Posts Tagged ‘SCA garb’

Please help me do my homework – Elizabethan loose gown examples needed

For once (or maybe twice) in my life, I’m drawing something of a blank when it comes to trim patterns. Maybe because the outfit is outside of my usual style or maybe because I’ve been cranking through a bunch of other costumes recently. So, I’m looking to the LJ hivemind, you’re my only hope! I need ideas and examples of late 16th-century loose gowns with examples of trim.

I’m using the Reconstructing History pattern here, and I’ll wear it closed as on the far right. Not sure what kind of sleeve, but probably a simple puff.

The fabric is a dark red, almost-but-not-quite burgundy cotton damask that I bought from Etaine a while ago. Heavy weight, big pattern repeat, but it’s a subtle damask. So any kind of trim can go over it and not interfere.

I have various stuff on hand — some old-gold (non-metallic) scroll braid, tons more of the purple braid and wide gold/purple chenille trim I used on the black doublet, and various widths of black braid and gimp.

Some ideas so far:

  • Catherine de Medici, black gown with white lengthwise and angled trim — could do this with black trim
  • Infanta Caterina of Spain, black gown with gold lengthwise trim and top slashes — could do faux-slashes and buttons/toggles, in either gold or black
  • French noblewomen 1581, short gown with straight trim lines at edges — could do in black or gold or alternate in both
  • Woman by Cranach, black gown with cord, decorative button, cord — could do in black or gold

The other pix I have bookmarked are all solid black gowns where you can’t really tell what the trim is, or they’re much more open gowns (though some of the above are too). Or the trim is super-elaborate metallic/embroidered, which I can’t really afford right now. I can get a bunch of cord/braid/gimp kind of trim though, plus buttons or frog-type closures.

So, anyone have better pix? More ideas? I’m really hunting and hoping! I have this insane idea that I can whip this puppy together in time for June A&S — the gown itself is super easy (mocked up a size already), it’ll be trimming that’s a bitch. So I need a plan, man.

Later that day…

Could go extremely simple (which isn’t my usual thing, but hey, pressed for time…), a la…

Amee Flower’s lovely recreation — plain gown w/simple bow closure. Of course, that looks better with the contrasting gown underneath, which I won’t have. Hrm…

Or extremely elaborate, a la…

Woman from a Milanese Tailor’s Handbook, 1570s – burgundy with gold trim concentrated at the chest — this could work nicely with my red fabric and gold scroll trim.

Still looking for more ideas, and help is always appreciated!


Going loose

At the SCA March Crown, I was quite impressed by Elena’s short loose gown, and Jauna also let me try on her Spanish ropa over my gown, which looked pretty darn nice (and hey, we’re the same height ;-). I’m thinking the burgundy/red cotton damask in The Stash would make a good loose gown, and then I need a fancy and proper shirt with ruffs at the collar and cuffs because that really sets the look off. Black trim, perhaps with gold also (gold buttons or something). Maybe I can do that after England and before A&S? Heh.


An Introduction to Masks in 16th-Century Venice, Italy

Venetian carnival scene showing revelers in different styles of masks, 1595.

Venetian carnival scene showing revelers in different styles of masks, 1595, by Pieter de Jode the Elder. Printed in Private Lives in Renaissance Venice by Patricia Fortini Brown

By Lady Violet Ruthvene in the SCA, written to help the West Kingdom prepare for a masked ball

Two great medieval traditions made mask-wearing popular among the citizens of the Republic of Venice: the festival of Carnevale and the Commedia dell’ Arte theater. Between these, you have a variety of mask styles to choose from, depending on your mood, persona, and how historically accurate you wish to be.

In Catholic communities, Carnevale is a period of indulgence before the penitent season of Lent, which is 40 days before Easter. The exact length of Carnevale has varied from era to era and among different regions. The first recorded observance of Carnevale in Venice was in 1296, and the celebrations grew to include competitions between the siestres (districts) of the city, bull races and slaughters, wrestling and gymnastic displays, parades leading to Piazza San Marco, quasi-religious ceremonies lead by the doge (duke, elected ruler of Venice), and elaborate costumes and masks.


