First layer: the underskirt

So I began sewing the first layer of clothing for Our Lady of Aparecida. Here’s how it went.

First I cut a square of handkerchief cotton, then trimmed it into a circle, cut the center opening, and tried it on the statue. I trimmed away excess until it was a good fit, then lightly tacked a simple lace to the perimeter, with the idea that it would serve as a kind of underskirt for the satin skirt. Anything that doesn’t work can be redone!
Next I pinned the cotton to the back side of the gold satin and trimmed the satin to be just a little larger than the cotton. Now I was figuring that the cotton would serve as a kind of lining and support for the satin (as it may yet be decorated with trim or embroidery, and the cotton helps keep everything smooth).
After some pondering I turned the satin under so that just the bit of lace showed around the edge, pinned it, and did my best small tidy stitches to hem it. I left the top undone for the moment, as I still wasn’t sure exactly what I would do up there.
Here you can see the half-hemmed satin, right side up, in front of the statue.
I decided to sew a ribbon to the waist opening to let the skirt be tied on securely. I hemmed the inner edges, folding the satin over the cotton, and did a whip stitch around the waist opening before going back and sewing on the ribbon. Since the ribbon needs to run on a curve I had to hold the waist-opening edge vertically as I sewed.
The ribbon gets tied like this for now.
I put a little shawl of lace around her shoulders, sewed it shut below her hands so it would stay in place, and then tied the skirt over it. I may do some rather drastic modification of this underskirt after I finish the red overdress, because it’s not yet clear how they will interact. The stiff width of this gold skirt may be problematic – in which case I can reduce the size of it, add gathers or pleats, or take out the cotton lining. On the other hand it might turn out to be most excellent, since both the overdress and mantle are likely to be rather stiff, too. The red dress fabric is the most drapey, but I will probably build it on a cotton lining as I did this skirt, and may additionally line it with another satin. I also intend to decorate this underskirt, which will add weight and change the way it hangs, but I’m waiting to get the red dress done before doing any decorating, so that I can coordinate the trims I use.

So there you go – experimenting in progress!

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