The 17th Century Challenge – Sanity Returns

Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582 – Haarlem 1666) Portrait of a Woman Holding a Fan 1640I’m looking at the project I chose for the 17th Century Challenge. There is no way I can do that and the HSM challenges. I don’t know what I was thinking. Either I got caught up in the holiday buzz or suffered a temporary break with reality.

More likely it was just plain intimidation after seeing what other people in the challenge have chosen to make – difficult and intricate beyond my current ability. My original choice looked comparatively bland. I wanted to play on the same level and that’s not possible. It would be like sending a bunny rabbit up against a grizzly bear: the outcome is pretty predictable.

If I do the project I chose it will lessen the quality of everything else, and I don’t want that. I want to push my skills and learn more, but not at the expense of enjoying the process. Why do that to myself?

So my Christmas present to me is something that won’t interfere with or diminish accomplishing the HSM challenges. It’s from this 17th century painting, artist and exact date unknown:

17th century, artist and date unknown (2)

I will be making the clothing worn by the woman in the lower right corner:

17th century, artist and date unknown - detail close-up

I like the components, the style, the colors and I get to make a coif, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

All I can say is – thank you, Santa, for returning peace to this little village.


12 thoughts on “The 17th Century Challenge – Sanity Returns

  1. I havent ever considered anythig that complicated. I was proud of myself for just realising that i didn’t have to finish a pair of jeans for my son before christmas. Good on you for picking something new.

      • It sure is. It’s interesting and fun to sit with a group and share/compare. In one of my sewing groups someone commented on how she can never get sleeves to set in correctly and how frustrating it is. She hates sleeves. I’ve never had problems with sleeves, until I hit Regency dress, that is. They’ve been a piece of cake for me from the get-go. On the other hand, she can handle chiffon like it’s cotton, whereas I have 5 yards of chiffon and I’m really nervous about even starting with it. Perhaps that’s why it’s good to know a lot of people who sew – there’s a wealth of knowledge to share.

      • Regency bodices are cut differently than what we’re used to seeing.

        The width is very narrow at the mid-armscye level. So instead of having a “normally” rounded sleeve cap, it has to have additional fabric to set correctly in the armscye. Although it looks uncomfortable, it’s what frees up arm movement. Another difference is that the sleeve isn’t gathered at the top, it’s gathered at the back along the mid-bodice (technically, it’s the back bodice side).

        The bodice shapes varied with location and time, but the basic shape stayed fairly constant.

        Here’s what the back of a typical Regency sleeveless bodice looks like – you can see the back bodice seams.

        Here’s the back of a Regency spencer with sleeves.

        And here’s a photo from showing the back bodice on a gown she’s made.

        So when I get the technique straight I’ll definitely have a sense of achievement! 🙂

  2. Oh, I’m so glad. I didn’t want to rain on your parade, but I’d have needed a full year to do that dress, with all the scallops and details. This one is sensible, but pretty.

    • I really don’t know what I was thinking. *rolls eyes* One clue about the reality of the idea was the universal silence following the post. 😉 BTW: Never fear raining on my parade – the route is always flexible and I’d rather dial my enthusiasm back than walk of a cliff with a smile on my face.

  3. Great choice! And it’s always nice when we get a reality check and come back to earth before we get too involved! Or start cutting out things! I can’t wait to see your completed outfit. Is that a muff she has her hands in?

    • Yes – it is a muff. It’s hard to see what it’s made from…can’t tell if it’s fur or chamois or something else. Need to do a bit of research and learn what would have been used at her social station.

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