Tag Archives: Gowns

Flocked Linen Sottana

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The Modern Maker 2 was released  at the beginning of March. I couldn’t possibly wait for my hard copy, so I bought the e-copy and immediately began drafting a new bodice according to the instructions. I decided it was time to use my properly aged flocked linen fabric for this new project. The fit turned out great – the best fitting sottana I’ve made to date. I look forward to making more garments with this book!

 



Pink Cotton Sottana

From April to June 2017, I participated in the 7th Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge, hosted by The Realm of Venus, one of the best Italian costuming resources on the web. My entries and the results can be found at the link above, but for reference, here’s photos from about the competition and the outfit I made. The competition required monthly progress updates, as well as a final update with the results of your entry.

I made a pair of white linen drawers based on the bara system and completely hand sewn. I wove the ties (my first weaving!) and flat felled the seams (also a first!).

Bara Tape

Drawers in progress

Finished drawers

The bodice is also based on the bara system, where I tried my best to interpret The Modern Maker‘s notes and drawings to design a bodice that fit well. I’m reasonably satisfied with the attempt, but it could be better.

Toile front

Toile back

Toile side

The bodice interlining was made up of a layer of cotton duck and heavy weight muslin, which was roll-pinned, then stitched together. The fashion fabric was basted to the outside, then folded inwards and stitched in place with a running stitch.

Close up of basting

Exterior sewn to interlining

The lining was basted, then the edges turned in and blind stitched in place. The bottom edge was left open to put in the hide glue “cardboard” insert.

Lining shoulder seam

Bodice front

Bodice back

Hide glue “cardboard”

Wool-covered “cardboard”

The skirt was gathered and attached, but there are no exciting pictures of the process. I also made an over skirt from some random polyester satin I had laying around. I made a pair of orange pockets lined in cashmere, also from stash fabric. The cashmere lining was the only fabric that looked good with the orange, but turns out to be a great place to warm my hands on cold days. Lastly, I threw together a pair of sleeves, with the intention of re-doing them later with proper trim additions.

Assembled gown

Over skirt

Pockets front

Pockets back

 

Pocket close-up

Pocket close-up

Sleeve interior

Sleeve exterior

The gown ended up being way too long, but I later added a tuck so I could wear it. We took quick pictures for the competition end at an event where it was bloody hot and sunny and I was quick to divest myself of this many layers. Later, we took a posed picture, but I forgot to iron the over skirt!

Gown front

Gown side

Gown back

Gown other side

Over skirt front

Over skirt back

Final photo

My Facebook Albums Made Public

Hello out there! I am very, very bad at keeping this blog up to date, especially when it comes to posting construction details after the fact. However, I have just made all of my Facebook albums public so anyone can view them.

I also sorted through my sottane photos, and realized I have only made 8 sottane, including the Golden Seamstress group project. Wow, it feels like so many more.

Here are the albums of my sottane, in order of construction:

#1 Orange Linen Sottana
#2 Red Shot Sottana
#3 Orange Silk Sottana
#4 Yellow & Black Sottana
#5 Teal Sottana
#6 Cheryl’s Red Sottana
#7 Golden Seamstress Sottana
#8 Pink Cottom Sottana

Other noteworthy albums include:

Construction Techniques
Drawers



Golden Seamstress Challenge, April 2017

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In February, a local SCA group hosted an event called the Golden Seamstress Challenge. The challenge was to create a full outfit, skin to shell, in about 20 hours. I had a crazy idea and recruited other seamstresses enter this competition with ONLY HAND STITCHING. Machine sewing was totally allowed. I wanted to see if we could do it. WE DID.

We had a couple spots that weren’t properly sewn, and some touchups had to be made after the fact due to time running short, but we made an insertion work camicia, couched sleeves, and a full Florentine sottana in that amount of time. Drawers were made in advance, according to the challenge rules. Alas, we did not quite complete the challenge, as we did not have enough time for the petticoat. Nonetheless, I was amazed that we did so much in the time we had.

We had 6 team members: Condêssa Violante do Porto, THL Kataryn Mercer, Lady Katla of Viborg, Lady Olivia Baker, Ástríðr Músi, and Lady Cecelie Vogelgesangkin. (My pardons if any titles are incorrect, I was going by memory).

