Monday, September 15, 2014

Sewing for the Seventeenth Century - Costume Connection #1702 Cavalier Woman

I had planned on attending Costume College in 2013, and the theme that year was “Cavalier with a Touch of
Costume Connection #1702
Pirate”. I started doing my research and found several inspirational pieces. In talking with a friend, she let me borrow one of her patterns from “Costume Connection, Inc, Pattern #1702W – Cavalier Woman” and it would provide a good starting point, which with a few changes, would allow me to get close to what I had envisioned.

I was not able to attend CoCo as I started a new job, so this ensemble languished as a “UFO” (Un-finished-object) for far to long. I finished it up as a Challenge project for “Sewforth Nightly”.

1630-40 Cavalier Ensemble
Now, when we think “Cavalier” it usually brings to mind The Three Musketeers, and fashions of that era from 1640 to 1780, but the word “Cavalier” actually had its start from a political perspective. Cavalier was a derogatory word used by Parliamentarian to describe a supporter of King Charles I and his son Charles II during the English Civil War. Cavaliers were also known as “Royalist”. The French word “Chevalier”, the Spanish word “Caballero, and the English “Cavalier” are all words used to describe a “Horseman”. In researching all over the internet, the times frame of “Cavalier” seems to span from 1625 to as late as 1780, depending on which website you are reading. So, I am going to go with 1625-1660 as the Cavalier period, for this piece, based on what I could decipher. As far as I can determine, this pattern falls into the 1630-1640 “Cavalier” time period.

The pattern is pretty straight forward. There are fifteen pattern pieces throughout. There is a bodice, stomacher, skirt, and waist tie as individual pieces. I also added a V-neck chemisette, but that is not included in the pattern. Check your measurements against the pattern sizing for best fit. From what I can surmise, the sizing is pretty much accurate. I did leave off the collar and sleeves as shown in the pattern, as well as the stomacher ties and boning in the bodice.

3/4 Sleeve I liked Better

The bodice is lined and is very easy to sew together. The stomacher is basic, as is the skirt and tie. When I 

changed out the sleeve, that is when things started to get interesting. Originally I wanted big, wide-open slashed sleeves, but once I got to that point and tried it on, I did not like it. So I went back and reworked the end of sleeves to create a bit of a cuff that could be turned back, and I like that much better. I then decided to add the big lace under sleeves. The under sleeves are lace and are attached to the bodice at the armholes. They are not part of a separate chemise. While lace looks like it should be light and airy, sometimes it is very much the opposite. So, by keeping the lace coverings on the arms only, and not the whole body, it was my intent to keep this bodice as cool to wear as possible. The chemisette is made of a three piece pattern, nothing too difficult, and is based off a vintage piece I have. Some of my inspirational pictures show a lace insert inside the bodice, so this is my interpretation.

Bodice front with stomacher

The stomacher, which is boned, was supposed to be tied in, but I did not like that idea. I attached it to the bodice on one side and used a few H&E to anchor in the other side. The waist tie will also work to hold it in place properly, and if I have any problems with it when I wear it, I can use a well placed safety pin or two.

Lastly, the fabrics: The bodice is lined with medium weight white cotton, but the yellow gold satin is polyester. When I purchased it a few years ago at the Tustin Antique Swapmeet, I was hopeful it might be silk, but a quick burn test proved otherwise. This entire yellow gold ensemble is made from one of two 9x12 curtains. Both curtains cost me $5 total. The lace sleeves were also curtains. The stomacher is a small piece of a 1970s tapestry fabric, and is very heavy duty and stiff just by itself. I picked up two yards of this vintage tapestry for $2 total. The cotton lining was from my stash and was bought for $1, and the lace was $2py and I probably used two yards worth. All told costs, for this ensemble with notions, were less than $15. I loved how the satin and the tapestry just came together on this project. Lastly, while most times I use natural fabrics, I have to say that the feel of this satin is wonderful, not as stiff as a heavy Taffeta or Duchess Satin, but not as light as a Crepe De Chine, but something in between. It has such great body and movement, plus it has a matte finish on one side (which is the side I used for this ensemble), but the

Turned back cuff w/iridescent fabric
 inside is iridescent! The cuffs are turned back to see the iridescent side and flashes copper in the light. Enjoy!


  1. I love the way you made this pattern your own! I admire seamstresses who change things up to suit the wearer. You have a real knack for finding interesting fabric at great prices. Another beautiful outfit!

    1. Thank you Ms Cindy! If I am going to work as hard as we all do to create an ensemble, I do not want it to look like someone else's, nor do I want people to be able to look at it and say, "Oh, that is pattern 'so and so'"! If I can tweek it just a bit here and there, then it does become something uniquely mine. Also, fabrics - yes, what is a curtain but a really big piece of fabric. Sometimes I cut them back to their fabric sizing, sometimes not, but everyone gets a good wash before wear! This one curtain panel had fifteen yards of fabric, which worked out perfect for this ensemble. Talk w/you soon. Sinc,T