Sunday, August 29, 2010

French Hood

I'm still waiting on some fabric to arrive, but my buckram arrived this weekend so I decided to work on my French hood. I cut out the pattern pieces in buckram first:

And then I sewed millinery wire around all the edges of the pattern pieces. Here's the crescent pattern piece:And here's the brim:Next, I sewed baby flannel to smooth the surface of the pattern pieces. The Tudor Tailor book called for using something called 'domette,' but I couldn't find any. It's apparently a British fine flannel. I had some leftover baby flannel from my Gainsborough hat project, and it was just enough to cover both the hood and the crescent.Next up will be covering the pieces with black taffeta, sewing the crescent to the brim, and then sewing on the veil and decorations.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tudor Project: Progress!

I am pleased to report actual sewing and progress on the Tudor project. This weekend, I cut out the mock-up for the kirtle and sewed it up. Once again, the mock-up has proved to be an invaluable tool...the first draft was two sizes too small. So...I retraced everything, cut it out again, and then sewed up the second mock-up. This one works nicely. I forgot to take a picture while I had it on my fitting dummy, but here's a rather unimpressive photo of it laid flat:I've ordered all the fabrics I need for the kirtle, and have to wait a few days for things to arrive in the mail. I'm using black taffeta for the kirtle. Since the taffeta isn't actually going to show, I'm doing something I don't normally do - I'm using polyester taffeta instead of silk. I've also ordered canvas for the interlining and some metal boning for the side seams (otherwise I'm using reed and have plenty of it).

Since I'm waiting on fabric to arrive, I thought I'd get a head start on the hood and start drafting the pattern. I used the Tudor Tailor, and transferred the pattern using one-inch grid paper. This is the first time I've ever transferred a pattern from a book instead of using a full size pattern. I think it went really well. Here's a copy of the pattern next to the book:I've gone ahead and ordered the buckram/silk taffeta/silk organza that I'll need for this project as well. I already have the felt and millinery wire.

In other very old and unrelated news, I went to the Gettysburg reenactment this year back in July. I'm not that interested in reenacting...I was really just there for the sutlers. To my delight, one of my favorite sutlers from Gettysburg was there: Abraham's Lady. They had a reenactor on hand to display this wonderful confection of a dress:I'm not sure how many yards of ribbon it took to trim this dress, but it's pleated by hand with a pearl hand stitched at each pleat. I believe they said it took something like 20 yards of silk to make the dress at a total cost of $2000. They described the silk as "oriental" and that it had red and blue threads woven together to give it a changing purplish hue. I thought it looked like changeable silk taffeta, but I was rather firmly informed that there was "no taffeta in the fabric." I always thought taffeta was a weave vs. fiber content. Anyone else care to speculate on the fabric?

Monday, August 02, 2010

I'm Sewing: Tudor Gown

Seriously...I AM. I actually traced some pattern pieces this weekend. Next stop - muslin! I've just completed another move, and after being without my sewing stuff for a year, I decided NO MORE. I brought all of my sewing stuff up to my in-laws, and they graciously let me set up a sewing space in their basement. I spent Saturday arranging things, and then Sunday I actually decided to dive right in and start on a project.

I'm working from the Tudor Tailor Pattern that my in-laws gave me for Christmas a year ago. This is without a doubt the most expensive pattern I've ever owned...almost $80 to purchase. It does have the patterns for three garments: petticoat, kirtle, and gown - but still, that's pretty expensive. The pattern is MASSIVE. Kendra at Demode had warned that the pattern pieces were very unwieldly, but it wasn't until I had the pattern spread out accross the entire living room floor that the sheer size of the pattern struck me.

First impressions on the pattern: well, the fact that there are no seam allowances included is very frustrating for me. I normally trace the pattern pieces rather than cut them out so I can reuse the pattern which makes adding seam allowances a bit easier, but these pieces are so big I can't use my tracing paper (some are wider than 60 inches). I'm at a bit of a loss on how to proceed: I'd really like to make more than one gown style from this pattern, but I have no way to transfer the markings. Any ideas?

Another first impression is that the instructions kinda suck. I had to read the kirtle instructions six times before I felt I had a vague notion of how to proceed. The instructions aren't illustrated at each step which makes it challenging for me - I'm a visual learner. I've decided to be on the safe side I'm going to completely make up a garment using scrap fabric. I normally just fit the bodice using muslin and then move on. This time I'm going to bone the muslin, work the eyelets, and finish all seams. I just really need to understand how this garment is made before cutting out the fashion fabric.

I'm doing a mid-Tudor style, like the portrait of Princess Elizabeth above. I really wanted to have the massive sleeves and bell shape that comes from wearing a farthingale. Someday I'll probably make an earlier Tudor gown with a train, but for now this is what I want. I already own a farthingale, so I'm moving strait to the kirtle. I'm ordering black taffeta to go with a golden upholstery fabric I snagged from a bargain table in Dutch country Pennsylvania. For the gown, I have a cotton velvet I'd like to use. The velvet is a peachy color that's all wrong for the Tudor period. I'm going to take my first jaunt into dying fabric for this project, and try to acheive a nice deep red.

I'd like to get to wear this outfit at the Maryland Renaissance festival this year, but that might be a bit ambitious. Each garment is very involved, and I don't have all the fabric I need yet. We'll see how this goes. Wish me luck!