Looking the Part 1: Undergarments

A damsel in this dress:

a few new notes and photos added!

Originally posted on A Damsel in This Dress:

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 OK, so I have been in the business for a while.  I have been re-enacting even longer –  my first gig was in 1997 if I remember well, and I got into costume making almost straight away. True, I was lucky – my first contact with historical interpretation was  guys from Past Pleasures, and after spending a summer travelling with them, observing knights at work at the Tower of London, or strolling alongside 18th century clad characters during the Pantiles festival at Tunbridge Wells, you do learn a bit.  When the summer ended and I returned  to Poland where I lived at the time, I joined a historical fencing group. When told that for Christmas party I need to have a medieval gown, I had at least some vague idea where to look for sources ( well before the internet era!) and  came up with a dress. It was…

View original 2,743 more words

Katherine of Aragon gown 2014

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Since I was to be back in Peterborough this June, representing this much beloved queen, I needed a new frock.  I have been their Katherine for the last 3 years or so ( more of that here), and my kit needed an upgrade. the upgrade had been planned from the  last year or so anyway ( and fund were being assigned from the project over that year too) – but alas our garage fire changed the plans a bit. 18 metres of black silk velvet I had secured from the gown was damaged in the fire – bits were still usable but not good enough for the gown – but ok for a kirtle :-)

Below  find a short pictorial story of piecing the outfit together, as well as links to the providers – and since I am always asked how much the outfit would cost –  I specified the cost of individual items as well – the raw materials and labour-)

 

1. Smock- in linen, hand stitched.  Each piece was hemmed first , then the pieces were assembled using silk yarn and openwork seams shown in Patterns Of Fashion 4.

linen – 1.5m, Material cost – £30, labour – £100

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pieces of the smock hemmed and prepared for assembly

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Kirtle  ( I already had a good silk petticoat, so could skip that step :-)

fabrics – silk velvet ( 6m – around  £120), silk satin – left over; buckram – 1m ( £10);silk taffeta for lining – 6m – £150 ( I used 2 different colours – making use of odds and pieces i had available),calico for intelining – 5m, £20 pearls and braid for decoration – £40; reed – £5

labour cost – £200

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kirtle bodice insides – ready for boning with reed

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bodice bones, covering the outside with silk satin

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bodice covered , decorative bands of velvet attached, eyelets worked with silk thread

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pearls attached, metallic braid next…

 

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the skirts are interlined with calico, lined and bound with velvet…

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kirtle worn – here at the end of a long, sweaty day – pray excuse my hair escaping the headgear…

 

Gown:

fabrics – royal purple metallic damask , 10m – I was lucky to get it second hand, at £50 per metre – normally the price is about double, if not treble that ( Watts&co)

lining – silk taffeta  8m ( James Hare, @ £25 a metre) – I used 2 remnant lots, peacock blue and gold

purple silk taffeta for forebodice and binding – 1m – £25

calico for interlining – 6m – £25

rabbit pelt for the cuffs – £150

labour – £350

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bodice pieces cut of, paired with interlining – yellow silk for lining

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adjusting the fit…

 

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the shell ready – eyelets worked, all ready for setting in the sleeves

 

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preparing the fur – cutting it outside to avoid the mess inside! :-)

 

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sleeve ready…

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sleeve showing off the turn back

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innards – all ready for attaching the skirts.

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binding the skirts with silk taffeta

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skirts pleated – in front knife pleats, at the back 8 large cartridge pleats. here ready to be attached to the bodice

 

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the cartridge pleats are stuffed with long ‘sausages’ made out of the velvet remnants – here stitched at the top, read to be secured in place. they fill in the cartridge pleats nicely, giving a nice shape – and make sitting on harder surfaces pleasant – like carrying your own cushion with you!

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all ready, the forbodies lace under the placard ( pinned on)

3.  forseleeves

fabric –  gold metallic brocade ( 1m), silk taffeta lining – 1m, calico interlining,  decoration – estimated – £60

labour – £80

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half way there….

 

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ready!

 

girdle –  brocade fabric, tassels from Gina Barret. material cost – £130, labour – £20

 

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Partlet – linen, with blackwork worked by Embroidery Emporium – £150

 

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cuffs – also blackwork by EE – £150

bonnet – made on the paste I have used before, with a silk velvet veil, and a variety of frontlets – I have made 2 frontlets for this gown, the gold brocade ( and left it unpinned, in the earlier style)l and one in 2 brocades, purple and gold, and pinned the lappets to the side of the bonnet - an early  rendition of the gable hood.

material cost – £60,

labour – £100

 

shoes – by Pilgrim Shoes, slashed, with silk pulling outs – £70

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hose/stockings – I had 2 pairs, one by Quartemasterie, one by Sally Pointer - approx £20

Jewellery;

a lovely Piece by Gemmeus  £300,

other pearl necklaces and rings – £80

 

and the end product….

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Peterborough Heritage

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chilling out with my lady in waiting ( wearing a my previous Katherine outfit)

 

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and with the hubby ( well, Thomas More)…

 

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and the royal hubby – Ian from Black Knight Historical

 

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and a funky one – look, am hovering! :-)

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the final costing…

 

smock  - 130; kirtle – £550; gown £1200; sleeves – £160; girdle – £160; cuffs and partlet – £300; shoes – £70; bonnet – £160; bling – £380, hose – £20; brass pins for pinning things – £30

 

total – £3230…  ouch…

Admittedly,  I don’t charge myself labour – but  obviously if I am working on my own stuff, i am not working on commissions that bring the revenue – so still counts as it creates a dent in my budget – making this outfit took about 10 days.   The materials were collected and saved for  over the last year – I am not a particularly wealthy person, so there is no way I would be able to afford such a frock all at once… I doubt I would be able to afford it now, if it weren’t a part of my job….

