectively held open and my arms didn't get all tangled up in the sleeve head. 

Unfortunately, since this was done as an experiment I didn't really document putting the support in, so I'll try to show the result as clearly as possible in the following photos.

Next it's time to bind the armscye.  However, the problem with this approach is that it adds bulk, and since I had just added an extra layer when I put the supports in it was already starting to get a bit tight under the arm.
So the only thing for it was to trim back some layers. The obvious choice in this case was the hemp/cotton interlining (since that was by far the thickest layer), so that was snipped away as close to the seam as possible.

I also decided to trim down the lining for good measure.
Next it's time to bind the edges.  First I cut two strips of linen bias tape (each 1.5" wide) from the same linen as the lining and stitched it down on the inside of the sleeve using a running stitch with a backstitch added every 3-4 stitches for strength.

Then the fabric is turned over and stitched to the body side using a fell/hem stitch.

Also, I'm careful to offset the side seam and the tape seam...again, to reduce bulk under the arm.

Ta-Da! A nice, neat, arsmcye!

Now I'll pull the sleeve inside-out to see if you can get a feel for how the support structure fits into all of this nonsense...

And as you may have noticed I also doubled the number of hooks and eyes along the font, as well as adding an extra hook just below the bodice point.

I was hoping to reduce some slight gapping in the front (which it does to some extent) but I think some key hooks are just offset enough that the only real way to fix it is to take them all out and start from scratch (or use hook and eye tape...we'll see how lazy I'm feeling if/when the time comes).

But that's it!  The gown is now officially complete!

Now it's time to start on the accessories for the de Heere outfit...

In addition to the gown I basically only need four things: A red petticoat or kirtle (with black guards), cream sleeves, a black apron, and a black Huik.

Let's start with the red kirtle...or in this case, petticoat bodies.  
Now, it's my understanding that petticoat bodies are a very basic foundation layer and differ from a kirtle insofar that they would not be worn alone (whereas a kirtle may be worn with sleeves...though I could be wrong on this point. The terms may be interchangeable at different times in the period).  
Typically the bodice would be canvas, buckram, or heavy linen which provides the support for subsequent layers. The petticoat is wool, usually red.

Having said that, my bodice will also be made of wool.  
It probably shouldn't be, but I needed to tweak my kirtle pattern and wanted to see how the bodice behaved in wool since that is what I will be using later.  A feeble excuse I know...surely the gods of Historical Accuracy will smite me at some point in the future. Franky, it's a wonder they haven't already. 
This time the bodice will not have any boning.  Instead the interlining will be made up of several layers of linen and canvas pad stitched together.  So at least that is a step in the right direction.

So with that I decide on a bodice in tan wool, and a skirt in red (guarded in black, in the same manner as the de Heere print).  

For the bodice I had originally planned to use some lovely ivory wool I ordered from DM. Booth Draper, but it was very popular they quickly ran out.  Since I'm experimenting with a new pattern (and everything might go tits up) I decided to save it for something else.

However, since DM. Booth Draper doesn't (to my knowledge) offer swatches I did have a 1/8 yard piece of the same wool that I had previously ordered as a sample.  This would be just enough to make 2 half sleeves.
So that's what I did!

The sleeves are lined and bound in medium weight cream linen.  

They don't attach to anything, but I find the sleeves of the brown gown are tight enough around the bicep that it doesn't matter.  They may creep down the arm a little, but a half sleeve is actually easier to shove back into place and out of view that my full sleeve was.

But I digress... I was talking about petticoat bodies.  
Well, I won't keep you in suspense, folks. I did not finish the petticoat bodies in time for Nottingham. Not even close!  
However, this was not a disaster since I knew that I had my red linen petticoat from my last waistcoat outfit on standby just in case.  So I continued to work on it whenever I could but decided to prioritize finishing the remaining accessories.

Next was the apron. No problem!
It's virtually identical to my last two aprons:  A linen rectangle (roughly 26"x36") with a 1/4" hem all the way around, except the bottom edge which has a 1.5" hem. A waistband is made up separately and then the finished top edge of the apron is whipstitched to finished waistband, with 7" on either side left loose.  
At at 90" this waistband is longer than usual since I wanted enough length for it to comfortably wrap around waist twice and tie at the front (without looking too stubby).

I can't remember if this is the same black linen I used to line the gown...If not, it's very similar (same source, slightly different dye lots). 

Either way, it's the same material I use...FOR THE HUIK!

Now the huik really is the reason for the whole outfit and what attracted me to the de Heere print in the first place (mostly because it's slightly ridiculous, and I love me some dumb hats).

Huiks are essentially large (often brimmed) cloaks which cover the head.  They broadly fall into into 3-4 distinct styles which wax and wain over the period.  While there is some overlap and evolution, in general timeline is:

The Duck Bill

Lucas de Heere and Jacob Gerritsz 

The Super Hero

Lucas de Heere and Abraham de Bruyn

The Pot Lid

Lucas van Valckenborch

And a much later style (The Cat Toy) which is pretty solidly 17th century.

