Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My Sottana is progressing nicely, if slowly.  Them hem turned out a smidge shorter than I wanted, but it is passable. Apparently my dress form settled down a little and is now a bit shorter than me.  Didn't think that would be possible.

As you can see, the padded hem holds the hem out in a pretty graceful line despite how flimsy and drapey (is drapey a word?) this fabric is.  I would definitely do it again, but next time in an even stiffer fabric.  This is simply a strip of felt tucked into the fashion fabric as it's turned under, resulting in about three layers of the fashion fabric, and one layer of felt.  This damask is a pain in that it does not hold crisp lines, so despite the steaming and pressing I did, it still looks somewhat unpressed at the hem.  I'll give it another go to see if I can clean it up further.

As you can see, I have added a bit of ivory braid to the neckline in order to try to give it a more finished look.  I was unhappy with it previously due to the aforementioned problem with it not pressing well.  Yes, the skirt is hanging funny in the front.  This is largely due to the felt padding in the pleats.  It looks different on my body than on this skinny form.  I do need to do some alteration at the flat/unpleated section in the front though, as it is pulling to one side.  Not too pleased about that one, but c'est la vie.

I have made a decision about my sleeves, and did the necessary patterning for them last night.

I spent the weekend fighting with my partlet.  My silk organza is not as stiff as I'd liked, and my plans to hold it to a stretch frame without damaging the delicate fabric ended up less than successful.  I also struggled with getting my pattern laid onto the fabric, which resulted in lines which were less than straight as I couched my silk cords down. After some exhaustion in fighting with the thing, I have put that on the back burner while I do my sleeves and a quick "alternate" partlet, using the same pattern with different fabric.  It's good to test the pattern anyway, right?  And who doesn't need more partlets?

I had hoped to have everything done and ready to wear to Solstice Court, and that's not looking feasible at this point.  However, perhaps I will have enough done to be dressed in an entirely new gown, even if it's not in line with my original vision.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ACC Partlet and Sottana Update

I had some misgivings about my standing collar partlet, mainly about the heavy embellishment and how that would on both the inside and outside of the collar. My examples of full partlets with high collars do not have heavy embellishment like this on the inside of the neck.  This appears to only occur when worn with a high necked doublet or veste.  I had concerns about it damaging the inside of my veste if I did a full scale embroidered/beaded partlet that is not just the inside of the collar.  It is logical that different partlets existed to go with specific types of gowns. So after a nice brain licking session with Noelle (mainly to see if she saw the same issues I did and justified my changing directions), I have come up with a "plan B."

I will still be making my standing collar partlet, but not for wearing sans veste.  Speaking of standing collar partlet, I picked Holly's brain on doing something to get the star shaped "goldwork" effect without actually doing goldwork, and came up with an awesome plan.  I'm excited to share that with you too, when I am ready to go on it.  But, that's on the back-burner for the moment as I will focus on making a partlet more suitable for wearing just with the sottana:

Eleonora di Toledo, 1543
Agnolo Bronzino
Always remember, it's your prerogative to change your mind/plan a zillion times as an artist of any sort, including costuming.

For now, I'm focusing on finishing up my padded hem.  I'm about 3/4 finished with it... have I mentioned how HUGE this skirt is?  Pretty sure I hemmed for three hours last night.  I measured my hem using my dress form, which is more scientific than what I've done in the past (ball park eyeball, guess, and pray).  I've gotten lucky in the past with only having hems that are a smidge too long, which is a better problem to have than too short.  Let's all pray I get lucky again.

While I was hanging out with Noelle, I was reminded of how awesome it is to be with her and her little family.  Such snuggle-butts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sottana Sleeves

I have several thoughts/ideas/inspirations for sleeves for my Sottana, and need to come to some sort of decision.  I hate making decisions.  My top choices, in no particular order are:

Spiral Sleeve - Neapolitan Woman from Moda a Firenze
White pinked sleeve from Allesandro Allori's portrait of Isabella de Medici

Paned sleeve from Bronzino's portrait of Eleanora de Toledo and Son

Pinked and striped sleeves - Painting associated with Allesandro Allori, 1535-1607

I do want to keep the baragoni (sleeve head/shoulder treatment) minimal with this Sottana as I will want to fit the sleeves under the Veste once I eventually get it done.  Or possibly make something removable/multiple sleeves.  Gah so many options!

My fabric choices include the butter yellow damask, and if the postal service doesn't lose my package for another month (growl/snarl), ivory silk taffeta or yellow silk taffeta, which I've yet to determine how well it will match.  Yikes!