Needless to say, I do not plan another Tudor frock for myself in the next few years….. or a decade maybe…

 

photography of the finished product - Pitcheresque Imagery and John D.Grant.  More photos of the even itself soon!

 

 

How to make a Victorian cage bustle

 

18. bustle worn, side view

   AS promised, another of my articles – this time on making bustles! enjoy!

 

 

The underwear we are dealing with in this article was created to go with my Victorian wedding gown (more articles on that to follow soon!), but they can be used for any other late Victorian outfit – or a modern Steampunk one. The items we will be making are the following:

  1. A steel boned, (lobster tail) bustle, traditional or a steampunk inspired

 

 

  1. A bustle pad

 

 The bustle

 Materials

Authentic Victorian:

1.5m of cotton twill (http://www.whaleys-bradford.ltd.uk/)

5m of flat steel boning, (Sew Curvy)

7m of linen tape, 1.5”wide,

8m of embroidered trim (Ebay)

Steampunk variation – silk, or any other fancy, non stretch fabric, trim, bones – if the bustle is just a fashion item and not used for support of heavy skirts, plastic boning will work too.

Patterns

Adapted from Jean Hunnisett’s, page 129, or Corset and Crinolines, p.96

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Similar patterns are available from Vena Cava -

Method

  1. Cut the pieces out – 2 outside backs, 2 sides, 1 back inside, 1 waistband

 

  1.  Place the two back right sides together and sew.

 

  1. Unfold and press the seam.  Either stitch the seam allowances down, or , if you are working with silk, pink them
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pinked seam on the Steampunk bustle

 

  1. Lay it flat.  Round the point at the bottom end, and then mark the places to sew on the boning channels. The amount of channels varied greatly in Victorian Era, but the heavier the skirts  you want supported are, the more boning was needed.
  1. Pin the tape alongside the markings and sew.  You can place the channels outside, especially if they are supposed to be decorative – they look very classy if made in contrasting fabric! I chose to place mine inside, since my tape was far from decorative.
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back pieces sewn together and the channels sewn on

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close up of the boning channels

  1. When sewing the top channels that cross over, make sure you leave the parts of the channel on top unstitched at the place of crossing: you can secure it later by hand, making sure it doesn’t obstruct the channel underneath.
  2.  Continue for all the channels.  The bottom hem channel can be done differently – place the tape on the right side of the fabric and sew along the edges.
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bottom channel

Then flip it onto the left side and sew forming the channel. No need to hem the fabric then J

  1.  The channels are now done.
  2. Add decorative elements on the right side, if you are so inclined – I was lucky to get my hand on some lovely border trim with embroidered lilac twig, so used it to cover the channels on the outside. Sew the decoration as close to the top channels’ seam as possible.
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decorative trim applied on the outside

 

 

For the Steampunk version, use whatever trim you like – here I used a black organza with metal elements!

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sewing decorative trim onto the Steampunk bustle

 

  1.  If you want to add the bottom flounce (not necessary but very useful if you have heavy skirts and want to dance! – Looks pretty too!), cut a length of the fabric, hem it, add any decoration and arrange it into box pleats. Sew onto the bottom of the bustle, just below the last channel.

Trim box-pleated, ready to be pressed and sewn onto the bustle.

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Box pleats sewn onto the bustle, applying decorative trim over the top.

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  1. If decorating the sides, sew the decoration on first.

 

  1.   Add the sides and the back piece- it is a bit tricky, but it is possible to sew all three elements in once go. First, place the side and the back right sides together. Pin.

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  1.  Then place the back inside on the top and pin three layers together.

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Sew  through all the layers. You should now have the following shape emerging:

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  1.  You can now place your boning into the channels. Cut the boning, making sure it is just about an inch shorter than the channel. Secure the ends of the bones and insert the boning into the channels in the back piece.

Push as far as the seam, and secure the open ends of the channels with a pin, to prevent the bones from interfering with the second seam

 

Place the other side piece on the other side of the back piece.

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Now for the most difficult part – reach for the inside back part and pin it together with the side piece. You will now have a 3d shape to deal with, so go slowly!

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  1. Optional – if you want your boning to be removable, simply make the channels shorter, or provide openings in the channels.  Then you can sew all the parts together and add boning later.

 

  1. Turn the bustle on the right side.

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  1. Pleat the back top so that that it fits onto the waistband. Secure the pleats with the pins.

 

  1.  Place the waistband onto the top edge of the bustle, right sides together. Pin, and then sew.

 

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  1.  Turn the waistband over the seam and sew over, covering it.

 

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  1. Attach the ties and sew on hooks and eyes.  You can also use buttons, or longer ties, if preferable. Finish off any raw edges and cut off stray threads.

 16. bustle pleated and attached to the waistband

  1.  Your bustle is ready.

 

 

Both bustles when worn

18. bustle worn, side view

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 The bustle pad

The bustle pad can be worn on its own, particularly for Natural Form era, but it can also be worn on the top of the bustle, as a bustle improver, in which case the resulting silhouette is much more rounder – very typical of the later 80ies bustle styles.

Materials

0.5m of cotton twill, or simply cotton,

1.5 of lace or decorative trim, if desired,

Fabric scraps or cotton waddling for stuffing.

Linen tape for ties.

 

 Method

  1. Cut out the pieces – a small one, reflecting the real size of the bustle pad, and another one, in the same shape, but larger – I added 2 inches all around.

