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Well it happened. Purgatorio occured. I got lots of compliments. I took a camera but of course completely forgot to take any pictures. I’m hoping other people took pictures and post them in the next few days.
The dress was wearable.. and even relatively comfortable. It wasn’t as hot as I feared it might be. The only thing I found uncomfortably hot was the bottom part of the sleeves. Close fitting linen+wool sleeves were stifling hot. Because of time constraints I did the bottom part of the sleeve without any ruffles. I think the ruffles might actually have made the sleeves less hot.
Learnings:

  • The strain across the dress made the boned edges of the brown part of the dress flip outwards. This made it so the brown inner lining was showing along the edge between the white insert and the yellow front trim. As a temporary measure one of my camp mates added a tack stitch to one side.. but I don’t think that’s a good long term solution. I’ll need to consider it for a while before I can come up with a good long term soluton.
  • The skirt hook at the bottom of the front edge kept coming unhooked. Also here I’ll need to consider it a while before I can come up with a good long term solution.
  • The side-front bones poked me in the underarm when I sat down. I think at the top they’re placed too far back. I’ll need to make the angle there more shallow.
  • Mari chatted with me for a little while and said that the waist of the dress is possibly a little bit too low. She indicated a spot that would be at my bottom most rib on the side as where the actual waist of the dress should be. I don’t know if this also means that the back should be also raised. Will consider for a while.
  • The top half of my sleeves are too long. I think I measured this to the outside elbow as opposed to the inner crook of the arm. This made the bottom half of my sleeves droop. I’ll have to play with this to see if I can shorten the top of the sleeves without completely eliminating the unruffled brown part (and see if I have enough wool to redo this part). I think the bottom gold edge of the top half of the sleeve was too long as well.
  • The skirt is definately too long. I kirtled it up most of the day but it’d be nice to be able to wear it down. Hopefully the shortening of the bodice will take up most of the “too long” part of the skirt.
  • I now remember why I stopped wearing the shoes I wore on Saturday. After my feet went numb it was much better.. but I hobbled around a lot on Sunday. I need to stretch the leather of those shoes, especially the left one right across the knuckle of the toes.
  • I don’t like the look of the rolled pleats. They unrolled and sat weird. I talked with Etaine about the pleats briefly. My experience with cartridge pleats up to this point have all be small pleats… 1/8-1/2 inch. Etaine indicated that you could get the large rolling pleats if you took deeper stitches 1-2 inches and if you attached that to the waist of the dress with 3-4 stitches at the top of each roll.. then the cartridge pleats would be wider at the waist of the garment. I think I’ll do that when I re-attach the skirt.

I borrowed a hat from Etaine. All was well.

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2 days until Purg Yesterday my company took all of us to a baseball game. I brought my caul and started sewing pearls onto it. It turns out that you can make good progress on sewing down pearls to a caul at a baseball game.. assuming you don’t actually like baseball.. and are perfectly ok with missing most of the action. The caul’s looking great. I’m also working on it during my BART commute. Hopefully I can finish all the pearls by Saturday. Last night I finished a bit of fidgit-y sewing on the back/shoulders of my dress and made some progress on the sleeves.

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I’m making sleeves like the middle princess in “The Saxon Princesses” picture. It took about 3 hours to make the top part of one sleeve. I didn’t notice it took that long until I was done with it. I’m worried that I’m going to run out of time. I think they will look really good. Assuming I can get them done. *sigh*.
I so wish I had one more week to work on all of this. At this point I’m deciding which corners it’s ok to cut. Hats are pretty much out. Finish work is out. Anything that doesn’t show is out. As long as we look presentable. The thing is, I don’t want presentable. I want it all. I want the embroidery. I want hats. GRR!
Tonight I’ll finish the top of sleeve #2 (it’s 1/2 done now) and make the bottom half of the sleeves. I think the bottoms will go -much- faster than the tops. Those are straight ruffles, not bent like the ruffles at the armseye. Then attach the sleeves to the dress, add the lacing rings, hem the dress.

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3 days until Purg
Here’s where I am now. Skirt is attached but not yet hemmed. I think it’s a little bit too long. Also, I do -not- like the way the pleats are sitting. After Purg I might pull the skirt off and re-do it.
The minimum left to do: Make/attach sleeves, add lacing rings, hem dress. At that point it’s wearable and acceptable for Purg.
Additional to do: Fix skirt (see above), applique the bottom of the guards, Add beading to brustfleck, Add embroidery (?) to guards and front trim.

