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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The facings got turned over and pinned down…

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

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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.

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I added the boning and prepared to sew sixteen eyelets.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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 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.

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

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

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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!

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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 Pleated Navy Gown, Part Two

The draped dress continues! Part One is posted here, it talks about making the lining for the dress, and though that was successful, it wasn’t looking very pretty. Today i’ll be adding the satin faced chiffon and making it look much better!

So this is the mess I left off with. The first step towards improving it was creating side panels from chiffon.

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But the chiffon is too delicate to keep the shape these panels require. So I backed them with a medium weight fusible interfacing.

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The edges got turned under, then the side seams were sewn.

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I removed the bodice lining from the dress form and pinned the side panels over it. I rested the bodice over an ironing ham to make sure the shape was right!

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Then the side pieces were sewn on with big basting stitches, these will get removed later on so the sleeves can be attached.

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Here is what it looks like on the form! Once it was pinned in place I could begin draping the chiffon overtop.

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I had this weird assumption that this part would be easy. I was wrong.

Granted my only experience with draping comes from watching Rami Kashou and Austin Scarlett do it on project runway, which apparently isn’t enough of an education to make my attempts turn out brilliantly on the first try.

After two – or maybe three, it all blended together in a big mess of frustration, hours I had something that looked decent! And kind of symmetrical. Not really symmetrical, but it was close(ish).

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I used large basting stitches and white thread to secure down all the pleats. My first plan was to sew them down by hand, which I did on the left side. After trying it on I realized it looked TERRIBLE. Even the tiniest stitches created a lot of puckers and it lost the effortless look I was going for. So that got ripped out.

You may notice the back left side looks a little weird. Because I was doing this in a dim room and didn’t realize I was working on the wrong side of the fabric, so that had to be ripped off and re draped.

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The back up plan of keeping everything when it should be involved ironing the crap out of it and hoping the pleats would stay in place, which totally worked!

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Now it was time to move onto the skirt! I cut out another large rectangle, but I made it a couple inches longer than the gabardine layer I cut for lining. I wanted to make sure the gabardine wasn’t visible at the hem, and since I wanted the skirt to drag it made a lot of sense to leave it extra long.

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After cutting the skirt to the proper length I had a three inch wide strip leftover. I folded that strip in half and ironed it so there was a sharp fold. Then I stitched the side with two raw edges onto the raw edge of the skirt.

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I treated it like you would any hem tape and turned it inward to the wrong side of the fabric, so the raw edge was hidden. I pinned this in place and then spent a few hours hemming the damn thing, doing my absolute best to avoid puckers.

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When that was finished I stitched the top of the skirt to the gabardine layer. Then I pleated the top into three quarter inch wide pleats. Two thirds of them face one direction, and one third faces the other.

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I attached a gabardine waistband to the skirt and turned the raw edge under so there was no added bulk at the waist. Then the raw edge was finished with home made bias tape to prevent fraying.

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With all that pinned to the dress form I had something resembling a dress!

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Now it was time for sleeves! The original plan was to have an undershirt made from brocade with fitted sleeves. I made the undershirt but I eventually realized the print was a little busier than I wanted, and I wasn’t happy with how it looked under my dress.

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So I scrapped it, and decided to make sleeves from ivory jacquard. Coming up with a pattern was a huge pain because the bodice has pointed arm holes, which are really difficult to set a sleeve into. The end result aren’t very pretty on the upper arm, but they are functional enough.

I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but here they are!

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Overtop of those sleeves I wanted draped sleeves that were open at the tops and nearly hit the floor. I was expecting this pattern to be quite complicated, but after cutting my remaining chiffon into two panels (40″ x 60″) and playing around I realized I could create a really pretty sleeve without cutting them at all!

This is just a rectangle pinned around the arm hole, and it falls really nicely.

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So I went with that! After making sure both rectangles were the same size I used a crayon to mark guidelines on the raw edges. The raw edges got turned inward by a half inch, twice, to prevent fraying.

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I stitched them down, which was time consuming since this fabric is so delicate.

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But the end result was really lovely. In this photo they are just pinned, but they got stitched on properly soon after. Both sleeves were sewn onto the lining, then the side panels of the bodice – which were previously basted in place, were stitched around the sleeves to hide any raw edges.

