Well, let's go with curious.
It's those dresses that start/stop UNDER the breasts. I'm not talking about a low-cut neckline sneaking just under the nipple like a racy balconette bra (although I do see those too) but seriously, flat-out UNDER the bust. Not one scrap of dress fabric over any portion of the boobs!
April 20, 2011 - The Challenge has begun!
Progress log #1 - 4/20/11: Ripped a whole lot of fabric (maybe 15 yards) off my bolt of white linen, washed and, dried it. Not thrilling, but it's a start!
Progress log #2 - 4/21/11: I've been thinking about how to make a train on an otherwise straight, gathered skirt. The illustration I am using for inspiration looks like her train is probably 2-3' on the ground. I've never made (drafted) a real train before, but I'm thinking that if I am making my skirt 5 fabric widths around, I will make the front two pieces flat, and the other three 3' longer at the floor. I'll curve the two side panels to gently sweep from the 0" point to the 3' longer center back panel and leave that one flat...Or I might reverse the proportions and make the train only two widths wide, which I think would put the splits for the side lacing falling at the seam lines, and make said lacing fall far further from the center back than I usually make them. Which would be more like the illustrations and thus of the good!...hmm.
Not much working on the dress otherwise, but sewing on the roof continues!
Progress log #3 - 4/22/11: The blog ate my posts, as you may know, and part of the missing content discussed my decision to combine three projects I am attempting: 1) a 1590's below-the-bust dress, a red-and-white outfit for the ball at Pennsic XXXX (hmm, *is* that the Latin number for 40?...), and Donna Bella Lucia da Verona's Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge.
I already have the white, but needed red so I got some supplies...
Progress log #4 - 4/23/11: My inspirations (All from Bella's site).
I'm working on the pavilion today so not much to report but as I've been looking at the challenge blogs of some of the other challengers I'm a bit intimidated. Wish me luck!
Progress log #5 - 4/24/11: Well, I started working on the sleeves today. I adapted the pattern from an earlier pair of sleeves, making them narrower at the top and better fitting overall. I'm planning to make the spiral pattern of the inspiration drawing in trapunto with red quilting.
That will mean a double layer of white linen for each sleeve. I've got the inner layer assembled for the pair but I'm thinking the outer layer will need to be slightly longer to allow for the fabric used up by the cording. Ideally I would draft a larger pattern for the outer sleeve, but trying to think my way through the spiral pattern is already hard enough so I think I will just wing it!
Progress log #6 - 4/25/11: Just a note about my plan...
White linen dress: I'm trying to minimize expenditures right now (like nearly everyone else in the world!) and actually *use* the stuff in my stash which is how I ended up with the idea of using the white linen for a red and white dress for pennsic. I had actually been thinking about using the white for a fencing dress with a "fantasy" fencing overbodice based on the lovely breastplates seen in so many period illustrations of warrior women. And as it happens I was planning on doing that overbodice in red!
I confess it wouldn't have been my very first choice for this dress which probably explains my 'I'm winging it' attitude to the whole project. I'm usually more of a planner...hmm. So today I'm thinking of making the underdress in red and white *without* a train--which would be better for both dancing and fencing--and an overdress in silk for the 'real' dress. I haven't cut out the skirt yet, so it is all up for grabs until I do.
Chopines: At any rate, my stash includes 2 or 3 pairs of modern shoes which I bought with the idea of re-creating them as chopines. I expect to end up with at least one pair of chopines in my challenge outfit.
Flag Fan (s): I've also been trying to learn some SCA songs and I'm planning on making a version of one of those cool paper flag fans with a song printed on it. I'm thinking of doing "The Escarbuncle" by Maestra Giulietta da Venezia because I like it and it is surprisingly singable, but I was thinking of trying to translate the chorus into Italian and then into the kind of symbol language the song fans were done in and it just doesn't work. At least not at my level of non-Italian speaking-ness. So we'll see about that one. I'm leaning towards going ahead with that song in English (since one goal is to learn the song) and then maybe doing a second fan from a period source.
Partlet: This would be my place to experiment with the whole "what holds breasts up?" question so I won't be neglecting to make at least one!
Chemise: I could really use some more of these, so at least one chemise seems likely. Probably cotton, as it is the finest fabric I have in my stash at present, and hopefully embroidered.
