Hanseatic King’s Lynn festivities

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1475 – The Hanse House in King’s Lynn is build, following the treaty of Utrecht granting Die Hanse privilages and making King’s Lynn one of the Hanseatic trade towns. To celebrate the event,  we teamed up with a variety of folks, all brought together by Black Knight Historical – and spent  a day participating in the festivities and talking about 15th century life in the town.

 

I used to do a lot of 15th century living history, but not recently – so most of my kit was old – or too posh for the role I was going to play – a hanseatic merchant/apothecary’s wife. Danzig-bred wife to be more precise – and since I spent most of my youth in Danzig ( Gdansk), it was a most appropriate role. It called for a suitable garment –  wealthy, but not over the top, a bit behind the high fashions, but practical and stating my status clearly. A decision was made and I settled for a version of Rogier van der Weyden style frock – wool, lined with linen, very, very full, trimmed with fur.

the inspiration board on Pinterest –  here

The frock took 7 metres of fabric – and the same amount of lining – the hem circumference is over 6m… It was relatively easy to make – it as the veil that was more problematic.  I set my heart on making a frilled veil you can see in the portraits – I and making the frill ( 14m of linen was frilled…), hemming it and hemming the veil took almost as long as making the frock… not particularly happy with it, so will look for other ways to achieve the look I think. Still, it looked ok  for some pics.

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It was very warm, so I wore the frock only for the procession and riding (and pictures), and while at the stall, I was a bit cooler in my kirtle:-)

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very happy with the new garment – and love the way the wool drapes – a few pictures below…

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Was also happy with my new belt from  Bayley Heritage Castings, and shoes and pattens from NP Historical Shoes

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Lucas spent most of the day at the stall as well, chatting about late 15th century medical lore…

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His services were sought out by the nobility  as well…

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But before we finished, he quickly changed an assumed his other role – that of a photographer, and captured  some of the people at the event…

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Eleanor in her Duchess Cecily Neville role…sporting a gown  I made for her last year

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On Sunday we stayed long enough to take part in the parade…

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and shoot some product pictures of jewellery for Gemmeus… which, by the way was the easiest robbery ever – it was enough to say we are having a photoshoot and  the rings and pendants were safely deposited in my purse in no time at all. it robbery was somehow hindered by the fact that Nicky from Gemmeus knew  where I live – so alas, had to return all that lovely bling after the shoot…. 😦

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And take some good photos of my posh frock –  Memlinc brocade, lined with silk, silk velvet trim – all handstitched on holiday a few years ago….

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All together , a great weekend was had by all – hoping we will be back next year!

 

Credits:

Photography – Pitcheresque Imagery – more pictures form the event here

frocks – Prior Attire 

Jewellery – Gemmeus

Belt and a ring – Bayley Heritage Castings

Shoes and pattens – NP HIstorical Shoes

event organization – Black Knight HIstorical

Horse s& team – Steamhorse

Yellow frock shoot – 18th century bridal style!

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Well, if your hubby is an eager photography enthusiast, I suppose one has to suffer for it… So when Lucas  was in need of a model to practice new lighting/exposure/new gadget/ ( insert a suitable photography magic jargon word here) and take photos of the spring fields, what can I girl do? I rummaged through my frocks and the bridal samples to see what would fit me and look good with the back=ground we had in mind, and finally settled on  a frock from our Summer Bridal collection – Jeanette. It is an 18th century inspired dress in lovely silk taffeta –  the look, and styling is based on the 18th century aesthetics, the finish, construction and the cut is modern.

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  In the Summer Bride photoshoot it was worn over a big hoop and net petticoat  suitable to the bridal theme, but for the field version we decided to make it more historical than bridal.   And so, proper stays, pocket hoops, stockings and shoes are worn underneath to render the silhouette a bit closer to the historical ideal. Minimal make up, a re-styled straw hat on braided hair and a basket with freshly cut lilac ( my favourite flowers!) completed the look.  a nearby field was picked and Lucas set to playing with the light…

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speedlight in a fancy poke bonnet 🙂

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dramatic skies in the background…

I spent most of that time first in the car, then standing in the field, huddled in a jumper and wellies…

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and taking bad selfies to pass the time….

 

Once everything was ready, tested, set, re-set etc, i could ditch my jumper and wellies and start doing my job – try to look pretty and graceful while trying to avoid standing on dog turds, puddles, mud etc. The results – below – enjoy!

 

Credits:

Photography: Pitcheresque Imagery

Dress: Prior Engagement

Shoes and stockings – American Duchess

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my lovely shoes and stockings – tried to keep them s mud free as I could!

