Monday, December 7, 2015

16th c. working class Italian gown

It's been over 5 months since the last post and radio silence hasn't been because I haven't been working on anything, it's been because there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything I'm working on, maintain a full-time job and (semi) responsible adult life and find the time to blog.

We're doing the SCA pretty full time: Jay is mad about rapier combat, I was merchant steward for the 600 person Baronial event in November, got the Tower Or for service to the Barony, entered my first A&S comp this past weekend (I got a 17/20) and we're planning on doing Gulf Wars in March.   Aaaaaand I needed to garb both Pietro (Jay) and I.  Ironic that now have so many occasions to wear historical clothing that I don't have enough time to sew!  And I now have people to talk with about historical sewing!  oh the bliss!

The first project for me was a gown to replace my Ren Faire bodice and skirts. I rather like the paintings of Vincenzo Campi so I thought I'd make a late 16th century working class Italian gown. Once I had the pattern fine tuned, then I could work on something more elaborate.

The Fruit Seller d. 1580
Vincenzo Campi 

The talented Lady Alessandra Giovanna Fioravanti helped me drape a basic 16th century bodice and I used the skirt from Margo Anderson's Italian Lady's Wardrobe pattern. Since this was a first attempt, I deemed some rust linen/cotton that I had on hand "most expendable" for an alpha test project. I also found some deliciously awful mustard yellow wool felt for the doppia for $8.00 a yard; since it was never going to be seen, it was the perfect bargain.

I wanted to wear the gown ASAP, so I went with  mostly machine construction, following the Margo Anderson pattern instructions, machine quilting the interlining and using zip ties for boning. It's not a technique I'd use again, but I had the gown in a wearable state, in approximately 2 weeks of sewing time sandwiched in between work and real life.

Originally, I used the Margo method of sewing channels for ladder lacing in a ribbon inside the bodice.  I think I misunderstood the method or executed it incorrectly, because it was an epic failure and several channels ripped out first wearing.  Thankfully, a rush order of lacing rings from Renaissance Fabrics solved the problem and also improved the fit a bit although then I ended up losing weight and I ended up having to take it in several inches.  Over the autumn, I  finished a hand sewn partlet and sleeves.  I plan to do a roped petticoat and drawers this winter.

While there are improvements to be made in the next gown (and I'm never satisfied with anything I make) I've had several people tell me I look like I stepped out of a painting, so I must have done something right!

However, since it gets worn so frequently and Meridian events are almost always outside, it's begun to show a bit of wear and tear, (or maybe I'm just tired of only having one gown to wear) so I'm hoping to get a second gown done with all hand sewing completed before Gulf Wars.

I've also done a set of 16th century Ottoman,a set of Viking for Pietro as well as my A&S research that I will try and find time to post about soon.