The next vital item for my Cranach Gown costume was the skirt – kind of hard to have a gown without a skirt – right? I DID consider momentarily taking a heavy wool-like winter full skirt that I have in my mundane wardrobe to substitute in if I absolutely had to.. though I knew it wouldn’t really hang correctly or be long enough. Still… it was in the back of my mind with two evenings left to complete this costume.
Looking at the reference paintings all of that heavy pleating didn’t appeal to me in any way. Even if I had lots of time to do all that pleating, I find it REALLY unattractive on my figure, and although it would be far easier to put a guard onto, it just didn’t appeal to me in any way.
However, I had a few resources suggesting all those pleats wasn’t my only option. For starters, an extant gown from a similar (but not the same) place and period is a wedge skirt – part of a circle skirt rather than a straight line pleated…. Next, there was one painting which to me clearly looked like a wedge skirt, with a flat front, and pleating at the back. This was what I used for my example instead, because I find this line is far more flattering on my figure.
I used the same basic ½ circle skirt that I used for my green Italian Renaissance silk costume, and cut ¾ of a circle, with a wider waist than I would actually need. I didn’t do any math on this – I only knew that with ½ a circle it would fit my waist with a little pleating, and so therefore with ¼ more there would be “more” pleating I could do at my waist.
I cut the ¾ circle (3 ¼ panels) out of the black wool, along with a rectangle for the opening fly placket-thing, and a strip for the waistband. These I interfaced with fusible interfacing (not historically informed!). The placket was folded over and instilled in the opening for the waist, while the other seam was normal. (I did this same technique on the skirts for my green Italian Renaissance gown skirt portion, as well as my red and gold Italian Renaissance gown skirt portion.)
From there I pleated the skirt at the back only, and put it on the waistband, ensuring that the pleats really were at the back – because this doesn’t open at center front, but rather side-front under the stomacher… the center back isn’t ½ the distance from the opening… This took some measuring and laying out and lots and lots of pinning and double-checking. Thank goodness I did it correctly the first time!
The waistband was finished at first by hand… but then I started to get frustrated at how long it was taking and my timeline, so I ended up finishing it by machine by stitching in the ditch. Ideally this won’t ever be seen by anyone, though it is on the exterior of the gown…
Next I serged the hem of the skirt to avoid fraying the fabric when I’d wear it… and the rest of the construction I did on site at the event.
At the event
The last two steps I did at the event itself:
- Sewing skirt hooks into the waistband
- Whip-stitching the bodice to the skirt with thin crochet cotton
Still to complete
I’ll still need to put another hook on the placket to hold it in place and keep the waist opening from gaping, and I’ll also need to add the guards and hem the whole skirt. I did not line the skirt, as I intended to wear it with a petticoat for extra fullness.
I’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.