Saturday, December 31, 2011

Final ACC Post - Documentation

First a note: I didn't enter the ACC with an aim of winning. With such outstanding talent from the likes of Crystal, Hastings, and others, I didn't stand a chance. But, I did want to see if I could work within challenge outlines, if I could come up with enough items, and if I could finish them all according to my own standards.  Also, participating in the challenge makes me more visible as an Artemisian artisan, and I wanted others to see my work, not just my (fabulous!) circle of friends.

A Florentine Outfit circa 1550
By Lady Jane Fox

For the ACC I decided to make an outfit that a Florentine noblewoman would have worn in the middle of the 16th century.

The four layers consist of six items total:
1. A smock and a petticoat
2. A gown for court wear
3. A loose gown or coat
4. A girdle belt and necklace
 Layer One
    The smock is made of a linen/cotton blend. I chose to make an English smock, as opposed to an Italian camicia, because my persona is English and I nearly always wear English gowns. I wanted to be able to wear this smock with my other gowns, and the smock looks appropriate under the Florentine gown. All of the smock was sewn by machine, except for the attaching of hook and eyes to the cuffs by hand. The pattern is a mix of different smocks from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 4. It has a square neckline, hip gores, gathered cuffs with black stitching on the tips, and faux black work done by machine.
Total cost: $10. Finished 11/19
 The petticoat is 2.5 yards of light gold silk. It is a front panel and back panel, attached up the sides, and gathered to a waistband, with a ribbon running through. The very front has a 5-inch flat part to avoid extra padding underneath the pointed bodice. I chose to have the openings at the side instead of the typical back to avoid the sagging that happens with most of the fabric pushed towards the back to maximize fullness there. With the waistband, I have no sagging, and the fabric is distributed perfectly. Machine-sewn.
Total cost: $0 (stash fabric). Finished 12/30
     Layer Two
    The Florentine court gown is based off of multiple portraits of women living in Florence during the 16th century, and also the burial gown of Eleanor of Toledo. It is made from a poly blend fabric I bought in 2010. I liked the blue and gold scheme, and thought the pattern was very close to period patterns, ignoring the fact that the fabric content isn’t natural fibers.
    My pattern was simply enlarged from a side-lacing Italian dress pattern owned by a friend that was drafted for her body, with a few tweaks for fit. The bodice has four layers: Silk lining, cotton duck cloth and heavy weight linen interlinings (that hold the bones in casings), and fashion fabric. The bodice is self-boned with spring steel (cut, filed, and plastic-dipped by hand) and needs no corset. It has 20 eyelets on the sides, done by hand.

The sleeves were the most complicated part of the process. Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion, with the Eleanor burial gown, gives no pattern for the paned sleeves. I studied the portraits and came up with a pattern of my own design. It has one top and one bottom pane, connected by a two inch wide strip of linen, with gold gimp trim on the panes. Many period examples have three or four panes, but I wanted to simplify the sleeves because I’d never tried something like this before. The buttons (36 of them) are sewn to the sleeves, gathering the linen to form the puffs. I added an oval-shaped piece of linen to the sleeve head and the shoulder strap to create a puff at the top of the sleeve. Looped ribbon holds the sleeve’s buttons in place. A gold lace trim decorates the wrists. Hand sewing on the sleeves includes the buttons, half of the linen strips, the linen sleeve head poufs, and the lace cuffs.
    The skirt is a front panel and back panel, sewn up the sides, with one-inch cartridge pleats sewn to the bodice. The pleats are padded with a heavyweight linen that reaches to my hips to help the skirts stand out from the waist. The pleats and stitching to the bodice were done by hand; the rest is machine-sewn. The entire garment is meticulously pattern-matched, with the exception of the underside sleeve pane. This was a first for me, as I typically use solid fabrics. 
Total cost: gown fabric and silk lining, $0 (stash, bought in 2010); all linen pieces, $8; buttons, $4; duck cloth interlining, $3; gimp trim, $6; gold lace trim, $5; embroidery thread for eyelets, $2. Finished 12/27

