Loose threads

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

Challenge 2016:11 - Red

Kategori: Allmänt, Historic Sew Monthly 16, Stashbusting

Sometimes, you realise that this upcoming weekend you really really need an easy, straightforward sewing project to keep you occupied. Like for example when you, due to absolutely no dangerous reason have itchy stitches in your face that you can't scratch, for example. And sometimes, at such a time, you might have reason to expand your 12th- to early 14th century wardrobe for LARP reasons, and you just might vaguely remember that once, like seven-ish years ago, you found a wool curtain in a Charity shop, and that you, like four years ago, decided to try to make something out of it, just because. And that you then cut the pieces and that a more urgent project got in the way, and the whole thing was forgotten, and stuffed into a box in the basement, and then you moved, but it's still in that box somewhere. And then you go look for it and yes, it's still there, all the cut pieces. And it happens to be red, which is the theme of the challenge for the month.
And that's when you make a gardecorps. Apparently.
A "gardecorps" seems to be a very loose term. Once you outwit Google, the images appears in abundance - both images from the time, and reconstructions. I'm in no way an expert, but I'd say that a gardecorps typically as loose over-garment, worn by both men and women. The sleeves are often over-sizes and/or extra long, and either have openings or are only semi-attached to the shoulder-seem. Often, it has a hood, and often, it's longer than knee-length.
Second half of the 13th century:  Canon de la médecine, Avicenne, 1250-1300, Paris. Loose garment, has hood, sleeves likely only semi-attached (though a slit is also a possibility).
Marquette Bible, Franco-Flemish, probably Lille, about 1270: Sleeves oversized and extra long, slit in front for arm, visible closure at the top. My guess would be an attached hood with the lining showing - could of course also be a separate hood.
The Codex Manesse, first half of 14th century. A gardecorps on a woman, this time. The hood could be very large, creating the folds over her shoulders, or be a separate hood. Again, the sleeves seems to be semi-attached.
When constructing mine, I had to work with what I had. This meant that the garment is slightly less full than it seems to be on the inspiration pictures, and I had to adapt everything from the lenght of the garment to the fullness of the sleeves to, well, reality. The wool curtain I had was not in the best shape. In places, it's worn, or even torn, and mended with black (...) thread, and the colour is bleached by light at places. I assume it's once handwoven, not because handvowen necessarily (far from it!) means "lesser quality, but beacuse things like this is, I imagine, hard to achieve on an industrial loom:
Yes. That is the selvedge. You know, the thing you normally look at to get a reasonably straigt edge. Here: not so much. This is the piece that would eventually be the hood.
What I got out of the box was, apart from the hood piece, this:
Rectangular front and back pieces, one gore in each side (both pieced, though I can't remember why) and long sleeves in rectangular shape.  All wrinkly from being in a box for four years.
I took all pins out (only seams were the seam in the middle of each gore), pressed it to a less wrinkly shape and sew the pieces of the body of the garment together. Then, I took a possible shortcut, and turned the sleeve until the seam was where I wanted the slit to be, sew the sleeve-seam but left an opening/slit where I wanted to have it, and then attached the sleeve to the garment.
I then cut the neck-opening slightly rounded, with a slit in front, and added a linen facing all the way round. I made buttons from scraps of fabric (due to the fabric being thick and stiff the buttons had to be larger than I normally like), and made buttonholes.
It wasn't yesterday I made buttons and buttonholes. I could have placed the buttons closer to/on the edge, it would have been better and maybe I move them later, but for now it will do.
The finished result: Hood lined in thin, black wool - really too nice to waste on a garment made out of old curtains, but I needed something thin and soft for the hood to drape the way I wanted it to, so rather than getting new fabric, I made myself stick to what I had in my stash. The hood and garment is made separately, and then basted together with waxed linen thread. (I used black silk thread for the lining of the hood and, lacking silk in other colours than black, red cotton(?) embroidery thread for buttonholes and other visible seams.) The end result looks fairly neat, if I may say so myself.
Did I mention that "straight grain" wasn't really a thing with this fabric? This is what happens when the fabric is like that. And one is me. The combination is not a match made in heaven.
Not something that a pair of scissors can't solve, though.
The finished garment: backside. I might go back and fix a bit more on the inside of the hem, it's sloppy now with raw edges showing, but... later.
And the front.
In the end, I was four days late, but I'm still happy - didn't think I'd manage this challenge at all, and it's not too bad for three days' work. All handsewn. The red has a lot more blue in it in reality - my camera LOVES red, and adds a vibrant red to photos whenever it can.
The facts:
What the item is: A gardecorps
The Challenge: Red (Make something in any shade of red: Check!) Could also fit the travel challenge, but the Red challenge is closer in time.
Fabric/Materials: Wool (or possibly wool blend). Thin wool for lining of hood, linen for facings around neckline
Pattern: None, mostly straight pieces
Year: Late 12th-mid14th century-ish
Notions: Linen thread, silk thread, cotton embroidery thread
How historically accurate is it? Reasonably ok, as far as I can tell. Looks alright, at least from some distance, materials ok, handsewn
Hours to complete: Not sure, lost count. But 2-3 days in total I think.
First worn: Not yet, likey will wear it in mid January 2017.
Total cost: The wool is a charity shop find, the thin wool for lining was a clearance sale bargain, the linen's so tiny pieces that it hardly counts. Including notions, perhaps about 10-15 euros in total. Probably closer to 10. I'm feeling very thrifty for once.