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The skirt got sewn onto the bodice, then I made a waistband to cover the raw edges. I wish I had enough chiffon leftover to make a blue sash, but the only remaining fabric was a 1/2″ wide strip of salvage. So Instead I used a piece of brocade. Brocade also got sewn on to create a collar.

Lastly I stitched eyelets into the back of the dress, I had originally stitched a zipper into the back but it wouldn’t zip smoothly past the bulk the pleated skirt created. But that’s okay, I like eyelets!

With that finished, the dress was done.

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Here are some worn pictures! I used the salvage strip of leftover fabric in the wig because I didn’t have a matching headpiece.

I think in the future I would like to add some boning to the centerfront and sides, which should keep the front smoother and allow me to lace it tighter at the back. Right now it isn’t very flattering. But before making any changes i’ll try it on with my pair of bodies or stays, which should give a similar result.

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So that’s it! Not bad for something I made in four days from things in my stash.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Pleated Navy Gown, Part One

Today (well, yesterday) I was supposed to post about finishing my Fluffy & Feathered dress. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to taking the photos required for that post, so that couldn’t happen. However, I have a new project to talk about, which is always exciting!

Right now i’m not in a very positive place project wise. I’ve hit a lot of roadblocks with my tudor costume and realized I have to accept that it won’t turn out the way I wanted. That is a very frustrating position to be in, even if it is part of learning.

After two days of moping around and doing a whole lot of nothing I decided it was time for a procrastination project! I was aiming for this to be a forty eight hour project, but due to some setbacks it ended up becoming a seventy eight hour project. Oops.

My main inspiration for this dress was this painting, and how Saints were depicted in [early] Renaissance times. I’ve wanted to make something soft and draped for a long time, so this seemed like a good opportunity! I decided to use navy satin faced chiffon for the dress and brocades for an undershirt.

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Since chiffon is sheer and far too flimsy to make a dress with this shape I’m lining it with navy gabardine – I’ve had this fabric for a good two years so I was happy to find a use for it!

I had five yards of gabardine and seven yards of chiffon for this dress and I used almost every scrap, so that worked out well!

This is the sloppy little sketch I did before starting.

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Step one was draping the bodice! I still really need to make a proper write up on how I do this…but I really don’t have a specific method, I just pull the fabric around until it fits the form tightly. Then I draw the seam lines and trim any extra material.

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After I was happy with it I removed the fabric from my dress form and ironed it. This is what it looked like when laid flat!

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 Which got turned into this.

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 Unfortunately since I was trying to make this quickly and because I worked on it at night, I wasn’t very good about photographing the process.

Luckily it is pretty easy to explain! I started by cutting the pattern from gabardine, which will be used as the bodice lining and as a base. This post is going to be almost entirely about working with the gabardine, since I had to completely assemble a skirt and bodice with it before even touching the chiffon. The chiffon gets draped overtop of the gabardine later on.

Once the  pattern was cut I turned the edges over by a half inch – I used my machine for this, which is kind of rare for me! Once the edges were finished I assembled the pieces. Below you can see the collar pinned in place, ready to be attached.

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 This is the bodice lining finished! I used an ivory jacquard for the center piece.

DSC_3167 And here is the first fitting. In my rush to make this I neglected to do a mock up, so I was thrilled to see it actually worked!

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Then it was time to start on the skirt. I chose to make the skirt a rectangle since those are fast, easy, and an effective use of material.

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I decided to hem the gabardine layer with horsehair braid to give it a bit more volume. This is cheap, kind of crappy horsehair so it didn’t add much “oomf” to the dress, but it certainly didn’t hurt!

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And here it is on a dress form! I’m intentionally leaving the hem very long, because it was quite common in paintings from the middle ages. And it helps differentiate it from my other dresses, which I like.

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The last step before beginning work with chiffon was adding the lace up front panel. Since I was working under time constraints I decided to just stitch it down instead of making functional laces.

The panel is cut from jacquard, then I used a piece of lace as an overlay to add texture.

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The lace was gathered overtop the front panel, then stitched down.

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I made marks every three quarter inches down each side, then cut pieces of leather covered cord. These will serve as the “laces”. I used a tiny stitch length and backstitched over the ends of the cord to make sure they were secured over the markings I made earlier on.

This was the end result!

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Ok so it looks like a big mess. But I promise it turns out okay!

