Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another non-knitting post

Okay, I know this is a knitting blog, but I think that posts about other crafts (like crocheting and sewing) are OK too. I've been making good use of the borrowed sewing machine, so I figured I could get another dress in before I have to give it back (in a week and a half!).
I'm working on another medieval-style dress. Why another one? Well, it's all fine and dandy to have a peasant dress that is plain and good for hot weather (100 % linen), but I also want something a little dressier. After all, I can be a princess if I want to be! I am using the same pattern as the previous dress, but with different fabric choices, and I redesigned the sleeve to be more historically accurate for a high-status woman. While it's not finished yet (2 evenings to go, not including hemming), I'm documenting the process I used to create this number.

Step 1: the inspiration.
I love watching TV and movies set in the past, and I recently re-watched Tristan and Isolde. OK, I know the movie has it's issues and one should rarely base a costume on Hollywood interpretation, but the dresses were PRETTY. So there. Go turn the volume off and look at the gorgeous gowns. Here's some pics lifted from web-posted screencaps.
Inspiration #1: Isolde's red coronation gown.
The fabric looks silky, and the center is a fancier patterned fabric, the sides are a plainer fabric.
The cut is very similar to the pattern I already have (Butterick B4827).
Inspiration #2: Cadfael. I watched all 4 seasons of the mini-series and looked at all of the gowns. The styles are all fairly similar, here's a screencap from season 2 episode 2, the Devil's Novice.
While this gown has a different construction, the design element I like is the narrow inner sleeve coupled with a wide outer sleeve. My pattern has a narrow inner sleeve, so I made an extra pattern piece that used the same sleeve cap shaping as the inner sleeve but tapered out to be as wide as my piece of fabric. This is not a floor-sweeping sleeve like you'll see on some medieval costume shop gowns, but I think it's a reasonable middle ground to increasing the historical accuracy.

The fabrics: Finding matching plain and patterned silky looking fabrics that aren't 100 % polyester on a budget is a challenge! I found a heavily embroidered silk-rayon blend taffeta and a matching plain taffeta on for a reasonable price, with shipping it came out to about $70 US with shipping. I know that's a bit steep, but this will be my only fancy dress that actually fits. It will go to the opera (if I ever go), the ballet and whatever else that needs formal wear. Friends take note: if you get married, I WILL wear this dress!

So now for the WIP shots:
I clearly took the patterned front and back, plain sides idea, and I think it works pretty well. Note that the side seams aren't pressed in this photo so they look sloppy.
Here's my take on the inner and outer sleeve, they are not sewn in yet, or hemmed so I did some folding to give an idea of how it will look when finished.
Here I'm actually wearing it, but the back tie-up closure hasn't been sewn in yet so it's just hanging on me. This dress has a lot of drape and is very swooshy, I love it! I just hope that I don't look to much like a curtain!



Nautical Knitter said...

The dress is going to be beautiful! Way to go!

IvanovaKnits said...

Thanks! I just hope that sewing in the sleeves isn't going to be too horrible. And I thought that sewing in sweater sleeves was bad!