For the photoshoot I got some help from my friend, modelling my new 17th century outfit.
And here it is at last, The finished “Sew 17th century challenge” ensemble:
Inspiration pic (like you don’t know by now…)
+ Coif (headwear)
What: Reproduction of Gerard Ter Borch’s “The Concert”
Pieces: Skirt, cuffs, coif, fur shawl and bodice
Time: About 60-70 hours
Cost: About 400 Sek (60Usd)
Final thoughts: I think this challenge was great and I loved making all these pieces, and stepping away from my usual time periods.
I’m allready planing some new 17th century outfits.
Once the outer fabric, lining and sleeves where set it was time to deal with the tabs.
(Every stay makers dread)
I had no idea how to fix i and the problem caused me to loose steam (and love) for the project.
After some nights to cool of and think, I figured to just hide it.
So I went trough my stash and found some lovely golden lace, to see if that would do the trick.
In the end I decided not to use the lace, even though I still think it looks stunning (maybe something for a later date).
The last thing to do on the bodice was to make all the lacing holes.I use pins to mark the distance before I use my chalk-pen
Practice makes perfect.
Ok, not yet perfect but pretty decent looking eyelets if I may say so myself.
Yup, that’s the sad truth – the bodice I to small, and not “If I lace a bit harder it might work” to small, but “There is no way in hell I can close this sucker” to small.
Luckily my inspiration painting’s only shows the back of the bodice, so hypothetical there is a chance the girls wear a open laced bodice over a stomacher – far fetched I know, but at his point there was no way I would redo it or try to ad to the sides. And logically they must have size shifting back then too, right?
So I will make a stomacher for this bodice before the next wearing, but for now I’m considering it done.
Just the facts:
Challenge: nr 6/HSM15 – Out of your comfort zone
What: A 1660s bodice
How it fit the challenge: This is my first venture into 17th century, and even though I made both bodices and stays before the way this garment combines the two was a new experience for me.
Pattern: “1660s bodice lining” from Waugh’s “Corset and Crinolines”, with some alterations.
Fabric: 1,5 m red polyester “silk”, 1,5m white cotton/linen blend for lining and 1 m un-bleached sturdy linen for interning and foundation.
Notions: Thread, button-hole thread, 15m plastic whalebone for boning, 5m cord for lacing, 60cm white bias-tape for edging the sleeves and 3 m red bias-tape for binding the tabs.
How historical accurate: So so, the bodice is made 50% on machine with all the outside seams made by hand. The fabric is modern but the shape and look of the garment is good for the time period. About 7/10
Time: A lot! probably about 60 hours – I worked on this for most of the summer.
Cost: About 300Sek (45Usd)
First worn: At old town beginning of August for photos, and I’m thinking on using it next weekend for a “all times” dance recital.
Final Thoughts: I’m so happy with the look and feel of it. My only concern is the size – Why do I keep making things to small? And no, I have not gained weight – I’m just constantly over estimate my “squeeze factor”, and underestimate the difference boning and extra fabric layers make to the size.
And if it ever is to be worn again I might have to redo the front, or just slap some trim over it…
Then it was time to ad the boning.I used synthetic whalebone, and cut each piece to match the channels.
The whalebone itself is not as strong as metal or reed, but it is lightweight and in a fully boned bodice like this the thin quality is to prefer (in my opinion)
The one thing that worried me most was the “shrinkage” almost always caused by adding boning.
The thinness of the whalebone was really necessary to keep the difference in size as small as possible (the thicker the bones the bigger the size difference).You can clearly see the difference from left side (boned) to right side (un-boned) in this picture.
Then it was time to start on the exterior fabric.
After keeping my eyes open in my local fabric store since January, in June, I finally decided to take the 1 hour trip to the next towns fabric store (which is awesome by the way).
And I did not regret it.
I’d accidentally made the outer layer a bit to big at the side seam, and tried to pin it down to fit.
After some fiddling I decided to let it be for now, and to take the excess in later if needs be – better to big then to small.
(a very wise choice as it proves later on)
Once the main bodice pieces was basted down I started working on the sleeves.
Drafting the pattern using my books as a guide.
I pleated the sleeves by hand, and sewed chains of thread to keep the pleats in place.
And finished them of by folding some self fabric trim round the lower edge. The sleeves ready to be set.
Next up – the finishing touches
The last piece I needed to complete the “Sew 17th century challenge” was also the main piece – the bodice.
Read about the other garments here: Skirt, Cufs,Coif, Fur Shawl
And to make this post a bit lighter I’ve cut it up in a few manageable pieces.
First up – The Pattern
When researching the bodice I found several different patterns*, and after some narrowing things down, I ended up with two finalists to make into mock-ups. Both from Waughs “Corset and Crinolines”
I traced the pieces and made some alteration to my measurements.
I added boning at some vital places, and my pre-made lacing strip to the font, to get a more accurate fitting.
I really liked how the pattern fitted my body – both comfortable and strong.
I also like the look of the off-the-shoulder sleeves, even though I can hardly lift my arms.
I printed, attached and sewed the pieces in the same way as before.
