Loose threads

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

Challenge #24: All that glitters

Kategori: , Allmänt, Historic Sew Fortnightly 14

The gentleman's challenge is actually mostly (as in "the time consuming part") done, but am still waiting for some of the notions. Contrary to my ambitions, I just didn't have time for Modern history - but I'll keep the idea in mind for the Blue challenge next year. This challenge stuff is highly addictive!
I had other stuff in mind, and still might do them over the holidays, but for this challenge, here's some necklaces I did for future larps. It's not strictly sewing, I know, but it does glitter!

The inspiration: I've always liked the idea of adding pendants to pearl necklaces. I like pearls very much, but still haven't found a way to wear them out-of-garb without feeling very much like and old lady and/or very much too ...pale, fashion-wise. Still haven't given up. In garb though, I am happy to wear them, and a pendant really light things up. This time, I was lucky enough to find a set of cheap earrings that was possible to dismantle fairly easily, as well as I finally found a way to use a set of pearl earrings I bought ages ago. My ears are not pierced, so any earrings making it into my stash are destined for destruction.
Anyway. There are a lot of pretty necklaces out there, for example:
Elizabeth I as a young girl and grownup, 16th century...
...Italian ladies from the same century

And two 15th century ladies as well, also Italian.
There are a lot of pretty, blingier necklaces out there: alternating pearls (white pearls and coral or gold beads, double strands of pearls, VERY blingy pendants and so on), but that will be another project. For this one I kept it fairly simple to go with my fairly limited skill and supplies.
I bought two pearl necklaces (when I say pearls, I mean the glass ones!), a set of colourless earrings and one set of red earrings. Halfway into the project I remembered  the pearl earrings I'd bought earlier but hadn't found a use for, and here's the result:
Number 1: Originally there were two red stones hangig from each loop; I removed both from the sides and one from the middle and added the pearls from the pearl earrings. If I find a third tearshaped pearl I might remove the middle one as well.
Number 2. I did't go for red here, and was really looking for a yellow or greenish stone, but it turned out all right. I liked the effect of adding the red ones on either side, to flirt with the three-part-pendants seen in portraits. It also added a bit of colour.
The necklaces are slightly longer than the pearl ones I already have, and I tried to combine - which works rather well. Might use them both ways!
The Challenge: 24, All that glitters
Fabric: No - Yes, am cheating here!
Pattern: None
Year: 1450-1550, at least inspired by
Notions: Two pearl necklaces, three sets of earrings (of which I used 1+1+2 earrings)
How historically accurate is it? The idea is period, the actual stuff not so much. Perhaps 50%.
Hours to complete: 2
First worn: Not yet
Total cost:
About 32 euros for both, but lot of supplies left over for other projects.

