Wednesday, July 20, 2011

16th Century Flemish Kit

Once again, we head back in the archives, this time to the first big project I completed.

After the Tophat fiasco, and the corset experiment, there was a machine-sewed drawstring-necked chemise (which serves perfectly as a nightgown and looks so simply innocent that it never stays on for long) and a green skirt made from curtains that fell right into the realm of "Halloween Costume" -- which is fine, because really, that's what it was for.

But it got me fired up to make clothing, not a costume, and that's when I stumbled upon Drea Leed's excellent (and inspiring) webpage on the 16th Century Flemish Working Woman's Dress.

I had no idea that I'd be posting the resulting outfit on a blog someday, so there are precious few pictures of the assembly. I think this is the only one of the kirtle being made. It shows the strips of black wool I used to back the red linen blend so that the lacing eyelets would be stronger.

Ooh, I found a close-up pic of the chemise construction!

In true period method, I cut and hemmed each individual piece, and then whipstitched them together. It doesn't take as long as you might think, and it's incredibly strong. Here's where I
got my information on that: theelizabethanseam.html

The chemise underneath, by the way -- that's made from part of the handkerchief-weight linen that I scored at Goodwill. It's all hand sewn, too, with the Elizabethan seams, and it's probably the thing I'm most proud of, of everything I've made. I must have watched a dozen Frasier re-runs while working on it.

I got the chemise and kirtle done in time to wear it to a Yule party and then a Christmas party a week or so later, and was encouraged and gratified by the compliments I got. I was fired up and ready to make the overgown right then and there, but I hadn't found a piece of wool big enough to make it, so I had to bide my time and keep checking my thrifts.

I made my muslin for the overgown, though. Good thing, too, because for the first bit of the fitting, I was trying to pin the pieces on backwards. Good heavens.

I wanted a nice piece of brown wool to make the overgown. Joann's had exactly the stuff I wanted, at $28 a yard, a price that made my hands shake. I asked for gift certificates for the holidays to no avail.

Weeks passed with no suitable fabric turning up, and in despair, I took up with some Vikings. (You saw the cloak in an earlier post. There's an apron dress I'll be showing off later on. But I digress...)

Finally I turned up a piece of greyish tweed wool in my stash. I had forgotten I even had it! But there it was, at the bottom of the pile, and there was five yards of it. I think I had passed it over before because of the color, but on that day, something clicked in my head, saying dye it.

So I dyed it, with Rit Brown. While it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, it was certainly close enough. And frankly, by this point, all I wanted to do was get the thing made and be done. I lined the bodice part with a little brown wool that I had on hand, and the skirt is lined with a matching brown linen that used to be a tablecloth -- the Martha Stewart collection, I think. Take that, Martha!

Later I changed the brown laces for white ones. I think it's better.

And here's the back of it, with nice knife-pleats and the back all wrinkled because I've twisted to look at my off-camera dog, who is desperately hoping I'm out in the yard to play ball with her.

I'm wearing the partlet, but my apron got taken off and flung over the porch railing, because really, I want to play ball, too. Moments after this shot, I was in the house putting on jeans so I could frolic with my pup. =)

No comments:

Post a Comment