Circle skater skirts

Red velvet skater circle skirt

Red velvet skater circle skirt

I was attending a Valentine’s Day themed party, and at the last minute decided that I wanted something red to wear to the party, so I decided to sew up a super-simple circle skater skirt.

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Spiral naalbound hat

Selfie wearing my new spiral-striped red and blue naalbound hat. The hat was made using the Oslo stitch.

Selfie wearing my new spiral-striped red and blue naalbound hat.

When I took a class at the SCA Twelfth Night event on nålbinding, I asked the instructor about the spiral design I’ve seen by a few other textile artists. While the instructor didn’t have advice, since she hasn’t used that design yet, I was still inspired to give it a whirl myself all the same.

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York stitch nålbound hat

Selfie in a blue wool naalbound hat. I used the York Stitch for this hat.

Selfie in a blue wool naalbound hat.

When I took a class at the SCA Twelfth Night event on nålbinding, the instructor taught us the York Stitch. I ended up not quite following her directions, but adapted what she taught to a technique that felt more natural to me.

The stitch is the same, it’s only how I treat the working yarn that is different than her instruction. Her instruction was perfect though for someone new to naalbinding – to keep the steps clear.

In the class I was working on a hat, but the stitches were very inconsistent as I was learning the stitch. When I got home, I decided to put that project aside (since I only had the yarn from class, nothing that matched at home) and start a new project using the York Stitch.

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Burgundian V-neck Gown – Construction

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with my red horned hennin

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with my red horned hennin

Once I did three toiles for the V-neck Burgundian gown pattern, I made more adjustments, giving the hem approximately 100 cm/panel (for a total of a 400 cm hem circumference when it will be done).

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with my red horned hennin

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with my red horned hennin

I used the Tudor Tailor kirtle pattern for the sleeve, rather than drafting a sleeve from scratch. I used this pattern previously for my Italian gowns, and was happy with the result. From there I re-drafted the back collar, and drafted the cuff facing and the front collar.  Despite the suggestion that the collar for this gown was cut on the front gown, I found that with my large bust, this was just not giving me the look I wanted, so I opted to do a separate collar (and facing) instead.

The fabric is 100% wool suiting from Fabric.com. It’s charcoal grey, and has a bit of texture to it – almost like a waffle knit – but in a woven fabric. I bought it expecting it to be a smooth fabric, but then with the texture I didn’t feel it was right for what I had in mind originally. I bought 10 meters though, and was glad to use it for something! I don’t recall what I paid for it, but probably somewhere in the $6-10/meter to have bought it sight unseen.

Ultimately I want to make this gown in a silk damask – but after three toiles, I was nervous about cutting the silk… so I thought I’d use this wool instead… kind of like  a wearable fourth toile to work out some of the last issues.

Cutting out my Burgundian gown from charcoal grey wool

Cutting out my Burgundian gown from charcoal grey wool

Since the fabric is not napped, I took a chance and cut the panels with one facing up and the other down. This helped me conserve a lot of fabric, though I know when I cut this out of a one-directional fabric like the silk damask I intend to ultimately use; this more fabric-conservative cut won’t be possible.

I cut the cuff facings, collar facings, and back collar from black cotton velveteen from a second-hand skirt I was given by a former teacher. When I make this gown in finer fabric, I might consider silk (rayon-blend) velvet, a finer cotton velvet, or low-pile fur… but for now this will hopefully give the lush look, while gently contrasting with the grey gown just enough.

Construction wasn’t that different than any other dress:

Day 1

  1. Reviewing the length and fit of the collar - at this point it isn't sewn to the gown yet.

    Reviewing the length and fit of the collar – at this point it isn’t sewn to the gown yet.

    sew the centre back seam, serge the seam allowance

  2. stay-stitch the back neckline
  3. sew the back shoulder darts
  4. sew the bust darts
  5. sew the centre front seam, basting the last few inches
  6. sew the shoulder seams, serge the seam allowance
  7. sew the side seams, serge the seam allowance
  8. hang the gown to let the bias on the side seams hang out
  9. sew the back seam on the sleeves, serge the seam allowance
  10. sew the seam on the cuff facing, sew cuff facing to sleeve hem, serge the seam allowance
  11. fold back, and hand-stitch the cuff facing inside the sleeve
  12. sew the sleeves into the gown
  13. re-hang overnight to let the bias hang out
  14. sew the collar shoulder seams on the velvet and the self-fabric facing
  15. right sides together, sew the outer seam on the collar, clip curves

From cutting to this point was about 3.5 hours. This doesn’t account for ANY of the time in developing, testing, and altering the pattern.

