Brown Corduroy Doublet Dress
17/1/04 - Buying the Fabric
I decided to go shopping today to see what I could find. I didn't think I would find anything. You know how it is, go looking for something and never find it, not looking or no money and you find heaps of stuff. Anyway, I hit the big Salvation Army Thrift Shop and found several great buys. First, they had a bright red leather jacket on sale for half price. This I thought could become pouches. Secondly, they had one drop of brown thin whale corduroy. And finally, a very large, pieced linen tablecloth (complete with stains). I estimate that the table cloth was about 8m of material. The grand total for all this was $24 dollars.
So the plan at this stage is to make some heavy duty winter garb for Festival using the corduroy to make a doublet and skirt. I will use the linen to interline and maybe use some of the red leather for trim.
21/1/04 - Drawing Up The Design
Well, what do you think? This is what I have so far. But I am not married to this design, it may change once I start putting things together. First thing under consideration is the olive band and guard. Perhaps just a solid brown skirt? Or another colour skirt altogether - red?
The drawing looks a bit busy at the moment but the green is actually quite dark and should be OK with the corduroy. I will try and get a deep red for the couching design. Once the bands are spaced on a doublet, there should be enough brown showing through to tone it down a bit.
I am thinking about orienting the corduroy on an angle for the doublet so that the stripes of the corduroy form a chevron pattern at the front seem. I would then run the bands of decoration parallel to the whale of the corduroy. There isn't a huge amount of stretch on the bias of this fabric so it might work.
I am going shopping tonight. They have brown linen/cotton blend on sale at Spotlight for $3m, so I am going to get some of that to line the skirt. That will give me three layers of fabric - brown corduroy fashion layer, heavy linen interlining and brown linen/cotton blend lining. The doublet will be the same, with the brown linen/cotton blend being replaced with champagne duchess satin.
It is a long weekend in Australia this weekend, so I hope to get started on this project then. I am also going to be working on another linen/cotton blend lower-middle class outfit as well, for everyday wear.
25/1/04 - Fitting the Toile and Cutting Fabrics
Well, got an early start this morning. I got out the cheap linen and cut out the appropriate pieces for the doublet bodice. I then began the process of fitting the toile. I've never done this before with a garment (this is only my second historical dress). Even when I on rare occasion make mundane clothes, I usually just guess the fitting and it usually works out OK. The hard part about doing it this way is that I don't really have anyone to help me. I managed to talk my other half into helping me with the fitting of the bits I couldn't get to (side and side back) but he really isn't very patient when it comes to this sort of thing. However, after three or four fittings, the bodice actually fitted quite well.
The biggest problem areas were the side seam under the arm and the right side back seam. For some reason both of these were off by a mile. I didn't want to cut out the excess fabric until of was pretty sure of the fit so there was lots of blue marking pen and resewing before I got to a fitting I was happy with.
Once the toile was OK, I pulled it apart and transfer the pattern to some paper for future reference. At this point I eliminated the side underarm seam. This didn't tend to be a seam used in period and I want to stay as accurate as possible where it isn't going to cost me extra time or too much mucking around.
Once the pattern was on paper, I used the toile pieces to cut out the corduroy. I then overlocked the toile and the fashion layer together, so that from this point on they will be treated as one piece.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I have changed the way I plan to trim the doublet. I have dropped the idea of cuttin on the bias and running the trim at an angle. I think this would take too much time, it will be impossible to line up the whale of the pieces on the front and I don't think there will be enough of the corduroy to cut on the bias. So I will now be making the same pattern trim, but it will drop vertically down the front sides of the bodice, which will also serve to cover the front seams.
The bodice pieces were then sewed together and I tacked down the seams so that they would sit straight.
I have also cut out the collar, shoulder tabs, waist tabs and sleeves. I have virtually no fabric left. I have the other half of the drop of curtains which will be just enough to make the skirt.
I had just about finished overlocking all these accessory pieces when the overlocker had a cow. I was too hot and tired to try and rethread it then so that will wait until tomorrow.
The plan for tomorrow is to rethread the overlocker. Cut out the lining, overlock and sew. That will be as far as I can go until I get the red piping I want to use and I embroider the trim. I will probably start work on the skirt. If I have time I will also cut out another day dress, I might even get it finished since these are much quicker to do. It will also give me practice on attaching the various tabs and making up the sleeves.
One last thing. I am thinking of changing how I am going to make the trim. I was going to couch down some cord but this might be a bit messy with all the cord ends. So I am thinking of embroidering it with crewel wool (since it is being put on a wool strip) in stem stitch. This should be quicker and give a neater finish.
