The Pink Velvet  Gown 

(Most recent entry is listed first. Please scroll to bottom of page for first entry.)

July 7th, 2005

Well, it's official, due to many factors, none of which can be avoided or worked around, I will be unable to attend Midwinter Coronation. Understandably, this is a real bummer. It would have been my first Coronation, and in my own Barony no less. Alas, priorities overcame.

This is not to say that I will not be finishing this outfit - in fact I am more determined than ever to finish it and finish it in a timely manner. I'll need to, because I am going to be very busy for the rest of the year. So, I will endeavour to have an update for you within a few days - hopefully showing a fully assembled bodice at the very least.


July 3rd, 2005

The underskirt has had the waistline bound with bias binding. I didn't have binding that was wide enough so I took two lengths of 25mm (1") wide binding and stitched them together along the fold line in one edge. In this pic you can just see the black waist binding against the dark brown of the fur throw on my bed, and the side-seam line. The wool adds a lot of oomph to the pleats....

Here's what the inside looks like...

I also hemmed the bottom of the lining with that hessian-like tape. It works quite well. :-)

The silk layer will be hemmed separately - I am not sure yet whether to let it hang freely or to whip stitch it to the lining layer.

I've also started on a partlet. Originally I was going to make a simple (un-embellished) partlet from some of the silk crepe I used for the caul I made recently, but then I made the mistake of going through my lace stash, thinking I'd make one from some of the larger straight-edged, wide cluny laces I've got stashed away. But then my eye fell on the 'heirloom' trim - double scallop-edged, drawn-worked and with a woven pattern running through of a closed flower/stem/leaf. It is, or was, 5cm (2") wide, and I got it into my head that it would be a good idea to cut it into strips and sew it together along the scalloped edge to make a fabric of sorts. That would give me a cool striped and embroidered effect, alternating matt and shiny, opaque and semi-opaque, with minimal sewing (tiny seams and no neatening the edges necessary - yay!). So I did it.

I have been wanting to try a different style of partlet - one with a point in back long enough to pin to the inside of my dress, so with this in mind I cut the trim into different lengths.....

I laid them side by side, but alternated the direction of the flower motif - one points up, the next points down. And here's what they look like sewn together, trimmed to shape and sewn into a partlet....

I used a tiny bit I had left to create the facing for the back neck.

And the back. I wish I had a better camera - it really is a gorgeous effect! :-)

I still need to finish the lower edges, but I need to be able to try it on with the gown so I can see if I need to add linen to the bottom of it for length, so that will need to wait until I have at least the gown bodice made.

Tomorrow I play with my brown paper and hopefully successfully draft up a pattern for the gown bodice.



June 25th, 2005

Ok, it's not finished yet, but I did get a fair bit done on the underskirt.

As I said previously, due to the fact that I had to use one length of silk fabric with one selvedge to floor/one selvedge to waist due to the pattern along one selvedge, I decided to do the same with the silk for the back half of the underskirt.

Here's what I've done so far:

1. I French seamed the two lengths of cream cotton together to make a very large tube.

2. I neatened the edges of both silk panels and stitched them together. They are differing widths so they match up at the waist end.

3. I pinned the skirt to the lining, right sides together,  along where I wanted the back opening to be. Then I stitched the two layers togehter in a long, thin U shape, and cut the opening. The skirt was then turned right side out.

4. I pinned the two layers - skirt and lining - together along the waistline edges, sandwiching a layer of thick wool (about 4" deep) between the silk skirt and cotton lining. This wool layer is only long enough that, when pleated, it rests only in the hip and back area and not on the tummy.

(I've got enough padding in the tummy, I don't need more!)

This pleat padding is to help plump out the pleats to give the underskirt some pouf at the waist. I know a lot of people have started using this method on the skirts of their gowns, but I really wanted to see how it would look to make the under-skirt, and not the over-skirt, do the support work.

