Silk sideless surcoat

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Being a trial member of the 14th century re-enactment group Fraternis Militia Carnis I was invited to the carnival at the annular meeting. I decided to dress up as a popular medieval saint, Catherine of Alexandria. For this I needed some “fancy clothing”. So I decided to make a yellow silk sidless surcoat, something that also have a home in my “normal medieval wardrobe”.

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It is made in silk tafetta and is flat lined with a thin wool fabric to give the right drape of the fabric. I choose to machine wash the silk and wool before sewing, that was a good thing as I was spilled on after 30 minutes, meat on silk dress leaves a stain, but most came of after a go in the machine.

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I also made a front and back gusset even if all extant sidless surcoats are with only side gussets. But based on manuscripts the fullness seems sometime to also be in front of the sidless surcoat. But if you wish to make it without I would advice you to make the side gussets a bit wider in the hem.

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The whole dress is sewn by hand with running stitches with silk thread, back stitches are kind of unnecessary as there is no strain what so ever on the seams in this kind of dress. The seams are then sewn to the wool lining with not to big stitches.

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I finished the neckline with stab stitches and will probably do the armholes as well. I hemmed the neckline with a single fold, but the armholes with a small double folded hem, as you can see it when it is worn. The bottom hem is a wider single folded hem.

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This dress was made for me who is 176cm long, bust measurement 120cm, hip measurement 130cm.
The pattern is made in cm, click it to see a larger version.

sideless surcoat - pattern

the bone dress, or the Mucha/Gaudi dress

In school we had a project where we should find an architect/building to take our inspiration from. I have had a picture of Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí in my inspiration folder for ages so I choose to go with Gaudí as my inspiration. And then down the road in the research process I found Mucha, how could I have missed Alphonse Mucha for all these years.

I wanted to use the bone like pillars that hold up Gaudís buildings and the draped fabric and flowing hair of Mucha to make a dress.

bone dress - draping
bone dress - paperbones
paper bones to play around with the bone design.

bone dress - toille
several toilles was made to make sure that it fitted my friend Isabell that had promised me to model it for me. It is interesting that a small bust is in need of so much work with the toille, and that that work is in such a different way from a large bust which is what I normally work with.

bone dress - drying
The bones that I used is chicken bones that is leftovers from a bunch of nice meals. They have been cooked and cleaned and here they are drying, later I painted them and lacquered them. I could have bleached them as you normally do, but chicken bones are so brittle so I did not want them to be more fragile then what they already was.

bone dress - detail
bone dress - deail back
To be able to sew them onto the dress they have been filed down to be flat on the backs and thinner and the small holes was drilled to enable the sewing.

The top of the dress is made out of white leather that is prepared with a new kind of tanning process called “wet white”. It is a organic tanning process which is much better for the environment than ordinary chrome tanning. Where chromed tanned leather can make it’s wearer allergic and is highly environment damaging, wet white leather can be recycled and it can also used as fertiliser if prepared right. Another plus is that it comes in white naturally, chrome tanned leathers are grey, vegetable tanned leathers are a really light brown at best. To achieve white the leather these must be finished heavily which makes it loose a lot of leather character and almost always turns out looking like plastic.
Another plus is that it is not as sensitive as vegetable tanned leather, I was able to press the seams with with a hot iron, something that a vegetable tanned leather really do not appreciate.

The leather is amazingly soft and drapes just like fabric, it is truly amazing. One downside is that people do not think it is leather at all due to it looking so soft and white without a coating.
I have lined the top part of the dress with cotton coutil, to make sure that it holds the breast in place and do not stretch the leather and making it to big.

The bottom part is a really light and see-through silk fabric and the skirt has about 8 meters of fabric in it, I wanted it to be light and flowing.

All the pictures are taken by me in an abandoned house that is just around the corner from where I live, click them so see them in a larger format.
Model: Isabell
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