Been a long time since I posted progress on this costume but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been making progress.
I’m too lazy to re-write the process I went through so 90% of this is just ripped directly off my Fashion and Textiles document. Please don’t don’t tell me I plagiarized my own work NECA moderators. Thank you 🙂
After completing the facings on the bodice I was ready to start the huge task embellishing the neckline (First time beading so this was big for me!) The first thing I did was draw up some designs on MS Paint to get an idea of the layout I wanted.
Out of the three ‘designs’ I liked the last two the best. I wanted to test the designs a little more before sewing anything so I laid both designs in to sculpting clay (so they wouldn’t roll) an then decided on the final design from there.
My drawings were pretty accurate right? I decided on the first of the two designs because I thought the second one was too bulky looking.
The process of beading the neckline of the bodice took me around 6 hours but it was worth it! To save time the beads were threaded on a continuous thread that was knotted after each line (not cut) and continued to the next. I have no experience beading so this seamed most logical(?) but worked for me! I’m very pleased with it and have had so many complements on the beading.
Next I wanted to sew the top layer fabric onto the back piece.I first sewed the top layer fabric onto the back piece with a large gathering stitch using the machine about ¼ of an inch away from the edge. The first time I did this I forgot to check that the fabric was flat against the main layer and found that it was bulky and no tight. Because of this I had to unpick the basting(gathering) stitch and sew sew it on. I used a lot more pins the second time round which kept the fabric tight on the base layer. I think using a small amount of pins the first time round was my problem. I then hand sewed a 4cm wide strip of interfacing to the back piece on the right side (when top layer fabric is facing down). This is where the eyelets will lay on the back piece. I did make sure to check this by referencing the skirt panels as to where the split in the skirt would be. Before sewing the lining on the bodice I will sew a strip of interfacing to it as well.
Once the interfacing was sewn in by hand I began the process of turning the edges over and pinning them in place. Once all of the edges were turned over I sewed the turned over edges down with a basting stitch which didn’t go through the top layer fabric.
Unfortunately the shoulder straps on the bodice would be too thin to put sleeves on them this lead to a discussion with my textiles teacher and we decided that if I made a blouse to be worn underneath the dress out of class would be the best option. (Yay more work)
Around this time full day rehearsals for my school’s production had begin and I was apart of the costume team (didn’t see that one coming did you) and was required at every rehearsal and then every show night so this ate into my time a lot and I fell behind my scheduled a little.
I finished off the arm openings. I made sure that both ends were the same size and altered them accordingly when they didn’t fit. When they were the correct size I pinned the top layer fabric down and whip stitched it into place. I’m really happy with how clean the top layer looks.
I sewed down the top layer fabric on the bodices right side (top fabric facing down) as it didn’t need to have interfacing like the left side. The top layer was sewn down with a tight whip stitch.
Next I cut interfacing to go along the bodice side where the eyelets would lay. The interfacing strip was in two sections as I had already sewn the top portion of the shoulder strap down at that point (after adapting them) so that section was sewn on top and the other longer section was sewn directly onto the base layers with a width of 4cm. The top layer of the fabric was then folded over and sewn down.
Once this was complete I started lining the garment. On my first attempt of this I just started turning over the lining fabric towards the bodice and pinning it in place and continued doing this around a large portion of the garment. Luckily I checked to see how the lining was sitting using this method and found that the lining was not laying tight over the bodice as was bulky in many places. Because of this I un-pinned the lining and re ironed it to get rid of creases and the started with a new attempt. This time I laid the lining over the bodice and pinned it down to the bodice in crucial places such as the top and bottom of the central bone, below arm openings, on the straps and the bottom corners of the bodice making sure to spread the lining evenly keeping it flat everywhere. I then began turning the edge of the lining under itself hiding the raw edge, I tried my best to make sure there would be at least 1cm of fabric being turned over around the whole garment but this was difficult in some places due to the shape of the bodice. The linings curves had to be clipped in places such as the arm openings and neckline, the central point however did not.
Once the lining was pinned in place I turned it over so the front was facing me so that I could check that no lining was showing through on the front. In the places that it was I simply re pinned the lining a little deeper into the bodice. When I was happy that no lining would show through from the front I began the process of sewing it in place. I did this with a tight whip stitch around the edge of the lining, the stitch only when through the lining layer and the top fabric layer that had been turned over. This process was a lot more time consuming than I first thought but taking the bodice home and working on it in study periods over the week really helped keep me on track.