Thank you for reading, and hopefully I will be better about posting next week!

Making a Silvery Blue Dress, Part Three

This is the final post about making this dress! I originally posted about it at the end of January, almost two weeks after I finished it. It’s inspired by Madalena’s wedding dress in the show “Galavant” and has a Renaissance/Fantasy flair to it.

There is more information about all that in the first, and the second posts about this project! I would suggest reading those first, if you haven’t already.

In my last post I had just completed the bodice and sleeves, which meant it was time to focus on the skirt! The skirt is made entirely from the greyish “mystery” fabric. I had quite limited amounts of fabric, so I couldn’t make the skirt as full as I had hoped. It ended up being a rectangular front panel, with three gored panels in the back. Skirts like this can be cut from three and a half yards of fabric, which is super handy!

I gave it a small train – I would have made it longer if I had more fabric, but it only ended up being around sixteen inches.

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 I had planned on cartridge pleating the top, so I cut strips of flannel on the bias to back the waistline with. This will give the fabric more volume which makes it pleat nicer!

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I hemmed one edge, then stitched it onto the skirt. One end folds over a half inch, and the other is one and a half inches long.

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Unfortunately even with the backing this fabric really didn’t want to pleat nicely. I ended up with really tiny, sad looking gathers and I wasn’t pleased with them at all.

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So I decided to pleat the top instead. I had hoped having a gathered waist would help differentiate it from the dress I used as inspiration, since i’m not trying to make an exact copy of it. But sometimes you have to do what works with the fabric, even if it isn’t part of the plan!

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This is it all pinned! One large box pleat is in the center, then knife pleats on the sides.

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Then it was time for hemming! I marked one inch inside the hem and folded the edge to touch it, then basted it down.

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Then I turned that edge inward again, until I had an even one and a half inch hem. I did make the hem a little deeper towards the back, so I could get really smooth curves.

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I stitched it by hand with a cross stitch to make it nice and pretty!

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I turned the top of the back seam edges over to create a slit.

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I finished the edge with bias tape and sewed hook/eye closures every one and a half inches to keep the skirt closed. I don’t think I got any photos of those, but below you can see the markings I made for them.

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Then the skirt got pinned on!

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And finally sewn on. I did this by hand to try and hide the stitches, but both of these fabrics are very pucker prone so i’m afraid it isn’t as smooth as I had wanted!

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Here is the finished dress – all it needs is a good ironing!

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I’m probably most pleased with the tiny gathers on the sleeves.

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I decided to pair this dress with the silver crown I got on ebay last year. I’m a little annoyed because it has started to turn gold in some areas which is really bizarre. I’ve heard of fake gold turning silver, but never the reverse! Luckily it kind of comes off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

I also wore it with a bunch of rings I got from ebay and forever 21, and a pair of earrings from Charlotte Russe.

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After wearing this dress for a bit i’ve decided there are two things I want to change. The skirt REALLY needs a liner of some sort, the fabric is too flowy and looks very lumpy, even over a smooth petticoat. It also caves in at the bottom so I think adding six inch horsehair in the hem would make a huge difference.

I’d also like to pick up something to cover the waist seam – next time i’m in NYC I’ll keep a look out for silver lace!

Here are two pictures of the finished costume. We got some snow I thought it would make for a pretty backdrop!

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Thanks for reading!

Making a Silvery Blue Dress, Part Two

This is a continuation of this post, which goes over drafting and making the bodice of this project. If you haven’t already, I would suggest reading that post first. In this post I will talk about making the sleeves!

The design for these sleeves is one i’ve used before – a large puff at the shoulder, fitted to the elbow, another large puff at the elbow, and fitted to the wrist. It can easily be made as a four piece pattern. The difficult places to fit sleeves are at the shoulder and elbow, so it is actually really great pattern if you find sleeves hard.

The sleeves on this dress bring back memories of making my Merida cosplay a couple years ago. I was really proud of the sleeves on that dress….even though the edges of the chiffon were unfinished and the sleeves were unlined so it frayed everywhere. The sleeves also didn’t really line up – and by that I mean the “puffs” were an inch away from lining up at points. Yikes.

But I did a much better job this time!

I started by taking a set of measurements, mostly paying attention to the arm length. After I got the proportions and shapes right I took this pattern in to fit my arms width.

