Monday, September 30, 2013

NYC Medieval Fair

This Sunday I went to my very first fair, the NYC Medieval Fair. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Hudson River, Fort Tryon Park is the home of the Cloisters and the setting of the yearly fair. The Cloisters, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is built from various original Medieval structures imported from France and Spain. It contains Medieval and Ecclesiastical art, and the famous Unicorn Tapestries!

I wore my pseudo-Medieval dress that I fixed up for the HSF Challenge #18. I wanted to simulate the look of angels and saints in art of the period, so I draped a red and gold fringed pashmina shawl around my shoulders and pinned it to my waist. The whole outfit was really warm! I accessorized with lapis lazuli earrings and a gold chain and pearl necklace (worn as a belt).

I used this tutorial for my hair but I think my hair is really too thin for this didn't come out to good.
The earrings are handmade and were bought in Portugal. The lapis lazuli is flecked with a minuscule gold "constellation," naturally occurring in the stone.
The view of the Hudson River from the park grounds.
The George Washington bridge.

This plant, called Lamb's Ears, really did feel as soft as a furry ear!

Reliquary busts. Here's a video tutorial for recreating their hairstyle.
Look, the statue is wearing the same outfit as me! I suppose my getup is fairly Medieval after all!
This statue of archangel Gabriel even shares the same name as me. What a coincidence!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Black Polka Dot Chiffon Circle Skirt

You may recognize this fabric from the dress I made for my mother last year. I had enough leftover material to make a lined circle skirt.

The skirt is lined in cheap black poly-cotton. All of the hems were sewn by hand. I altered the pattern (McCall's 6557) that I used for my mom's dress, making the skirt shorter and adding two darts in the back to accommodate the crazy curve of my lower back. I drafted the waistband, which is made of 3 layers: the chiffon, the black cotton, and interfacing, for stability. The skirt fastens with a hook and eye (which I managed to sew and not have the stitches show on the outside!) and two small snaps down the placket.

Obviously, the quality of a skirt is determined by its twirlability!

All of these photos were taken this summer in S. Pedro do Sul, a small resort town nestled in a valley with thermal waters. Besides the various spas and hydrotherapy centers, the town was scattered with fountains bubbling with the sulfuric-scented thermal water. The water was so hot that I couldn't keep my hand in there for more than a few seconds!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Italian Renaissance Camicia

I try to challenge myself with new sewing techniques each time I delve into a project: I have this perception that continually challenging myself is the only way I'll learn. So, after looking at a plethora of images online, I decided to make myself an Italian Renaissance Camicia that was cartridge pleated all along the neckline and sleeve cuffs.

But let's be honest, the real reason I made an Italian Renaissance Camicia is because I had the perfect fabric!

My mom keeps any old, ripped, faded, or stretched out sheets to use as dropcloths when we paint the house or engage in some other DIY home project. Her and I were going through one stash of deliciously tacky 90's sheets when I came across a LOVELY white cotton box sheet that had lost its elastic. The fabric was incredible, not worn, but soft, and with a slight sheer quality to it; the material perfectly resembled a quality cotton viole! How could I resist? I knew that I wanted to make something that I would wear close to my body, but that I could still make very pretty and feminine. And since I had plans to make an Italian Renaissance dress in the future, why not start with a camicia?

I used Anea's wonderful costume site for research. I also used Diary of a Renaissance Seamstress's Camicia tutorial. I was going for a camicia similar to the ones in these paintings:

Tiziano Vecellio, Woman with a Mirror, 1513-15 -- I wanted a neckline similar to this, but I didn't want big open sleeves.
Palma Vecchio, A Sybil, 1520 -- Very interesting shoulder drawstring closure.
Not sure who painted this, but i wanted the sleeves pleated into cuffs like this.
Palma Vecchio, A Blonde Woman, 1520 -- This painting was my justification for using the selvages of the dark blue fabric for the sleeve cuff ties.
I started this Camicia last October. I was already a bit behind schedule, and then with hurricane Sandy knocking out our power for a few days I realized there was no way/point to finish this for Halloween. However, cartridge pleating is a very appropriate task to do sans electricity. I finished it last year but postponed posting about it until now!

The neckline is cartridge pleated, bound in homemade bias tape. The sleeves are cartridge pleated into the cuffs. The cuffs tie with the selvedges from the fabric of the 1530's dress, and the cuffs are finished with a pleated ruffle. Honestly, I need to redo these cuffs: after the fine handsewing of the cartridge pleats, the machine-sewn cuffs are just bulky and awkward, and the ruffle is too much. I'm thinking of replacing the tie cuff with some of the bias binding threaded with a thinner ribbon, and altering the ruffles so that they can be basted on.

One of my favorite things about the Camicia is how it drapes over my chest. In this photo, I'm wearing it over a soft-cup strapless, wireless bra for modesty.
Not perfect, but suitable for a first try.

