Sunday, August 12, 2012


Square necked chemise based on the smock pattern generator at the Elizabethan Costuming page
The center section is 90" long by 19" wide, there is a square underarm gusset 7" square, there are two triangular gores at each side.  The sleeves are 30" long by 28" wide.  I put 5 box pleats at the top of the sleeves, ran the wrist area through my pleater, narrow rolled hemmed the length edges, and then turned the wrist edge over twice and stitched with a decorative machine stitch. 
For the square neck, I wanted a neck opening 7.5" wide by 8" long.  So I cut another piece of fabric larger than the desired opening and turned under the edges.
I pressed a line down the center and another at the shoulder.  The neckline opening is lower in the front than the back 5" from shoulder to center front opening, and 3" to center back opening.  I pressed marks into the facing to indicate the placement, matched press marks with the facing on the wrong side of the fabric and stitched.

Cut out the center, press, and flip the facing to the right side.  I used the same decorative machine stitch around the neckline as I used at the edge of the sleeves.
I narrow rolled hemmed all pieces and attached them together with a machine faggoting stitch.

First, I attached the square underarm gusset to one edge of the sleeve, then I stitched up the underarms starting 5" up from the wrist edge and pivoting at the gusset.  Next I assembled the triangular gores.  Then starting at the top of the shoulder, I attached the sleeve from the top of the shoulder down, at the end of the underarm gusset, I attached the side gore.  Finally I turned the piece around and starting at the same shoulder top, stitched down the rest of the sleeve, gore and gusset.

Here the left side is assembled, and the right side has the sleeve and gore placed where they will be attached.
As you can see, I cut the gores much too long.  They will be cut off and the bottom will have a narrow rolled hem.
To finish I will hand smock the wrist opening, add some small buttons and make button loops for closures.

So over a year later, I finally finished the chemise - here is a photo of the hand smocked cuffs.

Italian Tudor Renaissance Gown??!!

I've been commissioned to make the first Renaissance costume for a 15-year old young lady.  I took her measurements and mocked up a commercial pattern bodice for her, showed her several books for ideas - from 'Elizabethan Costuming for the Years 1550 -1580' to 'The Tudor Tailor' and 'Patterns of Fashion'.
Then we went off to the fabric store and found this gorgeous brocade:
Well, it says Italian Renaissance to me and period bodice pattern without princess seams due to the large motif.  So. I drafted up a period bodice pattern while Emily looked through the Tudor Tailor and fell in love with the Tudor sleeves.  Not my first choice, but that is what she wants!
I've cut out the skirt based on the Eleonora layout in Patterns of fashion - here are the parts ready for assembly:
For scale, the columns are about 12' apart.  I cut the front and back pieces with the same design in the brocade at the waist.  It would be impossible to match the pattern across the wedge shaped pieces, and since they did not do it in period - neither did I!  Next step is assembly and fitting.  We got a coordinating golden velveteen that will be used for a guard at the hem.
As soon as the customer gets her two-hoop skirt, we will have a fitting to hem!

Eleonora de Toldeo di Medici by Bronzino 1543

Eleonora de Toledo di Medici by Bronzio in 1543
I've been wanting to make this gown for a while and working up to it.  Last year I made a similar pearled partlet without a collar that I can use with this gown.  My bodice pattern works well, so the next step it to figure out how to make those sleeves.

After looking at the portrait, to me it looks like there are multiple panes on the sleeves and one of the panes is centered at the top of the shoulder.  So is it 4 or 5 panes?  At the right of the portrait, we see one of the panes which appears not to originate from the top of the shoulder but is the adjacent pane towards the front.  The panes attach to each other by pearled or beaded details.  I decided to mock up a 5-pane pattern.