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5 days until Purg Turns out the skirt is 46″ by 250″. That’s about 7 yards of skirt. Sheesh. I just barely had enough wool (good thing I bought 10 yards).
Saturday was spent sewing on the guards. There are three of them. I ran out of thread just as I was attaching the last guard (at 9:30 at night). Had to wait until Sunday morning to finish that up. As mentioned previously, I’m top stitching the guards currently. I think it looks like shit, but I don’t have time to hand-applique the guards before Purg. The plan is to do the hand-applique after Purg but before 12th Night.
Sunday I pleated the skirt, trimmed it to length, and attached it to the bodice. I had planned to attach the skirt using a french seam. This worked well when I made my italian dress. The difference here is that this skirt (made of wool and with its rolled pleats) is -way- bulkier than the italian skirt was (made of linen with its knife pleats). As I started attaching the skirt I realized there was no way it was going to make a nice neat french seam(Add to that, I didn’t leave enough seam allowance on the bottom of the bodice to allow for the french seam.). So I started over and changed the plan to put the seam allowance to the inside.. and then bind that with a strip of the lining linen. I think it’s working out well.
One of the draw backs of this change in mid-stream is that now my guards are 1 inch too low. I’d added 1 inch to the top of the dress to allow for the french seam. Now I’ll only have 1″ (or less) between the bottom guard and the hem instead of the 2″ I originally planned.
Sunday night I finished some of the hand sewing. I added a skirt hook to the bottom corner of the bodice to hold it in place and hemmed the edge of the slit in the top of the skirt that allows me to get into and out of the dress.
While at Jo-Anne’s on Sunday morning (picking up more thread to finish up the guards) I also found some lovely trim with -huge- pearls on it. I think it will make a lovely choker (thus avoiding the whole “open chain link necklace” thing from the SCA perspective. (if you’re in the SCA.. and you have a german gown.. and you go to a Renn Faire… do you wear the chain? Even though it violates SCA custom? Hmm.)
I tried on the dress with my Italian chemise.. and I don’t like the way it works. For Purg I think I’m going to go without. For 12th Night I’ll make up a new chemise.
I think at this point I need to hem the dress, make/attach the brustfleck, add lacing rings and make/attach the sleeves and I’m done.

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Last night was sewing night. Edith dropped by late (10:30-ish). She (again) matched up the straps and pinned them (this time we used safety pins so they won’t fall out). I marked the length of the brustfleck (7″ tall x width of the white insert) and then she helped me to mark where the top of the skirt should be falling. It’s about 2-3 inches higher than where the bottom of the bodice is now.
I spent the rest of the night (in between helping her to futz with her bodice) replacing the bones in the current bodice with shorter bones (the shortened bodice means I need shorter bones down the front). Lastly, she helped me to measure the length for the skirt.
At this point the only bones I have left to shorten are the “lacing stays”. The new shortened bodice actually works better with the shorter, original (temporary) lacing strips I had earlier (back when I first raved that temporary lacing strips are the bomb). I think tonight I’ll remove the current lacing strips and add the old ones (by hand since I can no longer sew through the bodice since I’ve attached the fashion fabric)(future note: futz with the length of the bodice -before- you attach the finished fabric).
Up next: the skirt.
Edith and I discussed it.. I could wear the dress without sleeves.. but I can’t wear it without a skirt. So the skirt part’s next.(less than two weeks until Purg at this point)
Despite Etaine’s insistence that “cartridge pleats are the only right pleats for this dress” I think I’m going to use pipe organ pleats.
Reasons:

  • I don’t agree that cartidge pleating is the only right pleat. A lot of the dresses have big rolling pleats that aren’t indicative of cartridge pleating. It doesn’t -look- like cartridge pleats and cartridge pleats don’t behave that way.
  • Due to time pressures I really want to be able to machine sew the pleats. Not possible with cartridge pleats.

(Email about pleats and options. To summarize: pipe-organ please are of questionable historical veracity but they may be necessary to achieve the look of some Cranach paintings)

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I love the guarding layout in the inspirational picture above. I measured it in pixels (the number on the left) and then scaled that to fit the length in inches on my dress(the number on the right). My finished dress needs to be 40″ long in the front to just hit the floor.

