This is the gown I made to portray Veronica Gambara, the hostess of the “Feast in 1530s Correggio” at the SCA’s Collegium Occidentalis XLVII. I was running the event and wanted to cap off the day with a festive meal set in a specific time and place in history (which is not typically done in the West Kingdom of the Society for Creative Anachronism). With the great help and creativity of my dear friends, we turned a generic church room into a grand renaissance dining hall filled with candlelight, music, wine, and food. I played the widowed ruler of this small Italian city-state, a poetess and diplomat, known for inviting diverse peoples from foreign lands to her court — thus, quite appropriate for the somewhat unusual gathering of SCA dignitaries and people in 16th-century garb from various places who were at the event.
Archive for the ‘16th Century’ Category
I can’t believe how fast this gown went together! Ok, it didn’t hurt that I essentially had the patterns already done. But the sewing was all straightforward stuff, nothing complicated. Attaching the parts together was really just a lot of cartridge-pleating, which I find easy — well, tough on the fingers, and yes, blood was spilled, but that’s just because I was sewing through heavy fabric and I can’t stand using a thimble. Known issue.
There isn’t much trim to this gown, so it looks a bit spartan. Or is this what they call “simple elegance”? I just hand-sewed two lines of black grosgrain ribbon around the neck, somewhat like the inspiration portrait. Silk ribbon would have been nicer, but I didn’t have time to order any online and that’s not something I can find in local stores.
I was going to make a fancy balzo, but then I realized I had a funny little roll hat thing that I’d made and used as a demonstration for an SCA newcomer’s event to wear with a veil. It’s of questionable historical accuracy but looks kinda nice on, plus it’s of a burgundy brocade fabric that goes really well with this gown. Tip it around on the side and *ta da* balzo-esque appearance! I added a filigree gold piece and a ton of gold trim crisscrossed to bling it up. You’ll just have to wait until I have pix wearing it with the appropriate hairstyle.
Speaking of wearing it, I tried on the gown with a shirt (several different shirts, even) to get the look of the portrait and HATED IT. For one, every period shirt I have makes the forearms of these sleeves way too freakin’ tight. They fit fine without another layer under them, but all my shirts are too full-sleeved, even the ones that I cut slimmer to fit underneath gown sleeves. I think it’s just the stiffness of the velvet. But worse, the beautiful wide neckline and shoulders of this gown look AWFUL with a high-necked shirt/partlet underneath. It’s beyond prissy into absurdly layered. Maybe my physical proportions are so different from the tall, long-necked woman in the portrait or I cut the neckline of the gown differently. I don’t know. But the shirt/partlet thing did NOT work at all. Icky. At least I realized that now instead of the night of the event.
When I did have the gown on, I pinned the hem, since that was the last thing to sew. All that’s left after that is to figure out a fancy belt.
There’s not much to show for it, but really, I’ve started and am, in fact, well on the way with my gown to portray Veronica Gambara at the Collegium class “A Feast in 1530s Correggio.” The gown is a loose interpretation of the portrait shown on the right. Except I’m using burgundy velveteen from The Stash (I love the pink, really I do, but when you already *have* appropriate fabric, sometimes you actually should try to use it ;-).
I started with the giganto sleeves of d00m. I loves me some big crazy sleeves, and these are the biggest ones I’ve made yet. First, I enlarged the pattern I had drafted for the similarly shaped sleeves from my French gown (note: always keep patterns you’ve drafted for yourself! but try to write down when you made them, so you know what the size might be, and it helps if you mark whether or not seam allowances are already included). I needed to enlarge the top part of the sleeve twice to get it suitably enormous. They still might not be as freakishly large as in the portrait, but I also didn’t want them to overwhelm petite me — the lady in this portrait appears taller and with a very long neck, whereas I’m much shorter and stubbier. No need to make me look dumpy!
Then I cut the final sleeves out with an interlining of twill for body, along with a linen lining and the velvet outer layer. These got sewn up, with the bottom edge of the top section gathered into the snug lower portion of the sleeve. I’ll cartridge-pleat the sleeve head into the armscye.
Next up was the bodice, and I used the same side-lacing bodice pattern I’d used for the French gown and the grey kirtle. But when I wore that kirtle the previous week at Mists Coronet, it felt a little snug, so I altered the pattern a smidge, which necessitated a fit-check with Sarah’s help. Once done, I sewed that up, also with a twill interlining, then put a narrow strip of boning down each lacing side and made eyelets, since my fancy new machine can do that. These eyelets weren’t perfect due to the thickness of the material (twill + velvet), but neither would my handmade eyelets. They’re functional, and that’s what counts. I bound the bottom of the bodice with linen so it’s tidy when I cartridge-pleat the skirt to it.
Lastly, I cut out the skirt — I only had enough fabric for three panels, so I hope it won’t look skimpy. It’ll be about 130″ around in width, which is just barely reasonable IMNSHO. Now I have to assemble the parts of the gown together, then buy and apply some black ribbon for trim. I’m not doing the fur sleeves (way too hot for California!), but I would like to figure out the belt and have some gold cord that would be a nice, rich look. And, oh yeah, a blingy balzo to top off the outfit.
As I last blogged, I needed a partlet for my Venetian courtesan gown. Well, here it is. I ended up going the simple route because I had a spectacular fail when I attempted a fancy ruff neckline. The saving grace is that it was easy to just hack the whole thing off for this no-neck version which is perfectly historically accurate (and easy to cover up with trim! yay, trim!).
Working with organza is never easy, & French seams always seem to break my brain. That whole ‘sewing right side out’ thing. However, here’s a pro tip for ya: have a chopstick handy, preferably a plastic one. That’s the best tool ever for turning the seams as you iron them out smoothly. Try it, you’ll like it.
Because the partlet closes up the neckline some, I decided I needed a new necklace — a simple choker that wasn’t quite as big & chunky as the necklace I’ve been wearing with my courtesan gown. In the jewelry-making stash, I found just enough gold beads to go with the numerous pearls & strung up a necklace easy-peasy.
One can never have enough bling, tis true. At Forever 21, I found some cheap & surprisingly appropriate faux pearl & goldtone filigree necklaces that I knew I could make use of. Turns out, one would be the right length for a girdle around my courtesan gown. I sewed it down with light tacking stitches so the girdle followed the waistline’s point in back & front. Don’t know what I’ll use the other necklace for, but it’s in The Stash for now.
A costume is never truly complete. You keep adding bits to it, changing accessories, modifying trims, wearing the outfit different ways. Costumes evolve over time.
For the upcoming renfaire Much Ado About Sebastapol, I need a partlet to wear with my Venetian courtesan gown when I perform with Bella Donna. This small addition to my outfit will make it even more historically accurate & a bit less, um, busty, which is better for this very family-friendly faire.
So I looked around for inspiration & settled on a few portraits that I like…
There are, of course, fancier ones I like too, but any of these three I could whip up in the short time I have before this faire (especially considering I’ll be away in Kauai for a week, & no, I am not taking sewing with me on vacation ;-). I also had to limit myself to partlets I could make with materials I currently have in The Stash, e.g., plain white silk organza & gold lace. There just isn’t enough lead-time to order embroidered, striped, or other types of patterned fabrics. Still, these options are all pretty, & I should have time to bling it up a little bit.