Damask is one of the most recognizable period patterns, which is why I was so excited when I was at my local Joanns and saw an entire roll of a gorgeous blue and gold damask in the clearance bin. Little did I know that 2 years later I would come to regret that purchase and would actually dub poly-damask as the “Devil’s fabric.”
I’m a huge fan of matchy-matchy couple’s garb and there was enough of this fabric to outfit myself and my husband. While planning the outfits I had to address the usual questions: farthingale? tie-on or set-in sleeves on the dress? tie-on or set-in or no sleeves for the doublet? front lacer with a placket or side lacer or back lacer on the dress? cartridge or knife pleats? This is the part of the sewing process that I most enjoy and with this particular project the answers came easily. Since this garb pair was intended to be for court I needed to choose the “fancier” options. The skirt would be made long enough to accommodate a farthingale; the sleeves on my gown would be tie-on; the sleeves on Andy’s doublet would be sewn-in; lacing would be in the back (boy did this turn out to be a mistake); and of course the skirt required cartridge pleats. I usually line my bodices and Andy’s doublets with the same fabric as the exterior, but I chose to use a cream colored silk dupioni lining in order to conserve the damask fabric.
Drawing out my bodice pattern on the poly-damask gave me the first indication that this fabric would be miserable. I use a sharpie when I draw on fabric because it draws smoothly and doesn’t bleed. This fabric seemed to deform whenever the sharpie touched it. I finally got all bodice pieces and doublet pieces cut out and the real fun began as the fabric started to fray immediately. I use duck cloth as interlining and boy was I thankful for that when I started to pin the bodice together because I was able to use the duck cloth to force the poly-damask somewhat back into shape.
I machine sew all body pieces together, but I hand sew all finishing seams. This is a list of all hand sewing completed on this project:
- The straps that were secured into the top front of the bodice
- The skirt hem
- The cartridge pleats
- The cuffs on the sleeves
- The lacing rings for the tie-on sleeves
- The skirting
- The buttons
Final Thoughts on the Project
I truly did not enjoy this project. The fabric was a misery to work with, and even though the dress and doublet have been worn a half dozen times and practically soaked in lavender oil they still reek like formaldehyde. I don’t like how the bodice fits, I feel like when I sit down the front of the bodice almost jams me in the chin. The sleeves feel too large and even though I did not alter the pattern the bodice somehow lost 5 inches in circumference. In all honesty, once I complete my new court ensemble I will probably sell the gown simply because I hate it.
The doublet looks great on Andy, although even this gave me a couple of areas to alter. The cuffs on his sleeves are too wide and I was able to trim a couple of inches from the waistline of his pattern.