Sewing started January, 2008 - Diary finished August, 2012
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Research and background

Running costs

Green brocade (5m @ 79kr 70% off) 118,50 kr
Acetate lining (4m @ 45) 180 kr
7 mm velvet ribbon (5m @ 20.50) 102.50kr
3 mm velvet ribbon (4m @ 24) 96 kr
Total: 497 kr
The idea for this project has been percolating with me for a long time. Ever since I bought a piece of green brocade on sale, in April of 2005. I bought five metres with the idea of making a late period fancy gown out of it. Quite soon after showing it to others the specification started to become making a late period Italian gown. All of my ponderings on design, and inspiration can be found on my LiveJournal, tagged with "green brocade".

1. Titian Fruitgirl 2. 3. Design idea
1. Titian, Woman with a dish of fruit. (WGA) 2. Portrait of Unknown Florentine Noblewoman. (Festive Attyre) 3. My design sketch.

To summarize, I sketched out a basic design in March of 2006, see image 3, based on a couple of paintings. First of all, I was very fond of the portrait of a Woman with a dish of fruit by Titian (image 1), which shows the back of the dress. Combine that with a portrait of an unknown Florentine noblewoman (image 2), and I had my starting point. However, it was not until after I was given Moda a Firenze, written by Orsi Landini and Niccoli, as a birthday present and the Double Wars team announced that this year the sides in the Knäckebröd war would have designated colours and my side, the right side, the only side, the Flat Side was to be green, that I started acting on my many plans.

Before I could go ahead with the plan I read Moda a Firenze with an eye to what items would make up an entire outfit in a Florentine style. Of course the gown, or "sottana", will in reality be a petticoat. Underneath this a corset and camicia is needed for the right look of overflowing linen to fill up the sleeves, and to give the right straight line for the body. The sleeves could be detatchable or stitched in place, and to accompany a simple gown, a simple pearl necklace and pearl earrings was quite common. A partlet in a sheer fabric was fashionable, portraits often shows a grid pattern of trim, or cord, over gauzy silk. The Italian ladies very often went about with the head uncovered, with the hair braided and put up, which in the hot climate makes quite a lot of sense.

It was quite gratifying to read that for her normal trained petticoats of this type, Eleonora's tailors would order 17-18 bracia, which corresponds to 10 metres of (standard) 58 cm wide fabric. Or 5 metres of 120 cm wide fabric. With today's standard width being 150 cm, 5 metres of cloth is more than enough for a trained gown with matching sleeves. (Moda a Firenze, p 88).


4. New bodice toile
5. Skirt with train cut out
So, ideas, thoughts, fabric and drafting materials were brought to a sewing circle and I managed to produce a new bodice pattern (image 4). The skirt, I decided, must be lavish and fabulous like Eleonora's extant funeral gown (Moda a Firenze, p 72), so I modified my normal skirt pattern to include a train and cut this out in the brocade and acetate lining material (image 5). A horrible cheat, but I could not afford silk lining, especially not for a skirt designed to dust the floors. The acetate behaves as silk, and adds very little weight, which was something a linen lining would not accomplish.

The bodice has an interlining layer on which the brocade is mounted, this is then hidden by the green linen I used as lining (seen here).

One rather large disaster in patterning occured when I was ready to try out the skirt and the bodice. It turned out that the new bodice pattern has a very long front waistline to get to the angled back side seam. The skirt panel I had cut out to be my front was not quite wide enough to go all the way around and I had to cut out a new front panel. Luckily, I had more than enough fabric and I ended up with a slightly larger hemline which is only a bonus for such a fancy gown. From the discarded front panel I was then able to get my sleeves.


6. Sleeve panes 7. Top of sleevesMy pondering took quite a while, but eventually I figured out how I wanted my sleeves to look. To begin with, I wanted a straight sleeve, cut up into straight panes, inspired by Bronzino's portraits of Eleonora as well as the extant petticoat of Eleonora's (Moda a Firenze, p 70, 74). On top of this, as a cap to the sleeves, I wanted a baragoni made up of more panes. Or, more like strips. Eleven in total on each side, with very light white fluffy silk coming out between the strips. Each of the panes in the full-length sleeves and the baragoni were baglined with the acetate, and then I topstitched all around (image 6). After some thought I also decided to decorate the sleeves with green velvet ribbon.

