Thursday, January 23, 2014

Waistcoat picture.

Some obvious places to tweak on this, but I still thought it was fun to wear. I'm in the process of weight loss, so I'm down about 15 pounds since this was taken and the front fits a great deal better since the corset also fits better. I made it a bit too large and then removed a section on the sides which made it a bit too small. The too tight corset in turn gave me too much cleavage. I don't normally try for waist reduction but I got a bit. That then made the waist of my petticoat too loose. The bodies issue should be completely solved in another month as I'm on track to lose another 20 pounds which should make the bodies loose and take any strain off the front of the jacket as it tries to close. I might take the ribbons off and just pin it closed at that point. I'm definitely taking the waistband off the skirt and taking it in. It's so difficult trying to sew for size fluctuations, which is another reason I wanted to make some separates right now.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So, I finally made that jacket

Don't know if anyone remembers, but I made this crazy blackwork coif about 5 years ago. I started it even before I joined the SCA, so it has a few issues. Not least of them the fact that I did it on yellow linen. The original was on blue linen so I figured color would be okay. I didn't understand about indigoids and linen and dyes and the fact that even the blue one was an aberration. And then there were the pearls I added. . . Anyway, with all of its flaws, it was still a project that I spent over 400 hours on. I've never worn it. I got distracted by Russian. Then I got distracted by Italian. The coif has sat at the top of my closet.

I decided I needed to remedy that fact. I've wanted an Elizabethan jacket/waistcoat for years. I've bought fabric for it multiple times, trying to find something embroidered and at least reasonably appropriate. In the process, I ended up with a white silk, a butternut colored linen, and a champagne colored artificial silk. Somewhere in the back of my head is still this crazy idea that I'll embroider a linen jacket "one of these years" (or possibly 2 or 3) but I wasn't crazy enough to start with that. I wanted to work up the pattern and wear a jacket a few times and see if I liked it. Turns out I LOVE it. I already have a second one finished in the white silk and am plotting starting the epic embroidery project of making a real waistcoat rather than a "close enough" one..

Since I had already made this flame orange petticoat with the vague idea of wearing it with a jacket, I decide on the champagne artificial silk. It was also the fabric I would be least sad to lose if I made a total mess of things. I had tried to condemn the fabric since most of the embroidered jackets are linen, but there is a pink extant silk jacket in the V&A. Not the most common form, but documentable so my fabric wasn't too silly for a first try. I decided on an orange linen for lining since some of the jackets had a brightly contrasting lining. I needed a new corset since the attempt I made when I made the petticoat was a rather dismal failure in the fit department and the fabric had worn badly. I had a red wool I pulled from stash to match the red bands on the skirt. I bound it with orange linen bias that I had hanging around from the guards on my green camping dress. I love it when things turn out easy.

So, coif and petticoat bodies happened quickly. But I still needed to draft the jacket and I'd been dragging my feet for years. Mostly I was just scared of it. The sleeves especially. I came up with excuse after excuse and kept mumbling something about "more research." Unfortunately, for the mumbler, I own Seventeenth Century Dress Patterns Book 1 and 2. There are 4 waistcoats in the first book and another 2 in the second. There are scale drawings of the pattern pieces, x-rays, detailed drawings of the embroidery, patterns for the bobbin lace, and probable methods of construction. The procrastinator got backed into the corner by that. No excuses left.

I'd finished Bethany's camicia and if I wanted to get anything made in the just over a week left before 12th Night I had no choice but to try. Never one to do things the easy way, I decided on the tailored style of the Layton jacket rather than the more loose styles.  An evening on the floor with brown paper got me a pattern. I was sure that due to my size, the pattern as given wouldn't work. That it had to be different. I was wrong about that. I fiddled and fitted and mocked up and ended up coming right back to the original (sized up.)

Pieces are really straightforward with two fronts, a back, 5 gores, two part sleeve, shoulder wings, collar and cuffs. I cut everything but the sleeve out of linen canvas, fashion fabric and lining. Sleeves are just fashion fabric and lining. The instructions in the book have you make the outer shell and the lining up separately and attach at center front and bottom. Bag lining worked up super fast. It came together so easily that I feel silly about how long I waited to make one.

As usual, I forgot to get pictures of me wearing the outfit. Sigh. I'm going to have to take a day and do pictures of finished projects. There's this outfit, my blue V-front with orange guards that I experimented with heavy pad stitch for, the reworking of my Lotto gown, Fia's family's Solstice ensembles, Patience's new dress. and several accessories that need to be caught up on, not to mention the white silk waistcoat, purple loose gown and pink petticoat I'm planning to wear this weekend for the end of the Disney Challenge. The grand Ursula strapwork gown didn't happen, but I'm rather tickled by the Madame Mim outfit that I did finish. Camera is already packed for that and I've had threats issued if I don't get pictures.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Foxy lady (well, Baroness actually)

Photo by Gwen Kelly
I am not a counted blackwork fan. Let's just get that out of the way. Actually, I love it and lust after people's pretty work, but I am rather hamfisted,with bad eyes and counted work makes me grumpy. I never do pretty TINY regular blackwork. I am, however, willing to do the sort where I can draw things out. But I'm not really known for my blackwork, so the fact that I embroidered this still makes me laugh.

I was supposed to help the current Baroness of Gryphon's Lair with an Italian dress she wanted made for 12th Night. She changed her mind as the event got closer and decided to have someone else make her a different dress. When I saw her next, I was still standing there with my helium hand up and she asked if I'd make her a camicia. Sure, no problem. Then she asked me to do some blackwork rabbits to match a suit that was being made for her husband. She was super excited because she'd never had any blackwork done before. Hmmm. Ooooookay, sure. Blackwork.

Did I mention that this conversation happened at Solstice which gave me less than a month until 12th Night? I started working out patterns immediately. Nothing really clicked. And then I stopped and thought about Her Excellency and asked if she would mind if I substituted foxes and guitars. She's a Laurel for her music as well as for her illumination and foxes are her personal badge. She became very excited about that idea and the ideas worked better for me.

I ended up doing a very simple fox face, a guitar, and a few musical notes for the cuffs.
Since the camicia band is pretty long and I was rushed for time with the holidays all stuffed in there, I simplified it even more and did just the fox face and a repeating diamond for that.

The camicia itself is done in a hankieweight linen. Rather than doing an insertion stitch, I got lazy and just inserted some antique bobbin lace in the seams. I tried out Margo's Italian underthings pattern which I got from her Kickstarter project. It really isn't a pattern, just directions. Which is understandable since all it is is big rectangles. She credits Bella from Realm of Venus in the intro, and that is all this really is. The same stuff I've been using on all my other camicias.

I guess I could do a little review of the pattern. It is very well written as all of Margo's patterns are, but I wasn't really that impressed. Nothing new or interesting here. The camicia isn't even a pattern, as I said. The pocket pattern is nice I guess, but drawing your own is just as easy as cutting out or tracing hers. The underbodice pattern is for an odd piece that is documented very late by one painting and I don't think I'd ever have a use for it. The partlets are nice, but already available on Margo's website for free. Having a drawer pattern for someone other than myself might be useful, but they've never really struck me as something you actually need a pattern for. I am probably just a grump though. I know many people, like my sister-in-law for instance, who require a pattern to make anything. I got this pattern specifically to be able to give to people doing Italian for the first time. I think it'll be wonderful for that as it brings together information available in a variety of places. I'm glad I supported the Kickstarter though. There's been a bit of delay getting the other two patterns out,(for the dresses and zimarra)  but I'm looking forward to them..