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

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