Lacing the sleeve inAfter wrestling with the many-paned-baragoni against a deadline I decided to skip this last bit and make a change for the simpler. I still wanted silk fluff to appear, so I created a straight channel out of the green brocade. I folded this up like a hot dog bun around my fluffy silk, and then stitched it together at intervals along the open edge. This was then whipstitched in place at the top of the full-length sleeves (image 7). To attach them to the gown I stitched in a tape inside the armscye and inside the sleeves, so they can be tied in or left off.

Current Status, Aug 2008

The situation now is that the gown was brought to Double Wars, in the vain hope I would finish it on site. I did not, of course, and a new resolution has been made by me (I will not bring an outfit to an event to wear, if it is not finished before I pack). Currently, the skirt is attached to the bodice, the hem is unfinished, and the sleeve treatment is such that there is still room for me to add the baragoni to the bodice. At this point they only need to be assembled into a cap sleeve and attached. It was the assembly of all the pieces which had me stumped against the deadline of packing for Double Wars. The addition of an extra throw-away lining for the train is still a possibility, but as yet I have no firm plans or ideas how to accomplish this.

Baragoni/Sleeve heads

Baragoni on the dressThe sleeves were cobbled together at the last minute to make some gesture towards the fluff I wanted in the baragoni for this dress, but they were not quite as much of a meringue as the actual baragoni. In April of 2009 I finally did get to work on them. The baragoni are made up of nine strips, a base and a filling. The base is the basic shape of the upper part of a standard fairly tight sleeve. On this base of dark green linen, the same as the dress is lined with, I put first a panel of white linen so that when the filling went it it would still sparkle brightly. The strips were all individually lined with the acetate lining, and edged with the narrow velvet tape. They were then all tacked to the top and bottom of the base, leaving them to bulge out, as the base is shorter than the strips to leave room for the filling.

Filling for the baragoniThe filling then consists of a square of white linen, and a considerably larger square of white silk paille. I tried to arrange the pleats so that they would come where the nine strips of the baragoni meet, so that most of the silk will fluff out between them. I chose to mount the silk on the linen with a zig-zag on the sewing machine, so finishing off both edges at once and making the final assembly easier on myself. The edge of the squares are basically done using a french seam, with the zig-zag as the first lap around. After making these two squares of linen and silk I proceeded to pin them into the baragoni between the base and the strips, and arranging them pleasingly. Stitching them down by hand all around, while leaving the silk free in the middle to be pulled out more or less as the mood strikes.

Oct 30, 2011: Nearly there - The only thing left to do now is to stitch down more velvet tape on the long sleeves, and finish the camicia with all its mad embroidery. But I fully expect that particular project to take a few years, so I might make a plain camicia to wear until that is finished. A detail about the hem is that in order to give it a little bit of weight I cased it in a strip of wool all around. Hopefully that will keep the brocade from flying apart, and also help give the skirt and train a pleasing shape when worn. All of this un-finished business did not deter me from wearing the ensemble at Double Wars, 2009 for a very special feast and court, so I have a photo of how it looked when worn at that time. The camicia's sleeves were not, you will note, pleated into a wristband, which was quite inconvenient for the buffet!

Sleeves and done

Sleeves with trim and pearlsAt some sewing circle I finally pulled the sleeves out of storage and applied the green velvet trim as well as some seed pearls for decoration. I had hoped to have enough trim to go up all four panels of the sleeves, but there was not enough, and so I compromised, adding it only on the top two panels, as well as adding more bling with seed pearls at each point the panels are caught together, as well as in between these points ontop of the velvet trim. With this, the gown is entirely finished, although, as mentioned in the previous update - the camicia is a long-term project and it is still nowhere near finished. But it might get its own page eventually. As for the gown - this project is now August 2012 officially finished.

Photo Gallery

For images I may not have linked in the diary, close-ups and overviews et cetera please have a look at the photo gallery.

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