And now, the story behind the sleeves…
As I mentioned, I started by using the Reconstructing History pattern. I cut out the larger, less structured sleeves, shown in the pattern on the far-right image. The pattern does admit these are less historically accurate, and by that I supposed it means they are not a copy of the Janet Arnold pattern as the rest of the pattern is. What it really turns out is that they are pure fantasy and they were probably never tested before the pattern was sold (this is a common rumor about RH patterns and I suspect it’s true given the fit and assembly problems I’ve had with this line; of course, I heard that after I had already bought 4 of ’em, feh).
It’s hard to see on the website, but the drawing indicates a big round puffed sleeve, a simple shape, something vaguely in the realm of this or maybe the top part of this. Giant round puff above the elbow. Nothing too fancy ‘cept for what you trim it up to be.
The pattern piece is one huge shape with that curved on the sides and ended with a little short tube. I wasn’t too sure about it, but hey, I’ll give it a try. I’m in a hurry, this is supposed to be a quickie project for a gown I can just throw on, and besides, I have plenty of fabric. (cue “famous last words”)
I pin-basted it together and the thing looked super-floppy, a real mess. That can’t be right, I thought. So I’ll add some interfacing, the stiff kind I use for purses. Want the “puff” to puff. Ok. Sew the whole thing up, add a ton of trim, attach to gown.
Well. You all saw the hideousness that resulted. Wtf, indeed! Was it too stiff now from the extra lining? I punched in the shape 10 different ways to see if it would have been better floppy. No. I pulled it out to maximum puff. No. The shape is fucking weird! Why did they use this shape? It doesn’t look like anything in a portrait I can find. I mean, maybe there’s some weird-ass thing it’s trying to recreate ala Henry VIII-being-an-asshole, but this is certainly not representative of female Elizabethan loose gowns in my survey of the outfits. Not saying I’m the uber-expert, but I do know some stuff, and 20 some-odd portraits and the few extant items sure as hell don’t have stupid sleeves like this!
That was where I left it Sunday night, feeling like I wasted my whole weekend.
Monday, I woke up determined to fix this bastard. Cute little puffy sleeves were my goal. How about paned sleeves? That’s period, it’s attractive, and I could do them in the burgundy and black color scheme from The Stash. I drafted a pattern by 11am — purely from my own arm measurements and my own brain, thankyouverymuch! Good fit on the first try even. Cut out an inner lining of burgundy twill, a black satin puffy bit for the ‘slashings’, and strips of the burgundy damask for the panes.
Here’s where I had a problem: I was out of burgundy thread! Doh. The closest match was a hot pink or a bright red, neither of which really worked. How could I finish the edges of the panes without thread showing? Trim was the obvious answer, except that all those panes meant a whole lot of trim. Even stripping the trim off the bad sleeves and using the meager bits leftover, there wasn’t enough. Also, the black gimp was pretty wide and looked a bit visually heavy for the panes, imo. I wished I had more of the baby gimp that I’d used in layers on Thomas’ doublet. I knew the nearby Jo-Ann’s was out of that though, because I’d just been there on Saturday to buy more of the wide black gimp (why oh why did I not get more burgundy thread? no, I didn’t want to take the 2 hours of public transit time to go yet again!).
I scoured The Stash, and all I came up with was 2 packs of pre-made black piping. Y’know, the kind that’s sold next to twill tape and pre-made bias. Not sure why I had it, but it just could work … except it wasn’t quite enough! Measured it all out and I was about a yard short! Omg, now I had to not only pipe something but *make* my own piping! Cue bad flashback to the Eugenie project, my first and presumably last attempt at piping. Horrors!
But wtf, I had black cotton, I had a whole spool of that cord you put at the center of piping, I had a mat and a roller cutting thingy. Yep, I made bias strips, sewed ’em together, and made my own fucking piping cord. And I piped both sides of each pane of those sleeves! Took hours, but I freakin’ did it.
After that, the sleeves went together easy-peasy. Gathered the black satin, laid the panes over it. Considered stuffing the satin, but it didn’t need it. Added a cuff of the burgundy damask on the bottom edge and trimmed that in the gimp and cord from the old sleeves to tie it together with the gown. Then hand-sewed the sleeves into the gown. Still want to put a line of gimp along the sleeve join for a last level of “finish.”
But yeah, them sleeves. Piece o’ work in more ways than one!
Oh and I still am not sure about the collar. The opening is too wide and it looks odd on me. May have to remove it and then add back the line of trim (for finish, again). I’d like to wear the gown with my suit of black ruffs, which is impossible with this ill-fitting collar. Would have been ideal with a properly fitted collar, but should be at least OK without any collar and just a collared shirt.
And I couldn’t get to making the skirt for this outfit at all since I had to spend an extra day on the &$(*#@)! sleeves. Hopefully the basic black wool skirt will actually just take me an hour or two as I oft say they do. Please don’t cue “famous last words” here…