Today I did the hand finishing on the armscyes and a few other little spots on L's dress, so it is done. It's red linen with black grosgrain ribbon trim, and I know I should really share a photo already, but take my word for it, it looks gorgeous! The trim really made it come alive. I had her take home the shift and petticoat bodies the other day because I was just sick of looking at them.
The Girl's last piece was her shift. I made it pretty costumey, though I won't say totally costumey because at least I didn't use elastic. It's cute and blousy and it fits.
I also just (like 10 minutes ago) whipped up a little coif for her. I used the Tudor Tailor diagram and made it the same lawn as her shift on the outside, with white cotton flannel on the inside. The weather forecast has now been upgraded to a high of 56 F and sunny, but I am still worried about her getting cold. I think the coif will help a lot and she'll still be in period.
The only thing left is to go shopping. F needs tights and I need stockings!
If anyone else is planning to be at the MN ren fair this Saturday, do say hello! (I'll be wearing this, but you can also recognize me by having the cutest little 3-year-old ever.)
Today I hemmed the front skirt edges of L's gown, then I pleated the skirt (this only took 5 tries to make it right) and sewed it to the bodice.
Pretty much everything is machine-sewn from here on out. I had big plans to do lots of hand sewing on L's gown, but 12 yards of ribbon ain't gonna be quick unless I cheat. I also changed the plan from hand sewn eyelets to some kind of internal lacing closure, not because of laziness or running short of time, but because the eyelets would interfere with the trim.
I tried to look up the Venetian lacing that jenthompson described in an article on her old website, but I cannot find it. Jen, do you still have this online somewhere?
I finished the eyelets on L's petticoat bodies and had her over for a fitting. It looked great and so did the gown mock, with a little length taken out at the back. The petticoat bodies now just need a hem. Machine blindstich FTW! I also made the gown bodice and now the next step is to cut & seam the skirt panels and pleat them to the bodice.
My HB's jerkin is nearly done. I gathered the skirting panels instead of pleating, and I hate the way it looks, but he insists he likes it better than the pleat examples I showed him. I don't buy it but I am being lazy. It's already lined so I don't want to re-do it. It just needs the armscyes finished and 3 buttonholes & buttons.
For F, I tried her 18th c gown on her and it still fits because she is such a shrimp. The skirts are short, but the bodice still comfortably goes around, so I can use the same basic pattern from that for her little ren fest gown.
This is not the first time I've hand-sewn buttonholes, but it's the first time I really care much what they look like. I am trying to do it properly.
For each buttonhole, first I outlined with small-spaced running stitch in all-purpose cotton thread, then slit it open, with the leading edge rounded slightly. Then I whip-stitched around the whole buttonhole with cotton thread. I sewed the buttonhole stitches with #8 pearl silk thread. It's not ideal, but I couldn't find a good color match in the silk buttonhole twist. It works as long as I use short lengths to keep it smooth.
I checked the photos in Patterns of Fashion for buttonhole shapes. It seems that often both ends were hidden by trim or more embroidery. Most that were wholly visible had a rounded leading edge and a bar-tack made in buttonhole stitch, which surprised me; I assumed a bar-tack would always be done with little short straight stitches. But I did the end in buttonhole stitch and rounded the other end, and it looks okay.
( Detail )
4 to go, then I'll attach the buttons and it will be done. The buttons are self-fabric sewn over a wooden form.
( Buttons )
I could have used that lovely pearl silk to make thread buttons, but I just wasn't in the mood to go there. When I can hand-sew buttonholes in my sleep, then maybe I will make thread buttons.
The bodice is boned with 1/4" steel (I really need to give German plastic a try sometime, though). It's interlined with good-quality muslin and the front is also lined with a layer of twill. The twill doesn't extend into the straps or the side seams, but is secured to the muslin. I plan to line it in plain cotton.
The bodice is just pinned together and the skirt is pinned on. Aside from shortening the sleeve and of course the hem, I'm happy with how it's looking and I'm not making any more changes.
I fully lined the skirt in black cotton and tucked a 6” strip of cotton batting at the top to pad the pleats. The silk and cotton stick to each other to no end, but I’m trying to think of this as a good thing; once I get them where I want them to be, they'll stay.
For the front skirt curve, I measured how deep the CF point is, then I measured how much of the skirt would be stitched to the curved portion of the bodice, then eyeballed the exact curve while I cut.
I want to machine-stitch the other sleeve (since the first was machined) then I plan to insert the lining by hand and do the eyelets by hand as well. The skirt and bodice will be joined by hand, of course, since I have no idea how you could even try to machine stitch cartridge pleats.
I will probably cop out and machine blind-hem the skirt instead of hand-hemming, but who knows? I might get inspired.
* terminology footnote: I am really not sure if I am using the right terms for this garment, since I am not an expert in this period. It's a boned bodice, it's a petticoat, it has sleeves, it's meant to have a gown worn over it. . . it's a sleeved petticoat bodies and/or kirtle?
