08 October 2013

A Sewing Challenge!

SarahLizSewStyle is doing a garment-a-month sewing challenge, and I'm joining in!  I'll be doing it with SCA garments, though - and maybe the occasional mundane piece.  I'd begun a new outfit for our baronial event just last week, so I've decided that that will be my October garment and my first one of this year-long challenge.

If you'd like to get in on the challenge, visit Sarah Liz at her blog here, SarahLizSewStyle:

The dress I've begun (and I spent about two hours on armpit gussets alone last night; apparently this is going to be one of THOSE projects, egad), is a 12th century pendant-sleeve down.  Much like a bliaut in cut, fit, and shaping, but with long drooping sleeve ends that start at the wrist or mid-forearm, rather than the elbow or upper arm like a bliaut.

Inspiration-wise, I give you the following:

Mistress Aénor d'Anjou, a 12th-century clothing Laurel, via Pinterest, and her website.

Revival Clothing's 12th century linen pendant-sleeved gown (there's a red/black version on the website now, though I prefer this photograph).

This lovely and simple gown by Antalika on DeviantArt.  

The fabric I'm working with is an amethyst-colored "antique satin" (a satin or silk substitute developed in the 1950s which can be made of several different combinations of fibers;  mine is rayon and silk), which is cross-woven with black and with a slubbed weave and a very subtle luster on the outside.  I purchased it at Gulf Wars in March, and while I don't have a picture of my actual fabric, it's just about this color, maybe a tad lighter:

SilkBaron's "blackberry" dupioni

I cut out the dress pieces last week; last night I managed to get the body all put together, the neckline shaped, the gores in the skirt and underarm gussets all pieced in, and the sleeve pendants shaped, but not attached.  Not bad for one night!  Especially when you consider that I'm basically improvising this pattern as I go along.  I cut the basic body shapes based on my cotehardie pattern, without didn't cut a neckline so that I could do that later, and a tad large so that I can slip the entire dress over my head.  

This fabric is what my mother used to call "hairy."  It unravels like crazy, and SHEDS EVERYWHERE.  While the fabric itself is strong, trying to pick out an errant line of stitching is like walking on a rotten rope bridge across LAVA.  UGH.  

That said, otherwise, it's been wonderful to work with.  It has some give on the bias, but mostly doesn't stretch at all, so there aren't any weird tension issues with it pulling.  It's lightweight, but with a beautiful heavy drape, and feels wonnnnnnnderful against my skin.  I'm almost disappointed that I have to wear a chemise under it, hehe. 

The fun part is, I have to have the dress finished by THURSDAY NIGHT.  @_@   I still have to create an exterior neck facing and attach it, attach the sleeve pendants, finish all the interior seams, and hem the skirt. If I end up with time, I may also run some very simple embroidery (by hand) along the edge of the neck facing, and maybe around the edges of the sleeve openings, but I'm not sure about that yet.  

For now, the dress is just a pull-over, meant to be wrapped with a loooooong cloth belt (which I don't have, by the way, so there's that).  I'll be wearing my linen pie-crust filet hat, with a linen barbette, and either my large silk veil, or my small chiffon veil with the pearl edging.  Haven't decided yet. 

Fun!  So we'll see how far I get tonight.  Update when finished! 


  1. Hi Laura, aka Lady Madylyne...I'm glad you have joined the challenge - it's going to be great having a costume sewer amongst us - I'm really going to enjoy seeing what you make. I'm posting an update on everyone's activities later this week , Sarah Liz

  2. That purple fabric is exquisite and I so remember antique satin and the drapes I tried to make from it once. Frayed like crazy but they were gorgeous.


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