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!


Robin Gallowglas said...

I trace my pattern pieces onto painters plastic. It's clear, it's strong, and it's pretty big also cheap. I use the plastic and Sharpies. I made a tudor gown using the tudor tailor patterns from he book and scaling them and I have to admit I love it but it was a pretty huge undertaking. GOod luck and have fun with it!

American Duchess said...

Good luck! I have the Tudor Tailor book, and didn't know they offered printed patterns. Wow, that IS expensive, but then again, it's saving you ALL that time and precision in having to size it up from the grid in the book. I'll be awaiting news and photos of your progress!

GentlewomanThief said...

Wow, this is looking like it's going to be a fabulous project - I can't wait to see more! Good luck!

Cherrycake said...

Hello and good luck!
I just noticed your great blog and so read most of your posts XD
I have to say that your costumes are really gorgeous and that I can't wait to see more of your current project!