Thursday, June 20, 2013

I have 142 days to make this dress

Pattern from Giovanni Osthaus' Perfection of design 1567
I've been looking at my inspiration for The Disney Challenge and trying to map out what is going on with it so I can divide it into manageable chunks.  It is a pretty crazy dress and I A) want to do it justice so I'm happy wearing it and B) want to have something I'm proud entering as an Arts and Sciences entry.  My recent gowns have been made for wearing and being happy in, so B is new.

It was kind of a weird journey to deciding I wanted to make a dress to enter since that is usually the last thing on my mind.  I tend to think of research and other types of projects as Arts and Sciences worthy and dressmaking just sort of something that happens in the SCA since everybody has to wear something. When I decided to do this dress for the challenge I picked it because I wanted something that easily worked for a character concept yet was absolutely and totally accurate with no ifs, ands, or buts. I knew that many people were bound to dismiss the challenge as a bunch of fluff that didn't have any place in a re-enactment society and lump it with glitter, elf ears, and plastic Viking helmets. I didn't want that.  Not that I am not the first person to have fun with costuming, but I wanted to demonstrate that thinking out of the box would get people excited about looking at things through a different lens. I hoped that it would put excitement into an educational exercise and get some creative juices flowing. I really am a believer in "A spoonful of sugar." It's the frustrated high school history teacher in me, what can I say.

Anyway, wanting to do an accurate representation of the dress tripped me up first thing.  It is a MONSTER of a dress.  It isn't something I'm going to toss off in a weekend, wear once, and be okay putting at the back of the closet to wait for a bad garb contest or another goofy theme to happen.  My knee jerk reaction was to change my mind and just pick something else.  Something simple that I either could adapt for regular garb later or make and not worry about.  Then I returned to all my reasons for wanting to do this challenge and noticed that "making a silly outfit" was nowhere on the list.  Stretching my skills was on the list. Research was on the list. Adding to my persona was on the list. Being proud of what I create was on top of the list.

So, I'm making a monster of a dress and I'm going to do all the persnickity details. The accessories, the copious embroidery and handwork, the whole hog. Which is how we get back to figuring out manageable chunks and a schedule to match those deadlines.

Couching gold cord to the edges of black velvet is going to be a big part of the time since the overgown is incredibly intensive. There's more going on though. There's a detailed balzo, a lovely lapis lazuli paternoster, a gorgeous undergown with striped sleeves, and then there's the camicia. It looks like pinky peach embroidery on the collar, the cuffs, and down the body as well. Hmmm.  This is totally crazy already. NO!  Manageable chunks.

I'm starting with the collar and the cuffs.  I know myself pretty well and know counted embroidery would make me absolutely crazy, so I'm not going to stick with the blackwork pattern that is there. Instead, I'm going to take the opportunity to incorporate the character concept.  Pinky peach and floral made me snap to "Ursula's Garden" of enchanted merfolk. I know, I have a rather twisted mind since the twisted things aren't sweet flowers. But hey, it's a villainess' dress-- what can I say. To turn it back to historical accuracy, I decided to use the siren embroidery pattern from Osthaus. It is classy and perfectly elegant while still letting me Bwahahahaha! in the dark reaches of my mind as I consider the association that got me there.

Tomorrow's goal is to decide if I am using the gryphon and the rest of the original motif or adapting it some way and draw up the final design.  Then Saturday I will transfer it to linen and start with the embroidery. Here we go. First bite of this whale taken.

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