Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I actually planned on getting my new smock cut out today. So much for good intentions :) Instead, I discovered that my camera has a busted screen and that it would cost me just about the same to get it fixed as it would to get a new camera. Instead of cutting fabric, I shopped for cameras instead. Boy am I out of my league there! I have found that I am quite happy with a point and shoot, but even something as simple as that has a myriad of choices....too many I think! My Husband has the Nikon D60 with extra lenses and other accessories that have me quite flustered. My old camera was a Canon Elph SD630 and was pretty much perfect for my uses anyway. I can't quite figure out what the megapixels actually do, what the different zooms actually mean, and what would be the best camera for the kids' concerts etc as well as taking journal pictures of my projects. *Sigh*...It may be a while before I finally find one I like.

Yesterday I did say that I would talk about step one of my dress project. I wanted something new to wear to our Winter Coronet Tourney, and I figured I'd kill two birds by making my new dress be a part of my major project. I have made several kirtles before, and I feel that I am getting pretty good at this part. A basic sleeveless kirtle is the foundation garment for the Tudor overdress. The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies, Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold, and The Well Dress'd Peasant by Drea Leed are a few of the reference books I have, and also the ones that are the most used. the web site http://www.elizabethancostume.net/ is one that I go to a lot as it has great information and links to get anyone started. It is also good for getting my juices flowing again when I feel out of it and dragging. The best resource for me, ever, is simply looking at paintings and getting ideas from there...These are just a few of the paintings I have used for reference. I have to admit that I prefer a side lacing, sleeveless kirtle. I can get into it myself, and then I can dress up or dress down the kirtle as much as I'd like with different sleeves. Since I may have to go from helping make feast right into court and then back to helping clean up, sometimes just being able to whip off an apron and add fancy sleeves makes all the difference in the world!
The kirtle itself is a reinforced bodice with a full skirt. It is a really simple pattern, but only if you have a good and trusted friend who can pin you in to your muslin mock up to make the pattern in the first place. I will fully admit that I had crappy fitting dresses for ages because I am a rather anal person when it comes to my garb, and I want the pinning to be right, darn it :) and I really didn't have anyone that could pin me. My Hubby was a good sport and helped as best as he could but it was still a bit sloppier than I liked. I have made tons of garb for friends and family, but it wasn't till recently that I had someone near to hand that could pin me as well as I could pin others. Sad, but true... My kirtle is mostly hand sewn (I did cheat and use my machine for non-seen long seams...) and the seams are flat felled and stitched down. The bodice is reinforced and does a very good job holding me in place. I have a rather thin line to tread with my garb....part of the reason I chose early Tudor rather than a bit later is that I have tried the whole corset thing and hated it abysmally. Yes, I did try several kinds, and even had one specifically made for me with my measurements and everything. The trick is that I have Scoliosis and Fibromyalgia and my back is constantly in spasm. I have found that a firmly fitted bodice moves and breathes with me and doesn't cause the kind of pain that I get with wearing corsets for more than a few hours. Sad, I know...but I am willing to compromise and still have fun with a time period I love. Besides, the reinforced bodice was used well into the 1520's, so I'm good there :) I like that golden age before Henry VIII lost his head over Anne Boleyn and things got nuts. I know, I am rambling...forgive....
The nuts and bolts about this kirtle: I used 10 yards of black trigger poplin to make the kirtle, with heavy canvas (in place of buckram) to reinforce the bodice. I do know that Cotton trigger isn't really a fabric that was likely used for this, but being on a VERY tight budget makes some decisions not very wide in choice. The trigger was actually stuff that I have had in my closet for
a while, and it moves well and looks good for the kirtle. Any purists will just have to forgive (please?)... I used good cotton thread and lined the bodice completely. I made a pair of matching sleeves from the trigger as well. As much as I love Drea Leed's patterns in her book, the best sleeves I have ever made followed the measurements from this site which is a wonderful resource: http://freespace.virgin.net/f.lea/sleeves.html The lovely lady who wrote this site did so to help the people who do recreation work at Kentwell Hall, but her information is solid and her advice invaluable. The sleeves are plain so far, but that is simply because I finished hand hemming them just 20 minutes before dinner at the event, so there wasn't going to be time to do anything else. Ultimately they will be trimmed in silver and black trim and closed with pewter buttons with estoilles on them. They will be the undersleeves that I will wear with the Tudor overdress.
So here is a picture of me in the kirtle and sleeves...please be kind, it was the end of a long day and I am tired and sore besides being caught off guard for the picture in the first place :)
I'm in my old cotton partlet and a basic linen smock. I have my hair pulled back in a braid and covered in a blackworked coif. My sleeves are attached with laces at the shoulders. I know the belt isn't the best choice, but it works for now. I have my pouch and my girdle book on it, and they both hold my meds, my sewing kit and my extra brain cells :P I have a silk partlet, a blackworked linen smock, and a proper girdle belt planned. All future steps...one at a time :)
Anyway, enough for tonight. I think there is enough time before bed to get some stitching in on other projects I have due.

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