Mid-1300s Kirtle and Veil

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

There’s nothing like a strict deadline to motivate you to finish a project. That’s what I gave myself for this newest historical costume. To celebrate my birthday I decided to visit the Medieval Faire near Austin and of course, I needed clothes to wear.

The Faire I went to is themed more toward the European middle ages than the Renaissance so I went with something in the middle – the 14th century. Plague times, yeah! Woohoo! What, no cheering for the bubonic plague? Ok, whatever…

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

The distinctive features of this era of dress are full-length gowns (called a “kirtle”) with gores in the skirt to add fullness, no waist seam, with a broad neckline, and a bodice that is tightly laced to the body.

This time period was a transition between the looser garments of the early middle ages and the highly supported bodices of the Renaissance period (and what we like to think of as early corsets).

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

This fabric sat in my stash for years(!!!) with the intention of becoming a kirtle but never got around to it because the idea of drafting a kirtle pattern from scratch seemed so daunting. You have to get the fit just right so that the tight lacing supports the bust but also doesn’t gape.

I’ve seen people use this tutorial in which a helper squeezes and pins fabric around your torso to make a bodice pattern. But I don’t have any costuming friends nearby who could do this for me.

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

Instead, I went with what I knew – flat pattern drafting. I took measurements. A ton of measurements! Both vertical (shoulder to bust, underarm to waist, shoulder to wrist, etc) and horizontal (high bust, full bust, underbust, shoulder to shoulder, etc) and using those, I drew a “curved-front-seam” bodice pattern.

The bodice section is lined with white linen, same fabric as the veil. I didn’t line the sleeves or the length of the kirtle to save fabric and reduce layers.

All of the structural seams were machine sewn with finishing done by hand. All hems are hand sewn.

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

The 3 dozen or so lacing eyelets are all sewn by hand (and if you’re wondering how long it takes to sew 3 dozen eyelets by hand… it’s about a season and a half of “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

The lacing opening and neckline are faced with red twill tape for strength and durability.

Kirtle insides close up

I finished the skirt gores’ seam allowances by flat felling by hand. I haven’t yet finished the other seams because of time.

Underneath my kirtle I’m wearing an 18th-century linen shift (minus the sleeves, I ripped them off because I didn’t like the way they fit).

I’m wearing some simple brown leather flats which are the closest thing I own to appropriate medieval shoes I own.

As for the hairstyle, I followed the basic idea of this tutorial with twin braids at the top front of my head that are pinned behind and under the veil.

The veil is a big linen circle with a hand-rolled hem all around. It is folded over my head twice – once at my forehead, bobby pinned behind my ears – then folded again around the top of my head and pinned to the braids and crown with little straight sewing pins.

The “correct” way of doing this would actually be to wrap my head in a white linen cap, then layer the veil on top and pin the veil to the cap (easier to pin fabric to fabric than fabric to hair). But I didn’t have enough time to make a cap and the veil stayed on well enough on its own.

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

This was my first costume from this period and I wasn’t expecting perfect historical accuracy. It served more as an experiment to see if it could be done. I’d say it was successful for the most part.

One major anachronism – my fabric. I used a linen blend, which, while blends weren’t a thing in the 1300s, linen was used for kirtles although it was a lot less common than wool. But I live in Texas where wool is hard to come by and I’d rather wear cool linen over wool.

But the other problem is color. Firstly, linen didn’t take dye as well as wool back when only natural dyes were available. I doubt that this deep red could have been achieved on linen. Also, dark reds colors were more expensive as they required rarer dyes or longer dye time. I’m not dressed as a princess but I’m not a poor peasant farmer either. I’m not sure a middle-class, 14th-century lady would be wearing bold red.Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

Things I would change if I made another 1300s costume:

  • Make a cap to go underneath the veil. And make a wimple, which is like another veil that goes under the chin, pins to the back of the head, and tucks into the kirtle neckline.
  • Use 100% linen fabric rather than a blend, in a more muted color.
  • Inset the gores higher up, nearer to my waist. I inserted my skirt gores at hip level because that’s where my lacing eyelets ended, but now I realize it would probably be more accurate to have the gores higher, and it would also likely make the skirt seem fuller.
  • Make the sleeves a little longer. As I was wearing the dress the sleeves felt short on my arms.

I made this kirtle purposefully unfussy with front lacing rather than fancy buttons so that, in the future, I could wear an overdress on top. I hope to make/buy some accessories to go with it like a belt and maybe a pouch or two.

