Thursday, 1 March 2018

Viking apron dress

A setting I haven't played in so far, but that's no hindrance, there had to be a new dress for the upcoming yule gathering! The underdress is dark green linen, the apron dress light green linen. And it was a nice coincidence that a) they did wear shaped dresses with gores, and b) I was really short on fabric, using up scraps, so I could piece together what I had! Another good thing was that for the characteristic decoration at the front I could use those glass beads I had made ages ago, colourful but not really matching. The downside is that, being a perfectionist, I will have to tablet weave matching trim to be proper and authentic. Maybe for the next yule, if I keep playing in this setting.

For the glass bead decoration typical for this kind of dress I used beads I made in my first attempt at making glass beads - they came out quite nice but not good enough yet to be used for jewellery, so this was the perfect project. The end pieces are two large metal buttons that are pinned to the front of the dress.

Black 1660s gown

Death being a big part of life in those days, and my character already being widowed once, chances are high she has one or two mourning dresses in her wardrobe (well, in her case more like ten or so). Again I followed the 1660s pattern but I think I'm tiring of it, and there are enough mid-1600s dresses in my collection now. Off to new horizons! Anyhow, this dress is made of black satin of unknown material, most likely some mixture of natural and artificial fibres. Drapes very nicely. Actually there's a black chemise to be worn beneath it, but I was in such a hurry before the event where the picture was taken that I forgot to pack it, so it looks a bit bare (as far as five metres of fabric can look bare).

And after four attempts with the pattern I've finally figured out the perfect way of sewing in the hooks and eyes :P The trick - at least with my sewing machine - is to take off the presser foot, put the stitch to buttonhole end-stitch and place the presser manually along the halves of the ready-made hook and eye closure where you want the needle to sew. And in the case of this particular dress pattern: work the stiffened interlining, sew upper fabric and lining (NOT the interlining!) together at the front only, place it over the interlining and zig-zag the lining in place along the front, leaving the upper fabric loose.

Upper and lining sewn, just lining zig-zagged to interlining.

Pin the hook and eye stuff to the lining + interlining very neatly so the closures are even with the edge. Sew on leaving the upper fabric untouched - you don't want all those stitches showing on your top layer. 

Eyes pinned, upper fabric untouched

Hooks sewn (left and right of the hook and once in between)

Top layer folded back, closure exactly along the edge

Then, only when the closure is sewn onto lining and interlining, you can either sew the neckline of lining and top layer from the back and turn over, or pin it from the right side, fold the upper fabric over the neckline and sew it by hand. I do the latter with the bottom front that goes over the skirt to smooth out all creases.

Ok, maybe I'll have to do yet another 1660s and take pictures of this process, using a fabric that's not black on black...

Monday, 26 February 2018

Baroque stage dress "la France"

I've long had in mind making a dress based on the king's outfit in the 1993 Three Musketeers closing scene, meaning a combination of blue and gold, just never found a reason why my character should be wearing the royal colours. Well, I was dancing "la France" at the the last baroque ball, which was just as good a reason as you can get! Of course I've already had the intended fabric at home for some years, just no precise idea about the exact design. Well, I had to make up the decision pretty quickly, the main ballgown was finished three days before the ball, so I had three days for this dress. I whipped up a design based on my renaissance bodice with split, lined sleeves that took me one and a half hours each, aided by some gin tonic. Here's a teaser pic of the beta-version which was good enough for the dance and stage fight of la France against l'Espagne. Still lots of details missing, but surprisingly people loved it. Looking forward to the finished version though ;)

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Black early baroque jacket

This is yet another original pattern I wanted to try and fit to my measurements to have it in store for quick projects. It's black for the simple reason that I had some black leftover fabric at home, the rest in my external storage was out of reach when motivation hit me. The pattern is the embroidered jacket from Nora Waugh's "The Cut of Women's Clothes". I re-scaled it and modelled it to my measurements by adding another seam to the front, as I intend it to be worn without corset.

The pattern is pretty simple to make, just the gussets were a fuss to sew in, ten of them including the lining. And the sleeves need more fullness than the measurements given in the diagram if you don't intend to embroider them. I stuck to the pattern with completely unshaped sleeves and they do look fine despite my doubts at the beginning. Weren't it for the gussets, this would become my staple three-hours-and-done-jacket. Guess I'll merge this pattern with the one from Holkeboer's "Theatrical Costumes" for another project.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Purple baroque dress

Found nice fabric, needed a gown for my third baroque character, a huguenot noblewoman - perfect coincidence. The fabric is a medium light cotton weave, warp in black, weft in purple, which makes a nice but not too bright colour, perfect for a young huguenot woman who might dare to risk a bit more colour but not stray too far from the usual dark colours.

The skirt has a circumfence of four metres, and as the fabric was just half width I had to add a good measure at the bottom. The decoration of three rows of velvet ribbon makes this hardly noticable.

The bodice is based on a crossover between an original 1630s pattern from "The cut of women's clothes" by Norah Waugh and the early baroque pattern from Holkeboer's "Patterns for theatrical costumes": instead of the tedious but authentic method of inserting darts along the hip section to gain width, I used the Holkeboer version of curved lines instead of straight, but without the stomacher, closing like the original with a high neckline. Also decorated with velvet ribbon and closing with matching bows. In this version I went for very full sleeves. And the tedious gores avoided, this can indeed become the staple two-hours-and-done-bodice.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Rococo "Bergère" hats - the basics

Ikea currently providing an ample support of round place mats made from natural fibres, I have also taken up rococo hatting again. Getting the right shape for one of those flat Bergère-style hats out of a round place mat is easy, you treat the piece with steam or hot water at the centre and the part that's going to be the back, and let it dry over a small glass bowl for the crown with the back part of the brim held upwards by another bowl. Flatten the sides with whatever comes in handy, in this case it was two boxes of fondant for the cake I was baking...

Let dry overnight and you'll end up with a shallow crown and a turned-up back. Ready for decoration!

The procedure works well with any kind of natural fibres, be it paper, straw, reed, or other grassy stuff. The hat will keep its shape pretty well, provided it doesn't get too wet. You may want to attach wiring to the edge when you line or trim the hat, which improves the stability of the back curve.


As I found some nice ball pendants that can be used for making pomanders, I decided I needed one. Or more. The first one sold quickly at the historic market, so quickly that only a blurry picture could be found because I forgot to take a decent one. It's artificial pearls, four joined on a wire, and a dark red one with silver ornaments between the white pieces. They should be long enough to go round the waist, the scented ball being slightly below your knees. The top end finishes with a hook to close around the waist with one of the joints between the pearl segments so it can easily be adjusted.

The second one is made with black and silver filigree pearls between the white segments, ending in a cross-shaped pomander pendant.

The third one (yes, it becomes slightly addictive...) is with red pearls again, this time with golden ornaments and a golden scent ball.