Thursday, 10 September 2009

Where does one keep their armies?...

In one's sleevies! Boom boom. But first, I just want to talk about the back neckline. I left a inch to be turned under, and what was better was that there wasn't much of a curve and so it didn't need to be clipped to make it lie flat, huzzah!

And so unto the sleeves. These are elbow length sleeves. I used a friend's website which has a page on how to make a sleeve pattern, where it says about taking measurements for the wrist, I measured just above the elbow instead. It worked and fitted fine after a slight adjustment to make it a little bigger around the arm.

I cut out the sleeves in the same wool as the kirtle and turned up the 'hem' or the bottom of the sleeve 1.5" then ironed flat. I then pinned and sewed the 1" seam allowance along the length of the seam and neatened them like I did with the kirtle seams. Afterwards, I pinned the sleeve to the armhole and marked my 1" seam allowance and then sewed them.

As the seams are bulky due to canvas and a few layers of wool, I cut the canvas right down to about 1/4" and the wool and lining down to 1/2". I then made some bias binding from the left over lining fabric and pinned and sewed it over the seam to neaten it. And hey presto, the sleeves are complete!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Piecing it together.

Thus commenced the cutting out! We cut out the pieces in wool (1 front, 1 back, 2 back side panels and 2 front side panels). We folded the front pattern in half and placed it 1.5" from the fold of the fabric as the kirtle will be front laced and so will need some fabric turned to the inside of the bodice (to neaten it and add strength) - this will also create extra fabric in the skirt, so a false seam will be 'inserted'.

We decided to make the entire length of the kirtle (from shoulder) 1 metre 17" (Sorry, but I work in inches and metres. 17" would be about 40cm?) and flared the skirt out to 18" at the hem. When cutting out the side panels, we had to make sure the angle of the skirt part were roughly the same on both sides.

When we had done this, we cut out the front and front side bodice part (slightly shorter than the paper patterns) out in canvas, just to give it a bit of extra support, these were then pinned to the wool. All the seams were pinned together (1" seam allowance) and machine sewn together (I would have loved to have done it by hand, but time would not permit it, as there is a C15th event I want to go to in mid-october and I have lots of other sewing to do too!)
When all the seams were sewn I wanted to try it on. I cut down the centre front (it was cut on the fold, remember?), which measures about 17" in length. It fitted beautifully! I then proceeded to neaten all the seams by hand (apart from the one with canvas in) with a fell seam, and then ironed flat. I did the same with the false seam in the front.

The above picture shows the inside of the front of the kirtle -shows the opening, clipped curved seams and you can just about see the neatened seams at the bottom left/right.

After this, I cut out front bodice pieces (like the canvas) from some lining fabric (it's actually cotton that I've used, but I should have used linen, but I don't have any!) and I made sure it was slightly longer than the canvas so that it could be tucked underneath. I then sewed the pieces together like I had done with the kirtle and clipped curved seams.

I wanted to use the lining as a sort of facing for the front neckline, so you can JUST about see in the previous picture a couple of rows of stitching around the neckline. I sewed the extra row for extra added strength! I cut the canvas in the seam allowance right down, as it would be bulky, and clipped the curves. I then folded the lining back over and pressed with an iron (and with a damp cloth when pressing the wool side).

Once that was done, I pinned the lining to the bodice and sewed it by hand. Now, looking at the following picture, you'd probably think that my brain works in weird and mysterious ways. Well, you would be right, but there is logic to the weird looking lining.

The long bit to the left of the lining is to give the opening extra strength as the cavas doesn't reach that far. The pointy bit in the middle is where the canvas seam stops - it was slightly lower than the main canvas parts. Looks weird, but is in fact very neat and tidy! :)
Next I'll sort out the back neckline, then make sleeves and then add lacing rings (the cheats method of eyelets!) and then hem it. One final note, just to let you know, despite my parents being away and being left to run the house (kind of), I started this kirtle on monday 7th. It is now wednesday 9th and I've only 4 things left to do.

Stepping back to the 15th Century

So, I've been planning to make some medieval kit for AGES, probably about 2 years now. I had already made a medieval hood and a 'rabbit-ear' coif, but I didn't really like wearing my Tudor peasant kit and pretending it was medieval. Well, anyway, I went into town just the other day with a friend and we bought some fabric - I needed to get some to make some tie on sleeves for my Tudor underkirtle (more on that another time!) but at the same time, I fell in love with some lovely blue wool that was the colour I had intended to use for medieval. We returned to the shop later and I bought the blue wool plus some other wool for peasant kirtle/under kirtle.

