30 August 2007

A hat diary in one post: 16th c. Persian tiara

I've slowly been amassing enough garments to have one complete ensemble for dressing in 16th c. Persian style. One of the last pieces is appropriate headgear, specifically this hat/tiara from Duchess Roxane Farabi's site. I've largely followed the outline she gives for creating the style, with some minor changes.

buckramI started by twisting wire to create a frame for the overall shape of the piece, fitting it to my head as I went along. This essentially looked like a wire circlet with a single point in front. I then glued a piece of buckram around the outside to create a smoother silhouette. A picture of the back gives a better view of what the wire frame looked like.

fabric coveredI then covered the buckram and wire frame in a double layer of lightweight white linen. It is secured by simply gluing it down on the inside of the band. Around the skinny portions of the hat, the fabric wrapped around from the front is plenty to cover the inside band; but on the point I've added an extra piece of fabric to completely cover up the wire.

with pearls For the dangling strands, I've used glass bead faux pearls; they're strung on the fishing-line-like stuff that they came on. The front strand is a bit longer than the side ones so that it's long enough to hang below my chin. I glued the ends of the strands directly to the inside of the hat, and that's one thing I might do differently. Because the stringing material doesn't absorb glue at all, it had to be held in place carefully for quite a long time to get it to set.

spray in holderThe feathers for the spray are known as peacock herl. They're sewn into strands and sold as yard goods; I bought just an inch and used less than a quarter of it. (Although specialty feather places do sell them, unless you need a large quantity, they're more easily available from places that sell supplies for making fly fishing lures.) To form the spray, I wrapped and knotted thread around the base of my feathers to form a secure bundle. I then took a small piece of sheet aluminum and used pliers to coil it around the bundle, forming a solid base. Once the base was formed, I wrapped wire around it to mold a holder of exactly the right size, with some extra loops to provide a surface to glue to the hat.

So that's pretty much it - fun with tacky glue and some random craft supplies. This picture is of the state of my Persian clothes shortly after the hat was originally finished.

28 August 2007

18th c. strapless stays: pieces cut

Strapless stays cut out
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
I picked up the fashion fabric for my stays this weekend, and now have all my pieces cut out. The fabric is a powder blue worsted wool twill, very smooth and lightweight. It was a remnant - 5/8 yd. and 58 inch wide for $7.50 - which is perfect for a project like this which doesn't take much yardage. In addition to the outer fabric, I've got two layers of 5 oz linen for interlining and structure, and one layer of 3.5 oz linen for lining. I'm planning to baste the outer layer and the interlining together in the seam allowances, and then start assembling it. The one thing I really need to decide soon is whether I'm going to do machine or hand sewing.

17 August 2007

18th c. strapless stays: mockup

Strapless stays mockup
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
After spending much of the past month on pre- and post-Pennsic mending, I decided to take a break and work on something thoroughly out of SCA period. J. P. Ryan's 18th c. strapless stays pattern is one that I've had in my stash for a while, and it struck my fancy. I'm not sure why - I've never done 1700s re-enactment, and I don't have any particular plans to do so either. But who knows, I may find a use for these stays while I'm living on the east coast, as I think there are plenty of colonial/revolutionary groups around.

I've done this mockup out of manila folders and packing tape, and it's a good thing I did. As you can see, I've needed to make quite a significant enlargement for the bust measurement. My bust and waist are a couple of sizes apart for standard sizes, so I frequently have to pick one or the other to buy for (particularly in a single-size pattern like this one). For most garments, I'll buy to the bigger size and just take things in as necessary in a muslin, or directly on my real fabric. But for something like a corset or pair of stays, I know I'm going to have to redraft most of it to maintain proper shapes and size ratios on the pieces, so I prefer to start small and enlarge. It may be a mental quirk, but it just seems easier to me that way.

All of which is to say, I've widened the top by close 5 inches total, and the bottom by just a small amount (maybe a half inch, if that). Note that the large gaps are *within* pattern pieces at the enlargement lines; these are not the seam lines between pieces. I haven't had to make any length adjustments, which means the pattern is drafted 1-2 inches shortwaisted relative to normal size standards. (I'd heard that this pattern was shortwaisted, and that's part of the reason I bought it in the first place - I hate making torso length adjustments on anything but the simplest of patterns.)

I've got 5 oz (and maybe 7 oz) linen for the main structural layers, and I've always got lightweight linen on hand for linings. I haven't picked an exterior fabric yet; I don't immediately see anything in the stash that seems suitable. I've ordered 1/4" reed for my boning material (the pattern suggest plastic or bamboo combined with metal at the seams, but I think reed is more appropriate, and I've been meaning to try working with it for a while).

Apron dress details: herringbone stitch

herringbone stitch front
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
The write-up for the Hedeby find lists herringbone stitch as being used to finish the top edge, and I've done likewise, as shown here. It's a slightly unusual choice, as herringbone is more typically done as a decorative stitch or in simple embroidery. Thinking about it, though, it should be a fairly effective way of finishing a single-fold edge. Because of the stitch's zig-zag pattern, the weave is held together both along and across the grain. I'll see how effective it is in practice, although my fabric isn't likely to fray in the first place.

The write-up isn't particularly clear about whether the stitch faces in or out; I've chosen to have what is normally the face of the stitch on the inside of the garment, right on the raw edge. The backside of the stitch looks like two rows of running stitch, and is nearly invisible on the exterior of the dress (picture here).