Making a Sybil Inspired Edwardian Ensemble, Part Two

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This week I have the second (and final) post to share about making my embellished edwardian ensemble! Part one can be read here, and talks about making the bodice and starting the sleeves.

The bodice was almost finished, but still needed a bit more sparkle. I accomplished this by covering the stitching that attached the bodice together with tiny sequins and beads.

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I think the end result is very pretty, there is so much texture and sparkle!

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Then I folded the back edges inward and added a piece of boning to the lower portion of the bodice. The boning supports six eyelets that are embroidered onto each side of the back of the bodice. The top portion of the bodice closes with hooks and eyes for a clean finish.

I chose to make the back lace up since I wanted the bodice to be as fitted as possible, and because laces allow me to get the bodice on and off without help.

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Now back to the sleeves! I sewed organza backed lace trim onto the hem of each sleeve.

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Then I covered the top edge with sequins so it wouldn’t fray.

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With that done I pinned the back seam closed so I could do a quick fitting. Unfortunately the sleeves were a bit too small – I could get them on, but it wasn’t easy. So I decided to sew the seam up with a half inch allowance, instead of the french seam I had planned, giving me an inch of additional room in each sleeve.

I finished all the edges of the sleeves with lace tape.

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The only downside to the smaller seam allowance is that it means the stitching used to secure the chiffon to the lace is visible. It falls underneath my arm, and matches the fabric, so it isn’t too noticeable, but it annoys me nonetheless!

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I sewed the sleeves onto the bodice by machine with a half inch seam allowance, and then the bodice was complete! I’m really happy with this, I love all the detail work and how all the different fabrics and textures work together. It’s well constructed too, which i’m proud of since this was made in a relatively short amount of time.

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But I wasn’t happy for long because I had to work on the pants. The chiffon pants. I don’t like pants, or chiffon so the combination didn’t seem like much fun (and it wasn’t). It was however, very confusing. So I’m sorry if my explanations are confusing, but I’m not sure how to avoid that since I’m still confused and I’m the one who made them!

At first I thought these would be easy to make – a typical drop crotch pant with an asymmetric draped panel at the front, no problem! Then I realized the draped portion is actually sewn into the inseam somehow and that the back is asymmetrical too.

Before even trying to figure out how that would work I made the base pattern. Which is just a longer version of the pattern I made for my cycling bloomers. I made the crotch lower too, but that was the only big change aside from length.

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I cut two of each pattern piece out from my “base” fabric – which is a gold chiffon. Then I cut the front left panel out again, this time from a orange chiffon, and I extended the panel to be thirty inches wider at the side seam. Then I did the same thing with the back right panel and pink chiffon.

The pieces looked like this.

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Now for the confusing part. I basted the wider panels to the matching pieces (front left was basted to the front left cut from base fabric, and same process for the back panels) at the crotch seam and inseam.

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Then I sewed the crotch seam for the front and back panels AND I sewed the side seams of the base layer together with french seams. Once I put it on my dress form and loosely pinned the waistline it looked like this.

I can practically hear your skepticism but have faith!

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The thirty inches of fabric I added to the overlay panels wrap around the body and create the draped front and back. It’s kind of confusing because the front panel wraps around the back of the pants, and the back panel wraps around the front. But it totally worked!

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I gathered the top edges of the overlay panels down so they were the same width as the base layer of fabric.

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I tucked the front edges inward twice, by around two inches so a raw edge wouldn’t be visible. Then sewed it onto the waistline of the base panels so it hangs asymmetrically.

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I cut a slit into the back of the base panel, then covered it with ribbon so the edges wouldn’t fray. I mounted four hooks and bars onto the ribbon, which is how I get the pants on and off. This slit is covered by the overlay once the waistband is done up.

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After a bit more gathering the waist of the pants was twenty eight inches, exactly what I wanted! As you can see I left the very front of the draped panels ungathered since I thought that looked nicer.

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Now the waistband could be sewn on. I used a rectangle of interfaced brocade for this. It was sewn on with the right sides facing each other, then tucked over the raw edge and sewn down once again.

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This is the finished waistband from the front side. It doesn’t look too pretty, but it isn’t visible when the ensemble is worn so i’m not too bothered by it!

