Monday, July 2, 2018

Conquering the Shirt of Lamentation; or, a Superior Method of French-Seamed Underwear Reveal'd


I finally got over my avoidance and attacked the problem of the very wrong shirt this weekend.  Spoilers, yes, making larger gussets and everything else smaller and adding some narrow side gores was the correct answer; also I did some interesting non-pointy things at the top of those gores; but that's not what I'm here to tell you about, neighbors.

OK, so, yes, in an ideal world we'd do all our clothes by hand and that would be lovely and great and experiential.  But too often, we are faced with a situation of "I'm about to go to Pennsic and I have no underwear / I need to outfit my newbie/partner/offspring" (or any one of a thousand variations on that theme), and there's nothing for it but to whip out the ol' Singer and turn your domicile into the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory[1].  Frequently in these cases, too, we have a particular need for sturdiness in the garment(s), because they will be worn in the field and will see heavy use.  What this means is "seam finishes"; and although there are lots of perfectly period methods of hand-finishing seams, if you're under the gun, this is not going to help you; you need an industrial solution.

(There are people who are that fast with hand-sewing.  They are not the people who need this blog post.  Drive on.)

A serged fabric edge
Most folk will do one of two machine seam finishes: serging, or French seams.  Serging (or overlocking) is thorough, but requires a special type of (not super cheap) machine, so it's not an option for many amateur sempsters.  (You can also kind of fake it by running a zig-zag stitch on your normal machine along the seam allowances, but it's a definite kludge, and not the simplest thing to manage particularly on some fabrics.  Still, it can be a useful option.)  The other downside is that it's a little untidy if someone looks at the inside of the garment--and indeed that also means that if the threads get caught on anything, they'll unravel like whoa.

French seams are more painstaking (particularly when you are first getting to know them), but because the original seam is encased entirely inside another seam, it's very sturdy and protected.  It's a particularly good choice for your linen underwear of all kinds, since linen loooves to fray all over the place.   (I'm going to plow ahead assuming you know from French seams, but if you don't, here's a decent tutorial.)  Now, there are usually three challenges to French seams:

1) they're still a bit slower, since you have to sew everything twice and keep pressing things vigorously with your iron; 
2) it's easy to lose track of what you're doing and end up with one or more seams on the incorrect side of the garment;
3) getting the fiddly bits at gores and gussets is a right PITA and often results in unsightly bunching or messes.

Now, some several years ago, Beth and I spent a weekend cranking out chemises for War, since neither of us had nearly enough underclothes; and we came up with a general and efficient process for the order of construction of this sort of garment.  I have, this weekend, improved (dare I say, perfected?) our previous work, which also encompasses some mitigations for the three challenges mentioned above.

This is intended for shifts / shirts / etc. of the main medieval period; the usual composed-of-rectangles-and-triangles style you see for centuries with minimal variation. You can use it for a Bocksten tunic, though, too.  And, I apologize for not taking photos in media res; I was on a manic roll and it did not occur to me.  Have some ASCII art instead!

