Saturday, December 31, 2016

HSM December: Special Occasion

Birth of the Virgin 1365
Now that it is December, I regret how few of the Historical Sew Monthly Challenges I managed to do. They always help me push my boundaries and get something actually done!  This December challenge was no different.  Our local SCA Barony was having a Midwinter feast set in 14th century Italy.  I had originally planned to just wear something 16th century that I already had.  Then a friend challenged me to join him wearing 14th century and I remembered that I could use this for HSM December!  So this was a perfect fit! 

cutting the gown front with leaf detail
First I did some research and decided I loved the gown on the lady on the right in this image.  This image is a detail shot of a fresco by Giovanni da Milano in the Rinuccini Chapel in Santa Croce, Florence.  This fresco depicts the Life of the Virgin  and this detail is from the birth of the Virgin panel.  Giovanni da Milano was active from 1345-1369 and this fresco is dated 1365.  I absolutely love the leaf detail down the front of the gown!  However, I quickly decided I needed to use fabric I already owned as I already have a sizable stash.  So this eliminated a true copy as I have no white wool.  I did have some tropical weight blue/gray wool gabardine however, so I threw it in the washer and the dryer to felt it up a bit.  While the wool was washing and felting, I drafted a quick kirtle pattern and a quick leaf pattern.  I then cut the gown and sleeves from the wool and used the leaf pattern La Cotte Simple and was fairly happy with how they came out!  The then used the remaining silk for straight cut binding for the cuffs and collar of the gown.  I did this for 2 reasons, one there appears to be some binding at these points in the fresco and two, I have a skin reaction to wool so I wanted to bind the places that might touch around my underdress and shift.  The straight binding does not behave nicely on the neckline however, so I will need to fix this in the future!

hand sewing the wool to silk
silk bound buttonholes
Cutting the leaves was a bit tedious, but the effect was worth it!  I then searched the stash for a color of silk or wool that would contrast nicely with the blue/gray wool and found some cream colored silk satin left over from an old project.  There was not enough to cut the front panels in a single piece so I had to piece the front.  Due to the detail of the leaves, I had to hand sew the wool to the silk.  I was not sure if the leaves would have been sewn down or left free, so I decided to leave them free.  I also decided to add a front closure, as I am usually dressing myself! I used small round metal buttons and hand made buttonholes.  Hand done buttonholes make me really nervous, but I felt machine buttonholes would look terrible down the front of a dress like this.  Since I had never hand sewn buttonholes from this time period before, I used the tutorial from

For headwear, I wanted something more than what the lady in the fresco was wearing so I spent some time looking and some favorite blogs of mine for ideas. I decided I wanted a St. Brigitta's cap with embroidery and a D-shaped veil after looking a Katafalk. I am not going to post any in progress picks on these two since they basically followed tutorials from Katafalk, Cathrin has a wonderful guide toveil shapes and instructions for both a plain and a fancy St. Brigitta's cap.  I did simplify the insertion stitch since my thread turned out to be too thick for the fancy stitch Cathrin did. I also altered the band embroidery just because I felt like it.
St. Brigitta's cap
insertion stitch and embroidery

Here are some images of the full outfit and one event picture!  I really enjoyed this style and will likely make more in the future.  I also really want a frilled veil!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Alexia Maccon Cosplay Part V: The cape

Alexia wears this very cute little shoulder cape with her floating dress.  Looking at the cover, it appears to have a fancy closure at the neck, either applique or embroidery down the front, some sort of fluffy trim around the bottom and a standing collar.  The cape is also a fairly dark shade of blue.  Searching many fabric stores I could not find any silk that matched this color, so I settled on a blue poly satin. 

The pattern for this is basically a full circle with a neck hole and a simple standing collar.  I cut a slit into the circle to form the opening and then rounded the bottom front edges the give a more gentle curve.  If you look at the image to the left you can see the gentle curve to the bottom front.  The trim is a gathered lace with pleated satin over it.  Thankfully this trim was bought this way and did not need to gather the lace or pleat the satin!
 The design on Alexia's cape looked almost like velvet to me, but I was dreading doing the velvet applique and running out of time!  So I used heat set flocking material.  The idea for this did not come from me, but rather from a blogger I love, Fresh Frippery and her Lady Tremaine dress. She used this same flocking to add the lovely accents to her Lady Temaine gown (seriously this gown is amazing)! She used a Silhouette machine to cut out her appliques, I don't own one of these but found this stuff just as easy to work with without the machine.  I designed the appliques then drew them onto the plastic backing of the flocking material.  The designs were then cut out and the backing material removed by hand.  The designs were then ironed on (using a cloth to cover the designs).  Once attached the front covering was removed and I was left velvet like appliques!  The only down side I have found is that the flocking picks up sooo much cat hair and fuzz!  I am forever cleaning them up!