It also closes with hooks and bars.

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Here you can see it on my dress form. It still doesn’t look too promising, but I was pretty happy with this!

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At this point I pinned the overlay portions to the inseam of the base layer. Which looked like this!

Then I did the inseam up with french seams.

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I hung the pants up, then used my scissors to level the hem to make sure the overlay was the same length as the base.

I cut an inch of length off since I thought they were too long, then gathered the hem down by hand. I gathered this edge to be large enough to get over my foot, which left them significantly larger than my ankle.

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After a quick try on I realized a few issues. The first was that they were still too long. But I didn’t want to raise them from the hem, and it was too late to take them up at the waistline.

The second was that I had no idea how I would get them over my feet after attaching the cuffs. I would have to cut a slash into them, but I knew that would look awful.

But they needed cuffs. So I made some. And after pinning them on the length looked even worse since the cuffs caused them to sit higher on my leg.

So I took the cuffs off and decided to bind the bottom edges with bias tape. It isn’t ideal, but the bottom edge is mostly covered by the volume of the pants. And this also means I don’t have to worry about adding a slash/closure method since they are large enough to fit over my feet. Also, since the bound edge is loose, they hang lower on my leg and the length looks more natural.

For some stupid reason I used chiffon to bind the edges. I should have used a sturdier fabric or at least interfaced the chiffon first but clearly I was in a daze of frustration so I didn’t bother.

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End result: PANTS! I think these are the most unflattering thing I’ve ever made. I don’t mind shapeless garments if they have a nice shape but these are…difficult to pull off, to say the least? I think they look nice in a very specific pose (shown on the right) and when they are moving, but from the front it’s pretty rough.

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But that’s it! Here they are laid flat.

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Close up of the waistline.

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And the back – you can see how the overlay hides the slash!

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I made a little headpiece to go along with this costume. I didn’t love the crown it was paired with on the show, and I didn’t have enough trim left for anything really exciting. I ended up gluing some scraps of beaded trim onto a strip of lace, along with some glass montees and a few bits of an ostrich feather.

The end result is more 1920s than edwardian, but I think it’s super pretty and fits with the rebellious nature of this ensemble.

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Now for the worn photos! I paired it with a blonde wig, some shoes from DSW, and knee length spanx since the pants were a bit more sheer than I had intended (an opaque lining would have been smart). I also wore some earrings from the Downton Abbey collection, but you can’t really tell.

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I wish I had a necklace to go with this ensemble, I think the collar area is a bit bare. I was really tempted to get this this one*but figured I wouldn’t wear the costume often enough to justify it. But it matches so nicely…I might crack and get it anyway!

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Sorry for all the similar poses, as I said the pants are most flattering from that one specific angle! I think this was the first time I’ve been grateful for my height while wearing historical costumes as I think they would be even more of a challenge the shorter you are.

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And that’s it! I’m quite pleased with how this turned out. Even though the pants were a pain, I love the bodice and how all the fabrics work together. It’s very different from anything i’ve made recently, and only took a week to complete! I really want to do more of these week long projects, I always end up really enjoying them.

Thanks for reading!

 

Making an 18th Century Riding Habit / Riding Jacket

I’ve been in a pretty serious relationship with this garment for the past three months so i’m really excited to FINALLY be sharing the process and finished piece with you guys.

This is going to be a really long post so i’ll start with an image of the finished product, hopefully that will give you the motivation needed to make it to the end!

Isn’t it beautiful?

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Let’s go back to the beginning. At the start of 2015 I came across this painting of Sophie Marie Grafin Voss by Antoine Pesne and I fell in love. I’ve always been a fan of the structure and details on 18th century riding habits, but i’ve never seen an image of one that really inspired me until I came across this.

Although the beading and details are beautiful, they are also ridiculously impractical, as are the short sleeves and deep neckline. But that’s what I like about it. It’s very different from most of the riding habits* you see and it perfectly combines the traditional frills and details you’d find in an 18th century women’s wardrobe with the very structured menswear inspired design that riding habits are famous for.

So I decided to make it something similar to it.