It’s officially a dress

Massive progress! Friday after Thanksgiving, I made the skirt and painstakingly pleated it into the bodice. I usually have trouble attaching pleats to a V-shaped waistline (I’ve done it successfully once and since forgotten how I achieved that). But I figured out a way again. Let’s see if writing it down helps me remember…

After pleating and pinning the skirt, I laid the bodice on top of the skirt. I pin-marked where the V point should hit in the center-front of the skirt. Then, with right sides facing each other, I hand-basted one side of the bodice’s V to the skirt using buttonhole thread and relatively small stitches. Then I repeated along the other side of the V. The point got a little messy, of course, but when I turned the bodice out, I could hand-sew the point down from the inside carefully.

This pretty much worked! I liked the look of it and didn’t have to remove the basting stitches. I sewed over it on the machine for extra strength.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Kendra and Sarah came over for a day of stitchin’ and bitchin’, and we each got tons done. I added wings to the shoulders of this dress and made the sleeves (fully lined and finished). I do need to figure out a method of attaching the sleeves, as I want them to be removable. Either I need lacing strips (ugh; would have to ask Mom again!) or buy some soldered rings, because no more loops — those keep ripping out.

Then hem the skirt and this baby is done!

On to the overgown, for which I need more wool. Sarah helped me estimate how much fabric I need, and the last piece I have in The Stash isn’t enough (it’s barely over 2 yards). But it’ll be put to good use on another project, no worries.


Almost eyeletted

Ran out of thread! Sewed all but three eyelets on this bodice (while sitting around at Grandmom’s house in the days after my paternal grandfather’s funeral in Pensacola, Florida).

Mom showed me how to do a proper buttonhole stitch instead of the basic overcast binding thing I learned from the RenTailor site. But my hand-sewn eyelets are still as crappy as ever. Now they just have that little ridge that the buttonhole stitch creates. *shrug*

I may finish up these last three eyelets at stitch ‘n bitch this Wednesday, but I have to prep the pink MQoS pieces first. Want to take those to Boston. I may be getting the hang of this sewing on the road thing…


Random sewing on random project

Bodice progress

Bodice progress

Had a strange itch to sew today, so I tinkered with the Slipcover Kirtle pattern to make it work for this project. That previous kirtle ended up a smidge too loose the one time I wore it at an event, which irritated me. Took out the pattern and fussed with the straps and the armscye — that seemed to give a much smoother fit over my stays.

The muslin and lining versions looked nice, so I risked it and cut the fashion fabric. Sewed the top edges (bag lining, thankyouverymuch) and hand-sewed the armscye in.

Folded back and pinned the sides to judge where the lacing should be. Gave a little bit of a gap, just in case it turns out too loose again (or in the incredibly off chance I lose weight in the far distant future ;-). It’s easy enough to put a placket underneath the lacing.

Now the bodice is all set for some hand-bound eyelets. Joy.

Bodice progress

Bodice progress


Late 16th-Century Doublet

I first wore the outfit at the SCA West Kingdom October Crown. I wore the doublet with a cartridge-pleated skirt made of purple tone-on-tone stripe drapery type fabric that I’d made a few months earlier (for an outfit that never panned out). And the weekend before this event, I made a tall-crowned hat inspired by the ones popular from about 1590 to 1620s and beyond. I built a wired buckram frame and covered it in pleated black wool. The trims are purple and black ostrich feathers, plus a purple ribbon rosette accented with a big gold brooch.


I’ve worn the outfit many times, including the doublet with a black wool skirt or the doublet without sleeves and with a blackworked linen shirt. It’s a versatile and attractive piece of my SCA wardrobe.

Lady Violet Ruthvene at 12th Night 2010

Lady Violet Ruthvene at 12th Night 2010


No sleevil here

Not the I’m bragging, but I don’t see what the fuss is about sleeves. They’re pretty easy. My sleeves probably don’t look that good to anyone else, but I like them. They go together fine, no big stress, not like the strum und drang I hear from so many other costumers when it comes time to make and insert sleeves.

9 times out of 10, I scale up a sleeve diagram from Hunnisett. I’ve even scaled up sleeves from Arnold (the only thing I’ve successfully scaled from that crazy wack-a-doodle!). But Hunnisett’s sleeves just work, and they’re usually the right size too. Or close enough to it that I can make a couple mocks and get it right.

