Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mid-16th Century All Black French Gown


Back in December, I told myself that I couldn't make a new outfit for the upcoming 12th Night event for the Kingdom of Atlantia. I have an enormous closet full of SCA garb that my new Kingdom hasn't seen yet. I resolved to wear my Mary of Burgundy reproduction gown.

And then, my friend pulled out some of her 16th century Italian gowns to see what she had to loan two new gals for the event. When my friend pulled out her black gown with gold trim and pearl embroidery, I insisted that I see it on her, and then we both lost our minds and decided we wanted to wear 16th century to the event.

Long have I admired the all-black French and English gowns of the 16th century. While a plain black wool with no decoration would be a great middle class look, I wanted more sumptuous material and some trim to add interest. These were my main inspiration images:






 If you've followed or read through this blog over the past years, you'd know that I already have quite the collection of 16th century gowns. But I wanted something new for this event, the biggest court event of the year. I also wanted to make sure my late-period skills were still up to snuff. And, I wanted to try a new corset pattern out as I have vowed to never wear a back lacing corset again, and that is what my previous Elizabethan corset is.


I used the pattern for the "Dorothea Bodies" from the Tudor Tailor book. This corset is from 1598, so a few decades later than the gown it would be worn under, but I needed a new corset from around 1600 to wear to the Jamestown conference I'm attending in June. This was a good chance to make that corset, and I hoped the pattern could be adjusted for a bodice pattern too.

The picture above is what the pattern looked like drafted exactly from the book. The pattern is for measurements of 36 bust and 28 waist. I'm about a 37-38 bust and 29 waist, so I hoped it could be around the right size once allowing for compression. Well, it was quite too small in the bust and shoulders copied from the book. I may have missed where the book says that the pattern already allows for the compression. So I made some adjustments.

The red is the original pattern, the tan is after my adjustments. I mostly needed to move the shoulder straps in quite a bit, as they were really far off on me. I added to the center front as well. After making it all up, it's still a bit smaller in the bust than I'd prefer, and still too wide in the shoulder strap. My issue is that the balls of my shoulder roll forward quite a lot, so after a couple hours the pressure of that makes my neck ache.

There is very minimal boning in this corset, as the pattern was extremely supportive and well cut. There are steels in the center front around where the eyelets go, and then one steel just to the sides of my bust, which I could have omitted and still been supported. Also small zip ties in center back and the side seams. I am considering cutting off the shoulder straps entirely and just using ribbon for straps, to stop the pressure on my shoulders. Or perhaps I'll make a whole other corset.


Now onto the gown construction. The gown is made from black silk taffeta from Silk Baron. The bodice is lined in black linen and interlined with cotton duck cloth. Nowadays I like to make the duck cloth end a bit shorter inside the shoulder strap than the fashion fabric and lining, to reduce bulk at the shoulder seam.

The bodice pattern is just the corset pattern slightly modified. Biggest change is a shortened front point, making the center front closed and at a slight angle to add more room to the bust, and higher neckline in front and back to hide the corset edges. I decided to make this gown have about an extra inch of room in the bodice, to allow for weight fluctuation or days when I want to lace my corset looser. The gown is sewn shut on the left side seam, and open on the right seam where it laces with hand done eyelets. All of the bodice trim was sewn on by hand.


The sleeves are my favorite part of the gown. I nearly phoned it in and was going to do plain sleeves, but decided I loved the look of the spiral trim, and thought it'd make it more interesting. The trim is 1930s silk velvet ribbon. While it's easier and cheaper to get ribbon from a big box store, I wanted something special for this gown. The silk velvet trim has a true pile to it, and a unique sheen. The sleeves are connected to the bodice with small gold fleur-de-lis components. The sleeves are open on the side back seam and the chemise poufs through them.

 This green Italian gown was a big inspiration for the tone-on-tone color and the spiral velvet trim on the silk taffeta sleeves.
I also decided to make a new partlet to go with the gown. The chemise worn with this gown is ivory linen with a gold pin stripe, and I had a bit of this neat ivory organza with gold metallic stripes that I purchased from a friend a couple years ago. They went together perfectly so I knew I had to make the coordinating partlet. It's almost entirely hand sewn, mostly with gold metallic thread for more sparkle.


 The collar has a hand-gathered ruff, has hand-made thread loops and hand made pearl buttons.

 

The venue was the Founder's Inn at Virginia Beach, which made for a very pretty photo backdrop. I wore my silk taffeta corded petticoat, a blue silk petticoat over that, my epic zibellini Don Vito, my huge blue girdle with matching necklace, earrings, and brooch, plus a long pearl necklace, with my red slashed shoes and embroidered silk pocket to hold my phone and cash for merchants.

 

 The skirt is two widths of the silk taffeta and opens on the right side. The hem has a guard of silk velvet, which was a pain to hand sew but worth it, because the sheen of the guard matches the trim.




 These two photos below are silly but they show the open seams of the sleeves.




Saturday, December 23, 2017

Pink Norse Apron Dress


Back in October/November, I started planning my third Norse apron dress. You've seen the first one on this blog earlier in 2017 (the gray and purple), but I don't have any good pictures of my second version, a purple open front apron dress. I've worn the purple one to an event, Atlantia University back in September, but didn't have a chance for any pictures to be taken of me wearing the dress. So you're seeing my third apron dress now, because I wore it to Holiday Faire in mid-November and manged to take a lot of pictures.
I purchased 1.75 yards of pink and white herringbone wool last year, expecting to make a hood out of it, but I thought it would make a fun Norse apron dress. I barely got the dress from this yardage because I had to pay attention to the direction of the herringbone weave and have it all go the same way.