 *This isn’t really a riding habit. I’ve titled this post that way because it’s the most common term for riding jackets which is what this garment actually is. Riding habits were a combination of matching garments worn for riding. This is just a riding jacket paired with a more traditional 18th century dress.

In December I finally began work on the piece.

The first step was drafting the pattern. This was surprisingly easy since I used the pattern I made for the bodice that goes underneath this jacket as a guide. I changed up the seaming a little bit, lowered the neckline, added larger seam allowances, lengthened each piece by a lot, and made the pieces wider to the bottom so the skirt of the jacket would have a lot of volume.

I also changed the pattern to have a front closure instead of back laces, since those obviously wouldn’t be appropriate for a jacket!

This is the altered front panel.

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Side panel.

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And back.

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I did not make a mock up for this jacket. Mostly because I didn’t have any fabric around that was thick enough to create an accurate mock up (muslin does not lay the same way as heavy wool). But also because I was feeling pretty confident about the pattern since the bodice I based it off of fit really nicely. And since the jacket was patterned with 3/4″ seams I could let it out pretty significantly if it was too small, and I could always add gores to make the skirt of the jacket bigger.

So I laid all the pieces out onto my wool melton fabric and cut them out. I packed the pieces as tightly as I could on the material since I was a little bit worried that I might have to recut some of them and wanted as much material as possible to be left over.

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Front panels…

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Side panels…
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And the back panels.

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I sewed together the back panels first, backstitching and cutting the thread just below the waistline so the bottom eighteen inches of the seam was left open. The seam was pressed and the unsewed edges were folded inward by three quarters of an inch. Then I sewed the edge down so there was a finished slit at the back of the jacket.

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Then the side back seams were done up. I was really pleased with the draping at the back, even though it looks a bit wonky on my dress form.

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I pinned the shoulder and side seams up and did a quick fitting of the jacket overtop of the panniers and stays. It fit well enough but there was a lot of bunching at the waist since I hadn’t accounted for the angle of the panniers. This was easy to fix, I just added a horizontal dart to the waistline.

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After another fitting I felt comfortable moving forward. The jacket seemed really large at the side seams but I didn’t want to take it in right away since I knew the embellishments on the front of the jacket would stiffen it significantly and change the ease and fit of the front panels.

I drew the trim pattern onto the front panels with chalk. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them spaced perfectly, or as far apart as they were in the reference photo.

After another fitting I realized the lace needed to extend farther down. If i’d noticed that initially I could have spaced them farther apart and made them look a lot better. But I didn’t. And by the time I noticed the problem my only option was to add a sixth strip of trim to each side.

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Speaking of the trim! The one i’m using is from the seller LaceTime on etsy. It was four bucks for two yards and I used four yards in total. Traditionally braided trims and cords would be used on riding jackets but since this one is so fancy I decided to go with lace instead.

I should also mention that I chose to make the detailing of this jacket gold instead of silver (which is the color it probably was) because I thought it looked more striking against the red.

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Here the lace is sewn on to one side, and pinned to the other. Since the spacing was off on my jacket this lace ended up being too wide. So I folded the edges inward to keep it inside the lines I marked.

I may have accidentally sewn some of this lace on upside down and not noticed until the jacket was almost finished. Oops.

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Since the edges of the lace were folded over they looked really bulky. The lace also wasn’t super even since it was difficult to precisely fold the edges over. The end result looked pretty sloppy, and I wasn’t happy with it at all.

So I decided to add an extra step to the embellishment process. I densely stitched sequins around each edge of the lace and overtop of any gaps in the lace where the base was visible. I did this with red thread so it would blend in with the material and better integrate the lace with the  fabric.

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This took forever. So many sequins went into this. Each piece of lace took around two hours to embellish, that’s more than twelve hours of sequining just on the front panels! But it looked beautiful and added a lot of depth to the lace.

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Then the beading began. For this I used two different sizes of gold seed beads and beige colored thread. I followed the pattern of the lace, stitching between the covered cord that makes up the design.

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This is when the lace really started to transform. Above you can see the difference between the side that has beads sewn on and the side without. These really changed the color of the lace, and added a lot more depth and texture to the piece.