26/1/04 - A Very Long Trip to Spotlight
I decided to see if Spotlight was open today, so I checked the net. Yes it was. However, I was much delayed as the ferry stopped for the annual harbour swim. Once I got to Spotlight I checked out the range of cord and didn't like the colours or size of what was available. So I have decided to got with a thin and thick cotton tape. That should be easier to apply and work with. Since making this choice I have decided to trim the waist treatment as well.
I was pretty tired when I got home from shopping so I haven't cut out the linings yet. Might do that tonight if I can get motivated.
I am in two minds about whether to make up the out fit as a one piece or two piece deal. One piece has the advantage of no gaps for breezes to blow through but two pieces means I could wear the doublet with another skirt and change the look, thus keeping in spirit of Elizabethan mix and match. The problem with going with one piece is that would mean the need to put a split up the front of the skirt, which isn't a problem but that would then mean trimming it. I don't want to have to do the fancy embroidery all down and around the skirt. Perhaps just mirror the red hightlighting down each side of the split, continued around the hem of the skirt??
27/1/04 - Fickleness Continues
Despite visitors and cat assistance, I managed to get the lining cut out tonight. On a side note, I am using a linen/cotton blend for the lining. I have bought this fabric in a variety of colours recently and I have to say that the brown I am using for the lining seems to be unusually soft, with a really nice hand compared to other batches I've worked with. I think that if its still on sale, I will buy some more and make a dress out of it.
On the fickleness side, I have changed my plans for the trim again. I decided that I was moving away from the primary purpose for this garb, ie warm, camping garb. So I have ditched the idea of the embroidered trim (but I'm sure I will use the idea and pattern on something else!) to be replaced by more of the cotton tape that I have used on other garb. I got two lengths, one wide and one narrow in a maroon/rust colour. I will put the wide trim over the front seams and then have a strip of the thinner tape on either side. That should sped the process of construction and also allow of easier laundering ie now the whole thing can be thrown in the wash without worries of shrinking or ruining hard work.
As a result of this change, I have decided to trim the shoulder and waist treatments as well, using the same red tape. This should give a more finished look and allow for quick completion.
At this point, I am leaning towards hooks and eyes for closure down the front, as this will be easier to do, easier to trim and allow for refitting if necessary.
28/1/04 - Boring Stuff
Finally got the linings cut out and overlocked. That was about it for today. I did the above while doing a webchat with my kingdoms tailors guild webchat!
31/1/04 - Getting There
I added some trim, down either side of the front opening and added some across the side back seams as well. Then onto the lining. Added that, had to undo some is I couldn't turn it inside out. I'd sewed the shoulders and thought I would still be able to turn everything out (I'd left the waist seam undone). Wrong! However, all turned out OK, after I had turned the seams down and sewn them down to try and reduce the bulk of the shoulder seam, I just unpicked the actual shoulder seam, turned the whole bodice inside out and then resewed the shoulder seam. Because the seams were already sewn down, it was easy to stay on track with the seam. Once that was done, I had to sew the lining shoulder seam down. This seam is the only visible stitching on the inside of the bodice.
1/2/04 - Still Getting There
This morning I have been working on the finishing touches. I lined the shoulder wings, the waist tab and sewn up the collar. I also got the linings for the sleeves done as well. I was going to have front opening sleeves, the red trim along the opening but I went back to the main requirement for this dress ie warmth and decided that a closed sleeve would be better. This will also be quicker to make as I won't have to put the trim on or worry about adding buttons or other closures to the sleeve. I cut the tape for the points and was two pieces short. I will pick up some more tape this afternoon on my way to Barony meeting. I will need some more thick stuff as well.
I will be out of the house this afternoon, so my plan is to get the collar and shoulder tabs to the stage where all I need to do is hand sew them to the bodice. This will involve turning the collar and pressing. The shoulder wings require turning and having the trim added to the outside edge. I will also take some hooks and eyes, so that if the other hand sewing is done, I can start the fairly simple but time consuming job of putting the hooks and eyes down the front opening.
3/2/04 - Coming Together - Collar and Shoulder Wings
Sat down to a bit of hand sewing at lunchtime at work. I managed to get one shoulder wing on and half the other one. I think I have cut them a bit big, they fit but look a bit to noticeable. Next time, I think that a bit smaller will be better. When I got home, I finished off the other wing and put the collar on. There is a bit of overlap at the front of the collar. Normally I would probably make the seams but together but I think the overlap will add to the warmth of the top. The only issue is that the collar is quite thick due to the thickness of the corduroy. But not anything I can't live with.
On the whole, adding the collar and wings has really made the doublet come together, looking alot more finished. I have pinned the waist tabs and I am a bit concerned that there is too much "wave" in the waist tab, it looks a bit too frilly for my liking. I may have to do a few experiments next time to try a slightly tighter cut on the circle of the waist tabs.