When we got home, we started making a pattern for the kirtle. I used my old pattern for when I first made my Tudor peasant bodice (before it was adjusted) and traced round it and altered it. The alterations that had to be made was that on medieval kirtles, there are 2 seams down the front (and back) of the kirtle. The kirtle is made up of 6 panels.

Once this was done, we cut out a toile from an old bed sheet and pinned it together and tried it on (it's advised to leave underwear on when fitting a toile for a medieval kirtle as it will help with the support when the kirtle is made). The toile didn't quite fit - the side panels needed to be a bit bigger. The new toile fitted fine. Then my friend helped adjust the pins so it was as tight as possible. I had to lift myself up as the original angle under the bust was too sharp and not curved. I have to say, I never knew that some cotton fabric and some pins could give so much support!

One of the side seams was penciled before removing the pins so I could take it off. After that then lines were drawn where the pins were before removing those. I cut along the lines and removed what seam allowance there was. The fabric pieces were then drawn around onto large sheets of paper and we added a 1" seam as I prefer working with larger seams and then cutting them down. We flared the bottom edge of the pattern out as a guideline for the skirt (there is no paper pattern for the skirt, is drawn onto the fabric when the bodice pattern is pinned on).

Front and front side panel.

Back and back side panel.

A Tudor update

Wow, well it has been some time since I've last posted, but in fairness, I have been very busy! I did a Tudor event at Dover Castle on 20th/21st June and I then on the monday I went to Kentwell to do the 3 week main event. Then every weekend after that until 8th/9th August, I was doing some kind of reenacting event - Roman and WW2. I've also just done another Tudor event over the bank holiday weekend at the end of August.

Anyway, back to the sewing. Something I hadn't added previously was the placard. This is the bit on the front of the gown that covers the lacing. The top part was the width of the gown, but curved a little so it would sit nicely when worn, and it tapered down a bit as it reached the bottom of my gown bodice (does that make sense?!). It was made out of wool, linen and canvas. I sewed one side onto the bodice and attached hooks and eyes onto the other.

Here is a picture of the finished thing:

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

French Hood.

For the French hood, I used Mode Historique's website which had patterns for the different parts of the hood and showed how to put it on. I used a fine white cotton for the coif (the coif band had to be made a bit bigger than the pattern given) and sewed in millinery wire to give it and to keep its shape. I also used gold organza ribbon for the pleats and pinned it to the coif so that in future use, the ribbon can be taken off and the coif worn on its own.

The paste is made from the same wool as my gown and has a black cotton backing to it, with buckram to stiffen and ties on either end to tie it.

I used a fine black wool for the veil (of which needed to be reduced in length - mine goes down to my bra at the back) and a deep orange cotton for the lining. With a bit of advice from My Ladys Wardrobe, I used a small bit of buckram (that measures about 3" from the deepest part of the front edge) and edged it with millinery wired so that it could be moulded to my head.I also sewed in some fine black tape along the inside front edge so that it could be tied when worn - this helps it stay on and helps to give it shape. I then added some 6mm pearls to the veil for decoration.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


And so onto the next pair of sleeves! The pattern for the foresleeves also came from The Tudor Tailor. For the sleeves, I used some pink and cream shot silk that I had been given as a gift at an Easter event last year, and some white cotton.
I sewed around all the edges of the sleeves, attaching the silk to the cotton (my pattern only had allowance for very small seams) apart from the smallest edge, which was left open to turn the sleeves the right way round and were then hand sewn together.

I then sewed the two long edges of the sleeves together, using ladder stitch, at 3 inch intervals starting from the wrist and ending at the back. The stitching was about 1/2 inch long. I then sewed on 4 pearls, where I had sewn the sleeves together, in a diamond shape for decoration.

After this I then made the 'puffy' bits that poke through the gaps. I used a long strip of white cotton measuring 20" by 6.2" (such and odd measurement as that just happened to be the width of the fabric) and hemmed it with a very small hem. I then quarted the strip and pleated along the line of the quarters. It was then pinned and sewn to the lining inside on the same place where the pearl were sewn on. I also added a couple of stitches either side of the gaps to hold the cotton in place and so that it couldn't be pulled all the way through.
The sleeves then have ribbon sewn on which will later tie to a loop of ribbon inside the turnback sleeves. As I didn't have time, I sewed a tab on instead so that the sleeves may be pinned.