And some drawers would be really fun!
Progress log #7 - 4/26/11: What I did last night...
I done got sleeves! I've been lusting after a pair of spiral sleeves for a while (decades) but have always been stymied by the tricky bit of getting a smooth spiral to go around an irregular--vaguely cone-shaped--tube. Luckily, the Challenge has made me bold and last night I just went for it. OK, the spiral might not be as smooth as I would like, but it works and I think the sleeve looks lovely. Now to pick more patterns for the applique and embroidery...
Progress log #8 - 4/26/11: And tonight!
Progress log #9 - 4/27/11: Pretty much too tired to think tonight. Sat around and drank wine! (It was red wine, so it relates. Kinda. :) )
Progress log #10 - 4/28/11: Stitched together the outer layer of the second sleeve, pinned the lot together and started marking the spiral. Since the cording didn't take up as much fabric as I was worried it would, I'm gong to try making both layers at once on this one. I also picked patterns for the applique in the bands on the sleeves and skirt.
Progress log #11 - 4/29/11: Photocopied/enlarged the patterns for both the sleeves and the skirt....and the pocket! Yes, I too must have a pocket! It's funny, I've know about them for years but only in the context of 18th century clothing. How could I have not noticed the pockets in Italian Ren. paintings?
Well, I hadn't. But now that my eyes have been opened, a pocket is on my list of items...
Oh, and I worked on the first flag fan.
Progress log #12 - 4/30/11: As you can see, I've been working on my sleeves. The baseline for the rinceaux pattern is marked and almost worked on the pair. Can I just say again how much I love how quickly couched thread works up?
The paper is the template I have been using to mark out the pattern and shows the desired final result. As you can see, I reversed both the spiral and the pattern on the second sleeve.
Progress log #13 - 5/1/11: Still working on my sleeves but I am most excited to report that I have finally sent an update off to the Challenge site. Now I feel like I am really part of the gang!
Progress log #14 - 5/2/11: I finished the first line of the rinceaux embroidery on the second sleeve. Woohoo!
I've also made enough progress on my first flag fan to decide to scrap the 1st try and commence with the second. I'm pretty excited about the fan. Having looked long and hard at the picture of 2 extant fans that fellow challenger Christa posted on her blog (http://sewcrazy-sewmad.blogspot.com/2011/04/flag-fan.html) I've revised my standard method of connecting the flag and stick, and actually carved my stick to some extent. I am planning to make at least two fans so if this one works I plan to get even more ambitious with the carving on the second one.
Progress log #15- 5/3/11: Lookee, lookee, flag fan #1!
OK, I messed up the paint in about 5 places (including my folding camping table) but I think it looks pretty good.
I worked on the layout of the song/fan in MSPublisher, printed it on red paper, fastened it to a piece of lightweight card stock with spray adhesive with a piece of wire running down the edge closest to the handle,sewed the gold ribbon which is folded around the edge on by hand, bent the wire into loops that run in the channels I had cut into the stick and voila!
I'll be fiddling with the stick and wire a bit more to get it all pretty and spinning properly and I may trim the edges with lace if I have any left over after I finish the rest of my outfit but if I do it will be icing on the cake.
Progress log #16- 5/4-6/11: Somewhere in here I decided to make the skirt without a train, cut out my fabric and stitched the seams together. It is going to be two layers of linen with the cord sandwiched between so I cut the panels the full with of my fabric and twice the length, sewed them together into a tube, pressed the seams open and folded the tube in half inside itself. Looks good so far...
Progress log #17- 5/7/11: Started stitching the cording on the skirt.
I decided to machine baste all the cords in place before I hand stitch the red outlining. Know what I've discovered? Two layers of linen is dang heavy!
Progress log #18- 5/8/11: More progress on the skirt...and an change (addition) to the plan
I've gotten the cording done on the bottom two bands of the skirt, done the red outline stitching to about 2 1/2 of the cords which make up those bands, and marked and started stitching the bottom edge of the third band. I decided not to cord this one--at least not with thick cord--because I need to fabric to fold gracefully as it gets nearer the waist.