The plan for the coming weekend is to finish the main part of the outfit off. This will involve the skirt. This shouldn't take too long as its all straight sewing. The only issue may be the trim, I don't think I have enough and there wasn't any at the shop. Might have to check again or leave the skirt plain.
7/2/04 - Finished Off the Sleeves
I finished off the sleeves by tacking down the laces to the outside of the sleeve, I then slipped the lining over this and sewed around the top armhole. I then turned the lining in and finished off the wrists. The sleeves are now done. My only concern is that they are too big at the cuffs.
8/2/04 - Waist Tab and Finishing Off
Got a pretty early start this morning as I had a busy day (needed to go to computer market and also Barony meeting). I got the trim onto the waist tab. I had intended on just machine sewing the top seam and then hand sewing underneath but with a bit of fiddly, I was able to machine sew both at the same time. That was alot faster and will be alot stronger as well. I then sewed the waist tab onto the bodice. Its a bit wavy, I think I will have to play with the shape a bit next time. It almost looks like a ruffle. I then used some bias tape to bind the waist seem. So all that needs to be done to finish the bodice is to sew on the hooks and eyes along the front (I got some hook and eye tape, so that should be a fairly quick process) and to sew on the lacing rings at the shoulder for the sleeves.
Now all that remains is the skirt. My biggest dilemma is how to join it to the bodice. I have people telling me the more authentic way is to tie the skirt with lacing or use hooks and eyes. This may be true but there is going to be alot of weight in the skirt and I'm not sure that lacing is the best way to go. It is also going to be alot more working to get into the outfit if all that lacing is involved.
9/2/04 - Started the Skirt
Well, the odds were long, but when I put the pieces of corduroy and linen (for the lining) together, they were almost exactly the same size (the linen was about half and inch too short. I then put the brown lining with the other fabric and it was just the right size as well. Since this project is for warmth and durability rather than complete accuracy, I then overlocked all the pieces together down both side seams and the hem. The hem will be formed by turning the fashion fabric and lining inside out. This will negate any need to hem the bottom of the skirt. This leaves me with three raw edges at the top of the skirt. Since I was working with natural widths, each of these is actually a salvedge. Once the skirt has been approriately shaped at the front, I will bind this edge with bias binding.
I have definately decided to go with sewing the skirt to the doublet bodice. After handling the skirt last night, there is no way that this could be laced without disaster. In future, I think I will make the doublet as a stand alone item and make a kirtle to go underneath. But at this stage that isn't practical for this project.
So with a bit of luck, either tonight or the next, I will be able to sew the skirt to the bodice and the outfit will basically be complete. (Except for a few minor bits and pieces). I have to say its a bit of a contradiction to be sewing all this heavy material when its 40 degrees Celsius and everyone is withering because of the heat!! Makes fittings an uncomfortable experience.
12/2/04 - Hooks and Eyes
I am a convert to hook and eye tape. It isn't cheap at $12 m but it is SO much easier than putting them on one at a time. You get better alignment and its much faster to apply. Tonight I did the front of the bodice. I was worried that the leading edge of the front might gape open, but it doesn't, it actually sits quite nicely.
One small snag, the bottoms of the doublet don't quite align. Not out enough to worry about though. But definately something to watch for next time.
15/2/04 - Uh Oh!
When people tell you not to rush, you will just get yourself into trouble, you really should listen to them. My inner voice was whispering that trying to sew the skirt to the bodice on the machine was really not a good idea. I should've listened. One stitch and I broke the needle. I can't find the bottom half of the needle and I am worried that it is in the workings of the machine, so I may need to put it into be serviced before I use it again.
So I spent Sunday afternoon handstitching the skirt to the bodice. I did a double seam as the skirt is REALLY heavy. I will take a photo tonight and put it up. The bodice is a bit baggy under the arms, but not too bad and it does sit better with the skirt attached.
Only two things to do now to finish the outfit. Still need to sew the lacing rings to the shoulders for the sleeves and the front seam of the skirt. Neither are heard and they shouldn't take to long. Time to start thinking about the accessories, mainly a hat.
28/3/04 - Nearly Done
It's been a while since the last update. I got the dress to the "It's only got a few things left to do so I can stop working on it for a while" stage. In the meantime, I took a week off work and made up two high neck chemises and three square neck bodice dresses.
I still haven't put the lacing rings on the shoulders but I have sewn up the front of the skirt. It looks pretty rough but I don't have the time to fix it and again, it is just a camp dress to be worn at night. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. The top is a pretty good fit. The only major problem, that became really noticable once the skirt was attached, was that the waist was too low. With the weight of the skirt added, it is now at least two inches to low and makes me look rather stumpy in the dress. So next time, I will need to take more care with the length of the top. The outfit looks way better when worn with the chemise. I have the sleeves finished but I forget to take a photo of them. When I get the lacing rings on, the outfit will be finished, so I will put up a photo of the completed outfit.