I started on a new Elizabethan ladies’ doublet the other night, and to make a long story short, it didn’t fit. I thought I had traced the pattern – Margo Anderson – out correctly, but when I put the thing together, all confidence and glee, it was clear there was no way in a million years that thing would fit me. No. Way.
|Franken-Doublet looks like it should in the front. This is after achieving the basic fit. Those front edges weren’t even close to meeting at first…
What to do? Slice and Dice. I hadn’t sewn the side back seams, so I added a panel on each side, and when it *still* didn’t fit, because clearly I can’t do simple math, I added, erm, another panel to the sides. Additional, well, additions to the shoulders have finally got Franken-Doublet fitting, but I have new problems to solve with the neckline and collar, as well as some nip n’ tuck to do on the seams around the armscyes, which are now considerably larger than before. Good thing it’s not meant to have set-in sleeves.
|Here you can see all the piecing. The original had one back piece, no center seam, and one side back piece. Not now! I really like the way this all looks, although it will hardly be noticeable by the time all the trim is on there.
Despite all the addings-on being somewhat frustrating, this *is* a very period method of doing things. Scraps of fabric were never thrown out, after cutting the pattern, but instead were kept for future piecing, the art of splicing bits of fabric to “fill in the gaps,” if you will. Elizabethan tailors were very economical with their cutting, and when working with far narrower widths of fabric than we have today, splicing bits together was a necessary task. These “bits” were called “cabbage,” and I like to think, completely un-related to history in any way, that the bin they kept them in was perhaps called “the cabbage patch.” Lol, at least that’s what I call the box I keep my cabbage in.
Good thing for cabbage, I was able to eek out just enough extra to add the panels on Franken-Doublet, although it seems kindof silly since I just went and bought more yardage today … ah, modern world <3
If you’d like to read more about cabbage and Elizabethan seamstering, I highly recommend The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Dress