I ended up making the Camicia a bit longer than I planned to, but it works!
That perfectly lovely hem is from the sheet!

UGH look how chunky that is! Handsewn bias binding would look soo much better with the cartridge pleats!
Look at all that bulk within the seam! No, no, no!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Victorian Black Silk Lace Shawl

Just like the Edwardian Child's Lace Coat, this black lace shawl was crumpled up inside a box. Some areas of the shawl are discolored to strange shades of brown and olive, due to sun exposure in the room where this was stored. The room has 3 nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, each barely covered with a sheer plastic-y curtain; parts of the shawl must've been too close to the opening of the box, and thus got tinged by the sun.

The shawl definitely feels like it's made of silk. I'm guessing it's late 19th century at the earliest, since it seems far too small to be a mid 19th century shawl. The flowers are similar to this shawl whose net background is much heavier. The shawl also looks like it was machine made, due to the thickness and tightness of the flower border motif.

I didn't want to display this shawl because I didn't want to risk any further sun damage. Also, it didn't seem an appropriate accessory to any of the garments on display. I carefully wrapped it up in many layers of acid-free tissue paper and stored it in a clean box.

The shawl spanned the whole length of this table, almost 5 feet long!
Some of the green and copper discoloration.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Edwardian Child's Lace Coat

This delicate cotton lawn and lace coat was found crumpled up at the bottom of a box in storage. It has a few dirt (?) stains but I was wary on cleaning them because the fabric and lace was torn in a few places and I didn't want to aggravate the damage. I did, however, store the coat properly by wrapping/lining it in layers of acid-free tissue paper and then placing it in an archival-quality box. The curved breast shape of the coat seem to indicate a pigeon-front style, and the decoration is a strong indicator that this piece is Edwardian.

The coat has a single snap fastening at the front, though the snap seems very modern--shiny and new--to me, so it was perhaps a later alteration when the old closure (likely a hook and eye) fell off. The skirt of the coat is slightly flared. The size and styling suggest that this may have been worn by a girl about nine years old.

The lace insertion all over the coat is a testament to the patience of the seamstress who made this: white cotton picot trim is connected by a white cotton tape woven through the picots! This treatment is used decoratively (as on the sleeves) and structurally (as on the armscye seam). The picot trim and insertion was sewn by machine. However, I'm unsure if the lace embroidery on the chest and back was down by machine or by hand--though I think it was likely machine made.

The front of the coat.
All of the delicate picot seams, and that nasty brown stain from this garment being crumpled up in a box!
The delicate sleeve trim.

With the coat half-open. Look at that curve!
(Sorry for the blurry photo!) A very modern-looking snap.
The back of the coat.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

HSF #18: Re-make, Re-use, Re-fashion

My first real Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge of the year! For challenge #18, I decided to re-make my Filippo Lippi quasi-medieval tunic. When I made the dress, it took about three hours start to finish--it wasn't perfect but acceptable for the time limit. There were some issues with the sleeves. The armscye was far too down my arm, and my sleeves were too baggy on my forearm and too tight on my upper arm. There was too much fullness in the bodice under my arm, too. I purposefully made the sleeves long, but they were far too long for everyday functioning!

Quite possibly the worst sleeves I've ever made--but then again, this was quickly whipped up more than a year ago.
Look at all that fullness in the bodice! It made me look round all over.
The armscye was too narrow for the sleeve cap, causing strange puckering.
First, I removed the sleeves entirely, and cut a shallower curve at the top of the sleeve. I removed almost two inches from the shoulder of the bodice, and took in the side seams above the waistband. I narrowed the forearms of the sleeves just a tad, and then added a few inches of ruching to keep the sleeve gracefully out of my way.

This was a great choice for re-making because to me, it's just such a versatile piece. In terms of a costume, it's historically ambiguous, and I could get away with a lot: a ghost, a girl from Pre-Raphealite art, Game of Thrones/Fantasy, biblical, antiquity, and my favorite, a saint! 

The effect of the sleeve ruching.
YES! Look at that sleeve! Still not perfect, but much better!
Ack! My dress is a bit twisted...where's a lady's maid when you need one?
Just the facts:
Fabric: Cotton/Poly sheet with damask motif
Pattern: None
Year: Based on paintings from the early 15th century depicting biblical events, so a bit historically ambiguous.
Notions: Thread
How historically accurate?: At best, 25%. Points lost for the poly/cotton sheet, the machine stitching, the poly thread. The design itself is based off paintings of the early 15th century depicting biblical events, so it's a 15th century interpretation of biblical dress.
Hours to complete: About 3
First worn: For a project in Spring 2012, but now it will hopefully worn to an upcoming Medieval Fair at the Cloisters (NY).
Total cost: Free!