 

  1.  Mark the top hem line, the bottom hem line and two lines in between the two on the smaller piece – these are the lines where the two layers will meet.
  2. Draw the same lines on the bigger piece, making sure that the distances are greater – the lines should still dissect the pad into 3 even parts.
  3.  Set your machine on a longer stitch, with a looser bobbin thread and stitch alongside the lines on the bigger piece. You will notice than with those settings it is easier to gather the fabric by pulling the thread out – the technique used in the period for ruching
20. the bigger piece with ruching stitches for gathering the fabric

the bigger piece with ruching stitches for gathering the fabric

  1.  Pull the threads along the seams, gathering the fabric till the size of the piece reflects the smaller piece. Distribute the gathers evenly and pin on top of the smaller piece, making sure that the gathered seams match the previously drawn lines on the smaller pad.
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two pieces pinned together, the bigger one on top.  

  1.  Sew over the gathered seams, including the top and bottom seams.

The two layers stitched together, along the ruching stitches, top, side and bottom. One side left open for inserting the filling

22. two layers stitched together,  along the ruching stitches , top, side and bottom. one side left open for inserting the filling

  1. Stitch the pieces together on one side, but leave the other side open – you can use it now to insert your filling.  Whatever you use for that purpose, kapok, fabric scraps, cotton etc, make sure it is distributed evenly.
  2.  Stitch the other side shut.
  3.  You can now bind the edges with a bit of bias binding or simply fold the edges over and secure with a slip stitch. Sew on your flounce – the decorative border here does serve a more important function, so it is worth the trouble. The frill not only looks pretty, but also blurs the outline of the bustle pad under the skirts, making the skirt fabric lie smooth.

23. filling inserted, pinning up the flounce to the sides

 

  1.  Add a waistband and/or ties
  2. The pad is ready!

24. ties attached, busle pad ready!

The inside of the pad.

25. inside the pad

 

and an example in fancy fabric…

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The pad or the bustle?

Some skirts can be worn on either, depending on the style and dating.   The pad is great for walking and, in my case, I made one for my wedding gown. I was riding side saddle just after the ceremony and there would be no time to change – so the pad worked very well.

The long bustle was simply amazing for dancing. My wedding gown had a long train which bustled for dancing, but the weight was substantial, and it was still trailing on the ground. The bustle kept the excess fabric away from my legs, making waltzing much less difficult!  Despite the steels, the bustle is very comfortable to sit in too – it simply collapses flat!

You can also wear a cage and a smaller pad – the bustle improver – on top of the cage – giving the rounded bustle silhouette typical for the second bustle era.

 

Victorian wedding gown – skirts and train worn over a pad.

31. side view of the  day bodice

The same gown, though with an evening bodice, worn over the steel boned bustle.

 34. side view of the evening bodice and the decoration, copyright Lensmonkey Photography

 Bibliography

 

Jean Hunnisett, Period Costume for Stage and Screen, Patterns for Women’s Dress 1800-1909, Players Press, Inc, 1991

Norah Waugh,  The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600- 1930; Faber and Faber, London, 1994

Norah Waugh, Corsets and Crinolines, Routledge/Theatre Arts Books, New York, 2000

Stella Blum, Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898, Dover Piublications, Inc. New York, 1974

The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute; Fashion, a History from the 18th to the 20th century,  Taschen, 2002

 

 

1885 day gown – stock item

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Since after the WWI corsetry shoot  we still had the set living in the garage, I decide to use the opportunity to snap a few atmospheric shots of a  circa 1885 day dress in cotton from our stock.-a skirt with an asymmetric drapery and a bodice, both lined in cotton. It was about 2 sizes too big for me, but clever pinning and padding worked, to some extent . Would suit a corsetted size 14-16, with bodice closing at 34 inches, chest 40. sleeve 23 “, skirt length 41inches. here worn on a corset ( unlaced) and a bustle cage and a petticoat. It  will be available to purchase from our online store soon:-)

And in the meantime – enjoy the pictures – really happy how they turned out,  Lucas is really getting the hang of it now!

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 credits – Clothing: Prior Attire

photography: Pitcheresque Imagery

 shoes: American Duchess

hair ( well, the fringe)- Wonderland wigs

Mid-Victorian corset project – and pattern review

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a few months ago I got some fantastic check wool that just screams 1860 or whereabouts, so I knew I would need to make the undergarments first. So using our usual Stitch and Bitch session with Sew Curvy, I decided to tackle the project then. The pattern was bought, the plan was hatched – and I set to make it happen. I had two aims in sight – firstly, to make the thing so that I could wear it with the future Dickensian  frock; the secondary aim was to check whether the pattern runs true to size and if I could use it as a foundation for the off the peg corsetry range for that period – I am a fairly standard size 12 ( with bigger boobs but that’s easily accounted for), and experimenting with other corsets, patterns and sizes it usually transpired that if the size 12 was ok for me, the other sizes ran true and worked ok on my models/clients.

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On receiving the pattern  I realized the construction is relatively simple – and very similar to late Regency corsets I have already dealt with. Lots of gores, so fiddly, but  not too badly. I was a bit surprised when I studied the pattern and realised that the pieces does not actually end up looking like the picture on the front, but hey, was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt..

And so the size 12 was cut out in calico, with the gores as suggested for my measurements.

The mock up was ready in no time…

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And that’s when the problems started. True, you don’t expect mock ups to fit perfectly  straight away and there is always adapting, tweaking etc going on.  This one however, if it was to work at all, needed serious re-engineering…

1.  what struck me first was that it closed shut t the back – although it was supposed to have a wide gap…

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2.  It was evident that much more boning was needed – but that is not an issue, was expecting it with chest my size.  What I did not expect however was  that it would move my boobs sideways, hiding them under my armpits…. well, at least trying to.