 

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Tudor Kirtle and Gown

 

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How to Make a Tudor Kirtle and a Gown

a bit of a warning – this post is a  rehash of the article i wrote some years ago and includes old photos etc –  so the photo quality is not the best, alas. also, since most of the gowns were made some time back ( 7, 5 years ago or more) when i was starting, they are not flawless, and I admit I have learnt a lot since then. nevertheless, the basics  remained the same, and i thought that the post may be useful before i can update it ( and since a rather posh frock is being made in June, there will be more info  then…. 🙂 )

 

With the Tudors recently enjoying such popularity, the demand for Tudor clothing has been high – after all, the clothes are very flattering for all figures and the period fabric are simply sumptuous. As a result, I have been working on several Tudor projects in the last few years and have repeatedly been asked for hints and advice on making the garments.  In this article I will discuss the making of a kirtle and a gown suitable for a Henrician lady at around 1530 – 40.

 

The garments of the period were complex and a lady would be wearing the following layers:

A smock (chemise),

Hose and shoes,

A petticoat,

A kirtle,

A gown,

False undersleeves (foresleeves),

Girdle,

Headdress (a French or English hood, or a coif and a flat cap)

Optional – a farthingale: a hoop skirt in linen or in silks, with rope, reeds or cane hoops

Partlet – either a linen neckerchief, often decorated with embroidery, or made in silks, wool and sometimes fur (particularly for later styles).

 

I will concentrate mainly on the instructions how to make a bodiced kirtle and a trained gown, specifying fabrics and techniques used, and presenting the process step by step using illustrations to show the details.

I will also briefly discuss sleeves, cuffs and girdles, and the detailed instructions how to make a gable and a French hood will be covered in a separate article.

 

 The kirtle

 Materials:

4-6m of silk taffeta for top fabric (good quality wool can be used for middle/upper class attire; silks for higher classes, including damasks and jacquards.

2m of silk velvet for borders, front and guard (ignore if your top fabric is sufficiently decorative in itself)

4 m of linen for lining (thin wool and silk can also be used)

0.5m of linen for interlining the bodice

Reeds for boning the bodice

Metal braid or gems for decoration

4m of narrow braid

Linen and silk threads

The Pattern

 The patterns shown in The Tudor Tailor book and sold online (http://www.tudortailor.com/patternshop.shtml ) work very well, though adjustments will be necessary for different types of figure – I always make a mock up to check the fit.

The Method

Cut the pattern pieces for the bodice in calico.

For fuller figures, it often helps to cut the front piece in buckram or even stiff paper to see how the stiffened front will look, however, to get the best results, bone your mock up as you would the kirtle.

Stitch the pieces together and try on. Adjust if necessary and mark the changes on your pattern.

Cut the front piece in linen – 2 layers.

Baste the layers together and mark the boning channels. You can follow the channel layout presented in The Tudor Tailor

Or make all the channels vertical – often works better for fuller figures

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vertical boning on another kirtle bodice

Sew the channels – either by machine or by hand (small running stitch or backstitch work best).

Baste the back pieces of the calico mock up to the front piece.

Stitch a readymade lacing strip to the back pieces- it is only a temporary measure used for the fitting.

Insert boning and try the bodice on, carefully checking if the boning is of correct length, and mark the position of the shoulder straps on the front piece.

If everything fits well, take the bodice off; remove the lacing strips and the boning. You can use the mock up pieces as an interlining.

Cut the pieces in top fabric and lining.

Lay the top fabric on the boned front piece and baste it together.

Place the back pieces (top fabric plus interlining) on the front piece, right sides together and sew. You should now have all the bodice pieces together.

If you plan to bone the back pieces to make lacing more durable, do it now.

Secure the shoulder strips to the front piece.

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boned foundation for the kirtle bodice – handstitched

If your neckline is gaping, sew a narrow bias cut tape or strip of fabric around the neckline, stitch it down and insert a narrow braid. When pulled tighter, the braid will pull the neckline closer (see The Tudor Tailor for details).

This step is not always necessary, on some figures the kirtle top sits nicely and snug without the additional incentive!

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bodice covered in silk taffeta and you can just see the channel for the drawstring…

If you plan to use a more decorative fabric to border the neckline, do it now. Simply cut pieces of fabric and stitch carefully to the neckline.

You can now add any decoration or jewels. You can stitch them onto the decorative border or simply on the top fabric.

 

Lining: stitch the back pieces to the front piece in the same way as you did the top fabric.

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decorative velvet pieces stitched on

Pin the lining into the bodice, and stitch around the edges using a slip stitch – make sure the lining covers any stitches from applying the decoration. Do not stitch the lining to the bottom of the bodice, but pin it slightly up, out of the way.

