Monday, July 2, 2012

Past Projects - Blue Renaissance Gown

A rough mock-up of the finished gown
Although not my first attempt at making a Renaissance era costume, this is the first one I actually completed.  I wore it to the Michigan Renaissance Faire in September of 2009.  According to my construction notes, I started working on it a month before...

My starting materials:
Underskirt 1 - Gold brocade (with flash)
Underskirt 2 - blue & red Paisley stripe (no flash)
I started with the bodice, for which I used a navy blue stretch velour top that was too small for me.  I cut off the sleeves and used the front pattern piece from Simplicity 5836 (view B) to roughly shape the V-neckline I wanted.  

I lined it with navy crepe which I had originally planned to also use for the overskirt, but I changed my mind and ended up using a lovely navy satin instead.  Now, since I was using stretch velour, I cut the lining on the bias so it would stretch along with the outer fabric.  Lining it all up correctly was a pain!  And one side ended up longer than the other:

Checking the fit
I evened it out when I attached the skirt, so no big deal.  I used hem tape as facing on the armholes, which worked rather well.  I sewed it to the edge by machine, and then turned it under and hand-tacked it to the lining.  

For the overskirt I used Butterick 6391, which I had used for my first Prom dress back in 2002!  Ahhh, memories...  Anyway, I loved the pleated back.  Of course, I modified it to exclude the zipper and opened the skirt in front.

The underskirt fabric is just held in place by my hands, at this point.  
I hand-tacked gold cord, wrapped in narrow metallic braid, to the front edges of the gown once it was complete:  

The underskirt was a challenge.  I decided to make the gold brocade one first, and I wanted to make it reversible and adjustable so that either I or my sister could wear it.  (I was already planning the Green Gown I made for her a year later.)  To achieve this, I used the gold brocade for the front and sides, and some green upholstery fabric for the back (or alternate front).  Both sides were too short, so I added contrasting bands at the hem, with trim covering the seams:  

Bottom of the gold side
Top edge of the gold side
Top edge of the green side
The green side still ended up being too short (another story for another post), so I added more material at the top and pleated both "front" sections.  I then sewed casings along the top of the side sections and used twill tape to gather them in - this way the skirt is adjustable.  

The sleeves were the biggest challenge.  I knew I wanted them slashed, but was unsure how to go about accomplishing that.  In the end, I stitched crepe facings on the outside with a very narrow seam allowance around a vertical line I had drawn on with chalk.  Then I cut down the line, turned the facings to the inside through the slit, and hand-tacked them down on the inside.  Keep in mind I was sewing these slashes on sleeves that were already constructed - not easy!  But they came out exactly like I had envisioned:  

Self-portrait in the mirror - no flash
All I had left to do was add grommets (I know - not period!) to the sleeves so they could be laced up to the shoulders, and I was done!  Next post will have many pictures of me wearing the completed gown at the Faire!  :)  

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