3.   I also didn’t expect  a corset to make me look pregnant…

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notice that huge gap in front – despite being laced shut in the back, there was loads of room in front … so much, that I could actually stuff a tailor’s ham under it…

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Amazing.

Needless to say, my waist remained as it was – with a minimal reduction of 0.5 inch – despite  the claims on the instruction  – ‘ This type of corset was to reduce the waist. Note the wide gap at the back- this is normal spacing.’  Hmmm… fail,  I think…

At that point  one thing was certain – this is not a pattern to use for standard sizes corsets. If it was taken from an extant garment, then the garment was intended for a person with narrow hips and protruding belly ( maternity maybe ?), and replicating it in different sizes would mean replicating the weird proportions  on a bigger or smaller scale.  The side boobage overspillage could be controlled with playing with the gusset shapes and sizes, and in fact you can see period corsets of this type still sporting straps, like their predecessors – adding straps would most certainly help control the issue. As would actually adapting the whole front panel and cutting it in two, with a curving seam – as shown on the  cover picture. As a matter of fact, that seam features on every other picture of a corset  printed int he instruction/information leaflet – so it is a bit puzzling that  the actual pattern doesn’t reflect the construction.

I was almost ready to give up and not to waste my time on a project that I wont be able to use for my business – but  a cuppa and a nice Danish pastry restored my spirits a bit ( was suffering from a rather bad cold that week too) and  I decided to  have a go –  stay with the pattern and just adjust the gores etc to make it wearable.

 

The following changes were made:

1.  bust gores were adapted to entice the boobs from under the armpits and to stay more or less in front of me.

2. waist was reduced, side  seam made curvier to accommodate my hips and displaced blubber :-)

3. front gore and panel was adapted to limit the pregnant look.

And with these changes, I decided not to waste any more time and make the thing.

I used a cheaper fabric – but still a lovely and authentic one – strong cotton drill.

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preparing for gore insertion….

 

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gores inserted – the corset has 2 layers, so there was 16 gores to insert…. joy….

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all layers with gores , ready to be sewn together…

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the backs with lacing channels

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marking the channels with disappearing pen ( love it – the marks fade relatively quickly so it sort of forces you to deal with the project now and then…)

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busk inserted, all pieces in place. the gores are flosses with blue thread at the corners for extra safety

 

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sewing boning channels – some were just sewn between the two layer, some were an added tape – the tape also secured the gores a tad more. just in case…

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ready to bone!

then eyelets  were added and I was able to try it on, just before it was time to drive back home…

The result – Well, there was some improvement. Boobage  less shy, staying more or less put – not ideal, but better than before.  Back – now sporting a wide gap as it theoretically should.  Pregnant look – better, though still could do with improvement.

 

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I must admit that although it started looking more or less ok, It was not very comfortable – and still not really getting the waist reduction I am accustomed to. I am rather squishy, and can reduce my waist y about 7 inches with no major problem – here the reduction was just about 2 ( which is a standard), but not a comfortable one – my hips still felt constricted. I did not particularly like the wide gap at the back either – and the back panel could do with some additional boning.

And so, when I got back home I decided to make one more change to it  - basically to  diminish the gap, and by doing so adding more boning to support the corset better  there.

I cut off the lacing bit  and added a  narrow panel there – just enough for 2 bones that , unfortunately spoiled the decorative  look of the diagonal boning, but it has made a huge difference in wearing the thing –  it is still not the coziest corset ever, but as least I am confident I can wear it for a spell of time.

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Then all the bones were flossed, edges bound and it was ready to put on and take some photos….

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the outside, finished…

 

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and the innards

 

For the photos I improvised  a vaguely mid Victorian hairdo, put on my chemise and long drawers, stockings, shoes – and decided to play with a cage crinoline I recently bought from a friend… the results below… :-)

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And so, as you can see, not  a complete success, but at least a wearable item. I am still not very happy with it, and so I foresee a next round here  Will pattern the darn thing myself,  and will cut the front panel in two, as shown on the period illustrations…  it wont happen immediately, as i have a business to run, but one day, we should have words together , this type of corset and I  :-)

 

credits:

all sewing notions, fabric, boning etc – Sew Curvy

photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

 

 

WWI corsetry photoshoot

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Well, once I started with the  teens corset, there was no stopping me, I was on the roll ( the blog on how it was made can be found here). I loved mine so much, I made 5 more over the next few days, and invited a few friends who volunteered to model them –  a good friend of mine, Lizzie,  who modeled a lot of things for us ( check  put her page! Miss Lilian Love ), and a couple from our re-enactment forays, Helen and Simon. Naturally Simon wasn’t modelling corsets, but he offered to bring his WWI things and serve as a backdrop/ accessory :-). Alas,  couldn’t find a model for the size 18/20 corset, so this one is as yet not done….

The shoot, done in our newly redone garage, took almost 5 hours –  the hair and make up our own, with huge help from Lizzie who   not only turned up with superb hairdo but also  did Helen’s and helped me with mine :-). We divided the shoot into 2 categories – product shoots, showing off the corsets –  perfect for our new website and a shop  (the corsets will be available as  off the peg items)

The second part was trying to recreate some period looks seen on naughty postcards and lingerie ads – and some arty/ funky portraits and scenes…

 

And so, without further ado – the results!

The product shots:

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Lizzie in size 10 corset in butterscotch broche coutil, ivory lace, worn over lawn combinations.

 

 

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back view…

 

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and side…

 

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Helen in size 14 corset in cotton sateen, dyed china blue, white lace, worn over lawn chemisette. Helen loved it so much, she bought it straight away :-)

 

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better colour – the sateen came out a beautiful blue, with an even coverage

 

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back view

 

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The three graces…

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another n size 10 corset in gray broche coutil, black lace and binding, worn over lawn combinations.

