Loose threads

Various sewing projects. Mostly historical (or historically inspired) stuff. Varying levels of ambition!

Challenge 2016:1 - Procrastination

Kategori: Allmänt

A perfect start for the new year: the dress I put off already in November, and almost didn't finish in time for either the challenge of the event. (And on top of that, a bonus feature; it took me three+ months to sit down to write the blog post).
This started of as the Silver Screen project in November 2015. Life got in between.
I then of course could have a done re-do of it as that was the challenge of December 2015, but a) the event had come and gone and b) I was in the middle of the process of preparing for a move. So by January 2016 this was long overdue and another event was approaching. Sewing a dress and packing a flat at the same time, what could possibly go wrong?
For the original Silver Screen challenge I went for the Borgias. It fit nicely with my already existing love for Italian late 15th-first half of 16th century stuff. As most people in my circles have discovered, I'm a horrible snobby person who tend to get increasingly annoyed at all the bad costume in period dramas. My own version is that I'm not that snobby, I just tend to freak out over uncovered  hair and corsets-without-shifts (of silver firs in "Viking Scandinavia", but that's an entirely different story). The Borgias have a tendency to go fabric shopping where the 80's bought their curtains, but apart from that they are far from the worst show out there. Actually. I might be saved by my limited knowledge, but I can mostly watch it without whincing.
The dress I chose to remake for the original challenge was this one:
The curtain stripes are there, but still - it's pretty, isn't it?
Looking for the possible references, I found two. They are both a decade or more of from the events in the show, but 10-20 years is not so bad a miss period-wise in a TV show.
The underbust thing seems to be a Venetian thing from the first decades of the 1500's:
Venetian lovers, by Titian - 1520's or so. Note the underbust bodice and the poofy sleeves.
To get a reference for the slightly "higher and shorter" puff of the sleeves, as well as the "open under the arm" look of Lucretia's red dress I had to go look for a slightly later period. So, second reference:
Portrait of a Lady, by Bernardino Licinio (1489-1565). Cross-referencing with the portraits by Paris Bordone I found when researching for the open-front dress I did in 2014, I'd say this is about 1530-50. Underbust look is long gone, and the poof has crept towards the shoulders. If you combine these two, however, you get fairly close to the dress Lucretia wears above.
Materials: I found cotton velvet cheap enough to try things out on, and got started. Cotton velvet is far more forgiving (and easier to shape) than the polyester variety. Next time I'll perhaps go for viscose/rayon, hoping it will combine the less-than-airtight feeling of cotton and the slightly more silky light reflection of polyester. As usual I kept trying for the perfect way to achieve support without a corset, so bodice front is two layers of very sturdy linen, plus lining (linen) plus outer fabric. No boning whatsoever, not even zip ties along the lacing - if you look closely at the Licinio painting, you can see the fabric pulling towards what I think is side-lacing.
Design choices: The velvet frayed terribly, and not only frayed but left small red loops of pile everywhere. Therefore I chose reluctantly to not slash the sleeves as above. A maybe-next-time-thing. I also left out the butterflies. Butterflies. I kid you not, look again. There are small fabric butterflies or bows all over the bodice and skirt front. I'm sorry, but I couldn't make myself do them.
Construction: More machine-sewing than usual. I was short of time and well... lazy. Velvet is no fun in a machine, though I ended up doing more or less everything except the long seams in the skirt by hand. I'm sure I took pictures as I went, but I can't find them now. Not a lot of new things compared to earlier projects, though. The sleeves are attached at the shoulder and then the poofed part is added on top. This keeps the poof from stretching/the sleeve to slide down over the hand. Spiral lacing in the side-seams. The skirt is cartridgepleated in the back and side front, with a box- and a few knife pleats in the actual front. I did pad the pleats first, but that did not work out well at all - the pleats became far to big and the silhouette of the skirt became far too square. The skirt itself should likely have been shaped panels, but rectangular skirts save a lot of time when hemming.
I ended up sewing the hem on site the hours before the event, but I was done on time and the dress worked apart from the neckline being too low in the back = left shoulder of dress sliding down. That's what I get for being assymetrical.
The finished dress was never on photo with me in it, since it was dark and no-one had a camera, but I Took some photos on the mannequin. This makes the bodice part less flat, obviously, since the mannequin doesn't squish the way I do, but still.
Front. I'm reasonably pleased.
 Back. Still ok, but the a-bit-too-low neckline hints toward the 17th century in a way I didn't intend.
Close-up of the bodice. Note the visible shift under the arm.
The facts:

The Challenge: 1, Procrastination

Material: Outer fabric: cotton velvet. Lining: linen (in bodice only). Interlining: thick linen/canvas

Pattern: Taken from earlier dresses and reshaped, so mostly adapted from Patterns of fashion. Sleeves drafted from scratch.

Year: First half of the 16th century. Say 1530-ish or possibly 1540s.

Notions: Polyester thread, lacing cord and aiglets borrowed from another dress.

How historically accurate is it? Sort of...? References are legit, my execution and the materials, less so. It'll pass from a distance, so I'll say 75%.

Hours to complete: Far to many, I'd say 30 minimum.

First worn: 30th of January, 2016 (so I know I was done in time :) )

Total cost: About 40 euros. The fabric was really cheap.

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