My gray Charles de Blois dress

Some times you have this GREAT idea! Or at least you have this idea that you can not get out of your head. This dress is one of those ideas, the idea of making a Charles de Blois inspired dress. I mainly wanted to try to make the huge “grande asiette” sleeves, I was thinking that it would be perfect on me with big breasts, that the lines going across my breast would be a easy way of fitting it well.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 1
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 2
So I did as I always do when the pattern is tricky to draft, I made a toille of my basic block that is already fitted to me and simply drew the lines where I wanted the seams to be. I do this a lot, It is a quick way of getting a rough pattern to work from.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 3
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 4
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 5
Then it is simply to cut the toille up following the lines that you have drawn. Here is where the real work starts.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 6
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 7
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 8
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 9
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 10
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 11
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 12
There is a lot of adjusting and cutting, taping together, drawing stuff again. Thinking on what happens if I take some away from this piece, should I add to this piece. I sometimes call this post apocalyps patternmaking. When you have it on a paper, it is all clean lines and you can use the eraser to remove things, this is more gritty and makeshift, you do what you have to do to make it work. You can be a bit violent and cut stuff of, pin new bits on like a Frankenstein monster.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 13
I had this pattern drawing of “how it should look” based on pattern drawings found over the internet, my goal was to make the pieces look kind of like this.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 14
After several hours this is what I ended up with, it looks kind of like the pattern…

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 15
Now it was time to sew it all together again, to see if it worked. And yes, with only minor tweaks this really could work.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 16
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 17
So it ended up as a dress, “the insane button dress”, due to the fact that I “needed” to make tiny buttons, a lot of tiny buttons. It is completely hand sewn with linen tread, seams felled with silk, buttonholes are also worked in silk. I like that is is a subtle mi parti and that is is gray and I love the tiny buttons, all 94 of them. And I should sew the last buttonholes and buttons, as it is “missing” seven buttons on each arm due to lack of time, but that is not noticeable.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 18
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 19
My gray Charles de Blois dress - 20
I have worn it ONCE. I do have some problems with it. I would like to have it more fitted in the front, It looks nice from the behind but from the front it looks kind loose around the bust and waist. It is also wrong in the fact that women did not wear this in the late 14th century. There are 15th century pictures of women with grande asiette cut on the back of the dress, but never in the front. So I have made a dress that I can not with confidence wear while re-enacting, that was kind of silly of me, especially doing 94 buttonholes on a dress I can not wear in really nice fabrics.

My gray Charles de Blois dress - 21
I do have a solution for my “problem”, I can wear it under another dress, a short sleeved or a sideless surcote that have a wider middle part. I can take the “bumpyness” of the buttons in the front that will be visible on the overdress, it would be silly to let the dress just hand in the closet.

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5 thoughts on “My gray Charles de Blois dress

  1. mercuriade: The pictures of the full length dress tuned out slightly to dark, it is more of the colour as the detail pictures, I am thinking of it as naturally black sheep perhaps, but you might be right about it being a bit to dark really.

  2. I think that this dress is beautiful! It would be a shame to hide it under another dress. I have seen a lot worse at events. I love all of those buttons. I would love to do something similar. Except for the fact that I really hate sewing on buttons & making button holes (either by hand or machine), LOL. I say wear it and love it! And as for the color, grey is totally period. Look at Pintress, you will find a lot of examples of period shades of grey & black. It is a classic. As for the cut I am leaning towards a later period, from what I can see from the photos, say early to mid 1500’s?.I love the cut of your sleeves! I intend to steal your pattern. It’s exactly what I have been mulling over for mths.,for my husbands new gambeson. It’s just been in the corner of my eye for mths. now but the idea just congeled in my mind when I saw what you had done. If your not totaly happy with how this dress came out I say don’t show it at an Arts & Science compitian. But please wear it! Just an idea, how about you sell your patterns?! I for one would love to get your patterns, and I know others would too. I know that making up a pattern is a lot of work but if you did only one or two a year it could be extra cash for you. And I have never known a student that couldn’t use more money. And you would only need to print the patterns up as you would get orders. As for the front fit have you tried to pull it in on the sides a little? I hope that you will wear it to events, I think that you will get lots of compliments!

  3. Mamma har en frontknäppt underklänning. För att slippa allt.för mycket bök när hon har en överklänning över så knäpper hon knapparna utifrån och in. Det blir slätare då tycker hon. :)

  4. This dress is really well done. As for the “grande assiette” sleeve pattern, The men’s pourpoint this was based on was done for the purpose of allowing the wearer complete 360 degree freedom of movement of the arms, it was a parade outfit for the wearer and shows no “armor” wear and tear, such that it isn’t even a difficult jump that a woman who needed to work above her head would have worn this style of sleeve. The woman’s “documented” IE pictorial and the Golden Gown versions we see with this style reaches to the back of the shoulder blades, and stays away from the sides of the breast. This is probably due to the smaller arms and the lack of a need to reach above one’s head as a medieval high born woman. I personally have worked up four different versions for my husband, and have learned many things about the practicality of the placed gores. Each gore allows movement in the direction of it’s “point”. As for the fit, open up the center of the under arm, and place a gore that you will tighten the “arm” around, thus giving you a shaping seam for the center front. The color is superb, there are many articles that talk about “black” being the utmost desired color of clothing, as it is the hardest to get from dye baths, especially in France at this time was tired of paying the exorbitant amounts to Italy for the vibrant dyed fabrics, (this is one of the many things that led to Burgundy’s rise to power in the 1450’s). There are several well written articles on the economics of medieval society on the colors and fabrics which focus on the end of the 1300’s in to the 1400’s. The “period”-ness of the dress, is not one I would fret about, it is based on a 1400’s extant piece of clothing. The material is spot on perfect, as well as the dye, and the style. This garment would be for a woman who needed freedom of her arms to work. Such that a weaver, a farmer, a laundress, or a cleaning maid servant would need this garments cut of arm. The black to gray wool would work as a faded deep version of an older garment given to a servant and reworked to fit.

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