Workshop Lessons

There’s always something new to learn, even when you’ve been sewing for a while. This past weekend, I took the Comfortable Kirtle workshop at Burnley & Trowbridge with Samantha Bullatt. I already had a kirtle that I’d made and fitted myself using The Tudor Tailor, but I was unhappy with the fit and silhouette. By the time the workshop was over, I understand more about the error(s) I made.

For one thing, the bodice is too long. The side seam is too far back. It is too large in the bust and waist. It laces crosswise instead of spirally. 

I was skeptical about the efficacy of mere buckram in containing and supporting me, but I was proven wrong by Samantha’s fitting. Now that I can compare the two, the new kirtle reminds me of a yoga top or sports bra. Somehow, the smaller higher waist works to support the breasts, and a tight fit helps compress them. I think that gravity worked against me in the larger kirtle: the flesh had room to move. 

In any case, I completed the bodice to the point of eyelets, which is pretty good for me. Eyelets are fun (to me) so as long as I can find the time, finishing the kirtle should not be an impossible task. Once I got home, cut the bodice from the skirt of the original kirtle and recut the bodice to match the size and construction of the new one. Again, it’s simple enough once I find the time to chip away at the construction step by step, one side at a time. 

When will I wear it? I thought I’d wear this to the Fort Dobbs Timeline in November, but now I may have other plans that weekend. There is an event I’m planning to attend in Richmond in November, and while this isn’t quite up to that level of festive, it is an excellent base layer for what that outing calls for.

In other regards, what did I learn? More about fitting, costume history, how quickly I can work, and how to organize a mobile workspace. My partner kept remarking on how neat I was. Without order, I’m overwhelmed. It also saves a lot of time to put tools and materials back in the same place every time.