I’ve spent the last two days crawling through the inner workings of the site, trying to make it work better…. Half this post will read as “blah blah blah techno-blither blahdedattadee.” and I won’t be sad if you skip it. It’s mostly here to document some technical issues and how I resolved them, in case anyone is asking Google similar questions. ;)
Month: January 2011
I finished the chemise. Yay! Technically, it’s taken from a pattern Kohler gives for a coat (A History of Costume, pg 136). His text claims that a chemise would be cut in the same way, but with shorter sleeves. I went a little embroidery-happy on this, so maybe it is more like a cote. I might make a plain one for underneath and dye this one a festive color. I haven’t decided yet…
This goes together quite easily, since it’s really just a series of straight lines. Shirts and smocks with the same general layout (small variations in neckline) continue to be used into the sixteenth century, at least, and I can see why: it’s easy. There’s no need for a gusset, because of the angle the sleeves are placed on. That is so cool. (If you don’t know why that’s cool, it’s because you’ve never sewn an underarm gusset by machine. They’re all sorts of annoying.)
According to my handy-dandy stitch dictionary, this is also called the “open chain stitch” or “Roman chain stitch”. This is a nice, relatively simple, geometric decoration. Because it has a straight edge, you can work it right on top of a machined hem to hide the machine stitches. (I believe in cheating.)
What? Why would you ever possibly want to do that, missa? This is a good question, and the answer is basically, “Because you can.” That, in an of itself, is cool enough for me. I can take the pattern of my little dolly body, or the pattern I cloned off a dolly, or even a fitted princess line sloper of a human, and make a chemise. (Also, I have drafted approximately 55,237,648,119 smocks and chemises and shirts in my life, and I’m just lookin’ for ways to keep it exciting…) This isn’t unlike draping on a stand, because we’re going to make a pattern by eyeballing fit against a human form. It’s just that my human form, in this case, is in the form of flat pieces instead of a three-dimensional stand. But those pieces convey all the same critical information the stand does, and they don’t cost near as much as a decent dress form.
Sometimes, you have to finish a seam allowance so it won’t fray. (Or, possibly, you’re like me and compulsively finish seams, whether they need it or not.) There are times when you can’t use a french seam, or you are working in an area too tight for a felled seam, and you want something nicer than an overcast edge. This method of finishing a seam allowance by hand will prevent them from fraying, and lightly reinforce the seam.
I made some adjustments to the back of the chemise so that I could get Tyler into it. (Mostly, this involved lengthening the slit in the back.) I finally got it on her a little bit ago, and it looks about like I expected.
It sounds way too good to be true, doesn’t it? I mean, making patterns without a whole bunch of math? You can do such a thing? We’re barely even going to use measurements! We’re going to use out Basic Conic Block, and enjoy good old fashion magic of the sloper alteration. If this sounds too modern, there’s something you need to know: the idea of describing a pattern as a series of steps and measurements is less than 150 years old.
I’ve been doing a crazy amount of research on armscyes, lately, particularly in terms of when they started being curved. I was expecting that to be after 1515 or so, based on the piecing in Gerard David‘s Deposition. But no, much to my complete annoyance, there are a lot of examples of curved sleeveheads and armscyes going back into the late medieval era. This annoys me greatly, because it means that if I want to show try out a fashion that does not use a curved sleeve head/armscye, I’m stuck back in like, 1000 AD. This is not my happy place. But I’m gonna make a ding-dang, major-olde-timey, at-least-it’s-not-a-T-tunic dress, and I’m gonna like it, gosh darn it.
This is a really nice looking edge finish. It’s decorative and fully sealed. It shows up all throughout the ages – sixteenth century ruffs, smocks and chemises of all eras, even on modern blankets (of all things). It’s also a great utility stitch – milliners use it to whip wire down to buckram hat brims.