I've never made a corded skirt before and the stiffness is kinda freaking me out at this point. I'm going to withhold my opinion and persevere until the whole thing is made up. Then we'll see. I can always take it out!
I also realized that I haven't been liking the dress lately and the reason was that it just didn't feel "fancy" enough for the outer gown for my ball dress so I bit the bullet and bought some red brocade on e-bay. Pretty yes?
I think I'll love my linen dress on it's own for fencing/running around (we'll see how I feel when the whole look is together) and I know I'll love the look of all that hand work peeping out when I'm dancing. There is just something so decadent about hidden handwork.
Progress log #19- 5/11/11: The post office says they've delivered my fabric!
I can hardly wait to get home and see.
In other news I've been contemplating my fabric stash and found/remembered that I have several yards of a fine white linen threaded with a fine gold stripe. I'm thinking it will be perfect for my bloomers, especially if I can find gold lace for the edging too.
(And did I mention my fabric is waiting for me at home?)
Progress log #20 - 5/15/11: I'm making progress on the skirt.
I've finished the red stitching around the cords at the top and bottom of my first two bands, stitched the bottom row of red stitching for the third band (I decided not to cord this band because it is too near the waist line and cording would ruin the lines of the skirt), and I've cut out the first set of felt "flower" shapes and pinned them in place on the bands.
You can see the final pattern for the applique/embroidery in the paper template at the top of the picture, below
Progress log #21 - 5/25/11: OK, I'm ready to bite the bullet...
and start on my Camicia!
I'm attempting one of those dresses with the *extremely* low bodice and I've been pondering the camicia that would go with them but today I noticed an extant version on Realm of Venus which I think will solve all my problems, to wit:
"Woman's linen smock with full sleeves, embroidered in pink silk"
Unlike my current camicia, it appears to me that the sleeve head is set onto a band of the body of the fabric which extends up from the lower part of the neck opening. Perfect for my purposes! At least I think so...I have been reluctant to do all that embroidery work on a camicia that can only be worn with a single gown (most of my wardrobe is far more modest!) but I think this will work nicely as an adjustable neckline if I put in a hidden drawstring on each shoulder. I'll make my neckline low and square for the challenge and then I can gather the sleeve/neckline to look more like the extant garment for regular wear. Woohoo!
Now to pick out my embroidery pattern...
Progress log #22 - 5/29/11: We have a chemise!
I usually make straight, full bodied chemises but after much contemplation of the pictures at Realm of Venus, and pondering the working details of such a low-necked style, I decided to start my chemise by getting a basic pattern for my shift from the smock pattern generator on Drea Leed's site: http://www.elizabethancostume.net/.
Yet another thing I have never done before, but as her smock is very similar to the style of chemise I am attempting the site was wonderfully helpful! I widened and lowered the neckline quite a bit (from 9 inches to 22inches deep-front to back!), widened and altered the cut of the sleeves, gathered the wrist, converted her underarm gusset to a full--set in--square, and added the extra triangular section to the center front and center back of the lower portion of the smock.
I needed the new neckline to fall almost under my bust, which it does quite nicely, but since the pattern is meant to accommodate my bust it makes the upper portion of the smock a bit too large. (Something in the 2-6 inches to big range) I haven't decided yet if I will take the back in a bit or add ties under the arms to adjust the neckline of this shift, but I will definitely try for a closer fit if a ever make another lllloooooooowwwww necked camicia! I'll also make the sleeves a few inches longer next time, but overall I am very happy!
(In fact, I may just add another 2-3 inches at the ends of the sleeves on this camicia. The current length means that the sleeves moving pulls the shoulder straps off my shoulders every time I move my arms. I know that the off-the-shoulder look is kinda what I'm going for, but with the camicia cut so low off-the-shoulder really means naked-from-the-waist-up which is a bit much as a consequence of moving my arms. I'll be interested in seeing what happens with the camicia when I add the gown.)
I'll be putting up a picture or two tomorrow, but don't get too excited. Hemming, ties, lace and embroidery have yet to be done.
Progress log #23 - 5/30/11: Woo doggie! Ain't she pretty?
(First of all, please forgive the presence of the bra. I just wasn't willing to go for the full-on period look and post half-naked pictures, sorry. That being said...behold!)
The Camicia layer in progress:
Beyond risque...and pretty dang flattering too!