I took a sleeve pattern from Patterns of Fashion p 114 that I had used previously and fits me well.
I drew a line lengthwise down the pattern and made lines parallel to the wrist at about 5cm intervals (about 2").  I measured the width of the sleeve at each of the intervals 0 to 55cm.  Then I made myself a spreadsheet:

from wrist/ cm
sleeve width/ cm
pane width/ cm
half pane/cm
pane/ inches
half pane / in

Next I took a clean sheet of paper, drew a long line, added the 5cm intervals, measured out one side the half pane width, folded it on the the long line and cut it out.  Then I made 4 more of the same.  Next step was adding the sleeve head curve to all of the strips.
I extended the sleeve head curve on my paper then placed the 5 pane strips next to each other with the bottom of each strip on a line for the wrist.  With 5 panes, there is a break between panes at the lowest point of the underarm and one of the panes is centered at the top of the shoulder.  Then I traced the sleeve head curve onto all pieces.
In period, they probably would have taken a sleeve pattern and just cut it into panes.  Since I want to center the couched motif down the center of the pane, I did not want curves in the pane pattern pieces.  I deliberately chose a pattern that is not likely to be period accurate, but will most likely achieve the look of the protrait.
The portrait shows a puff or turn back at the top of each pane where the sleeve meets the shoulder strap.  Others have lengthened the sleeves to create these puffs.  There is an example here:
On my mockup, I placed the pattern pieces on scrap fabric, cut the sleeve curve and part way down the sides then slid each pattern piece down 5" for the puff.

After cutting out, I marked 2.5" intervals up from the wrist and also 5" down from the shoulder.  When I was asking in a Facebook group for other costumer's opinions on the number of panes and the construction methods, one of the suggestions was when making a mockup, draw in your proposed trim.  I am planning to couch gold cord down in the pattern on the portrait on only three panes of each sleeve and leave the underarm panes plain.  Next step was to tack the panes together for a fitting.

Please admire the lovely red bar tacks at each 2.5" interval!  I folded back the 5" extensions at the top of each pane and it worked out OK with the center decorated pane because it is relatively flat at the top.  All the others were horrible because of the angles.
I'm totally giving up on the idea of making the puffs as an extension of the sleeve panes.  In addition, I am worried about the additional bulk of puffs in the armpit.  Although, I have to admit, I have been wearing the mockup while generating this post and it really hasn't bothered me.
My current puff idea which I have not mocked up is very unlikely to be the way it was done in period.  The weather here can be quite warm, so we frequently remove our sleeves - preventing heat stroke wins out over historical accuracy every day of the week!  I'm thinking of making the puffs separate from the sleeves so that they can be attached to the shoulder straps with or without the sleeves.  I'll measure along the sleeve head curve and make puffs that width by 5" long.
Next step, is to figure out how to do the couching!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Clarice Gown Finished!

For the IRCC I have been making two coordinating gowns that I can mix and match with.  One of the gowns is based on a portrait of Clarice Ridolfi Altoviti painted by Cristofano dell'Altissimo in 1550-1555 at the Galleria Palatina in Florence.

Since the portrait is from slightly above the waist, I had to imagine what the skirt would have looked like.  I chose to make a split front skirt based on the pattern of Eleonora de Toledo's burial clothes and have a strip of the slashing/pinked design down either side of the center front.  Here is my interpretation of the gown:
getting help with side back lacing

Front view

Back View

The most challenging part was designing the layout of the pinking/slashing design because on the sleeve and the bodice it tapers from top to bottom.  As far as the most time consuming part - it is a toss-up between the following:
  • making the petal-shaped cuts larger by folding the fabric twice and cutting with scissors
  • sealing all the cut edges with a fray guard
  • stitching the beads on the bodice and sleeves

Doublet with hanging sleeves and spiral sleeves complete!

My doublet with hanging sleeves and spiral sleeves based on a woodcut of a Neopolitan woman for the IRCC challenge is finally complete!
Since my sedan chair and bearers were not available, we had to make do with a chair in my parent's garden to take photos!  I'm very pleased and believe that I have captured the look of the woodcut.  Below are additional photos.

detail of hanging sleeve and spiral sleeve

buttoned part way up

buttoned closed
back view

Completing the Compass Cloak

In previous posts, I have shown how the right side and the lining of the compass cloak were made....  Now to put it all together!

The bottom border is a 5" wide bias strip of taffeta.  I laid it on my cutting mat, placed one ruler 1.25" in from one long edge and cut perpendicularly into the strip at 2" intervals using the other ruler as a stop so I ended up with something that looked like an exaggerated fringe.  On the right side of the cloak, I placed the border strip with the cut side facing the center and the uncut side hanging about 1" over the bottom hem.  I pinned it all down at the hem, then I took each cut section and twisted it twice and pinned it down.  Then I ran a row of basting stitches a the bottom and the top of the slashes through the right side of the cloak.  I stitched down a gold trim over the top of the twisted trim.

