A New Beginning
Finally an update, after a troublesome period.
I moved from the French part of Switzerland to Basel - a city with a really weird and interesting history in the late 15th century - lost my new job - before I even started there.
Therefore the last few months I struggled to get back on my feet again - and happy me: I have again a job - my new appartement turned out to be very nice (right at the edge of the historical centre, but still inside the (wrecked) city walls!).
During my unexpected sabbatical I started to write a childrens book about medieval Basle. I went "digging up old stuff" at the libraries and city archives, and mastered the developement from "a nice interested young lady" to the (positive) nightmare of the museumsstaff, inquiring after pieces they didn't even display.
The negative aspect of such an unwanted sabbatical is the financial aspect - decent wool fabric is very costly - therefore I didn't sew a lot during the last few months.
I stopped calling my "Van der Weyden" Project this name - due to several reasons:
Reason Number 1: The fabric I bought is too lightweight - I would have a nice summer gown when it would be finished. But I am in no need of yet another summer gown, but of a warm winter one.
Reason Number 2: I have managed to get new fabric - but not sufficient one - therefore I had to amend my plans a wee bit:
About three weeks ago I was very lucky, and got some nice plum/berry coloured wool in our local fabric store. It was not much left - just 3m, in two pieces. One of them 1m the other one 2m - just enough to make a gown. But the fabric was too thin - I really wanted a nice warm gown - and as it was Thursday, my washing day - I threw the fabric into the machine, and washed it by 40degrees C.
It shrunk - felted - but not yet enough for my plans.
After the tumble dry it was perfect - exactly what I wanted. Happily I cut the linnen lining - pinned it on - basted it - and cut the bodice.
The fabric was so soft and warm - I already felt it during sewing how comfy and warm the gown would be.
About half a week later the work on the bodice was done, and I started to cut the skirt.
And there did doom arrive. I shrunk the wool so perfectly that it didn't only was soft and comfy, but smaller - so much smaller than it already was!
That's when the adventure really began.
I checked different books, pictures and had to drink more than one pot of tea to find a solution.
The solution included some work - I had to put the skirt together in bits and pieces.
After some geometry and overthinking and getting used to the thought of much more work and a higher failure risk, I took the needle and started.
The day after this decision I stumbled over this beautiful picture by Martin Schongauer on the Web Gallery of Art:
That's what I did the last two weeks. I sew and basted, basted and hemmed. I decided on the closure, that I won't have any eyelets, expect for the sleeves. The front was supposed to be closed by hooks and eyes - brass ones. Usually you don't get them in any store - but you can always get brass wire.
All you need is: 1mm brass wire, a small gripper (mine is a jewel maker one), and one evening's time.
As I already had some experience with making eyes (the blue gown is laced through eyes), I have only made one single hook in my life.
In the end, I was there with 10 hooks and 10 eyes of the same size.
As I didn't have enough fabric to make long sleeves, I decided on neither short, nor long - like the one of Barbara von Erlach of the Spiezer Chronik - but a wee bit shorter than hers. But I copied her green lacing on the sleeves - I really like the contrast of green and plum.
Back to the skirt. As the cut skirt was to short and too narrow, I added a "upper skirt part" - in other words - a short skirt, where the long one is sewed on. The fabric intended to be the sleeves was turned into the center front piece (below the short skirt), and the sleeves made of scraps.
Still I had to add more fabric at the bottom - the skirt was still too short. So I added some more scraps at the hem.
And I was finally able to wear it last Sunday :-)
The reason why I am taller than usual is very simple: I am wearing my wooden pattens :-)
As it was winter, and I am usually freezing all the time, I covered my neck with a nice silk scarf - pinned together at the front - as seen on several pictures.
The "Haube" - or "Wulsthaube" is simple white linnen - pinned in place. The Fringes are dyed with madder root.
That's the picture with flash - the others were taken without.