Saturday, July 27, 2013

IRCC3, Layer 2 - Pattern Matching: your mileage may vary

Because the 1/4 width pieces I am using for the triangular shaping in my skirts were actually longer than a skirt panel I am able to play about a bit with the positioning of the pattern on the piece which will be upside down. I tried various things:

Alternate side
even at the top * slightly raised * nearly even at the bottom

And the original side, nearly even at the bottom

While I found the various combinations of wiggly lines interesting, I decided that this version, which continues the rhythm of focal spots horizontally across the breadth of the skirt, is most appealing to me.

And did you notice how nicely the patterns match on the triangles I already attached?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

OK, I admit it. I'm afraid of trains.

Not wearing them, or even sewing them, but my brain has been shorting out on the subject of drafting/draping trains on my courtesan gowns for quite some time.

I think it is because I usually make the body of my skirts as a straight tube of three or more widths of fabric. If I add a small train of 5" or so to the back panel of such a skirt it is generally full enough that it can adjust to the slight drape without an awkward pull to the waistline, but the trin looks too small (side to side) and too shallow (front to back). If I were to extend the extra train fabric to two or three panels of the skirt the train would likely appear wide enough but I think the skirt would break with a fold line at the floor rather than gracefully trailing behind.

I haven't had any luck finding descriptions on the Internet about adding a train in my situation, but I think the edvidence of the Elenore of Toledo burial gown has given me the information I needed. It's the triangular sections that connect the straight front and back sections! In hindsight it seems fairly obvious that such a section would be needed to guide a trained gown into a graceful sweep |\ .... but I'm gonna say it anyway, Eureka!

Since I only have 2 1/2 widths of fabric to work with it is especially important that I build in as much room as I can in that back sweep or the whole gown is likely to look ridiculously skimpy. The extant gown shows that part of the back panel was taken away at the sides on the upper half and likely used to fill in the bottom, making the back piece more of a wedge. Since my waist is proportionally unusually small I don't need the fabric at the top of my skirt nearly as much as I do at the hips and below so I too will be sneaking some fabric out of the upper back to add to the lower.

Stitch, stitch , stitch...

Friday, July 19, 2013


Last year after I bought the stunningly beautiful blue silk which I have been afraid to cut I bought a printed linen in a similar pattern to make an under gown and test out a cutting diagram before cutting into the silk. The linen was still patiently waiting in my stash, untouched, but I have finally begun putting it to it's intended use!

The cut:

My fabric was cut evenly at the top of the pattern repeat at one end and a bit raggedly and off the repeat at the other. My skirt length varies from 42" in front to 45" in back and the pattern repeat of my fabric happens to fit exactly into 45" sections so-working from the good end- I cut one full width of fabric, 45" long for the front panel. since I want a train on this dress I used the somewhat raggedy end of the dress length for the back of the skirt. I picked a pattern transition point about 15" up from the edge and measured my 45" skirt length from there. I will eventually curve the button edge of this panel to form the train.

I am using the burial dress of Elanore of Toledo as my starting point for the patterning of the skirt but fabric constraints prevent my skirt from being quite so lavish. After I cut both the front and back panels I had about one and a half skirt lengths of fabric left. I decided to split this piece lengthwise into three sections, 1/4, 1/2, 1/4, so that I would have the full center of the panel to use when making my bodice and as much length as possible for making the sleeves. The 1/4 width panes are being split into triangles and inserted between the front and back panels to create a greater sweep of the skirt at the hemline and help the train to drape gracefully.

Now I just have to sew while keeping my fingers crossed that it works!

As to the sewing itself, I'm finally trying the period method of hemming each piece and then whip stitching them together. I think I like it. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

IRCC3 Project 4....something.....done!

I scampered off to the store today to get some more supplies for my golden chain girdle, more acorns and jump rings, but discovered that they did't have any jump rings which compared to the ones on the original acorn chain which I had been using to assemble the belt. Given the choice of going smaller or larger in diameter I went with larger.

I assembled the belt so that the acorns on both ends are top up, pointy end down when the belt is being worn, but that meant I needed to do some fancy maneuvering to end up with two acorns with their caps back to back at my spine and sufficient chain in front to fall under the waist point of a Venetian bodice and also enough dangling chain to hold and use the fan. But not so much the fan dangles on the floor when I'm standing! I think I had it figured out pretty well, but then I ended up making some changes to my belt. So I guess we'll see when it all comes together.

As you can see from the picture, above, the original jump rings were small enough that they drew two links they were joined to together and caused a small gap between the links of the main chain. I loved the intricate, interlace look that gave the girdle, but it also substantially weakened and shortened the girdle so I ended up replacing all the jump rings with my new, larger, rings.

It all hangs quite smoothly, now.

IRCC 4d? Anyway, It's another accessory! (or part of one)

You know how it is.

I finished my fan and spent a couple of days glorying in my accomplishment...and then I started thinking that now that I have a feather fan with a hanging ring I need a girdle to hang it from. So I go to the hardware store and buy a package of a nice, slightly ornamental, gold colored chain and I'm thinking "OK. I got the chain. Now I go home, measure out the correct length, bend some hooks, throw it together and hit it with Rub n' Buff so it kinda matches the fan. Done!"

