The saddest part of sewing so many sets of garb in such a small time frame is that I have time to do very little research. I'm going off of what I know and learning new methodology and easier ways of contrunction. The gown I am working on now is for the flower girl. I have not had a chance before now to dabble in constructing children's garb and I have not previously found any good sources for period children's wear.....So I'm piecing bits of info together when constructing this gown. My main inspiration portrait is Venetian, a detail of Giovanni Antonio Fasolo's 1565, 'The Banquet'; the little girl in front with the purple dress. My construction methods are Florentine, the pattern for the bodice and the skirt based off of the pattern Janet Arnold gives in 'Patterns of Fashion' for Eleanora's burial dress.
However, I have the bodice open in the front instead of the side-backs, and it will lace shut like the traditional v-neck style. I've heard quite a bit about interlining bodices with wool felt, and since this is such a tiny dress, I splurged and purchased a yard of felt. The back, sides and straps are all a single layer of felt, but I stitched an additional piece of felt to the center fronts to give the opening more stability since this dress will not be boned. The shoulder straps are cut on the bias to insure a little more give and comfort, and so the straps hug the shoulders better. The bodice is then lined with muslin and there is purple cotton for the outer layer. The skirt is fairly narrow. There are two front sections, the back and two side gores, each lined with muslin. This is actually much narrower than Eleanora's skirt, but I had only a little over three yards of 45 wide fabric for the dress and having a train was more important to me than the extra width. On my flower girl though it should look fine, as she is really slender. After sewing all the sections of the skirt together I pleated them to a narrow wasit band and whipstitched it to the bottom inside edge of the bodice. The sleeves are fairly simple, bag lined and trimmed with lace at the cuff.
I scoured eBay for the perfect lace, and went back and forth between white or gold. I wanted gold as gold and purple are my wedding colors, but was unsure if that would become too flashy. In the end I ordered some very wide gold venice lace, not knowing HOW wide. It looks decent on the sleeves, but i'm still not sure if i like it around the opening of the bodice. It looks almost too much like a ruff.....we'll see once I get it on the flower girl and see if it needs altered or just completely taken off.
The only thing my flower girl really requested was that she didn't want a camicia......... i think we eventually agreed on a simple sleeveless tunic thing to go underneath, so that at least there will be some protection between her skin and the gown, and there will be 'camicia' peeking between the front lacing. However, I had to come up with something for the small puffs at the shoulders of the gown. I ended up sewing tubes out of muslin and sewing the ends together to make circular tubes. I made them to be a little bigger than the opening of the top of the sleeve and gathered/hand-basted one edge of the tube just inside the top of the sleeve and the other side just barely to the inside of the armscye. My plan is to then join the actual sleeve and the gown at intervals around the armscye (and bead those of course), and then puff the white of the tube up to make that cute tiny even row of white around the shoulders, as seen in the portrait.
I have heard of other costumers doing this before and I believe it possibly could be period. I never have before however, due to having huge camicia sleeves that need to go somewhere, and the gaps and slashes on sleeves just seems the most logical place for their appearance. However, I think that this method will work very well, and very neat, and there won't be near as much primping needed when putting on the gown.
I am almost finished with this gown; I need to finished sewing on the second sleeve, and do the beaded joins on both. I need to decide if i'm doing lacing rings or eyelets for the front closure and follow through with that. I need to find or make a cord to lace it. The under tunic thing needs to be finished up. And once all that is done I need to try it on my flower girl and pin the hem. I want to still add the rest of the wool felt in the hem somehow to make it stand out good. I'm unsure how I want to do that though becasue there is no exterior guard on the skirt, and so I have no where to insert/hid the wool unless I somehow sew it to the inside of the skirt.....still pondering on that.