tudor ensemble 1

Kimiko Sews

A Gentlewoman's Creative Blog

Tudor Corset or Not to Corset...
tudor ensemble 1
(Cross posted from A Gentlewoman's Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/2014/04/tudor-corset-or-not-to-corset/)

The following was originally an article of the same name from June 2013 at HistoryUnstitched, a subscription only site for historical costumers. The site alone did not do as well as its sisters, so it is now a part of Your Wardrobe Unlock'd. This article is back in my hands, as they had an exclusive for six months, although that was up last fall. It is now here for your reading pleasure. It has some minor edits from the original.


Tudor Corset or Not to Corset...

Copyright 2013-14, Kimiko Small, All rights Reserved.

You have decided you will be making an English outfit for the 16th century (Henrician or Elizabethan). You are thinking about what all is involved in this decision. Maybe this is your first time, maybe you have made a few outfits before, but whatever your background, we all usually start at the same place, with the undergarments.

First is the smock, which is pretty simple, and there are many sources from web sites to books that describe what survived from the 16th century, and how to make a smock to fit you.

So then you turn to what comes next, and that is when most women decide you simply must have a corset (modern term for a separate fitted and boned bodice that supports the torso and especially the bosom) to wear under your new outfit. It is a modern assumption that women from all walks of life in the 16th century must have worn corsets. We see them all over today being worn at renaissance faires and other historical events. Costuming books of the past few decades talk about them, how to make them, what corsets that survived look like. Even historical costuming guru Janet Arnold discusses them in her books, so they had to exist back then, yes? And so if they existed then I must make and wear one today, yes? But... wait a second... Did the women of the 16th century actually wear this kind of a garment? What sort of garment actually did support the bosom? What exactly were the supportive garments made from and stiffened with? And do you really need a corset?

Well, the answer is not that simple. Let me explain what the supporting undergarments of the 16th century comes from, and provide a brief timeline of how those pairs of bodies eventually came to be.
(Click to read the full lengthy article, with images, on my main blog page here.)

(Cross posted from A Gentlewoman's Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/2014/04/tudor-corset-or-not-to-corset/. Comments can be posted here or there.)

Slate Frame Prep
tudor ensemble 1
(Cross posted from A Gentlewoman's Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/2014/03/slate-frame-prep/)

Today, in order to jump start my creative spirit, which has been slowly returning (I did sketch a banner idea last weekend), I decided to just go into my sewing room and do something, anything, and after standing there with music playing, and staring at my mostly cleared table top (that had some before-mentioned banner sketches on it), I realized that banners was just not on my mind today, but I had been staring at something every day for the past few months and really it was time to do something with it.

I’m speaking about the goldwork embroidery project from the Laurel gown project, that has been mostly finished for a long time. It is the section that goes around the neck. It just needed the proper pearls – but sadly, those are MIA right now. So, instead of letting that grind me to a halt, I decided it could get pearls later, then removed it from the frame, ripping the stitches with an X-acto knife, since my seam rippers are also MIA.

I had more fabric still on the frame, so I cut off the neck section, and tried to cut it off on the straight of grain. Then I sewed the edge to the frame piece trim, put on the side frame bars, and realized that it really was off grain, as you can see here.

This frame is set up crooked! This frame is set up crooked!

The two white arrows show the straight of grain (well, as well as it could be photographed), and the red arrow shows how the one side was angling off grain. This is not good, as it will have problems when fully laced up and tension applied. I could feel it torquing in my hands. So, that new seam had to be ripped out.

So, this reminded me, as I’m ripping the seam out again, that in January, I was privileged to go to Mathew Gnagy’s tailoring class in L.A.. During the class, Mathew talked about sewing in the period way, as a tailor would sew – which simply put was ‘quickly, but efficiently’. I thought about the same as I was putting in the stitches, again, that while before I would put in my whip stitches rather close together, I realized that really, it wasn’t necessary. After all the lacing stitches on the side are about an inch apart, and they still worked out fine for tension. So, I relaxed a little and only focused on keeping the stitches relatively close to the edge, trying to keep the straight grain relatively straight. It does make it easier to rip out when needed, fyi. Oh, and I have a pic of this, too.

Showing new (left) and old stitch spacing. Showing new looser (left) and old, tighter stitch spacing.

I do think maybe I could space out the stiches even farther apart, but it will take awhile to let loose with any of my stitches.

So, with all of this going on in my head, I sewed it all back together, put in the side bars, and woohoo! tension was good! Then it was lacing the sides frames into place, which had some snags with broken or knotted strings, but I made it work, and it all came together very nicely.

