The Genovese Dress has begun!

Ooh! A post!

I’m happy to report that I’ve started work on my mother in law’s Renaissance Genovese dress, which I’ve posted research for in months past. Last night I made my first cuts on a chemise blouse for her. She wanted one that is short as she often gets hot in garb, but something that will still be functional and look pretty on top. I had a great piece of cotton-linen blend left over that was soft and airy that, at just two yards, would not be enough for a full length chemise but would still make a great blouse.

I took some photos this morning of my progress. They’re pretty crappy, and I’m sorry about that.

A lot of my research showed traces of a high gathered neck, so I divided my fabric into four even rectangles: 2 for sleeves, one for the back, and one for the front of the chemise. Because the fabric was not originally cut evenly, I have some scraps that I can cut for underarm gores to give a bit more freedom of movement. I measured the height for the neck and length of the shoulder from neck to edge and sewed the body panels together that length. It looked a bit like a bad tube. I should have taken pictures of this part, but I forgot. I cut a slit down the middle of the front that will later have buttons, and then turned the hem around the sewn edge of the tube. I pleated that edge and pinned each pleat down to make – voila! – a neckline!


It takes lot of pins to turn 44 inches into 17 plus allowance.

The pleating creates a natural circling effect, and I’ll add two ribbons to the neck soon to hold the pleats in formation. I put that on my dress form and got to work on the sleeve rectangles. I decided to do a double rolled seam, which actually dates back to the Middle Ages. It looks quite pretty and is, I think, easy to decorate with beads or embroidery later. I picked an easy stitch pattern and I plan to put a pearl bead on each “point.”


Double rolled seams! They do not look very even in the picture, but that's just the angle I am holding the fabric. Overall, they turned out pretty even. I was being very patient for a change.


This is how I pinned the double rolled seam. After sewing the fabric together, you lay it flat and turn the allowance in on itself. The original stitch line becomes the center of the seam. Because I want to decorate them, I made them a little large; each roll is just about a centimeter wide.

I pleated the sleeves to make a cuff as well and used a double wide version of the ribbon I will use on the neckline to go around the cuff. This could also potentially be decorated. It’s the same ribbon I used as a belt in my medieval Venetian gown. Sewed the pleats together twice at the two ends of the cuff, and basted it down the middle. I sewed the ribbon on by hand, which will hold the pleats down the middle of the cuff just fine.


The cuff. It will also have buttons and ribbon or cord loops.

I somehow managed to finish one of the sleeves and pinned it onto the two body pieces to see how it fit together and if I need a piece under the arm. Because my mother in law is very slender in the shoulder, and she needs some flexibility, I cut the sleeves on an angle, similar to a raglan. I will be adjusting this part a little higher on her shoulder, and will make the underarm gore more squat. The sleeve is extra long, so she will have plenty of freedom of movement – not including her other garments, of course!

Tonight I will attempt to finish the other sleeve and sew the body up – or at least baste it together for a final fitting.

Pinned on the dress form. The sleeve will need to be pinned up higher than shown in this picture.


~ by glasslajora on March 20, 2012.

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