19 October 2006

Guarded optimism

I've cut all the main pieces for the kampfrau gown. The fabric is a fairly heavy wool melton in a muted green - the same fabric that I used for the 1470s Burgundian gown. I found scraps big enough for the bodice back and cuff pieces; the bodice front and sleeves (on the bias) were cut from my remaining yardage as efficiently as I could manage, and there was just barely enough left for two skirt panels (full fabric width ~59" x waist to hem ~39"). There really aren't any pieces left that are big enough to do anything with. I don't have anything on hand that would work well for interlining, so a lot of the construction is going to have to wait until I can get some ordered. I've got lightweight linen for the lining, but I don't want to cut that until I'm almost ready to put it in.

That just leaves cutting the guards from my accent fabric (a fulled and napped medium-heavy black wool). The skirt guards are clear enough, since they're just straight strips. The guarding for the top, on the other hand, threw me for a bit of a loop. The only guidance from the pattern is straight strips 2 or 3 inches wide. One option would be to use rectangular strips and piece them around the neckline, making joins at the corners. The other option is to use a pre-shaped piece that echoes the edge of the neckline. Two considerations pushed me toward the second option. First, since my guards will be slashed, I really want as much structual integrity as possible - the bulk of seams and joins won't help in getting smooth and even slashing. Second, most of other people's reproductions that I really admire seem to use continuous, shaped pieces - or at least they look that way in photos. It's much more apparent that this is the way to go with the slightly earlier, more rounded neckline.

So I ended up doing guard pieces that are essentially cut-outs of the front and back pieces. I started 5/8" in from the neckline and center front opening (to allow room for finishing without losing guard width) and made them an even 2" wide. The plan is to attach them after doing the interlining, but before totally assembling the bodice with the lining.

My only remaining question is how exactly to do the slashes. I'm afraid that if I just cut a slit, the fabric behind won't really show through, so I might need to do a slightly wider cutout that actually removes material. I'm hoping that's not the case though, since I think I'd have trouble getting the cutouts to be even and consistent. Stitching the guards down might stretch the opening enough to make the slash noticeable, but I don't know if it'll be enough. I suppose I'll just have to experiment with some scraps.

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