Functionally finished · Projects

Burgundian PHASE II: Once more, with beading.

Just when you think you’re done with the Burgundian shenanigans, they’re back.  Hold on to your hoods, this is a long post.  

This is the current final phase of this project.  I am hoping to slowly make improvements to it in the future, but the final form has been achieved. I am so RIDICULOUSLY proud of how this looks.  There are things I’d change, but this is one of the first garments I’ve made that has gone from design to thing pretty much as I imagined it.  There were some changes I’ll talk about but none of them were major.

First, this project was based off of the Houpelandslide challenge in Northshield.  It is informal, quite silly and involves making a houppeland that is based off of a natural phenomenon.   I chose a stormy sea.  The reason behind this was that I had already planned a series of dresses with various elemental themes to them and what is a better excuse than making one as part of the houpelandslide?

But, you say, that’s NOT  a houpeland!  Dear reader, you are completely correct.  For you see, I had discovered my inspiration.

Yes, I found it on Buzzfeed, whatever it's gorgeous.
Image by Dave Sandford, found on buzzfeed.

IT IS A LADY WALKING AWAY WHILE WEARING A HENIN.  Henins and houpelands don’t go together!  Burgundians and henins go together.  It had to be a burgundian.  I had no choice.

Now from here on in this post, I’m not gonna talk about how historically accurate this dress is.  It isn’t.  Don’t use this as an example of a period gown.  DON’T DO IT.   It is a period gown that is modernly decorated around a theme.  IT IS NOT ACCURATE TO ACTUAL MEDIEVAL GOWNS.   It is a fantasy gown if anything and even with that all said, I’m really proud of it.

The goal of the gown was to imitate the shape and texture of the wave, evoke the ocean, and make it look both flowing and mildly menacing.  Or as menacing as something can be when I’m wearing it (1).  These sorts of dresses are really easy to get lost in(2), which makes them perfect for oceanic themes, in my opinion.

Initially, I planned to add beading around the bottom before I had really settled on decorations.   There were 2 major things wrong with this plan.

1.) This dress has about 180 inches of hem.  That’s a lot of beading.

2.) Where do you see foam on waves? Towards the crest of the wave.

img_20180906_074928Bottom beading was right out.  I had grand plans for the beading as well, but alas.  I used the same plan on the neckline only with less fuss.

Medieval culture likes order in design and dotting beads randomly was not an option, if I wanted to stay true to the foundations of the dress. Basically the pearls are based roughly on a Fibonacci sequence, where each row of pearls is basically more and more closely spaced until they are abutting each other around the neckline.  The only exception to this rule is the beading on the shoulders.

In my defense, I learned how to be better at this.

Now for the confession:  I’ve never really done beading before.  OH YOU CAN TELL.  I finally got some tips from a friend and the ones on the shoulders look decent, but  I’m coming back to the neckline later and fixing it.

Before I go back to fix the beading on the dress, I need to find a better way to belt the thing.  If you remember, I do have a belt I made for this and it was mildly problematic when I used it in April.  It got worse.  To make it pointed, I had to remove length (not a lot but enough) and the original length was based off of my waist without 5 yards of fabric.  A half inch makes a huge difference when you’ve already lost 3 inches because of fabric.   I beaded it and by the end of the day, I returned to my apprentice belt instead of using the one I had made.  Beads popped off of it almost immediately and I think I lost 3 or 4 before I left the parking lot.   But it did look nice while it lasted.

Still wearing the belt, lookin’ out of place with all those white belts.  Image by Wyndover Photography. 

Current plans are to acquire a period belt buckle and make a new better one with actual holes.  Easy peasy, I know which one I want.  I will always take donations towards my future shininess.

Henin’s the same, just removed some trim, added a longer internal wire, got a new bigger veil and got some new veil pins at Pennsic.  The new veil looks much better than the layered veils I did in April.(3)

HI VLAD, LET’S WATCH THIS SILLINESS.  Image by Wyndover Photography. 

My favorite bits are next.  The flowing bit was always in the plans.  The plan was always to have a black chiffon drape on the back and the sleeves.  The plan was for the belt to go underneath the chiffon in the back to allow it to flow properly.    AND IT DID.  The sleeves fluttered  gloriously as soon as I pinned them on, and the back drape did all the flowing and such. (4)

Do I have pictures of this?  OF COURSE NOT. Why would I take pictures or video of the part I loved the most? But I did take tons of construction photographs, so that will have to do.

Hem during all the big boring meetings.  Sorry, bosses.

When I made the toile, I made a sample second sleeve to see how it would work.  From my first toile, it was the only thing that came back, really.  I used that to pattern the sleeves.  The back drape is literally a rectangle from the fabric width and the roll of chiffon dropped to the ground.  Super scientific and exact. Then I hand hemmed ALL THE CHIFFON.   Seriously, it was a lot of chiffon.

It then got sewn on by hand to the armscyes and back.  The back needed to follow somewhat the line of the beading in the back, to further adhere to my vision (5).

My vision?  SHELLS AND MORE BEADS.  So before you act too impressed, you can buy shells that have holes drilled in them at Joann’s.

Aw yissss

I do really like the detail.  It’s small and cool, and weirdly impressive, apparently, but whatever, this was the easiest part of the beading to do and it looks awesome so I’ll just fan myself coquettishly and act like it was nothing(6).   Unfortunately, remember that new awesome veil?  It’s quite long and covers the entire upper back (7).



1.) I am about as menacing as a barrel of golden retriever puppies.

2.) Ask anyone who saw me try to get in and out of this dress.  It was a PROCESS.

3.) I realized that with my profile, a henin is probably not the most flattering.  My poor ancestors.  Cursed with the family nose and wearing henins to be stylish.  Alas, poor dead, beaky nosed ladies.

4.) Changes from the plan:  The plan was also to add some chiffon to the front to darken the green overall.  I did not do this, obviously.  I thought about it, but adding additional bulk to the front seemed counter productive to the ideal of getting that wave like profile. It also doesn’t do the chiffon justice.  Chiffon is supposed to flow and flutter.  It doesn’t do that if you tack it down and try to control it too much.   Front Chiffon got nixed pretty early in the process.

5.) I sound like a pretentious asshole. I am O.K. with that.

6.)  It was the easiest part of the entire thing.  QUICK. EASY. LOOKS COOL.  BEST CHOICE.

7.) Son of a Kitten.


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