Turnback sleeves

And so for the sleeves of the gown, turnbacks. I was in truth dreading making these, but in fact they were simple, but sewing velvet to another fabric is somewhat annoying!

The pattern I used for my sleeves came from The Tudor Tailor and was adjusted to fit my arms and gown. There are three parts to the sleeves, the top fabric (wool) and inside, velvet (which will be seen when the sleeves are turned back) which goes up to about half way on the upper arm and the rest is made of linen (but I used cotton to keep the bulk down).

First I sewed (WARNING! velvet slips when being machine sewn to another fabric!) the velvet to the cotton and pressed seams open. Then I sewed the bottom edge of the velvet to the bottom edge of the wool and pressed seams open. It was then opened out and folded in half length-ways (so, velvet to velvet, wool to wool) and then sewn along the long edge, but not sleeve cap! The sleeve was then turned the right way round.

When both sleeves were made up, I tacked the sleev caps together before pinning and tacking to the armholes on the gown. This is as far as I have got, but I will sew the sleeves onto the gown and then sew on some binding to neaten the raw edges. I will also put a few stitches in to keep my sleeves turned back.

The Gown

Well, it's been some time since I last posted, and some time since I've done some serious sewing, so I shall do my best with going into detail, but hopefully some pictures will make up for the lack of words.

So, the gown. The bodice was made the same as my under-kirtle's bodice, apart from: the neckline was made an inch lower (so the trim on the kirtle could be seen), the armholes were made bigger, the front piece was adjusted to make it front lacing. As the gown didn't need any structure (boning) as such, the back of the bodice not have any interfacing in it at all, although the front pieces do as boning is needed either side of the eyelets. Like the kirtle, I used synthetic whalebone from this company. Seperately, the linen lining, interfacing and the wool top fabric were all made up by sewing along the side seams. The interfacing was sewn along the seam allowance onto the lining of the bodice to hold it in place before sewing it onto the wool along all edges apart from the bottom edge (please note, bones were inserted into interfacing by this point). The bodice was then turned the right way out.

The skirt part of the gown is a fared skirt and was made from 4 panels - 2 panels for the back and 1 panel for either side of the front of the bodice. The panels were cut out of wool (top fabric) and linen (lining) and both were made seperately, but had the front seam left open. They were then tacked together and pleated to fit the bodice before tacking and sewing into place. The skirt was sewn to the wool of the bodice as the weight would prevent the wool from wrinkling. The centre front seam was then sewn, first the lining then the top fabric, leaving about a 7 inch gap (from the raw edge) to allow movement for putting on. The lining of the bodice was then folded over the raw edge of the skirt and sewn in place. I then made a placket and sewed it onto one side of the gap in the front of the skirt.

This is as far as I have got with the gown so far (apart from the sleeves which will come later). The next job to do is to make some eyelets. I will do the eyelets so that the bodice can be straight laced - and, fingers crossed, make it suitable for earlier years, such as the women in this painting of the More family. I will then hem the skirt making it slightly longer than the kirtle and then sew on a guard using black velvet trim.

Friday, 13 February 2009

A Rosary

After much aid in researching rosaries of the Tudor period, I decided to make one of my own, rather than buy one - I can't seem to find a suitable one ANYWHERE!

I used the following websites:

I made a 5 decade rosary using black onyx (6mm) for the decades and red coral beads (8mm) for the gauds. I also used black embroidary thread. I knotted the thread a few inches from the end before threading on the beads. Once I had all the beads on, I knotted the end a centimetre or so from the last bead, so that they may move along the thread when praying. I passed the two ends of the thread through another bead before tying off again.

With the remainding embroidary thread, I made a small tassle, using this website for help. I then tied the tassel to the loose ends of the rosary and trimmed to neaten it.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Necklines and doo-das.

Having pretty much completed my under kirtle, I could now do the neckline on my shift (instructions on this will follow when I make the 2nd one as 1st one was made before this blog). I made a small hole big enough to JUST get my head through, and then put on my kirtle. I pinned along the kirtle neckline to where it came up to on the shift and then pinned an inch above that as that was where I would want my shift neckling to (roughly) come up to.
I decided the easiest way to neaten the shift neckline was to make some binding - this was about 40" in length, and there was more than enough to go round the neckline. When I had made the binding, I blackworked the edge and blackworked a line just below it. I then had the guts to cut the neckline.
I looked to see how big the neckline was cut in The Tudor Tailor. In there, it had the neckline 6" down from the top of the shift and when I measured it against my pins, that was roughly how much I would want it to be. The width of the neckline was 2" either side from the basic neck hole, I thought that would be a bit too wide, so I made it about 1 1/4". I rounded off the back of the neckline 1 1/2" inches from the original neck hole I had. I then pinned the binding around the neckline, folding it at the corners, and sewed it with backstitch in black thread - just to add a bit more decoration!

