In which I take Jean Hunnisett’s name in vain…

Stick a fork in me, I am DONE.

I am now in the final days before this costume needs to be done, and so I have a schedule that needs to be followed.  And Jean Hunnisett did me wrong.

I went to make her French/wheel/drum (I have looked all over and people use those words interchangeably and some claim they mean different things, and I am just going with “drum” to make my life easier) farthingale from her Period Costume for Stage and Screen book, and it was a NIGHTMARE.

I have made things from her books before with excellent results.  I expected the same in this situation.  What I wound up with looked a bit like a blue taffeta mini-skirt with plastic tubing in it.  Nicki Minaj would LOVE my Jean Hunnisett drum farthingale.  So would Judy Jetson.

I was starting to get a bit antsy since it was late at night and I had been working on it for hours and I was going to be behind schedule if I didn’t get this done, so I threw myself on the mercy of my husband’s D&D group, aka Engineers Who Hang At My House.  They discussed the different variables and told me that the pattern sucked and how I could fix it.  At that point I was ready to burn it, so my husband talked me down from the ledge and using some of that flexible tubing we recreated the pattern from the Tudor Tailor book for their drum farthingale.  I now love Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies and anyone ever involved with the making of that book.  And I love my husband, for being patient enough to help me draft this when I no longer had the will to measure anything EVER AGAIN.

Behold the paper pattern used to create the new farthingale, conveniently done using the backside of Christmas paper, which comes with a grid on it:

Christmas paper and Sharpie.  That is how we do it around here, people.

Christmas paper and Sharpie. That is how we do it around here, people.

I drew in all the lines, decided to only go with 2 hoops and then stitched everything right onto the paper.  Then I cut the center hole out and the back seam, ripped the paper off, and bound the waistband, the exterior rim, and sewed on ribbons at the joins.  I put the plastic tubing in and sewed it shut and this is what I got:

Kind of butt-shaped.

Kind of butt-shaped.

The rest of it looked lovely, so I wasn’t ready to burn anything  just yet.

Behold the pretty.

Behold the pretty.

So I checked with the Hive Mind at Elizabethan Costume on FB and they (led by Kim) told me that I needed to attach the tubing together and stick a bum roll under there.  Luckily the leftover copper tubing is the perfect width for holding the tubing together, so I attached both ends of the tubing and everything looked MUCH better.

I then made a bum roll using the circus fabric I have had sitting around.  I made it free form, using my own waist measurement for the inside:

A little blurry, but it has all the different people who work at a circus listed on it.

A little blurry, but it has all the different people who work at a circus listed on it.

Even though I put what seemed like an entire pillow’s worth of stuffing in it, it wasn’t as big as I had hoped.  It still worked for the moment, and that was all I needed at the time.  I will likely need to add some side pillows to help hold things in place for under the skirt when all is said and done.

I see London, I see France, I see Laura's.... bum roll.

I see London, I see France, I see Laura’s…. bum roll.

I also came to the sad realization that I am not Matilda the dress form’s size (HAH!) and that I really needed to pad her out to make things fit.  So several pillowcases, bath mats, and a pillow later, and she was roughly my size.

Playing the part of my thighs today are bath mats.

Playing the part of my thighs today are bath mats.

Then I went to town in making the skirt.  I sewed trim onto other trim.  I sewed the embroidered carousel animals (that I had added beading and copper reins to) to other fabric.  I added tassel fringe.  I added pink and white checked taffeta lining.  I lost 5 lbs. carting the 20 lbs. of fabric back and forth to the ironing board to the sewing machine to the cutting table….

Then I got all the underwear on (minus the corset) and hemmed it by pulling the fabric through the waist of an elastic belt.  I pinned the fabric to the belt once the hem was even and then marked it with a red pen.

Like Trogdor the Burninator, I have big beefy arms.

Like Trogdor the Burninator, I have big beefy arms.

I serged just above the red marks and then reverse pleated the entire thing onto some more of the black and white velvet and gold lame checkered ribbon as a waistband.  I made it so the front was flat and the back was flat and the skirt was full over the hips.

Then I took 3 lengths of 60 inch wide fabric (the skirt fabric is actually blue, but it looks odd in these photos), ruffled them with my ruffler, sewed on some more tasseled trim, and attached it to the waistband.  I think the end result is kind of cute.

Front view with sleeves in place!

Front view with sleeves in place!

Sassy 3/4 pose.

Sassy 3/4 pose.

Back view.

Back view.

Deatil shot of the hem.

Detail shot of the hem.  Also better view of the color of the fabric.

I SWEAR that hem is even, but the hoops move differently on me than they do on Matilda.

Things to do still:   ribbons on the front to tie it shut (or maybe snaps), gold beading on hem, some minor hand-stitching at the waistline.

I sewed velcro and black elastic to a hunting/commando harness and fitted the mechanicals in place.

Front view - look at my tiny waist!

Front view – look at my tiny waist!

Back view!

Back view!

Side view!  I have a bunch of D cell batteries in my pockets.

Side view! I have a bunch of D cell batteries in my pockets.

And apparently I forgot to post a photo of my very rough star additions to the supportasse:

Better than a 5th Grader!

Better than a 5th Grader!

I have a few things left to make by the end of the week… cough, cough…. a bodice, bloomers, and to finish my spats.  I also have accessories that could be done as well if I have time.

For now, I am just going to nap.  Holy crap that fabric is heavy.

One thought on “In which I take Jean Hunnisett’s name in vain…

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