A Diary of a Dress Inspired by a Portrait of Laudomia de' Medici


October 1, 2002

Margo told me that back length for the corset pattern is 15 3/4 inches. My back length is 15 inches, so the first thing to do is to shorten the pattern pieces to my length. On regular patterns, I have to remove 1 inch so this alteration was expected.

My bf's parents are going to Italy and I gave them a printed copy of Laudomia. I don't expect them to be lucky, but I might be surprised.

October 11, 2002

I cut the corset in cheap fabric yesterday. It's too small! The "squish factor" might have been overestimated, because a small person is not very squishable. I have more than a 2 inch gap in the back and that's not even accounting for seam allowances! I'll have to use sizes 4 or 6 instead of a size 2, I think.

November 1, 2002

In the last few days, I decided to customize my corset pattern, using size 2 for the upper part and size 4 for the lower part, since I'm much larger in the hips than in the shoulders. Everything went together very well and I made lacing strips.

Disaster! It's so big in the upper back that the edges are touching, and it's not even tight!

I've had to take in the side seams until the side piece all but disappeared. Then, I've had to take a tuck in the upper back just outside of the last boning channel. Because of the disappearance of the side piece, I've had to recut the armhole.

January 2, 2003

I've removed the shoulder strap attachment point in the front. Then, I've had to cut a longer shoulder strap so it would be long enough to reach the front of the corset. I've removed the boning and finished the raw edges on the inside of the corset.

January 3, 2003

Bias binding was made, boning was put back in and bias was sewn to the outside of the corset. I've started fixing the bias binding to finish the raw edges. It's taking forever...

March 9, 2003

After looking at the unfinished bias for weeks, I finally had the courage to finish it.

I dabbed the few places where some raw edges remained with fray check, but it wasn't really necessary, since even if it had frayed slightly nothing would have come undone anyway. I made the eyelets by hand and fixed the shoulder straps where they belong.

It's finished! Hurray! I'm wearing it over a regular shirt in the pictures because my smock isn't made yet.

April 6, 2003

I've started cutting a low necked smock in my 3.5 oz white linen. I'll cut the opening smaller so I can adjust the neckline with the corset.

April 15, 2003

I've finished the smock yesterday night. I had some trouble with pieces not lining up when I sewed them, so I pushed the unevenness to the hem and evened it out. I made my seam for the neck opening on the cutting line (I had marked it and it was not cut yet), and I think it's just the right size. All raw edges were done by hand in false French seams, meaning that I did the seams normally but then folded the seam allowances on the inside and tacked them down. That's a very long process but I think the result is worth it. Then I had to finish the hem and sleeves, and tack down the neck facing.

I'm fairly happy with the result, but if I make another one I'll be making my own design. I've made enough T-tunics to be able to design my own chemise. It will fit better. I did want to try making one with the pattern.

Here are photos, with and without the corset.

April 24, 2003

I've finished the farthingale! It took me three days. I had no problem at all with the pattern. I made my own bias. I made the whole farthingale in 7.1 oz linen. I used buckram covered hoop wire I got at Grannd Garb.

My problem is that it's too long. The lower hoop rests on the floor. I think the problem is that my fabric stretches too much. I've hung it up to let it stretch, and I'm going to have to shorten it.

April 28, 2003

I spent at least one full day rolling the tiny, tiny hem of the neck ruffle of the partlet, and at least one full day marking, gathering, pinning and basting the ruffle. But the partlet now looks finished. It's not a standard Margo's pattern, I had to modify it to continue the ruffle on either side of the front opening, and to make it more in a S shape, like a ruff. Now I'm really eager to see it under a gown, because alone it looks a little weird :-)

April 30, 2003

I shortened the farthingale by 2 inches. Right now it's hand basted, and I'm not sure it'll be short enough, but I can't work on it anyway because of final exams.

May 3, 2003

I finished sewing the farthingale. It's definitely a little too long. I'll need to remove another inch I think, unless I decide to wear shoes with a thick sole. Right now they're most likely to be slipper-type shoes.

I also made the bum roll. It looks weird like this, but I'm not worried, it should be fine once there is a skirt over it.

I still need to make wrist ruffles. I don't know if I'll make them like a ruff or if I'll make sleeves to go over the smock sleeves. I think it would be possible to make sleeves that would attach to the partlet and go over the smock sleeves. I'll have to be careful with length though, since I have long arms.

May 23, 2003

I hadn't realized just how long it's been since I worked on the dress. Don't worry, it's still in progress. The sleeves are almost finished. It's been going slow because putting on the wrist ruffle is long and boring work.

January 9, 2004

Finally, I finished putting the ruffle on the sleeves, after putting it off for almost a year. I was about to fix my farthingale but I really have to go to bed. I hope it won't be another year before I feel like working on it again!

January 11, 2004

The sleeves are finished (missing buttons and ties). The farthingale has been shortened. I think the undergarments are finished!

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