 

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and Helen in black broche, size 12 – a bit too small for her, but she soldiered on!

 

and some of the  fun shoots:-)

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lovely picture of a couple sharing a tender moment:-)

 

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gossiping in the boudoir

 

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surprised. well, just a bit :-)

 

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Hat fight!!!!!

 

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oh, really ? do you really promise to give me what my heart desires most?

 

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Just one … more… pair of shoes from American Duchess!!!! Pleaseeee!

 

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Phew, that was a tough job! All done now:-)

 

So, fun and work combined, best thing ever! we are now planning product shoots from other corsetry items for  the soon – to – be – launched- shop,   with product ranging from Elizabethan bodies to early Edwardian corsets – exciting!

Credits:

Corsetry and undergarments – Prior Attire

Photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

stockings and shoes – American Duchess

models - Miss Lilian Love, Helen Radlett, Simon Tait, Izabela Pitcher

corsetry fabrics, components etc - Sew Curvy

 

as for some shoot inspiration – check out this board!

 

The Widow and the Bride – 1910 corset and a modern sheer

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Well, since I had the 1914 mourning dress sorted, I also needed proper underwear. I have never been particularly fond of the WWI fashions, but since we are getting more and more bookings for that period for the summer,  it makes sense to be prepared. Also, since the current WWI interest is going to last for another 4 years or so due to the centenary,  we are bound to be either booked for shows, or to make clothing from that era. And so,  I bought a pattern and decided to have a go at it next time I was due for our monthly Stitch and Bitch session at Sew Curvy.

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on my way to Sew Curvy – Cuckoo Lane in its spring glory!

PatternNehalenia patterns, 1910 corset – earlier than the WWI, but this type of corset was worn generally till at least mid decade if not longer – a quick look at other sources confirmed it, and so  the decision was made.  I adapted size 12 – with the bust from size 16, as specified by my measurements.

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materials – bits of cotton broche, black – remnants form other projects. Alas, it  turned out that they cane from different batches and one piece was darker than the other – but the difference in hue would hardly matter on an underwear corset.

boning –  flat and spiral steels enclosed in channels made with herringbone tape.

All components,apart from the lace came from Sew Curvy shop.

 

mock up first…

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mock up cut in calico…

 

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mock up boned using masking tape – stupidly I didn’t notice at that point that bones do not go all the way down, so had to trim them later… Irritating…

 

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mock up on! not too bad, just minor adaptations :-)

 

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it felt surprisingly comfortable, and gave a much better silhouette than I had envisaged! loving the smooth fit over the hips.

 

Once I saw how flattering the corset can be, I set to making the real thing with renewed enthusiasm…

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pieces cut!

 

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and stitched together…

 

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seam detail on the outside…

 

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and on the inside… after the first trials the flat felled seams were a joy to make! the trick is to pre-press the seam allowance on the folding over piece – makes stitching it much , much easier!

 

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the innards…

then  eyelets were inserted…

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and then the boning:-)

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the whole thing was bound in cotton binding

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and it was time to try it on…. :-)

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not too shabby!

 

very pleased with the fit – just need some nice lace to put on top, and the make and attach suspenders:-)

And while I was having fun with the  kit for my mourning kit, Julia was working on a sweet bridal sheer – a few taster pictures below, official photos not disclosed yet! :-)

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sheer mesh, silk satin and lace – divine combo!

 

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it is progressing well :-)

 

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getting there…..

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and done!

If you like the look of the sheer corset, check out Sew Curvy courses –  the was a recent course on sheer corsetry, but i believe the dates for the next one will be announced soon!

 

once back home I sorted out the suspenders…

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trying to puzzle them out was a bit of a challenge at first, but it is not rocket science!

 

and then added lace and a velvet ribbon, flossed the bones for that extra security and fashionable look  -  and the corset was ready.  Here worn over my late Edwardian chemisette and drawers, the stockings and shoes from American Duchess

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you can see the differences in the different hues of the broche quite clearly here…

 

Altogether, I am very well pleased with the thing – it is comfortable, gives a much better silhouette than I had expected, and above all, serves its primary function – this type of corsets did not aim a waist reduction ( though there is some!), but at streamlining the body, so that the loose, close fitting garments of the era ( hobble skirts especially) looked smooth, flowing down the body in a relatively undisturbed fashion.

In fact, I liked them so much I made 5 others, in different sizes, as a trial batch for our online shop ( news on that shortly) – we will be offering them as off the peg items alongside other corsetry items (  Regency, mid Victorian, late Victorian, early Edwardian) in standard sizes 10-18 :-)

The ones I made as a trial  were photographed one weekend in a WWI undergarment shoot  with Pitcheresque Imagery- a picture-full report on that here - and the teaser below:-)

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Middle class, middle century – 1650-60 bodice and Blickling Hall Spring Faire

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 Another event and and yet again  I had to refresh my wardrobe – this time just augmenting my mid 17th century stuff. We were hired to provide interpreting services at a multi-period event at Blickling Hall – again, organized by Black Knight Historical. I was portraying  a lacemaker, whereas Lucas was delving into the realm of the alchemy, astrology and early science. The event was to be a 3 days one, so although I had some of my old kit, I though that getting another bodice would  not go amiss, especially if the temperatures are high…

 I set my hear on a bodice based on the pattern in Norah Waugh book.  materials were olive wool and mustard linen lining, with plain linen foundation.

