The Vermeer Project: Stage 2

It’s weekend number two since I decided I’m going to replicate myself an outfit seen in a Vermeer painting. The hardest part of this project is the jacket so I’m leaving that until the end. Meanwhile, I had the corset, the bumroll, the hood, and the cape on the agenda for today.

I started my day with a workout at the gym, which is the least 17th Century activity I could do but it’s important to get it in so I can resemble the painting as much as possible. This particular subject is on the trim side. I could have picked the milkmaid but I didn’t like that outfit as much.

Anyhoo, after breakfast it was to the machine for a marathon six hours of sewing. I love my house but I sort of wish it had one more bedroom for guests and projects. Sewing means I have to commandeer our bedroom and I can’t leave the stuff out because then we can’t walk to the bed. So it’s set up, sew, and clean up every time. It’s kept me from sewing more actually. But, I am very motivated about this project and having to stop keeps me from staying up all night, which I’ve done and never ends up looking OK. This way I have to take my time and think about each step.

Today’s goals were to grommet the corset, finish the bumroll, cape, and hood. I’m happy to report success on all fronts!

Materials for a 17th Century bumroll.

Bumrolls are not really complicated. They’re basically long, banana-shaped pillows you tie around your waist to support the back of your skirt. Next to the fabric, we see the sacrificial sofa cushion (insert sad music here). As everyone who’s visited us knows, we have too many sofa cushions anyway.

Bumroll and corset.

It took a little experimentation to get the fullness worked out but I now have one lovely bumroll. I also finished grommeting the corset which is much more roomy than my previous one although I still can’t get exactly the perfect fit. One day I will have a dress form and that will take care of that. Meanwhile, it does the job well enough so onward. The corset requires hand finishing so that’s something to do during the next movie night.

Vermeer gown progress.

I don’t want to entirely give everything away but here is a sense of where things are now. I’ve finished the hood, not pictured, and it’s just about a perfect match. In this picture is the cape which took a little bit of trial and error to get the length correct. I’ve laid out the skirt which just needs to be hemmed and the tabs, which I shared before. I used some of the yellow fabric to stand in as the bodice and sleeves.

It’s certainly looking pretty close. In the end, there are going to slight differences. Obviously, I’m using a machine. The skirt fabric also has a different texture. But, considering I’m on a tight budget, I think it’s coming along nicely.


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