Friday, June 29, 2012

Renaisance Dress

Image of the pattern cover.

I'm  changing my mind almost every day about my Ren dress. The more I look, the more I see that, unless it is a doublet, the top and skirt are the same fabric.  I had wanted to do the bodice in the same green velvet that my SO will have for his doublet, but I didn't want the heat of a velvet skirt (and it would break my heart to drag vlevet on the ground). I'd originally thought to have the bodice in green velvet and some thicker trim made of green velvet strips  going down the bodice and along the skirt front edge and the bottom, but the more I think of trying to tie Roger's green velvet in with mine, the more problematic it becomes as I look into working with velvet. It seems that cutting velvet strips and sewing them on will be a nightmare and trying to make velvet piping would probably drive me to drink.  I have enough of the clay silk to do make both a bodice and the skirt, so no worries.   So here's my new idea:  Clay dress, skirt and sleeves - find some interesting lining fabric for Spanish or hanging sleeves if I decide on that or just do the paned sleeve with bigass puff and shoulder boulder strips with puff. (Lisa tells me she's doing the shoulder roll with paned sleeves, so that option is out for me.  We-just-cannot-be-twins rule is in effect. Need to find some sort of satin ribbon to decorate with, maybe rust?  Roger's will remain the same: Green velvet doublet, velvet paned sleeves, velvet paned pumpkin pants with that orange charmeuse showing thru.  The closer I get to actually doing it, the simpler my design will become! I'm so confused.
For the fore panel, here's my inspiration: 1590ca. Elizabeth attributed to Nicholas Hilliard (Jesus College of Oxford University)All of that design was embroidered by one of Queenie's good buddies, Bess of Hardwick on the figure on the left.  I have silk drapery fabric for the background and I'm going to use the wrong side of the fabric to boot.  I've download a bunch of Jacobean embroidery designs of birds and flowers (couldn't find any fantastical animals already digitized) and I'll start hooping soon. Just this part should take a long time and a boatload of thread! After it is embroidered, I'll cut it out and back it with canvass. I'm not making an entire skirt, just a forepanel. In the interest of temperature control, I will fore go the underskirt and just velcro the forepanel to the farthingale. Th figure on the right I like because of the pearl detailing. I don't want the huge sleeves on either examples, though. Huge shoulders, yes. Huge sleeve, not so much.

What I like about the black & white outfit  is the interesting use of trim and THE PEARLS!.  I have amassed a selection of pearls with 50% off coupons and I plan to go pearl crazy, as much as I can. I also like the sheer partlet cuz I don't like exposing my chest to the sun, but I also like the big suportasse that some ladies work and I'm not sure how to get them to play well together.  Most of the pics I've seen of costumes show the partlet open, but, historically speaking, on an older woman such as myself, the partlet would be closed. The partlet on the lady in blue is one example I'm thinking of emulating. I will NOT be making a ruff this time.  I also LOVE Bob Mackie's "joke" version.  To the modern eye it looks over-the-top, but if you look at the "bow portrait" of Elizabeth, it's not even close to over-the-top.  I'm glad I finally found a portrait using bows so I can include them on my dress somewhere! I love bows and I haven't seen them used in a lot of the costumes I've researched.  Bows on!

My pattern is from Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Lady's Wardrobe which you can find here:  
I've already made the farthingale, blogged here: and am almost finished with the corset: and, of course, that ridiculous bumroll!

After spending many hours pouring over online fabric choices, I've decided that the sleeves will be lined in the velvet that I already have for Roger's doublet and pants. I also started the machine embroidery for the fore panel.  This is a lot harder than I thought and will be very expensive. I did wait for a 50% off thread sale at Joannes, but these designs will take a lot of thread! I bought my designs at  One of the problems I've encountered is that, depending on what printer you use will give you a different result on the colors that print out. I tried to use the Thread Exchange on their site, but trying to actually BUY a specific thread color is ridiculous. I will just make do with what I've already got. Add to that the fact that I can hardly tell which design is which once it makes it from the embroidery card to my machine and that makes for all sorts of problems. I thought I could just start it and let it stitch while I sewed other parts, but I keep having problems.  Last night, right in the middle of a design, I developed massive thread nests and had to stop mid-design and take the machine apart. Sheesh! I've re-hooped, changed needles, changed tension (resulting in a nest of thread, thank you) and all this after stitching a perfect test pattern. Argghhh! This is going to take forever. Here's a pic of what I've done so far:

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