Challenge 2016:10 - Heroes

Kategori: Allmänt, Historic Sew Monthly 16

The black taffeta dress
Back in the Inspiration post for the Monochrome challenge I fell, hard, for this lovely black dress:
(Anders Larsson and bride, Swedish, 1916. Bohusläns Museum, nr. UMFA53690:15391 )
After that, I basically was just looking for excuses to make it. I've always liked early 20th century stuff, and after seeing a lot of nice things in the Historical Sew Montly group by people like Leimomi (who also is a hero in that she started and kept the whole thing running, improviing lots of historical wardrobes greatly) the idea to make more of it myself grew on me. Soon enough it came, as I found myself signing up for Fairweather manor 3, the sequel to the larp for which the pin-striped dress was made. I played the same character again, and had the basics, including lovely petticoats from my great great grandmother's wardrobe.
I mean, look at them! There is no "not cute and fluffy" option. Good thing I didn't have to show them, my character was supposed to be scary.
Even if I wanted the dress, I hesitated for the longest time about starting the project since I knew I was short of time. That meant that when I finally ordered the fabric, I was not only short of sewing-days, but also of total days to the larp. As per usual. That meant; little or no time to wait for patterns. Again.  I had no pattern, just the image (and of course, I googled and browsed sites like Past Patterns to see if I could make an educated guess at the construction by looking at other, similar garments).
That meant: draping-time. I opted for a double bodice front, a less full under-part that closes in front, and one more full that doesn't , but create that lingering remnant of a pigeon-breast look.
The belt is from the re-make of the pin-striped dress and there to keep things in place.
I then picked it all apart again. As you can see, it's not symmetrical in the least. Easily solved by using only one side of the mock-up for the final cut; voilà - a symmetrical pattern.
Fashion fabric time.
I was house-sitting at the time. Not the worst surroundings for sewing.
The finished bodice. I opted for fake buttons (there are snap buttons underneath). The back of the bodice is lined, the front isn't. Here is where I cut corners - I think the HA way is to line it and overall be more "exact" in construction. I'm also not sure about the separate skirt/bodice part either, but it was the construction I sort of knew I could pull off. I didn't have time for a second try.
The skirt is a three-panel thing with box pleats. One seam in the back and one on each side/front. A waistband keeps it all in place.
The closure of the skirt is my second cut corner. I think that the HA option is hooks and eyes + snap buttons in the side/front seam on one side, and it also looks like that on the original inspiration picture. I find it hard to get the fit right with such a closure, though. My second reason for a slightly fuller skirt is that I find the original inspiration a tiiiiny bit backwards for 1916-17. Not at all unreasonable, not everyone can have the latest all times, and also my character could be more than a bit conservative, fashion-wise, but I still thought I could get away with a tiny bit more of shorter-but-fuller look of the late 1910's.
Therefore, I made the waistband about  10-15" too large, and then added hooks and eyes to an inverted box pleat (in the back, see above) and on the underside of a regular one (in front) with snap buttons to keep the pleat in place. I then added hooks to the bodice waistband and tiny loops on the inside of the waistband, to keep the two together also when I am moving about. The corset also helps a lot, but since I have a long back and not a very defined waist, blouses tend to slide upwards and skirts downwards...
To give the taffeta a tiny bit of weight, I added a strip of raw silk as an interfacing on the hem. Worked fairly well. Ideally, I'd have like to handstitch the upper edge (a visible line of "dots'" can just be made out in the photo above), but there wasn't enough time - so a machine seam it is.
A bit of pulling in the taffeta, but I decided I could live with that. Sorry about the blurry photos. My mobile phone camera hates anything but good outdoor light with a passion.
And here it is. I added loose pockets (loops on the pocket, buttons on the waistband - if the pocket is removed, the buttons looks like they're there for decoration). The blouse is a cheat, viscose modern stuff. The lovely lovely photo (c) is by John-Paul Bichard. He's on Facebook, too, there there for example are lots of more portraits and photos from FM3.
The facts:
What the item is: Silk dress/suit

Who your hero is and how the costume applies to them: Several combined. First and foremost Leimomi Oakes who started the HSM group, which has done wonders for my productivity, and secondly my great grandmother, born in 1900, (and her mother): her handicraft and dresses (and some of her mother's) are still around at my grandmother's and started my interest in both fashion and sewing, I think.

Fabric/Materials: Silk taffeta, and some raw silk for the lining.

Pattern: None, looked at photos, read descriptions of patterns and improvised.

Year: The inspiration photo is said to be from 1916, but wasn't likely the most fashionable for that year. 1910's.

Notions: Polyester threads, snap buttons, hooks and eyes and som plastic buttons for attaching the pockets (a practial cheat)

How historically accurate is it? I don't know. It looks right, but since this is not my period and I had to improvise a bit due to both practical stuff and time constraints I probably cut a few corners. Machine sewn.

Hours to complete: Too many, but not as many as it could have been. No real mistakes, made everything once!

First worn: 4th and 5th November, at the Fariweather Manor LARP

Total cost: About 100 euros for the fabric, perhaps another 10 for lining, buttons and notions. 3,5 meters of silk taffeta used.