I've been influenced

Posted on December 30, 2023
Tags: madeof:atoms

A woman wearing a red sleeveless dress; from the waist up it is
fitted, while the skirt flares out.
There is a white border with red embroidery and black fringe at
the hem and a belt of the same material at the waist.

By the influencers on the famous proprietary video platform1.

When I’m crafting with no powertools I tend to watch videos, and this autumn I’ve seen a few in a row that were making red wool dresses, at least one or two medieval kirtles. I don’t remember which channels they were, and I’ve decided not to go back and look for them, at least for a time.

A woman wearing a red shirt with wide sleeves, a short yoke, a
small collar band and 3 buttons in the front.

Anyway, my brain suddenly decided that I needed a red wool dress, fitted enough to give some bust support. I had already made a dress that satisfied the latter requirement and I still had more than half of the red wool faille I’ve used for the Garibaldi blouse (still not blogged, but I will get to it), and this time I wanted it to be ready for this winter.

While the pattern I was going to use is Victorian, it was designed for underwear, and this was designed to be outerwear, so from the very start I decided not to bother too much with any kind of historical details or techniques.

A few meters of wool-imitation fringe trim rolled up; the
fringe is black and is attached to a white band with a line of
lozenge outlines in red and brown.

I knew that I didn’t have enough fabric to add a flounce to the hem, as in the cotton dress, but then I remembered that some time ago I fell for a piece of fringed trim in black, white and red. I did a quick check that the red wasn’t clashing (it wasn’t) and I knew I had a plan for the hem decoration.

Then I spent a week finishing other projects, and the more I thought about this dress, the more I was tempted to have spiral lacing at the front rather than buttons, as a nod to the kirtle inspiration. It may end up be a bit of a hassle, but if it is too much I can always add a hidden zipper on a side seam, and only have to undo a bit of the lacing around the neckhole to wear the dress.

Finally, I could start working on the dress: I cut all of the main pieces, and since the seam lines were quite curved I marked them with tailor’s tacks, which I don’t exactly enjoy doing or removing, but are the only method that was guaranteed to survive while manipulating this fabric (and not leave traces afterwards).

A shaped piece of red fabric with the long edges bound in navy
blue bias tape and all the seamlines marked with basting thread.

While cutting the front pieces I accidentally cut the high neck line instead of the one I had used on the cotton dress: I decided to go for it also on the back pieces and decide later whether I wanted to lower it.

Since this is a modern dress, with no historical accuracy at all, and I have access to a serger, I decided to use some dark blue cotton voile I’ve had in my stash for quite some time, cut into bias strip, to bind the raw edges before sewing. This works significantly better than bought bias tape, which is a bit too stiff for this.

A bigger piece of fabric with tailor's tacks for the seams and
darts; at the top edge there is a strip of navy blue fabric sewn
to a wide seaming allowance, with two rows of cording closest to
the center front line.

For the front opening, I’ve decided to reinforce the areas where the lacing holes will be with cotton: I’ve used some other navy blue cotton, also from the stash, and added two lines of cording to stiffen the front edge.

So I’ve cut the front in two pieces rather than on the fold, sewn the reinforcements to the sewing allowances in such a way that the corded edge was aligned with the center front and then sewn the bottom of the front seam from just before the end of the reinforcements to the hem.

The front opening being worked on: on one side there are hand
sewn eyelets in red silk that matches the fabric, on the other
side the position for more eyelets are still marked with pins.
There is also still basting to keep the folded allowance in place.

The allowances are then folded back, and then they are kept in place by the worked lacing holes. The cotton was pinked, while for the wool I used the selvedge of the fabric and there was no need for any finishing.

Behind the opening I’ve added a modesty placket: I’ve cut a strip of red wool, a strip of cotton, folded the edge of the strip of cotton to the center, added cording to the long sides, pressed the allowances of the wool towards the wrong side, and then handstitched the cotton to the wool, wrong sides facing. This was finally handstitched to one side of the sewing allowance of the center front.

I’ve also decided to add real pockets, rather than just slits, and for some reason I decided to add them by hand after I had sewn the dress, so I’ve left opening in the side back seams, where the slits were in the cotton dress. I’ve also already worn the dress, but haven’t added the pockets yet, as I’m still debating about their shape. This will be fixed in the near future.

Another thing that will have to be fixed is the trim situation: I like the fringe at the bottom, and I had enough to also make a belt, but this makes the top of the dress a bit empty. I can’t use the same fringe tape, as it is too wide, but it would be nice to have something smaller that matches the patterned part. And I think I can make something suitable with tablet weaving, but I’m not sure on which materials to use, so it will have to be on hold for a while, until I decide on the supplies and have the time for making it.

Another improvement I’d like to add are detached sleeves, both matching (I should still have just enough fabric) and contrasting, but first I want to learn more about real kirtle construction, and maybe start making sleeves that would be suitable also for a real kirtle.

Meanwhile, I’ve worn it on Christmas (over my 1700s menswear shirt with big sleeves) and may wear it again tomorrow (if I bother to dress up to spend New Year’s Eve at home :D )

  1. yep, that’s YouTube, of course.↩︎