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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Garb Making - 16th C Bloomers (aka underwear, pantaloons, braes)

In my ongoing quest to make one late period outfit I decided a pair of underwear/ braes was the first order of business. I looked around the Internet and found a pair of 16th C undergarments that suited my needs as an example to work from. This image was taken from Met Museum item #83869

I chose to use a very lightweight, almost gauzy, linen so that I can wear these under a dress without getting terribly overheated. I am also hoping the fabric is strong enough to withstand moving, sitting, and squatting.

When I measured myself for these I incorrectly measured my rise, the amount of space your bum takes up in your pants when you sit or squat. This resulted in the addition of a very wide waistband. Since I was using the above image as inspiration rather than making a replica this did not bother me to much.

I flat felled the seams to give them added strength. Unfortunately, I didn't pay close enough attention to the direction I folded them in until it was to late. At the crotch, second image in the set, you can see where I went left on one side and right on the other.

Rather than do a button closure on my underpants I chose to use a drawstring. My drawstring is a braid of silk/ bamboo blend yarn.

Originally, when I looked at the extant example I thought the coloured cord near the waist was a straw string. Now, after looking at the image several times, I believe it is a cord that has been added to embellish the opening at the front of the pants.

I could find no detail photos of the lace on the bottom of the legs so I decided to try to create the overall look of individual peaks and loops with needle lace.

Needle lace is not something I have learned before so my first effort was messy to say the least. I first made single thread loops on the hem of the legs, then used a buttonhole stitch to create each peak working back and forth. First one row, then the second, and finally the third. Only after I completed all the peaks on each leg did I then go back to create the single thread loops, which I now know are called picots, all the way around.

The top image below is the first leg. The second is the other leg. I can definitely see an improvement from one leg to the next. The first leg the various loops are different sizes, and unevenly space. I also know tension, pulling my buttonhole stitches to tight, was also a problem. This caused my peaks to twist and fold over rather than  stand up.

The second leg the picots and base loops are more even. The picots themselves are more evenly spaced along the outside edge. The peaks stand up and create the look that I was going for.

The original lace was made with metallic thread but I chose to go with rayon as a substitute for silk. I was recently told that needle lace was more often made with linen thread instead of silk but if I had known this ahead of time it would not have changed the thread I used for the lace. I chose it as much for the colour as for the materials.

Now that I have completed a pair of underwear inspired by a 16th C pair I find myself contemplating making a replica pair. That would include the gold embroidery, the metallic lace, and the button-up waist band.


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