Sunday, 8 April 2012

Drawing the Kirtle Pattern

A Kirtle is the Tudor equivalent of a dress.  The first layer of the outergarments, it sits on top of the underwear (smock, corset and petticoats) and forms the basis of the main outfit.  After the corset and petticoat, it is the next piece that needs to be made; the smock, which sits in between, is made after the Kirtle so that it can matched to the neckline.

Having cut out the pattern pieces, I spent today drawing out my own, adjusting the originals to match my measurements.  My measurements range from a US size 2 (neck and bust) to a 10 (waist) so there was a fair amount of adjusting to be done to the bodice.  I am also 5.5 inches taller than the patterns are designed for, so I needed to lengthen them too.

Note the rucksacks in the background?  We're out all next week, enjoying the great outdoors!

I use greaseproof paper to redraw my patterns, it is my favourite paper for this; smooth, transparent, fabulous to cut and durable.

The back of the bodice, done!

Lengthening the skirts by so much meant that the outer line was drastically out; normally you draw a line that sits somewhere in between the originals but, after a bit of internal debate, I decided against this as it narrowed the top of the skirt pattern by as much as an inch.  As fullness is an essential part of the Kirtle skirt, and I have chosen to make it out of cotton sheeting, which is the lightest recommended material, I decided that the addition of an inch to the pattern would be preferable to the loss of one.


It was time, finally, to decide what fabric would go where and, a quick sketch later, I have come up with a plan.  I have enough of my remnant of damask to use as the front of the kirtle skirt (the forepart, the section which is visible underneath the outer gown), the foresleeves and as the bodice trim on the Kirtle's neckline.  The rest of the Kirtle will be made from black cotton, the gown from a, as yet unpurchased, dark grey or black brocade, and the turned over linings of the sleeves in the dark orange jacquard that I bought yesterday.  I'm excited by how it's coming together.  


I had hoped to at least make the Kirtle's skirt today but the patterns took far longer to decipher and draw than I anticipated.  A Kirtle bodice is separate pieces laced together and is designed to be smaller than the torso that it's covering.  The pattern instructions were, again, not the clearest; different parts of the instructions in different places in the manual.  On a contemporary piece of clothing I would know exactly how an adjustment would effect a pattern; on this, it was worth the extra time and effort to find out all I could and then be sure of the bits in between which I needed to guess at.  It was also rather nice to have something to puzzle through!  

So, as this will all now have to wait a week, whilst I sit on a cold, wet mountain top, enjoying the glories of nature with my family, I couldn't resist cutting out just one piece fabric.  A promise to myself for next weekend.  In the meantime, if I get the chance, before we leave tomorrow, I will order the steels for the bodice's boning and the laces.  That way I'll be completely ready to go.
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