Mid 14th Century Kirtle and Veil

Historical Costuming: 1840s day dress and bonnet

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

After what seems like years I’ve finally finished my 1840s costume. I completed the dress months ago but the bonnet languished unfinished until recently.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

Underneath all of this, I’m wearing my Victorian undergarments (including four petticoats!), silk stockings and brown leather ballet flats (not exactly period accurate but close enough for now).

Let’s talk about this dress:

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The pattern is Laughing Moon Mercantile #114 with some minor adjustments. I made View B but with the flat back of View C. I added velvet ribbon on the sleeves based on some extant dress which I can no longer find online. The sleeves of View B are actually three layers (difficult to see in this print), the uppermost layer is pleated three times, hence three rows of ribbon.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The rose print fabric came from Joann. Is it period accurate? Not exactly, but I have seen red and white cotton extant dresses from the time period.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

I also had to sew several more rows of gathers in the center “fan” front at the waist to rein in all that excess fabric. From other reviews I have read, this seems to be a common fix.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

Other than that, the dress fit me quite well out of the envelope with the exception of some ripples on the back. Not sure if that is due to my corset or if I simply need to slice off some of the length in the back.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

If I were to make this pattern again in View B I would choose a much thinner fabric. The fabric I used was too thick at the armhole seam (this style has very dropped shoulders). With added piping, that seam had 5 layers in it!

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The skirt is cartridge pleated. I did this so long ago now, back when I was a beginner at costuming. If I were to do it again, I’d make my pleats smaller and tighter.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The dress closes in back with hooks and eyes so you need help to put it on.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

This “coal scuttle” bonnet is what kept me from finishing this costume. It seemed a daunting task to create an entire buckram and wire framed bonnet from scratch but it wasn’t that difficult to sew when I actually sat down to do it. The pattern is Timely Tresses’ Ada Gray mid 1840s bonnet. It’s mostly hand sewn.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The main fabric is ivory silk taffeta from some website I don’t remember now. The ribbon is also from Timely Tresses. The feather and vintage velvet flowers are from Etsy. The body of the bonnet is lined with linen and gathered white lace. The bravolet (the little skirt in back) is lined in net.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The date I was going for with this outfit is 1847 which is right around the time Texas joined the Union. These pics were taken on a short overnight trip to Leakey, Texas on the Frio River in the Texas Hill Country. I might be able to wear this outfit to some kind of Texas history event but for now, it’s just another fun costume to have.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

Star Wars’ Rey Cosplay

Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Happy Halloween!! This year I stayed home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters (and maybe eat all some of the candy myself) but I wore my new Rey costume from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

star-wars-the-force-awakens

This cosplay isn’t screen accurate – for one, the color was hard to get right. In some stills from the film, Rey’s outfit looks more gray than beige. And obviously many of my details aren’t the same as the movie’s (like the boots) but it’s good enough for wearing to a convention or Halloween party.

A photo posted by Dixie (@dixiediy) on

Let’s break down the costume…

Shirt

I started by adapting the bodice pieces of a t-shirt pattern and extended the shoulder line to create simple “cap” sleeves. I bound the neckline with the same cotton rib knit as the shirt and tea dyed the whole thing with some English breakfast.

Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Pants

Rey’s pants in the movie are made from raw silk. Mine are a tea dyed linen/cotton blend. I lengthened the leg pieces on a generic, elastic-waist PJ shorts pattern and added cuffs on the legs.

Body Wrap

If you’ve ever been to Joann Fabrics you’ve probably seen this textured cotton gauze. I bought like, 7 yards of it in beige, split it lengthwise down the middle, and gathered it at the shoulders. The texture of the fabric naturally makes it look gathered at the waist and the belt holds it in place. Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Belt

The belt is a long, plain belt base from Tandy Leather wrapped twice and tied on one side. I used strips of leather scraps from a “scrap bag” (also from Tandy) to hide where the belt ends meet.

Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Wrist Band

I didn’t have a leather piece long enough to make the wrist band so I had to stitch leather scraps together in sections.  This isn’t actually the way the wrist band is supposed to wrap around my arm but I must have cut it too small to fit with the arm wraps underneath. I basically reversed engineered the thing based on photos but this McCall’s pattern does the same thing. Too bad that pattern was released after I made most of my costume.

Bag

The bag was self drafted based on images of Rey’s bag. It’s made from cotton duck, nylon “belting”, and some rectangle rings. After wearing it to the Con I decided to add velcro to keep the top from flapping open.

Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Boots

Just some brown fake Ugg boots. If you want the real deal – Rey’s boots in the movie are made by PoZu.

Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Arm Wraps

These were the most difficult thing to get right. At first, I used tea dyed muslin strips about 3in wide wrapped around my arm and tied a the wrist and bicep. But those things wouldn’t stay up and they’d spread apart at the elbow. I was constantly adjusting them.

Version two is made with individual strips of tea dyed leftovers from the shirt which were sewn to a center seam. Then those strips were sewn to each other. This version stays up better but I don’t like the visible stitching…

Staff

This was the big prop of the outfit. It consists of 3D printed pieces slipped onto a wooden dowel rod, wrapped in black paracord and tea dyed muslin scraps. The strap uses some cotton twill with bronze clips connected to a little bit of leather scrap with bronze snaps.

A photo posted by Dixie (@dixiediy) on

My staff is only 4 ft long while the movie version is about 6. This is on purpose; I didn’t want to be accidentally whacking anyone with a stick as I walked around a convention floor.

I’ve gotten plenty of wear out of this costume so far. I wore it to Austin’s ComicCon in September and I wore it to three Halloween events as well.

A photo posted by Dixie (@dixiediy) on

If you wanted to do this project the easy way – use McCall’s 7421 for the pants, shirt, wrist band, belt and arm wraps. And just use a really long piece of cotton gauze for the body wrap with gathered shoulders (this pattern’s version isn’t the same as in the movie). If you want to know any more details about the costume feel free to leave a comment!

Star Wars Rey Cosplay

Game of Thrones: Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

This whole costume turned out much better than I anticipated so be ready for an abundance of photos in this post. If you want to see more pics, check out my Flickr album.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

I also promise to keep this post as spoiler free as possible.

margaerydress

So, why Game of Thrones? Why Margaery? Well, the costumes on that show are fantastic. And GoT has no shortage of fabulous lady characters of all types but I like Margaery’s character for several reasons. As a young queen she’s clever and ambitious. Tenacious, self-serving but at times truly kind. She’s loyal to her family but is always looking out for #1. She knows how to play the game and she does it with flair.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

And she is played superbly by the lovely Natalie Dormer whom I first watched on The Tudors many years ago (her signature smirk is difficult to mimic, I tried my best).

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

But in the end, I thought I could figure out how to design one of her iconic costumes without needing to use a pattern.

Let’s talk about the dress. After assessing pictures of the real costume, I used the highly accurate method of “Let’s See if This Works” to design my version.  I did a combo of flat pattern manipulation, draping, and excessive pinning until I got a bodice shape that worked.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

From the production stills, it looks like a wrap front gown with skirt gores. So I designed a cross-over front with hooks and eyes for closure.

As for the skirt, I measured my waist, divided it by six, added seam allowances and cut 7 gores (one for overlapping in the front) that widened at the hem. I lined the skirt and the bodice with white muslin.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

The shoulder bits wrap over from front and attach at the back sides. There’s actually a trapezoidal shaped piece under the neck connecting the two shoulder pieces in the real version but for mine, I decided to simply make the shoulder parts wider to meet in the middle.

The main bodice fabric is some poly brocade from Joann, a lucky find as I struggled for months to find a suitable design with the correct colors. The only problem – it frays and snags easily.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

The shoulders are a stretch velvet, also from Joann, stiffened with some deco-bond-like Pellon interfacing for handbags, and are attached by hand tack stitches in a few spots along the bodice.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

The skirt used voile from Fabric Wholesale Direct. It was cheap, wide, and the perfect color.

I lined the skirt and the bodice with white muslin.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

What to do with my hair kept me from taking photos for so long. I hate wigs, usually, but I had to admit, my natural hair wasn’t going to cut it. So I bought Arda Wigs’ Grace Classic in Light Brown. I still don’t enjoy having an itchy, sweaty scalp but for less than $40 it was the perfect hair for this costume and I’m glad used it.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

Finally, the belt. Margaery hails from Highgarden so flowers play a major part in her costume motif. Her house motto is “Growing Strong.” I purchased my resin rose belt from this Etsy seller (highly recommended, but it looks like she’s no longer making it. You could always send her a message and ask). The belt is attached with skinny ties on either side sewn into the waist seam.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

I’ll try wearing this cosplay to the local Comic Con in the fall. I had better wear it while I can, the final season of the show comes out next year!