Layer Three
    The loose gown, or coat, is made from grey wool velvet, lined in silver silk. The pattern is from the Tudor Tailor book. It has a small collar that folds back to show the silk lining. It is not extremely warm, but helps stop the wind. It is deliberately short to prevent the fabric from dragging on the ground.
Total cost: $0 (velvet and silk stash fabrics bought in 2010). Finished 7/15

Layer Four
    I made a jewelry set (girdle and necklace) to wear with any of my gowns, purchasing the bulk of the components before the ACC was announced, and begun in May. I chose an amethyst purple for the main color scheme. The purple accents don’t match the blue fabric of course, but it looks great together regardless. The girdle features Swarovski amethyst crystal beads and settings, with gold square components, and Swarovski pearls. It is connected by jump rings, and is .75” wide. The large drop was bought in 2010 and was a dark antiqued brass color, but I painted it with gold leaf to match the gold components. The necklace is pearls, crystal beads, and bead caps strung onto beading wire.
Total cost: $10. Most components were bought in May and count as stash, but some extras were needed later on, adding to the cost. Finished 8/23

The grand total cost of this project is $48. Fortunately so much of the fabrics and jewelry parts were bought before the ACC was announced, otherwise the project would have totaled around $150.

I obviously did not use a large amount of hand sewing on this project. I confess to not being extremely proficient yet in this skill, but am working to improve. Also, the project came together much faster with the machine than by hand, considering all the long seams and hems involved.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sneak Peek at Florentine Gown

I've been working hard on my most recent gown: a 1550s Florentine dress in the style of Eleanor of Toledo's burial gown and countless other similar Florentines found in portraiture. It's nearly finished, so here's some pics I took during stages of its production.

Firstly, I have never made anything deliberately italian before. My gold silk "florentine" gown meant to be English before I knew better and could differentiate between regional fashions. This new gown was challenging but fun. The pattern I used was based off my friend Sarah's side-back lacing one drafted for her by Noelle. All I had to do was enlarge the whole thing by an inch around and make a few little tweaks. Unfortunately the bodice is a bit big, but hopefully my friends can lace me in nice and tight! At the left you can see the front piece of the bodice and the original sleeve attempt- I then decided to do poufs galore.

The sleeve pattern was really just a guessing game. I chose to have just two panes instead of the 3 or 4 typical for florentine sleeves- I felt that two rows of poufs and buttons would look sufficiently awesome (and it does). You can see how I just sewed linen strips between the panes and gathered them where the buttons were sewn on. I put them in 3 inch increments without even thinking about the sleeve length and got lucky! For the sleeve tops, instead of baragoni, I just sewed an oval shaped piece of linen to the sleeve head and shoulder strap, made ribbon loops, and the space between sleeve and strap can be pouffed without wearing a camicia underneath, just a typical smock. There are 34 buttons on the sleeves!

Here's the bodice with sleeves pinned on, before I made the sleeve head poufs. I like how it looks with my partlet, which I am so happy I made because it works with all my gowns. Fortunately the sleeves aren't really that full in real life! They're not too snug but still fitted.

And here we have the skirt starting to be attached. I did 1 inch cartridge pleats, padded with thick linen that comes all the way down to my hips for extra fullness. I am loving the thick pleats! I typically do teeny tiny ones but this gown called for fat ones! I usually wear a farthingale with my English gowns but I'll have to just use petticoats under this, so any extra padding is helpful. The skirt will have a gold silk guard at the hem to help keep it full.

All I have left to do is hem, add the guard, tack on the gold lace I've already ordered for the sleeve cuffs, add hook and eyes to the skirt edges, and hem the tucked-under sleeve ends with my new serger I'm getting for Xmas. I'm planning on wearing it in two weeks for 12th night in Salt Lake. I always seem to finish my projects well ahead of time, thank goodness! I am feeling damn proud of myself right now. PS: the whole garment is pattern-matched! I rarely use patterned fabric for this reason, but I like the impact it provides.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

English Smock, and a purchase

I'm back to sewing! This is the first of a few upcoming posts.

