In the last post, I talked about the rocky start to the fall renaissance faire dresses. In this post you get to see the "guts" (or at least some of them) of the dress.
From my research of 16th century upper-class German dresses, I found that closures ranged from hidden hooks and eyes, to straight pins, or complete mysteries. For the dresses I was making I knew that the closures had to be secure, strong, hidden, and practical for us to get dressed without a lady-in-waiting. I decided to start with what I already knew; lacings through eyelets and grommets.
With some reservations, I chose the smaller eyelet, as I wanted to be able to put more holes in a smaller space than the larger grommet might allow. Also, I was also sure I had enough eyelets for both dresses.
I started with the center panel, which I had decided would be completely removable. The challenge with eyelets, however, is that there is a limit to the thickness of fabric they will stay in with any reliability, and they take a little more work to apply evenly and securely.
On the bodice lining, I sewed a strip of lightweight strapping I had studded with eyelets. Where I had challenges putting the eyelets through the layers of fabric, interfacing, and white denim lining of the center panel, the eyelets went in the strapping with relative ease.
I did come to regret my choice of eyelet over grommet for the center panel though. I'd laced and unlaced it only a couple of times, checking the fit and lay of the lacing, and I lost one of the eyelets in the center panel. In the process of removing the eyelet completely, I stretched the hole in the fabric bigger. There was no going back in with an eyelet. I did derive some satisfaction from putting in a two-piece grommet, however:
At this point I couldn't resist anymore - I had to try it on, even if "it" was just the lining. The system was promising! I was happy that I'd managed to evenly line up the edges, and I hadn't somehow made the center panel go in diagonally.
It's at this point that I'll mention that unlike previous dresses, I decided to go with a conventional featherweight sewn-in boning in the lining, rather than my old friends - cable ties from the hardware store. This was in part due to an attempt to avoid a separate corset and the extra layers it would bring, but also to try to achieve both the more natural silhouette of the German renaissance gown, and also give enough support and shape that I could go without a bra if I wanted.
You can see some of the boning in the picture here (those white strips on the cream of the lining fabric). There are also boning strips on the long edges of the center panel, in the back of the bocide, and I ended up adding boning to the front edges of the bodice so they don't waffle and wrinkle under the strain of the laced bodice.
I'll leave you with an artistic picture of the half-finished bodice on the dress dummy, showing off the hidden lacing. The trim has yet to be sewn on (it's just pinned), and the whole skirt needs to be sewn, pleated, attached to the bodice, and hemmed before this can really be anything more than a fancy, raggedy-edged vest. But at this point, you can join me and Gene Wilder in saying "It could work!"
Twins each with half a brain in reality; the other half displayed here!