Monday, March 7, 2016

Elizabethan Era Doublet Ensemble with Italian Collar

You may think, and rightly so, that I have costuming A.D.D. Truth is, my schedule - for work that I actually get paid for - is so full all the time that I don't get the time to sit and devote to all the fun projects I start - so many have to sit unfinished until I have the spare time. Money talks and all that, you know?

So my next client project is this beautiful doublet ensemble fashioned from a gorgeous silk brocade of gold and blue.

The skirt will be a solid blue cotton velveteen as the dot patterned silk was out of stock at Renaissance Fabrics. *Sad Panda*  But actually, it will wear much better than silk and stand up to the rigors of reenacting. I'm using Lynn McMaster's spiral sleeve pattern to accomplish this look in the picture below:


First Step:  I draped my client for a muslin toile. Then laid it out, flat drafted it from the draped pattern and added the seam allowances.

After using that pattern to make another muslin toile (mock-up), I used it to fit my client, made adjustments, small alterations for fit, then picked it apart and traced/drafted another pattern. Whew!  Long process, but I get a perfect fit rather than trying to finagle a "generic" commercial pattern into fitting my client.

Final pattern - Ready to cut out fabrics.

Second Step:  I am using silk brocade. This particular brocade was more dense than others, but I STILL back it with fusible 100% linen batiste. Synthetic fusible interfacing, I have discovered through trial and many errors, is just not a reliable medium. Pellon's quality has gone down hill and their fusible interfacings no longer seem to adhere properly. I mean, how hot
Prepping silk to be cut out by fusing batiste linen to the back.
does your iron need to be for pity sake?  So, while taking some on-line fashion design courses in Europe and the UK my instructors introduced me to fusible batiste. It is an extra expense, but my clients would rather pay the extra money than have their garment turn out substandard. Fusible Pellon interfacings also tend to give silks an "orange peel" effect that I could not prevent no matter how much pressure or how taut I held the fabric when I ironed it on. So -  good-bye Pellon, hello fusible batiste linen. Please excuse the state of my ironing board cover. It's seen thousands of miles, and I've finally replaced it after seeing these pictures!  Bleh!

Why do I iron on the fusible batiste BEFORE cutting? 

Because it is the ONLY way you will get your fabrics to match up with your interfacing pieces, and this is how my Couture Corset instructor taught me! But isn't that wasteful? - You might ask. It's not that much more wasteful, but mostly it's worth it to have your pieces cut exactly alike. That is important especially when sewing your pieces together. They go together more neatly and evenly, your edges are sealed, and I usually end up using my extra fabrics for hats and such so it's already prepped for use.

Step Three: My client decided she wanted tabs around the bottom of her doublet after I had already made her sketch. I have used Margo Anderson's tabs, but they're a bit too large for my preference, so I hand drafted my tabs so that they fit perfectly into the width of my client's pattern.

I started with the back pieces, then the front pieces, and drafted the side panels until they all fit perfectly in that space, with just a little bit of overlap. Then retraced them again adding my seam allowances.

That's all for today!  Stay tuned.That's all for today!  Stay tuned.

Week One:
 I pleated the ruff and sewed it in the collar.


Next, I installed the shoulder wings, and finished up the lining. 

I used bias cut strips for he armhole facings. 


I made piping and sewed it on each of the tabs and installed them. 

Week Two:

  Work on the forepart.

I spent many, MANY hours hand sewing  on the trims before beginning with beads and pearls. 

Week Three:

Work on the sleeves to begin. 

First I layed out the trims and hung the sleeves on my dress form to see how they looked.  I ended up sewing on some navy blue velvet ribbon to blend the darker blue of the trims. 

Once I decided I liked the placement of the trims on the sleeves, I began hand stitching the trims to the sleeves along with an ivory and gold ecru crochet lace. Yes, it would have gone much faster sewing them on by machine but that's not always the best IMO.  

Week Three through Five: 

I spent the next two weeks, 8 to 10 hours a day sewing on trims and hand beading!  They turned out beautiful! You can't see all the tiny colorful amber and cobalt seed beads until you step out into the sun. 

Next, I cartridge pleated the skirt, then hung it on my dress form to get an idea how it all went together. 

Next I sewed the waist band to the cartridge pleats and measured out the length from the base of the waistband to my client's measurements for the hem. 

Week Six: 

I decided the skirt was too plain and it "needed" something, so I proceeded to use the remainder of the wide trim I had and sewed it onto the skirt facings and therein commenced another week of beading and pearling! 

Week Seven: 

Next I began work on the chemise - seen in the finished picture above. I used my copyrighted machine embroidery reproduction for the Maria de Medici collar embroidery to fashion this gorgeous chemise made of Belfast linen. 

Then, once again, I began sewing pearls on the collar and cuffs! 

Week Eight:

I sat with a large needle and wove blue embroidery thread around small wooden beads for buttons and attached them on either side. They purely decorative, as I used hook and eye closures in the front.

Next, I sewed the chemise together! 

Week Nine:

I fashioned an Italian Flat cap using the matching brocade of the doublet, trimmed the brim in bias cut silk, and added copious feathers and metallic finding. 

The finished product at my client's final fitting!  She was moved to tears when she saw all the details sparkling in the sunlight. Pictures don't do it justice! 

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