Making a Damask Print Medieval Dress, Part Two

It took me almost a month to get to this point, but it’s finally time to talk about the sleeves for this dress! I’m not sure why this project has dragged on so long, it’s such a simple design. But it’s almost done now! Which is great because I have new projects I want to get started on.

Part one of making this costume can be read here, and a video about making the sleeves is posted here!

This is one of the sleeves cut out. The hem is thirty inches long which is pretty massive for sleeves!

DSC_7054

Speaking of hems, they got turned under by three quarters of an inch and sewn down by hand.

DSC_7065

The back seam was sewn as a half inch french seam. Even though these sleeves will be lined this fabric frays so much that I felt this was necessary.

DSC_7072

I took a minute to rest the sleeves on the dress form and they actually looked pretty good! I really like the shape.

DSC_7074

I pinned the fake fur trim onto the hem of each sleeve then sewed it on with a slip stitch. I whip stitched the fur together at the back instead of seaming it, which worked surprisingly well, you can’t even see it. I did this because the fur is super thick and I didn’t want to add the bulk by sewing it as a regular seam.

DSC_7077

DSC_7078

Now it was time for the lining. I cut the lining out using the same sleeve pattern. They were cut from the really thin cotton which was also used to line the bodice.

DSC_7068

I also cut out two 2″ wide strips of cotton, which were cut on the fabrics bias. Then the edges got folded inward to create one inch wide bias tape.

DSC_7069

Then the back seam was done up. This pattern had a one inch seam allowance included so the top layer could be sewn with a french seam. But the lining doesn’t fray much at all, so I sewed it as a regular one inch seam.

DSC_7071

The lining was tucked inside the sleeve and they were sewn together at the top edge. After I did that I realized I had forgot something kind of important – the opening on the right sleeve. Without this you can’t actually get into the bodice…

So I pulled out my seam ripper and opened the top three inches of the sleeve. I ironed the edge so it was folded over and repeated the process with the lining. Then I whip stitched the lining around the opening to keep it in place. This opening lines up with the laced side of the bodice and gives enough room for the bodice to get over my shoulders.

DSC_7081

With that fixed, I carried on by sewing the bias tape onto the tops of the sleeves. This was done just to cover the raw edge.

DSC_7085

The bottom edge of the lining was folded inward and pinned to the top edge of the fake fur trim.

DSC_7087

It got sewn down with whip stitches and the sleeves were done!

DSC_7089

DSC_7090

Here they are on the dress form. I think the fur trim should be a little wider, the proportions are a little weird in my opinion. But it’s being used as trim, not as a cuff, so I think it’s okay. I was originally worried about how the fur would look with this fabric, since there isn’t much contrast it could have really clashed. But I’ve decided that I like the combination, so that’s good!

DSC_7091

The sleeves got gathered slightly at the top, then sewed to the bodice. The seam allowance at the sleeve tops got whip stitched to the lining so the interior looks super smooth.

DSC_7685

The outside looks pretty okay too!

DSC_7687

DSC_7689

I like how this is coming out, and i’ve liked working on it, but i’m kind of over it. I have so many future plans (a couple which are from a similar time period) and i’m itching to work on those. So i’m a bit fed up with this project even though it’s going smoothly. Luckily it should be done soon, then I can start on wonderful new things!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Damask Print Medieval Dress, Part One

This is my first time blogging about a historical project in a while! I’ve missed it. Historical projects are definitely my favorite and i’m happy to be back to focusing on them.

This is a dress inspired by (and based off the shape) one Eleanor of Portugal, the Holy Roman Empress wore in this painting, which is by Hans Burgkamair the Elder. I love how unusual the style of this dress is. The simplistic design was very common in the Middle Ages, but the fuller sleeves and skirt hint at the Renaissance fashions which were just starting to become popular.

I like a lot of the more traditional medieval styles (close fitting and a lot of layers) and plan to make things similar to them in the near future, but the uniqueness of this design made me want to recreate it. I’ve decided to drop the laced collar, but the shape and neckline will be similar. I found a drawing (which is probably not very historically accurate) with similar sleeves which i’ve also used for inspiration.

DSC_6195

I would also like to pair it with a headpiece of some sort. Not sure what exactly, but it’ll be elaborate.

DSC_6196

My materials consist of four yards of a gold and orange damask print. I bought this in NYC but found this website which sells it for almost the same price. I also have some fake fur trim to edge the neckline and sleeves.

I’m going to alter pieces of a  failed red medieval ensemble and use them for the chemise/underdress. That is what the red fabric represents.

DSC_6348

I have some matching red beads, rhinestones, and gold beads which will probably end up in the headpiece. I read that mesh overlays were very common on hennin so I bought some on my last trip to joanns. I also picked up four yards of quilting cotton, which will be the lining.

DSC_6349

I think that’s everything – lets move onto making it!

The bodice i’m basing this off of does not have seams or darts in the front. Which means mine won’t either. That design element paired with the high neck meant I couldn’t drape this pattern on my dress form (its bust is bigger and doesn’t squish into flat front bodices). I ended up using the “pillowcase and pin” method which I show in this blog post.