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the innards, boned with reed

 

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‘have time to completely hand stitch the thing, but at least managed to finish the insides ;-)

 

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sewing on the ribbon…

 

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foundation and top layer ready, now the lining

 

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lining in, finishing touches – eyelets n the cuffs, worked with a silk thread

 

Altogether I was very please with how the pattern worked – and it was relatively easy to put the things together – the most troublesome part was getting all the layers in the armhole working correctly – there are 4 layers: sleeve, oversleeve, the wing, and the bodice – so rather a lot!

I wore the bodice without stays, but found it was not boned sufficiently to support my bosom or my back ( 7 hours sitting  and making lace does make your back ache,…), but when worn over a bodiced petticoat, it  worked great!

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getting ready – lacing the bodiced petti

I even had time to make a matching skirt ( a simple affair- rectangular piece of fabric cartridge pleated to the waistband). With the  existing items, i found it was fun to mix and match the set so it was different every day:-)

day 1 – just my old set…  petticoat, a wool skirt, linen apron, and a woolen bodice

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day 2 –  the new bodice, on unbodiced petticoat, laced with green silk ribbon

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 and day 3 – bodiced petticoat,  2 wool skirt – but a different skirt on top :-) bodice laced with black this time, and I added plain linen cuffs

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mixing and matching was great fun – I also need to get a few more collars, neckerchiefs and cuffs as they will change the look of the outfit  too :-)

 The hat was from Mike the Hat, btw :-), i simply added an antique silk ribbon to it, and a buckle. The cuffs, neckerchief, the coif, forecloth etc were all made according to Janet Arnold book ( Patterns of fashion 4)

 The event in itself was very interesting – we tested  our tent for the first time after the fire – we had to get bits replaced, including all the poles and the structure held – and didn’t  leak over the first rainy night and the thunderstorm on saturday…

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 outside was wet – but inside we spent 3 lovely nights, dry and warm on our wooden bed with fur and wool covers, listening to either the rain or the hooting of very active owls:-)

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after the wet beginning, the weather was fine – warm, sunny and  perfect for being outside, enjoying the fantastic surroundings, during the day we were both busy ( we were told there was on average over a 1000 people visiting each day!),  but even from our tent we could see the falconry display, shows, arming the knight and equestrian shows. after the public was gone, we took photos – and walked around  the grounds – a truly fantastic place!

a few pictures from the event:

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Lucas by day, drafting astrology charts, advising his patients and educating the young …

 

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and being dashing after hours…

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hard at work…

 

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Eve was telling the future using her magical crystal ball in her dark mysterious tent – but we managed to lure her out into the sun for a few photos – here she is wearing a Prior Attire outfit too :-)

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Tudor kitchen was feeding the participant lavish meals…

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Eleanor looks like setting up a shop to flog the armour…

 

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horses were provided by Steamhorse

 

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the organizer, praying up for some smashing weather no doubt – successfully so too!

 

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Graham looking a bit scary….

 

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 and that’s all folks! more photos on Lucas’ photography page – Pitcheresque Imagery.

 and if you ever are in Norfolk, do visit the hall – it is well worth it! Blickling Hall

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How to make a kirtle and a Burgundian gown

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 This article was  previously published on Your Wardrobe Unlock’d site - but now I am able to make it available here. it is not the newest piece I have written, but some basics remain the same, so hopefully it can be of some help:-)

In this article I shall discuss the cut of a late medieval kirtle and a very popular V neck gown – often simply referred to as the Burgundian gown.

Let us start with the kirtle.

All women of the late medieval ages would wear very similar layers: a linen chemise and a woollen kirtle underneath their overkirtle or a gown.

The difference in status was shown by the fabric and colour choice. Less affluent woman would most likely be wearing a simple woollen garments, in the more common colours of brown, russet, pale blues and greens.  A richer lady would go not only for more vibrant and deeper colours, but the quality of the cloth would be different. The most fortunate ones would be able to afford silks and brocades for their gowns, with silk, cloth or gold or fur lining and trim.

Despite the differences in fabric and colour, the basic cut would be more or less the same.

Kirtles of that period sported tight bodices, laced in front, back or at the sides, with the skirts flaring out from the waist. Sleeves could be long, short – or, coming towards the end of 15th century, nonexistent – though even the kirtles with short sleeves or without sleeves could have sleeves made of nicer fabric pinned to the kirtle

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As far as construction is concerned, there are a few of possibilities. Most of the kirtles till about mid 15 cent seem to be cut in one length, without the waist seam. However, later on there is evidence for new tailoring techniques: kirtles with a waist seem or kirtles with a more advanced fit on the bodice – probably a development of the panelled kirtle/gown construction evident from the findings in Greenland. I have found one example of the bodice with an advanced cut – Agnes Sorel seems to be sporting one!( pic.5)

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Fouquet-Virgin-and-a-child

 

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rogier-weydenseven_sacraments_altarpiece__central_panel_large – kirtle with a waist seam, pleated  

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The kirtle we are working on here is a rather typical example of a late 15th century one: with a waist seam and without sleeves.

They could be laced in front, sides and back, and it is up to an individual which option is chosen. For this kirtle, I have decided on a front lacing.

Materials:

Red wool – 4 metres

Linen for lining the bodice – 0.5m,

Lacing,

linen thread

 Method:

Prepare the toile of the bodice and try it on. If it fits, use it to cut the bodice in fabric  and lining.

6kirtle-bodice Baste the wool layer together and try it on again.  Mark and correct if the fit is not perfect, then sew:  first the two back parts, then the side seam, and then the shoulder seam.

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If you want your kirtle to have sleeves, cut the sleeves and sew them to the bodice now. Secure the inside seams , then fold down the edges -  front opening, neck, armhole or sleeves, and  stitch it using small stitches.

