Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sew Weekly Challenge: Kirtle?!

As you can see, I managed to get pictures in my finished Ren Faire garb! I'm wearing just the chemise and kirtle here, though, and not my petticoat or pair of bodies (or my hat and caul and other accoutrements). After checking the weather report for tomorrow, I've decided against proper underthings (I know, how scandalous!) since it will be just too many layers. My torso will just have to be unattractively un-conical. 

Hmmm, am I still fit to see the queen?
I've already mentioned the hand-sewn eyelets, but I did want to make a couple of other construction notes. This is the first time I've ever cut and sewn an entire bodice all from one flat pattern piece! That's right, the back, straps, and front are dart and sideseam-less; I obviously had to sew the shoulder straps together and the front opening has a modesty panel added in and all, but I never would have expected a pattern like this to fit so well without any shaping. I know it's only possible because I, errrr, have such a small apple dumpling shop, but that had better be good for something, right? Anyway, it looks properly conical over the pair of bodies. The skirt portion is just a giant tube very tightly gathered (I was so scared my gathering threads were going to break!); I didn't feel like, nor have time for, cartridge pleating. 

And in case you're thinking, gosh, that blue-on-white combination looks awfully familiar, let me show you my outfit in another context.

Look there she goes that girl is so peculiar/ I wonder if she's feeling well/ With a dreamy far-off look/
And her nose stuck in a book/ What a puzzle to the rest of us is...

Yes, that's right, I deliberately chose to make my garb look like Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I'm pretty sure that the organizers of That's Sew Cinematic didn't have cartoon characters in mind, but hey, when I make impractical clothing, I really make impractical clothing. Go big or go home, right? Anyway, this falls into the "Frocks from the Flicks" category. How did I even decide to do this? Blame it on this example of a kirtle that caught my eye from Google image search, and combined with these historical Disney princess art pieces, my brain somehow spit out "hey, make your garb look like a Disney princess." I am aware, of course, that Beauty and the Beast supposedly takes place in the 18th century, and my garb is more appropriate for the 16th century, but hey, Belle's little town is extremely provincial. Like two-centuries-behind provincial.

Okay, that's all well and good, but how does this have anything to do with the Sew Weekly challenges? Well, last week's (yes, I know, I'm behind) Sew Weekly challenge was supposed to be inspired by a childhood photo/outfit. Here is my first inspiration photo.

I'm the one with the scary 80s-era eyeglasses.

Hmmm...cornflower blue overdress with a poofy-sleeved white shirt underneath? That works awfully well for what I was already toying with...and hey, a few pictures later:

Tie-dyed sweatshirt with Belle and Mrs. Potts. Oh dear.

Yeah, so, apparently I really loved Belle. And no wonder, as she's the nerdiest of the Disney princesses.

That inspiration was the main reason why I chose to make a collared shift, and not the square-necked
or drawstring-encased one that seems to be more common.

Fabric: A twin extra-long bedsheet from my college dorm years was barely sufficient for making the entire kirtle. When I was drafting my pattern, I quickly realized that if I wanted my skirt to be sufficiently full, I wasn't going to be able to afford any seams on the bodice, nor even any attempt at paying attention to grainline. I lined the bodice with that stiff linen-rayon blend that I had originally bought for the chemise.
Notions: Two plastic cable ties for the bodice opening, a hook and eye for the skirt opening.
Techniques: Drafting an Elizabethan bodice pattern
Hours: Seven, but that's including all the eyelets. I listened to several months' worth of Radiolab podcasts.
Will you make this again? Unlikely. How many such outfits does one need?
Total cost: The blue sheet I've had in my stash for at least a decade so I'm counting it as free, and the eyelets and lacing were made with a $0.39-skein of embroidery floss, so with the cable ties and lining, I'll say $3.
Final thoughts: I really, really, really love dressing up. I really hope my kids like dressing up one day, because goodness knows, Walnut doesn't.

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere...

It looks a little bit like I might be flying here.


  1. You are so talented Cindy!! I feel so mediocre, all my dresses are the same practically lol... I really need to expand my skills and techniques... I don't even know what eyelets are!

    So excited that you got to meet Oonabaloona!!!!

    1. Oh Neeno, your dresses are nothing to sneeze at! If it means anything to you, your pursuit of excellence in your dressmaking (even if it's enforced by your sewing teacher) is what inspires *me* to do better. And hey, it took me three years of sewing to figure out eyelets...

      I will let you know if I ever make it down to your end of the world! And then we can have a M5845 meetup party!

  2. I thought it looked really similar to Belle at first, and then you had to admit it was deliberate and I sat here flailing in joy. Go big or go home is precisely the way to do it!

    1. Yay, Belle came across without me having to say it explicitly! It makes me so happy to know that that caused a joyous flailing somewhere ;)

  3. So pretty! I saw the first picture and thought "Belle!" right away. Nerdy princesses are cool princesses.

    1. Nerdy princesses really are the best! That part where Beast gives her the library made tiny-me squeal, and ever since then I've dreamed of a house one day with a dedicated library with rolling ladders :)

  4. you are KILLING me. yay for tiny apples! this is stunning.

    (best part: aaaaah isn't this amazing? it's my fav'rite part because {HUGE BREATH WHERE THERE SHOULD BE NO BREATH} you'll seeeeeeeee....)

    1. What do you think the rear version would be? How about...the pumpkin patch?


  5. ok, first you name-check the disney princess who is cool because SHE READS (hmm, do i over-identify much?) and then you say "kirtle," which in addition to being a funny word always makes me think of "the lady of the green kirtle" from the silver chair.

    AND it's a cool and ren-faire appropriate dress. *sigh* nice work!

    1. Thanks! I, too, thought of the lady of the green kirtle! Thank you for knowing that! I even toyed with the idea of making mine green, but ultimately it came down to 1) I love Belle more than tLotGK, and 2) I had a blue bedsheet and not a green one.

  6. Much joyous flailing!

  7. What a fun story and I love your kid pictures, so cute. Looks like San Francisco? I can't believe your boice is only one piece yet looks so shaped. I bet you looked great at the fair. You should post a photo of the finished look sometime!

    1. I posted a picture of the finished look this morning! Yeah, the bodice only fits because of my lack of endowment and the give of the bias, but I don't think it would work under any other circumstances. And great job recognizing SF!

  8. I'm currently reading 'Mist Over Pendle' by Robert Neill, and in the second chapter, Margery (who I'm guessing is going to be one of the main characters) goes shopping with 20 silver crowns and buys a kirtle amongst other things. And because of your blog I knew *exactly* what it would look like :)
    Now please can you sew a doublet in mockado, a safeguard, a copintank and some cork soled pantofles, so my mental picture of her outfit will be complete :D


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