Sunday, January 21, 2018

Project Complete: Windowpane Plaid Basic Gown

I'm not presenting this one as a typical "project log" like I normally do because for the most part this project was just for fun, as well as for a chance to work with plaid. Late in 2016, I found this wool at Dorr Mill Store (doesn't look to be currently available), and thought it was really cool. (There's some evidence that grid-like plaids were in use in the 14th century.) The cloth sat in my stash for a year, just waiting for me to get to it. At the end of my Doppelgänger Challenge, I was looking for something to do that would give me a break from dedicated early 15th Century, and this wool practically shouted at me.

This was the first time I've worked with a regularly patterned material that would require care for visually pleasing end result. It was a bit of a learning curve. To begin with, everything needed to be cut out as symmetrically as possible so that I didn't run into problems lining things up later.

At first, I thought I would to the dress as a flat front (no front center seam), but that wasn't working the way I wanted, so I refit the front curve on my body.

Things weren't lined up, and the support wasn't quite where it needed to be at that point, but it at least gave me an idea of where I was headed. I admit to some serious doubts about this dress at this stage.

I adjusted the front curve, and ended up with the one thing I didn't want- a bulls eye on my chest. That was one picture of me I didn't need to exist, but here it was off of my body:

I let the seam out a bit in the underbust to open that back up and show the red lines again. While that did slightly compromise the fit, it was a lesser of two evils choice. Ultimately, it took me two attempts the get things lined up on the back seam, and 5 on the front. That front gore had 2 attempts. At a certain point, I did have to call "good enough". I did all the construction seams on the machine.

The seams are finished very simply using a double finish- where each seam allowance is tacked down on its own side. I used a tan-colored thread to do that. The thread disappears completely in the wool. While this doesn't at all strengthen the seams, which I didn't feel was necessary since this is mostly an over dress, it finishes the seams nicely.

For the bottom skirt hem, I double folded and used running stitch, which made quick work of that task.

For the sleeves, I wanted a looser fit that would work over any of my under dresses, and that I could pull up if I wanted to. I only slightly tapered the forearm of the sleeve from my elbow to the wrist, and I'm really happy with the look and fit there. I could have maybe kept them a little longer, but they work better at this length for pushing up.

The skirt is wonderfully full and one of my longest, just grazing the floor. It's highly enjoyable to walk in. In fact, the whole dress is amazingly comfortable. Many of my other dresses force my back upright so that at the end of the day, I'm ready to get out of them and slouch a bit. I ended up wearing this dress through the event, and all the way through the 4.5 hour trip home. I suspect that is because the wool has a bit more springy stretch than many of my other dresses.

This dress is great for dressing up, which I did at yesterday's event with a veil, or dressing down as I did for these photos. Or more like "silly" in this actual case. I paired it with my herringbone square hood, and a black wool men's bag hat I made one afternoon recently.

I'm also wearing a new belt knife I received as a gift from one of my good friends yesterday. It's from Davis Reproductions, and it's beautiful. I wasn't able to wear it yesterday at the event because I hadn't worn a belt, so I was excited to include that in the outfit today.

This is a neat and quirky dress that adds a new layer to my wardrobe, and I'm glad to have finally made it. With this success under my belt, I feel like the year is off to a good start.

I've got more photos over on Facebook (and don't miss my photo bloopers over there too!).


  1. Terrific work! I'm impressed with the CF fitting you were able to do, while keeping the plaid symmetrical, something that's tripped me up in the past. Love the mens bag hat! Do you have a pattern or a sketch you could direct me to? Would be very useful for my summer Shakesp troupe! Oh, and is the wool hand-washable? Again, thanks, and have a great project new year!

    1. For the hat, I just cut out two panels, slightly tapered to the top where it's rounded. If I were to do another one, I'd probably go with four panels instead so that the top isn't as flat. The wool is hand-washable, but I generally don't bother hand washing the whole thing. I'll hang it to air out after wearing. If it needs a bit of a refresh, I'll either put it in the washer, cold water on delicate and then hang dry, or I'll just toss it into the dryer on extra low heat for about 20 minutes to ease the fibers enough to release wrinkles if that's all it needs.

  2. Very nice work
    I invite you on my blog of old magazines and old french sewing patterns