Crunch time!

Many things have happened in the past few weeks. For starters, school ended, so we’re officially out for summer (cue Alice Cooper, please). I’ve also had two out of three pre-op appointments for my impending tonsillectomy next week, and I am coming much closer to finishing my medieval costume. But, naturally, with two days left to work on it, there is still work to be done.

First, there are some gaffs: As you will see in the pictures, I made a few mistakes, but not ones that are irrevocable. I have leftover blue fabric but just don’t really have the time to fix them up all purdy-like. I’m not a perfect or experienced seamstress by any means, so I try to acknowledge my errors. On the whole though, it is starting to come togeter and look “real.”

First, a very big and momentous event: beading the paisley for the exposed sleeves. Untold hours here. The first I pounded out in a manic bout, but the second just took forever.

Here the dress is with the sleeves attached:

A focus on the bodice with the new sleeves. Still have a scarf as an impromptu belt:

Side shot showing the beading. There are 196 pearls on each sleeve and… well I lost count around 400 on the gold beads and was just about halfway through. I estimate in the 700’s.

One thing I gaffed on (sort of) is that the satin paisley is much heavier than I expected. So it really stiffens out the sleeve. Instead of the gentle drape the blue had on it’s own, the paisley makes the sleeve ends stick out, like this:

So I’ve been tucking them in, like this:

Then I started pinning on the gold trim that runs along the edges on the bottom, as in the original sketches. The hem is a simple turned hem, which, for wool is fine since it won’t unravel and is backed up by period costumers. Rolled hems, whip stitching, and variations on flat seams are very well documented.

Pinning at the top just involved bringing the trim together and folding the edges under where the belt will be. The trim is wired.

Now onto the collar, which is just a touch smaller than the actual neck opening. The beading and trim will stiffen it out to hold it’s shape and be strong enough to support the sleeves.

Working out a beading pattern. This was a small gaff that I didn’t follow through completely on it. I left off the outside gold row, but as you will see, I need to put it on the collar.

Laying the half finished collar on the dress. The collar is two pieces sewn together. One piece will lay under the neckline, and one over, like a sandwich. I’ve also adorned the dummy with some jewelry. The pearl and jet necklace I made myself to accompany my costume based on a Durer portrait.

A close up of the beads. The pearls are a good plastic (I’m fine cutting corners here! :P) but the gold beads and the blue beads are all glass. Venice has a long tradition of glass making, and I hunted through stores for a decent blue bead that used Venetian techniques. These bead most notably have foiling, and a technique that will later become millefiore patterns. Foiling is where a layer of metal foil, like gold or silver, is layed on glass and then a new layer is laid over that glass. Millefiore (thousand flowers) is a design where rods of glass are blown or rolled out into shaped canes and fused together. Commonly you see lots of them together, enough to make the glass, when cut into a sectional, to look like lots of bright little flowers. Here, the bead only has one – a red-orange heart surrounded by white. It’s a much simpler version of millefiore and isn’t high quality. I couldn’t find out when millefiore “started” in Venice, but foiling is an ancient technique, and the glass industry goes back to… well… just about the beginning of Venice, so I thought these would do just fine. Their prettiness won me over! Maybe I’ll buy some actual Venetian glass beads for my Renaissance remake, and use the leftover blue beads as filler.

Pinning the collar on…

Whip stitching the collar on. It’s not the prettiest, but it’s decorative and period.

The finished collar on the dress. The sleeves are held on by a touch my fiancĂ© liked: instead of buttons, we found decorative hooks in the notions aisle. It’s a nice touch.

Here I’m pinning the belt to fit. I’ll sew the sides on and leave the front loose. If it needs more support, I can stitch the back too, but I don’t think it will be necessary. Too many things to do anyways! But, here you can see the return of my beading gaff. I haven’t put the gold border of beads on, and it’s showing on the bottom bit of gold trim. The trim on the bottom is turning upwards to cup the pearl row instead of laying flat like it did when I first put it on the dummy. Oops. I left them off because I thought it looked pretty enough without them, but again, didn’t consider the weight or the pull of the garment properly. Fortunately, this could be easily remmedied by beading on those gold beads. So, I’m not worried. It makes the whip stitching stand out a little more, but I can come back and fix it, which is the reassuring factor:

The belt is finished!

Starting the sleeve gauntlets. I’m turning over the fabric so that I can reinforce where I put the buttons and button holes. Here I made another gaff that I didn’t notice until later: I made the sleeves exactly the same instead of mirrored. The buttons are all the same way so one will open “the wrong way” on one arm (the right arm, ironically). By the time I noticed I was so invested and damn pleased with my stitching, that I just said, too late for now, and went with it. So this is where my extra fabric might come in some time, but not for this weekend. For now, they’re pretty and just fine, dammit!

Pinning where the buttons and buttonholes will go:

The button of choice: gold and silver round buttons. I wanted plain ones which would be more period, but these are stamped with a design that is shaded with lacquer and is very pretty. My gut said they would be more suited for the Renaissance and I really wanted glass buttons (impossible to find in this time frame) so… Venice… trade… east… Aha! They’re from the East, right?

The finished sleeves, one over the other. right about in the middle of the beading (but before the buttons) is when I realized my gaff. Too late! Still you can see the extra row of stitching to reinforce (and center) the buttons.

Close up of stitching and buttons. Ta da!

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~ by glasslajora on June 23, 2011.

One Response to “Crunch time!”

  1. I love all of the pictures you incorporate in your blog. You have a real talent for both costume design and for blogging. Keep up the amazing work.

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