Violante sewed about 30 feet of insertion work on the camicia. That’s almost 10 yards, with stitches about an 1/8″ apart. It’s freaking amazing.

The bodice was a combined effort between myself and Olivia. Olivia was very quick to learn and follow the techniques that I briefly showed her, while we each worked on one side of the bodice. Then, while I was resting, she was able to finish the entire bodice!

Cecelie did ALL of the cutting of the bits and bobs. That means she cut all of the hem facing, trim and padding, stitched it all into strip, pressed each into shape and had it ready and waiting. This was a huge huge help, because it was yards upon yards of work and she did it all with a smile on her face.

The sleeves are white silk with couched gold cord, done by Olivia and Cecelie. They couched the rows of cord, finished the hem and wrists, and stitched the sleeves together (after all the other work they’d already done).

The skirt was a LOT of work, ably taken on by Katla and Ástríðr. The two of them chatted and cut, cut and sewed, and sewed some more. They cut out the sottana skirt panels, then stitched them all together, then stitched the trim, then stitched the hem, THEN stitched the facing. If these two hadn’t been so diligent and fast, we never would have finished. I can’t calculate how many yards of stitching they did, but it’s a lot.

Here are some pictures from the event. I will be adding more of the finished products.

Planning Drawings

 

 



Robe a la Francaise Photo Gallery

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This semester, I took a course at school called “Costuming: Projects” in which I had to devise and make a large project. I knew I wanted to make an 18th century robe a la Francaise, with all the required underpinnings. These are the photos from the process and photo shoot. I will hopefully publish my documentation later.

In-Progress Pictures:

Final, Formal Photo Shoot:



Eleonora di Toledo Mockup

Back in March, I made a true to life mockup of the Eleonora di Toledo bodice, from Patterns of Fashion. This reconstruction was for multiple reasons: I wanted to see exactly how the dress was made, how the skirts were pleated, and all the little details that you need to experience to see how it works. Also, I had noticed in the past that my measurements are pretty close to Eleonora’s and I was curious if it would fit me. And it did!

It’s not perfect, but at least I could put it on! My next step was to scale up the pattern for the skirt and construct it. I was particularly interested to see how the top of the skirt worked, ie the pleats and the angled waistline.

This thing was insanely long! Eleonora was definitely an inch or two taller than me, and/or was wearing heeled shoes. The train would still have been REALLY long.

I then took the skirt back off to make the modifications to the bodice. There were a million of them, starting with the center front. It was too long for my body, so lowered the neckline and took a couple different test shots to determine where I wanted to shorten the waistline to.

I went with the middle option, then it was on to narrowing the shoulder straps and solving the issue with the gap in the back. I redid the bodice a couple of times, adding another layer of muslin over the previous layers as each change required a new test cut.

Now that I had a bodice, I traced the pattern onto graph paper and began work on the skirt. I had the Eleonora di Toledo skirt pattern, but I wanted to cartridge pleat my skirt as seen in the “Red Pisa Gown”. The di Toledo skirt is designed for knife pleats, not cartridge pleats, but the best indication of the layout of the Pisa gown that I could get a hold of was from Katerina da Brescia’s article regarding Costume Colloquium held in Florence, Italy in 2008.

Red Pisa Dress Layout

Red Pisa Dress Layoutspent many an hour on the kitchen floor surrounded by pattern pieces on grid paper, markers and rulers before I finally figured out how to make everything work. It mostly involved guess work and shuffling pattern pieces around. I cut some the mockup skirt, cartridge pleated it to the bodice and thus had a finished mockup and custom pattern. I still had to make corrections to the pattern when I used the pattern later on.

Success! A custom pattern based on Eleonora di Toledo’s burial gown and the extant Pisa gown.



Tall Ships & the Chemise a la Reine

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For my birthday this year, I decided to attend “Tall Ships” in Philadelphia, PA. I have long followed other costumers on LiveJournal (did you know that still exists??), and someone posted that she was attending this event in costume the weekend after my birthday. I immediately requested to join, to which she agreed. I have been wanting to get to know some of the other non-SCA East Coast costumers I follow on LJ, as they have an annual Francaise Dinner that I hope to someday attend, and I’d like to know someone there already. This was the perfect opportunity.