I love the shape it gives me, but It’s not nearly as comfortable as the previous one.
I’ll have to move the lacing to the front on this one, and to do some serious editing to the sleeves and neckline.
Hm, which one to choose…
In the end I opted for the “1660s bodice lining.
So then it was back to the drawing table to ad some tabs to the otherwise perfect pattern.
I even tried it on with my (at the time) almost finished skirt.
Pretty rough, but you get the idea if the shape.
*I found patterns for 17th century stays and bodices in almost every book covering this period: Waugh’s “Cut of Womens Clothes”, Arnold’s “Pattern of fashion” and “Seventeen-Century Women’s Dress Patterns” by North & Tiramani.
Next up – making the foundation…
Once I picked a picture to recreate for the “Sew 17th century challenge“, it was time to take a closer look.
Gerard Ter Borch, “The Concert” (ca 1655)
The picture shows the back of a girl/women playing an instrument (possibly a Violin played in the knee) and in the background an older woman playing the Keyboard.
The room is dark and the focus lies on the neck of the younger girl and the contrast of her fur collar to her glowing ivory skirt.
At a first glance I decided I needed to make at least three pieces of garments – Bodice, skirt and chemise.
The bodice seams to be made in a red fabric with only a subtle shine to it, in contrast to the much more reflective skirt fabric. This caused me to believe the skirt would be made in a silk satin, while the bodice perhaps is made in some les shiny material. I would still guess silk though.
The skirt seems to be relatively easy, with the pleats and folds clearly running from the waist.
A closeup (and lightening) of the girls neck shows the irregularity of the fur collar and her lovely intricate braided hairdo, as well as the drop-shaped pearl earrings..There is no way to know how the fur is attached to the bodice or if it in fact is a loose collar/shawl.
To ad to the wear-ability of my outfit I decided to make it as a separate piece.
The bodice itself is made in the boned rigid way of the 1660s with big poufy sleeves tightly pleated to the arm holes. The waist is slim and tightly held in the rigid bodice, who ends in square tabs at hip level. You can even see the slightly un matching binding on the edges of the tabs.
The front of the dress is a mystery, but one thing is for sure – it must have some kind of clouser.
The common practice during this period seams to be back lacing bodices, but since the back seems to be whole, the opening must be in front. This girl (who seems to be about the same economical status as our girl) have a front lacing bodice.
An other question who need to be debated was the be or not to be trimming on the bodice.
Most of the portraits I studied seems to have at least some trim to them (see picture above). But considering the dark room, coarse collar and the sadness of the subject, I think an unadorned bodice is most true to the over all mood in the painting.
Researching this painting I also found several different versions of it:Different light and a gentleman by the Keyboard.
I have no idea which of these paintings is considered the “original”, but if you search for on Wikipedia this is the result.
Same settings, but lighter then my first version.
(klick on image to enlarge)
Last fall Isis from “Isis Wardrobe” started the “17th century Challenge” to encourage more interest and recreation of 17th century fashion.
(As she explain in her blog post (see above) the idea comes from Maria of “In deme jare cristi” who started the “Manuscript challenge“.)
I immediately liked the idea, since I’ve been pondering on making a 17th century dress for some time and this seamed the perfect excuse.
(This project also fit perfectly into the HSM15 challenge “Out of your comfort zone” due in June)
The rules for the “Sew 17th century challenge” are simple:
*Pick a painting or original garment from 1600-1699, and upload your picture to the Facebook album
*You got 1 year to recreate the painting (every piece of clothing) as close as you can considering, skills, time and budget.
*Present your garment in the Facebook album and tell a bit about the process.
(read the in dept rules at “Isis Wardrobe”)
So this winter I took a good look at what internet had to provide in terms of 17th century fashions.
While searching I discovered some of the typical styles in (women’s) fashion painted in the 17th century.
The extremely elaborate court robe:
The “simple” high waist:“Yellow dress” (1632)
The extremely elaborate high waist:“Susanna Temple ca. 1604-1669″ by Marcus Gheeraerts, (ca 1620)
The crazy as embroidery: “Portrait of Margaret Layton”, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts, c. 1620. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
I would love to make this one from the recreation of this fabric some day, But not right now.
The “Poor” people dress:“Mother Combing Child’s Hair” by Caspar Netscher (1669)
The rigid and “simple” dress: “Portrait of Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Northumberland, and later Countess of Montagu”, by Peter Lely (1668)
The rigid and lace decorated gown:“Portrait of a Lady” by Gabriel Metsu (ca 1660s)
Even though I can see something charming in almost every one of these fashions (maybe except the “crazy as panniers” – I mean what is that), but I’m definitely drawn to the 1660s “simpler” styles of dress.
So focusing on portraits from that period I still had to narrow it down to just one favorite.
Elizabeth Capell, Countess of Carnarvon by Sir Peter Lely (ca. 1665)
Princess Henrietta Anne of England (1644–1670) by Jan Mytens (1665)
While both lovely, I knew I wanted to make something a bit more basic and les fancy.
You can find my Pinterest board for the “Sew 17th century challenge”here.