When that was done It looked like this.

DSC_6676

I did my best to make sense of the markings and create something a bit easier to transfer onto paper.

DSC_6678

I ended up with this! But I made some alterations to this after creating a mock up. One of those changes was separating the pieces, since I wanted the centerfront and centerback to be cut straight with the damask print. I couldn’t get the front and back to line up while still cutting the bodice as one piece.

I also lowered the neckline, waistline, and took in the shoulder seam.

DSC_6680

I drew a chalk line down the backside of the fabric. I made sure the line went right down the center of the damask print and laid the pattern piece against the chalkline. I traced around the edges with sharpie and repeated the process with the other side. Then I cut the pieces out and labeled them because the front and back look really similar.

DSC_6888

I didn’t want a back closure so I decided to have eyelets going up one side. I added two and a bit inches on the sides with the eyelets. The other side has a three quarter inch seam allowance.

DSC_6889

Somewhere along the way I decided to bind the seams instead of sewing them the normal way. To make that a little bit easier I added a medium weight interfacing where the binding would be. On the side with the eyelets I used a lighter weight interfacing, this was to prevent fraying more than anything else.

This fabric is REALLY prone to fraying,  so I left the bottom edge (the waistline) uncut while I worked on the neckline and side seams.

DSC_6891

To get super smooth finishes on the edges (and so I wouldn’t have to worry about fraying) I made facings for the neckline and armholes. I traced the edges of the bodice onto my lining fabric, then measured one and a half inches away from the traced edge. These got pinned on with the right sides facing each other.

DSC_6893

I sewed a half inch away from the edge at the armholes, and three quarter inches away from the neckline since I made it the tiniest bit too high.

DSC_6897

The facings got turned over and pinned down…

DSC_6898

Then sewn down by hand to prevent any topstitching from being visible on the front of the fabric.

DSC_6901

With those edges finished, I moved onto the side seams. I started with the side that has eyelets.

I turned the fabric inward by three quarters of an inch and sewed half an inch away from the edge. Then folded the fabric inward by one and a quarter inch and sewed half an inch away from the edge. I topstitched a sixteenth of an inch away from the edges to secure it in place. This created two boning channels about three quarters of an inch apart. The math there doesn’t really make sense when I think about it, but I swear that is what I did!

It looked like this.

DSC_6903

I added the boning and prepared to sew sixteen eyelets.

DSC_6906

At this point it still kind of fit on my dress form. Okay not really. But you can get some idea of what it’ll resemble.

DSC_6908

DSC_6909

Now I did the eyelets. They took maybe five episodes of Treasure Quest: Snake Island to finish. That is how I measure time when hand sewing in front of the TV and it is totally valid.

DSC_6912

DSC_6910

I ironed the other side edges into a fold, then bound them together from the back.

DSC_6914

DSC_6917

A fitting made me realize having boning on one side and not the other was a bad idea. The side without boning collapsed and puckered. If I’d realized this before binding the seam I could have hidden boning in the seam allowance, but it was too late for that. So I sewed an ugly boning channel instead.

It’s so ugly. But it works.

DSC_6918

I made up some double fold bias tape out of scraps.

DSC_6915

The lower edge finally got cut to the right length, then bias tape was sewn overtop to hide the fraying.

DSC_6920

DSC_6922

 I cut out my lining (all as one piece) and pinned it in place. I sewed it down at the waistline, sides, and the lower half of the armholes. It’s much easier to sew lining in when the garment is flat, so I didn’t sew up the shoulder seam until most of the lining was in.

When everything but the lining around the neckline and shoulders were done, I did up the shoulder seam.

DSC_6926

But I still didn’t finish sewing the lining in. I had to attach the fur first!

DSC_6927

I did that with a whip stitch, then finished sewing in the lining.

DSC_6931

DSC_6932

DSC_6933

And that’s it for the bodice! It needs sleeves and a skirt but that will come later. Here it is worn over my rose chemise I made a few months ago. I should have tied the cuffs but I forgot.

The fit could probably be a little bit better, but i’m pretty pleased with it considering how hard it is to make fitted bodices without darts or seams. It also doesn’t have any boning or interfacing (aside from the sides) in it and is worn without a foundation garment. The skirt will weight the bodice a bit and make it lay a little smoother, which will help.

I think I might add some red pearls around the neckline, just below the fur. But I also like how simple it is, so i’m conflicted. Opinions on that are welcome!

DSC_7026

DSC_7029

Oh, and I filmed the process of making this. If you want to watch that, it can be seen here!

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.

DSC_4314

Then that was stitched down with whip stitches.

DSC_4317

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.

DSC_4318

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.

DSC_4319

Then I sewed it on.

DSC_4326

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.

DSC_4324

Then cut them out and sewed them together.

DSC_4325

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

DSC_4327

One edge got sewn on.

DSC_4328

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

DSC_4329

And sewn down.

DSC_4330

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.