5. I used double box pleats, concentrated over the hips. So far they are simply pinned in place. I'm not going to use a waistband - just sew a bias binding strip in place over the pleats once they are sewn down.


The side seam/pleats


Inside view of the padded double box pleats, pinned in place.

When that's done I will sew on ties with which to tie the skirt closed at the back, since this is allows a bit more leeway in fit.

I plan on stiffening the hem on this underskirt by making a casing in the lining for this nifty tape I bought on eBay ages ago. It look like a very stiff Hessian, and it's about 2" wide. I don't know how much is on the roll I've got, but it looks like enough to do two or three underskirts! Here's what it looks like:

Now that I think about it it's probably webbing for upholstery. Whatever it is, I've cut a 4" length and need to give it the shrink test. If it shrinks I'll have to pre-wash it, although I'm hoping I don't have to, because it may ruin the nice firm finish.

After I cook dinner/eat tonight I'm going to settle down in front of the TV to watch some DVDs and work on my girdle some more.





June 24th, 2005

Only two weeks to Midwinter! Yikes. Still don't know if we'll be able to get there, but here's hoping!

I received some chain I bought on eBay today so I decided to start on the girdle. Yes, I probably should finish the underskirt first, but I've been a bit unwell and haven't felt like doing much at all. Today I felt better, and the chain arrived so it seemed like a good idea to begin work on it. :-)


1 Vintage 'Sarah Coventry' costume jewellery bracelet - 6 rectangular glass stones in a smoky topaz colour, plus clasp
10mm creamy glass pearls
8mm creamy glass pearls
13mmx10mm oval glass beads - copper
3" gold head pins
1 1/2" gold head pins
Gold filigree bead caps
Gold plated Cable chain

I'd doodled a design on paper but I wanted to see it all laid out on the table first, before beginning work. Here's a very rough idea of what it will  look  like:


The bracelet has been taken apart into six individual elements, four of which consist of an open framework of twisted gold tone metal in which the rectangular smoky topaz glass stones are set - there are two attachment points on either side of the setting, so the girdle will in effect be a two-strand one, rather than a single rope. Two of these six framed stone elements hold either end of the clasp - I'm hoping to utilise this in the centre point of the girdle. On either side of each topaz stone I will use two 3-pearl elements, each consisting of one 10mm and two 8mm glass pearls (see below). These will be joined to two more identical 3-pearl elements by another - a smoky topaz coloured oval glass bead, the ends of which are capped with gold tone filigree bead caps:


Once I have used up all six gold-set stones by creating identical repeats, I will make other sections of the girdle using the gold plated chain and smaller pearl/oval topaz glass bead elements. I can thus use as much of the chain as is needed to obtain a finished girdle of the right length. Here's what it looks like so far:




June 20th, 2005

I didn't get much sewing-related stuff done this past weekend, except to buy the thick brown paper I like to use for pattern drafting, as well as some sticky tape  - the paper is much narrower than the paper I usually buy and I may need to make a join -  and sticky tape is a precious commodity in this house. :-)

I also finally sat myself down to remove the lace from the sleeve of the linen camicia whose neckline I re-worked a while back, and which I intend to wear with this gown....

It was all my stupid fault I had to remove it, of course. Wishful thinking that I would have enough left to edge both sleeves after edging the neckline. Alas, it was not to be. So I removed it - it took a while as I had to go carefully so as not to ruin the fine edge of the lace - and replaced it with some cream cotton bobbin-look lace...

But I am not defeated! I will probably use the lace I used on the neckline to edge some linen to make modest camicia cuffs. That is, if I don't decide to forgo the modesty and use another, more opulent lace entirely!