  1. Cut out your fabric pieces and have them all ready.
  2. If the body of the garment is two pieces instead of one long piece, sew the shoulder seams together & French them.
  3. Cut the neckhole.  (You can hem it now if you want, but I always leave that to the end, just in case I need to make any edits.
  4. Pin each gusset to its sleeve along one side.
        |               |
        |               |
        |               |
                   |    |
                   |    |
  5. Pin the rest of the sleeve closed (remember the gusset wants to form a triangle with the hypoteneuse towards the cuff end).  You now have a tube with a triangle on it:
      fold line ----->  ----------------
                        |              |
             cuff --->  |              | <--- arm opening
                                    \  |
                    gusset fold ---> \ | <--- also open
  6. Sew the 1st gusset edge.
  7. Start at the wrist and sew the sleeve closed, continuing along the 2nd edge of the gusset.
  8. Repeat the previous two steps for the other sleeve.
  9. Go to ironing board, press out the gusset and sleeve seams, prep them for Frenching.
  10. French them in the same order you sewed them.
  11. If you are doing front and back gores, well, I haven't perfected these because I don't put 'em in my underwear (St. Louis notwithstanding); I suggest following the La Cotte Simple tutorial - it is written for grande assiette sleeve funkiness but the principle will work here.
    1. Insert the back gore to remind yourself how to manipulate them again[3]
    2. Insert the front gore now that you remember how to do it
    3. Press them out in preparation for Frenching
    4. French 'em most of the way up and just fahddle the top by hand.
  12. Sew up the center seam of the gore that's currently two halves of a gore; press it, and French it.
    1. If you were dealing with taller people who have some side seam in between the bottom of the gusset and the top of the side gore, you would do something different than what I'm about to do, probably. That's not what I've got, though, so put a pin in that thought and come back to it.
  13. Pin the sleeves to each side of the garment.
  14. Sew from the point of the gusset on one side, all the way up around the top of the sleeve and back down to the point of the gusset on the other side.
  15. Repeat for Sleeve #2.
  16. Pin the side gore in, and sew it - again you're following the Cotte Simple method, because you've effectively created a slit to set the gore into.  You can kind of hand-flatten the existing seam and get your "top point" into that.
  17. Repeat for Side Gore #2.
  18. Press the bejesus out of all of that and prepare them for Frenching.
  19. OKAY HERE'S THE SEXY PART.  Start at the hem level on one side of the gore, French your way up, and then cross over diagonally onto the gusset/sleeve seam opposite--so if you started with the side of the gore that's at the rear of the garment, you'll move to the gusset/sleeve part on the front of the garment.  Go all the way over the top, and back down, and cross back over onto the other side of the gore.
  20. Do the same thing on the other side.
  21. Profit!  (or hemming and cuffing and other fiddly bits, anyways)
That step 19 there, it makes that really irritating portion where the gusset & gore meet actually behave.  It was a complete miracle.   But even without that, the ordering of events here means you are stacking as much work together at the ironing board/work surface as you can, and stacking as much at the sewing machine as you can.  Moreover, it should reduce--reduce, I say, nothing can eliminate--the risk of getting a seam on the wrong side of the garment, because you are batching the 1st-seam work and it should be more obvious when you're going awry.

So, that pin there in Step 12: The received wisdom is to use the gores without a center seam on front & back, and the other pieces that you do have to sew together to make the full triangle on the sides; and if you're doing that, it's easier to sew the halves separately to the front & back of the main garment, and then just run up the center. There is a lot of sense to this, particularly if you have some distance between gore & gusset. And if you are making a thing for a tall person, it may work better. On the other hand, sometimes you end up with gore halves at slightly different heights. :-/

Anyways, I hope that people will find this valuable. If there's one thing more true than another, it's that we always need more underwear, and it's a tiresome slog to produce it; I hope this will help expedite a necessary but disagreeable task.

[1] hopefully with fire exits[2]
[2] but lemme tell you about my pre-tenement-law first apartment
[3] ™ Beth

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bursts Of Productivity

My productivity over the last two weeks, if graphed, would look not unlike the seismograph in Tremors[1]: nothing nothing LOTS nothing nothing LOTS nothing, und so weiter.  I needed some time to process the Shirt Failure; and between that + assimilating a bunch of stuff that had been in the basement storage room + several social obligations, I had a week of small work--mending my wool hose, fixing the bodice length on last year's kirtle[2], etc.  We were also away for the weekend again, which cuts into the work time (though I whiled away some Royal Court time by sewing various site tokens & badges onto my dashing consort's canvas satchel).

Last week I got some mojo back.  I've done some preliminary sketching and mumbling about the shirt proportions; my current theory, after putting Himself into various other shirts, tunics, and even one of my shifts, I have a new theory:

- Shorter and narrower sleeves, yes; but much narrower, with
- larger gussets
- yes to gores (ugh) but starting higher up, and rather sharper angles than we do for tunics
- and therefore the body pieces can be somewhat narrower too.

when you were
right the first time
I also found that I had hung onto the pattern from last year's Laurel hood; and since I was using him as the reference body for fiddling it, I knew it was in shouting distance of fitting him; so I cut out one of those in a lovely light wool twill and fit it more properly to him; it's pinned and ready to sew today.  AND I marked the pattern clearly, so I can bang more out in short order at any point--I'm figuring to make him one out of handkerchief[3] linen as well, for sun protection rather than weather protection.  I'm not sure that this was an actual variation in the 14th c.; broad-brimmed straw hat over your coif seems to be more the thing; but here again, they did not live in Pennsylvania in August.