I love love love the look of plain white pinked sleeves, but they are very similar to my elevation sleeves, sans the pearls and crystals, of course.  So that's currently at the bottom of my top choices, so to speak.  If my silk doesn't arrive like...today, I may be stuck with the damask, which means the panes would be the best choice.  Plus, I haven't done paned sleeves since my first 'Bethan, back in '03 or '04. 

Thoughts?  Opinions?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sottana Progress

I have pleated and attached the skirts, and appear to have plenty of room for hemming (Thank goodness).  The unfortunate thing is that I did 1/2 inch cartridge pleats, and they are packed onto the skirt so densely that they are bunching and flipping over each other in groups, rather than laying smoothly.  It's kind of hard to tell from the pictures though - I'll have to take close-ups.  I'm hoping that once I get it on my body, they'll spring up and be pretty.  If not, I'll have to rip them off and either trim part of the panels off or re-pleat with slightly deeper pleats.  I've never had this problem before - this fabric is more wide than what I normally use.

The bodice front looks like it's having some weird vertical wrinkling, but  it's because my dress form is significantly less curvy than my body.  It will smooth out when I fill it up.  Also, my camicia back is not actually V-shaped.  It's pinned that way to keep it from falling off the dress form.

I think I'd like to try doing a padded hem, since this fabric is super flimsy and drapey.

I played dress up on the form, and the girdle belt that Holly made me for my elevation goes beautifully with this dress, so no need for another belt! Woo!

Next up (other than finalizing the hem/pleat questions), sleeves and partlet.  I need to pick Serafina's brain on the partlet, for she is far more experienced than I.

I will probably not have the Veste done to wear to this season's court events, so I'm hoping it will look fancy enough on its own, and not too similar to my other gold brocade dress.  Obviously the older one is Venetian rather than Florentine, but my mind wants reassurance that they are dissimilar enough without the Veste.

Monday, November 7, 2011

ACC Update

I have a lovely time at Kingdom Collegium on Saturday, though I didn't get chance to attend or teach any classes - I was sitting as troll all day. I did sneak off to go to the ACC meeting, and got to socialize a little.  I didn't have a chance to take any handwork to Collegium, as I had already finished my lucet cords for lacing the dress.

The bodice is complete, and I have discovered what a delicate and moody fabric this is.  It has a very light, open weave, so it's very easy to snag the fabric, and seam allowances need to be very carefully finished as they will fray out and become nuisances of themselves.

I assessed my skirt issues, and I think I'll be fine for length. I removed the front panel from the rest of the skirt and am dealing with it separately for now, as it will not be pleated all the way across the front.  Once I'm done marking my pleats, I will reattach the front panel to the back/sides (making sure to do it correctly this time), and all will be well with the universe.

My goal is to have the skirts fully attached and hopefully hemmed by the end of the week.  I'm running several weeks behind schedule, and need to get started on my partlet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sottana Fail?

I have been ignoring my Sottana with much fervor.  Knowing this to be a BAD idea, considering the looming deadline, and worked on it this weekend.  I may have allowed my sewing-fu to get the worst of me.  That adage of measure twice, sew once?  Yeah... make that three times and think ahead if you're dealing with a patterned fabric that might require pattern matching.

I cut my skirt panels, originally with the premeditated intent to not worry about pattern matching.  It's got to be a period practice given the amount of fabric waste that can go into matching, and I figured the patterns would probably get lost in pleats anyway.

I was wrong.  I sewed two of the panels together and determined I hated it with the pattern all messy like that.  My inner Virgo-cusp yelled at me.  I picked apart the panels, made some matching happen, and re-sewed them together.  This of course made the panels not line up exactly, forcing a loss of length.  Now, I thought I'd be golden because being super scared about short hemlines, I cut them extra long.

I got to my third panel, and somehow, it was NOT cut on the grain.  I ended up having to trim a good five inches off the top to straighten it out, which will in turn make me lose additional length.  I gave up at this point, and have not yet determined the final damage.

The good news is that if I must, I can pick this panel off and cut a new panel, and use the failed panel to make sleeves.  I should have plenty of fabric for this.  The bad news is that I was so frustrated with my unfocused brainspace that I didn't take pictures, even though I got my dress form all assembled, and could have taken some mighty nice ones.

Oh well, another day.  Until then, enjoy this picture that amuses me, of a most NOT amused kitty.  Rudy dog came to visit us, and Sim Sim Salabim did her best Halloween kitty impression the whole time he was here, poofy fur and arched back galore.
"I'd better make myself look big!"