Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blue dress update

I wore the mostly-finished blue drill dress to an event last night. It was 'one of those nights' where everything went wrong while I was getting ready, so I didn't have time for anything more than a quick mobile phone snap before I ran out the door. I will get some nice, good quality shots soon, but this one at least gives you an idea of how it looks.

It was a warm and muggy night, so I didn't need the undersleeves after all.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blue Drill Dress Update

Yesterday, my friend Heather (Queen of Luceters) presented me with the cords to tie on to the sleeve puffs of the blue drill dress. Thank you Heather!

The dress looked so nice with the ties on the sleeves that I was inspired to hand sew the trim onto the hem of the dress. I think it looks very nice, and the trim really stiffens the hem.

Blue Drill Dress Update - Sleeves

Here are a couple of pictures that I took (before the hem was done) to try out sleeve colours. I just used lace-on sleeves (that I already had) to see how they would look. I think I am heading towards white for the final sleeve colour....

Elizabeth I Portrait

Interesting article on an unflattering portrait of an ageing Queen Elizabeth I at

Image taken from:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blue Drill Dress Update

I am still working on the blue drill dress. I put the hooks and eyes on and hemmed the skirt yesterday, and there was enough fabric left to turn the hem under, even after my terrible back-to-front skirt panel disaster. What a relief! The dress is now at a wearable stage. Not 100% complete, but wearable. Ideally, I would like to add trim around the hem, and make some sleeves to go with it. I also need to add the cord ties to go on the puffs, and I would like to put a band of trim around the bottom of the sleeve caps.

Hand sewing the sleeves in place. I thought they looked a bit bare, so I decided to add some trim tabs around the stop of the sleeve head. I think it looks much more 'complete' with them.

I have joined the third Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge, so I need to get this dress finished soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sleeve ideas for Blue Drill Dress

I am still playing with the sleeve heads for the blue drill dress.

Originally, I planned to have false puffs peeking out from anchored strapwork:

But in the end, I decided that rows of false puffs would be better:

The hand sewing is quite time consuming because I have to angle the needle quite heavily to hide the stitches. It will be worth it though, because I have a tendency to catch real slashes on every door handle I walk past, and always end up ripping them!

One sleeve has all the straps and puffs sewn on, so I am halfway there!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blue dress update

Here is a photo of the blue dress 'in progress'. The front has yet to be hand stitched together. When I placed the trim, I didn't consider that it would have to match up with the trim on the bodice and I put the trim too far from the edge. Because the skirt seam edge is doubled over, the edge is quite thick. This is causing a bit of a problem with placing the hooks and eyes. I am focussing on the sleeves at the moment, and will come back to the skirt later. Hopefully inspiration will strike in the meantime!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Inferior sewing thread and motherly advice

Anyone who learnt how to sew from their mother or grandmother has probably been told not to waste time on poor quality thread. Up until the last fortnight, I have been extremely lucky with budget threads and I have not had a problem with them. I have been hand sewing my lovely sparkly trim onto the blue drill dress with a roll of thread that was tucked into my thread box. I must never have used the thread before because it is absolutely awful and proves that all that motherly advice was true! It breaks, it twists into lumps, it will not sit flat no matter how hard you tug on it and generally makes the project much more difficult than it needs to be. I bought some Gutermann thread to replace it, and what a relief! Although I really don't enjoy machine sewing, I quite like hand sewing, and good quality thread makes it a much more enjoyable experience.

Easter gift

Because I have been a tad focussed on working on the blue drill dress, I can't believe that I forgot to share my exciting news: my parents gave me a copy of The Tudor Child for Easter! It really is as fantastic as everyone says it is; it has many excellent portraits, as well as the detailed recreation instructions and photographs that owners of The Tudor Tailor would recognise and expect.

Poster from the exhibition and picture of Jane and Ninya from

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blue drill dress update - brain fog

I have continued working on the blue drill dress since my last post. As many of you know, I have health issues that involve pain, fatigue and 'brain fog'. Well, the brain fog struck again this week. Over the last few days I have been hand sewing trim onto the dress, sewing skirt panels and grading the slope on the front panels to accommodate the point of the bodice.

Last night I was feeling quite satisfied with what I had done and was getting ready to start sewing the last piece of trim onto the skirt. As I was looking at the last panel, I noticed something odd in the way the light was hitting the fabric. It took me about a minute to realise that I had sewn the final panel on back-to-front. I was horrified, because not only were all the seams pressed open and the edges finished, but I had trimmed the top of the panel to allow for the bodice point. These sorts of things happen to me so often that I am well beyond the stage of bursting into tears. Usually, there is just a very resigned sigh and an extended internal monologue about how much I hate sewing and how bad I am at it!

Needless to say, I spent my leisure time today unpicking, and re-doing the last two days worth of work, hopefully right side out! I have my fingers crossed that there will still be enough hem left to fold up when the dress is hemmed. I had hoped to be able to put a tuck in around the base of the dress, but this error has ruled that idea out. I really do believe in the "measure twice, cut once" rule, and use it. Because I suffer so much from fatigue I am actually very careful about double checking what I do, but these mistakes slip through.

Over the next few days I will be pleating on the skirt, and then I can try it on and get an idea of where I stand regarding the hem length. Hopefully it will all work out!