But first, I had to do some work on my chemise a la reine before I could wear it to the event. A week prior, I dug out all the bits and bobs, looked at my previous pictures of this dress for improvements, and made a list of the things that needed to happen, as well as the nice to haves.

Necessity:
Tighten chemise a la reine neckline
Redo chemise binding so it’s not visible beneath dress
Wash and restyle wig

Optional:
Re-cover shoes
Finish about 12 inches of binding on stays
Stiffen sash
Make a bumpad
Make a petticoat
Make drawers
Make stockings

The stays were first, since they had the least work to be done. I have drastically improved my sewing skills and learned many tricks in the two years since I started and nearly completed these stays. It hurts to see how awful the binding looks, the bones are loose in the channels, the tabs are poorly shaped… But it works! It’s effective and feels great. I donned the layers all together and the stays are totally visible above the back neckline. So I won’t be wearing them, but someday, they will work for my Robe a la Francaise.

Then I had to re-cover my shoes. The rubber cement I had genius-ly decided to use when I initially covered them failed miserably. The fabric peeled itself off half way through the day when I wore this outfit, so I used Aleene’s tacky glue this time. Still not the recommended fabric glue, but it was what was handy. I still have enough fabric to re-cover these shoes several more times, if needed.

shoes

In case you forgot what they looked like

I spray-starched my sash and hung it up to dry, then moved on to the bumpad. Though a “rump” was optional, I really wanted one because I am lacking in that area and the pictures of my dress showed this fault clearly. I based my bumpad on Kendra Van Cleve’s article about 18th century skirt supports, #7. I was unable to find a better picture of the rump because the Manchester Galleries’ website is undergoing revision. So I made something vaguely crescent shaped, but only reaching as far as my side, unlike a 16th century bumroll, which gives bulk all the way around the waist (what I used in my previous wear of the chemise a la reine). The cool part about this item is I got to use my new flex ruler, one of those lead-filled ones that hold the shape, to pattern my waist exactly. I cut two layers of muslin, stitched it, filled it, then sewed a 1″ grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the waist. One problem I had with my 16th century bumroll was lack of comfort, and some of the alternate constructions I later read about suggested this solution.

I then spent several evenings pleating and repleating a petticoat. My waist measurements dictated that each half of the petticoat (2 yards per side) should be pleated down to a 13″” twill tape. IMPOSSIBLE. After at least 6 hours of guessing, then measuring, and still not getting it to work, I decided to use math! But I couldn’t find a tutorial I remembered reading once upon a time about figuring the correct pleat and return and all the math. So I had to create it from scratch, using a spreadsheet. I’m not great at math, but I am great at spreadsheets… I figured I could manage this. Well, after about an hour of googling for the tutorial, then two hours of Excel and repeated tests, I think I may have gotten the math right, finally. At least, the final test seemed like it would work. One of the major problems I encountered was measuring the pleats accurately, since the fabric had a slight stretch, meaning if I spread it *too* smooth, it changed the measurements! But in the end, I had necessities I had to get finished, so I never got back to the underskirt. However, I *must* finish it in the coming days so I can put it away, ready for next time.

Then I finally tackled the wig. Oh how I was dreading this part. The wig, in its previous hedgehog-ish incarnation, had gotten destroyed between airline travel and moving. I made the decision to reuse the wig, rather than throwing the rat’s nest away (next time, I’ll buy a cheaper wig and dispose of it when it is beyond repair). I washed it in shampoo, then conditioned it to try to give the artificial fibers some “slip” from the tangles. That part didn’t actually help. I ended up using children’s detangler and a wide toothed “wet” comb. Lots and lots of detangler. Between breakage, and later trimming a couple inches off the ends, I had enough hair to make a beret sized hair rat for my mother’s natural poof. Fortunately, the wig had plenty of hair, and all the breakage probably made styling easier than the first time. Or maybe that was the trimming it received. Either way, it was too long and too thick initially.