The new gamurra

Kategori: , Allmänt, Historic Sew Fortnightly 14

Hiatus in the challenges, but nr 20: Alternative universe was too good to pass on for a larper with ambitions.
I've recently joined a new set of interconnected LARPs, more or less like several chapters/episodes of the same story, for those of you who don't do LARP. The ongoing storylines and ever more complex characters and plotlines are highly, highly addictive. And it's most definately an alternative universe. Even better: it's one that can be visited. And lived in, if only for a few days.
Trying to keep this short, but the universe would then be the fictional empire of Novion, where the court politics are intricate to say the least. One fairly corrupt empire with four principalities in its corners... Think Game of Thrones meets the Borgias meets Jane Austen. Sort of. Since it's fantasy, dresscode's fairly free. Anything fancy and nobility-like from European 1100s-1600s. So what to do? Possibilities were infinate! Luckily (since I'm bad at making up my mind) there were a few other things to consider:
1. My stash. I really need to use things from my stash before I buy new stuff. I'm short of stashed silk, but I had a thin, shiny herringbone twill wool that I decided I could bling enough to suit a court lady. Because:
2. My character. I've played her four times before and therefore she's already got a "look" of sorts. So far this is based on the fact that she's from the southmost principality and I like Italian: there's already an Italian theme in her wardrobe (as can be seen in this blog). It's also a lot of red. Actually because I had a lot of red in my stash, but oddly fitting for a character who's named after a fire godess, don't you think?
3. The current in-game politics. There's a war going on, as well as possibly several civil wars. In a society where the nobility is intermarried and interrelated to a silly degree, this means that at this stage most characters should expect to have to go into full mourning at any moment. I also know from back-stories and down-time updates from the organisers that my character have been in mourning several times recently. Therefore, lack of actual mourning attire is not easily explained.
4. Since my old gamurra is in red cotton, done before I new a lot about construction and ten years old, I really wanted a new one.
Right. So. The actual project.
I always tend to return to the Allegories of April and May (here April) by Franceso del Cossa, 1476-84 somewhere. There are dozens of gamurra varieties. I decided I really like the round neckline of this one.
The partlet pattern from an earlier challenge seemed to be a good start.
Pieces for the bodice cut out in interlining (single layer for back piece, double layers quilted together for front. Quilting done by machine. I was lazy and in a hurry, ok?).
Interlining then used for cutting the outer fabric.
Outer fabric and interlining sewn together with waxed linen thread.
Lining, same red linen as for the sleeves in the earlier challenge, put in by hand, piece by piece. Lots of pins!
And sewn together with silk. Allowing the stitches to show on the outside saves me a lot of pressing and still having the fabric layers behave in ways I don't want them to.
Then my brain stopped working. The fabric was only 130 cms wide. Normally, I'd used to panels for a skirt and that's it, but here I had to think and it went... well, it didn't. I cried in the facebook group for support, and it came promptly in form of a suggestion that combined the "few panels" and "loooots of panels" solutions I'd already tried out in my head. The final layout:
The bias seam is mid-back and the front seam is theoretically not needed, but since the garmen'ts front laced I needed an opening to get in and out and a seam makes such openings neater.
The layout was transformed to the fabric (do note the very uneven edge! Not my fault!)
And the skirt with all seams done except the front one and the "spare parts" of the extra panels yet uncut.
Running stitches, however small, is really useful to speed up the process of long seams that won't take a lot of strain.
The original inspiration is very clearly box pleated, some other examples in the painting is equally clearly cartridge pleated. I combined box- and knife pleats for the skirt, with some of the knife pleats overlapping.
http://katafalk.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/patternmaking-for-the-kampfrau-dress/ has a lovely step-by-step instruction on how to do hidden lacing by means of an added lacing strip. I shamelessly copied.
It's a really nice technique, but it leaves a very visible seam on the outside.
Added two pieces of cable ties for stability.
The finished strips with a random string for trying the garment on. Needles indicate the places where I'll attach the outer fabric to keep it from opening over the lacing.
I then added polyester velvet ribbon to cover the seams and a trim at the bottom and neckline to make it look like I planned it all along and not just hid the seam. I keep coming back to this portrait for an excuse...
Time to try it on. As I have not other fancy sleeves, I used the sleeves from challenge 17, and I was pleasantly surprised with how little wasp-factor there was. I also took the opportunity to try the whole thing out: camisia, underskirt, gamurra, sleeves, jewellry and an attempt at a fitting hairdo.
It worked. I'm actuall quite pleased. The hairdo suffers from the type of fake hair I've found in my colour. Really, it ought to be just two braids tied around the head, possibly with a headdress as well since the character is married since, what, 17 odd years or so. It's messy as well, but I kind of like it.
Playing around. The black socks should of course have been pretty shoes, but I forgot to put them on. I remembered to add a pocket slit this time, and I'll hopefully have time to make a pocket, too. I need it for my correspondence...
Fun fact: it's a running joke in my small group that this character, rather than I, have the longest neck ever. It's the angle of the photo, obviously, but still - they might be right. I also quite enjoy the fact that it's still earthy colours. From red to yellows and blacks, as opposed to pastels. And it only takes a set of black sleeves (I'm quite fond of the slightly bigger ones of the early 16th century) to make this a mourning dress. Success!

