Early Tudor Project — Katherine of Aragon’s Portrait dated 1502 — Part XIV

After a long break for the holidays, today, we return to the those pesky sleeves.  Go back and read my last entry if you need a refresher.

As we go through today, I will be taking pictures of my progress and sharing them with you.  First, I will be pleating the back skirts — fur and velvet — to a hemp webbing band.  Then I will sew this band to the gown back (which is only waist length).  Then I will attach the sleeves as described in the last entry.  Follow me on my journey, will you?

10:50 am — Persuaded adoring husband to baste my side seams before he started the day’s packing and folding.

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Me on the left with the garment inside-out before basting.
Me on the right with the garment right-side out, side seams basted.

Yes, I look like “Clan of the Cave Bear Goes to Prom in the Eighties”, but remember that the gown has no back skirts, no sleeves, and no skirt gores yet. This is just getting the side seams right.  I think it’s a little loose, but I will be wearing a smock, the yellow gown, and the black gown under it.  I think it will be fine.

(I put the gown back on my duct tape double, and it confirms that my duct tape double is crap!  It’s completely not my size.  Far too big!  This is the third one Bob and I have made.  When I made my first one about 10 years ago, I knew nothing and yet it came out perfectly my size.  But these I’ve made recently are all wrong.  Far too big in the upper chest.  *sigh*  I guess I just have to try things on after every stitch… *grumble*)

After lunch… Sewing the skirts!  See this previous post for the back story.

12:47 pm — Okay, I haven’t actually eaten yet, but I set up the next step so I can start sewing as soon as I get back from dance.

First, I measured the back waist (side seam to side seam) of my gown.  It’s 16″.  I determined that pleats would look like those in the pictures if I centered them between 4″ and 12″ on this tape:

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Then I measured a piece of tape a little more than twice that length. I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to carry the tape around to the front (the gown will not have a front waist seam, so it might make a weird impression). But I wanted to have enough to carry it around to the front if I feel the side seams aren’t strong enough to hold it. If so, I will close it center front with hooks and no one will ever see it.

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I’m using our 1″ hemp webbing for this.  I probably could have used any of our cotton or linen tapes and braids, but I thought the hemp would take the weight of the skirts well, even if it is thick and that makes it a little hard on the sewing fingers.

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I marked the center of the tape as well as the places 4″ from the side seam mark on each side. Do you think this is the right placement of pleats to achieve the affect in this picture? I do.

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Then I ironed the velvet back skirts/train and spread it over the fur lining, aligning all the edges. After dance, I’ll sew the edges together up to where the back skirts meet the side seam so I won’t have to do it from the right side later. Normally I prefer finishing hems from the right side because it makes them so much more smart. But it is an extra pain when your lining is fur. So I’m sewing inside out and turning the train before I sew it to the front skirts.

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After dance… Pleating the skirts! Finally!

6:33 pm — Well, I didn’t get so far as pleating the skirts.  I had to put out a couple of fires first.  But I’ve been working since I got back from dance, and all I’ve done is sew the fur to the back skirts.  That just goes to show how tedious this process is.  But that’s done now and I have a train!  Lookie!

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After dinner… Pleating the skirts! Really!  I promise!  

7:40 pm — Pleats at last! –  I’ve had my supper and I got down to business.  First, I made a row of basting stitches at one inch intervals along the top of my skirts:

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I then made two more lines of basting stitches, one at 2″ from the top and the other at 3.75″ from the top.  Then I pulled the threads carefully until the pleats all drew up.  (See our how-to article on cartridge pleating for instructions on how to cartridge pleat.)

And look at that gorgeousness!

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But as you can see in the photo above, our cartridge pleats are too wide for the space.  They were supposed to fit into the space between the two outside pins.  I’ve pulled them as tightly as possible and they are still two inches too wide on either side.  See?

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However, I like the size and shape of the pleats so much that I don’t want to pull the threads and do it all over again.  So I did some math…  If they are two inches too wide and each pleat takes one inch up and one inch down, then if I make an extra pleat on each end, it will draw up two inches of the remaining fabric on either side of the pleats.  It will mean that the pleats are only 2″ away from my side seams on either side of my back, but I think this is preferrable than redoing all those pleats.

I really love how fur-lined pleats look.  Don’t you?

Next — Sewing the Pleats to the Waistband…

8:52 pm — Okay.  I said I was going to stop for tonite.  But I just couldn’t.  I sewed the pleats onto the waistband and totally fell in love with the dress all over again.  Lemme show you…

Here are the pleats sewn to the waistband.  I actually got closer to my marks and decided not to take that extra pleat on either side after all.

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And here is the skirts pinned around the mannequin (not sewn).  Yes, the hemp webbing is showing but it won’t when I sew it to the back bodice.  Look at those pleats!

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Baby Got BACK!

And now one of the whole train.  (Ignore the top of the gown.  It’snot cut properly yet.)

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Isn’t it DEEEEEE-VINE?

It’s going to be a shame to hide behind a merchant table all day on Saturday!

Tomorrow… Sleeves! I promise!

 


 

 

© 2009 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice, the author’s name and website, and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.