Then someone (probably Kendra) pointed me towards a great article in Threads (and its part 2) about pattern grading so I could scale up the diagram and then easily adjust the size and get the first mock to fit me with less trial and error. Another article from Threads about fitting sleeves helped refine the method. Yeah, they’re all for modern patterns but the tips work for any era that has, oh, arms.

I usually make one-piece sleeves, as opposed to the two-piece / top and bottom sleeves, which works well for 90% of what I’m doing. And when I’m making some fussy little style with crazy poufs and designs, well, that all sits on top of a one-piece sleeve anyway.

(This ramble brought to you by the fact that, yes, I finished up the sleeves for the 1580s/1610s doublet last night. Laced them in, they look spiffy. Now the thing needs a metric fuckton of trim to be truly done!)


My so-called late 16th-c. doublet progress

So much accomplished and it just doesn’t look like it. *sigh* Spent all weekend sewing, and, go figure, it would be the last, icky-hot weekend of summer too. But the result looks like actual clothing and is in a wearable state.

First, there was a lot of fussing with the lining. And that darn neckline. I tried the bodice on over a shift and corset, and realized that, yes, the neckline really did need to be lower. The high “U” neck looked neither historically accurate nor attractive, so big ol’ broad scoop neck it is.

Much more flattering and resembles the 1610s V&A miniature, and also the neckline in these effigies that look 1580s-90s (but are oddly inscribed as 1559!).

My neckline won’t be as low as this effigy of 1589, but that seems awfully revealing. I often wonder if some of those were real or there’s artistic license going on, especially in the early 17th century. Paintings can show an amazing amount of flat chest, like, of questionable anatomical realism without having nipples popping! But that’s a research topic for another day :-)

Then I worked on the tabs, which I’d patterned out and begun sewing during the week. Drew the sleevehead wings too. Started the fiddly sewing of these things in, which required a combination of machine- and hand-sewing. At the same time, I inserted lacing strips into the armscye (Mom graciously made sets of lacing strips with the eyelet hole stitch on her fancy embroidery machine, whew!).

I’m a little annoyed, ok, more than a little annoyed with this project. It’s been surprisingly difficult for something that looks so basic, now that it’s essentially finished. But I have to remind myself that this is, I believe, the very first garment I have patterned all by myself. I draped the muslin on my corseted dressform all alone, nobody helping me. I didn’t start with any kind of commercial pattern. I didn’t scale a pattern or diagram up from a book. Nobody draped this on me either.

Sarah came along later and changed the shoulder seams and the side back seams a little. But I did 95% of the pattern myself, which has never happened before. And it’s a good, solid, basic, pattern that I can use for many things. So yeah, not thrilling but practical. And a good learning experience.

Next up, sleeves. Easy-peasy — I’m making the basic Elizabethan sleeve from Hunnisett, which I’ve made several times before. Although I couldn’t find my scale-up of the pattern, drat, and had to make another one. Done and fabric cut. But it’s dinner time.


Duh! it wasn’t meant to be 1580s

unknown woman, 1605-1625 (image source: V&A Museum)

unknown woman, 1605-1625 (image source: V&A Museum)

This doublet that’s been giving me such problems isn’t what it seems to be. I’ve had images in my head, but I’ve been using a pattern (well, an idea of a pattern from PoF3, the 1580s doublet) that’s based in the wrong time period. Doh! The neckline and sleeves I’ve been fantasizing about are all about 30-40 years later than the base I started with.

It’s not a 1580s doublet. It’s meant to be a 1610s bodice/jacket, rather like this, tho’ you can’t see much of it and the V&A debates what’s really going on in the portrait. However, let’s not trust what the website description says because that could well be incorrect, even by people who work at the V&A. See: March 2009 trip and investigation into a certain “Mary Queen of Scots” portrait that was painted over in the 19th century — no info about that on the website, but the paintings expert I talked to gladly pulled the file and showed me the 1930s and 1970s X-rays to prove it.

Elizabeth Vernon, 1618 (image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth Vernon, 1618 (image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway. This miniature on the right has the neckline, sleeves, and center-front opening I wanted. Likewise, this 1618 portrait (on the left) elaborates on the hanging sleeves I was imagining, plus the trim designs. This 1619 gown has similar lines, just look past the slightly gawd-awful fabric choice (hi, I’m wearing a sofa!).

Yeah, yeah, I’m pushing the envelope of the SCA period. But man, I love these shapes! Gotta have ‘em.

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