Very basic construction, just like my gray and purple one. Three body panels: one in front, two in back by cutting the one back piece in half and inserting a gore in the center back. One gore on either side as well. By having a center back seam, I can make this a little more fitted.


The really special thing about this apron dress is the detail work. All of the hand sewing was done with gray silk thread to make it stand out from the pink. I purchased some hand made tablet woven wool trim in a charcoal, light gray, and white chevron pattern, which was applied to the entire hem and the short strips across the center front. I also purchased some hand made posament trim (silver wire) and sewed it onto a strip of white silk to lay between the tablet trim. I've also been hand stitching the seams down on the inside with a whip stitch that shows thru to the outside for a little something extra.


The belt was purchased from the same Norwegian seller as the trim. It has a subtle heart pattern in gray and pink wool, and is very well made. Super cute!


My underdress is a linen from Joann's, in a black and beige weave that is dark gray in person. I made this underdress as a simple "cote" about 2 years ago, for SCA 50 Year, and I have worn it at camping events because it just pops on over the head and is very comfortable and machine washable. It just barely pulls over my shoulders and chest, so it's quite fitted, which I prefer for underdresses. I have now been using it for Norse and I think it's found a true purpose.


My dear friend Mistress Katya visited me in Virginia and came to the event. She flew in a couple days beforehand, and we whipped up the green apron dress you see her wearing in only 3 evenings of work. Hers is a fabulous green and white linen herringbone fabric I purchased from a Lithuanian Etsy seller, and the trim is the same silk as my last orange Regency gown! We hand sewed it all on, sitting on the floor with each of us on a section at a time. Teamwork!


Here is our group of Norsewomen all together and looking fantastic. HE Mistress Katya of Artemisia, myself, my new friend Jane (her real name, my SCA name!) at her first SCA event in an outfit I helped her put together in the months leading up, her best friend Grete who borrowed a Norse outfit from me for what was also her first event, and my new friend Lady Serafina, newly moved to Atlantia from Northshield. It was a great day of shopping and girl time, with so much knowledge being passed around, and lots of plans made.

 
And just for fun, here's a quick snap of my purple aprond dress completed in September. It's a very unusual one, with an open front and a pleated-to-hell back.
Because I'm a sucker for Norse now, apparently, I have another outfit being planned right now. Fabrics are purchased and on the way. It's gonna be a LOT of blue! I also have ordered epic new brooches in gold-plated bronze, plus new jewelry. What happened to me hating on Norse even a year ago?! I was warned that once you go Norse, you never go back... and I'm worried that they're right!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Regency Era Drop-Front Gown in Orange Silk

This past weekend I attended a themed murder mystery party hosted by the Regency Society of Virginia. The event was held at the historic Francis Land House, built 1805-1810, and is now a museum in Virginia Beach. It was a really neat event that was quite well organized by the Society, and I absolutely plan to attend again in the future. Being able to have the party inside a historic house helps with the setting- much better than a community center! I dragged my husband along as well. This is three Regency-themed events for him in one year, so I guess I had better make him some more clothing!

The assembled guests in all their finery 


The event was to be held on Saturday evening, and I originally planned to wear my blue silk 1790s gown with black accessories, but having forgotten to take the gown to the dry cleaners after the last wearing (it got some food spilled onto the skirt), I wasn't feeling particularly excited to wear it. On Thursday afternoon, only two days before the event, I decided I wanted to make something new, because I am a Crazy Costume Person. Everything for the gown was already in my stash. Here is the result!


I had purchased this pretty orange silk about 2 years ago, with plans to use it as a lining for a different gown. When I purchased it on Ebay, the listing photos made it look like a bright gold. However, it is quite orange, created by the red and gold crossed threads. It might have been the influence of the autumn leaves here in VA that made me decide to use this silk! It also really popped with the black accessories I had recently finished- perhaps I was still in Halloween mode when I started the dress on November 2nd. 


I used the Laughing Moon fall-front gown pattern for this, and their pattern is a pretty close fit for me. I only altered the size of the bib and the sleeve length, and looking back, I wish I had made the bib bigger and did some gathering for a more "ruched" effect. But it ended up quite close to what I envisioned.  Per usual, I made my own skirt pattern, which was just two fabric widths with slight trapezoidal shaping at the top, to make the hem kick out a bit. I made the skirt extra long so I could add some tucks at the hem.


I had started the spencer a few weeks back, expecting to wear it with my blue 1790s gown. It's silk brocade with a paisley pattern, with silk velvet cuffs. It's also from a Laughing Moon pattern, which again, fit pretty well out of the package.

 The reticule is made from leftover pieces of the spencer fabric, with a turks-head tassel for interest.

The shoes were surprisingly not planned for this gown, but they matched almost perfectly! The shoes were first worn with my blue 1790s gown at the Gadsby's Tavern Ball in September, but I failed to get a decent photo of them at that time, so you're seeing them now. I purchased inexpensive, bright yellow velvet d'Orsay flats and sewed lacing rings onto the sides and top of the heel, and laced some silk ribbon through. They're supposed to look like these amazing slippers painted by Vigee-LeBrun around 1800.




My hairstyle is quite similar to the one I wore to the Regency Ball last February. I put my real hair in a bun, then added the fake bangs and the pearl headband. This time I also added an awesome black netted bun cover, which was super necessary because I have cut off half my hair and the ends are rather choppy and layered, so the bun would just not stay tidy without the cover reigning in the ends of my hair. But it ended up looking really great and I didn't have to touch it all evening.

 
 A hair net being used in the Regency period.