We did Ymir last weekend - very fun, very happy day, lots of love and good things. Bob and I wore black and red, entirely by coincidence, since we didn't plan to match. I of course, then ruined the whole effect by putting on my green gown (pics from 2005 and 2003, respectively):
It got cold in the afternoon - what can I say?
I was surprised by the number of compliments and comments I got on the gown - it's been a while since I wore it, and it was originally started in 1998. I finally got the sleeves on it in 2003, but I wore it for a while without the sleeves before then. It's actually so old, I don't think of it as anything special any more - which I realize is a bit silly, but it was the first really involved large garment I made that I still love and wear, and is still reasonably period (if you don't look at the lining, which is cheap, and needs to be covered with a silk lining... still). It honestly wasn't that complicated - it's ribbon sewn on, then cord couched over the ribbon. The hardest part was making sure I made the couching stitches small enough to hold the design, but not so small I completely distorted and lost the look of the cord.
The cord is DMC Perle cotton, if you're curious. I'd never use it now - I'd braid my own cord - but back then, it was what I could afford. The ribbon was your standard 2" satin ribbon from the fabric store, and the buttons (which were the longest part of construction) are wooden beads covered with more cotton, wound around the outside in a ribbed pattern. I think I was the first person in Atlantia to use that button pattern, but don't hold me to that; I'm not omniscient. I know I saw them on other people after I made the gown, but not before, and I got the pattern from a book of old button stitching techniques. Mind you, anyone else could have read the book and come to the same conclusions I did.
Like I said, it just wasn't that complicated. I had a leg up, since my friend Eleanor Hamilton had drafted up the Janet Arnold gown pattern and I used her pattern, rather than draft my own from the same source (remember when that was the only real source of historical information we had? Those were so not the good old days). I changed the sleeve tabs and drafted the hanging sleeves from another gown in the Patterns of Fashion book, because I liked the look of the long hanging sleeves better than the short ones, drew out all the lines for applying the ribbon in chalk pencil (the kind people use for drawing on grey paper - I get them at the art store, because they take a point better than tailor's chalk), and then, once the ribbon was applied (by hand, natch), drew out where the cord was to go. Then I made a million and a half (126) buttons for almost 6 months. I need to take them all off and re-do a bunch of them, since the gown got cider spilled on it sometime in 2005 or so, and I didn't realize I hadn't gotten it all off; the white buttons turned brown from the sugar in the cider. Also, I was new to the whole hand-made buttons thing, and didn't sew shanks on the buttons; they're applied and tied on directly, so it's a little too easy to rip them off by accident (believe me, they get caught on everything if I'm not careful).
Other than that and re-doing the lining, though, I'm still really pleased with it as a garment. It's warm, comfortable, and it never goes out of style. :) That is the real advantage to making historical clothing; it doesn't matter if it takes several years to make, it's not going out of fashion. Since I'm already over two years into my jacket, this is a good thing to remember.
Speaking of the current jacket, I finally picked it up again (I was making stuff for the Gardiner's shop for three months or so over the winter), and I've finished the gilt silk twist on sleeve piece #3, and I'm about a third of the way through the GST on sleeve piece #4. After that, it's on to the two back pieces (I pattern it with a center back seam so the back gusset is easier to fit), then the two front pieces, which are the largest. I'm averaging about 95 hours per sleeve piece, and the back pieces are about the same size, with the front pieces being about double that size, so I'm looking at about 420 more hours of GST work, with the remaining sleeve piece.
Then, the gold. I'm already excited.