Historical Sew Monthly September 2017 – Egyptian

My newest Egyptian costume - an orange loose sheath dress with 'sleeves' and a v-neck with a teal 'coat'.

Orange loose sheath dress with ‘sleeves’ and a v-neck with a teal ‘coat’.

I mentioned in my previous post that I was going to make an Egyptian costume for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge for September 2017. I just barely made the deadline, finishing off the costume on September 30, even though it took me a few more days to get photos and write up a blog post.


I decided to start with the looser garment with sleeves, since I figured it would take the least amount of fitting, and I’d be able to make it up in time to meet the deadline.

Luckily, while I was in Vancouver, I stopped in at Dressew (more about that later) and found two pieces of fabric (for $5.99/meter) that fit the ‘look and feel’ I had in mind for a test garment (toile) that would be totally wearable if the pattern worked out. I did do a quick toile in a free fabric I otherwise would have given away, but then moved to this ‘wearable toile’ – which is synthetic – not my ideal.. but still I wanted to see how wearable this was before doing the hugely time-consuming hand-pleating of fine linen!

Pleated sheer fabric for a future Egyptian costume for $5.99 at Dressew in Vancouver

Pleated sheer fabric for a future Egyptian costume

I would have prefered teal and red, but teal and orange seemed like an awesome, bright combination all the same. The fabric has pleats in it – enough to give texture though, and not really enough to give the fabric a natural stretch.

Doing these toiles definitely gave me an idea of how I want to treat the linen fabric before pleating. I’ll want to cut all of the pieces out first, hem them as needed, and then pleat them – rather than trying to hem pleated fabric. (Since pressing would ruin the pleats…)

Dress pattern & construction

My newest Egyptian costume - an orange loose sheath dress with 'sleeves'

orange loose sheath dress with ‘sleeves’

I first started trying to draft a kimono-sleeve bodice based on my regular bodice draft. This didn’t entirely work out, as I forgot to accommodate for the super low v-neck, but it did inform me about the length, and really reiterated that to get the right look, rectangular construction would be entirely possible.

The pattern is really simple, two rectangles for the skirt, and two more for the bodice front/back. There is no shoulder seam, and for the dress I did two side seams for the skirt. The bodice overlaps slightly at the side seams and front, and slightly more at the back to hide my bra strap (more overlap makes for a higher neckline). The bodice hems are all very narrow, with just a rolled stitch, while the skirt hem is quite deep.

Impressively, the bodice mostly stays up… but since the gown is fairly loose I slipped a very narrow elastic into the “waist” seam. (Which is an empire waist just under the bust).

Since the fabric is sheer, I used a French seam on all of the seams – this French seam at the waist created the casing for the elastic.

Over dress pattern and construction

I made the over dress pretty much the same way- however I did a single seam on the skirt in the back, and hemmed the front edges much deeper on both the skirt and bodice than I had on the dress. I also did a slightly shallower hem so the over dress would be longer, and made the skirt fuller, and the sleeves slightly longer.

Instead of an elastic in the empire waist “casing”… I did a ribbon drawstring for the time being, which will allow the over dress to be worn totally open, slightly open, or totally closed depending on how I adjust the skirt along the drawstring.

My newest Egyptian costume - an orange loose sheath dress with 'sleeves'

Orange loose sheath dress with ‘sleeves’

Overall impressions

My newest Egyptian costume - an orange loose sheath dress with 'sleeves' and a v-neck with a teal 'coat'.

My newest Egyptian costume – an orange loose sheath dress with ‘sleeves’ and a v-neck with a teal ‘coat’.

I don’t think that the outfit is especially flattering on me… I think a more fitted dress would be more flattering. This also makes me slightly nervous about pleating up white linen… I’m concerned that the pleats plus white will look even more marshmallow-y. I might opt to do a darker sheath dress and do the over dress in the white linen instead – I’ll have to see…. I have a few more costumes to finish before I do the time-intensive work needed for the final version of this costume.

I also really need to find a skin-tone bra to wear with this… the black and purple plaid one I am wearing for photos sometimes peeks through… and that’s not cool at all!  I am however wearing a skin-tone slip under this… pretty necessary with how sheer the orange dress is.

I also took a few photos goofing around with my Anubis mask that I made a few years back 🙂  I’m also wearing it with the necklace/collar I made for that costume as well, and need to add some wrist bracelets and figure out shoes…

Historical Sew Monthly September 2017

The Challenge:

Seen Onscreen – Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.

In my previous post I shared the inspiration – costumes from a tv miniseries about King Tut. While I loved some of the costumes on screen, I opted for a design I thought would be more wearable, and theoretically more accurate than some of the fantasy in the show.

Material: 60% Tencel, 40% Nylon sheer pleated fabric in teal and orange

Pattern: rectangular construction

Year: Middle Kingdom Egyptian

Notions: Thread, elastic, ribbon

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is speculative though I think it’s plausible for ancient design. The fabric is totally wrong – I was looking for more of the look-and-feel of the sheer pleated fabric before putting in the work of hand-pleating meters of linen. (Which will be next steps…)

Hours to complete: Two partial days. Didn’t count the hours

First worn: Just for photos. Likely will wear to an upcoming SCA event in October or November depending on weather.

Total cost: About $30 for the fabric. The remaining notions/etc were in my stash.

Goofing around in my Anubis mask with my new Egyptian costume - a teal and orange sheer layered costume featuring a sheath dress with sleeves and an empire waist, and a coordinating teal over layer.

Goofing around in my Anubis mask with my new Egyptian costume

2 comments on “Historical Sew Monthly September 2017 – Egyptian

  1. […] Teal blue synthetic pleated robe […]

  2. […] I had the time to shibori pleat the linen for the next Egyptian costume, this would be a bit of a stretch, since my last pleated garment was synthetic to keep the pleats […]

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