I've always loved the art of John William Waterhouse, an artist in the late 19th/early 20th century. He's known for his romantic imagery of iconic figures from ancient mythologies, Arthurian Legend, and Shakespeare. I had never made anything earlier than Renaissance era garments, so it would be a definite challenge for me. My first plan was to try to mimic his 1910 Ophelia:
I bought a white linen/rayon blend with the intention of dying it, as the store colors were limited. (100% linen was too pricey, and the colors even more limited.) I picked up some dye and got busy:
Only I can't find my stir stick! And the water's too hot to use my hands! I wonder if I have anything on hand...
Alas, the color came out considerably darker than I planned. But no matter, Waterhouse's 1916 Miranda has a similar silhouette in a much darker color:
However, after washing and pressing, the fabric showed something worse than a darker-than-expected color:
For some reason, it had splotched (a technical term, I'm sure) all over, and would look dreadful as a dress. My options at this point were: try and dye it even darker to cover the blemishes, or buy new fabric and use the blue as lining. Since I still need lining, I decided to go with option B. After all, if a second dye job failed, I'd have to buy more anyway. So back to the store and thankfully the fabric was still on sale. The best option for a color to match the blue well turned out to be brown. Fortunately, I'm excessively fond of brown. However, I was glum about it no longer looking like the paintings...until I ran across his 1900 painting called The Lady Clare:
I took a little bit from all three in the end, using the color and bodice style from The Lady Clare, the darker blue from Miranda, and the sleeve style from Miranda and Ophelia. I followed the directions from the Cotte Simple to build the main dress. Her directions were easy to follow, and I highly recommend cottesimple.com to anyone looking to do a fitted 14th century dress. The bell sleeves I adapted from Simplicity 1487, and the undersleeves were self drafted.
I draped initially on my dress form, and basted all but the front seam in place. Then I put it on and had a friend adjust the center front until it was suitably fitted.
The bodice pattern after balancing.
The bell sleeve shape
The undersleeve, with self-facing.
Inside and outsides of the undersleeves.
GORES. Making giant triangles was a much bigger headache than I expected. http://zilredloh.com/2011/10/11/reinforcing-pencil-skirt-seams-setting-in-a-godet/ was a great help for setting them in just right.
The full length pieces for the dress, with the shorter lining pieces. This is the point (which seems to happen with all my projects) where I get so focused on construction that I stop taking pictures until the whole thing is done, or close to it.
I thought this was a rather brilliant way to space my eyelets. I emptied out the hole punch and used the punched bits to figure out the placement. Then I marked each one with Sharpie, which bled through the paper and left a small spot right where each eyelet needed to go. Had to turn off the air conditioning though.
While this wasn't the first time I've done hand-bound eyelets, it was certainly the most I've ever done. And this project holds another first that I've always wanted to try:
Spiral lacing! Although Husband didn't quite close me in the back, my more lace-experienced friends managed it. I used Jen Thompson's fabulous guide to spiral lacing at http://www.festiveattyre.com/p/the-zen-of-spiral-lacing.html.
X-laced in front to match The Lady Clare
Why do I keep tilting my head like that?
The Challenge: Art
Pattern: Cottesimple.com, with a little help from Simplicity 1487, and additional hand drafting.
Year: 14th Century
Notions: Cotton cord
How historically accurate is it? The pattern and shape is accurate, but I machine sewed most everything, and serged my seam allowances. The dress is bag lined, and there's rayon in the fiber content. I'm pretty proud of the hand-stitched eyelets, and I did hand stitch a few other bits in the dress.
Hours to complete: I keep meaning to keep track but...not this time.
First worn: Not yet, except to model.
Total cost: About $60