I am still in major avoidance on the braies question, though. :-/

Yesterday, we diverted course to fulfill our obligation of knocking together a few Bocksten tunics for His Highness to run around in at Pennsic.  Of the three we set out to make, I'd say that one's at 90% completion, one's at 80%, and one's at ~55-60%.  I've taken the first two home to finish up, and Beth has the third.  It's not clear whether any decoration or ornamentation is desired by the patron, so we're leaving them plain fabric for the moment, and will extend an offer to add trim real quick if wanted.  (On the one hand, I am strongly of the opinion that the Prince ought to have some richesse on his clothes.  On the other, I can 100% understand preferring to just toss a Pennsic garment in the washing machine; and in most cases, adding trim takes that option off the table.) 

Also, setting a gore with a French seam sucks donkey balls.  (We are machine-sewing & French-seaming these for reasons of speed and durability; don't @-me.)   The workaround is to not do French seams on those, but to just serge (if you have a serger) or zig-zag oversew (if you don't) the seam allowances instead.  Once again, we observe that many of the sewing techniques you see in our era make lots of sense if you hand-sew, and become a giant bucket of poo when you add industrialization. 

So we did a lot of good work, none of which would have been possible without the support team: the beloved redhead, who opened his house and especially his large dining room table for us to make a complete bear-garden of, and my dashing consort, who grilled lunch and picked up dinner &c.  And both of whom put up with our racket and our rackety music over the course of a very long day.

I did not, alas, manage to slip-stream a tunic or two into the production line for my consort, as I haven't mathed out what the proportions ought to be yet (do the shirt first!); and as can be seen, we didn't really have the time anyways.  But, having a day's boot-camp practice on this garment should make me move faster with it when I do get to long as it's fairly soon.   I'm not switching gears to move that up the queue, though; I need to stop starting and start finishing.  Therefore, today's orders of priority are:
  1. Finish the princely tunic that's at 90%
  2. Finish the princely tunic that's at 80%
  3. Sew together the wool hood
  4. Simultaneously cut out a linen lining for the wool hood, and a plain white linen hood of the same cut.  Probably out of the same fabric.
  5. Sew those up as well
  6. If time, attach the lining to the wool hood
On-deck circle: the $*@& shirt; taking apart & redoing the neckline of my kirtle, which Beth kindly marked for me last night[4]; drape a hose pattern on him; try and take a pattern off my wool hose for me (I found the foot portion of my pattern, but the leg portion is clearly gone, never to be found again. -_-)

[1] Also now I know that they made five straight-to-video sequels, including one last month.  Really?!
[2] though that was more of an embuggerance than I anticipated.  Still, fiddly rather than difficult, if you see what I mean.
[3] or as I call it, "underwear linen"
[4] this will also be an embuggerance.  So much easier to get help before you do the eyelets...  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

There's Planning, And Then There's Planning Ganging Aft Agley

The vaguely-nauseous and anxious feeling I got when looking at my kanban board the last two weeks made it clear that I had to do some clearing of the mental decks before putting serious needle to cloth.  (And also some physical clearing, as I hadn't absorbed the, cough, 25 yards of fabric I brought home last weekend.) So I spent some time on that yesterday.  The first step was to make a card (i.e., Post-It) for every item that a) I might want for Pennsic or b) wanted to make out of the new fabric--these are overlapping but by no means congruent sets. The purpose of this step was twofold: to get all the ideas out of my head and on record, so they would stop floating around taking up skull space[1]; and also, to know what fabric to keep out and which to stash.  I also flagged some blockers and linked them where appropriate (those are the smaller ones in the center, and the colored tags on some items). 

Why did I do it physically instead of in my Trello board, you may well ask?  First, because it's easier when you're going back and forth between fabric piles to just scribble on a scrap of paper than it is to go through the steps of making an electronic asset--particularly since some get crumpled up & thrown away; and second, because my board is presently full of stuff that's not immediate as well, and I'd need a much bigger monitor to see it all, and this made for more & better instant visualization.  All of these Post-Its will now get turned into items on the Trello board, certainly.

As you see, this resulted in a pile of projects that will keep me going into the next decade; but I resolutely refused to sweat about it, and after consultation with my dashing consort[2], selected/prioritized the items that are Minimum Viable Product for his 14th century Pennsic, to wit:
1. Linen shirt (white) 
2. Linen braies (white)
3. Linen hose (heavy ochre)
4. Wool Bocksten tunic (tropical-weight; I have several fabrics for him to choose from)
5. Linen Bocksten tunic (blue)

(The bonus rounds are, in order, a light wool hood; a fitted cote--pourpoint pattern sans padding--; and wool hose.)

