Thursday, March 8, 2012
Grain lines and gussets
In the process of putting this together I also realized it's basically a scaled down version of the Zhorelecky houppeland I posted about awhile back. The similarity in drape is quite remarkable, and probably not something I would have picked up on right away if I had not just been talking about the houppeland this weekend and if I did not have it pulled out and handy for comparison. The business with grain lines is really what gives both garments the beautiful rippled edges at the hem line, not a huge volume of fabric.
The other (and major) weirdness of the G-63 is the sleeve. It's very similar to the way the sleeve on the Charles du Blois cotte, at least in so far as there is a vertical seam cutting in two at the elbow. The funky little gusset at the elbow was giving me fits, I understand why they used gussets at the armscye, but why the elbow? Maybe whoever made this just ran out of fabric and this is the only way they could cut the sleeves? It wouldn't be unheard of, and it's not like we have a whole heap of sleeves from which to make well-grounded conclusions about tailoring at the time. Well, I ran across this really great article article explaining the elbow hinge on the Charles du Blois cotte, and had a long conversation with Mathilde, and decided to do the sleeves with all it's gussets intact before I attempted to draft anything out.
Oh boy am I glad I did, and am I glad I went back to the book to check on the grain lines! For a baggy sleeve, that little gusset makes a huge difference in how the whole thing hangs and how it will ultimately fit. Because the armscye is so deep, the little tricks used to allow the arm to move in a very tight sleeve are actually needed to keep the whole garment hanging correctly, hence the hinged sleeve construction. That little extra bit of bias stretch gives just enough movement in the elbow that, along with the added curve from the gusset, the whole sleeve stays in place when you move around even with a great big 25 inch (the same size at the original, the DH fits those measurements almost perfectly) arm opening. So yay! It's a very clever bit of shaping, the same sort of thing we do around bust lines today really, only applied to sleeves. One wonders where all this sleeve fitting brilliance got lost, the way this sleeve is constructed is much more three-dimensional than a modern sleeve pattern, and this much better fitting and more functional.