Irish(ish) Peasant Dress (2001)






It’s Irish… sorta. Actually, it’s what happens when your friendly
neighborhood sempstress gets a weird bug up her butt, and tries to overcome
the stress of having too many projects to sew by … well, by deciding to sew
something else. *shrug* I don’t recall ever claiming that I was sane…. Anyway,
the truth here is that very little research when into this particular dress,
and it’s more of an experiment than anything. I call it irishish because, when
put on the spot and forced to explain exactly what style I felt this was, irish
leapt to mind. (I’m normally much better than this.) Fortunately, that appears
to have been my memory talking, rather than the creative writing part of my
brain. A little subsequent digging did indicate that something that looks a
little like this can be seen in sketches of irish women (although it the garment
in question prolly follows more the cut of the shrinshrone gown, which the above
doesn’t)…. Something that looks a little like this can also be seen in sketches
and woodcuts of german, italien, and netherlandish lower class dress. It might
be more accurate to say that this is simple “peasantish”.

The pattern for the dress was made by smacking my effigy corset
down on some fabric, cutting around it (minus the tabs), and then cutting off
a triangle shaped piece from the front. There are no seams in the bodice for
shaping. The bodice is made from two layers of the green(ish) fabric, which
is more of the heavy brushed 1$/yd special cotton that I love so much. There
is boning added to the opening edges as something of an afterthought because
they buckle if it’s not there. The boning channels are made with bias tape (it
really was an afterthought). The skirt is made of a layer of the greenish stuff,
and lined with something that is most decidedly yellow. The skirt is attached
to the bodice, and opens part way down the front so that I have a chance of
getting into the darn thing. This is actually remarkable convenient. It causes
the bodice to hang very correctly and takes strain off the lower back. The skirt
is attached in stacked pleats at the back, and cartridge pleats at the sides.
I think I like the look of the cartridge pleats better. They stick out more.
The trim on the outside of the skirt is a woven cotton trim with gimp on either
side to give it more texture. The trim on the inside of the skirt is the same
kind of gimp as the stuff on the sides of the opening of the bodice. I had originally
planned to just lace through the trim, but it turned out that my gimp was not
as strong as I thought it was. I didn’t want to ruin the gimp in a few wearings,
so I got some lacing tabs from ASL pewterworks (I fell in love with them on
my rose and green dress). One of the unsung advantages of wearing a skirt tucked
up like this is that it gives you a great muckin pocket that you can put things
in as you buy them. I tuck the skirt up with a cord that goes over my rump (under
the skirt), catches the skirt up at the sides, then ties at the back of the
waist on top of the skirt. As well as getting a pocket, you get to show off
your underskirt. This one is the pink-green changeable cotton that I made for
the rose and green dress.

This dress is being worn over my effigy corset. I’m pretty
certain that that is not period. There are two reasons I do it – first, I
happen to think it looks better, and second, I cut just a titch too much out
of the center front of the bodice, and I’m not sure it would be entirely
acceptable for a family show if I didn’t. The idea of what is a socially
acceptable part to display has changed a bit other the last few centuries.

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