Day 2

sewing a ladder stitch at the bottom of the neckline. The stitch isn't visible from the right side of the gown

sewing a ladder stitch at the bottom of the neckline. The stitch isn’t visible from the right side of the gown

More sewing on day two…

  1. serge the sleeve seam allowance
  2. press the collar, turn it, press
  3. baste the collar to the gown, check how it hangs, finish sewing collar to gown
  4. sew the last little bit of the centre front where it was just basted, serge the centre front seam
  5. serge the collar
  6. understitch the collar by hand so it rolls correctly (normally the facing would be on the inside and I could do the understitching by machine… )
  7. press all the seam allowances on the gown, press the sleeve cuffs in place.
  8. hand-stitch the tips of the collar down to the centre front of the dress
  9. hand-stitch the centre front opening up about 4″ up from the original marking, using a ladder stitch, and a hand-sewn tack. (Not that I expect it will have much strain though.)
  10. mark and trim the hem, serged the edge
  11. cut, interfaced, sewed, turned, pressed, and top-stitched the belt – and hand-stitched the belt to the buckle
Understitching the collar from the wrong side of the gown

Understitching the collar from the wrong side of the gown

This took about another 3.5 hours…

Sewing the hem facing to the bottom of the dress

Sewing the hem facing to the bottom of the dress

Then I took a dinner break, and got back at it again:

  1. cut 4.5″ wide bias strips from some of the remaining fabric for hem facings, sewed them together, pressed them
  2. sewed the hem facing to the gown, pressed, turned, pressed, pinned, and slip-stitched it in place by hand

This was another 3 hours… and… other than washing the gown – it’s good to go!

Slip stitching the folded edge of the hem facing to the inside of the gown

Slip stitching the folded edge of the hem facing to the inside of the gown

Belt for the Burgundian gown

Cutting the fabric for the belt for the Burgundian gown

Cutting the fabric for the belt for the Burgundian gown

My belt is way too narrow – however I used the widest buckle I could find in my stash (a blinged out gold-tone plastic thing with no prong), and made the fabric belt to match the buckle size. The belt is 2″ wide finished.. and I was hoping for a belt closer to 3″ wide… but without the right buckle, that’s just not workable. (I decided I didn’t want to do a belt that was 3″ at the front and 2″ at the buckle.. because I thought it would look silly.)

I chose a “mixed fibres” (burn test suggests poly-cotton) upholstery fabric I bought for 4$/meter on sale at Fabricland. It is blue with a clover pattern.

I think before I make my silk gown, I’d like to find a proper buckle the right size.

  • The closest I can find is this one from Raymond’s Quiet Press, but it’s only slightly wider than what I already have… it’s also nearly 80$ Canadian for the set…  (From the website too).
  • Armour and Castings has a buckle for nearly a 3″ (75mm) belt in the burgundian style.  It’s quite plain though… but only $15 US. In contrast, they have a set with a buckle, three eyes, and strap end for $55 US… which is much nicer – but again, getting pretty expensive for a costume that isn’t even kind of my usual style.
  • The right style… but really expensive is the Mon Coeur buckle from Gaukler Medieval Wares. At 85$ (US?) it’s also sold out…  (and no strap end, no eyes)
  • Tandy has buckles as well, though the largest they list online is 2.5″ wide, and they’re entirely the wrong style.
  • The place I use for hardware typically, doesn’t list any buckles even close on their website, but I know from experience that they have a lot more in store than on their website.
  • Likewise Three Star Fabrics usually has a wide variety of costume hardware, though the selection is inconsistent, unpredictable, and of course… they don’t have a website with an inventory.
  • Bractea has some lovely photos.. but no idea of cost on the Burgundian ones, and no way I can see easily to order online… sooo.. not helpful.

On Material Culture, the writer notes a number of paintings and wardrobe accounts from various places depicting the wide belts, called  “Brode harnysed girdilles“. She identifies the most common colour being black, followed by red, green, gold, white, purple, and blue. She notes that although they are typically considered Burgundian, “they seem to have been fashionable in France, Flanders, and England too”.

Next steps

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with a white horned hennin

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with a white horned hennin

I’m really happy how the grey wool gown fits and looks. The neckline is “right” looking to me – even if I know that there are darts hidden under that collar… The sleeves look right to me, and the fullness of the dress feels right for the gown.

However, I know that I want to make this gown in a silk damask, so there are a few things I’ll do differently.

  • I want to make the skirt fuller for the silk version – because I will have to do the layout ‘with nap’ – I think I will make the sides wider if the fabric accommodates it. I will likely also add a gore to the centre back like some of my inspiration bloggers did.
  • I added a slight rise to the shoulder of the collar on the grey gown – I think for the silk one I will remove this.
  • I really like the velvet collar, but I might also look for a low-pile fur for the silk version too.
  • I almost certainly will line the silk or interline it in order to give the silk more body. The lining wasn’t at all necessary for the wool dress, even though it’s likely more historically accurate.

In the photos here I’m wearing the gown with my simple silver silk underdress – but this is NOT the right kind of underdress for this style. I need to make a proper cotehardie for this gown… but I didn’t have time to draft and fit a cotehardie in time for this gown to be done for Twelfth Night. Before I make the silk V-neck Burgundian gown, I definitely need to make a proper cotehardie – hopefully in a thin wool with very fitted sleeves to fit under the straight sleeves of this gown.

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with a white horned hennin

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with a white horned hennin

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V-neck Burgundian gown worn with a white horned hennin

V-neck Burgundian gown worn with a white horned hennin