 

 

The skirt.  The skirt of a kirtle could be either attached to the bodice flatly, gently flaring out of the waistline or they could be gathered up or pleated.

As far as construction is concerned, they could be  made out of 3 or more big gores, or simply a large rectangular piece ( or pieces) of fabric. I chose the latter as it saves you time stitching the pieces together and it is easier to work on the hem. Whichever you will choose cut the parts first, then sew them together , leaving  top 10 cm open on one seam – it will be the front , matching the opening of the bodice.

If you are gathering or pleating the skirts, measure up the waist of the bodice and start pinning pleats in the skirt – they could be distributed evenly around the waist or grouped in front or back.  I simply gathered my fabric using the ruffle attachment and then stitched it to the bodice.

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Once the skirts are attached, put the kirtle on a dummy or a model and check the length. Mark the hem and pin it carefully, making sure it is even all around. Take the kirtle off and hem the skirts.

Next step is lining the bodice.  Sew the pieces of the lining together , just as it was done with the top fabric, insert it into the bodice and pin it carefully.

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If you want you can add a piece of stiffer linen at the front, where the eyelets will be – it will make them more difficult to work with, but they will be sturdier. Stitch it with small stitches – the bottom of the linen should overlap and encase the gathered /pleated fabric at the waist.

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All that has to be done now is the eyelets– use an owl to separate the threads of the fabric, push them aside and secure with a linen thread.

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The lacing can be either ordinary, for crisscross (rare) or ladder lacing, or the eyelets can be offset a bit to allow for spiral lacing They can be placed only on the bodice part, or extend onto the skirts part -particularly when the kirtle is cut as a whole, without waist seam.

Alternatively, you can use small metal rings – sew them to the front opening, and thread the lace through them using a narrow linen tape, plait or a braid.

The kirtle is now ready!

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The gown

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Often referred to as a A-line, or V-neck, or simply burgundian gown, the gown worn by the middle and higher strata of the society  was a relatively simple affair, construction wise – but sported an incredibly wide array of interesting detail that  made the gowns distinctive.  The general construction could have been shared by all of them – but contrary to the popular belief, there was an astonishing variety in the layout of the pleats, depth and shapes of cuffs, collars and hems .  lots of examples on my inspiration board here

 

The one I am going to describe here is a pretty standard version with a v neck collar both front and back. The thing that distinguishes it though, is the fabric – with a silk brocade that sumptuous, I wanted to keep the rest of the details  simple.

 

 Materials:

Top fabric:

8m of Silk and linen damask (from Quartermasterie). Since the fabric is patterned, I needed much more fabric for the gown . When using plain wool or silk velvet, 5-6 metres is usually enough, depending on how big you want the train to be! The bigger the pattern, the more fabric you will need to match it nicely… you will also need more fabric if your material has a nap – like velvet as then you can only cut it in one direction. if your fabric is plain, you can make up for it in the width – with plain solids you can end up with a more voluminous garments as you don’t need to keep the front and back seams straight to match the pattern:-)

6-7 m of lining (here silk taffeta)

0.5 metre of silk velvet for cuffs and collar (optional: if you have a nice lining, you can just turn it over as it is, saving yourself quite a lot of work!)

Silk and linen threads

Pattern – the construction is relatively easy, the pattern in medieval Tailor Assistant works fairly well (pic. 20 -page 158-161), though I tend to use one length of fabric for a quarter of a gown, not a half – it makes the skirts much wider and flowing. Even if you are economizing on fabric, make sure you do not skimp on the hem width – especially if you aim to portray the weathier strata of the society.

Cut the body of the dress in top fabric and lining out. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure the front centre and front back matches.

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Cut the sleeves in the top fabric and then in lining- if you plan to have cuffs in different fabric, the lining of the sleeves can be shorter than the top layer – then cut a piece of velvet for the cuffs. The lining with the cuff should match the top layer of the sleeve- but leave plenty of seam allowance

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If you intend to have the collar in velvet, it is best to take care of it now.

Place 1 front piece of lining on the top fabric and fold the section of the lining that will be made into the collar.  Mark it carefully and cut the out . Repeat on the back piece (if your gown is to have a V neck at the back as well)

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Now you have 2 narrow strips of fabric that would serve as a template for your fancy collar. Place them on the velvet and cut out two of each, leaving at least an inch for seam allowance.

Pin a piece to the lining and stitch carefully

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. Repeat for the other 3 pieces of the lining.

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You can now sew all the parts of the top fabric together –  pin or baste the centre seams in front, matching the pattern, then sew. Repeat on the central back seam. Put the two parts right sides in together, and sew the side and shoulder seams together.

 

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back pieces sewn, matching the pattern

Put the velvet cuff right side on the top fabric of the sleeve. Pin it and sew it on

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Unfold and iron the seams flat.  Fold the sleeve lengthways, pin and sew carefully – if your cuff is in a much darker or lighter fabric, make sure you use different colours of thread for sewing the cuff part and the main sleeve part.  Once finished, turn it inside out  Repeat on the other sleeve.

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Pin the sleeves into the armholes and try to gown on. Adjust if necessary, making sure that the armhole is not too neither tight nor too wide. Once you are satisfied, set the sleeves in.

The top part is now ready. Turn it all outside out, iron all the seams flat and couch them down to make sure they stay flat  and to preserve fraying. Fold the hem and stitch it carefully, making sure the hem is even and that it curves gently into the train.

 

Repeat the same steps for the lining. For the body of the lining, you do not need to worry about matching the pattern – but if you have a collar in a different fabric, make sure the edges of the collar match.

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Set in the sleeves, iron out and secure the seams.