Cut-cloth hose were a fun experiment, but I spent an incredible amount of time, thought, and work on them, and I'm just over it now. They didn't work this time. I might try again another time, but I just want to finish this outfit sometime this year.
I know part of the problem was my fabric choice. If I'd used wool, the natural stretch would have helped, but I didn't want my hubby to be too hot and uncomfortable, so I tried using linen. Another problem was the pattern's insistence that the bias line go directly down the front of the leg and over the top of the foot. My feet twisted and when I tried to force the bias line into the directed position, I got horrible wrinkles everywhere, but if I let it go and fall where it would, the bias went around the foot all crooked but the wrinkles smoothed out.
The new plan is to buy some cotton jersey in a coordinating color and sew some tights. I might use the hose pattern in order to preserve the neat-looking seam structure in the back of the leg. If all else fails, I will just go modern. Either way, I'll probably use the serger!
( side and back views )
The collar probably has a bit too much curve, but it was just sticking straight out in back on the first mock and I wanted it to hug his neck, so I pinched out a dart at the CB and translated it into a series of slashes on the pattern, which I lapped to create the extra curve.
( collar pattern and finished collar )
I’m really not super pleased with the whole thing. The fit around the armscyes is weird, the sleeves have a huge weird wrinkle, the front drops a bit too low, the collar still looks odd, and there is just a sense of not-quite-right-ness about the whole thing. Maybe I will feel differently when the hose and jerkin are made, and it’s all together as an ensemble.
I decided to take a step back and alter the doublet pattern for the armscye issue.
It was way too big because it was cut too far back. I think I've already ranted about this, but here it is anyway: The idea with the narrow back/broad front in historic clothing is that you pull your shoulders back and stand super-erect to fit the garment. Well, my man can't stand that way, or won't, so instead his garment is just ill-fitting and icky looking.
However, the more I alter for fit, the less the pattern looks like the source. I start with lovely extant garment diagrams and end up with pattern shapes that look like they came from Simplicity. The garment fits and looks nice, but I'm not sure if it really counts as historically-based anymore.
The issue this time involved moving the side back seam forward quite a lot. I didn't see how I could possibly add the width I needed to the back armscye without moving that seam at least 2 inches forward. So I did, and now the seam is practically under the arm, but it fits.
( Before and After photos )
The problem now is that I've already cut the silk. I have enough left to re-cut, but I think I might just piece a crescent into the armscye instead. At least I have a pattern that works, and I can use it again in the future, and to cut the jerkin to go over this.
When I started the project last year, I enlarged/drafted/altered the basic early doublet pattern. It went through 3 mockups. I saved the third and tried it on him again the other day. It looked fine. So I cut it in the silk, interlining, and lining and sewed the outer layer(s) together.
Went to put the sleeve (mockup) into the armscye and found the sleeve seam is smaller than the armscye seam. Ok, fine, I thought, I'll either adjust the sleeve seam before I cut the silk, or I will take in the shoulder seam of the doublet a little. So I measured both seams to determine the amount of adjustment.
Here's the shocker: the armscye is 25 inches!! How could I possibly have let that happen? My hubby does have quite broad, full shoulders, but that's still a ton of ease. 3 mockups and I still have this huge error.
If I didn't have to get a sleeve into this armscye, it wouldn't be a problem. But now I don't know how I can make it work. I'm going to try the doublet on him to see if I can take it in anywhere. If not I'll have to scrap it and I'm back to square one.
On the plus side, I did end up finding a lining in the stash: a silk/cotton sateen that I ripped out of the first 18th century coat I made for him (and eventually scrapped). There was enough to cut the doublet lining without piecing, and the colors even went together. If I need to re-cut the doublet front, I may just piece the lining a little to make it work. There are tons of scraps.
Yesterday I finally broke down and did the scary part: cutting them out in the real fabric (a slate-color linen twill - wool would probably stretch more and fit better, but the heat is an issue). I pinned one leg onto him and fitted it smoothly. I'm using the pattern and directions from The Tudor Tailor. All the shaping is done in the CB seam, which makes for simple fitting, but a really funky-looking pattern piece.
This morning I trimmed the excess off the piece and transferred the changes to the other leg as well. Then I sewed them up with a narrow zigzag as the book suggests. I want to fit them again before I add the sole and waist facing.
I'm a bit torn about the codpiece. Giant, stuffed-and-be-ribboned codpieces are really just too weird for my modern eye, and anyway the husband has given them a definite veto. The dilemma is whether to make a small codpiece, or just a flap.
It's working okay in mockup stage, but the one problem I keep running into is that the top of the foot will not lie smoothly; it twists. I could just let it twist, and shift the pattern, but the line of true bias is supposed to run directly down the front of the leg and foot. If I shift the foot, the bias line will run straight down the leg and then around the foot.
It wouldn't bother me, but in the book they say to absolutely not do this. It's a nitpicky detail, but I want to get it right, since I am going to the bother to make cloth hose at all.