Good mooooorning! It's a beautiful day and I'm in a *great* mood. This is possibly because I managed to get the whole skirt pleated, and the tops of the pleats sewn down, before I came in to work. I had brief conniptions yesterday when I realised that the width of the skirts was more than five times the length of the bodice waist. And that I am planning to pleat, not gather, this skirt. Ordinary knife or box pleats reduce a fabric's width to one third of its original, if they are packed as tightly as possible without overlapping:
Double box pleats reduce the fabric to a fifth of its original width:
But these skirts are MORE than five times as wide as the bodice. Eeeep!
Fortuitously, it turns out that almost all the 'excess' can be considered to be in the back panel of the skirt. This skirt has six panels; one front, two side-front, two side-back and one back. Because the bodice's back waist is much smaller than the front waist, only the back panel of the skirt attaches to the back of the bodice; the rest attaches to the front. Confused yet? Good. In short, the front five panels are almost exactly five times the width of the front bodice waistline, allowing a small amount to create a placket. So, double box pleats there. The back skirt panel is quite a bit longer, even with double box pleats, than the back bodice waistline, so the two box pleats at the back are *triple*. It works, perfectly.
I've also managed to fix it so that all the pleats are all the same width around the skirt, but a 'peak' aligns with the centre back of the bodice and a 'valley' aligns with the front. I figured that a pleat would 'ploof' out more at it's peak, and that, along with the triple pleats at centre back, will give a nice bum-roll curve-enhancement-esque thing, with lots of fullness in the skirt back there. But I also decided that I wasn't going for the 'very pregnant' look, so I probably didn't want a 'poof' at centre front, but a bit offset. The fact that this has all worked out so neatly is pure dumb luck. If I've learned anything from making this dress, it's that the important bit, when planning the skirt, is how it will attach to the bodice. The one other time I've made a tight-bodice-big-skirt dress, I used cartridge pleating (a posh kind of gathering) to attach the skirt, and that took far less planning.
I'm planning to sew the bodice to the skirt by hand, but I did sew down the pleats on the machine, just running it straight across all layers. I wasn't entirely sure my machine would cope; there are up to seven layers of curtain lining and top fabric there, and I just got the poor thing repaired. But I was even less sure my fingers would cope with sewing through all the layers, and I am getting desperately short of time. So I crossed my fingers, gritted my teeth, and threw the skirt at the machine. It coped fine, if noisily, bless it. I'll have to feed it some extra-tasty oil later, as a thank-you.
Oh – it's just occurred to me that I've never told the blog what I'm actually making. Well, it's an outfit in the style of early 16th century Florence, Italy. It has been inspired by (if not generously ripped off from) Jen Thompson's work. You can see her finished outfit here, complete with the same type of sleeve that I'm going to use (hers are reversible! How cool is that?) and even a round/wrapped hat-like thing. She's also gathered a selection of portraits from the period, which you can see here. This painting gives a good impression of the overall 'look' of the period; the woman in the orange/red dress is wearing a different sleeve style, but the woman in the yellow dress is wearing sleeves like mine (that is, like mine will be…):
This has become an obscenely long entry. I originally intended this to be pretty much another 'todo' list to keep me on the straight and narrow today. So I'll put that very important bit after the cut for anyone who is still interested!
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