Of course, that's not how it's working out. :)

Once I had the chain home, and the fan attached, it just started seeming...skimpy. It is nice chain, and the correct scale but it needed more ornamentation to complement the fan. I was pondering the possibilities of wired on filigree pieces, or pearls. Then it occurred to me that the leftover acorns from my hairpin project were a good size for putting in the spaces between the links and a few minutes later my new girdle was begun! I'm suspending the acorns between two links so they fall in the middle of the alternate link and I like the look and feel a lot but the whole project is on hold overnight because I need more jump rings.

In the morning I'll be off to the store and I'm hoping to return with more of the acorns and jump rings plus thread to match the sottana which I am finally working on. (Surprise!)

The original chain, disassembled, and reassembled

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why I love e-bay #327


Now all it needs is a reticella edging and it will be the perfect hankie.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

IRCC3 Layer 4b Update: The Orsi fan is finished!

After the gold paint dried I discovered that while it was wonderfully shiny it was that horrible green-gold color that I loathe in metallic spray paint. Luckily, I had provided myself with an alternative, Rub n' Buff!

I had never used it before, but after years of watching it transform items on HGTV I just had to give it a try. I love it! It warmed the color right up, smoothed out minor imperfections in the surface and makes a lovely texture to hold.

The next step was steam curling my Ostrich plumes and the three smaller single feathers I got for the front side of the fan. I only did the upper 1/4 of the larger feathers but I curled the entire length of the front feathers. then I stuck the feathers in their slots and stuck in some shredded toilet paper between the feathers to hold them in place while still making it easy to remove and replace the feathers if needed.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

IRCC3, 4b - pre assembly prep work on the fan

I've realized that I neglected to chronicle and photo document the most important part of the fan--most important from a structural perspective, at least--the top opening and double pockets where the feathers will be inserted!

As you may remember, I made a cardboard spacer which I tied to the central upright oval of craft wood I had attached to the wood candleholder which forms the base of my fan handle. I then built up an outer layer of plastic wood which I have since used as the base for my paperclay top coat. I removed the cardboard spacer a while ago and have been carefully preserving the opening as I completed the adjoining sculptural elements.

Side view of the fan featuring the dragon's head

And the top opening.

I am planning to make my feathers white on the front and black on the back and it seemed to me that support between the layers would be a good thing--thus the double pockets. I assembled the main feathers by stitching the spines together in pairs (the thread wraps around the front of the rib and then loops around itself and is carried up the back of the feather to the next stitch, rather like tying a roast) using the instructions in Lynn McMaster's article, How to Create Ostrich Plumes. I plan to curl the feathers too and then assembly is next!

Tonight I painted the fan gold. After it is fully dry I'll decide if that is enough or if it needs additional painting but here is a peek.

Monday, July 8, 2013

IRCC3 Layer 4b-Fan handle sculpting is complete!

I added the final flourishes to the dragon-leafy things that stick out at the sides of my fan and managed some passable leaf shapes on the lower handle which left me with only the uncharted territory of the back to address. Orsi's design doesn't include a reverse image so I set out to look for something suitable...without much luck until I had the happy thought of looking at Orsi's's other work and found this frieze with a suitable cartouche

Ornamental Frieze

Lelio Orsi (called Lelio da Novellara)  (Italian, Novellara 1508/11–1587 Novellara)

Some day I'll actually have a registered device which I will paint onto it!



Hopefully I'll move on to painting tomorrow.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

IRCC 4b- More pretty pictures of the fan in progress

One interesting thing about the paperclay is that it doesn't particularly want to stick to the dry version of itself. I was using it more like plasticine--adding it in layers and attempting to work to a level of perfect detail--but paperclay seems to respond better to a freer approach. I've been wetting down the dry surfaces to make them more receptive to additions and now I'm trying to work on larger areas in one go.

I notice that the pieces have a lot more life and it feels great to be getting things moving!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

IRCC3 Layer 4c - Veil finis!

Or, rather; Il mio velo รจ finito!

I am saving the final 'as worn' photos for the unveiling of our finished projects ('Unveiling!' Get it?) but here is my new veil in bits and pieces.

The shape:

I've been pondering the shapes of veils in the Spanish tailors book, and the intriguing veil ends which continue up over the chest to tie behind the neck in some illustrations, and the basic 'no waste' thought process which underlies rectangular construction methods...smooshed all together. I took my rectangle of veil cloth and folded it in half--head to foot--and then found the midpoint on each side. I cut a swoopy s-curve shape from the center back fold line to the mid-point, pivoted and attached the pieces to the main body and created a HUGE sorta semi-circular veil with long tails.

I hemmed the edges with repeated passes of zigzag stitch and folding (taking advantage of the opportunity to straigten the edges as I went along)

and then braided the dangling threads at the tips. I think the braid puts the excess thread to good use, extending the length of the ties and making a cord that will be very easy to tie behind my neck.

In the end I am hoping for a semi-circular version of this

As a final little trick, I adapted a ruff-making tip I learned from Noel Gieleghem's excellent ruff-making directions and stitched a small marker at the center point of the leading edge of my veil. It's not really noticeable but I can feel it when I run the edge of my veil through my fingers and I'm sure it will help me keep it centered when I'm pinning it into my hair.