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.