Taylor, in Teal (part 2)
A continuation of this previous blog post.
When I started this project, I could tell it would be finished in a time crunch, since we started a bit late for the spring fair. This was to be the first costume I completed from scratch since I had a very busy near-toddler taking up my time. I have been working late nights.
We decided earlier on that the accompanying color would be grey in the underskirt and sleeve lining. I pulled a budget trick I have used many times before and ordered a cotton sheet set to use for lining fabric, which I used for a very simple chemise.
The teal overskirt was equally as simple - just gathered on a waistband. She wanted a split front, so it just ties there. The bodice will cover it up.
Unfortunately because of the shape of the fabric left over after cutting out the bodice and sleeves I had to turn the fabric and cut panels instead of just gathering the edge. The hem was just serged and turned. The panels did leave a design at the opening and in the back that turned out rather nicely.
Here is the part I was disgusted with myself later. I didn't take pictures of the construction of the bodice. Time was getting tight. However, it was identical to what we did for the bodice of the Blue Bees dresses. With one crucial exception. Instead of spacing out extra large zip ties like we've done before, Taylor wanted something more flexible. Time to research!
Historically, grass reeds were sometimes used, as were sticks from hedges and rolled linen fabric. These would be replaced from time to time. One option I stumbled upon was hemp twine, or rope. This lovely blogger has already done the research, and I heartily recommend you read her posts if you are headed that direction yourself.
In her post one of the problems she had with sewing corsets was getting the cording into the channels after they were sewn. For my part I used two cords per channel and installed them as I went, using a zipper foot to sew close to the cording.
It was also highly recommended to go with uncoated hemp, and I only found one brand available in the US - fortunately available on Amazon. One spool will do for dozens of dresses! It's usually used in jewelry making with the very largest of openings in beads. As a side note - as this is uncoated hemp, it still smells "fresh." Well, as fresh as a barn full of alfalfa. Good thing Taylor works grooming dogs and I grew up on a farm!
When I was done it didn't look weird on the outside - a good sign!
The next thing to do was sleeves and trim, and here I stalled. See, this little event called COVID-19 started to affect the middle of the US. It's all happened quite quickly. Schools have shut down, my library is closed for now, and it is looking like our little faire will be cancelled for the spring.
I got some mock-ups pinned on to see what things would look like, but since I'm able to take a breath and not rush through the end of this project I am counting my blessings. Here's a preview of the sleeves, however!
I will leave this post with the three options I gave Taylor for trim placement. The trim is deconstructed from the Blue Bees dresses. I was more than happy to use up my own stash, since I don't typically use gold tones myself. We'll see what she chose when I make the next post!
The Blue Bees First Flight
Debuting new garb at a festival is always frought with what-ifs. Is the length ok? Will the bodice ride up or down? What about the weight of the garment? After repeatedly stressing over how hot we were going to be in our new multi-layer linen dresses, the weather turned out cool enough to warrant extra layers. And the fit of the dress turned out just fine.
But, everyone agreed we turned out looking awesome!
(Kate here) I was actually a little sorry we ended up wearing the full outfit all day. I hope in following years, we get to show off the dresses underneath more. And, while the dresses were great, I have to add that we seemed to have found the limit of our cheap hoop skirts. Both of us were popping hoops by the end.
For Ryan's new doublet, I literally traced over his most recent one - the green and brown doublet from the fall before - and added a few inches where necessary. The diagonal design comes from a costumed festival goer we had encountered in KC the season before, but the pants are being re used from another outfit.
I know, I know. I should have taken progress pictures of Ryan's doublet and the baby outfit. I ran out of time/inspiration.
Ryan's sleeves were from an earlier pattern as well, and I just replaced the centers with strips of ribbon. The underarm is still out of blue linen. The whole doublet is lined in the same stuff as the frock coat. And I ordered buttons to cover with blue linen, which Ryan thought was very close to magic.
The baby shift is secretly traced from a button up shirt I had for Easter, which will be in a few weeks. Almost every other baby shirt I could have traced was knit, which wouldn't do well if there was a sudden growth spurt. And in learning a lesson from my last baby outfit, I made knit side vents, which turned out to be unnecessary in this case.
(Kate again) We always seem to add things to our garb from the faire. This time, I found blue leather rabbit-trimmed fingerless gloves, and Rachel found tan velvet pouches that we strung from our bodice lacing. Perfect for hiding those modern things that you want to keep hidden but close to you, like a cell phone and wallet. Most importantly for tired feet, we added walking sticks. You'll have to imagine all these things until we can get a good picture up that includes these!
As a whole, the ensemble was a hit at the Festival! We ended up wearing the costumes both days, instead of switching out like we planned. I truly do not have any new outfits for myself planned for the Wichita Ren Fest this fall, but if time opens up this summer I may finish some costumes that have portions that have literally been in the making for around for 15 years.
Blue Bees 6
Ah, those fashionable, yet practical Renaissance Women. In most of the paintings of the period, women are wearing detachable sleeves. This helps keep dresses economical, fashionable, and comfortable. Sometimes the sleeves matched; sometimes they didn't. Some had thicker winter sleeves lined with fur.
With the Blue Bee dresses the name of the game was a straight line - so no extra puffs. I had enough solid blue linen, but NOT enough coat fabric, so that choice had been made for me already. I knew I wanted these sleeves to fit tighter at the armhole than sleeves I'd done in the past. Luckily, I had braved my way through learning this tutorial so making the pattern wasn't so difficult.
Since these were detachable, they needed to be lined, as much as I didn't want extra layers. I went with extra silk from the coat lining.
Finally, what about pattern? I wanted to distinguish the sleeves from the dress, especially if we wore the dresses without the coat. English patterns of the time seemed to repeat at regular intervals, and something geometric would be easiest... I admit I went with the low effort option. I overestimated the amount of 1/8" navy satin ribbon I would need so I had extra, and settled on a diamond pattern.
The new cording presser foot I got for my sewing machine also accepted the ribbon and made topstitching (with a zig-zag) a breeze! I was also able to use up some grey plastic pearl beads I bought on sample but wasn't able to use in another project. Sewing them on was not nearly as bad as the French knots I did for Ryan's ribbon sleeves!
I used enough of my white marking pencil that I actually had to resharpen it (gasp!). In the end Kate and I decided we needed to see the cuffs she had so skillfully embroidered, and so we turned up the cuffs and tacked them in place. I'm not sure if the upturned cuff is really period, but it looks quite nice with the overall style impression I wanted to make.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!