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 The pieces for the “puffs” were altered a lot. Since I wanted them to have a lot of volume I made the patterns almost four times wider than the size they will be when gathered!

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 The lining for the puffs were cut out of silk organza, I had long scraps of it and thought it would create more volume than thin cotton. I cut the rest of my pattern from mismatched batiks, the same type I used for the bodice lining.

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 The organza pieces were gathered down roughly by machine, then stitched on to the batik pieces. All the edges were turned over and stitched down to ensure they wouldn’t fray too much.

I also stitched up the back seam and tried them on to make sure the fit was good – they ended up being a little large, so I made some alterations to my paper pattern before cutting out the top layer of fabric.

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 I trimmed the edges to be a half inch and then sewed them onto the bodice. I ended up with a big ugly mess that looked like this! But it fit really well, and that is the important thing!

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 So I moved on to making the top layer of sleeves. Step one was cutting out the pattern, again. This time from brocade (the fitted portions of the pattern) and the mystery fabric i’m using for the skirt (for the puffs).

Once the pieces were cut out I folded all the edges over a half inch and stitched them down. I was concerned they would fray and wanted to add a bit of stiffness to the brocade, so I fused one inch strips of interfacing over all the raw edges.

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Unfortunately I can’t find a picture of the fabric for the puffs ungathered, but here is what they looked like after I painstakingly gathered each one by hand. It took a long time. Much longer than I was expecting. I may have even done it by machine if I knew how tedious it would end up being.

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 I smoothed out the gathers a little bit, then pinned them onto the brocade parts of the sleeve.

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Then they were stitched together! This part so it took a long time too.

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But eventually I had two lovely sleeves!

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 I did up the side seams and they fit nicely! So I sewed them onto the bodice and stitched the cuffs to the cotton lining.

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 Now it was time for another fitting, which went quite well!  A few little puckers from the lining not being arranged properly, but that can be smoothed out later.

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 Before moving on to the next step I decided to stitch flannel into the bottom of the lining. Batik is pretty delicate, and so is brocade, neither are really strong enough to support the skirt.

 Eventually I’ll stitch the skirt onto the flannel and then cover the flannel with brocade.

DSC_2055Now I could attach the brocade bodice! Here it is pinned in place.

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And all stitched down! I left it open at the bottom so the skirt can be attached.

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That is it for this post! The next post will be the final installment about this project and talk about making the skirt.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Silvery Blue Dress, Part One

Here is a new project! I started this when I was at a point where I didn’t have anything in progress and I didn’t feel comfortable starting on a big project because I hadn’t done enough research. So I chose a simple dress in a style i’m familiar with to keep me busy while I read up on elaborate dresses from the 1500s.

After watching “Galavant” I felt really inspired and decided to make a dress based off of Madalena’s Wedding Dress. Most of the costuming on that show drive me crazy (not in a good way), but I thought this dress was gorgeous, even if it isn’t anything near historically accurate!

I decided to use a blue brocade and a silvery blue ~mystery~ fabric that is silky on one side and matte on the other (definitely not satin or charmeuse). I talked about these materials in a Fabric Friday post ages ago, about how they were so pretty I couldn’t bear to use them. But now i’ve had them for almost two years and think it’s time they have a life beyond sitting in a box. I can always get more!

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I had planned on beading the bodice and creating a very full skirt but after deciding on the brocade and silver material I knew I wouldn’t be able to do either of those things. The brocade is delicate and I think it would catch on the beading, and the second fabric is too soft to form such a full design.

This sketch was done before I had picked fabric, so it isn’t quite accurate!

DSC_2015 I started by draping – this was a very easy pattern to drape!

This mock up features sexy delivery men. Of course.

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DSC_2017I removed it from the dress form and turned it into a paper pattern, which looks like this! Usually I would draft the front of the bodice as one piece, because princess seams didn’t exist in the 1400s. But in this case I wasn’t focusing on accuracy at all.

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I cut my pattern out from lining fabrics first. I decided to use scraps of batik – i’ve had these for ages and they are too small to use for draping and most mock ups, so it was nice to finally have a use for them! I think they look quite nice together too, funky lining makes everything better.

Once the pattern was cut out I sewed it together and tried it on – it was actually a pretty nice fit!

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 Then I cut  my bodice pattern out from brocade.

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 Which also got assembled.