I feel like I have finally gotten my smocks perfect. This is the third one I've made, so I feel pretty solid as far as undergarments go. I don't think I'll need another one for a long time. All are slightly different and work best with certain gowns or kirtles.

This one is a linen/cotton blend (rather see through!), typical pattern of rectangles and gores. I did machine "blackwork" on the neckline and cuffs for detail. I particularly love the cuffs: first I zigzag stiched 15x1.5 strips of linen, then gathered them with a long stitch on my machine, arranged the mini-pleats, then attached them to the band. I had never attempted anything like that before but I just went for it, and it worked perfectly! All I need is a serger and this smock is 100% awesome.

And, I finally bought some wrist ruffs from the Renaissance Tailor! I've been dying to get some ever since I bought my uber-ruff 2 years ago, but it took some extra b-day cash to convince me to order them. They match my ruff; both are made of silk organza sewn onto linen bands, with lace.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Finished Pink Kirtle

Well I suppose I should post a picture of the finished kirtle! I finished it last week and was supposed to wear it to an SCA demo, but it was so cold that morning that I didn't want to wear garb. So wearing it will have to wait until next weekend when I go to an SCA event. I will definitely take pics with it on, cause the hanger doesn't do it justice! And yes, the cuffs have been finished since this pic.

My favorite part of it are the guards. Have I mentioned how much I love them?! They take a long time for the multiple rows (cause I won't let them be wonky!) but they make such an impact. One nice change is that instead of ribbon to lace it up, I bought some thin, tightly woven cording at Pennsic that matches the pink linen, and it keeps the dress nice and snug. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pink kirtle progress...

I'm finally progressing on the pink linen kirtle. I didn't touch it for the last few weeks- I had no reason to quickly get it done, so I've been doing stuff in real life instead of sewing. But back to it, cause I missed sewing! I will try to finish the kirtle this week so I can wear it the 8th for a small SCA demo.

This thing is WAY brighter in person! Kinda obnoxious, which is awesome. Left to do: mostly small stuff. Hem the sleeve cuffs (I don't have ape arms!), add the hook and eye to close the skirt at the back waist, and possibly add another row of guarding. I really like the look of multiple rows of guards, like my purple kirtle, so time permitting, I'll likely do another row.

I'm a bit bummed because I don't have another SCA event to go to until december, which is Solstice Court, and that's still only a possibility. Therefore, my sewing has been stagnant for weeks. Why sew something new that I can't wear for ages?! I don't even need a new dress for Solstice because no one down south has seen my epic black elizabethan, so I'm going to wear that. The group next door is hosting an italian-themed event in february, so I'm considering making a florentine gown for it, but we'll see. Le sigh :(

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jewelry Making Day!

I've been slowly working on some jewelry over the last couple days, off and on.

First up is my girdle that I've had for a couple years now, but needed some revamping. I noticed at Pennsic that it was getting a bit saggy, so I decided to just restring the whole thing. I also changed out the bead caps for something more sparkly.

Second is the new, fabulous girdle I started this summer, with help from the always amazing Holly! It's made of swarovski pearls, beads, and focal settings. I wanted something more substantial than my old belt (see above). I chose amethysts after I found this great pendant at an antiques sale. Today I applied some gold leaf paint with this nifty pen, and it makes such a difference. It was dark and brassy before (left side), now it's bright and shiny (right side)!

Next is another girdle (I think I have a thing for gold belts!), but this one is for my earlier period dresses. I simply jump-ringed together some focal settings, then glued on some mother-of-pearl cabochons for an extra pop. If I knew a better method to connect the bits, I'd do it.
Lastly is my new AoA brooch. I got my award Sept 2009, but hadn't come up with an idea for how to wear it until recently. There was no way I was going to just hang it on a string! I bought this nifty brooch at the same sale as the above one. I liked that it was made in "West Germany". Now I can wear my AoA with some bling, too!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Pink Kirtle!

Long time, no post! It's been a very busy summer for me. I've been doing small projects here and there, mostly little things for Pennsic, but now that I'm home for a bit, I can start on larger projects. For example...

