Monday, June 18, 2012

Progress on the bodies and the needlelace cuffs

 Seems like I've been working on this pair of bodies for far too long. I've got one of the front sections complete and all of the tabs bound on the back as well as one of the straps. Just keep plugging away it and it has to get done eventually, I guess. My finger tips are not enjoying the leather binding.  I like the clean finish it makes however. Another couple of days on the binding and I should be able to move on to all the eyelets for the front fastening on on the tabs in order to attach the skirt so it is actually a petticoat.

I took a little break from the corset yesterday in order to try out an idea I had to make the free standing cuffs I talked about back here. Since then I found a couple more pairs of cuffs. This one is in the Royal Ontario Museum and besides having adorable animals, it has beads! They have it dated between 1566 and 1599.
Image from Wikipedia

The Met has a more square pair that are Spanish that have some similarities to the Italian ones as well. There are a number of other similar pairs dated 17th century, but with no more exact date, so I am sticking with linking the 16th century cuffs. Three extant pair found quickly and easily made me feel pretty confident that this wasn't an idea out of left field. Every Italian dress I've seen done by someone else seems to just have a bit of lace tacked to the edge of the bottom of the sleeve so I hope I'm not making a big mistake here. I know the English certainly had stand alone sleeve cuffs. The portrait of Margaret Layton wearing her famous jacket (waistcoat) has a lovely pair. I was actually thinking I could add my cuffs to the list of items I can swap into the English outfit to be made later.

Anyway, back to the idea that was niggling at the back of my brain. I got the cuffs cut out to the shape I wanted. I cut bits from the scrap left after cutting the stomacher, so getting the figures centered wasn't happening. It is most certainly reticella though and I think the look is fine. There is also the brown spot on one of the birds/dragons/gryphons/whatever which is what made this table runner the deal that it is (in addition to broken brides.) I figured I'd try a little bleach on the one spot later and, at the very worst, the spot is under my wrist so won't really be seen.

My original plan had been to handstitch the cuff edges for stability. Then I looked at all the other handstitching projects I had going in the next two months and laughed myself silly. Yeah. Not going to happen. I still wanted cuffs if I could manage it. So, my brainstorm was to try a similar technique with my sewing machine to how machine embroiderers make freestanding lace made from nothing more than thread.  I hand tacked the cut lace into place on a tear away stabilizer and used a satin stitch along the lines of the edges. I think with a couple of washes the cotton thread should blend a bit. I still need to do the handwork: bars for the fastening and tiny pearl buttons.

BTW, some machine embroiderer should totally digitize some of the lace designs in the modelbuchs. Can you imagine being able to buy custom lace that was the real pattern rather than something that sorta kind looked okay?