 Wenceslas Hollar and Pieter Soutman

(Much thanks to Margaret over at Clothing the Low Countries for the "Super Scientific" naming conventions!  Be sure check out her and Karinne's site for all things Huik)

So I'm making the second style (Super Hero!). 
In the past I'd seen at least two of the other styles reproduced but not this one...So I really had no idea how it was constructed or where to start. Suffice to say I almost certainly got it wrong.  If fact I'm sure I did.

To begin with, despite its MASSIVE sweep it probably doesn't have a large, rigid support structure (given the number of times you see images of women with huiks slung over their arms). Part of it may be stiffened, but probably not the whole thing.

So what do I decide to do? A full support structure!

That's right.  I caved and went full buckram.  I fully admit that this is purely a theatrical solve and not at all period.  But I had a couple of buckram spoon bonnets in the closet and figured it this would be as good a time as any to use them.
And yes, that's bonnets. Plural.  In order to get enough support I basically sewed the two bonnets together, with the smaller inside the larger one.

Now here's where things go off the rail a bit...
From this point on I'm really making it up as I go along and for some reason my documenting skills go completely out the window and all I have are badly framed iPhone photos.  So I apologize for everything looking like the dog's breakfast for a while.

With the bonnets stitched together I then decide to add some wool padding to the interior.  First I folded some medium-heavy wool into a rectangle and quilted it.  I'm this hoping will act as a cushion for my head and keep the whole thing from shifting around too much.  I also add a strip of wool around the back, which is where I'll be securing the veil later. 

(What's playing on my iPad to the left? That's right! It's Time Team!)

Next I use the same wool and cover the exterior.

After trimming away some wool I realize the whole thing is starting to looks a little like the later 18th century Zaanse Kaper.  So that's something...maybe?

 After the remaining wool is trimmed away the edges are turned and stitched...hopfeully creating a smooth surface for the veil to rest on later.

As for the veil itself...
The de Heere print shows one of the shortest veils in this style that I've seen.
Usually I'm all for trying to follow silhouette and proportions as much as possible, but in this case I decide to make the veil a little longer for purely practical reasons. It's just much more comfortable to rest my hand at the base of my rib cage rather than across the chest (which is the hand placement in the de Heere print) so I decide to add about 6" to the veil.

In the original print the artist has rendered both the veil and apron in the same way, so I knew I wanted to make them out of the same fabric to preserve this visual effect.  As a result the veil is made from the same linen as the apron even though it really should be made of wool (so should the apron for that matter).
However, with Nottingham looming I didn't have enough time to source a lightweight black wool so that's another concession I had to make.  
Having said that I think I'll make them both up in wool at some point in the future, since the linen is actually quite heavy and I think the whole thing will behave much better in wool.

There's no real pattern for the veil, I just draped it, cut away the excess and finished it all around with a 1/4" hem. It's then basted to the inside of the bonnet.

And that's it! Huik achievement unlocked!
The shape isn't exactly right, but it's not bad all things considered...

At this point I return to my petticoat bodies, but only barely manage to get the bodice pieces assembled before Nottingham Faire.

But that's okay! Red Petticoat to the rescue!
The only downside is that I don't have any support through the bodice.  I decide to wear one of my muslin mock-ups for the new bodice pattern, but it didn't really do much.  Still, better than nothing...

Final accessories include my small ruff, American Duchess shoes, and a sheer Dutch cap from Louise Pass over at Woodsholme Handworks.
I also add a corded petticoat (1840s, if I'm honest) to keep my hem off the ground this time.

And that's it! Lucas de Heere outfit complete!

And finally, something a little different, just for fun...

Even though it's not totally true to the original print I'm really pleased with the final result!
I think I can still make a few refinements with the accessories, but overall I'm much happier with this version...if only for the more period correct colour pallet.

And I'm really looking forward to experimenting with different looks and more accessories in the future! 

Resources & Materials

-Dark Brown Wool/Cashmere from Mood Fabrics
-White Wool from WM Booth Draper
-Black "Judy" linen (5.5oz)  Gray Line Linen
-Cream "Judy" linen (5.5oz)  Gray Line Linen

-Black silk thread
-Ivory silk tread
-Heavy duty Poly tread (for sewing bonnets)

Other Supplies:
-Buckram Bonnet forms from Timely Tresses
-Small bulldog clips


  1. Omg we need to stop having this freaky mind-meld thing. I started working on a nearly identical reproduction of a brown fitted gown, red petticoat bodies, and black apron ensemble (only extant art I've ever wanted to reproduce exactly). Except instead of keeping its black hood-object, I'm making it Englishy with a hood w/ bongrace or my tall hats. I'm still probably a year or two off from it as I want to do it nice and slow by hand, so enjoy wearing yours without us looking like twins!! - Scarlett

    1. HA! That's amazing!

      I DO want to look like twins...I think that's hilarious! I love that we keep coming up with the same ideas!
      I totally want to do another themed photo!

      I actually have a bunch of other "Mix n' Match" looks planned for this gown. I had some vacation last year and whipped up a bunch of sleeves and skirts, but I never seem to get around to taking pictures. But one of the looks definitely involves a tall hat! ;)

  2. Of course it involves a tall hat!!!

    I'm not gonna lie, I totally love when we're twins too!! Definitely need more matching meet-ups in the future!