I finally finished my 14th century belt and took some photos of it with my new grey kirtle. That means it's time for the grey kirtle dress diary! =D
The kirtle is made of 100% linen, and it is entirely hand-stitched. The self-fabric buttons on the sleeves were also handmade by me. The belt was hand-stitched of 100% cotton velvet (silk velvet was not available to me), and is based on extant French belts from the 14th century. The fittings are sourced from several suppliers. The veil is 100% linen with a hand-rolled hem, and the period veil pins were made for me by Lady Greta Thorfinsdottir. The shoes are black leather turnshoes, which I bought in Halifax. I am, scandalously, not wearing hose, because it was very hot outside and wool tights are not advisable in Toronto smog.
First of all, here are two of the final shots, taken by Ed Nyman on the UofT campus:
So here's the diary.
As this was my first time making a 14th century gown, I needed to drape a pattern (12th century gowns are constructed much more geometrically than kirtles/cotehardies, so I couldn't even really use my bliaut as a base). Normally, one would have someone else drape the pattern, but I didn't have anyone else, so I draped it on myself. Yeah, that went well (excuse the awful cellphone photo)...
Hah. Nevertheless, it was what I had. So I used it to cut out my linen. Of course, cotton broadcloth is a lot stiffer than 5.3 oz linen, and less prone to stretching. So when I got the linen version on, I had to take it in a lot on the side seams. Pinning it wasn't really working, so I ended up estimating the new stitching lines in the mirror, taking it off, drawing them on the fabric from memory, basting them, and trying the thing on again. After three tries I ended up with this:
Which fit much better. In retrospect I think it still could have been a bit tighter in the waist, but it's fine. At this point I tried it on over just my thin linen shift, and realized that I really needed a bra with it. 14th century gowns are self-supporting, but the fabric is really too thin for me to be comfortable. I ended up adding an extra layer of thicker linen to the front of my shift, which mostly solves the problem.
I added in the gores, which go up to the waist, and checked the fit again. I did not put any curve in the center back seam, and very little curve in the center front seam (and I only put it in the CF seam as an afterthought, to help support the bust). The spine's curve at the lower back was accommodated by the CB gore, rather than by a curve in the edge of the pattern pieces themselves. This seemed to work fine for me, but might not be as smooth for someone with a sharper curve in their lower back.
I drafted my own back-seam set-in sleeves, which was a small adventure, but I think they turned out fine. I was really nervous about the neckline, because the neckline of my shift ended up significantly bigger than I had planned - a result, I suspect, of both my own overenthusiastic cutting and of the bias stretching while I was rolling the edges. I cut conservatively on the kirtle neck hole, and by the time I rolled down the edges the neckline was right where I wanted it. So lesson learned: always cut a smaller neck hole than you think you will need. You can always cut more off, but piecing it back on is less of an option.
Once the sleeves were in and all the seams were flat-felled I bound the lacing holes and buttonholes and attached the buttons. There are 14 buttons on each sleeve. I whip-stitched the lacing holes and buttonholes, rather than doing buttonhole stitch, as I was using fairly thin thread and the edges of the holes were fraying pretty badly. Whipstitch allowed me go over each edge multiple times, which made them more secure. And it's faster. And less prone to tangling. (Truly, I don't mind doing buttonholes the "proper" way. But whipstitch is period and it's a lot easier, so hey. /end mini-rant)
Here's a close-up of the buttons and lacing:
I'm still vaguely debating adding a guard to the bottom hem out of a darker grey linen. I don't think I will, though - the paintings I was basing this kirtle off of don't have guards on the hems, and I have more urgent things to do with the charcoal linen. Maybe someday, when this hem is ratty and disgusting, I'll add a guard. Or perhaps a self-guard from my leftover grey linen...I wonder if I have enough...hmmmm...
Here are a few more photos.
This one has a good shot of the belt: