Thursday, August 25, 2011

One step forward...two steps back

I sewed the sleeves onto the blue dress this afternoon, and when I put it back on for some photos, I discovered that something had gone wrong with the fit.  I had been wearing it when we started the manhunt for the camera the other day, and it had started to loosen up.  I believe that it fits so poorly now because of that.  There are too many areas that are now wrong, though, for me to try to fix myself.  So I'm recruiting the big guns for help- mom to the rescue!

This has actually enlightened something for me, though.  I've never had a dress so tight that I couldn't pull it off without unlacing it.  I'm wondering now if this has less to do with my narrow shoulders (as I previously thought) and more to do with the natural act of the fabric being too tight when I make the dress.  Giving the fabric a chance to stretch out by wearing it for a bit, I have an opportunity to make it tighter.  After I wash it, the next time I try putting it on, I'm likely to find no alternative but to actually use the lacing for its real purpose.

This is certainly turning out to be quite a lucrative test dress!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lost Camera

I was getting excited about how well my blue test dress was coming together, so I put it on (sans sleeves) to share with you.  I can't locate my camera though.  It may be lost for good.  The real bummer is that I hadn't taken any photos of the dress yet!   

So, you'll just have to take my word for it- the dress is coming along nicely!

EDIT: the camera has been found- a tricky toddler hid it from us!  I'll try getting some pictures of the blue dress posted later this week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting things done

I've been plugging away at the blue test dress, and it's coming together fairly smoothly.  I'm glad I decided to do a test before going headlong into my garb quest kirtle since it's made me aware that 4 yards of 60" is barely enough for a long sleeve gown.  I only had enough fabric left after cutting the four panels for one gore!  I put it in the front seam, since that seemed to be the best place for it.  The fabric for the sleeves is the leftover triangular pieces left between the panels- also barely enough.  I think I've only got 4 yards of the rust linen for my garb quest, so (unless I want to change my mind about the color again!) I'll need to get at least another yard of the rust to have more than one gore.

I sewed the dress together, minus the sleeves, and went to finish the seams on the machine but ran into issues with my bobbin.  I was getting too frustrated with it, so it ended up sitting by the sewing machine for a few days, being ignored.  Eventually, however, I decided that I'd be better off just finishing them by hand, so I pulled out the finishing seam I'd started on the machine and plunked myself down on the chair with the thread and a needle.  I'm using a simple running stitch (using some 100% cotton thread) to flat fell the seams, so it's going fairly quickly (all things considered).

I've also got a tunic of Dearg's I'm trying to finish, since I've already passed the date I'd originally said I'd have it done by, and he finally called me out on it.  It's a long tunic- a very simple early Irish leine.  This is NOT the fake leine that you may find in a Google image search that's extremely loosely based on a 16th century illustration of some Irish soldiers.  Basically, it's the Irish idea of a kilt, but it's really just a fancy tunic.  Ideally, it would be highly decorated with embroidery all over, but I'm not that adventurous!  For now, I'm just flat felling the seams using a hemstitch to really give is substance and so that the finish stitching isn't that obvious from the outside.  I'm using #5 pearl cotton, since I had perfect color matches of that on hand.  Eventually I'll also be making a green linen jacket with an embroidered collar to go with it, but that will probably have to wait until I get my garb quest completed.

Once I finish all this finish stitching, I've got to draft the sleeves for the dress.  I know, in theory, how to do it, and it's not really all that scary, it's just so darn easy to goof up.  Plus I need to figure out how to do ensure that the sleeves can button properly (and exactly how many buttons/buttonholes I want to do).  Then it'll be time to do the eyelets for the lacing.  I'm thinking this project will come in just under the wire!

It's an extremely light dress, since the medium weight linen from Fabric-Store.com leans more to the light side than heavy.  This is another good reason for the test- the garb quest kirtle will definitely need to be lined.  I don't think I could get away with wearing this blue dress as a supportive dress on it's own, so I'll need to wear my old fitted dress under it.  If the linen wasn't blue, or was any lighter, I probably couldn't get away with having it unlined.

I'm also steadily completing the "notes" for my new class on 14th and 15th century Northern Gothic women's fashion.  It's fun doing the drawings, but I'm getting a little backed up on them while I try to break down the accompanying text to the basic info that makes sense with the images.  I had planned on having actual pieces of garb on hand to show, but I realized that would basically mean bringing my entire garb wardrobe with me, and that's just too much to pack!  If you'll be at Harvest Day, my class will be at 10am.

Alright, enough chit-chat.  Back to sewing!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Miss Me?

Shamefully, I have to admit I've done absolutely nothing on any projects for the past two weeks.  Several mundane-world things all happened at the same time, and I also haven't been interested in doing any hand-sewing lately.  I'm also holding out for a break from the heat- it hasn't been very conducive to productivity.  Especially being pregnant.

I've been working on something special for the next event.  I'll be teaching a class on 14th & 15th century women's clothing in France, Flanders and England, and I thought it would be nice to present the basics in a similar format to the drawings I did to visualize my garb quest.  So, in addition to actually pulling the text for the class together, I've got several fun little garb drawings to do. 

It would be nice to have a new dress to wear at the event, so I'm putting my garb quest hose and smock on hold just to get the blue test dress done.  I've decided that I'm not going to to line it, except to line the hems for strength.  I need to make some adjustments to my straight front pattern (the one I developed for the grey wool dress), including making it work as a front-laced pattern with integrated skirt, instead of a waist-seam kirtle with no front seam.  There are also some adjustments to the arms, shoulders and neckline that need to be made.  Since this is just a test dress, I'll sew the major seams using the machine, but leave the button and buttonholes on the sleeves, and the eyelet holes for the lacing to do by hand.  Just need to figure out what thread I have that I can use for that.  I'll try to force myself to finish the seams too, since I'm fine with doing that with the machine as well. 

Hopefully I have enough fabric for long sleeves- I think I only have 4 yards of 60in linen- but if not, I may have enough to do some Christine de Pisan-type flap sleeves, fully lined with white linen.