I've been writing this blog now for almost three years, and while I am increasingly confident in my abilities and I'm certainly not afraid of a challenge, I've noticed that I'm in kind of a rut when it comes to dressing myself. All of my 14th century dresses are cut from the same basic bodice pattern, and I cut the skirt and gores depending on how much fabric I have. I do this because I know the fit of my basic bodice is reliable, reasonably attractive, and in keeping with period standards.
At least I think so. I mean, I do my research and look at extant garments (online) and patterns from reliable sources. My fabrics are strictly 100% linen and wool and I use linen or silk thread when available. I stitch by hand using methods and stitches appropriate to the 14 century.
But I don't know anyone personally who does what I do. I don't have a mentor or guide who can look at my stuff and suggest improvements. I feel like one of those medieval painters who rendered animals they had never actually seen before, just read descriptions of, and ended up with elephants that looked like this:
I mean, it resembles an elephant: there are the tusks, and the trunk, and ... is that meant to be hair? Where are the ears? If you'd never seen an elephant before and someone said "There, that is an elephant." you would be very impressed that this sort of beast existed and probably never question the accuracy of the portrait.
So here I am making my clothing and feeling pretty good about how it looks. My friends are all super-impressed that I can sew and whatever I present for inspection draws appreciative comments. But I have very little idea if what I'm making compares favorably with the sort of standards I'd like.
I'm not fishing for compliments. What I want is honest critique from a knowledgeable source. Are my necklines too low or too wide? Am I leaving out important details? How can I get more variety in my dress style and learn newer, more challenging skills?
If you can offer suggestions, or know of a forum where I can ask questions and learn, please let me know in the comments. Thank you!