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Once I was done beading the lace I tried the jacket on. Here it looks really bulky since I had tons of excess fabric pinned into the side seams but you can get a rough idea of how it was looking.

I also did a test for pocket cover placement, which is what that funny thing on the right side is supposed to be!

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This fitting made me realize that I had to take the waist in by more than two inches and fold the front edge over by two inches instead of the planned one inch. Guess my worries about the jacket being too big were for nothing!

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With the body of the jacket coming along well I drafted a sleeve pattern.

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Then those were cut out and I used chalk to mark the trim placement on them.

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The lace was pinned, then sewn on.

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And sequined, then beaded with the same technique use on the front of the jacket.

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Here you can see the beading part way done.  Really shows how much the beading transforms this lace!

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With the lace completely beaded I moved onto the tassels. On the left you can see the four different types of beads I used for each tassel.  All these beads are slightly different in color and finish which makes the tassels look a bit more interesting.

On the right you can se the two different types of beads that were used on the lace.

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Each tassel is made up of eight strands, which are a little over an inch long.

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Finished tassels on sleeves.

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And finished tassels on the jacket.

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To hide the tops of the tassels I added buttons. I realize embroidered buttons are a lot more historically accurate, but I didn’t have enough coverable buttons left and I wanted to finish this project. I’ll probably end up replacing these in the future with something more accurate.

Then again glass seed beads aren’t very 18th century appropriate either but I used plenty of them, so perhaps it doesn’t matter too much!

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Finished sleeves!

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Here are all the buttons sewn onto the jacket.

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Now it was time to make the pocket covers. Which are, like everything on this project, just decorative. I used all but three inches of the gold lace on the jacket so I had to raid my stash for something that would work for the pocket covers. Luckily I came across a different gold lace, which was just the right shape. I used that as a guide for patterning the pocket covers, then cut the covers out from interfaced wool.

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Then the lace trim was pinned and sewed on.

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And the sequining process resumed. These took even longer to do than the trim on the jacket but it sure looks pretty!

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I didn’t like the visible organza in the lace so I covered that with gold seed beads. Then I stitched clear montees into the circular loops of the lace.

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I sewed the pocket covers onto the front panels and finished them off with a button.

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Here is one of the finished front panels!

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So pretty!

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And all the beaded panels together. I think I spent more than eighty hours hand stitching beads and sequins onto this project. I was sick of it at times but for the most part I really enjoyed the process. I find beading really calming, and I would love to do more of it on future projects.

It also ended up being pretty convenient since I could do it in front of the TV. I worked on this through the first four seasons of Downton Abbey and a bunch of Top Gear episodes.

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I did one last fitting before sewing everything together. I ended up taking it in at the waist a bit more, raising the sleeves at the shoulder, and taking it in at the shoulder. Then I sewed the side seams and attached the sleeves.

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During this fitting I realized the jacket was wayy too long at the back, so I removed more than four inches of fabric from the hem. Then I turned the hem inward by an inch and sewed it in place.

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The cuffs also got hemmed.

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And so did the neckline. Shortly after taking this picture I lined the sleeves and secured the lining to the interior of the cuffs.

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Now it looked like a proper coat!

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I turned the front edge inward by two inches until I reached the waist, the rest of the front panel was only turned inward by an inch.

Then I sewed in the hooks and eyes. THERE WERE SO MANY. I used all the size two hooks and eyes I had, which was 19 in total. They aren’t spaced evenly, so they don’t look too pretty, but they line up perfectly so i’m happy.

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At this point the coat was wearable, but it still wasn’t finished. I roughly pinned the lining in.

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After making sure the lining wasn’t restricting the drape of the jacket I pinned it in properly.

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And sewed it in place. This lining fabric isn’t historically accurate at all but it makes the jacket much easier to get on and off, and that’s what matters to me!

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And the jacket is finished! I chose not to further embellish the neckline or hem, since I didn’t feel the jacket needed it, and i’m happy with that decision. I really love the way it turned out. I had so much fun beading this, and the fact that the fit turned out so well delights me to no end. I definitely think this is my most successful 18th century inspired garment that i’ve made so far, and it’s certainty my favorite from a visual aspect.

