Monday, September 19, 2016

Italian Renaissance Forepart/Chemise Cover

I have been busy working on projects for other people lately, but I recently decided that I needed to put an hour or so aside to make a new forepart/chemise cover. As a bigger busted lady, I prefer to wear a set of short stays under my late period Renaissance dresses. (I am aware that no extant bodies or stays with boning have been found from sixteenth century Italy, and I certainly don't want to open any debate about the likelihood of this being a dress option for ladies at that time.) This choice of underpinnings seems like a logical choice to me, is comfortable and supportive, and gives a nice line to my bodices. Since I often don't have anyone to help me dress, I wear a lot of front lacing gowns, and the forepart/chemise cover hides my underpinnings and gives the look of a chemise poking through the lacing.

Some portraits that inspired this look include:

Portrait of a Venetian Woman by Veronese
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Portrait of a Venetian Woman by Veronese
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Portrait of a Lady by Bernardino Licinio
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To make these items I take a rectangle of fabric that corresponds to the front of my bodice, allowing plenty of extra fabric for variations in dress bodices and changes in tightness of lacing depending on the event. I used cotton this time, because I had some scraps in exactly the right size, but I do love using linen. It is nice to sew with, looks good and breathes very well. It is also more likely to have been used in period.

I use a backing piece and then pin a larger piece over the top, pinning the extra fabric into small pleats. I am usually in a hurry when I do these, so I pin by eye and I tend to buzz over the pleats with the sewing machine. I sew around all four edges of the rectangle. Then I pin another rectangle over the top of the pleated piece (good side to good side.) I sew the pieces together with the machine, leaving a small area unsewn for turning. Once I turn it inside out (so that the pleats are back on the outside,) I use a big knitting needle to push the corners out. Then I hand sew the open seam together, usually with a quick whip stitch.

At this point I might add lace or some decorative stitching to the top edge, depending on what I plan to wear the forepart with. I use small dress pins to pin mine on over my stays, lining the top edge up neatly with the chemise and dress. Then the dress bodice is laced over the top as you can see in these pictures


It is not a fancy or exciting piece of clothing, but it is extremely handy to have. I have a several- they can take a while to dry after washing in colder weather, and it is always nice to have a spare or two in case spills happen. 

At some stage in the future I would like to get time to make some highly decorated foreparts/chemise covers.
Portrait of  A Venetian Woman by Francesco Montemezzano (1550)
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another Device for Banner Project

I recently completed another banner for our local SCA populace banner project. It is made of felt with embroidered details and goldwork and beads. I sewed the yellow shield shape to the black base, then cut out the black seraphim shape and added it to the yellow shield. I embroidered the details and couched down a gold cord for highlights.The beads on the halo are gold alloy jewellery crimps.

Here are the finished device banners. Not all the devices have been made by me- many others in the Barony have contributed to this project (which has been running for about sixteen years.) The banners are designed to record the devices of the members of the Barony in the order in which they were registered with the College of Heralds. The devices are created in a range of fabrics and using a variety of techniques.

 Banner 4

Banner 5 (current)

 Banner 1

Banner 2 (I got involved in the project at this point)

Banner 3