Impunture (Specialty Stitches)

I have just started my wool sottana senza busto which means I am deep into the process of interlining. It particular, I am into pad stitching.

In my world, 16th-century Florentine doesn’t happen without padstitching. In this case, the purpose is to create a more structural bodice by fabric manipulation. I am pad stitching in straight channels with stitches fairly close together in order to made a layer of medium weight linen and a layer of wool felt into an interlining that is stronger and more supportive than either alone and even than the two layers not padstitched.

The stitch used for this purpose is sewn with the wrong side facing you. You are are making small horizontal tacks on the right side and diagonal lines on the opposite side. The visible stitches will face the body as this in the innermost layer of support. Also, when pad stitching is used in this way you are not using your hands to curve the fabric as when you are structuring a collar, shoulder, or other physical curve such as a peascod doublet. The goal is simply to build a new fabric that is stronger than its parts. Note: That a similar effect can be had through quilting the fabric using a run-in stitch. Side by side the padstitched fabric feels stronger to me so I choose that method.

The giubbone (doublet) will be another matter altogether. In that case the padstitching is meant not for support but as a structural element. The stitching and the heat and pressure from your hands, form the curves that create the shape of the doublet. Without this layer your fabric lies flat and lacks the carriage of the garments we see in extant examples and portraiture. It is not that all of those men and women are shaped the same but that their garments are designed to create the same illusions on different bodies.

When you are padstitching to create structural curves you make the stitches so that the diagonal stitches are on the inside of the curve and the horizontal lines are on the outside. I prefer to work the curves away from my body so that means I flip the work depending on which part of the garment I am curving and in which direction. This happens for example on the transition between the upper back and the collar wherein the back curves towards the body but the collar curves away from the body. This means that when doing structural padstitching the horizontal lines are facing me and the diagonals are on the opposite side. This could have been rotated up to 90 degrees, there are specific examples of this shown in 17th-Century Men’s Dress Patterns by Melanie Braun, Luca Costigliolo, Jenny Tiramani et al (exceptional book for construction details there is also a volume on Women’s Dress)

An added benefit to padstitching is that it is regular stitchwork that does not have to be fiddly or uniform. This makes it a great way to warm up the hands for sewing areas where more regular and precise stitches are desired. I also use this time to think through my order of operations. Especially on a new style of garment like this one, I want to make sure that I don’t make work for myself by approaching the steps in an inefficient manner.

I chose sleep last night but expect to finish the padstitching today and apply the hide glue to my tela saldata this evening. I will then fit the interlinings and finish the bodice. This bodice is a side lacing garment which means fewer eyelets overall. The skirt is far more straightforward as I will pattern it directly onto the fabric and then begin the process of sewing straight seams. If all works well, my speed will be optimal after all of the bodice work to make that a quicker process.

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