Hopefully I will be motivated enough to work on my underskirt today. I have been trying to work out what fabric I'm going to use for the main part of it, since I don't have enough of the gold silk brocade I'm using for the front section. I have some (about 2m) deep honey gold Thai silk, but other than that nothing in the yellow spectrum. Since the front section IS going to be a silk brocade, I thought - why not match it up with a plain gold silk, even if the gold is much deeper? It made sense. And beggars can't be choosers. :-) 

The front section will need to be orientated with one selvedge to waistline and one selvedge to hem due to the pattern along one selvedge (see pic at left). It's barely long enough, however, so a miniscule hem will be in order. To this end (and because I want to give the silks more body), I will most likely line the whole under-skirt. Thing is, I'm not sure that I've got enough of the cream cotton left. Must check that. Otherwise I'll need to buy something suitable for lining.



June 16th, 2005

I have been thinking about embellishment. I know I want to use a combination of gold and silver, but I currently don't have anything suitable on hand. I've been considering buying some more of the gold cord I used on my 'Green Florentine' overdress, and combining it with some in silver. I want to keep it simple and geometric as I've said, so the choices are either couch the cord down in some geometric pattern or other, or braid the cord and thus make my own passemaine trim. Tammy Dupuis of  The Renaissance Tailor has a great page on simple passemaine trims from which I've been trying to make a decision. 

Being limited in terms of both time and money, the simpler the better, but I don't want it too simple. At the moment I'm leaning towards the finger-woven bias plait, which should look nice in a gold/silver combination. It may be unworkable, however, because, since it requires 5 strands to plait, will mean 5 times as much cord as I think I'll need - and at the moment that's a lot! I will need to sit down, work on making  the pattern for the gown (and work out how much fabric I'll have left over for the skirt) so that I can calculate how much yardage I'll need. That'll happen this weekend, and shopping on Monday. I may be able to get my pattern pieces cut out this weekend too.



June 15th, 2005

I put the two fabrics together so I could get a better idea of how they look side by side. The clincher was adding my smoky topaz jewels to the fabrics - yum! The brooch will hang from a long pearl necklace but will also be pinned to my bodice, as seen here. The bracelet is to be pulled apart and added to a new pearl/gold chain/smoky topaz girdle I'll be making. After seeing it all together I'm now convinced that this will work. Yay!!  Here are the pics:





June 14th, 2005

I  have finally decided to begin working on something for Midwinter Coronation (July 9-10), even if it turns out that we can't attend. I'm thinking of a gown and partlet similar to those in Giovanni Antonio Fasolo's Portrait of A Lady 1565-70, (the portrait on the right of this page) but with sleeves more like this

The velvet is a deep, dusty pink. I'd like a train, but don't have enough fabric (only 6m). I have some mid pink cotton broadcloth to line the skirt with, and some paler pink silk taffeta for lining the bodice and sleeves. I have a length of light yellow silk with metallic silver fabric with a design along one selvedge that I'm thinking of using for the front section of the underskirt (there's not enough to make a full underskirt) but I'm not sure if I'll like the combination. I'm almost certain a brown would be better, but I don't have any at the moment, and I'm not sure I could find a nicely patterned brown anyhow (dress is plain velvet, therefore underskirt must be patterned, thankyouverymuch!) I might hang them up together later (once the velvet is dry) and squint hard. Maybe I'll make up my mind that way. :-)

For embellishment I am inspired by the couching/pearls on the gown on the portrait of Veronica Franco I uploaded a couple of days ago. I'm thinking something simple and geometric like that, although in my case I'm thinking of using silver and gold cord together, as well as the pearls. Jewellery will be my smoky topaz stuff if I decide smoky topaz looks good with the dusty pink velvet and yellow underskirt. I hope it does - I've got those bits from the bracelet I bought that are intended for the girdle I want to make to wear with this outfit.

I won't need a fan, but am thinking of a fur-lined muff. Time allowing, it will happen. A cloak would be very welcome too (a ropa would be better), but I doubt I'll have the time, or the fabric for a cloak.





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(Copyright Information: As author I, Anabella Wake, known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona, hold copyright on all information on these pages. In addition I hold copyright on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.)