Drafting the Eleventh Century Overdress

Using conic block to check armscye and waist

The easiest way to get the armscye depth and waist size marked correctly is to use an existing pattern, the same as we used the princess line pattern to make the chemise. Here, I'm using my conic block pattern instead, because it's only one piece and easier to pivot.

I’ve started with the waist of the conic block ending in line with the waist of the chemise.  I can pivot the block against the center front of the pattern I’m drawing to get a guide on the armscye (so I don’t draw one that’s too small!). You can do the same with your princess line pattern – line up the center front piece with the center front line of your draft, and pivot the side front at the bust like we did when we made the original chemise. Also, I can use it as a visual guide to make sure I don’t draw a waist that’s too small. Remember, this pattern isn’t going to fit the body as tightly as the conic block or the princess line patterns do, so give yourself a little more than the block/pattern you’re using as a guide shows. The guide is just there to show you the shape of the body, so we can draw a pattern that will fit around it!

sideline started

Start the sideline by connecting the armscye and waistline ticks you just drew.

extending sideline to mimic curve

The original diagram shows a tight curve at the waist, rather than a sharp angle. Add a short vertical line to the bottom of the sideline as a guide.

extending the sideline for the hip

At this point, we need to widen the skirt for the hips. Draw a line that connects the bottom of the sideline to the sewing line of the chemise, about like this.

“About like this”?!? Seriously, missa? Ahem. Ok, this pattern isn’t exactly rocket surgery – it lacks that level of precision (and risk). Because the final garment only loosely fits the body, we get to play a little fast and loose with our angles. All we need is to make sure that we have room for the hip before the garment actually hits the fullness of the hip. Fabric has the marvelous quality of being all flopsey-drapesy, so if the hip line is above the hip, so what? It’ll just drape, which is fine, because this isn’t a fitted garment. On the other hand, if the fullness isn’t provided before it’s needed, the garment will bunch up around the hips.  That’s never good! If you’ve got a full princess line sloper (or your princess line pattern, sans seam allowances), you can check to make sure this line hits above the curve of the hip. Or, you can do what I did, and eyeball it based on the angle in the Kohler sketch.  Err on the side of caution (higher, rather than lower, in this case).  Clear as mud?

finishing the side line

To finish the sideline, we drop a line at a slight angle. Kohler's sketch shows an overdress that's about mid-calf length, while his measurements put it at 2/3rd the length of the under-garment pattern. I eyeballed. ;)

Next…. The Hem, Neckline, and Back

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