DSC_2039 When all the seams were pressed I went through and stitched a 1/2″ away from the edge, around each edge. This prevents the brocade from fraying and creates a guideline of where to turn the edge over, without leaving any marks on the interior of your fabric.

(after the pen incident I have converted to using this method as much as possible)

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 I went through and turned over all the edges and secured them in place with a tiny running stitch. This is before it was ironed, the brocade is very delicate and prone to puckering so it didn’t look great at this point.

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 I repeated this process on the cotton lining. The only difference is that the center back edges were turned over by machine, and done in such a way that it creates a pocket. In this pocket I put a piece of plastic boning.

Without the boning whatever closure I add will be prone to bunching up, this solves that problem!

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 Speaking of closures, for this particular piece I wanted to try creating loops to lace through instead of eyelets. I made these by cutting one and a half inch wide strips of bias cut fabric – in this case I used the same fabric that will get used for the skirt.

I turned the edges inward, then folded them in half again. This is the same way you make bias tape, except I stitched the folded edges together.

I made twenty four two inch long pieces for the loops, and one piece that is three yards long to serve as the lacing.

DSC_2025 I pinned the bits of fabric (soon to be loops) onto ribbon.

DSC_2045 Then stitched over them a bunch of times. The end result were two pieces of ribbon with loops attached. Perfect!

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 Then I sewed these onto the back of the bodice lining and ta-da, a functional closure!

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Since the skirt fabric was now incorporated into the back of the bodice, I decided to bring some to the front by decorating the neckline with a folded bias cut strip of the material. I’m not sure why it is puckering a bit, I made it properly and ironed it loads. Luckily it looks find when worn, so i’m not going to get too upset about it!

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So that is it for this post. Because the next step was attaching the sleeves, and this post would be very long if I included that part too! Hopefully that will go up next week, along with another post. I’m going to try to get back onto my twice a week schedule because I miss it.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Brown Beaded Doublet, Part Two

This is part two of making my renaissance/baroque hybrid doublet! Part one talks about drafting the pattern and making the body of the garment, it can be read here.

I decided to keep the sleeves relatively simple to try and tie it back into the renaissance theme, in the 1600s doublets had fantastic paned sleeves which I REALLY want to attempt, but they don’t really suit this project. So I settled on a easy design with fancy cuffs and strips attaching it to the shoulder.

The sleeves consist of three main sections. The first is made up of several strips of fabric that connect to the bodice. The second section is simple, made from brown stretch fabric and decorated with lace. The final section is the cuff, which will tie closed and also have lace details.

The strips on the first section are made up of rectangles. I’ll be using five on each sleeve, one that is five inches long, two that are four inches, and two that are three inches.

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The edges were all turned inward twice to create a finished edge that won’t fray.

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To give the pieces shape I cut strips of lace that were slightly shorter and sewed them to each edge. The lace will lay flat against the shoulder and the fabric strips will puff out. This isn’t the most practical thing to do, but it looks pretty!

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The pattern for the other two sleeve pieces looks like this, I drafted it off of my arm measurements.

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Then I cut it out – once from my brown fabrics and again from cotton, which will be used for lining.

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I left a one inch seam allowance on everything so I could “pillow case” the pieces to create finished edges.

When that was done I stitched around each side to make sure the edges won’t roll over.

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I was originally going to decorate the sleeves with ruffles but I decided to use two pieces of lace instead. I’m not sure they quite go together, but from a distance it looks alright!

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Once the lace was stitched on I added the strips I made earlier. They are placed one inch apart and the largest one is in the exact center.

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Then it was time to work on the cuffs! For these I turned each edge over a half inch and stitched them down.

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I sewed lace onto the bottom off the cuff, then stitched eyelets onto both sides.

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The cuffs got stitched onto the rest of the sleeve and sewn up the side. I seem to be missing photos of this, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to visualize!

Once the sleeves were complete I attached them to the bodice.

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Now that all the exterior work was done I could sew in the lining! I’m not sure why I don’t have photos of this, but I just pinned the lining in place and whip stitched around the edges.

Once the lining was in I stitched the eyelets and declared it complete….unfortunately there were a few complications when I actually tried it on.

– The fabric was buckling at the lacing point. I fixed this by sewing a boning channel into the interior of the garment and adding a long piece of hooping wire.