After the detangling, I re-read Lauren of American Duchess’ tutorial and loosely followed the directions. However, I decided to start at the back this time. I realized I needed to plan ahead so I had enough hair for a few lovelocks. So I pinned all the hair upwards and curled sections at the back. I set my curling iron to low, but it still felt like it might be too hot, so I turned it off, then occasionally tested it. When I was no longer fearful of melting the wig, I curled heavily pomaded lock. No melting. Eventually, I found I didn’t need the iron to sit quite so long, and I could hold it for a 60 second count. Also, the locks seemed to curl better pomaded AND powdered. I then hair sprayed them to death, gently tucked them into a shower cap (pinned closed against the head form) and let down the rest of the hair down. I went all the way around the head and sectioned out a ring of hair. I then teased the center of the wig, then loosely smoothed the outer ring of hair over the rat’s nest, starting from the back, then the sides, then the front. I judiciously trimmed some length as I figured out what length was needed in which area. This solved the too-long problem that I, and Lauren, had with our long wigs. Everything was heavily pomaded and hair sprayed as I styled, holding it in place, but also allowing the baby powder to stick. Then a few more coats of hair spray were added. Prior to the final powder / hair spray steps, I freed the lovelocks, but for transport, I used flat hair styling clips to pin the curls up, then I put a shower cap over everything.

I also curled, powdered, sprayed and cut a lovelock from somewhere in the center to use for my mom’s hairstyle. It was transported the same as the ones on my wig, then bobby pinned into her natural hair, though it didn’t quite match. The loss from the wig was never noticeable!

The wig styling was accomplished the night before the event. I did not get to bind the chemise neckline, but it was under the gown anyway. I *did* attempt to gather the front edges of the gown neckline, but it did not make a significant enough difference in the near indecent way it revealed my cleavage. No point in trying again, as I will have to completely deconstruct and remake this dress if I am to wear it again due to problems with the initial construction, primarily the awful hems, from learning how to use a rolled hem presser foot on polyester voile.

Just before hitting the sack, I had to figure out what I was going to wear in place of the stays. My options were bra or breast binding. I believe I went with a strapless bra last time, and was displeased by the appearance of my large breasts. I tried on a product I had used once before as breast binding, Futuro Abdomen Support, size medium. I purchased it after researching my options prior to a 1920’s picnic where I wanted to minimize my DD as close to flat chested as possible. I bound the edges of the support with felt to prevent chafing, and wore it comfortably all day (under close supervision). It’s a stretchy elastic, but not the same material as an Ace bandage, which can cut off circulation because they are designed to tighten with movement. It’s actually similar to “breast binder” a post-op compression garment, in that it’s a stretch fabric with velcro at the end. Because the support is designed to be a certain measurement, it’s nearly impossible to tighten it past the max stretch of the elastic. If you managed to completely stretch the elastic out, you’d be past the velcro area for securing it. Anyway, I didn’t end up wearing that item, despite past success with it. I have a fresh belly piercing (also in celebration of my birthday) and it rubbed it uncomfortably.

So, another alternate method: I have a shapewear girdle (example) that I wear under dressy modern dresses. Inspiration struck and I slid it up so that the waist was around my chest. Success! It flattened without being too tight, and it was long enough to fully cover my piercing without rubbing. I wore it all day comfortably, though if it had been a *little* tighter, it would have had less slipping problems, but I will probably buy one especially for this purpose, instead of using one stretched out from proper use.

Finally, the fun part: pictures. We didn’t take many, and the group shots were taken after a couple people had left. I *hope* I remembered the names correctly.

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

Lunch was at City Tavern, which apparently has a cool history and delicious food.

Mandy and Robin

Mandy and Robin

Mom and Erin

Mom and Erin

Moms hat

It’s blurry, but I wanted to get a shot of Mom’s hat

All the girls!

All the girls!

Costumed girls

Just the costumed

We peeked in the Independence Seaport Museum, but weren’t particularly interested. We mostly needed cool air and bathrooms.

no comment

Uhh… no comment

Me and Erin

Me and Erin

Mom and I didn’t even make it onto a ship, as we got there after the others had their tour on the famous L’Hermione, but I wasn’t bothered. I came for the costumes and the friends!

Me and Erin

Also me and Erin

And for the 61 foot inflatable rubber ducky, who looked like this the entire time:

Mama Ducky

Mama Ducky – taken by Amanda

Sadness. After many efforts to fix her throughout the festival, she ended up with a 60 foot tear, and many bad puns in the news headlines. But I did get to see her baby, the 10 foot “Rocky the Baby Duck.”

Baby Ducky

Baby Ducky

So, I guess all was not lost.