Renaissance Costume

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! 

Calling all ladies of the Kingdom…..
It’s been a while since I had a sewing tutorial. You may recall that one of our family’s summer adventures was to attend the Renaissance Faire, and I whined about not having a costume to wear. No more! I am exited to work on this project, I have wanted to make a costume for the fair for years! 
This particular design is inspired by Simplicity Pattern 3809. I must tell you that the corset is the most difficult of the three pieces to make, the chemise (or blouse) and skirt are not complicated. But, since you may be a sewing novice, I have lots of tricks of the design trade to share with you! I will be making the entire outfit, so be sure and stop back for the rest of the tutorial!
You must understand, I use patterns a bit differently than most people. I think of the instructions as guidelines, not something that is written in stone. There are a few simple methods the apparel production industry uses to speed things up, I tend to take these short cuts and still have a great result, but if you are not comfortable with my methods, I would recommend sticking with the pattern directions and making a muslin garment first to be sure you understand how it all goes together. No need to waste expensive fabric and not have it turn out!
This costume design comes from the middle class collection of designs. During the Renaissance period there were different classes of folks, some wealthier, some poor. The design on the left is middle class because it is made of more expensive materials such as brocade, silk, taffeta or velvet. It also has decorative gold braid and ribbon trimmings. The design on the right is a peasant costume. It is a simpler design, made from cotton or linen, without any trims or embellishments. Don’t be thinking you have to make a fancy garment, I find that the simpler ones are usually the ones that stand out the most. Need inspiration or ideas? Check out my Pintrest Renaissance Inspiration Board.
There are also certain colors that are appropriate for each class. The list on the Bristol Renaissance Faire Website is a great resource for appropriate fabrics and colors.
The corset pattern is made of several small fitted pieces. It has a lining, an interlining and the brocade. I found my brocade in the costume department, but you can also find appropriate fabrics in the home decor department, although they will be a bit heavier.
2 yards 45″ brocade
2 yards 45″ muslin (for interlining)
2 yards dark colored, lightweight cotton 45″ (for lining)
6 3/4 yards of 1/2″ gold braid for trim
14 metal grommets
3 3/4 yards of 3/8″ ribbon for lacing
1 7/8 yards of featherweight boning, 3/8″ wide
matching cotton thread

I ordered all my notions online. It was much easier than spending hours searching for what I needed at the fabric store. I would highly recommend this method, it is far easier and it is delivered to your doorstep! No lines here!
Before you begin, make sure you wash and dry your fabrics before cutting them. The brocade and trims may be dry clean only items, so it’s okay not to wash that one, but definitely do the other fabrics.
Next, check your measurements against those on the back of the pattern. Center back length, bust and waist will be the most critical for this corset design. Alter your pattern if needed, here are some tips:
Altering Center back length: Add or subtract paper from the marked waistline on the front, sides and back pieces. I am long waisted, so I find I always have to add a couple of extra inches here. You can use brown paper bags, computer paper, or extra tissue paper to fill in the gaps on each piece for consistency. After altering, walk the pattern edges together with the point of a pencil to be certain you have added the amounts consistently on all pieces. 
Altering Bust: If you are adding or subtracting a small amount, say an inch or less, alter the pattern at the underarm seam only. If you are adding or subtracting more than an inch, split the amount up and add a little bit to each bodice piece. Blend the extended or decreased seam into the pattern ending at the waistline.
Altering Waistline: It’s easy to add or subtract fullness here, but as with the bust alteration, if you need to increase, or decrease your pattern by less than an inch, do so at the side seam only. Additional alterations can be split up between the bodice pieces and blended into the bust-line.
I recommend cutting the pieces out of muslin or scrap fabric and baste them together to be certain you have the correct fit before continuing!
Layout and cut your fabric, we start sewing tomorrow! 
This is the first in a 4 part series, be sure and stop back for the additional posts!

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