-The sleeves were too tight – I could fit into them but they reduced mobility by a lot. I ripped out the side seams and restitched them with a quarter inch seam, which left me with an extra half inch.

-I removed one of the five pieces that hold the sleeve to the bodice. The back most one was also restricting mobility.

The finished garment looks like this! I love how this looks, and it was really fun to make. I love structured things and pairing that with fiddly details was really enjoyable. I think i’ll end up making more things similar to this in the very near future.

I don’t have photos of it worn yet, i’ll get them after finishing the tunic and pants that go with it.

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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!

Isabel de Requesens, Photos

Don’t get top excited by the title, these photos are crappy in my sewing room shots! I would really like to set up a proper backdrop with drapery and candles and fancy lighting but for now these will have to do. As per usual the costume was made, worn, and photographed by me.

Getting these shots was more difficult then usual since I can’t lift my arms in this dress. The struggle I went through just to focus the camera was pretty intense.

If you haven’t seen them already, I have five blog posts and two videos which go through the process of making this costume, they can all be found here!

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I’m really pleased with how this turned out. I might have to remake the hat at some point since it’s still not holding it’s shape that well, but for now it’s fine.

Thanks for reading…er, in this case, looking! I should have a “The making of” post up soon.

Recreating Renaissance Fashion, Isabel de Requesens

Here is part two of making my beaded chemise, part one talks about the actual beading process and can be read here!

In addition to photos and a lot of rambling, I also have another video to share! I’m not too happy with how this turned out, it’s a bit choppy due to big variations in lighting, angle, and zoom. I’ll try to get that sorted out for future videos, but for now it’ll have to do!

This video shows pretty much every step of this project, from beading the collar to hemming the skirt and everything in betwee. If you are seeing this post in an email you can access the video here, otherwise you can view it below!

Unfortunately since a lot of these photos were pretty nondescript I think files ended up going in the wrong folder or being deleted, so i’m missing a few here and there.  Hopefully it won’t make things too confusing

Step one was drafting the sleeve pattern – it was absolutely massive!

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Once it was cut out it was even more ridiculous.

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I pinned my sleeves to have a quarter inch rolled hem, not an easy task!

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Then sewed it by hand, just because this part of the sleeve is most visible and I wanted it to look good. Ignore the other lines of pen – they are part of my original plan for the sleeves which didn’t end up working out.

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Then I gathered the cuffs down with two rows of super teeny tiny gathers. I don’t know if anyone else would use the word cute to describe gathers, but I think these are pretty cute.

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In my last post I talked about making these decorative beaded cuffs

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Those got sewn on overtop of my very pretty tiny gathers.

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Then I took a step back and began work on the skirt…or dress, the main part of this costume. It was three giant rectangles with seams at the sides. The rectangle in the back is longer, and the front one slants inward towards the center…but they are pretty close to being rectangles.

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I marked out a hem allowance.

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Then pinned it in place.

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I hemmed it by hand, yay! I really do like hemming things. I know people view it as a big chore, but it’s so easy and satisfying, it just takes a bit of time and patience.

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The next step was cutting out the sleeve holes, I had to make these deeper later on because I forgot there was a one inch seam allowance at the top, oops!

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I also cut out the “V” at the front, then rolled the edges over twice to avoid fraying.

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Once all that was done I gathered the top of the skirt/dress/top/thing, I was struggling a lot with making the gathers even so eventually I stopped and decided to do it by machine. I set the tension really low and used a 5.0 stitch length, then pulled on the threads until the turned to gathers.

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Here is where I lost the photos – The skirt/dress was sewn onto the collar, the collar creates the top part of the sleeve hole, so this had to be done first. Once that was done I measured the size of the sleeve hole and gathered my sleeves down to that size.

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 I stitched them into place by hand and bam I had a chemise! Don’t I look thrilled?

In all honesty chemises kill me because they are so time consuming and such an important part of historical costumery….but they look like a cross between maternity wear and canvas tents. Trying one on and thinking “I spent thirty hours on that” makes me reconsider my love for this hobby.

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I added hooks to the cuffs so they would fit my wrists tightly.

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The last thing to do was sewing in lining to the collar, which was pretty easy.

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So that’s that! I do have photos of the finished ensemble but I’m not going to post them until later in the week. Unless you are a sneak, then you can see them here.

Thanks for reading!

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