I just realized that I was so busy with all the Laurel prep-work, I’ve not really discussed how I went about doing it all. Well, hopefully this helps in understanding the embroidery part, at least.

After a short break, I got down to marking out my guidelines in white chalk. The guidelines were mostly for the center line of the pattern, since the embroidery on this panel will be done on the bias in order to make the embroidery fit the hem curves easier.

I made sure to mark my pattern copy with a line down the center, trying to hit all the crossed lines in the middle – as the pattern comes from a painting that’s been blown up (as seen in here), that is a bit more difficult, so I just made sure the line was straight and hoped it would line up. Using my acid-free white gel pen, I marked the pattern down on the silk. The final panel looks like this.

Slate frame ready to go. Slate frame ready to go.

I enhanced the photo to better show the pattern. But here’s the slate frame, all ready to start on the next set of interlacing for the Laurel gown. Which I do have a photo of that dress, somewhere. Oh, and the pattern repeats, so the empty spot could have been fit with another of the repeat, but I’d rather keep the four motifs together on the panel, and have even marked the end of one, and the beginning of the next, so I don’t forget how they go together.

Oh, and that banner I mentioned, I’ll have more on it next month after the local workshop on making them.

Embroidery, Goldwork, Prep & Other, embroidery, laurel_gown, photos
(Cross posted from A Gentlewoman's Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/2014/03/slate-frame-prep/. Comments can be posted here or there.)

Returning to Online Life
bw gown
(Cross posted from my main Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/?p=474 )
(Note that most of this has to do with activity on the other blog, not here on LJ.)

Greetings all!

It has been a long while, I know, since I last posted in December. I usually hibernate in the winter, and this year my hibernation extended during our non-winter for family vacation and other things. Among those other things was a move to a new hosting company, which included me messing up and not properly saving off my blog as I should have, since honestly, I had no clue how to properly back it up.

Thankfully I did repost nearly all my posts to LJ (kimikosews), and so I have imported all those posts to this blog site. This was both good and bad, as the importer widget is old, and hasn't kept up with modern improvements, so while it did give me all the posts I had on LJ, it multiplied nearly 10 fold the comments I had on that site as well. So, I have to manually remove all those extra comments. I also have to make sure each post is placed into its proper Category, and do minor edits.

I'm also having to redo this entire blog, which is good and bad. By now, you can see that the above Menu area under the big picture has lots of tabs to go through. Those are the Categories for this blog, most of them anyway. I may play around with them some more or something, but they can help direct you to the different creative things I do. The word cloud Tags remain to the side. And if you really want to find something, try the Search box - although I'll be honest, I've not tried it yet to see what you may get, so good luck there.

As our winter has thankfully gotten some rain! I will be working more on this blog over the rainy weekend, hopefully improving some areas, and clearing out the thousand or so of extra comments, a bit at a time. I also hope to get some photo galleries going here to share the Laureling outfit, and whatever other photos of stuff I may have forgotten I have.

Then maybe I, and we, can get back to the creative stuff, which I will admit, I've not done much of in the past couple of months. So, welcome back, and I will get back on track as soon as the dust has settled here.

Is vinegar or salt effective at setting dyes on fabric?
tudor ensemble 1
(Cross posted from my main blog at http://www.kimiko1.com/blog/?p=317.)

Yes, I'm still around. I haven't posted as I've been taking a break since my mad sewing marathon for my laureling outfit, and I've only recently been able to actually transfer my photos from the digital camera, to my husband's computer, to finally my sick computer, which took many hours to transfer. Sadly, sick computer means it takes more work to not only get my photos, but to also work on them for upload and sharing, and in one of my programs I'm working in the dark, as I can only see tiny little icons, not full photos. Hopefully sick computer will be replaced sometime soon. I will be working on the photos and upload them as soon as I can.

So, today I went and hunted down an academic summary article I had read some time ago on the use of vinegar to set dyes. As it took a long time to find the article again, hidden under so many other articles that state the opposite, I figured I'd at least share that academic gem so that I can find it again, hopefully. I had posted it to an SCA group on Facebook.