So the plan is to start with a rectangle of fabric (45 7/8″ by ??? bottom of bodice measurement * some multiplier for the pleats. Still need to figure that out) and add the guards to it (hidden stitch on one side, top-stitch on the other. When there’s time (probably after Purg) I’ll go back and replace the top-stitch with a hidden applique stitch). Then pleat it. Trim the top to the correct length then attach it to the bodice. At this point I’m not planning to tape my pleats.
I plan to attach the skirt directly to the bottom of the bodice using a french seam. Plan: Match up the skirt to the bodice with the insides together. Sew a seam all the way around (leaving a little slit under the laces). (if I put the dress on at this point I’d have seam allowance all around the outside of the dress). Flip it so the outsides of the skirt/bodice are together, pin aggressively to hold the pleats in place and sew another seam that encases the first seam allowance (don’t be skimpy. You don’t want bits of the first seam allowance to stick out). Ta-da. If necessary, tack down the french seam to keep it from flopping about (possibly not necessary).

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I tried, really hard, to get the fashion fabric attached without having the seam allowances of the linen shell on the outside. In the end I couldn’t get it to work along the front edge (it did work along the side-back seams). So I seam-ripped the front edge open, removed the bones there, sewed the fashion fabrics back in there and then re-added the bones. It was worth the ripping to get the smooth and easy seams.
On Friday I also hand-finished applique-ing and top-stitching the yellow trim pieces to each side of the front opening. I think it’s looking lovely. Oh, I also started (and then finished on Sunday) adding the netting to my caul (ok, so “hair-bag” is more descriptive.. but I guess “caul” is more correct. Whatever). If I have time I’ll add pearls to it.
At this point I need Edith’s help (again) to 1) match up the straps so they fit smoothly, 2)do the initial fit on the top of the sleeves and 3) measure for the length of the skirt portion. I think I’m in good shape.

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Finally I have some pictures to show!

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Gratuitous boob shot from my honey. I guess this is what I get when I ask him to take pictures 🙂
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Generally I like how it’s fitting and looking. In specific there are a few problems.

  • I think the white part is too wide. Ok, correction I think it’s too wide at the bottom. If I had the luxury of time I would re-cut the front-side brown pieces and make the front more angled… add about 1-2 inches at the bottom but angle it out so it’s at the same place on the top. Unfortunately I still have to finish Fearghus’ pants and Waffenrock before Purg. So I’m not going to worry about it.
  • I think the bottom is too low in the front. I’m very lumpy. The bottom of the front controls my lumpiness to some degree. That said, I think I’m going to attach the skirt much higher than the bottom of the front piece. I think I’m going to go 2-3 inches higher.
  • Because I’ve “finished” the linen shell it’s fairly hard to attach the wool “fashion fabric”. Now that I’m on to this part of the process I know what I should have done differently earlier. Attaching the wool to the exterior would be much easier if I’d left the seams on the outside of the garment instead of carefully hiding them on the inside. I think I’ll be able to attach the wool but if I make this kind of dress again I’ll definately leave my seams out.

I’m about half way done adding the wool. I’m washing the gold linen (for the brustfleck and trim) today and hope to be able to start attaching it tonight. As soon as I get that done I’ll be able to start making the skirt.

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Too hot to work in sewing room. That room’s on the north-west side of the house and gets all the afternoon sun. I ironed the linen for the insert but couldn’t work up the energy to cut it out and piece it together. Instead I decided to start on an accessory.
I have this hair bag that I made for my Italian dress. I don’t know why I made it for the italian dress.. it seemed like a good idea at the time but in retrospect, when I actually look at the pictures of the italian dress, I can’t find anyone wearing anything like it. Lucky me, this hair bag is the perfect accessory for the german dress. So I’m repurposing it. It’s now a “German Hair Bag”.
To make this I gathered a circle of white silk into a band. I don’t remember the dimensions of the circle (the hair bag was originally made almost two years ago).
Looking at my inspirational pictures above all of the hair bags/nets seems to be slightly brownish. My white silk hair bag was way to bright. I decided to tea dye it.

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I boiled a kettle of water. Dumped it into a glass bowl and added 6 chamomile tea bags. The resulting tea looked too light so I added two big sun-tea bags as well. I let this cool for 20 minutes.
I removed the tea bags, wet the hair bag and then dunked it in the tea and swirled it around for a couple minutes. Then I pulled it out and rinsed it. The golden brown looks dark enough to me. So ta-da. Instant golden brown hair-bag. Now, if I’m lucky, I’ll have time to add the netting and pearls.