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lining stitched inside

 

Work the eyelets at the back – use an awl and take care not to damage the fabric. Work the eyelets in linen or strong silk thread.

 The skirts

The skirts can be either even or trained. If you plan to wear your kirtle over a farthingale, make sure you measure for the kirtle on the farthingale – it will need to be longer! It is always a good idea to make the skirts voluminous and long enough to be worn on a farthingale – it is easier to make one that can be adaptable to both styles.

Cut out your pieces in top fabric and lining.   If you are using more decorative fabric on the front and hem of the skirts, you will need to piece them first. It is advisable to interline the front panel – especially if your fabrics are light.

Stitch the top fabric pieces together to form one layer. Leave a small opening at the back seam – or at the side seams if your bodice is side laced!

Do the same for lining, then insert the lining into the skirt and baste the layers together at the top.

Arrange the pleats, pinning them firmly in place and pin the skirt to the bodice. Try it on, wearing a farthingale if you plan to wear one.

 

Re- arrange the pleats if necessary. Take the kirtle off, place the skirts right side together to the bodice and sew. Alternatively it is possible to sew the skirt only to the boned interlining – then the top fabric can be couched on top – on option for those who like handstitching )

Be careful not to stitch the point at the front to the end – leave a small gap and finish it off later by hand, making sure the point is sharp and lies flat.

Fold the bodice lining over the seam and sew.

The bottom of the skirts can be either bound or unbound.

For unbound finish, simply fold the top fabric under and hem, and then attach the lining with a slip stitch.

For a bound finish, cut diagonal tapes of fabric or appropriate width – the binding or the guard, can be wider, as it protects the fabric of the skirt proper from damage and dirt. If the binding gets dirty and tattered in time, it can be removed and a new one sewn on.

Bind the skirts, carefully enclosing the edges – the process is discussed in more detail when we focus on the binding of the gown skirts.

 

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knife pleats of the skirts, attached to the bodice and additionally secured with top stitching.

Your kirtle is now ready.

Kirtle worn without the farthingale – this kirtle is entirely hand-stitched

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Kirtle worn on a farthingale, and below, others without farthingales

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The gown

Materials:

8-9m of top fabric:  silk damask, brocade, cloth of gold, tinsel, silk velvet, satin or taffeta are appropriate

The amount of fabric will depend on how wide your fabric is, how voluminous you want the skirts, how big the sleeves and how long a train, if any, you want your gown to have.

8-9m or calico for interlining

8-9m of lining (lower grade silk, taffeta, fur)

2-3 m of lining fabric for turn back sleeves, if you plan a more decorative finish – fur, velvet or different colour silk works well.

Fabric strips for binding the skirts

Reeds for boning the forepart

Silk and linen thread

Method

As always cut the bodice pieces in calico only first. Baste together and try them on the kirtle. Adjust if necessary.

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trying on a mock up in calico

Cut the bodice pieces in top fabric, interlining and lining. If you are working with slippery fabrics like silk velvet, it is a good idea to cut the interlining first and then the top fabric, pinning the interlining pieces to the left side of the velvet. If your fabric has a pattern, be careful to match it, if possible!

 

Pin or baste the top fabric and interlining together.

Start building your bodice from the back.

Place the two back pieces right sides together and sew. If  you are sewing by hand, backstitch works best – then fold  the seam allowance twice, hiding the edges, and couch them down to the interlining. Whether sewing by hand or by machine, press the seams carefully.

Repeat the steps for all the back and side pieces.

 

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top fabric and underlining

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hand stitching done, awaiting pressing

The pieces in the very front, the forebodies, can be cut in a cheaper fabric as they will be completely hidden by the placard. Work on them first, before attaching them to the rest of the bodice.

Cut them in lining, interlining and top fabric.

Pin the interlining to the top fabric.

Place the top fabric and lining right sides together and sew at the centre front line.

Turn out and sew the boning channels.

Fold the upper edges to the inside and stitch carefully.

Bone the forebodies, and work eyelets.

Attach the forebodies to the main bodice.

Fold the neckline edges in, and stitch using a silk or linen thread

Try the bodice on to make sure it fits correctly.

 Sleeves

Cut the sleeves in top fabric, lining and interlining.  You may have to piece the sleeve if you don’t have enough decorative fabric to cover the entire sleeve.

 

Top fabric and calico interlining

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Decorative sleeve lining, made out of 4 pieces.

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Baste or pin the top fabric and interlining together, fold and sew with right sides together.

Turn right side out, fold the hem and stitch, securing the edge.

Press the seams – for the curved seams use a tailoring ham.

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Pin the sleeve into the armhole and sew.

