Sunday, 19 August 2012

Queen of Hearts Gown in Progress

For my Queen of Hearts outfit I needed several metres of fabric, and something with a bit of body and weight to it.  Luckily I never throw anything away, and I still have a red curtain that my mother made for my sitting-room a few houses ago.  It's very faded on one side, but the other side is fine. 

So to make the bodice of the gown I cut the pattern pieces out in the curtain fabric and also in calico.  I basted the pieces together on the sewing machine, then sewed the front panel to the front side pieces.

I wanted the front panel to be a bit stiffer, so I added a piece of heavy interfacing between the top fabric and the calico.  I also added three boning chanels in calico.  The only boning I could find at short notice was some flexible plastic boning at Clegs.  I put one piece down the centre front and one at either side.

I sewed the centre back panels to the back side panels, and then put a zip in.  I almost instantly regretted using such a short zip, as it made it incredibly difficult to get in and out of the bodice.  I should have used an open-ended zip. Silly me.  I ended up having to rip it out and hand stitch in a longer zip.

Here is the bodice. I'm pretty happy with the fit, it's nice and tight.

From the side. It's a little wrinkled at the waist in the back, but the skirt will be so heavy that it will pull the bodice down and straighten it out.

This is the bodice with one of the sleeves attached. The red sleeve is lined in velvet (this photo confusingly shows it with the lining pulled out) and then the sleeve is turned back, so the velvet lining covers most of the sleeve.  I didn't have enough curtain fabric to cut the sleeves out of, so I used red cotton drill for the bit that will be covered up.

This is what the sleeves look like when they are turned back.  They are very very heavy.

The skirt is made in six pieces, and takes about 4.5 metres of fabric.  I didn't scale up the pattern pieces, instead I worked out the dimensions in inches, and then just measured directly onto the fabric and marked it with tailor's chalk.  I also cut out a second lot of skirt pieces for the lining, using a red double-bed sheet I got at the op-shop for $2.  After I sewed the two skirts up, I basted the outer skirt and lining together along the top seam.

The front pieces of the skirt are pleated, and the side pieces are gathered.  This is a photo before the back piece was gathered into cartridge pleats and hand stitched to that tiny gap at the back.  The back piece of the skirt was also stiffened with a piece of wadding 20 inches deep which was sandwiched between the skirt and the lining.  It made the cartridge pleats bigger and more squishy.

The original pattern has a kirtle that is worn under the gown, but I just made a separate front panel to go under the gown.  It is black velvet (just cheap cotton velveteen like the sleeves) backed with wadding.  I bought some cheap gold ribbon at Lincraft and made a lattice over it.  My cousin Bella kindly cut out a whole lot of red felt hearts.

Here's an idea of what the gown will look like, on the dummy at my cousin Alice's shop.  I'm making a farthingale to go under the skirt, to hold it out, and there will be some trimming and a headdress too.  I'm quite pleased at how it's turned out so far.

As you can see in the photo on the dummy, the front of the bodice was buckling a bit around the waist, despite the plastic boning and the interfacing.  I had the idea of using a piece of flexible plastic slipped between the lining and the front.  I used one of those black plastic art folders, and used the front pattern piece to cut out the shape, then trimmed off the seam allowance.  It worked perfectly and it's given the front a nice hard feel that mimics a boned under-bodice.  Yay!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Queen of Hearts Bodice Toile

Henrician gown from the The Tudor Tailor

I'm very lucky that the patterns in The Tudor Tailor are all sized for a 36-inch bust (my size!) so they should fit without too much alteration.  I thought it would be prudent to make a toile of at least the bodice and sleeve to check the fit.

I scaled up the pattern pieces on some scrap paper, added a half-inch seam allowance and cut them out in calico.

Henrician gown and kirtle from The Tudor Tailor

The original pattern has a separate kirtle which is worn under the gown and has a boned bodice, fastening at the front.  The front bodice of the dress hinges over this and is pinned at the side.  To save myself the trouble of making a kirtle, I'm going to put a zip down the back of the bodice, and lightly bone the bodice.

The first fitting (which I forgot to take a photo of, sorry) was much too big.  I wanted the front to be really tight, so I took about 1.5 inches off either side of the front panel, and after taking in the side seams about half an inch each, it fitted perfectly!

The back (yes I'm wearing pyjamas!).  It's pretty tight at the waist, but I want it to be squeezy.  I added one sleeve so I could see how that went, and I'm happy with it.  My shoulders just fit.

Next post: Sewing the dress

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Tudor Tailor

For my Queen of Hearts costume, I'm going to use the Henrician Gown pattern from The Tudor Tailor.  I bought this book a couple of years ago for no other reason than that it had lovely photographs and was so interesting.  I felt a bit foolish afterwards, because I couldn't ever think of a reason to make myself a Tudor gown that called for 9 metres of fabric and a farthingale.  Hah, was I wrong!

Ninya and Jane with baby Holly at The International Living History Fair in 2010

The Tudor Tailor is the joint project of two very talented women.  Jane Malcolm-Davies has a doctorate in Heritage Interpretation from the University of Surrey, and is the director of JMD & Co, which (among other services) loans historically accurate reproduction costumes to schools and gives talks about their historical background. Ninya Mikhalia has a Higher National Diploma in Costume Interpretation (doesn't that sound like a fantastic course?) from the London College of Fashion and is the principle maker of costumes for JMD & Co.

The book contains 36 patterns for Tudor garments for men and women including hats and underwear. This is the 1540s Courtier's Suit from the cover of the book, isn't it sumptuous?

The pattern for this amazing 1590s gown complete with farthingale and ruff is included.  I would love to have a go at making it one day.

What I particularly like about the book is that it also provides an historical background for the costumes.  There are several chapters discussing the social and financial role that clothing played in people's lives, and the types of materials used, with emphasis on the clothing of the average person not just the wealthy.

Pattern for Henrician Lady's Kirtle

As you can see above, the patterns are shown at 1/8th scale (each square of the grid equals one inch) and have to be scaled up to be used.  This can be a bit of a pain if you don't have inch squared paper, but there are some instructions on the Tudor Tailor site.

The instructions suppose a prior familiarity with sewing and can be quite brief.  This is not a book for a beginner sewer! There is a glossary explaining some of the more unusual sewing terms, and detailed photos and line drawings of the finished costume, but no step-by-step instructions.  This is not at all a criticism, just an observation, and if you haven't sewn very much before, I doubt you'd be attempting these sorts of outfits.

Next post: the toile of the Henrician gown bodice.