Another pink kirtle! I found this linen in the red tag section of Joann's and scooped it up. It's an unusual color- definitely pink, but with a red undertone to it. There was only 3 yards, so I'm really cutting carefully on this one! I cut 25" off the length of the fabric for the bodice, and will cut the remaining yardage in half to make the skirt. I then bought this dark turquoise linen at Pennsic to make the sleeves and guards. This outfit will be super bright! Both colors are darker than pictured.

I'm at the boning stage right now. I used to buy precut / predipped spring steel, then decided I'd cut and dip my own lengths, but I really hate the process. I'm only continuing to do it because I still have rolls of boning to use up. After that, I'm going back to buying it. I just hate waiting a week to get the boning to my house.

Yes, the fashion fabric looks patterned oddly. I cut all three layers using my paper pattern, then sewed the interlining (cotton duck) and lining (cotton) together, and started modifying the pattern via sewing and cutting away. My current pattern is a little too large. I haven't cut down all the linen yet, so that's why it looks a little funny.

I'm debating using this kirtle as a layer for my ACC entry, instead of doing a gown...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gold Florentine Gown and Gold Petticoat

I made this gold silk Florentine-style gown over a year ago, and have re-vamped it recently. When I first made it, I didn't realize that it was rather Italian in style (due to the sleeves), but came to learn it was after doing more research on the styles relating to each country in the 16th century. You can see the original version in my userpic.

Changes made:
1. Added more trim to the bodice to make it even more "obviously" Italian in style. The trim on this is a stiff jacquard embroidered with metallic thread and sequins. It's super thick and hard to cut, so the bottom of the trim on the waistline is just cut (folding over doesn't work). My new girdle (thanks Holly!) hides the edge wonderfully.
2. The pearls on the sleeves were popping off when I wore this gown last, in december, due to the sleeves being too tight at the elbow. I switched out the tiny pearls for 8mm ones, and did 4 down each sleeve instead of 5, making a "pouf" open at the elbow instead of a pearl holding it tight.
3. Removed trim from wrists and sewed them on a half inch lower. The sleeves were a tid-bit too short before; now they're perfect.

I also made a gold silk petticoat today, and will be adding it to my entry for the ACC. The color is this astonishing shade of buttery yellow- so lovely that I almost didin't use it for this petticoat, though I bought the silk for this exact purpose.

The way I constructed and sewed it has minimal stitches in it, so I could potentially take it apart and use it for another project if I wished. Simple, one-piece rectangular skirt, on a ribbon waistband to gather the fabric at the waist towards the back for more pouf in the back than the front.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sleeves and Forepanel

Finished the extra set of sleeves and forepanel for my black silk Elizabethan. Seeing as I decided I will not be bringing my elaborate red silk damask French gown to Pennsic (for fear of it being stolen), I chose to instead make a second pair of sleeves and forepanel to switch out- it's like having another gown! Fabric is a lovely, shiny apple-green and silver cotton-blend damask that cost me all of $5 for 2 yards at Uprising!

These are easily the best sleeves I have ever made. Why? 
1. I loved Crystal's way of sewing in the ribbons into the sleeve head, so I tried that on this set, and I love it! Much easier than sewing on rings and losing loose ribbons.
2. Fully lined in green silk, and fully finished on the inside with no frayed edges (a bad habit of mine).
3. Pattern placement is perfect! I took care to make it exactly right.

Forepanel is pretty straightforward. I chose to do just the forepanel alone, instead of attaching it into a whole underskirt. It's documentable, so it works. Plus I'll have a petticoat under it to hide the hoop lines. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pink Kirtle

I made this kirtle over a year ago, and decided that it needed some revamping. I'm going to Pennsic in a couple weeks, and as I was looking through my garb debating what to bring, my brain thought "this kirtle isn't good enough anymore", and instead of pushing it to the back of the closet, I spruced it up! Left is before (feb 2010), right is after:

Changes: 1. Added two more rows of trim, plus tacked down the old trim better. I did such a shoddy job last time around. 2. Removed the skirt from the bodice and cartridge pleated it, taking out the box pleats, and reattaching it. I don't think I will ever go back to box pleating thanks to Noelle teaching me cartridge pleating. 3. Changed out the ribbons from thin pink ones to wide cream ones.

