Julie's Venetian Courtesan

Who doesn't want to be a Dangerous Beauty?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Orange Courtesan. A Recap.

As this project comes to a close, I figured I should just sum up my experiences/techniques/etc before I move on to my next endeavor.

Ah, so, the orange dress. Wow, what an experience. I am quite thrilled with how it came out, honestly. There are, as always, some things that could've been better and things I'd like to add/improve someday, but I also am fairly happy with it as is. Sewing this wasn't bad at all, since I'd already finished the green as practice, and thus had the patterns all in hand (and had a looming deadline). So really, this went pretty quickly.

From the bottom up:

1) The camica was the same one as I made for the green dress. Its cotton decorator's gauze (I wanted something even MORE see-through than my hanky weight linen. Yes, I'm a courtesan huzzy). I made it using the pattern from the Realm of Venus. I finished it with hand-done redwork in rust embroidery floss, and an edging stitch in gold thread on my sewing machine. My inspiration was the ruffly bit on the top of the camica seen below.

2) The roped petticoat was mostly for my sanity. Yes, it does hold the skirts out a bit. But only a bit, as my dress fabric is intensely heavy upholstery velvet. Mostly it keeps my overdress's skirts from wrapping round my legs in hot weather, which keeps me happy and sane. The gored pink (ick) petticoat was made with pink cotton shirting. A spiraling ribbon channel was sewn up the body of the skirt. The channel is dark pink grossgrain ribbon filled with two strands of cotton clothesline from Walmart. Someday I'll make a new one of these, as I hate this one--my original plan was to have a red dress with pink bits underneath. But the pink and orange just doesn't do it for me.

3) The corset from my green dress turned out to be unnecesary for my orange dress. Its quite heavily boned on its own, and I don't need the extra heat, quite honestly. There are still questions as to whether the venetians always wore corsets. This way I have one dress that answers yes, and one that answers no. ;-)

4) The dress itself is in an orange cut velvet I found at a locally owned fabric store.

The bodice is side back lacing. I wish I'd been able to angle the lacings a bit more--right now the back panel is almost rectangular. I found this to be the best way to avoid butt puckering from the venetian backpoint, so I'd much rather have rectangular than buttpucker. The bodice is interlined with two layers of white denim which holds the boning (and provides a lot of support itself) and the innermost lining is a burgundy synthetic silky fabric. I also wish I'd made the shape fo the bodice a bit more conical. Somehow in my translation from green dress pattern to orange dress pattern, it managed to both grow larger and get less conical. But not so much as to make me rework it.

The skirts of the over dress are three panels of 56"wide fabric, pattern=matched along the selvages as well as I could humanly manage. There is a seam straight down the center front of the skirt, an idea i stole from Beth, and one that worked well for me so that I could have exactly one whole panel on the centerback part of the bodice, and 2 full panels gathered into the front/side part of the bodice. This means the natural seams fall right under my sideback lacings, which makes for a less grotesque gap there (a lesson learned from the green dress).

The skirt is cartridge pleated onto the bodice. The cartridge pleats are padded out with 2 layers of hideous yellow felted wool (an idea from Semptress), which gives them a nice full look, and also makes the skirt poof at the waist--more subtle than a bumroll, and better than just hanging flat. The skirt is unlined, cuz I was already warm enough, thank you. And the underside of the fabric is pretty. All the guards on the dress are strips of burgundy wool that I found a remnant of.

5) The sleeves decorated with a helical wool guard on dress fabric, inspired by several vecellio woodcuts.

vecellio Posted by Hello

6) Accessories:

I beaded a girdle onto copper wire using brass metal ouches from ebay that I "antiqued" with black acrylic paint, glass pinkish pearls, black plastic beads, white plastic pearls, red czech glass beads, and little gold plastic sead beads.

My necklace is alternating pinkish glass pearls with smaller white plastic pearls, with two silver glass pearls and a huge plastic teardrop pearl as the charm (a former earring from goodwill). I also have a "gold" and "pearl" brooch (also a former earring), and a large string of plastic big and small pearls to drape around my neck and over the "brooch".

The flag fan is a sample swatch of home decorator's fabric that I embroidered in gold. It is stiffened with Timtex interfacing and cardboard, trimmed with lace and velvet ribbon, and attached to an antique gold painted dowel rod.

My purse is "whimsical". Which basically means I have not a smidge of research on venetians having purses. But I can only tuck so much in my bosoms, so purse it is. Its made with burgundy wool and strips of fabric swatches I had cuz I coveted them but couldn't afford them.

Lastly, I found a pair of pretty silver goblets at goodwill, and I think that completes my accesorizing.

Notes for Additions and Future Reference.
1) Adding an inch guard at the bottom wouldn't hurt, since i hemmed it a bit on the short side. This is especially true if i ever wanna wear shoes with a bit more sole or heel than my china flats.
2) Getting a partlet together would really make it more authentic. I'm not sure what style or when, though, so this is a big hazy in the future thing.
3) Learning a venetian hairdo would be nice.
4) Next time, work on getting the side back lacing more in the eleanora di toledo angles. And the bodice more conical.
5) I've got enough fabric left over for the eleanora di toledo strip sleeves, and the buttons for the pinch points. I will definitely make these some day, but for now, I am thrilled with my "candy stripe" sleeves.


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