Supportive Fitted Under Kirtle

Just a reminder that I have no evidence that this is a “period” practice in ~15th century France (Yes, yes, I know about the Lengberg bra but that’s in Germany/Austria/Bohemia.. not France/Brittany/Netherlands). I just know that I want more support than my current kirtles are giving me and the quickest/easiest fix is to make a small undergarment to do the heavy lifting.

The shape of the under kirtle is based on my most recent adjusted fitting for a 4-panel kirtle. The under kirtle will only extend down to the bottom of the breast band. Unlike my normal kirtle pattern the under kirtle will lace up the sides (I didn’t want the laces to match up between the under kirtle and the kirtle). For the under kirtle I eliminated the center front seam and made the front as a single piece. I probably should have made the back as a single piece but I wanted to be sure to keep the breast band on the straight grain and my back piece doesn’t lend itself easily to that in a single panel. So instead I’ve left the seam in the center back panel.

The under kirtle is made with two layers of linen (because two seems more supportive than one). The eyelets will be pierced through the sides and the seam allowance at the sides (ie, I’m not using a reinforcement strip).

I tried on my V3 mockup and then put my blue kirtle on over the mockup and had my husband mark the neckline in the back. Then I cut the mockup so that the under kirtle will not show under my existing kirtles. This will work for the underkirtle but I think I’ll have to go back and re-do the neckline on the mockup for a V4. The new pattern with the old neckline is just too narrow in the back.

TODO:
– (done) Cut out two front pieces with no center seam
– (done) Cut out four half back pieces
– (done) Stitch together back pieces to end up with two back pieces with a center seam.
– (done) Connect front to back at sleeve top for outer and inner layers.
– (done) Put right side’s together and then sew around the outer edge connecting front to front and back to back.
– (done) Flip garment right-side-out through the neck opening.
– (done) Nip corners of neck opening and fold seam allowance to inside the garment.
– (done) Hand stitch neck opening.
– (done) Add Eyelets to sides (20 eyelets per side, 40 eyelets total).
– (done-ish) Add sleeves and skirt so that the under kirtle can be worn in place of my current chemise. (stretch goal)

Finished the last eyelet at midnight, 4 days before the event where I plan to wear the garment. I wore the under kirtle around the house for a few minutes and then put on my blue kirtle over the under kirtle. This will work. The under kirtle feels only slightly more restrictive than my normal bra. I’ll wear it on Saturday and confirm that I can tolerate wearing it for a full day.

Since I have 4 days I plan to go ahead and add the sleeves and skirt onto this in lighter weight linen. I like the idea of being able to swap this out for my normal chemise.

[post-mortem: I first wore the garment on 2/14/2015 at the West Coast Culinary Symposium]
I only had time to add the sleeves before the first wearing.. but after that wearing I’ve decided to remove the sleeves and I never did add a skirt.

I wore this garment all day on Saturday and Sunday for the West Coast Culinary Symposium.

On the plus side this kept my girls perky all day and not once did I notice any droop.
On the minus side: I found the left strap was pulling uncomfortably on my shoulder (I have a shoulder impingement which makes the shoulder painful occasionally but this strap made it painful all the time). Also I found that as I moved around through the day (sitting and standing) the lace on the sides also moved. Occasionally this pinched me horribly. I think this happened because the lace was against bare skin. In future I’ll wear this with a chemise and hopefully this will fix the issue.

Fixes:
– (done) The left shoulder strap currently uses 1/2″ seam allowance. I’ll change this to 1/4″ seam allowance giving my shoulder another 1/2″ of movement.
– (done) Remove the sleeves which I’d sewn into the garment and will instead wear this with a chemise.

[second post-mortem: I wore this garment for the second time on 2/21/2015 at the Northern Wolf Tournament]
The tweaks to the shoulder seam fixed the pulling on my shoulder and wearing a chemise under the garment fixed the pinching. I view this as a fantastic success.

[third post-mortem: I wore this all day on Saturday and Sunday at Beltane 5/1/2015]
Towards the end of Beltane weekend I noticed that the underkirtle was pulling and poking me uncomfortably. First because the lace is under the arm the top of the lace has a knot which pokes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that other then resolve that I won’t do side lacing again. I also noticed that the armscye was cutting me uncomfortably across the back of the arm. I think this is cut a smidge high and I’ll recut any followups and give the back of my arm another 1/4″ – 1/2″ wiggle room.

That said the underkirtle was supportive all day. In fact I ended up briefly wearing the underkirle under a t-shirt and I was amazed at what a different shape the underkirtle gives from my normal brassiere.

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