Inset the lining into the gown. Stitch the edges of the collar to the top fabric – either on a machine, or by hand.

Once the two layers are collected at the collar, turn the whole thing inside out – you should now have the lining on top. You will instantly see that the sleeves of the lining are shorter. Pin then carefully to the top fabric, and then fold the cuff back over – it should reach the lining without straining the top layer.  Fold the edge in, pin it and carefully stitch it to the lining  (or, you can fold the lining’s edge in and stitch it to the cuff – both ways work). Repeat on the other sleeve.

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The sleeves are now ready, and you can turn the gown outside out again.   It is time to work on the hem.  Hang the gown securely on a hanger and hang the hanger high, so that the whole gown is in the air. If you have time, leave the gown hanging for a few hours or overnight – it is important especially if your gown in wool lined with linen, as they tend to stretch.

Place pins at the bottom of each seam, pinning the two layers together.  Place more pins around the hem, at about an inch from the hem.  Sit next to the hanging gown and start folding the lining and pinning it to the top layer. Do not stretch either fabric, let it hang smoothly naturally.  Pin all the lining in, and leave it pinned for a few hours again. After that check if the lining hasn’t stretched even more – if yes, re-pin. Once the fabric of the gown hangs in smooth fold, without the top layer puckering or the lining hanging lower than the top layer, secure the lining to the top making small even stitches.

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Alternatively you can guard your gown with a band of different fabric- my own is bound with a narrow band of the same velvet I used for cuffs and collar (pic.35).

 

Your gown is almost ready now. All that remains to be done is making sure the collar is lying neatly and flatly. Put the gown on a dummy, secure it with a belt and fold the collar back out, showing of the lining (or the velvety/ satin  bits).  If you wish, you can secure the folded collar with a few stitches, on the top of the shoulder.

 

The gown is now ready

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All you need now is a belt, appropriate headgear , hose and shoes and you are ready to go out and attend a tournament, cheering  your knight on as he smashes lance after lance at the tilt!

 

Other examples of gowns made with this technique:

 

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gown for Duchess Cecily Neville – so in royal purple, with cloth of gold trim, on silk flat fronted kirtle

 

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silk velvet with taffeta lining

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wool with linen lining

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silk velvet, taffeta lining and satin trim

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silk/metallic brocade, silk taffetalining

frocks, needless to say, by Prior Attire

 

Bibliography:

Boucher, François. A History of Costume in the West, Thames & Hudson; Enlarged edition (23 Sep 1996)

The secrets of Burgundian costuming, Marie Chantal Cadieux, http://cadieux.mediumaevum.com/frontlaced-kirtles.html [Accessed 27/12/10]

Maria Gutkowska Rychlewska “Historia ubiorów”, Ossolineum, Wrocław 1968

Sarah Thursfield, The medieval Tailor Assisstant, Ruth Bean Publishers, 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanseatic King’s Lynn festivities

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1475 – The Hanse House in King’s Lynn is build, following the treaty of Utrecht granting Die Hanse privilages and making King’s Lynn one of the Hanseatic trade towns. To celebrate the event,  we teamed up with a variety of folks, all brought together by Black Knight Historical – and spent  a day participating in the festivities and talking about 15th century life in the town.

 

I used to do a lot of 15th century living history, but not recently – so most of my kit was old – or too posh for the role I was going to play – a hanseatic merchant/apothecary’s wife. Danzig-bred wife to be more precise – and since I spent most of my youth in Danzig ( Gdansk), it was a most appropriate role. It called for a suitable garment –  wealthy, but not over the top, a bit behind the high fashions, but practical and stating my status clearly. A decision was made and I settled for a version of Rogier van der Weyden style frock – wool, lined with linen, very, very full, trimmed with fur.

the inspiration board on Pinterest –  here

The frock took 7 metres of fabric – and the same amount of lining – the hem circumference is over 6m… It was relatively easy to make – it as the veil that was more problematic.  I set my heart on making a frilled veil you can see in the portraits – I and making the frill ( 14m of linen was frilled…), hemming it and hemming the veil took almost as long as making the frock… not particularly happy with it, so will look for other ways to achieve the look I think. Still, it looked ok  for some pics.

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It was very warm, so I wore the frock only for the procession and riding (and pictures), and while at the stall, I was a bit cooler in my kirtle:-)

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very happy with the new garment – and love the way the wool drapes – a few pictures below…

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Was also happy with my new belt from  Bayley Heritage Castings, and shoes and pattens from NP Historical Shoes

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Lucas spent most of the day at the stall as well, chatting about late 15th century medical lore…

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His services were sought out by the nobility  as well…

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But before we finished, he quickly changed an assumed his other role – that of a photographer, and captured  some of the people at the event…

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Eleanor in her Duchess Cecily Neville role…sporting a gown  I made for her last year

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On Sunday we stayed long enough to take part in the parade…

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and shoot some product pictures of jewellery for Gemmeus… which, by the way was the easiest robbery ever – it was enough to say we are having a photoshoot and  the rings and pendants were safely deposited in my purse in no time at all. it robbery was somehow hindered by the fact that Nicky from Gemmeus knew  where I live – so alas, had to return all that lovely bling after the shoot…. :-(

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And take some good photos of my posh frock –  Memlinc brocade, lined with silk, silk velvet trim – all handstitched on holiday a few years ago….

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All together , a great weekend was had by all – hoping we will be back next year!

 

Credits:

Photography – Pitcheresque Imagery – more pictures form the event here

frocks – Prior Attire 

Jewellery – Gemmeus

Belt and a ring – Bayley Heritage Castings

Shoes and pattens – NP HIstorical Shoes

event organization – Black Knight HIstorical

Horse s& team – Steamhorse