As I said, I dropped the neck line to attempt to replicate the line of the camicia in period illustrations which varies from about 2" above the bodice top--which falls completely under the breast--to nothing but lace points showing above the bodice. I tried to cut mine for the neckline to fall at the 2" above mark
since I figured that I could pull it down to the lower point if desired,
and it would make it pretty easy to gather the sleeve heads/shoulder straps to raise the neckline to a more normal level for my wardrobe
As I mentioned, I probably should have reduced the width of the main camicia panels since it normally won't have to accommodate a bust. It's a little loose up top, especially at the back
but I decided to leave it alone for the most part. I did leave some holes in the neck facing so that I could insert some gathering cords if I feel they are absolutely necessary at the end, but I think the addition of lace will probably reduce the size of the neck opening just enough to make it all work. I'll guess we'll see.
Mind you, I still have no idea what holds those breasts up. (Experimental archeology at it's best.)
Below are some detail shots of the Camicia construction:
And sleeves/cuff details
I'll post more pictures when the camicia is finished.
Progress log #24 - 6/1/11: Can you believe it? I sewed so much I hurt myself!
Apparently my 'workstation' isn't ergonomically correct for my body (not really surprising, since lately I have been mostly working at my ironing board, which doesn't adjust as low as I would like) and between my arms hurting and my knee doing something weird related to the strange way I hold my foot so the lightweight plastic foot pedal for my sewing machine doesn't go shooting off somewhere...let me just say owie!
So I'm taking a bit of time off sewing and doing some research on period patterns since I'm thinking I will make my pocket in red Assisi embroidery on--you guessed it--white linen!
Did you know that an Arizona university has put the most amazing collection of weaving related books, etc on line? It's the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics at
Go, poke about. It's well worth it!
Progress log #25 - 6/1/11: Ooooooooh!
I discovered a book with lots of patterns which are already shaped to be suitable for pockets (or shirts--neck and sleeves, or bodices, etc) and belts. They have the necessary space for the slit, and shaping for a pointed belt tip and everything!
I'm thinking I will use the pattern on page 119 for my pocket and possibly pg 122 for the belt.
Progress log #26 - 6/5/11: Still working...
I've managed to misplace the even weave cloth and red thread I got to work the pattern in, so the pocket project is temporarily stalled. Below is a pretty picture of:
The plan for my pocket
That's not to say that I haven't been working! I'm still babying my arm and knee while they recover from overuse (or something) but it hasn't been a problem to work on my skirt this weekend. I realize the following pictures probably don't look all that different from my previous skirt progress pictures, but they are. The first two rows of flower forms are now sewn on!
(Not done, yadda yadda, you know the drill.) Woo hoo!
Progress log #27 - 6/7/11: The full pattern at last!
I have given up on my plan of methodically stitching the skirt bands, one type of shape at a time. I felt the need to have at least a tiny bit of it FINISHED as in done, done, DONE! so I stitched up a section.
I feel better now. :)
Progress log #28 - 6/8/11: Not so much
Of course, I woke up this morning to the realization that I had forgotten to attach two leaf forms at the bottom of the pattern, one on each side, so it's not *really* done. Sigh. Maybe tonight.
(It's still pretty, pretty, pretty so I'm still happy.)
Progress log #29 - 6/10/11: Ooooh, Pretty!
Just showing off the progress on my hem.
I'm back to working on the same section of the pattern on all of the repeats. As you can see, I've got the Fleur de lis and upper leaf forms pretty much done on this 1/2 of the bottom row. (OK, 5 of the leaves are just pinned, but I'm still counting them!)
Progress log #29 - 6/14/11: And even prettier yet!
Aside from the aforementioned "two leaf forms at the bottom of the pattern, one on each side" I have stitched up seven of the fourteen pattern repeats on the bottom band of my skirt. Let's face it. It could be a very long time before I get all this handwork finished. Luckily, I think it is going to be *worth* it!
Progress log #30 - 6/19/11: I just keep on keeping on...
More pretty pictures. As you can see I am moving on from just the bottom band of the skirt to include the second one too. See the progress below.
The plan is for three or four bands, in the end.
Progress log #31 - 6/20/11: Hips!
