The Challenge: Seperates
Pattern: Based upon extant high necked smocks a la Janet Arnold
Year: 16th Century and early 17th Century, really. The embroidery is from 1526 but was a common pattern throughout the 16th Century.
Notions: silk thread, linen thread
How historically accurate is it? I doubt it could be more H/A without time traveling back, really. I suppose it could use a bit more embroidery but the point was to show that an embroidered, accurate smock was possible in 2 weeks.
Hours to complete: 30 very long hours
First worn: Probably tomorrow. :-)
Total cost: I think I got the linen on sale for $5 a yard and the silk was $5...and the linen thread was $7 so about $32 unless you want to count the beeswax used on the linen thread then it's $35.
The idea was a two fold one - to prove that a hand stitched, hand embroidered smock was possible in a pretty tight window (15 days) and also to get a high neck smock to use during cooler events. Most of my chemises/smocks/shifts are all open around the neckline. This helps in the summer when it can get HOT at outdoor events but it's just not practical during the cooler events. I didn't want a partlet since they weren't always worn and they don't work with some of the gowns that have embroidered necklines (even if it's the linen ones, then you have to tie them beneath the arms and it's just more fuss. A high neck smock just made more sense).
High neck smocks appear all over Europe and they stay in Europe for over a century. There is this one from 1540 that I really loved and this one from a hundred years later. So, a high neck smock would go with a lot of different outfits from a lot of different eras.
I've sewn a chemise before by hand and knew how quickly that can go but I haven't really completed an embroidery project like this before. That was interesting. My five year old nephew declared the collar his when he saw it. I had to be disciplined to work on the embroidery a bit every day. It's far from perfect - the lines look like my five year old nephew helped with the sewing- but it does look neat. I used violet thread similar to the collar in this extant Italian chemise simply because I wanted something that would have high contrast against the white linen but also would look good with a variety of colors.
EDIT: I added a couple more pictures. One of the actual finished smock up on the dress dummy and the other of one of the neck gussets (you can see my finger in that photo for size). Edging the neck gussets was an interesting experience since they are so terribly small and triangular. Everything else on the smock is a rectangle or square, making edging very easy. Luckily, I had enough foresight to edge the neck gussets first. :-)
For the body of the smock, I used the selvage on both the hem and the shoulders - using the selvage is both period and practical. I couldn't sew the body together at the shoulders by edging it since the rest of the top of the smock makes up the gathered neckline - it would get messy quickly and there would be raw edges sticking out somewhere near a neck gusset. So, using the selvage, the fabric was still thin enough to gather at the neckline but wouldn't unravel at the shoulders without being rolled either.