Sunday, 21 October 2012

Elizabethan Gown, Part One - The Bodice

Yesterday I started on the Elizabethan Gown properly and the first job was the plastron and bodice.  As a Tudor gown is generally laced together at the front, a separate piece is attached to the front to cover the lacings, this is the plastron.  I started by pinning and then sewing piping to the top of the plastron and then layered interface, the top fabric and the black cotton lining together.



Once pinned, the plastron was sewn down the sides and along the bottom.  The top is then handsewn closed.


The bottom curve and point of the plastron needed to be closely clipped to ensure that the shape held when turned out.  The piping was then turned and the black lining handsewn in place before the plastron was pressed.


One plastron, done.

The bodice started with casings for the boning on the front panels of the bodice.  The patterns is supposed to be marked but is not.  I was using twill tape for the casing, so lined it up with the edge of the panel, marked the 5/8" seam allowance and then placed the bone inside the seam allowance and marked it too.  I sewed the casing edges either side of the markings.


On the boning was done, piping was sewn up the front and across the top of the piece which was then pinned to the side bodice panel and sewn in place.



Once the front panels were together I started on the back, which comprises four panels, for strength.  Each side back panel is attached to a centre back panel and then all four were sewn together.





It is a nice detail to the back.  The "v" neckline needed a last piece of reinforcement though, as it is carrying a great deal of weight.  I cut an inch wide strip of coutil, folded it in half and then stitched it to the "v", inside the seam allowance.  This picture gives you a good idea of the true colours of the fabrics.


Finally, I tried the bodice and plastron on Miss G for size, I still have to sew the side seams and finish the seams.  I contemplated lining the bodice, which the pattern does not suggest for a nicer finish but, having quickly tried the bodice on over the kirtle etc. I can see why it wouldn't be a good.  The fit is tight (good tight, you don't want any extra room with this many layers all working together) and everything is heavy!  The extra weight and thickness wouldn't work.  I will turn and handsew the seams instead.



The bodice of the gown is smaller than the kirtle, which distributes the weight of the skirts better and avoids a build up of layers on top of each other.  However, it seems tiny in relation to everything else;   in drawing out the pattern pieces, the bodice fits an American size 10 and the gown length is two inches longer than the largest size on the pattern, 30.  The bodice for a size 30 was more than twice the width of the size 10; it will be interesting to see how it takes the weight of the sleeves, skirt and train.  Anyways, I hope to get the seams sewn and, at the least, the sleeves on today... though I'm being very lazy and it's already 11 o'clock!
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