I've been moving on in my mind and thus I am contemplating the waistline of my petticoat gown. it occurs to me that the bodices I am using for inspiration are short. Rather suspiciously *too* short. I'm leaning towards the idea of a waist which is raised by an inch or two at the sides to accentuate the deep point of the dropped waist at the front, and the length of the skirts.
(Note: The above image is by Fede Galiza and can be seen in it's entirety on my "Gallery of Late Period Hotties" page.)
I'm also leaning toward....bumrolls.
The idea of actually needing a bumroll is wildly new for me, but I've changed shape of late and I just don't think my new lower, smoother, hips will support the full, raised, look I need at the hips of this outfit. This seems like it should be a minor project so I'm hoping to bang out a bumroll in the next few days.
(Imagine. *Me* needing a bumroll!)
Progress log #32 - 6/22/11: It's that time of month...
Time to update for the IRCC!
I'm still working on the petticoat (surprise, surprise) and last night I stitched and stitched and stitched and finished the rows which define the top and bottom of the third band. I've got the felt cut out for the second set of leaves on the second band and the bottom band nearly done. Progress over all. I have a friend visiting this weekend so if I can get the major felt pieces on the third band I am hoping to actually attach the skirt to a bodice (even if not *the* bodice) this weekend. It is so much easier to get the skirt level and falling nicely with help.
I've also been collecting damascene jewelry pieces which I plan to combine with pearls to create a girdle,
and I've picked 2 crochet patterns which I plan to use to make lace for my camicia.
I'm counting it all as progress!
Progress log #33 - 6/23/11: Pocket!
Since I have finally found my pocket supplies I thought I'd get started on that project too.
I been thinking that the pocket would be a good project to work on during my lunch hour at work so today pulled out the aida cloth and my pattern and wandered around looking for a window which I could use as a light table and comfortably trace the pattern onto the cloth. I couldn't manage the *comfortably* part so I ended up using a big plastic magnifying lens as a writing surface and just holding it in the air...which worked really well, surprisingly.
I'm planning to try out doing the pocket in Assisi work. The first stage is just to outline the image in double running stitch which I've done before so I was anticipating it would be fairly easy. I've never used aida cloth before and easy is far to tame a word! At least for the straight lines. Below is my progress in just a few hours work.
Progress log #36 7/2/2011 - work on the pocket continues...
Progress log #37 7/3/2011 - ...and continues...
I'm thinking of making one of these flip books so I can watch the pockeet come to life!
Progress log #38 7/4/2011 - ...and continues...
I'm stitching on my pocket when I get too freaked out by our upcoming move. It's doing wonders for my progress! (On the pocket, at least.)
Progress log #39 7/5/2011 - ...and continues...
Progress log #40 7/6/2011 - ...and continues...
Progress log #41 7/7/2011 - ...and finishes!
OMG, the pocket embroidery is complete.
I'm currently jumping around like Golum yelling "I'm free!" "I'm free!" (Well, in my case I'm yelling "DONE!" "Done, done, DONE!"
Basking for a moment....
OK! Now on to sewing the pocket!
Progress log #42 7/8/2011 - OMG. I have a pocket.
If I weren't thinking about adding tassels I might even call it ....wait for it....a FINISHED IRCC project. But that would just be silly, right?
Progress log #43 7/9/2011 - IRCC Pocket Project is COMPLETE!
I ended up finishing the pocket with tassels and an embroidred faux/braid edging. Isn't she pretty?
The tassels provide just the perfect flirty finishing touch!
Progress log #44 7/10/2011 - Back to work on the skirt
And today I stitched down the sets of leaves and teardrops at the bottom of all 14 pattern repititions on the second band of my skirt...and packed up our Christmas ornaments too!
(I couldn't resist one more picture of the pocket. For scale! (Yeah....scale) )
Progress log #45 7/11/2011 - Skirt applique, stitch, stitch, stitch...
Stiched on more leaves, cut out more leaves, and then even more, more leaves! Considering how incrediblly hot and muggy it is here in central New York I'm amazed I have the persistence to sit under heaps of heavy linen or wool felt and work. But I do, and I am!
I have this fantasy where I finish the bottom two bands this week...
Progress log #46 7/14/2011 - Stitch, stitch, stitch...