I’m really proud of it. And that’s a nice feeling!

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Of course there are a couple things I would change. Mostly the spacing of the lace. It would have looked so much better and been way more flattering if I had spaced them properly and only used five pieces on each side. Then I could have used the full width of the lace and the wider lace would have made my torso look longer and more narrow.

But other than that I think it’s pretty great! Not exactly like my reference photo, but pretty great all the same.

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Divots in the wool once again gahh. Luckily they aren’t all that noticeable when it’s worn.

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Here is a teaser photo from the photoshoot I had with this project. This was my first time wearing the ensemble, and I was rushing because of the snow so I don’t think it shows the jacket in its best light. The bodice was slipping at the shoulders, which caused the jacket to sit lower on the shoulder than it should, and the sleeves ended up bunching. I think i’ve fixed the bodice to rest higher on the shoulders so it should wear much better next time!

I’m also going to (eventually) add buttons to the centerfront of the jacket. That was always part of the plan but I forgot to set aside buttons for it and used them on a different project by mistake!

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So that’s it. It’s always weird finishing a project i’ve invested so much time in (ninety hours!) but i’m looking forward to starting new things. And this beauty has a proud resting place on a hook in my sewing room so I can look at it whenever I like!

I’ll be posting about the dress and the hat soon. Thanks for reading!

The Making of a French Hood

The first accessory I made to go with my tudor costume is the most famous one – a French Hood. You can see these in pretty much every portrait of royal women that were painted in the mid 1500s. I used this painting, and this one as my major shape and color references. I also used this blog post to get an idea of what shapes make up the hood, and how they are assembled. It was a major help to me and I would suggest reading it!

I had a few resources in books too, which show the variations in hood shapes.

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My first pattern was taken from the tudor tailor, unfortunately it didn’t work out for me. It was too small in some areas, too big in others, and all together not the shape I wanted. It took me a good hour of experimenting, but eventually I had a pattern I liked much better.

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I cut the crescent out of buckram and the paste out of felt weight interfacing. I would have used buckram for both pieces but I didn’t have very much on hand.

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Since I don’t have a sewing machine with a zig zag stitch option, I hand stitched wire around each edge of both pieces. I used a whip stitch for this, and though it was slow it turned out surprisingly sturdy! I’ve had some bad experiences with using wire in the past, but I was really happy with how smooth and easy to shape these pieces ended up being.

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I decided to cover the crescent with my orange silk, which was used for the kirtle. I debated about using off white silk (which was more common) but I found several paintings with orange hoods so I figured why not! Since the silk is so thin and delicate I decided to cover the crescent with a flannel weight fabric to smooth out any bumps or ridges.

I actually did this with leftovers of the imitation wool suiting that I bought for my Civil War Era dress.

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Then I pinned the silk overtop.

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And sewed it on as tightly as I could. The back looked like this.

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But the front looked a little better!

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I covered the paste with dark brown velvet, the same fabric I used for the oversleeves.

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Instead of making a ruffle or frill for the front I decided to use lace. This is the same lace I used on the neckline of the kirtle.

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As suggested in the blog post I linked above, I added a bit of padding to the area that would press against the ear. I don’t think this was really necessary (I found the hood very comfortable to wear and it didn’t press at all, even in this area) but I guess it doesn’t hurt to add this anyway.

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Before attaching the pieces together I cut out the lining. I used the same pattern I made earlier, but added half inch seam allowances so I could tuck the edges over. I cut my lining out of cotton gauze, since it’s very lightweight, a bit stretchy, and really easy to work with.

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And here the pieces are with the lining sewn in. I didn’t extend the lining all the way into the corners of the crescent because I didn’t want to add unnecessary bulk in those areas.

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The crescent got pinned onto the paste.

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Then stitched on with upholstery thread. The hood looks really lopsided at this point, but I think that’s just because the wire wasn’t bent evenly around the brim.

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I sewed a mixture of 6mm fake pearls and 5mm glass montees across the join point between the crescent and the paste. Each one is separated with a small orange seed bead.

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Then I made up a beading pattern for the top of the hood. If I had more montees I would have made it more extravagant, but at this point I was running low on them.

