Sunday, November 30, 2014

A late-15th century gown for a friend

 For the last week or so I have been working on a gown for a friend of mine in my local SCA group, Her Ladyship Tamsyn Sutherland. She has been playing for several years and makes her own garb, but she is a fantastic scribal artist who is always doing work for others, and hasn't had time to make herself something fancy. I offered to make her a gown and donate the fabric for the Solstice Court event in a few weeks, as she is making an epic scroll for a Baron who is being elevated the the Order of the Pelican, and I thought she would like to look dressed up for the occasion!

 The gown is a late-15th to early 16th century gown (during the reign of Henry VII), and I mainly used "The Queen's Servants" book by the Tudor Tailor authors for inspiration, research, and pattern layouts. I drafted the bodice by hand onto wax paper using my friend's measurements, then cut it out in black linen and black duck cloth. I had her drop by for a quick fitting and overall it was close, just too long in the the shoulders. Next I cut it out in antique gold silk damask, added some lacing rings to get a better idea of the fit, and tried it on last time, where it fit great!

The bodice has heavy zip tie boning on just the side seams, center front, and back where it laces up. It is three layers thick (see above). The bodice is a bit wrinkled, but as we will be making a supportive under kirtle in the near future, that should sort out the wrinkles. She is also not wearing any period underthings as I made the gown before the smock just in case we ran out of time.The sleeves were drafted by me, just a round sleeve head that tapers to the snug wrist where it flares out, enabling a turn-back cuff. The sleeves are fully lined in a matching gold silk.

In this picture the hem isn't done and she has borrowed a belt for pictures. We were just so excited that it fit that I had to snag a pic!

And here it is finished! I am waiting on some gold velvet to add a guard to the hem of the gown, but she can still wear it as-is before the velvet arrives. I also made a green silk belt to mark her as an apprentice, which was her request. The belt has green tassels at the end. I also quickly whipped up a natural pearl, gold components, and red glass bead necklace in case she didn't have any bling already.

I will be making her a square necked smock out of a medium weight linen, and a linen partlet that has a v-neck shape, which is commonly seen with gowns this style. I figured she could get more use out of a smock with a neckline that doesn't show, and she can wear partlets depending on the style of gown. We may be looking into making a period hood as well, like the black ones pictured below, but for this event she will just do up her hair.

Here are some inspirational images I used when planning her gown.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ice Blue Silk Elizabethan Gown - A Stash Project

This last week I started working on my next project, an Elizabethan gown with some French styling. It's an ice-blue silk taffeta, with some beaded trim for the bodice. The sleeves will be paned with little gold and pearl jewels holding the poufs in place. The hem will have a light gold braid trim that exactly matches the unusual light gold border on the beaded trim.

This is primarily a stash project, as I've had the blue silk for 4 years, the beaded trim for maybe even longer, I didn't need to buy any interlining fabrics (linen, cotton duck cloth, felt), I had zip ties for boning, had the silk to line the skirt, have the sleeve jewels and linen or organza for sleeve poufs, etc. The only thing I bought for this project is 3.5 yards of gold braid to trim the skirt hem.

 Some things I'm doing differently than usual on this new dress:
1. Zip ties for boning. I have always used spring steel for boning my kirtles and gowns. I have decided to try zip ties for this dress to see what I think. Right away the problem of their thickness arose. This bodice has 5 layers of fabric and still shows the boning! Once I can put it on and see if it bothers me, I'll make the decision to change it or not.
2. Tiny eyelets! On the pink linen kirtle underneath the blue silk bodice, you can see the size of the eyelets I normally make. I'm trying tiny eyelets this time, just for something different. They do get sewn a little faster. I'll have to lace it up with ribbon through a tapestry needle to fit through the little holes.

3. More fabric in the skirt. I don't think I have a single dress with more than 3 yards of fabric in it, give or take a couple inches. This gown will have a full 3.5 yards of fabric in the skirt (didn't quite have enough for 4 yards), hopefully giving it more body and fullness, mainly because the blue silk is so light.

4. Lining the skirt. I don't have any gowns that have a lined skirt; I usually just wear a petticoat and not worry about it. However, this silk fabric is very lightweight and a little bit see-thru and that's not gonna work! I am fully lining the skirt in a silver silk dupioni to give the gown some weight, movement, and prevent the petticoat showing through the fabric. This means I won't be adding my usual strip of fabric padding on the pleats, just using the two layers of silk.

Here's some inspiration art. I'm mainly going for the look of the first dress, especially the sleeves, which will be almost exactly like these. Girl needs a partlet and a girdle belt, stat! Second image is for the sleeve poufs and lacing up the back. Third is for the partlet, trim style, and sleeves.