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!
So back in 2015, the first time I volunteered at the Great Plains Ren Fest I helped serve punch at the Queen's Tea. It was the traditional red color/flavor of Hawaiian Punch, served in little cups.
Of course, I tripped over a tent line and spilled several cups all down my dress. Everyone was horrified, but some sewing minded saint up above must have been looking out for me because it rinsed off my dress right away.
Since then there is a running joke about keeping me away from the punch served at the Queen's Tea. I'm not even allowed to serve the white grape juice we have now!
The stain repellent properties probably have to do with the fabric that was used, which was all upholstery grade and most likely had stain repellent built in. The skirt fabric was supposed to be drapery lining stuff, and it took forever to dye it properly. Even then the color turned out different in the daylight than in my kitchen.
These were Kate and I's first matching dresses, and we did actually get several uses out of them. (You can see a photo gallery here.) After three dusty, hot, day long events that I can remember. I thought it was probably time to carefully wash the dress. In the tub, with cold water and Woolite detergent.
I was fairly certain this would be a safe bet. I was very wrong. I chronicled the horror story in stages on Snapchat as it was happening. The instant I put the dress in the cold Woolite water the color from the skirt started leaching out into the tub.
It. Just. Wouldn't. Stop. So, I hung the dress to dry and hoped for the best. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe the color just got lifted, but then by some miracle redeposited on the fabric. Maybe Kate's skirt had faded to nearly the same color??? Sigh. Nope.
I tried taking a picture in natural light to show the worst of it, but my beagle, Polly decided she loooooved the new cover to "her footstool" in the living room. It took tempting her with a treat do get her to move.
Anyway, I found an angle in my basement florescent light that shows the worst of it. No getting around it, these skirts no longer matched in color.
I knew I wanted to use silk on these skirts, since it would go from very heavy drapery fabric to easier to wear and lightweight, breathable silk. The green dresses I made for the spring have spoiled me forever more on ever wearing heavy fabrics again.
It actually took 3 orders before I found two coordinating silk saris that would match the colors in the original bodices (which we were re-using). I would call the color I was looking for taupe, but the Indian sellers online disagree in their item descriptions. I'm not mad at having extra silk for future projects though!
I finally settled on two coordinating and beautifully woven silks.
Both were a little thin. As in, you could see the stripes on the hoop skirt fabric right through those silks.
I was in no mood to buy YET MORE fabric to correct my mistake, but fortunately the chemises we originally made for these dresses were full length, and had already been split once to allow for the fullness of the hoop skirts. (The hoop skirts had been made after the dresses.)
On to chopping and re-forming the chemises!
There was some discussion on how to use the silk saris. I wanted to use the decorated pallu if at all possible, and keep the front split. So, we talked about separate skirts, a fake front panel, or coordinating, but different skirts.
In the end to keep some fullness we went with identical double skirts. This took some math and geometry on my part to create the fullest skirts with not quite enough material.
Here are my notes for posterity (and because I'll likely loose them in my cluttered sewing room).
I find literally cutting and pasting in these situations immensely helpful. It was even to scale enough that I was able to take miniature measurements and scale them up to the fabric width!
The underskirts only had to flare out enough to not pull tight over the hoop skirts, but for the overskirts I wanted the front split to fall away starting from the top. That the back formed a little train is just a coincidence. (But Kate's backside looked cute when she was walking in it!)
I had hats planned for this too... So to see how the dresses PLUS hats turned out stay tuned for another post!
The spring Renaissance Festival came and went in April, and we got LOTS of compliments on our costumes! As promised, here is a picture of us all in our finery:
And did I mention that Kate and I had matching outfits? We were busy that day! Part of the time was spent handing out prizes from the musketeer's treasury. We were also in charge of reading the story during the Queen's Tea. The kids were enthralled! We read "The Knight and the Dragon" by Tomie DePaola.
My dearest hubs was also busy pulling triple duty as both Hearald for the Court and Executioner later in the afternoon, plus a Prince of dubious origin when the rest of the Royal Court was at the joust. He loved it all! We have found that elusive thing all couples desire: an activity we like doing together for fun.
And, lest I forget! L looked great in her purple gown. So good, in fact, that I'm doing an Anne Boleyn style dress for her this fall out of green silk. More blog posts to come on that for sure!
And you should see LOTS more from me in the future too. In October Kate and I have a bachelorette TEA party to host. I've already made a miniature music box for that. I just need to get the photos uploaded.... In addition Kate is doing our fall Ren Faire dresses, I have a skeleton of a plan of some pirate/steampunk/renaissance inspired costumes to wear to the KC Ren Fest, new skirt material to make over the Italian dresses from several years ago, a Renaissance princess teddy bear to make for some friends who just had a baby, brown pants to make for the hubby's new fall outfit, plus his black and brown doublets to re-line. Instead of making them reversible I'm just lining each with something more lightweight. I'd say that's enough to keep me busy!
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!