A weekend of sewing

A weekend of sewing

I was DETERMINED to get some serious work done on the Venetian this weekend. I picked it up Friday evening, slipped the bones out of the casings, and clipped them back a bit to shorten them. I had realized, after trying on a few of my older 16th c corsets, that leaving the bones too long leads in damage to the seams of the garment, because there isn't enough room to allow for movement and flexibility.  The bones, incidentally, are industrial grade cable ties that I cut with wire cutters. It's a bit of a pain to cut them, the cutters I have require a lot of pressure to cut through the ties. And, because of the thickness of the ties and the pressure used to cut them, the little cut ends go flying around the house, becoming little projectiles that HURT when they come in contact with a human or an animal. I'm always pretty sure I'm going to put someone's eye out when I do this. Once I shortened the bones, I put them back in the casings, sewed across the bottom of the bodice to keep the bones in, and finished hand sewing the fashion fabric to the canvas base.

Bodice before being lined

On Saturday, I recut and resewed the linen lining to fit the bodice, to accommodate the fitting changes I had made.  I placed it on the bodice, and noticed the fashion fabric showed through slightly under the arms. THAT will never work. Yes, I know no one else will see it, but it will bug me and keep me awake at night. I cut small rectangles from more linen, hand sewed them over the armscythe easements, and redraped the lining. It worked!  In this picture, you can see the armscythe easement on the left has not been covered yet, the one on the right has. See? My method, although unorthodox, paid off.

Lining pinned into place, ready to sew

I hand sewed the lining into place, which didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. On Sunday, I began sewing two pieces of ribbon on each side of the bodice, to form lacing channels. The theory is that the inside run of ribbon will be the structural integrity for the lacing, and the outside run of ribbon (closest to the front closing edge of the garment) will keep the visible portions of lacing straight and even. I had serious doubts about the ability of the ribbon to withstand lacing strain, but I wanted the lacing straight, and so I proceeded. (Being nagged by wonderings of using lacing rings instead, of course...)  The ribbon was a PAIN to work with, it was slippery, and the boned garment wasn't flexible, and the attaching stitches need to go through the duck under the fashion fabric. There are 8 lacing anchors on each ribbon, which is 16 attachments, times 4 ribbons. Let's just say my fingers STILL are sensitive today.

Lining hand sewn into place, lacing ribbons sewn into place.

Finally, I could try this thing on for a final fitting!  I put on a fitted English chemise, since I haven't made the Camicia yet, laced up the bodice as loosely as I could, and stepped into it.  (This will be the planned way to dress once the skirt is attached, so I will need to make sure to leave the front portion of the skirt unbound but attachable to the center front of the bodice with hook and eye).  I discovered that after sewing the fashion fabric, straps, and lining, the bodice was raised a small amount, just enough to be slightly annoying under the arms.  I am so not tearing this apart to correct it, I will deal with it. I laced the bodice without a corset, and holy mother of god, it actually fit!!  I have put on a few pounds since I cut the bodice out a year ago, so the lacing is a little wider than I'd anticipated, but that's fine.  The problem was (which I knew was going to happen) that the center lacing with no corset underneath caused some unflattering squishing.  Off came the bodice, on went a front lacing corset, on went the bodice. No bueno. The front lacing corset also squishes into the look the "wenches" like at ren faires... I so am not a fan of that look, it is absolutely not historically accurate. BUT, the lacing of the bodice was fantastic over the corset, so that was damn happy. Off came the bodice, off came the corset. On went a side lacing corset, and on went the bodice. For whatever reason, I can't get the side lacing corset cinched down as much as the front lacing (probably due to my chest being where it is supposed to be and not up under my chin), and so the lacing on the venetian is wider than I would like, but still within range of what was shown in portraits for that time period. But the shape the side lacing corset gives is FANTASTIC... absolutely conical, no gross cleavage, perfect curve at the lower abdomen.   I would have patted myself on the back for the corset if I could get my arm over shoulder height, which I couldn't, thanks to the tight armscythes and the stupid English chemise.

Side lacing corset

Sorry for the blurriness, it's hard taking self-photos : )

Side View

Back view

No front view yet, there are a few things I need to fix before I post it.  And, I'll probably wait until I have the camecia done, because the lacing looks funny when you can see the corset through the V.  But, I'm super excited, the bodice is mostly done, and it is decidedly the hard part of the whole gown.  Next, I'll cut the fabric for the skirt, line it with cotton, cut the waistline at angles to accomodate the center and back points in the bodice without distorting the fabric pattern, cartridge pleat it, and attach it to the bodice. Then it needs to hang for a few days to relax before I can hem. I'll also make the camecia, I have handkerchief weight linen that I am super excited to work with.  Last, I'll make a caul, since my hair isn't quite long enough for the Italian taped hair styles.  The gown will be wearable at that point. If I have time, I'll need to make sleeves from the fashion fabric, and a new effigy corset with reeds, super yay! : )

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