The first month of the IRCC has FLOWN by so very fast and I have so much going on right now I fell like I shouldn’t really be sewing at all, but I committed to the challenge so I HAVE got to finish it! I would never forgive myself if I were to withdraw!
Anyways here’s my first bits done.
This year I have selected two portraits by Francesco Montemezzano. The first is Portrait of a lady and the second Portrait of a lady with a Squirrel. Both portraits date approximately between 1575 and 1580, and the style of the sottana and chemise are very similar, however the differences between them show one as high court wear and the other as more daytime wear. I really like the idea of being able to take one sottana and chemise set, and dress them in two ways depending on the rest of the accessories and pieces worn with them. So my idea is to do just this. One basic chemise and one basic sottana, and then interchangeable pieces and accessories to make them into two very different looks.
The second inspiration for this outfit is the peacock. Without going into horrible details, a number of years ago I went through a not nice time in the SCA and a person said some unkind words to me that included the phrase “just a preening peacock.” Now I was upset at the is but I have worked through it and realised that peacocks are beautiful colours and I have formulated the idea of a peacock gown for about 3 years now. a while ago I bought some gorgeous blue green shot dupion silk and a small piece of blue dupion that toned in with it. This year they are to be the main materials of the sottana. I have also decided to include embroideries of peacocks as decoration on the sottana, and as my hands are difficult at the best of times, I have employed my fantastic embroidery machine to do these to save my hands for the necessary hand sewing parts and not inflict extra pain on myself.
The first layer I have completed for my outfit is a very simple chemise, or camicia.
It’s a very simple four piece design, one that I have used many times before. I used cotton tape to insert drawstrings around the neck and wrists.
I decided to also make a simple pleated underskirt for this outfit. The green fabric was agin selected from my fabric stash, I am not entirely sure of it’s composition but from burn testing it, I think it is most likely a cotton/rayon blend.
I simply cut a length three times my waist and pleated this onto a waist band. The hem has two horizontal tucks to help keep it out from under my feet and also a padded skirt guard to give it weight and protect it.
I decided I needed some simple head coverings to wear underneath a hat that I will make at a later date. I browsed through a lot of pictures and websites and came across a reference to the St Brigittas caps. It stated that they may have been worn as late as the 16th century, and the style seemed quite easy to make, and one that may actually stay put on my very slippery head. I took my inspiration from a number of sites but made some minor changes to suit my needs. http://www.medievalsilkwork.com/2008/11/womens-caps.html
I ended up making two, one with a lace insert and one without. I used plain white cotton and some lace, all again from my stash.
I have left the ties loose and not made them into a loop as per the patterns as I felt the need to be able to tie it as tight or loosely as I needed depending on how my hair is done underneath, of course the ties are way too long but this will allow me to trim them up as needed.
I am really happy with both of the cuffia have turned out, they seem quite comfortable, and I think they will do the job quite well.
The outfit will need its own set of jewellery, so I raided my beading stash and found some blue, green and gold beads to make something simple. I made a very quick necklace and some simple drop earrings. I really like how they turned out.
I chose some beautiful green/blue shot Dupioni silk from my fabric collection, I have hoarded it long enough, it needs to become the Peacock Gown now.
I began by using a bodice pattern I have from other gowns, I altered it become the open fronted Venetian style, I cut this out in cotton for the lining, 2 layers of denim for the internal structure, and the silk for the external layer.
The denim layers were sewn together to form pockets for the frontal boning I use when making this style of gown. I have used large cable ties for the bones, carefully melting each end of these so they are not left sharp and then cut through the fabric. Once the boning is in the bodice I have sewn both ends of the pockets shut so no boning can escape. I have also sewn a layer of felt wool over the area where the boning is so that these do not show through to the silk layer and gives a lumpy appearance. the wool smoothed the look really well.
I have to admit, I hate gathering, especially silk, and had thought about doing pleats instead but the portraits definitely show gathering. Sigh. They I had a sewing epiphany! I own a smocking pleater which does the cutest teeny tiny gathering. So I tried a small offcut through that machine and was really happy with how fast it was, and the resulting gathers! So I ran the whole skirt through it! Wow such nice gathers and oh so easy! No torturing my hands at all!
I have attached the skirt and am up to hand sewing the internal lining down and finishing around the arm holes. The edges of the bodice again feature slashed binding, I think I am addicted.
I have also started on the first of two placades, for want of a better term, that will be the front panels of this gown. This first one features a toning blue silk with a machine embroidered gold peacock. Like the bodice the placade is make of the four layers, with cable tie boning and the wool felt to hide the ridges. I wish my hands were able to do the embroidery but they can’t so I scoured the internet to find a nice peacock and a nice swirl position under to make the whole design more of a suitable shape for the front. I have also, while all the embroidery attachments were on my machine, found a set of nice peacocks for the sleeve cuffs, and stitched them out in the same gold thread.
I have spent quite some time selected trims for the gown bodice and after many tries have finally settled on the ones I will use, but you will get to see them next month.
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