There has been a bit of blog silence on it for the last few months, but I have been plugging away on the 1370ish dress, but there has been an awful lot of effort on it that doesn’t look like anything, because it was just unpicking and re-doing.
I got it all sewn together, did an initial fit, and it just didn’t feel quite right, which prompted a LOT more research. Based on the research, I decided that lining 14th century gowns with linen is almost certainly not accurate, and gives a fit that doesn’t match the fits shown on effigies of the period.
This is what the dress looked like with a linen lining:
It looks really good, but it’s very constricting. It just didn’t feel right.
So I sucked it up and unpicked the lining. And all my gores. And then I re-sewed the entire gown without a lining, and with the gores placed almost at my waist.
As soon as I tried on gown 2.0 I knew two things.
First, the fit is SO much better without a lining. It feels much more correct. The gown is much easier to wear, much easier to move in, and provides support without constriction. I can move and pose in exactly the stances shown in illuminations and effigy, and it feels comfortable, whereas it felt awkward and as if I was fighting the dress when it had a lining.
It’s not just that I’m small busted. Even a MUCH bustier friend who tried on the dress was impressed by how much support the dress supplied with a snug fit and slight give from the wool.
Even though it was extra work, I’m very glad I tried the lining, because I was able to compare it to a dress without the lining and really understand the difference in fit.
The second thing I found from version 2.0 isn’t so good. I DO NOT like the higher gores. They ‘poof’ out way too much over my hips, and rub against the top of my hipbone, and basically don’t match the more androgynous 1360s-70s silhouette I am going for.
They haven’t, of course, had time to really hang into place, and they would benefit from a really good pressing, both of which would would help. If I were doing 1390s the silhouette would be more appropriate, but as they are I don’t like them.
(yes, I know I like unpicking, or at least don’t dislike it, but not heavy cotton thread (yes, inaccurate but this was always a test dress) on fulled wool in the middle of winter when the pressure of the quick-unpick on my finger gives me a big chillblain lump where it rubs as I hold it is not fun!).
I’ve got one other tiny thing I wish I could change, but can’t. I’m not in love with the neckline. I lowered it a couple of cm from the first fitting, and widened it quite a lot, and I wish I’d only widened it – it’s a little lower than I would like.
I’ve ended up with lady in blue instead of lady in red after all:
I may try to widen the neckline as much more as I possibly can. The good thing about a low, wide, neckline, is that I can wear every possible layer over it, and their necklines will fit, so that’s a bonus!
In addition to tons of unpicking and re-sewing, I finished and faced the front edge:
The sewing is done with a combination of silk and linen thread, and all of the lacing holes are worked in linen thread.
There are 32 hand-worked lacing holes going down my front, placed one inch apart, and offset so that the dress laces in a spiral.
Look how beautifully they match Katherine’s lacing:
Only mine slant the other way! I hope that isn’t bad or not-period-accurate. I didn’t even think about it when I started the lacing holes, just picked one side, started, and assumed the other could be offset!
Question to think about: was their a medieval etiquette around which way lacing slants…?
To lace my gown, I’m using a linen cord for now, until I find/make something better.
To make lacing it easier, I use a bodkin.
There is a lot of evidence that bodkins were in use by the 14th century, and they certainly help with the lacing! I’m particularly pleased with this one, as it looks more like earlier bodkins. Maybe I should engrave it!
Still to do: finish the neckline; let out the side seams the tiniest bit, as the lacing is struggling slightly across the bust; pattern, sew, and set in the sleeves, work endless amounts of sleeve buttonholes, sew on the buttons, and hem. And press, press, press!
Oh, and remove a couple of kilos of Felicity hair, because it attracts it like a magnet!
Plus I actually have something to wear this too? Yes! A historical evening near the end of August! Exciting!
But that does mean I have to get it done by a certain date, and have a headdress to wear it with (though it this case, I think the most glamourous & high status circlet-&-fancy braided hairdo (and maybe even, gasp, a silk veil (or, you know, just appropriating the not-historical silk fichu I use for 18th century)) will be more appropriate than the period accurate linen veils I’ll be making later.)! 😉