The closure is a false closure made of a fancy button bought at the fabric store and stitched to a straight piece of the satin (lined and interlined for strength).  The cape actually closes with hidden hook and eyes.

 I also added and applique to the back, I dont see one in the reference images but I wanted to add something here.  You can also see that the satin stretched and I added 2 small pleats to the back to allow it to fit the collar.  The collar is a simple standing collar, cut to fit my neck measurement.

Here is the front of the finished cape, forgive my messing sewing room backdrop!  The only thing I have left for this costume is the parasol.  While I did get the parasol to usable before the event, there are still some details I would like to add to really make it match the cover.  I hope to finish this up shortly and will post about it when I do!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Alexia Maccon cosplay Part IV: The bodice

Sorry about the really long gap between the bodice and skirt postings, I swear I did not forget, I just got really busy!

Looking at the cover image, the bodice has embroidery on the front panel, and black detail between the front panel and the side front panels.  In the case of the cover image, there is embroidery both at the top and the bottom of the front panel (not always true inside the book).  The sleeves are split open, with lace showing from underneath and with black bows facing up the arm and away from the cuff.

Looking at various black and white images in the book itself,  the bodice is often shown with the side front matching the odd drapes on the skirt and different from the front panel.  Since I was low on the blue silk from the skirts, I decided to use the silk Dupioni for the main parts of the bodice (sleeves, bodice back and sides) and the remainder of the blue smooth silk for the bodice front. 


Truly Victorian TV 462
I then had to decide what pattern to use for the bodice.  Looking at the length of the bodice and basic lines, I decided to alter one of my favorite Truly Victorian patterns, the tail bodice pattern.  I love the way the back looks in this pattern and felt it would compliment the skirt well.  I was also very easy, due to the dart placement, to make the bodice front into a separate piece.  I did decide to remove the collar entirely, due to the presence of the cape.  I did a quick mock up and made the pattern alterations and was ready to go.  The sleeves I made much tighter. I usually have to tighten the sleeves on Truly Victorian patterns anyway, but I wanted these to be so tight that the sleeve would want to open up at that split and show the lace underneath.

I then very carefully, and with much squinting at the front cover, designed embroidery that I felt replicated the pattern on the front of Alexia's bodice close enough.  Here is the embroidery I decided on.  I then flat-lined the silk as it was so thin, I was worried it would not lay flat for the embroidery. Once flat lined, I embroidered the front of the bodice with black silk floss.

The images below show the embroidery detail on the finished bodice.  

Bodice top embroidery detail

Bodice bottom embroidery detail

I was now ready to put the bodice together, other than adding the front panel, with black silk piping and altering the sleeves, I followed the instructions from the Truly Victorian Pattern.  The sleeves were lined in blue cotton and the bottom 6 inches (until just above the slit) was lined in more blue dupioni. A false cuff of lace was then added to the inside of the sleeve.  The white lace was gathered onto a cotton false cuff.  Only the bottom row of lace goes all the way around the false cuff, the rest of the lace is gathered only into the area that would be shown by the slit.  Here is a close up of the sleeve to give you and idea of the lace placement. 

sleeve cuff close up
sleeve from the back

Finally, here are some images of the finished bodice!  Sorry for the slightly wonky photos, the bodice does not fit on the larger dress dummy at the bust (no squish......) and it hangs on my smaller dummy.  Oh, and I learned something I truly detest doing, self fabric covered buttons!  The buttons are all covered in the thin silk fabric.  This fabric shredded easily and made making self covered buttons a true pain, however I think the look nice and am glad a persevered and finished them.  Thank you all for reading and let me know if you have any questions! 
bodice back
bodice side
bodice front