Well, I am still working on this gosh-darned costume! This was a very ambitious project for me, and while I don't regret embarking on it (on the contrary, I enjoy the challenge; it is nice to have a project that isn't done after a month or six weeks of work), I do feel rather down when I hit a snag. I was going pretty quickly for a couple of weeks there, but I have hit a few difficult sections and it isn't coming along as quickly. So, where exactly am I in this project? Good question!
I've finished my corset and my farthingale. I have a bumroll hiding somewhere. I've also made a petticoat, but I don't want to hem that or add the fastening at the waist until I know exactly where on my waist I want it to sit, and how long my overgown will be. I have been making and ripping apart draft after draft of the bodice.
Ah, the bodice! Anybody out there reading this with more fitting/ tailoring experience than me? I've been on my own through this process with only my boyfriend to help provide an extra pair of hands, but he doesn't have any sewing expertise. The bodice fits relatively well, but of course you never can tell until it's made up with lining and interlining, and the seam allowances are eliminated (I-- naively-- added them a draft or two ago) and it's all laced up. The sleeves are what are giving me fits. I used Simplicity's sleeve pattern, since it looked relatively similar to the sleeve in The Tudor Tailor, it was already scaled up, and I am supremely lazy. As I type this out I realize why I may be having trouble: I used a sleeve several sizes smaller than the bodice back size, and the bodice front is not from the same pattern. Besides that, I changed up the strap quite a bit from the original pattern, so the armscye has very little in the way of a relationship with the sleeve.
The issue is that I'm getting these horrible wrinkles near the armpit, and the sleeve itself is really frumpy looking. I pinned out the folds and re-cut the sleeve with those changes, but I am still really unhappy with all of the gathers. My options seem to be to cut and slash the sleeve so the sleeve head isn't as full, to shave some width off at either side, or to try sizing the sleeve down significantly and cutting it on the bias rather than relying on gathers. I am really reluctant to do that since there will be so much weight on the sleeves; not only will the hanging portion of the sleeve be attached here, but I'll also be lacing the foresleeves onto this structure. That's a lot of weight to support, and I'm nervous that if I cut it on the bias, the sleeve will eventually deform. So I guess I keep fiddling with it until it looks nice.
I have to say, I know I should get the mock up to look perfect, but I am so tempted to just jump in and hope for the best. I may just be at the point where I don't have the skills to make the sleeves perfect, and it may take a few alterations once the darned thing is made up in the fashion fabric (which, invariably, will behave incredibly differently).
Aside from working on the bodice, I also bought some fabric for the foresleeves and forepart that I intend to dye. It is currently light gold; I would like for it to be deep red. The boyfriend nixed using our beautiful new washing machine to dye it with, so I am reduced to looking for a big pot that can forevermore be my dyeing pot and I guess I'll be trying to stuff some ungodly amount of fabric into a large vessel on top of the stove. I still haven't decided if I should just use Rit dye (it's easy and they have recipes for colors online) or iDye from Dharma Trading Company (which will probably be a "nicer" dye, but I have to order it online, I'll have to experiment with mixing the colors, etc...). I am probably over thinking this. I should probably just go down to Jo-Ann and buy some dye.