Goddess of Fate costume making process
As I was both the designer and maker for this project, I was able to leave some specific decisions to later in the design process, giving me more time to experiment with options. The primary challenge with this design was the threads / strings in the skirt, specifically what to make them out of. My original idea had been to use varying colours, textures and thicknesses of yarns, but the issue arose in testing that they would constantly tangle up and become a knotted mess - far from the flowing lines in my design. I tested ribbons, different types of threads and cords before landing on using strips of bias cut fabric. They tangled the least out of every material I tried and the ability to cut them at varying widths meant I could create some of the variety I had wanted, while also keeping each individual thread wide enough that they would read from a distance. I also decided to use natural fabrics for the corset and base skirt, and I ended up dying everything myself. The corset fabric because I simply couldn't find the fabric I wanted in the exact shade of grey I was after and the skirt because I decided I wanted to ombré from the same grey as the corset to a darker shade. The strings ended up being dyed in batches simply as a practical solution, instead of having to get the same fabric in multiple colours I could use more un-dyed fabric and dye it myself.
The photo on the left shows the process of cutting the threads in alternating thicknesses. The image above is of them hanging to dry after dying batches of the colours I chose to use.
The base skirt itself was dyed in four sections, achieving the ombré by very slowly lifting the fabric out of the pot so that the bottom ended up having twice the time in the dye than the top. The most challenging part about this process was ensuring that each panel was dyed exactly the same, being lifted at the same pace, so the the panels would match up when stitched together. They were then assembled and cartridge pleated before being attached to a waistband and hemmed.
The two images directly below show the skirt before I began to attach the threads.
For the corset, I used the 1598 stays pattern from Janet Arnold's 1560-1620 book as a base and altered it to suit my design and best fit my model. The top fabric I decided upon was silk noil, with a simple calico base fabric to help with the structure. I first made up a fitting toile in all calico, so that I could alter my patten to fit before cutting.
The images below show some of the steps in the process. The pattern I was using called for the bones to end under the bust, which consequentially meant I needed to very carefully back stitch the bones in place, catching the front fabric to fully encase them without the thread becoming visible on the outside.
Once the corset bodice had been completely sewed up, the top edge was finished with a re-enforced bias strip of the same silk noil top fabric and eyelets were punched in with an eyeleting machine.
Exactly how to attach the 'threads' to the base skirt was another challenge in this make. The primary concerns and considerations being what was the best way to achieve exactly the look I had intended with my design and ensuring that the weight of the strings wouldn't weigh down the skirt too much. In the end I landed on using large eyelets to feed the strings through, with knots on the inside keeping them in place. The eyelets took the weight of the threads so I didn't have to worry about the fabric of the skirt ripping or stretching and functionally, the feed of thread from under the skirt meant that my concept of the performer pulling the threads to feed into the tapestry (said tapestry actually being knitted due to the finite nature of a loom, so the woven fabric could disappear off into the distance) was entirely feasible as in a performance as there could simply be a large feed of strings hidden under the skirt.
Each eyelet was carefully marked and punched to create the almost scalloped look in my design. Then bundles of the threads were carefully made to include a mix of widths, lengths and colours.
The collection of images below shows the skirt in various stages of final assembly (note, I used a bumroll underneath the skirt to achieve a more accurate to the time period silhouette).