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!
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.”
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.
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.