I remember why I switched to working on the pocket! It was nice to have a project where the work I did each day made a visable change.
Quite unlike working on the skirt bands. When I picked up the skirt to recommence work I discovered that the bottom band was not as finished as I had 'remembered' (AKA 'made up in my head'!) so I have been working on completing all the lines and tendrils and dots and tiny leaves which make up the pattern on the *back* section of the skirt. The problem is that as I finish a piece it looks just like the already pictured *front* of the skirt so I've really got nothing to show. You'd have to be able to walk all the way around to see the change, and then I'm doing great!
So, stitch stitch stitch. When I get up to the second band there will be an observable difference and pictures will recommence. (I hope.)
In other news, The lace I purchased on e-bay is bleaching out pretty well. It arrived at my home as a smelly pile of cappucino colored lace and is now fresh smelling and white-to-light-yellow. I think I can live with it as-is so I'm thinking I will iron it out tonight and *possibly* start working on the neckline of my camicia.
Wouldn't it be nice to have 2 finished projects for the IRCC?!
Progress log #47 7/15/2011 - Just a quick peek
At my bobbin lace!
Progress log #48 7/15/2011 - I made it!
I've finally gotton all the bottom band finished to a consistant poit and am now working on the second band. Just like the bottom band, this one has fourteen repetitions of the pattern and I've got the upper right leaf attached and the stems connected on seven of them. I'm not exactly giddy with delight, but I think it's looking good. :)
Progress log #49 7/16/2011 - Progress on band two
All 14 of the upper right hand leaves are stched on band two, as are all the main connecting stems and 4 of the 14 upper left hand leaves. That means I just need to cut out and attach the 10 remainng upper left hand leaves, stitch the curling tendrils, and cut out and attach the small pair of leaves at the mid-point of each pattern repeat and I'll be as done with this band as I am with the bottom one.
Yep. That's all.
(Piece of cake?)
Progress log #50 7/18/2011 - Oooo...LACEY!
Progress log #57 10/7/2011 - Sigh
Well, blogger ate my posts again. I've tried all the reccomended methods of getting the info back--except live feed. (And if any of you have live feed of the missing entries I'd sure appreciate a copy!) No joy.
So I will continue on and also attempt to add bits of the missing info as best as I can remember.
Reccolection of Progress log #55 10/5/2011 - Fans are on the way
I've gone as far as I can on my feather fan for now. Black ostrich feathers are on order and in the meantime I have started the second fan I'll be working on for the Idle Hands challenge--a flag fan in Lacis.
Reccolection of Progress log #56 10/7/2011 - Fan progress and construction details
To make the feather fan I used a coping saw to cut a channel thru the narrow end of a purchased yarn winder. I sanded the opening smooth with emery boards and then used Elmer's glue to adhere a small oval of craft wood into place. I then clamped the pieces together and let them dry for 24 hours.
Meanwhile I paired together sets of feathers with a simular curve, split the bottom side of the upper (smaller) feather and glued them together by inserting the tips of the additional feather into the split tip.
I drilled holes in the oval part of of the fan frame and stitched the feathers into place.
The front of the fan-in progress
The back of the fan-in progress (Note the holes and stiching)
I plan to attach ostrich plumes to the back of the fan, glue everything in place and place decorative finishes over the feather ends--a feather pad on the front and a small framed mirror on the back.
The first stage of this fan is working up a 4" x 7" piece of netting...which is nearly done...which means that I have *finally* learned how to net. Woo Hoo!
Since I was unable to find my formal netting tools I have been using a steel larding needle for my gauge and a regular sewing needle (with a very long thread) instead of the netting bobbin.
Not perfect, But pretty good for a first piece!
Progress log #57 1/27/2012 - Yes, I'm still working on this!
I'm plodding along on a lace partlet for this outfit. Even though I purchased squares of lacis to speed the process along it is still taking a while to finish the edges of each section and attach the pieces together. I'll post a picture when I finally have it finished and can start experimenting on how to make it work for bust support for this style.
In the meantime I thought I'd share a picture which may give some support to the "they stay up by elvin magic" theory!
Portrait of a Young Woman, Michele Tosini after Ghirlandaio 1550-1575
Inventory of 1890 Item #6072