Making a Damask Print Medieval Dress, Part Three


This is another project that I forgot about for a while there. I’ve been so focused on new stuff that things I finished a few weeks ago have totally slipped my mind!

This is the third post about making my Damask Printed Medieval dress. Part one about this project is posted here, and part two is posted here.

Step one was cutting out all the skirt panels. Which was easy since this skirt is just a rectangle. And since my fabric is very wide I only had to cut out two panels to get the hundred and seventy inch width that I wanted. I think they were both around fifty one inches long.

The panels were sewn together with the wrong sides facing each other, then the seam allowance was trimmed and the fabric was folded and sewn with the right sides facing each other. This way the raw edge is hidden between the folds of the fabric and you’re left with pretty french seams!



For one side of the skirt I added strips of interfacing to the top ten inches of the edge. That got fused on, then the edge was folded inward by an inch. This will be the opening of the skirt that makes it easy to get on and off.


That seam was also closed with a french seam, I tapered the stitching off once I got to the point where I wanted the opening to be.


Once ironed it looked like this!


Since I wanted to cartridge pleat the skirt I decided to back the top edge with a thick material. I’ve done this a lot and I always end up using strips of flannel, it seems to work the best for me!


Those got folded in half and sewn onto the top edge. Then I pinned some home made bias tape over top to cover the raw edge.


Which also got sewn on. These colors look so out of place against this fabric but I promise they aren’t visible in the end!


I stitched a half inch away from the hem of the skirt, then I turned the fabric over at that stitch line and basted it down with loose running stitches.


I marked a chalk line three inches away from the lower edge of the skirt, then turned the hem inward and pinned it so it touched that line.


I sewed it down with a cross stitch because I was feeling extra patient that day!


Then I switched back to working on the top edge of the fabric. I drew lines every three inches to create a guide for my cartridge pleats.


I sewed over/under each marking I made to create 1.5″ deep pleats. I used upholstery thread for this to make sure it wouldn’t snap part way through. I’ve had that happen to me a few times and it totally sucks!


I straightened out the pleats, then sewed through the back of them.


And through the front of them, about a half inch lower than where my original gathering stitch was.


I think they look pretty awesome at this point. So uniform and cool. But I regret making them this stiff and massive. They stick out too much and look a bit silly. I should have only used one layer of flannel. And less fabric.The skirt did not need to be this big.

Unfortunately this fabric is one that tears easily, and I knew needle marks would be visible all along the top edge if I removed the stitching and tried again. So I decided to stick with it and move forward.


The skirt got pinned on.


And whip stitched in place. That was pretty much it! The dress was done.


Well, it should have been done. But I tried it on and really hated the sleeves…so I cut them off. I also removed the fur trim from the sleeves edge and sewed it around the arm holes instead. I much prefer it this way. I really liked how the bodice looked over my rose colored chemise, so I think i’ll pair this dress with that and let the chemises sleeves show. It isn’t accurate at all, but I think it will look nice.


Even with the sleeve change i’m not super happy with this. It really didn’t turn out the way I wanted and i’m not sure why. I’m hoping to get some worn photos of it on Sunday, maybe i’ll like it better once it’s against a better backdrop!

Unfortunately I don’t have worn photos of it to share right now. The weather here has been stormy for the past week, which doesn’t provide enough lighting for indoor pictures.

I’m sorry I haven’t had very positive feelings about my last couple projects, they just didn’t work out that well in my opinion. But I recently finished two more things and I love how they’ve come out. And i’m really loving my current works in progress too, so I think my next couple posts will have happier endings!

Also! There is a video that shows the whole process. It can be watched here or below.

Thanks for reading!

Making a 16th Century Dress, Part Three

So I skipped almost two weeks of posting. In my defense, I was traveling for a week of that and fully planned on updating while in hotel rooms. I had several hours to kill most evenings, and nothing to do but blog! Unfortunately that plan didn’t work out since none of the hotels had reliable internet that allowed me to access wordpress, much less post anything. When I got home I had a rough time getting back into my routine, but i’m back!

I really wanted to make this post a progress report, since I have several projects in progress right now and plans for a few exciting ones. But I figured after two weeks a “The Making Of” would be more appreciated. So lets go through the process of adding a skirt to my tudor costume. If you are unfamiliar with this project, the previous posts can be read here.

I’m not sure where the photos of this laid out flat went, but I can’t find them. I think my folder with the first five photos or so got deleted, which is a shame. On the bright side,  the skirt pattern was really simple, two rectangles plus a rectangle with an arched bottom to create a train. If I had another two yards of material (which I planned on having) the train would be longer and the skirt would have two extra panels.

