Let us go back to the end of September 2009. Yes, that would be 6 months ago! This was the last time that I mentioned the red surcoat. I had actually made a pattern design and was happy with it. Well, time away from the pattern allowed me to look at the surcoat in the Codex Manesse illumination with fresh eyes. I could see that my pattern was rather far from the design of the red surcoat I was aiming for. My design was too tight in the bodice area. I think I created it this way because I was denying the real desgin of the Codex Manesse style, which shows no real shape to the wearer whatsoever. I was thinking in the 21st Century, not the 14th Century. Now that I have been in the SCA for a year and now that my eyes have become accustomed to the various and sundry styles available I am more comfortable with the style I need to create to look like the illumination.
So, back to the drawing board!
For a refresher I have posted a photo of the outfit in the Codex Manesse illumination which I am using as well as a photo from another Codex Manesse illumination in which the woman is wearing a very similar outfit. Because she is standing in this image it was easier for me to see what I needed to do to the pattern. As you can see in the photos, the surcoat is rather voluminous in the skirt. As well, the bodice area is voluminous with gathers in the neckline under the neck facing. The armholes are fairly high up but there is some view of the kirtle underneath.
In my original surcoat designs I had thought I would need gores to create the fullness of the skirt even though I do not see gore seams in the illumination image. I think I was trying to create more fullness in the skirt hoping it would "fix" the bodice as well. Even this past week when I started working on the design again I included gores hoping for a better fit. I was again disappointed.
Then one morning while lying awake in bed trying to pretend I was sleeping in it finally dawned on me what I needed to do. It finally occurred to me that I needed more fabric in the bodice area and that more fabric meant I might need to include gathers. I created a whole new pattern and tried it on. It was almost there! And after some more tweaking and more cutting I finally arrived at THEE design. As soon as I looked at myself in the mirror I knew it was finally right. I didn't see anything that bugged me anymore. It looked like the Codex Maness surcoat! And it didn't need gores either. I used the full width of the fabric (60 inch width) at the bottom and tapered it somewhat closer to the bodice, although not completely so as to create the fullness in the bodice as well.
And here are the results of my final mock-up surcoat design in front and side view photos (You can see the satisfied smile on my face!):
Amazingly enough, although 5 photos are shown, I can actually count in my head at least 8-10 times that I went back and re-designed, adjusted and tweaked the design during the whole process! It became an obsession that I wasn't going to let go until I got it right. Perhaps if I was a professional seamstress I might have had it sorted out a long time ago, but I am not. Perhaps if I had found a pattern that matched the image I would have had it done sooner rather than later, but I didn't find such a pattern. I am content with my trial and error technique that has resulted in my very own pattern design! It was a trial and there were definitely errors but I think it has paid off in the end.
And just for fun I thought I would do a "mash-up" photo of all the various and sundry designs of the surcoat that I actually photographed:
So, today, April 6th, 2010, I cut out that red surcoat with the gold neck facing.
Now to sew it together!