Now, my BFF and I have a play-date in two weeks for a Bocksten production line, since we volunteered to make some Pennsic tunics for His new Highness; so my intent is to slip #4 and #5 into that process.  Therefore the immediate priorities, other than washing the linen that hasn't been washed yet, is to get cracking on the undies.  And lo! I had cut out a shirt two weeks ago! so let's just assemble it!  HAW HAW HAW

First, my sewing machine started playing silly buggers.  I am not going to weary you with a detailed account of my two hours of shrieking frustration; suffice it to say now I know a lot more about timing, timing errors, and troubleshooting, and also I had done something stupid that should have been obvious if I'd approached the problem with logic instead of rage. But! Finally I was ready to roll.

I spent the next couple hours assembling the shirt with French seams (dont @-me; I know perfectly well they aren't period; but they are a good way to keep underwear linen together under heavy use) and, mirabile scriptu, I did not do a single one of them backwards or any other fashion of fuckup.  That may in fact be a new record.  I was feeling pretty damn smug about myself, as it was wholly assembled other than finalizing the neckline and doing the side seams from the gusset down, and it was only about 9pm; and I put it on Himself to decide for sure whether I wanted to just make the sides straight or add gores[4].  And then the screaming started.

- The sleeves are too long.
- The sleeves are too wide.
- I thiiiiiink the underarm gussets are too big too?
- The body is correctly wide around his midsection but bunches up like whoa under the arms (though that might resolve itself if the first three points are addressed).
- The neckhole is wider than I meant it to be, in spite of stringent and intentional efforts to Not Do That.

What makes this doubleplus frustrating is, I spent hours mumbling over a notebook and taking measurements of other garments he wears to get to the dimensions I used; and I basted various parts together and tested them on him before sewing; so to be this wildly wrong after all that work makes me feel like a complete loser. It also is rubbing my nose in the fact that, yes, I am pretty darn OK at draping and fitting at this point; but the true skill of the master, to look at a person or even just their measurements and intuitively turn that into a list of garment piece proportions, is still way beyond me. 

So I can fix this, yes.  I can cut down the sleeves and possibly the gussets and see where that gets us, and then it'll be another quick job to reassemble; and the neckline is within acceptable tolerances (just not what I had in mind).  Possibly I can even do it today, depending on how long it takes us to deal with clearing our stuff out of the communal storage room (thanks, landlord). But this has wasted time, fabric, and spoons, and I hate that.

I am also not looking forward to braies.  At all.

[1] I cannot overstate the importance of this step. 
[2] I'm not getting a new dress this year; my own goals are just to fix last year's new dresses so they fit.  The only thing I'm hoping for myself is a snuggly tunic for colder mornings, and maybe a shift with a more U-shaped neckline--most of mine are more boat-necked-ish and it just ain't right[3].
[3] I can get away with them under my GFDs but it starts being more obviously fail with the new kirtle.
[4] Yes, I know the St Louis shirt has gores.  But it's a century earlier and I'm not convinced something worn under a tight-fitting men's cote would, because you don't want a ton of undies fabric mushed under your body-con upper garment.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Gearing Up For Summer Sewing; or, Better Late than Never

[You do not get any cutesy photos on this post because my very old laptop has just crashed twice just trying to do image manipulation.  Deal with it.]

May has not been a productive month for me; at least, not in the sense that this blog discusses.  My Project From Hell went live...not without a good deal of hair-pulling and shrieking at the back-end developers, and a subsequent fortnight of having to nurse it along like a 20-year-old car leaking fluids that you're trying to drive back from Pennsic in...and that plus some other work pile-on plus experiencing severe seasonal allergies for the first time in my life has made my evenings mostly be a bunch of flopping on the couch and watching silly TV.

We did go to a camping event last weekend, which was fun in spite of the weather (88 and humid Saturday; 62 and rainy on Sunday), and also I discovered a new sewing failure mode!  To wit: that there pink linen dress I have mentioned before?  So I machine-sewed all the seams, fine; but the thread I used on the bobbin was one of the many "cleaned out grandma's attic" spools I have been regifted unto.  And, that thread started failing in a number of spots (even ones not under pressure, interestingly).   Thus, I started popping seam leaks all over myself.   The takeaway is, if you have thread older than you are, only use it for basting purposes.

Well, I was going to redo a bunch of the seams anyways.