Afterwards, I got out my black velvet trim, ready to go round the edge of my under kirtle. The velvet trim will be seen and the gown will be a little shorter than the kirtle. I folded the trim in half (this is 72mm trim) and pinned along the creased edge so I knew where the middle was. I then pinned the trim (starting at the back) and lined the pins in the trim to the edge of the kirtle neckline. Once it was pinned on, I first sewed down the outside edge (the side of the trim that will be seen) and then the inside. It now looks a little something like this:

As for the 'doo-da'. Now, I have shoulder length hair that's all feathered and layered and it's a real pain to try and do anything with, let alone plait it and curl it round on the back of my head (which is the Tudor thing to do). So, as I'll be wearing a French hood, I've decided to make a special 'doo-da' that will sit on my head and hold the hood up and on. All it is, is a homemade 'Alice' band that's an inch wide and big enough for the head. Then I traced around my French hood toile crecent and cut two out. I sewed around the edge with about a 1cm seam and left a hole at the bottom. Once turned the right way out, I stuffed the crescent so it was well padded and stitched up the opening. I then sewed the crescent onto the band...and hey presto, it works! I think I might patent it!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

1535 - under kirtle bodice part 2

Well, I managed to attach the bodice lining over the bodice to skirt seam - it was a bit fiddly especially at the edges where the wool and linen had been folded into the bodice.

Now it was the fun bit....EYELETS! For the under kirtle, I had to decided to use spiral lacing, which I had never used before, as I thought it would be easier to do up. I used this website to help me work out how and where to place the eyelets. I made the hole with a leather punch (I know I shouldn't as the will cause the hole to stretch a bit) and then oversewed round the edge of the eyelet - 32 in total. This is where my stack of DVDs came in handy!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

1535 - under kirtle skirt

I used the same pattern for the skirt as I did for the back of the skirt of my English gown from my 1588 outfit (pattern from The Tudor Tailor). It's a flared/shaped skirt that will easily fit over a farthingale if needed to (eg for 1540 onwards).
So, the skirt of this under kirtle is made up of 4 sections which are then sewn centre back and centre front - an inch for seam allowance as it was cut along the selvege. I then sewed the sides together leaving a 7" gap at the top of both sides for ease of putting on (and that my bodice is side lacing). The seams were then neatened.

I would normally make up a lining for it now, but seeing as I'm gentry and will be wearing lots of layers as it is, I've left it out as noone will see the underside of the kirtle. But it can be lined at a later date if needed.

Once I had the basic skirt, I then pleated it. I made a large inverted box pleat and then knife pleats either side (three in all for this skirt) for both front and back of the skirt. I pinned it to the bottom of the bodice to check the fit and altered accordingly. Once sorted, I tacked the pleats - at about 1/2" and 1" from the top edge, this was then sewn, again with two rows - one at 1" and the other slightly less. (These sewn rows were actually a mistake, my mum thought she had told me to sew it to the bodice!) Afterwards, I pinned and sewed it to the wool part of the bodice - again, sewn with two rows.

The pleats tacked and ready to be sewn.

The skirt sewn onto the bottom of the bodice

1535 - under kirtle bodice

I made the interfacing of the bodice from canvas and twill after constructing a pattern by using the pattern I made for my Elizabethan bodies, but changing a few features to meet the Henrican style. For example, the back neckline was made into a 'V' and the lacing was moved from the front to the sides.

It was only until I had to attach it to the wool (pink) and linen (red), that I realised that the interfacing should have matched up with the wool and linen in some places so that it could be sewn in together - like at the seams. But instead, I stitched the interfacing to the linen to hold it in place, luckily the stitching can't be seen that easily and it's on the inside of the bodice anyway! The wool was then pinned to the back of the linen (right side to right side) and sewn to the linen along the line of the interfacing. After testing it, I trimmed and snipped the seam allowance and turned to the right way round.

To attach the bodice at the shoulders, I had previously left an inch gap when sewing the wool to the linen. I then matched the wool on the front strap to the wool on the back strap, measured 3/4" (I usually have a should seam of anything from 1/2" to 1" depending on how the height of the bodice sits). I pressed the seam flat and tucked it under the linen. I then folded the linen over so the two parts met at the wool seam and then stitched them together.