Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gold Brocade Venetian Gown

Sadly due to a camera loss incident, I don't actually have many pictures of my creative process on this project, and those I do have are poor camera phone photographs.

This project started out with the girls hanging out at artsy night discussing Solstice Court dressmaking plans, to which I bemoaned the fact that there was no way I would be able to afford fabric to make a new gown. Serafina, being the amazing, generous lady she is, promptly handed me a bolt of jaw-droppingly gorgeous gold brocade that has a shimmer to it that no photographs can properly capture.

After futzing with my new corset for waaaay too long, I finally finished it and was time to start getting fitted for the new gown. All my old gown patterns are now useless due to some recent weight loss (which also happens to render my SCA wardrobe into a state of dusty pointlessness). This is both an awesome and annoying thing. Luckily Serafina is also amazing at draping and fitting and is always willing to help people.

I decided I wanted a gown done in the style worn in Venice, c. 1560-1570ish. I wanted the fabric to do most of the speaking on this because it says things so much better than embellishment can (typical for Venice at this time, actually).

I decided that while putting guards on a brocade gown was not extremely common, it was in fact done, as illustrated here. Guards are handy in that they can add a contrasting color while also hiding lacing stitches, as well as making hems clean and easy. It took me a while to find a fabric to choose for my guards, but after much contemplation, I chose a lovely pine green satin.

After stitching the guards down 100% by hand, I moved on to the skirts. All of my previous skirts have been a separate garment on a waist band which is hidden by skirting elements on the bodice. So this was a new thing for me. The most important trick was to grade the front of the skirting down to account for the "V" in the front of the bodice. As always, Serafina educated my brain and all went smoothly.

I also had to be cautious of lining up the pattern elements on the skirt - something I've never had to pay attention to in the past. I proceeded to cartridge pleat the skirts and attatch them to the bodice by hand. This was then followed up with the careful application of a hem guard.

This image is of my pillow wearing my gown. Doesn't it have a lovely figure? At this point all I had left to do on the project was to make a new camicia/smock and sleeves. A grand idea was concocted to make a shirt with starched standing lace for the collar. The shirt went together smoothly, as shown here, but after the starching part was complete, I decided that some modifications need to be made to this kind of neckline for a standing collar to work. I ended up wearing an older high-necked smock instead of my new shirt.

Solstice Court (Images all blatantly stolen from other people, mainly Serafina):

At the end of the day in court, I was called forward and asked to sit a vigil for potential elevation into the Order of the Laurel. Dig the "meep!" face I have here. I'm still shocked, to be honest.