Now it's ready for Pennsic, and I don't have to hide in shame!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fitted English Gown

Finishing up the tidbits on my black wool gabardine fitted overgown so I can wear it at Pennsic in August.

Firstly I must say that I did not make this- I had this made before I could sew at all, and despite the bodice fitting great, I never liked the sleeves. They were way too long, and the underarm pane hung much lower than the outer arm pane. I've been attempting to fix them, then putting aside in frustration, for over a year now! I wore this for about 10 minutes at Uprising in 2010, then got self-conscious about the stupid sleeves, so I took it off. Weird, I know! For some reason, I just decided I would freakin' do it today, and I did! Now it's wearable.

This gown is based on the picture at right, which is taken from the Tudor Tailor book (image from Ninya Mikhaila's site). I adored it so much I had to have one too!

Here's how mine looks now. I have a little more trimming to do in the black velvet- the hem, inside the collar, down the inside bodice front, and the shoulders. I might add another frog or two to make it close a little higher. The collar is deliberately open and closed for the picture, to show the trim. I just might add some black silk inside the sleeve panes, too.

Loose Gown

I'm over halfway finished with my mid to late 1500s loose gown. I bought this silver wool velvet (!) fabric well over a year ago, and initially was going to make a fitted English overgown, but I just couldn't get the fit right, so I tried a simpler loose gown style a month ago... plus this fabric is really tough to work with. It's so thick! When you slide your hand over it, it feels like you're petting a dog!

How I left it last month: collar was too wide and tall at the tips, needed more shape.

At left, the current state. Right, the lining inside out.

So this gown is lined in silver silk only down the front panels and the back "yoke" because that's all I had on hand, and I think it'll be alright. It's lined where it matters!

Right now it's super simple, so I'll start trimming next. One issue is that I wasted so much fabric trying to make the fitted gown that I didn't have a lot left for this, so the hem is about 8 inches short. I think I'll do a wide black velvet guard, and trim it with black velvet around the armscye? Thoughts or ideas about that?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Early Period" Kirtle

Finished this generic "early period" kirtle (or cotehardie) today. I suppose it would date to around 1100-1300? It's not meant to have an exact date. This is a camping dress for Pennsic, to wear to the showers, right out of bed, when it's too hot for late period, and around the camp.

Linen blend, with machine "goldwork" embroidery on the neckline and cuffs instead of trim. No lacing, just pulls on over the head, but is rather fitted. The belt was quickly thrown together to add a bit more bling to such a simple dress.

I have another aqua linen kirtle nearly finished, but that one has eyelets (like, 30+), so it's creeping along steadily.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finished Men's Elizabethan

 Dylan's Elizabethan outfit is finished! I actually got it done a couple weeks ago, and some pics went up on facebook from friends, but maybe some of you readers haven't seen it yet, so here it is!

I went for a mostly English style, but the breeches are of course Venetian hose. I think the doublet fits him very well, which I made sure to do because fit is very important, as we all know. We know have a toile to work off of for any other outfits in the future. The doublet and sleeves are fully lined in silver silk. The shirt is machine blackworked. The shoes I actually bought for myself from Westland Crafts, but they were two sizes too big so Dylan bought them from me. I think they look spiffy! I got him black and white thigh high socks from, so he has actual "hose", too.

Things I would do differently:
-The collar is too big.
-I suck at doing the crotch... for some reason I can never get the seams right. Why is it so complicated for me?!
-I got a bit sloppy with the sleeves. I seem to suck at those too.

Enough self-hate, I really like how it turned out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Black Elizabethan, Take Two

I have finally (re)finished the black elizabethan gown! I will likely be (re)debuting it at Quest this weekend. All I have left to do is shoulder lacing rings and a hook & eye on the rear skirt opening.

The new gown's changes include: Totally redone bodice- first was made for over a corset, this one is boned and self supporting. Now isn't overly tight, especially in the armscye. Old skirt was box-pleated to a separate waistband, new one is cartridge pleated to the bodice. Undid the wonky hem in the front of the skirt opening. 