Venetian dress

Kategori: Allmänt, Historic Sew Fortnightly 14

Right. So, when I began planning this project I thought I'd be finished before the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge #5 had started, but things turned out as they usually do - late. So here goes.
The inspiration: Venetian dresses from the first half of the 16th century. Apart from a lot of them being painted by Paris Bordone, they share a few common traits.
1. Open fronts or at least front closure. Essential to me, who am left to my own two hands and a mirror when it comes to fitting.
2. No pointed front, that seems to come late. A lot easier fit, and also "not what everyone else is having" - because I'm a special snowflake.
3. Fairly simple sleeves. Not a lot of slashes and puffed sleeves and Bob knows what, and I was - as always - short of time.
Paris Bordone 1530s: Portrait Of A Woman
(These sleeves might actually be possible - there's something going on behind her shoulders?)
Paris Bordone, 1545-50: Portrait of a Lady, tradionally said to be of the Fugger family
(These sleeves just defies gravity. EDIT: Someone with better eyesight than I pointed out that there actually are shoulder on this dress; it's only that the partlet covers the shoulders, likely pinned in place, but it tucked in the at the bust. No more gravity-defiance!)
Paris Bordone, c.1550: Portrait of a Lady and a Gentleman with their daugther (detail).
(Sleeves seems possible, but as if the shoulders might restrict movement. First I thought it was the camisia showing through - as in tied-on sleeves - but after closer scrutiny I think it's actually just a little bit of lace.)
So. To get started, I thought and thought and thought and then cried for help in the wonderful group Elizabethan costume on Facebook. They were ever so patient with me and I learned that corsets as foundations for these dresses would have been fairly unlikely in the first half of the 16th century. Too bad, since I made a pair of bodies last autum, but also easier. Secondly, I learned about glueing fabric - which I didn't have time or tools for. So I chose the cheaty option: pad stitching. Which was also a first for me.
As interlining, I used unbleached, fairly sturdy linen and some cloak wool from my stash (you know the triangles left over from semi-circular cloaks? Never throw them away!).
Step one: Pad-stitching the wool to the linen. I really don't know why this picture refuse to be rotated 90 degrees...
In order not to add bulk to the side/back seams I used this solution. No idea if it's period or not, but it worked.
Interlining, lining and outer fabric layers pinned together, just to make sure the sizes are about right.
Trying the interlining on. As you can see, I added the ribbons for closing at this stage in order for the stitches not to be visible on outside fabric or lining. And to prevent the outer silk from bearing any weight/pull, if possible.
It was also at this stage I realised I somehow had miscalculated the seam allowance for the centre front - the gap was not supposed to be that wide! Alas, fabric was cut and time was short, so I had to live with it.
Lining attached to interlining.
Outer fabric attached. Fit is actually still ok. A few smal creases here and there, but nothin a heavy skirt cant fix. And by now I was really, really short of time; actual challenge, the bodice, about finished, but the dress - very much not so.
Next: Sleeves. I adapted a pair of doublet sleeves from the ever-useful Tudor Tailor and cut them in outer fabric and lining. In the picture you can also see my solution for that dreaded square lining; adding extra fabric instead of just folding the original one.
Lots of machine sewing going on here. I was really short of time. In the top of the picture the sleeve is turned with lining facing inwards and right side of outer fabric facing outwards, only thing left is to finish the sleeve at the wrist.
And, finally, the skirt. I have never before finished the bodice and skirt independently, and was slightly scared. Would it work? Again, I turned to the EC group for advice on the pleating. How did one manage before the internet?
The skirt construction is simple enough: four widths of silk, and then I pieced the remaining black ramie into three panels of the same size and one panel out of three strips. I didn't know how lucky I was until I found out that I had about no fabric left after that (what if it hadn't been enough??).
I sew the outer fabric panels  together, then did the same for lining panels, sew outer fabric and lining together, wrong sides facing, turned and pressed. This was to be the upper edge of the skirt.
In a sudden strike of intelligence, I then pinned the hem. A lot easier to pin unpleated skirt!
And pleating ensued. And repleating, because something went wrong the first time. In the end I decided that I had no clue how to make stacked box pleats and then gather them a bit (too much fabric!), so instead I stacked three boxpleats on top of each other. That allowed me to fit 4,5 metres of skirt into something that would fit the bodice.
I then whipstitched the "outmost" pleat layer to the bodice, finished the seam that close the skirt in front (with a slit to be able to get in and out of the dress!), added a hook and eye to the top of the slit and called the thing a dress.
The finished bodice, with sleeves tied on and skirt attached (and a slightly too large bumroll underneath):
And the best photo I could get of the finished dress in my small living room:
There are small quirks in this project. Sleeves not enough "off the shoulder", the bodice isn't as stiff as I imagine it would have been with glued fabrics, the front doesn't quite close, the sleeves are a bit too long and I will need to make a proper bumroll and possibly add a strip of wool to the hem to protect the silk and add some poof the to silhouette, but overall I'm pleased!
The Challenge:
#5, Bodice
Silk for outer fabric, ramie for lining, linen and wool for interlining
Self-drafted, based on patterns based on patterns for other stuff I have that fits me; sleeves drafted from the Tudor Tailor
ca 1540 +/- a decade or so.
thread (linen for interlining, polyester, sadly, for the rest). About 5 metres of polyester velvet ribbon for ties.
How historically accurate is it?
Materials as such: yes. Pattern of the silk brocade: can't say I'm certain. Mostly machine sewn and ouch, polyester thread. I'd say perhaps 65%, and that's me being kind to myself I guess.
Hours to complete:
Didn't keep track, perhaps 30 for the entire dress including re-hemming after first use since the lining stretched. Bodice: uhm, maybe two days worth of time?
First worn:
22 february, for a larp. Heavy, but otherwise comfy.
Total cost:
Bodice: 0,5 m silk +0,5 m ramie, about $25+ ribbon. Uhm, about $30. Interlining fabric: scraps from other projects.
Entire project: a staggering $200, my most expensive project to date.