Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The thin weight of the steels seems to be ok if doubled up for the top two bones, but the bottom bone buckles terribly, especially when walking around. This type of steel is best used for corsets and bodices, so don't go buying 25 yards thinking it'll do the trick and save you some money.
The only other problem I seem to be running into is the chemise, which is bubbling and falling off my shoulders in the front. I can only assume this is because I don't have a corset on to keep it in place. Hopefully the bodice will serve to keep it up when it gets to that point.
I have also begun work on the underskirt. I am making it out of a banquet size tablecloth I found at Goodwill for $4.95. It is an offwhite brocade. This is what it does over the improperly boned farthingale:
You can just see the bottom edge buckling and warping inward. The instructions suggest gluing pearls to the front panel and using fabric paint to decorate the pattern of the fabric. I'm actually sewing freshwater pearls onto the front panel.
These are some of them, to give you an idea of size. Hanks of freshwater pearls cost me between $2 and $4 per hank, depending on where you go (wal-mart, Jo-ann or Hancock) and whether or not they are on sale. I'm trying to use pearls that are fairly round and uniform. Not all of them are, but they look pretty good when they are sewn on. I don't know that I'll go as far as putting fabric paint on it. I left the last 6 inches or so unadorned for the moment, because I don't know how far up I'll have to put the hem yet.
My hope is that I will be able to get to the overskirt this week and put the whole skirt together. Maybe I'll even be able to order the correct steels and get the farthingale done!
Monday, August 3, 2009
So, since the job-search is going slowly for an out-of-work costumer, I decided to finally get going on that Elizabethan gown I've always wanted to wear to the local ren faire. I made a Tudor gown while interning at the La Jolla Playhouse about 7 years back, and that was fun (though time consuming). Also, since the local ren faire has a French theme, I thought it might be fun to traipse around as an English noblewoman, just to see who's paying attention. I got a pattern for an Elizabethan gown several years ago (simplicity #8881), and I've spent a few months collecting various materials. I still have to get a few things, but I have enough to make some good progress. I also have a couple of really good books for reference: Patterns of Fashion 4, by Janet Arnold with additional material by Jenny Tiramani and Santina M. Levey, and The Tudor Tailor, by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies. So; I have a reason, a plan, the right stuff, and some good advice. Might as well get started!
In looking at this pattern, there are a few things I begin to notice. One is the fact that the only understructures are the bum roll and the farthingale. This pattern is currently out of print, but Simplicity has put out two new ones to take it's place: #2589 is a Tudor gown of a similar general shape as the one I will make, and #2621 makes the undergarments for #2589. Pattern #2621 includes a narrow-sleeved chemise, a corset, a bum roll, and a spainish farthingale. From my reference books I conclude that these are the proper underpinnings for a dress of this type. Having a chemise makes sense; this dress, when finished, will be practically unwashable, so a layer put next to the skin to absorb sweat and body odors is a major necessity. The absence of a corset concerns me a little, but if the gown is not constructed with one in mind, (and indeed, the one I made in La Jolla was not), then it may be fine to make the dress as pictured without need for reference for it. I also notice that the farthingale for #8881 is put on _over_ the bum roll. In pattern #2621 the bum roll is put over the farthingale. The latter seems to make more sense to me, but it seems the farthingale for 8881 is constructed with the former idea in mind, so it might be best not to try to change that. I also notice that the partelett in this pattern is attached to the bodice with snaps. I'm not sure I like this idea, and I might change it slightly based on ideas from The Tudor Tailor, to tie under the arms or possibly to tuck into the bodice. And, since I am slightly nuts, the idea of building and starching a ruff the traditional way kind-of appealed to me, so it might be fun to construct and starch a ruff out of linen lawn, as outlined in the back pages of Patterns of Fashion 4. I have a box of potato starch, and I even have some saffron I could dye it with ($6 per jar at Trader joes is the best price I've found). Now all I'd need is the linen lawn, which is a very rare item as it turns out. It is available at one English site I've seen for 44 pounds sterling per yard. I think I'd need 3 yards. I think I'm better off checking Goodwill for a tablecloth or an old dress I can canniblize. Yes, it has to be linen if I'm going to do it this way. So we shall see if I will do it by the book or by the pattern.
So far, I am constructing the chemise, as per pattern #2621. I am making it out of a white Irish linen I got from someone who was cleaning their closets before moving. It is a very even weave, slightly finer in texture than what you find commonly in fabric stores. I am stitching the main construction seams with the sewing machine to save me some time, but I am felling the seams by hand with tiny little stitches. This will help insure that it is comfortable to wear and it will survive the wash. I had started to do some embroidery on it in red silk, but decided to put that off because it was slowing down the production, and I was afraid if I didn't make good construction progresss I'd probably never get the thing done. If I feel so inclined when everything else is said and done, I will go back and finish.
I am pretty confident that this will help keep the inside of the dress clean. This should be done within the next few days, and then I can start on the bum roll. Wee!