Cranach Gown – the first bodice

The Cranach Gown costume bodice on my dressform while I tried to work out some of the problems... unsuccessfully.

The Cranach Gown costume bodice on my dressform while I tried to work out some of the problems… unsuccessfully.

In my previous post I showed the first toile for my Cranach gown’s bodice. In this post I’ll share the Cranach Bodice Failure – the bodice that didn’t really work.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I started off by auditioning different fabric combinations in early January. Ideally I would have liked to have used red velveteen with gold brocade – but since I didn’t have a job when I started this project, I wanted to only use fabric I already had in my stash – and I didn’t have enough red velveteen by far.

I opted to use black wool that I bought at Fabricland that I already had in my stash. I had three different gold brocade/damasks, and liked the green/gold one best – as did most of the people who responded to my posts.

In addition to the wool that would make up the exterior of my costume’s bodice, I opted to use a linen-cotton blend canvas (I’m guessing on the fiber content – this too was a free fabric I was given) for the interlining. Originally I considered lining the garment as well, but since I’d be using extra-wide facings inside the garment, I thought I could get away with not lining the garment – or rather using the canvas as lining, and skipping the third layer. I think given the structure of this garment, this worked fine.

Brustfleck & stomacher

Completed Brustfleck and stomacher for the Cranach Gown costume.

Completed Brustfleck and stomacher for the Cranach Gown costume.

I constructed the Brustfleck & stomacher/plastron first. I intended to put hooks and eyes in each side of the brustfleck & stomacher, and have it hook into the bodice, so it’s basically just a large trapezoid which covers my center front over the bust and stomach.

I used one layer of canvas, lined on the inside with white linen. Over the canvas on the outside is a layer of white linen, a layer of cotton flannel over the bust area, another layer of linen over the bust area (to smooth out the flannel) and then the gold silk damask.

The whole thing is bagged – so there is no binding/etc.

Bodice

Cutting out my bodice pattern for my Cranach gown costume, from black wool.

Cutting out my bodice pattern for my Cranach gown costume, from black wool.

I started the process by transferring my alterations from my toile to my pattern, and then cutting the pattern out of my fabric.

  • Since I use patterns without seam allowances, I opted to put one seam allowance width on the vertical seams, and a much wider seam allowance on the waist seam. I had considered doing attached sleeves for this bodice, so left on a seam allowance on the armhole as well – on the second version of the bodice I removed this and bound the armholes instead.I began sewing the vertical seams and shoulder seams in both the wool and canvas for the Cranach Gown bodice, along with the shoulder seams on the silk damask facings, and then for this first version kind of got off on the wrong foot, steps-wise. I SHOULD have:
  • sewed a strip of twill tape as the waist stay (like with corsetry) to the interior of the lining
    (I didn’t… I didn’t do this until later, so it only went into the center front seams)
  • sewed the lining facing down, leaving the center front edges raw
    (I didn’t… I ended up constructing the center fronts with their respective facings first, which made the next step more complicated.)
  • sewed the lacing strips to the lining
    (since I had already done the center front construction and had attached the two layers, this was more tricky than it had to be)
  • add eyelets & boning to the lacing strips
    (if I was doing these by hand, this would have been easier to do when the strips were separate from the bodice, but since I did these with metal three-piece grommets, this was actually an ok step at this point. However… I need to pay more attention to my layout of the holes for spiral lacing… I did them incorrectly here)
  • layer the lining and the exterior bodices wrong-sides together, stay-stitch the armholes and exterior edges, and sew on the exterior facing and finish the facing… then followed by sewing on the lacing rings, finishing the armholes, finishing the waist.. etc.. Obviously because I did this in the wrong order I didn’t do this step here… and since at this stage I tried on the garment, I didn’t do the finishing steps either.

Bodice OOPS…

But I didn’t follow these steps… I think that I didn’t really think the construction all the way through before I began, since this was a lot more complicated than the toile had been. Luckily, doing it the WRONG way, meant that I had a MUCH better idea how to do it again for the second version.

Trying it on…

Trying on the first version of the Cranach gown bodice. You can see that it doesn't fit at the bust.

Trying on the first version of the Cranach gown bodice. You can see that it doesn’t fit at the bust.

As you can see… this version of the bodice for the Cranach gown costume didn’t really work. I realized that while I could probably use hooks and eyes to attach the brustfleck & stomacher to the bodice in theory – the finicky-ness of hooks and eyes, combined with the considerable tension in the bust area because of the really tight fit would make this really frustrating. I also noted that I didn’t really like how wide the bodice was at the front. More adjustments to the pattern were needed, as well as a considerable change to how I’d actually construct and wear this was needed.

The Cranach Gown costume bodice on my dressform while I tried to work out some of the problems... unsuccessfully.

The Cranach Gown costume bodice on my dressform while I tried to work out some of the problems… unsuccessfully.

Time crunch

The really hard part about this – the event was Saturday, January 21st, and I began the bodice on Saturday January 14th… I tried a few more work-arounds in the morning of Sunday the 15th – but ultimately had to start again with a new pattern draft on the afternoon of Sunday the 15th – less than a week before the event!

Talk about short-notice German garb!

Keep following!

Link to all of the posts about my Cranach gown projectI’ll be posting more of this costume over the next few posts – read the Cranach Gown tags to see more from this particular gown, or read all of the posts about projects I’ve done around German late period styles including accessories.

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