This weekend I am working in concert with some friends, and although I have not achieved a number of the tasks I hoped to[1], I've fixed the front waistline of the lavender kirtle I cut out last year, and I've cut out the panel to add to my blue silk dress & opened the center back seam to receive it.  (I cannot tell you how painful it was to cut open that seam.)  I also re-gifted a dress I made for myself years ago that I am too much of an absolute unit for, and the pieces of a dress cut out to the exact same measure, which happen to fit one of the crew nearly as if it were made for her.  Boo for the fact that I loved both of those fabrics and wanted them for me, but very much yay that it's not going to waste.     

I may also have bought 25 yards of wool off a friend who's clearing out stock.  YES I KNOW BUT I HAVE PURPOSES FOR ALL OF IT.  There's some madder-red-orange twill that will be hose for both of us; a hard-wearing dark green that will be hoods for both of us (and his will be trimmed with a strip of that madder stuff); a brighter kelly-green that will make a tunic (or maybe a cote) for him and a dress for me; some exquisite drapey white herringbone to make an under-dress for me; and a very light, creamy tabby-woven that I've got too many visions to decide on.  

Also it is possible that we volunteered to make the new Prince some tunics for Pennsic.  But we have a cunning plan for mass-production; and if I stir my stumps, I can slide in a few for my dashing consort into the production line.   EFFICIENCY!~

Things not accomplished: getting hose fitted for him and for me; working on the shirt I cut out for him; figuring out what exactly I did wrong on the linen trousers I made for him last year to make them split up the rear exit.  (Because I don't want to cut out braies for him, either, until I understand how butts work.)

[1] and don't tell me about how much of today there is, because I have to leave to drive to a wedding in three hours

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Little Vindication Goes A Long Way

me, Thursday night

It has not been an agreeable week; and as predicted in last week's update, the most I have been able to handle was making up the cloth buttons for a late period jerkin my ronin-sister made for my dashing consort the other year (which, mind you, is a perfectly useful task I wanted to clear off the plate; it's just maybe not in the top ten of priorities right now[1]).  

Ninya and her repro BPJ[3]
It can be comforting and/or therapeutic to watch other people struggling as well; so it was nice to learn this week that a) there's this new BBC mini-series, "A Stitch in Time", in which the presenter (a fashion historian) works with Ninya Mikhaila (yes, that Ninya) to re-create historical clothing; and b) they did the Black Prince's jupon in one of the episodes.  So I threw that up on the YouTubes while doing buttons; and my expectation of either interesting education or cathartic shrieking angrily at the teevee was vastly exceeded by learning that their process for figuring out the quilting, and then doing the quilting, was pretty much EXACTLY WHAT I DID FOR THE POURPOINT.  I mean, even the swatches are the same[2].  Now, let it be said, our panel of local experts are challenging some of their conclusions; and the objections seem cogent, and entirely worth the debate; but whatever the ultimate truth is for this garment, I cannot properly express how much of a boost it is for my mental state to find that the Actual Academic Professionals started & ended from the same place that I did. 

Though it would've saved me a lot of drama and trauma if they'd done it a couple years earlier.

I am sufficiently re-energized that I'm going to knuckle down and cut out my consort's 14th c. shirt today.  It isn't quite the most urgent priority either (I have to get my project management class together, and do some Pennsic camp admin crap), but it shouldn't take me long, and then I have something I can just pick up and mindlessly seam for the next several evenings.

[1] particularly when we realized last night that he has grown a bit too prosperous for the garment at present
[2] well, they didn't have to go through the cotton batting stage, but.
[3] Another blogger went to an exhibition of the Stitch in Time clothes; better photos here

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Comfortable Sweats of the Soul

Hey, we had a picnic yesterday!  It was chillier than expected--thank you, 15-mile-an-hour wind--but it was dry and mostly sunny; we had a solid turn-out, and a lot of random interested foot traffic, and some fighting, and some musicking, and some dancing. (Also, it is warmer when you are dancing.)  I am pleased to say that I can reliably stumble through the alto recorder part of "Sumer Is Icumen In" now.  Even though sumer had not, in fact, cumen.

More immediately relevant: I wore the pink linen dress I cut out for last Pennsic, which I have not yet altered.  Now, I noted at the time that I thought it might need a little bit of taking in; and probably it could be, but a) I didn't want to rush into that since it seems that my body is merrily shifting flesh around and why waste all the effort to redo it all in another two months and b) I wondered if possibly this was more correct for a working dress of the era.