DSC_4389

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

DSC_4390

DSC_4391

DSC_4392

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!

DSC_4393

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!

DSC_4487

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

DSC_4451

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

DSC_4464

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 a Velvet Cloak

I really love cloaks. They are so dramatic and different from everything in modern fashion. Putting one on makes you feel like a magical princess from another time and world.

So it’s pretty weird that I haven’t actually made one. I made a hooded dress, a dramatic velvet overdress, and even a cape at one point, but never a proper cloak. Horrifying, isn’t it?

But don’t get scared! I’ve resolved the problem and can now officially say that in addition to being a cloak enthusiast, I’ve also made and worn one. And this post is about that process.

….

I started with a bunch of doodles. Doodles are the best way to figure out how on earth to make something.

DSC_6907

I actually wanted the hood shape to be very similar to the one made for my Blue Dress, but I wanted to achieve the shape through gathering, which meant I couldn’t reuse the same pattern.

On the bright side, there is a lot more wiggle room when you’re gathering, if something is too big it’s easy to gather it down to be smaller, and if it’s too small you can let it out. Because of this I felt really confident – so confident I decided not to make a mock up.

In my defense I probably wouldn’t have been able to get a good idea of the finished product through a muslin mock up. Velvet is so much heavier then most materials, it reacts really differently and I don’t have anything around that will imitate that.

I also have an extra two yards of velvet, so mistakes were acceptable.

The main pattern pieces looked like this.

DSC_6908

I set aside the brim pattern (which is just a long rectangle) and recut the hood pattern from my ivory damask, which I decided to use as lining. Then I basted these pieces together by using the largest stitch length on my sewing machine.

DSC_6910

Then I set that aside and began work on the brim. The brim is the most important part since it supports the rest of the hood, and it’s also the most visible piece, so it needs to be very nicely finished.

I started by fusing a heavyweight interfacing to the back of it, this gives it more body, and it also prevents the fabric from stretching.

DSC_6909

I cut two strips of my demask material, then I folded them in half and sewed them on to the underside of the velvet brim. These are channels that will eventually house hooping wire, which is what gives the hood shape.

DSC_6912

I could have just rolled the edges and been done with it, but I decided to be fancy and add cute little chiffon ruffles. I used three inch wide strips of chiffon which were folded in half and ironed down, then I ruffled them by hand and stitched them onto each side of the brim.

DSC_6913

Next I prepared the hooping wire. I used bolt cutters to cut two forty-four inch pieces – I later decided these were too long and cut five inches off each piece. These got threaded through the channels I made, and were then set aside.

DSC_6915

Moving on to the  actual hood piece!  There wasn’t that much to do here, I just had to cartridge pleat it down to the right size.

DSC_6914

Once that was done I sewed the brim on and it looked like a hood! Wow.

DSC_6921

DSC_6918

Though there was still a bit of work left to do on the hood I decided to take a break and work on the cape instead. Capes are really easy, they are either half circles or rectangles that are gathered down. In this case I was using rectangles, I cut three panels of velvet to make up the cape, after they were sewn together the final measurement was 67″ x 118″ or so.

It’s a real beaut, huh?

DSC_6922

I pinned my hood and cape up on my dress form and it looked like this, already taking shape!

DSC_6925

DSC_6923

 I went around ever edge and hemmed them with a three inch seam allowance. I usually use a slip stitch so you can’t see the thread from the other side, but I found that puckered the velvet. So instead I did two rows of a running stitch, and I kind of like that it’s visible from the other side. It gives it character.

I apologize for the lint – I did all the handsewing on the couch and i’m pretty sure my dogs used this as a blanket for part of that time.

DSC_6936

After that was finished the cape needed to be gathered. But first I had to figure out what to gather it onto. I really didn’t want to do the traditional cloak attached to the hood type of thing, because that’s no fun. So I came up with a funky idea that involved these U shaped bits of material. I rolled the edges over and sewed around them, then used a heavyweight interfacing to make these a little more sturdy.

DSC_6860

I gathered my cape down with cartridge pleats and sewed it on.

DSC_6931

Then I did the same thing to my hood.

DSC_6930

I cut away the excess material, then used linen as lining to bind the seam closed. I sewed the edges of the hood piece and cape piece together, so the back ended up looking like this. I think it’s a lot more interesting then the traditional hood back, plus it doubles as a sweat vent in super hot weather.

(is that gross?)

DSC_6939

The last step was attaching hooks and eyes to the cloak and dress so they would stay together. The weight of this thing is pretty crazy, there is no way it would stay on without them.

So that’s that!

DSC_7257

DSC_7271

And here are a few of the dress, after trying it on for a few minutes I quickly realized the petticoat will not work – it really needs a pair of pocket hoops underneath it to achieve any sort of shape. But other then that, i’m really pleased with it!

DSC_7218edit

DSC_7224

 So theres that project, all finished! I currently have a few things in the beginning stages, but i’m not sure what my next post will be about. At this point it could be a regency dress, a tulle ball gown, or a Raphael painting i’m trying to bring to life

Thanks for reading!