And the old dress looked like this: Cute, but needed fitting and finishing work. The bodice was a little sloppy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Corset, smaller!

So, I fixed the corset... somewhat. I decided to take it in by sewing it slighty smaller, from the inside of course, along the boning channel in the back (but not at the edge). You can't really see the seam unless you're looking for it. I unpicked a few stitches of the binding (top and bottom) to do it, and now I'll have to go back and fix it, but overall, it was a quick and serviceable fix! I can't believe I was thinking about redoing all those eyelets...

I like it as-is, but I'd really like a better-fitting corset. I never seem to manage to make my bodices give me that shelf-y lift look; mine tend to flatten them but still give them oomph. I have D's, so why can't I figure out how to make a shelf?!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Elizabethan Corset - Finished!

Well, I've finished my Elizabethan Corset. Boned with .5" and .25" spring steel all across the front, and it has a wooden busk in the center. All of the bias binding is sewn on by hand, as are the eyelets. I love the colors of the corset, and it looks very pretty in person.

There is only one problem preventing me from celebrating over the fact that I have actually made a corset, and it is... the damn thing is too big. I've lost only a couple pounds since the pattern was drafted, and even when I was cutting out the fabric I took several inches off to make it tighter. Well, it's still too loose. It doesn't get tight enough in the waist to support my chest; it just flattens it. Part of me wants to just take it in an inch on the side at the tip of the tabs under the armpit... bad idea?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Doublet Progress and New Fabric!

I've made a small bit of progress on the doublet for Dylan. I've sewn on most of the buttons (waiting for the store to restock, haha) and whipped the lining to the bottom on the inside. I still need to do the buttonholes and the rings at the shoulders for the tie-on sleeves, and of course the braided trim. Then sleeves, then pants... but the doublet is nearly done!

Next, more fabric! Not that I needed any... I bought 3 drapes, 48" wide, that equal over 7 yards in length. It's silk damask (my favorite type of fabric ever), in a lovely soft gold with cream undertone. The actual color is a bit in between these two pictures. I'm divided on what it would look best as: 16th cent gown? 18th cent francaise? It is sooo lovely... 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Men's Elizabethan Doublet

This is the start of a full outfit that I'm making for a new friend who just joined the SCA. I spent the weekend sewing at a friend's house; she helped me considerably with this project, and she had experience making doublets for guys, and I had none.I wanted this outfit to look a bit more masculine than many Elizabethan men's suits I've seen around.

Here's the doublet as it looks right now:

Blue cotton velveteen, lined in silver silk. The metal button is just pinned on, but there will be 10-12 buttons on the placket. This doublet fits Dylan extremely well. We took a long time making a toile out of duck because we knew the fit would make or break this outfit.

Other parts of the outfit include: a linen shirt, blackworked, which is already finished and one of the coolest looking things I've ever made; sleeves that are open on the front seam, gathered with buttons and lined in silver silk; venetian breeches. The trim is black gimp.

I'll try to get more pictures up as I put the rest together!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fun at the Museum

For those who don't know, I intern at a decently-sized museum in Bozeman, MT. I get to work in collections management, which means handling historical stuff and entering items into a database. Sometimes, fun projects come along! For example....

A collection of historical fashion dolls made in the 40s-50s by the home ec department at the university I attend! I got to write up their descriptions and put them away for permanent storage. Here's just a few to have a laugh over.

1. She came with a card titled "Middle Ages Gothic Period", which is obviously wrong, but there's apparently another card floating around the collection saying Tudor or English or something like that. I think the student that made this did her research!

2. Here's "19th century American". The fabric was super cute, and well sewn, but the pattern is rather modern- notice the bust darts?

3. This one is marked "Queen Elizabeth". Look at the ruff set! Epic!

4. Here's 18th century. She even had wire panniers, but they were smushed from years of sitting in a box. 

5. This one is marked "Marie Antoinette" but is actually a good very early 17th century outfit with the wrong wig. Notice the light damage- the gown is ivory now but was originally bright pink! Many of these dolls were put in a glass case for display for many years in direct sunlight.
 I have a pretty sweet internship :)