So I wore it as-was, had an active day of moving tables and bransle-ing and whatnot, made no cosmetic boob adjustments or anything else during the day, and then took a look in the mirror when I got home.  It was by no means the Hello I See You Have Already Met My Breasts look of the high-fashion 14th century; but it was perfectly controlled and adequate.  And it was comfortable all day--I mean, I felt a little insecure without the feeling of tightness, as my large-breasted readers will understand, but I ran (well, the shambling lope that passes for a run with me) several times during the day and felt none of the usual discomfort that goes with unsupported sprinting.  All in all, I think my theory is correct, and this is the right fit to aim for if you're a working girl (ahem).

I have so much accumulating on my plate, but work is ratcheting up to a fever pitch; I do have a go-live date for the Project From Hell[1], at least, so I know when that stress should end[2], but I've just won three more high-profile and short-time-scale projects in the bonus round, and this is sucking all the oxygen out of my brain.  I'm having to triage pretty ruthlessly at the moment; the immediate priorities are--

  • the Project Management Techniques for A&S Projects class, which I find I have agreed to teach at our local A&S night next week
  • creating the walkthrough video on Measuring Your Tent For Pennsic (a thing that has been historically challenging for our camp members, so I want to see if an alternate way of presenting the information works better)
  • create this year's form for collecting camp members' data
I did finish a small knitting project
I'm a little depressed at the thought of all the sewing I want to do vs. what I can do.  I'm trying to break everything down into the smallest possible tasks, so even when I have almost no energy, I can still find something productive to do that gives me a feeling of accomplishment.   There's some buttons about to happen, for instance. 

[1] a fortnight from now.[3]
[2] unless it goes pear-shaped[3] and I have to apologize in the full Yakuza sense of the word

Sunday, April 22, 2018

So-Called "Good Problems" Are Still Problems

it me, apparently

I had previously mentioned my sad situation, wherein the silk dress I had been laboring at for a couple of months turned out to be excessively too small; and although I did not mention it at the time, you can bet I was not just going to leave it at that.  Because that pattern had just been fit in October; according to my monthly measurements check, my numbers have not changed appreciably between then and now; and although I am as much at home to the Fuckup Fairy as the next person, I really don't think I'm so bad at my craft as to have screwed up this badly.

Therefore yesterday I packed stuff up (dress, shift, pattern and all) and laid my problem before my Local Expert.  We managed to get it laced up all the way with much labor and grunting; and after poking and hmm'ing and yanking and squishing, some facts emerged:

1) I need a finer-weight shift to wear with this dress,
2) I had in fact made the dress precisely to the pattern (go me!),
3) the pattern no longer fits me, as my back is now over an inch broader than it had been in October.

WTAF, you may ask?  Well, I have been diligently working out three days per week since early February, incorporating a good deal of bodyweight and upper body workouts.  And my monthly measurements, being for health rather than sewing reasons, have only been measuring the circumference of, e.g., my chest...not the front half + the back half, which is a significant matter in the clothing world.   Which, I mean, yes, I knew that difference is important if you're measuring someone for a fitting; but it didn't occur to me that my exercise program would change either a) so soon or b) in this way.  Again, my under-bust and over-bust total distances are still the same; but a portion has migrated from the front to the back.  

this is what mitigation looks like
or maybe it's a Georgia O'Keeffe sketch
So it was comforting to know that I had not made any errors of execution; but this did not get me any closer to a wearable garment.  We knew that we had to add more fabric at the back, but it was important to get it right on the next edit; this silk is exceedingly unforgiving, and any pin or needle holes you make are there for all time.  To get in the right ballpark, Beth traced the shape of the gap that resulted in the front when it was as laced up as much as it could be; and I will use that to cut out a strip to add in the center back seam.  I'll baste it in and we'll see if that fixes things enough to get on with.

I will also need to add a strip at the center front hem, because I tried to be clever with the CF gore and I fell onto the wrong side of the line between "clever" and "stupid".  That's a whole separate post, though.  It is also not today's problem; I need to change tracks and take a look at the dress I intend to wear for our event next Sunday, and see what edits it might need as a result of these recent findings.

Done, other than second tie

In between all this drama, I managed to bang out a coif for my dashing consort.  I am sure that I waaaaay over-thought it, but eh, I did it in one afternoon, and the next one will be even easier.  The center front looks a little bit too pointed maybe, too.  But it's not a big deal.  It covers his head and it does the job.