The main bodice piece was very time consuming to sew but I’m so pleased with the outcome. The lining is taut across the base layer with no puckering and lays flat. I’m just as pleased with the back piece.
(Close up of the whip stitching, image brightened)
Next I whipstitch the arm straps down to the bodice which created the armhole. This was a simple process and I found the easiest way of completing this was to pin the the straps to the back portion of the bodice and then hand sew a line of whipstitching and then go back over that again with another line of whip stitches. This strengthened the bond between the two materials and made sure there would be no gaps or any chance of the stitching coming undone.
I started by pinning the back piece to the bodice, right sides together with the pins horizontal on the ‘seam’. I bound the two fabrics together with a whip stitch going down the seam once to tack them together and going back up the seam again to fill in any gaps.
I love when my satin goes blood orange in some light.
Next I sewed the flannel strip layer onto the top of the skirt. This strip is 5cm wide and is the same length as the top of the skirt. The strip was sewn on with a straight stitch 0.5 cm away from the raw edge. I decided to finish the edge off and to prevent fraying by sewing a zigzag stitch along the raw edge.
After the flannel strip was sewn on I marked every half inch interval on the top of the flannel side with a fabric pen. (These marks can be seen in the second picture) This was because my cartridge pleats were to be sewn in this measurement.
The it was time to cartridge pleat the skirt down to size. I used a thicker thread for this (top stitching thread) as normal thread snapped during this process on my mock up. I also made sure to use a vibrant contrasting colour (yellow) so that I would be able to see the thread and make it a lot easier when I had to remove the thread. I used a running stitch to gather the fabric down about 1cm below the raw edge. After gathering the pleats down I measured the thread it was gathered on to just over 1m and then tied it off.
After this I had a conversation with my teacher about the skirt and how I planned on attaching it.
My original plan was to pleat it down to size and then attach it to a waistband which would be sewn into the bodice without breaking through the top layer. This would keep the dress as one piece. My teacher suggested that I keep the dress and bodice as two pieces that way the skirt would be more fitted to me and have a better silhouette. I liked this idea as most Elizabethan costume was separated into different layers which were put on in order to create the full ensemble. The only thing I would have to be mindful of is keeping the skirt panels even before sewing the waistband on. I will go with this option as it is historically accurate and won’t require me stitching the skirt into the bodice saving some time.
Next my focus was to work out what eyelets I would use for my dress. I tested this by punching holes in paper so I could get a better idea of sizes.
I decided that the better option would be the 4.5mm size as it would be easier to lace up the bodice. The other sizes would have been far too small making this difficult.
Next I got out a swatch of all of the layers that would be in the bodice that were sewn together and punched holes in that so I would be able to test eyelet procedures. I punched 5 holes in total, the first was just to show the original size of the punched hole vs. what it would look like when it was finished with the thread. Ignore pen marks and follow yellow font.
1. Is the first hole punched so that I could make a comparison to see if the hole got larger/smaller based on thread.
2. This eyelit was sewn using normal cotton thread (the same I’ve been using to sew the rest of the garment)
3. This eyelit was sewn with top stitching thread (same used for the cartridge pleats)
4. This eyelet was sewn using the machine, I sewed over the same area twice to increase the eyelet thickness.
5. This eyelet was sewn using the sewing machine, only once.
From these tests I decided that using the top stitching thread would have the better result and is more historically accurate. The normal thread cuts into the fabric causing the hole to become warped and uneven. The machine sewn eyelets are far too fragile and I do not trust them to withstand being laces up. Because of this I found the top stitching thread to be best. I will need to practice them some more before I sew the real ones on the bodice.
Next I started on the skirt again, I made up the waist band which was 84cm x 5 inches. I made sure that the waist band was a little larger than my waist just in case I had any measurements wrong. This was cut from the satin and then a strip of interfacing was irond onto the back.
Next I made up some bias tap from the satin and added 9 inches of it to each side where the skirt opening would lay.
Ooh doesn’t that look pretty. Not my best top stitching but nobody will see!
And finally I started cartridge pleating the skirt down to size.
But this was all in vain as the lesson ended before I could pin the waistband onto it. And that brings us to where I am now with the costume log updated!
I’m very please with the progress I’m making and the huge amount of skills I have learnt during the making process. The dress will be made in time which makes me very happy and I’m looking to have it photographed in the third week of this month.
More updates on other costumes coming soon.
Thank you for reading