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With this part done it actually looked the way it was supposed to!

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I sewed the back pieces together with a cross stitch. I used upholstery thread for this to make sure it was really sturdy.

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Now it was time to focus on the veil. I decided to use leftover velvet so it would match the hood. I didn’t have very much velvet leftover so the hood ended up being narrower than I had planned, but it looks fine when worn!

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I turned the edges over by a half inch and stitched bias tape overtop to cover them. The veil should probably be fully lined but I was already worried about how the velvet would hang and didn’t want to add weight. (It ended up being fine, lining would have also been fine I think)

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Here is the veil with the back seam done up.

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It got sewn onto the back of the paste and it’s done! Overall I’m really pleased with it. If I made another I would make the crescent a little taller and the veil wider, but those are simple changes. Considering this was totally different from anything i’ve made before I’m pretty proud of it!

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I think the one change i’ll make is sewing combs into the sides or front. Below is my first “try on” of this costume and you can see the hood slipped really far back on my head. Traditionally they would be pinned to a coif or cap but I don’t see that working for me. The buckram is so thick that there is no way to secure it with pins, even if I had something other than hair to pin it to. So I think combs at the front are my best bet for keeping it secure!

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And that’s it for today! Thank you for reading!

Making a 16th Century Kirtle, Part Two

The making of a kirtle continues! Part one of this project can be read here, it talks about making the bodice, this post is going to be about embellishing the bodice.

I also have posts about making the Bodies, Chemise, and Farthingale which belong to the same outfit.

I thought this would be a good time to talk about the materials for this costume. I got almost all my materials in the NYC garment district. The two main fabrics for this costume are a gorgeous silk dupioni, and a polyester floral damask fabric. This is my first project with a large silk component, so that has been horrible, frustrating, awful interesting!

The damask is for the dress and the silk is being used for the kirtle, sleeves, and hood.

I’m also using quilting cotton for lining and polyester taffeta for the parts that will be hidden.

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That trip to NYC also included a stop at Beads World, which is where I got the embellishments for this costume.

I was aiming to find red and yellow glass crystals but they only had red and white. I didn’t think I would need to use the white ones on this costume, because I had so many red. But when planning out the beading pattern it looked much better with the white ones worked in.

This is very inaccurate. They are imitation diamonds, and they were unable to consistently cut diamonds until the late 1500s. In this case i’m prioritizing visual appeal over accuracy, but I can tint them with alcohol inks later on if i’m bothered by it.

I bought the glass crystals in a variety of sizes, along with cream and orange seed beads.

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I couldn’t find cheap pearls on my shopping trip, so I ordered some from this shop on etsy!

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And those are the raw materials! Onto the progress!

At the end of my last post I had a very simple silk kirtle bodice trimmed with lace.

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love the lace used, but the more I stared at it the more I felt it looked a little out of place on this particular garment. I didn’t want to remove it, but it definitely needed an extra “something”

So I decided to bead it! I stitched cream seed beads around the neckline, then stitched a row of pearls and orange seed beads on top. It took a few hours but I think it makes the bodice look much more expensive!

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When I felt happy with that I moved on to planning the real beading, which will be about an inch wide and span across the front neckline.

I did this by getting out a beading mat and dumping a good amount of the crystals and pearls onto it. I used my fingers and pliers to arrange a pattern that I felt was well balanced and really pretty.

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I also fiddled around with a smaller pattern, which I want to turn into a necklace and beading on the dress waist. But I think it might take up too many red stones so i’m not sure if that will work out.

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I liked the first beading pattern enough to make an actual pattern for it, something that can be used as a guide to make sure I got it right. I just used a ruler and paper to mark this out.

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And then it was time for the actual beading! Which was kind of terrifying. Nothing can really go wrong, it’s hand sewing and pretty much everything can be ripped out without damaging the beads or fabric.

But this is me we are talking about, so I was totally expecting something to go wrong.

Somehow, things went really well! I started from the center and did the right side first. The left side definitely looks better, but they were both passable on my first try!

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I sewed the pearls on three at a time, then tacked them down with thread. All the other beads were sewn on one at a time.

I’m really ridiculously proud of this, it looks so pretty!

