Commercially Alternative: January 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Renaissance Festival Costume: The Skirt

A few years ago, when I first learned how to sew, I decided to make a renaissance costume. I used Butterick 6196. The pattern seemed easy enough and the front picture looked super cute. I followed the instructions to a T. I used cotton broadcloth for the skirt quilting cotton for the bodice and cotton batiste for the chemise. This was before I really knew about fitting patterns and I used whatever size was close enough. For example, I used a used my bust size for the bodice pattern even though my waist is much smaller and I'm a C cup. The result… was so disappointing. The skirt was not full at all and so light and see through. When I walked, every breeze would catch it and it would tangle every which way about my legs. The bodice was far too short and the waist was far too large. It was lumpy and soggy looking with no support at all. And it was such a pain to make too! I used this outfit for two years, but the whole time I was planning and learning for my next attempt.

How I hate that bodice... >_>

This year, I finally put all my research into action. The first garment I made was a skirt. I thought this would be a simple way to get back into sewing. I wanted something with a lot of fullness, not a lot of bulk at the waist, and more forgiving for weight fluctuations than a waistband and zipper. This lead me to the idea of a circle skirt. However, most fabrics sold in stores are not wide enough for an ankle length circle skirt. Many google searches later, I found the website for Country Garden Dancers. My understanding is that they go around Renaissance Faires and perform dances. The greatest part was they have a whole page discussing appropriate faire wear. They suggest fabrics, colors, required outfit elements, and a pattern for a gored circle skirt. Just what I wanted!

I drafted the pattern following their instructions. Instead of a waistband, I used double fold wide bias tape to create an elastic casing. (I'm really not in it for historical accuracy XD) I also used their suggested fabric of a Linen/Rayon blend called Linen Look. The skirt took almost an entire 5 yards of 54" wide fabric! Which, thankfully, I got on sale for 60% off. I only had a small pile of scraps left. The result was a very full and very HEAVY skirt. I honestly didn't expect it to be so heavy! The elastic is no match for this skirt and it falls down within seconds. Therefore, I added a drawstring to keep it in place. The skirt drapes really well and the linen in much more appropriate for the period. I hope it breathes well as my Ren Faire is typically quite warm.

My only complaints are how heavy it is and I wish I had made it a smidge shorter to just above my ankle. I feel it's a little on the long side for dusty Faire roads.

The bodice is coming along and should be finished next week or the week after. What do you all think? Do any of you go to local Renaissance Festivals? Do you dress up?