We were discussing how the old wives tales of using vinegar, or salt, to "set" dyes in fabrics was or was not actually worth doing. Does it help to set dyes on fabric? I'm sure you've heard of it, just add a bit of salt or a bit of vinegar, or both! to your wash load, and it will "set" the dye in your garment fabrics so they won't fade. Read more...Collapse )

Making decisions and dealing with setbacks.
bw gown
Back to LJ for this post, as my current host seems to be having MySql issues so I have no main blog today. It's been acting oddly since yesterday, but hopefully the folks there will have it back up and running soon. I just hope I have a blog to return to. (Edit: main blog has returned ok)

Anyway, back to the Laureling short gown project. I'm still waiting on samples from the UK, so I've turned focus on what to do for the embroidery. I spent yesterday measuring the gown edges, doing math for figuring out how many repeats of the pattern I'll need, which leads to how many pearls and garnets I would need to buy ... and OMG! after redoing the math (I'd forgotten the skirt sides x4), it was over 4,000 pearls! Read more...Collapse )

Laurel Fabric Combos
tudor ensemble 1
(Cross posted from my main blog: http://www.kimiko1.com/blog/?p=286)

I did find one more silk fabric that I had enough to use, but it is such a raspberry color that I'll pass for this project. Bess has also been willing to look this weekend for some special fabrics in the UK that may work, as she's close to a special fabric store/mill place.

So, while I wait for those samples to arrive, I took a couple more photos that show fabric combos, and thought I'd share those here. Of course, the photos are not quite the same in color as what I see with my eyes, but close.

Dark blue & gold silk damask, with changeable blue silk taffeta (purple-blue and aqua).
Read more...Collapse )

Another Early Tudor Blogger
tudor ensemble 1
(cross posted from my main blog: http://www.kimiko1.com/blog/?p=280)

Just have to share another blog here, that of Challe, who is an American SCAer living in England with her family, and taking the time to visit and photograph the effigies there in search of late 15th & early 16th century garments and headdress styles. She has shared a few of her images with me over the past year or so, from time to time, but has yet to publicly share the images on her blog until now.

Knowing that I am going to be basing my laureling gown and headdress on the 1510s style, she has posted this page in order for me to see what she has found, and her thoughts on it, and it is very interesting. From its headdress to how the woman wears her girdle, clothing details of the husband (in a long gown, not armor), and little details among the weepers.

Please, if you are interested in this time period, give the page a look.

Exploring Costume Details on a 1511 Effigy

And after looking at her images, I know what sort of girdle I want, how to wear it, and also which headdress I will be using. Thanks so much Challe for your blog post. :-)

Winning style, and accessories thoughts
(cross posted from my main blog: http://www.kimiko1.com/blog/?p=274)

So, in comments here and on FB, the short gown appears to be the clear favorite, so I will go with the original plans for it, more or less. Thank you all for your input.

I still am not sure which fabric to use, and have had offers to look for other fabrics for me, so that will be kept open a bit. I am leaning more towards the blue & gold heraldic colors, but the blue & gold damasks are not quite doing it for me, although both would be suitable if I can't find anything else. I wonder if the red & gold damask would work ok over the dark blue kirtle? Hmmm... Read more...Collapse )

Short gown evidence
book research
(cross posted from my main blog: http://www.kimiko1.com/blog/?p=272)

I was asked about Short Gowns in the Tudor period, and asked what sort of documentation I had for them. I've actually collected a few images in a folder, and had plans on writing up about them at some point, and sharing what I had then. I've yet to do so, and won't really have time until after the elevation happens. However, I can post here what I posted to the person who asked, just so you all know what my basis is (and it is more than 3 images, and even includes some period commentary, but I'd have to look up those words exactly - in the future.

Here's what I wrote in reply:

I've not had the time to upload all the images I've collected over the years of this style, which after the ceremony I will definitely have to do. Most early period images are not going to show anything below the waist, which leaves out a lot of details. So I've turned to both effigies and illuminations, which show more of them than I had realized.

But here are a few more samples than the tapestry one I already shared.


Note the very bottom image and the text Jane put in. "The top layer (the gown) is shorter than the under layer (the kirtle). This was described as characteristic of Englishwomen's dress by the Venetian ambassador in 1554 (quoted in Carter, A [1984] “Mary Tudor’s Wardrobe” in Costume, 18, 20)."


And yes, I am seeing that most folks commenting so far on the laurel gown is leaning towards the short gown style.

Laurel gown fabric options
tudor ensemble 1
(Cross posted from my main blog: http://www.kimiko1.com/blog/?p=264)

For those of you just reading along, you may want to read my last post, where I explain what direction I'm going towards, and what options are in front of me, and yeah, that laurel thing. :-P

For those who are wondering why I talked more about the C.Parr gown, it was because I've been discussing the short gown far more in my blog in the past in my original prep for coronation. The sleeves I will be using is based on this image from the same tapestry, and was used in my wool gown mockup.

So, earlier this afternoon, I went hunting through my book of stash fabrics, which told me where I stuck the fabrics I am wanting to use (it is useful to have fabrics organized) ... oh dear, I just realized I've other fabrics that are not yet in the stash book, so I will look at those later.Read more...Collapse )

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