The collar is made from one layer of pin-tucked taffeta (right side), wool interlining, and plain taffeta for the lining.  The next step was to sandwich the collar between the right side of the cloak and the lining (add a ribbon loop at the center back for hanging), stitch up the center front opening, around the neck edge, back down the other center front, trim, turn, and press.
I laid the cloak lining side up on the floor, did a little trimming at the hem to make the pieces match, pinned them together, stitched the bottom row of trim though the front and lining to anchor the sections together, turned under the edge of the 5" bias edge trim to the lining side, pinned down and hand stitched to finish.

The final touch was to stitch down two metal clasps for closure at the center front.  And since no outfit is complete without cat hair....  as you can see in the detail below, my cat helped out also!

 Finally a photo with one front section turned back to see the pinked lining and the pocket.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Taffeta Skirt

Me and my daughter in Pisa gown
A month before the IRCC was announced, I made a brand new bodice, skirt and sleeves based on the Pisa gown.  For the IRCC I planed to make several interchangeable pieces that would require a burgundy taffeta skirt.  As it turns out, the Pisa gown fits my daughter and she needs new renn garb, so I plan to give it to her.
So, I needed a new burgundy taffeta skirt.
Hancock Fabrics carries this taffeta (they call the color cranberry) in plain and in a pin-tucked version.  I used the pin- tucked in my compass cloak and as accent strips on a set of sleeves.
For my new skirt, I decided to use a strip of the pin-tucked fabric down the center front of the skirt and another band at the hem.  Since the fabric is so lightweight, I decided to use three widths of fabric in the skirt.  I have made several skirts based on the Eleonora de Toledo di Medici burial skirts with the gored sections.  However, this once, I decided to do something the easier way and just use three ungored widths of fabric because I did not feel like dealing with the curved section of the gore and the pin-tucked band.... After all, everyone has to take the easy route some time!
I cut the center font pin-tucked band 5" wide.  I split two sections of the fabric in half lengthwise - one for the center front addition of the pin-tucked section and anther so I would not have a seam in the center back.
Well, I made one thing easy, so I had to complicate something else.  I am PARANOID about the safety of my ID and other valuables while at renfaire.  Therefore, I like to have a non-period zip pocket hidden in my skirt since I KNOW that I will NEVER loose my skirt.  So... where do I hide a pocket????
How about right behind the center front pin-tucked section?  I sewed an invisible zipper into the right hand section of the seam between the two fabrics.

I used one width of fabric for the front and two for the back.  Other than the decorative pin-tucked strip down the center front, the front section is double box pleated and the back is triple box pleated.
After I got the waistband attached - my friend Molly  marked the hem for me and I cut it level before attaching the lower band.

The bottom band is cut 6.5" wide out of pin-tucked and plain taffeta and a 2" wide taffeta bias strip pressed in half.  The bias strip is sewn between one end of the two long strips.  After the seam was pressed open, a narrow strip of horsehair braid was sewn to the seam allowance.  The pin-tucked side of the strip was attached to the right side of the skirt with a 1" seam.  The seam was pressed towards the plain taffeta skirt and then the skirt fabric was pressed down over the seam.. 

The center front of the bodice would add to the disguise but it need a little more....  I used fingernail polish to paint the zipper pull burgundy and hand stitched a coordinating trim down the seamline.

hiding the zipper pull with nail polish and trim

Then a row was stitched where the pin-tucked fabric met the skirt fabric while horsehair braid was pushed into the tuck.  The tuck was pressed down over the pin-tucked band. Finally, the bottom bias strip was snipped and hooks were added to the wasitband.

Inserting the horsehair braid while sewing the hem tuck.

Update - the skirt needed to be a little longer.  So I took out the tuck, removed the band and re-stitched it with a 5/8" seam allowance instead of the 1" I had originally done.
The tuck to hide the raw edges is a very easy and neat way to finish the bottom of a skirt.