Trimming is slow

I’ve been sewing trim onto the pink gown. I sat down to watch Babylon 5: In the Beginning, and I thought I’d at least get the trim for the front finished during that 2hr movie.


I got the trim on the left side. Well I just did the trim on the right side during Revenge of the Sith.

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Patterns of Fashion Acquired

the books Patterns of Fashion 3 and 4 At friends’ urging, I ordered copies of Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 3 and Patterns of Fashion 4. Number 4 is “the underwear edition.” It’s full of shirts, chemises/smocks, coifs, ruffs, bands, drawers, partlets, etc. That arrived yesterday.

Page 54 shows on-grain hem tape at a neckline. Excellent!

Seam treatments in that book don’t show any seams bound the way I did, though a different type of bound seam is visible. It’s a flat strip sewn to the fabric on either side of the raw edges, with the raw edges hidden underneath. The example is out of period for the SCA, at 1659.

However, Patterns of Fashion 3 has, on page 43, photograph 309, what looks suspiciously like how I bound my seams (1585). So, I’m going with it, though in future I think I’ll use a more-obviously-correct seam treatment, like rolling a hem then sewing the pieces together.

Always research before you sew, kids.


I am now bounciful about the possibility of creating a smock based on what’s in that book. I also have a friend who requested a blackwork shirt when we were at Pennsic. He has agreed to the terms “I’ll make you a blackwork shirt, as long as I get to take my time on it and can enter it in an A&S competition.” So now I have an A&S To-Do List.

How to get very nice garb: challenge a seamstress.

I may need to talk to Lady Aaradyn about learning to make bobbin lace. Extant Italian smocks show little in the way of neck embroidery but lots of bobbin lace.

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Ripping out some of that dress

I’m not happy with how the pink dress fits. The bodice is a little loose, and I think I left seam allowance at the bottom edge and then didn’t use it, because the waist is too low, and the skirt is longer than planned. So, I’ll be removing the skirt, cutting the bound edge off the underarm of the bodice fronts, and rebinding and eyeleting those edges to fix the fit. Then I’ll bind the bottom edge of the bodice and pin it up before reattaching the skirt to the folded edge (right now it’s attached to a raw edge, and I’m concerned about the integrity of the fabric).

I’m trying to decide if I should’ve put the trim on before the skirt as well, to hide the ends. This leads me to some confusion about whether these are properly called guards. Guards, when you look at Florentine dress, are along the edges of the neck. I’ve been told it’s so they can be replaced easily when they get tattered. That sounds like they’re the edge binding. Since on this Milanese dress the lines of contrast color are a bit in from the edges, maybe they don’t qualify as removable guards, just as a way to hide the seams from the bound edges.

I’m waiting for a copy of Patterns of Fashion to show up on my doorstep so I can explore this some more.

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1580s Italian working class pink dress, at the wearable stage

a kitchen scene painted in the 1580s by Vincenzo Campi
Vincenzo Campi’s “Cucina” (“Kitchen”)

See the woman in pink in the middle whose head is a little misplaced? I decided to make a copy of that gown using some pink linen I had on-hand. I purchased camel-color wool to use for the guards.

After talking to Mistress Alizaundre de Brebeuf about construction methodology, I was settled on binding both the hems and the seams. She pointed out that the guards were there to hide seams, from which we concluded two things:

  1. like me, the woman in the painting is asymmetrical in some way (I have one shoulder lower), explaining why she has a center-back seam but the woman in green doesn’t (her back panel could have been cut on a fold)
  2. bound hems act as reinforcement for the eyelets
woman standing in a field wearing a white chemise with large sleeves and a sleeveless square-necked pink linen dress, laced up the front
1580s working class dress, assembled enough to wear at Vlad & Kalisa’s coronation

The binding on the bodice is all cut on the grain in the direction of the warp, because on-grain will hold shape better than bias and use less fabric (an important consideration in period, enough so that I doubt the use of bias binding in period) and the warp threads are usually stronger than weft.

The skirt is done in small cartridge-pleats. Cartridge pleats are usually for gathering large amounts of fabric to a bodice, but as a working class woman, large amounts of fabric would be a luxury. Such conspicuous consumption would require a higher economic status. The pleats in the painting appear to be small and shallow, so I think this matches well.

Looking closely at the painting, you can see that her apron has two sets of ties. One keeps it from falling forward away from her when she bends over. I haven’t made an apron, but I may eventually.

The sleeves and guards are not yet done.

Click here to see a gallery related to this project

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Joining A&S 50 Challenge

At the coronation of Vlad and Kalisa, I was told by Lady Jacintha of Highland Foorde about the A&S 50 Challenge, to make 50 items before 1 May AS L.

To that end, I have created a portfolio for A&S 50 projects.

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