The panels were all sewn together with french seams. Then the lower edge was turned over by a half inch and basted down. Then it got turned over my an inch and a half and pinned down.


Then that was stitched down with whip stitches.


The side edges of the skirt also got turned over by an inch and a half. I stitched down both edges of the fabric with tiny running stitches.


Since this fabric is pretty thin and cartridge pleating works best with thicker fabrics I decided to back the top few inches with flannel. I cut several strips of flannel and folded them in half.


Then I sewed it on.


The top edge was fraying like crazy, so I decided to cover it with bias tape. I had some of the damaged damask leftover and decided this would be a good use for it. I marked out all my two inch wide strips.


Then cut them out and sewed them together.


I ironed the raw edges inward and I had bias tape!


One edge got sewn on.


Then it was folded over the top edge and pinned down.


And sewn down.


Now it was time for pleating! I used chalk to mark two lines that are one and a half inches apart. Then I drew a line every four inches, which is how big the pleats will be. They are massive.


I used upholstery thread to pleat everything so there was no chance of my thread breaking. Here is how it looked after being pleated.




I was really happy with them until I pinned them onto my bodice. After I pinned them I realized cartridge pleats at this size collapse down and look a lot like normal box pleats. They do fold underneath and give a LOT more volume than regular pleats do, but i’m still a little disappointed!


I sewed the skirt on with small whip stitches and upholstery thread…then went over my stitching again because I did a terrible job. I could fit my whole nail between the stitches!


And that is it! The skirt was done and my dress finally had a lower half.


Here is a teaser – in my super dusty mirror – of how it looks worn!


I’ll be taking proper photos (maybe with a nice backdrop, if I can set something up) within the next week or two. But in the mean time, I did a video about this project which shows some close ups and the order everything is worn! That video can be watched below, or through this link.

This project is complete, but I still have a couple more blog posts to write about it, so you’ll be seeing lots more on the topic within the next little while.

Thank you for reading!

Dewdrop Series, Making Another Dress, Part One

A few weeks ago I finished up a dress and cloak which I named my “Dewdrop Series” because it was based off of the blossoms and greenery of spring. I ended up with two yards of leftover ivory damask, and a few yards of remaining velvet. My original plan was to use the remnants to make a fancy 18th century suit, but the damask proved to be far too delicate (and prone to fraying) to make into a jacket, so that wouldn’t work.

The fabric really needed to be used for a dress. After a bit of sketching I decided on a really simple design, so simple that I figured I would make it right away. I  mostly wanted to have it completed so it can be photographed along side the other pieces in this series, but I MIGHT have been procrastinating on all the other things I have in progress.


I wanted this dress to be more modern then the original but I still wanted it to be cohesive, simple, and a little unusual. I decided on a strange kind of “spiky” neckline, a visible waistband, and a skirt half the size of the original but pleated the same way. I originally wanted it to have a train too, but I only had two yards of fabric so that didn’t end up happening.


This post is going to focus on the skirt, next post will be about the bodice.

The skirt was one big rectangle, cut to be one hundred and twenty inches wide, which is the same width as this material – if the fabric was less wide there is no way I would have been able to make this dress with two yards of fabric.


I didn’t have any side seams to do, so I got straight to the pleating! Step one was cutting long strips of lightweight quilt batting. I learned a lot from making the first dress in this series, this time around I whip stitched the strips together so there was no added bulk at the seams.

I also didn’t mark the lines on these like I did the first time around. The ink was prone to rubbing off, and it was terrifying touching white fabric with blue hands! I’m also pretty good at eyeing it, so I decided to be brave and trust myself.


Then I sewed these on by hand with a really large basting/running stitch. The first time around I used my machine and it sped up the fraying process which I did not want!

The only lines I marked were for the large box pleat in the front.


Then I hemmed the whole thing using the same method I use in most of my dresses.


Doesn’t that look pretty? Slash that, it’s not supposed to look pretty, it’s supposed to look invisible. 


Then the pleating began! This went so much faster then my first dress, I think it took one sixth of the time or something crazy like that. Even a bit of practice makes such a different when using new techniques.


You may also note I didn’t add bias tape, so it’s fraying a lot. I did this on purpose because last time I ended up with a ton of extra bulk at the waist due to sewing on bias tape BEFORE my cartridge pleats. This time I did it afterwards and the end result is much nicer looking and more practical too.


And  that was pretty much it when it comes to the skirt. Aside from a back seam (which can’t be done until it’s attached to the bodice) it was finished!


Thanks for reading!

Related posts: Part One, Part Two, Photos of Completed Dress