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I didn’t want to waste too many of the fake gems on the shoulders, so I came up with a different beading pattern that was mostly made up from pearls. And now I don’t have enough pearls for the jewelry. But luckily I can easily order more!

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The only downside to this collar is that it makes the bodice very heavy, and now when it’s worn it droops a little in the center. So if I were to make another one of these I would put interfacing or buckram in the lining to give it some support.

(though it wouldn’t be a problem if the bodice was an eighth of an inch smaller)

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With the beading done I could finally stitch up the shoulder seams. A fitting in between proved they needed to be let out a half inch, i’m really glad I left so much room for that!

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The straps of the kirtle are actually smaller than the straps of my bodies…which looks pretty bad when the kirtle is worn on its own. To try and make this a little less obvious I stitched lace around the arm holes.

With that finished, the bodice was pretty much done! Here is the complete front.

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And the finished back.

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And a photo of the messy lining for good measure – the beading looks good from the front, but is pretty messy from the interior!

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So that’s the bodice! I really enjoyed making it. Unfortunately the dress bodice hasn’t been as much fun, but i’ll talk about that on another day.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Brown Beaded Doublet

This project is a bit of a mess. I originally wanted to make a Renaissance doublet but I also really wanted it to have tabs, which is more of a 17th century thing (seen here). It ended up being a combination of both, which is kind of weird, but I like how it looks!

This idea began as side project to a brown renaissance dress which is loosely based off of this painting. But I was in the mood to make something structured, so the doublet became my first priority. The dress will get made later on.

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I’ve been collecting fabrics for these projects for a while. I bought some brown stretch fabric last year for another project but the jacquard, brown trim, and taffeta are all materials I bought to match it. I also ended up using some trim from my stash, ivory glass pearls, and some small seed beads.

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The first step was drafting my pattern. Since I wanted this to have a flat front I decided to sew it without bust seams. Draping a pattern like this on my dress form is very difficult (unless it’s low cut) because my dress form has a very defined bust.

So I decided to go back to the basic draping technique I used when I first started sewing: The bag method. In case you are unfamiliar with this I shall enlighten you.

I started out with a piece of fabric that was big enough to fit over my shoulders and hips. I sewed it into a tube and cut two slits for “Arm holes”, if you are drafting a symmetrical garment the seam should be in the front so you can keep it (relatively) centered.

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Then put it over your head and pin it at the shoulders so it stays on.

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Now it’s time for pinning. I began by putting a few pins in on each side and tried to keep things even.

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Then you add even more pins and do the best you can to shape the garment to your size.

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When you are happy with how it fits mark out the arm holds, neck hole, waistline, and any other details. Pick one side that will be used as your pattern and focus on it.

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When you are done unpin yourself on one side (the side you won’t be using as a pattern) or cut yourself out of it. You’ll probably be left with something like this. Use a marker to go over the lines where your pins are, then remove the pins and cut along the lines you drew.

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Now you’ll have something that resembles a pattern!

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Since I needed mine to have a zig sag shape I ended up chopping my draft into pieces.

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Once I was happy with it I turned it into a paper pattern.

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I used that pattern to make a mock up, which looked like this! All it needed was to be taken in at the shoulder and have a dart added in the back.

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Once my pattern was adjusted it was time for cutting and assembly! Since there are so many points I decided to hem each piece separately, then bind them together. This way I could have more control over corners and make things look smoother.

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After I cut out all the pieces I marked out the hem, turned the edges over, and sewed them in place.

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Then I stitched them all together! I should have used tape or pins to keep them together during this part. I ended up with really uneven edges…

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Once the main body of the garment was sewn together I started adding the details. I debated about what to do for a long time and ultimately decided on using the brown lace to cover the edges, then beading it.

It took a long time but was really easy to do!

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The beads used were 6mm ivory glass pearls and some glass seed beads from joanns.

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After beading both sides I sewed up the back seam. If I use this pattern again i’ll cut it without the back seam, because it sort of ruins the design for me. It would bother me a lot less if the pin tucks lined up, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make that happen.

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Then I sewed the lower piece on, i’m not sure what to call this part. I’m sure there is a proper term but I haven’t researched enough to find it!

