Author Archives: mdb

My red velveteen gown can be rescued

Never, ever, make tough choices under pressure. And especially not when your self esteem is low. It’s too easy to transfer that into your work and when you are dealing with cutting materials it can leave you in a worse position.

But I think I can do what I need with what I have and even retain era appropriate piecing. Not my preferred era appropriate piecing but still, provable.

It’s not that “piecing is period” (although it is) but the manuals are very clear about how to piece, and you can work out why when you have the text and fabric widths to go by.

When it comes to the most precious fabrics you get more piecing, which is frustrating for a modern aesthetic, but was just how it was for a tailor who was allowed to keep scraps (and cloth of gold could be melted down) but was constrained by mercantile practices and sumptuary laws.

My skirt back panel needs a wedge shaped piece at the side. I can either cut that with a horizontal cut through it, or I can cut it off the grain.

Excuse my really rough editing here, I plan on making a nice version of this whole process for my own book.

I’ve used dark pink to show the piecings for the side piece for the front skirt, and blue for the back skirt. Piece “c” overlaps piece “b” and there are rules about what is prioritised and here it’s piece “c” because it only overlaps at the hem of piece “b” which can be easily hidden.

So that’s an example of cutting pieces horizontally. We tend to think of Vasquina as under garments but this is velvet, and so meant to be seen front and back.

By the 1600s there are more books full of more garments and this layout from Burguen overlaps even bigger pieces but doesn’t show how to cut them, they were cut as needed from what little is left over.

The Northern European books have fewer examples of frocks but in both the Enns and Swabian books the upper puffs of sleeves are cut off the grain. These match the sleeves of the 1578 loose gown in Patterns of Fashion though the grain is indicated as true.

The same gown even has a huge notch in the back, and a girls loose gown even has a join across the front and back a little below the armscye.

Most of the really intense piecing is in cloaks, this one from the Swabian book I suspect was covered in trim like many of the examples in art and as extant garments. I think the piecings wind up only on the right back.

I’ve chosen to ignore recycled garments, though I’m essentially doing exactly that…. Okay. I’m going to imagine I’m a tailor charged with updating a frock for a new style- which is absolutely what I am doing. While my inspiration frocks were later I made a slightly earlier style.

My velveteen is so dense that I should be able to get away with a different direction, and my sleeves are going to hide a lot of the side anyway.


So what I really need to do now is remove the fused fabric on the back of the liste and bortgin as far too rigid. It’ll be a bit of time with the iron and careful peeling back as I go, so a bit of pinning.

I may need to use my studio table for this. It’s a nice day so it’ll get a nice bit of airing too.

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Reality of chronic pain and fatigue

I have 3 monthly blood tests and last week my blood tests all came back bad. Oh no, the stuff I’m personally in control of is actually making me smile. Hello yes, I’ll take nicely shaped red blood cells holding tightly to haem as a very very very VERY good thing. I couldn’t work our why I’m still so exhausted though until I saw my CRP had leapt to 9 along with a leap in white blood cells. So that’s an infection.

Problem is?

I develop walking pneumonia so often that I can’t tell when it happens.

And it’s happened a number of times.

The same is true for new pain.

And I have to accept that actually, we’re not on top of my pain.

My RA didn’t protect me from Fibro, and neither have protected me from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

RA is “known” to not affect the spine- usually blood markers and expression of erosion differentiates between RA and AS.


It doesn’t protect me from other forms of erosion.

And I have a little compression in my lower spine.

Right where I experience pain that doesn’t fit my RA or fibro experience.

It has left me in tears, and I didn’t realise I have held back on saying my pain interferes for most of every day.

It’s extremely hard to bring up pain you think is unrelated because it’s such a short precious time you get with your team that you don’t want to waste their time. We *know* how hard our teams work not just for us but all patients.

Crying from pain is not that common for me considering, but my back pain got me there. It feels like my vertebra have been filed sharp and so those edges are pressing into surrounding tissue.

So I have to summon the courage.

It’s scary.

It really is.

But the extreme numbness in my entire legs I get from the same part of my spine means I really have to ask for help.

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I realised my little hook into drafting patterns is really has even more applications to really get into understanding the manuals- including the written only sections. But my book was already heading that way because of how I drew the patterns. It’s always the same though. I take a break and focus on something else and then *poof* epiphany!

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