When I made the first sketch of the red renaissance dresses, I just put a generic gathered-necked chemise underneath - the simplest design to both draw and make. But the more I researched the style of dress I was going for, the more I realized that I would want an actual hemd (German shirt/chemise) with a higher neck and actual collar.
In researching German hemds, I came across the wonderful Cathrin Åhlén's blog, Katafalk. She is a trained tailor and dressmaker who has a passion for historical dress. The walk-through of her hemd seemed straightforward but also detailed enough that I was willing to give it a shot.
Of course, the real show-stopper here is all the smocking, done by hand. Hundreds (and I do mean hundreds!) of tiny, perfectly straight folds, with meticulous embroidery in decorative patterns over them - daunting for sure. But with every new project, I want to learn something new.
The next slide show of pictures took many evening hours after work in front of the TV to complete. Each gathering line stitch meant picking up only two or three threads in the fabric, and they had to be a straight and even as possible. And once the gathering lines are all pulled up, each embroidery stitch has to be as neat as you can make your hand stitching. Thankfully (for once), I have a short neck, so there's only a little embroidery that can fit on the collar.
Once the neck was done, the sleeve cuffs follow suit. After the yards of fabric in the collar, the sleeve cuffs went by in breeze by comparison! I used a different color gathering thread, both for variety, and so I tell in the pictures what I was working on.
As I was nearing the completion of this hemd (I will be making a second one, of course), the pandemic hit. Everything about it feels surreal, but at the same time, I am taking things seriously.
After 4 days of working from home, I could already tell I would need to make an effort to reach out virtually, or my natural introvert/hermit tendencies would leave me miserable. So, I planned a little Facebook Live book review/tea party, and invited friends. It also gave me a deadline to finish the hemd, because I knew I would want to feature it during the tea party.
There is a post-script to this part of the project, and it has very little to do with the actual project. Life feels very uncertain with the onset of the pandemic. No one knows how it will play out, but I do know myself, and I know that being entirely by myself during this shut down is not good for my mental health. Theoretically, working from home will give me more time to work on projects...it just may not be from my own home. Stay tuned!
Well. Here we are again.
After the completion of our most recent Renaissance dresses, the Blue Bee dresses, I asked Rachel if we had enough dresses for festivals and faires. What a silly question.
Red seems to be the one color we haven't really explored, and is the other royal court color besides blue. We knew we wanted to stay away from a pink-red or orange-red. And after our forays into Italian and English styles, it was time to once again embrace our genetic heritage and go with a German style.
I took the opportunity to sketch out the costume design digitally for the first time - usually I use a pencil. I'm happy with the way it turned out - for my first time. But (spoilers), about from the time I clicked "save", I knew I'd be making changes to the design. So be sure to keep up with the twists and turns on this one, as I know this will be a multiple-post project.
Rachel is fantastic at using unexpected, budget friendly fabric in her Renaissance dresses. But I wanted to take the excuse to be very deliberate (and, I'll admit it, "boojee"). Linen was an obvious choice, but I wanted it to be a bit lighter in weight than the blue linen we'd used before, and I was after a particular shade of red. As I live in an, ahem, "fabric desert", about the only way to achieve this is to order swatches from an online store first.
I wanted a near-tissue weight linen for the shirt, and a light-medium weight for the dress. After finding what I wanted from Fabric-Store.com (which specializes in linen) I took a picture of the fabric swatches with a fork as background to compare weight and color.
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!