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So very close. Monday I stopped at Lacis and picked up Lacing Stays. They are -so- the bomb. Fearghus trimmed them to the correct length and helped me to set the grommets in them. Tuesday afternoon I attached them to the shell.
Tuesday night I tried it on. Gah.. again I can’t measure to save my life (or rather I measure and then I’m too conservative in my additions)(once burned by adding too much, now I add to little). The shell, all cinched down is very tight. Too tight. I could wear it that way for about 20 minutes before I cried uncle. I messed with the lace and unlaced it to the point where I was supported but it still felt comfortable enough to wear for a day. At this point I need to add 1 3/8 inches to the top and probably 1 1/2 inches to the bottom. I’ll do this by making one more stab at the white insert. Hopefully this will be the last stab.
Luckily Edith was able to help me connect the sleeve front and back. I’ll be all set to move forward on that once I re-do the insert (again).

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I am again reminded that I need to try harder when I’m using a pattern. When you’re making something that’s closely fitted to your skin you really really need to make sure you don’t (say) accidentally add 1/2 inch to each side of all of the pattern pieces so that the sewn together first draft in linen is about 3 inches too big. *sigh*
So I cut out the dress twice this weekend and sewed it together twice. Take two was much better than take one.
Learnings so far:

  • A pattern piece is a carefully fitted shape that exactly recreates the shape needed to get the desired fit of the garment. Sloppy duplicates of the pattern piece lead to sloppy garments.
  • If you’re a big busty woman you can’t expect really thin linen to support you properly (see Yellow Cote dress diary for the first time I learned this). You’d think that having tried this now twice, I’d learn. But no. When I started cutting out “take one” I thought to myself “gee, this linen is thin” but kept on cutting anyway. Thin linen + sloppy pattern cutting = unsupportive and unflattering garment.
  • Lacing tape is crap. It doesn’t seem like something that would be crap. But believe me, it’s crap. The twill tape is very loosely woven. I’ve tried the garment on twice and already the grommets are popping out of the tape. I’m going to stop by Lacis tonight on the way home and get a couple of 24″ Lacing Stays. These are the things I described as “the bomb” earlier. If I had time I would do hand-bound eyelets.. but only 3 weeks left.. and I still have to make his pants and waffenrock.
  • The original pattern I made up had the center (white) stomach thingy fitting exactly between the left-hand and right-hand sides of the brown part of the bodice. In tweaking this I’ve discovered that I like it better if the white is behind the brown.
    The white is permanently affixed to the brown on the left-hand side.. and then is laced in on the right-hand side. I’ll need to make the white about 1 1/2 inches bigger than the pattern piece so that it will 1) still fit me, 2) get the proper overlap and 3) be able to sew it in such a way that the stitches don’t run over the bones. The lace will need to be set back about 1/2 to 3/4″ on the brown. I think that’ll work much better.

  • Turns out Fearghus is very handy when it comes to making steel bones shorter. That armor making stuff had to come in handy at some point.
  • It’s -very- flattering when you finally get “take two” sewn together.. and you’re modeling it in front of the mirror to decide what to do next.. and your boy practically wolf-whistles at you. 🙂
    (Especially when I think back to his look of horror when he saw the sloppy and unsupportive “take one”.)
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Pattern pieces (not entirely to scale). From left-to-right, Back, side-back (make 2), front stomach thingy. Bones marked in pale blue.

Here’s a basic picture of the pattern pieces I’ve ended up using. Because the top of the back has such a square between the sleeves and the top of the neck in the back, it made more sense to cut the sleeve-caps as separate pieces and attach them to the back piece (the left piece). In the sewn versions of this, this makes a lovely crisp square at the back neck line. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I go to add the fashion fabric (wool) on the outside of the bodice. I’m not terribly fond of the idea of showing those seams between the sleeve cap and the rest of the back.. but I do definitely like the crisp square I’m getting by cutting them as two pieces.
After careful consideration I’ve abandoned the idea of adding a tab to the bottom of the back piece. I can’t figure out how I would attach the skirt to the bodice if the tab was in the way. Plan A for now is to just to keep the back bones short enough that they don’t poke me in the butt. Plan B (if plan A fails miserably) is to make a bone casing with integrated tab and hand-stitch that to the interior of the dress -after- the skirt is attached.