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Then I added the waist ties. I debated a lot about what to add at the waist, I had originally planned on more brown lace but I didn’t have enough pearls to use the same beading pattern for it. I also had some ivory venice lace but it looked out of place.

I finally decided on this small cotton lace! I think it’s just the right size and looks nice with the other materials.

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I tried a few different beading patterns but ultimately decided to bead it vertically which I think looks neat!

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When all the beading was finished I trimmed the front edge and rolled it over to create a finished edge.

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I also folded the arm holes over a half inch to create a hem. Now it’s ready for lining!

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I made the lining the exact same way as the bodice…just without all the beaded details! All the pieces were cut out and the edges were marked.

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The edges were sewn over and the pieces were bound together. The lining looks much smoother than the outside because  I used my machine for it and actually pinned things.

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The lower piece of lining was stiffened with a layer of medium buckram. I used this to create shape in the finished garment.

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The buckram was basted down and then the edges were sewn over it.

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The lower piece was attached to the rest of the bodice. I also hemmed the arm holes and neckline of the lining.

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At this point the lining and bodice are both mostly done and ready to be sewn together. But the lining can’t be added until the sleeves are done, and the sleeve making process will be in another post! So this is all for today.

Thanks for reading!

Recreating Renaissance Fashion, Isabel de Requesens

I’m resuming progress on my Isabel costume! This is part one of making the chemise, which will be worn underneath this dress. Today I am going to be talking about how I made the collar, it’s easily the most detailed and complicated part so it’s worthy of it’s own post. My next post will talk about basic assembly, and I should have another video to share as well!

The shape of this collar is a cross between a U and a rectangle. I drew out the shape on poster board and traced it onto the beige linen I chose for this project. Then I used a quilting ruler to measure a half inch seam allowance all the way around.

The pieces were sewn right-sides-together, then turned rightside out so there was a finished edge all the way around.

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I hand stitched around the edge to tack it down and give more of an old timey look. Then I began drawing out the pattern for the beading and embroidery.

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Though I have some minor experience in beading I had never created something with a repeating pattern, nor had I ever embroidered patterns. So I knew this project would be a huge adventure – and maybe a huge mess too.

I happened to have beads that would work on hand, leftover from my bracelet making days and previous costumes.

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I believe I used 4mm glass pearls, 8mm glass pearls, 3mm white plastic pearls, 3mm red beads, and 2mm gold and red beads. I piled them all on a beading mat to keep things organized.

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The first step was sewing the centermost beads on. This is by far the easiest and most enjoyable part – after finishing this step I was lulled into a false sense of security that this would be easy.

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Step two is sewing all the connect-y bits with gold thread. The beads give a good guide which makes this part easier, but the thread was constantly getting caught on beads, getting, tangled, or pulling things loose.

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Then I went through and added gold seed beads. Six get added to each section, two extend down from the 4mm pearls at the top and bottom, and one gets added to each side of the center section. The goal here was just to add more gold because it looked a bit sparse!

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Then it came time to add the red. This was by far the most difficult part, the thread had to be looped four times to have enough bulk and it seemed to always get caught on beads, tangle, and need to be clipped. It took me several minutes to stitch each one (unless the thread tangled, then it would take twice as long), which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize there are nearly ninety of them that have to be sewn!

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I think in total I must have spent thirty hours beading this stupid thing. If I did it again I feel it would go much faster because now I have more experience with the process. I would probably do a much better job too – I did this thing one side at a time and the side I did last is much cleaner and more even then the first. Oops!

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So that finishes off the collar, I added ties to it and a lining later on but that will be covered in the “basic assembly post”.

There there was another part of this costume that required more embroidery and beading, so I’ll go over that really quick too.

The cuffs on Isabel’s dress are tricky to see and end up looking “gold” from a distance, so I really didn’t have to bead these. But I thought it would be nice to have them match the neck piece.

I started by cutting small rectangles of linen, then marking out a half inch grid.

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I sewed rectangles over the grid lines, then a cross in the middle that stretches from corner to corner.

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Lastly I sewed some of my large 8mm pearls in the middle, and it was done!

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Thanks for reading!

Related posts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.