Tidy the edges and notch the seam – it will work better and the seam will lay correctly, without stretching the fabric too much.

Notched seam in the armhole

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A hand worked seam seen from outside

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Repeat the same steps for the lining, starting with the back and side pieces of the bodice and then inserting the sleeves.

Set the lining into the bodice, sewing with a slip stitch.

For an earlier style, you can bind the edges in contrasting fabric – it works especially well for the bodice with ties.

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Finish the sleeves as well – slipstitching the lining top the folded hems of the sleeves.

Your bodice is now ready. Do try it on the kirtle again, making sure that the waist line is in correct place and that the sleeves lie correctly.

A bodice of the gown over a kirtle in gold.

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The skirts

Making of the skirts is very similar to the kirtle skirts.

Cut the pieces in top fabric, interlining and lining.

Baste the interlining and top fabric pieces together, and sew – it is often easier to start with the back pieces.

Repeat for the lining.

Place the lining right sides together, on the top fabric. Pin at the top and sew.

Turn over and press the seams. Fold again, this time left sides together and press.

If necessary, sew with a running stitch at the edge, just to make sure the edge is firm and even.

At that stage, especially if you are using silk velvet, hang your skirts for a few hours, allowing the fabrics to stretch.

If you are finishing the skirts without binding, fold the top fabric and stitch it down.

Pin in the skirts on a dummy, on the farthingale, if you plan to use one and check if the hem is even, and pin the lining to the top fabric, making sure the lining is not too long and does not sag below the hem.

Fold the edge of the lining and slip stitch. It is actually easier to do that while the skirts are still on the dummy!

If you are binding the skirts, there is no need to hem the top layer.

Simply pin the three layers together at the bottom – again, working on the dummy makes it easier.

Take the skirts of and lay it on a flat surface. Tidy the edges.

 

Pin your binding fabric onto the skirts; the pins should go through all three layers.

 

Sew along the edge all around the skirt’s hem.

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Tidy the edges so that they are even.

 

 

Unfold the binding and press.

Bring the binding over the hem, fold it and pin, so that it completely encloses the edges.Image

Slipstitch with a matching thread.

Your hem is now bound!

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You can repeat the same steps on the front edges of the open skirts – here, since the line is straight and not curved as in the case of the trained skirt, the binding cut on the straight grain, not on the bias, works better.

All you need to do now is to pleat the skirts and attach them to the bodice.

You can use either box pleats or cartridge pleats, or combination of knife and cartridge pleats.

For box pleats, more suitable for the earlier gowns with closed front, simply arrange the pleats, pin together and sew together.

 

You can also stuff the pleats with woolen waddling, a technique described in The Queen’s Servants book.

It provided the back of the skirts with more volume, achieving the fashionable look depicted in the famous Holbain sketch.

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Alternatively, for open fronted gowns, a mixture of knife and cartridge pleats works better.   Arrange the front parts of the skirts into a few deep knife pleats, and leave the back section to be pleated into large cartridge pleats there.  Before stitching the pleats, try the pleated skirts on the dummy – with the farthingale, making sure that they fall gracefully.

Skirts with pinned pleats – the first knife pleats work better on farthingale if they are deep.

Place the bodice and pleated skirts right sides together, and whipstitch them together.Image

Back cartridge pleats whipped to the bodice – inside and outside view

 

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All that remains for the gown to be ready is a placard.

Cut the pieces in interlining (2 layers, light buckram works well, plus one layer of linen or calico if your top fabric is flimsy), lining and top fabric.

Place the two layers of interlining together and run a channel for a bone at the centre front. It always work well to run bigger channels  across the whole width of the placard as this will stiffen the fabrics even more , even if you do not place the boning inside.

Place the buckram layers on the left side of the fop fabric (with interlining if necessary).

Fold the top fabric edged down and stitch, securing it to the base.

Line the placard with the last piece.

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Finished placard with a decorative jewel

The placard will be pinned to the bodice using pins – a method evident from a few portraits from the era, the most famous one being the one of Jane Seymour, by Hans Holbein.

 

Pinning the bodice works well as it is possible to adapt the size of the gown with the lacing and removable placard – important for example in case of pregnancy. It is a painful and lengthy process however, often requiring the help of a maid, and many re-enactors and actors often resort to sewing one side of the placard to the bodice and pinning only one side.

Alternatively, it is possible to discard the pins altogether and used hooks and eyes – but that method obviously does not allow for size fluctuations!

The gown is now ready, but it still needs accessories.

  The false sleeves (foresleeves)

Fabric:

1m of top fabric, and lining

A piece of white linen for puffing-outs

Gems, ouches and other decorative items

Linen tapes or braid for attaching the sleeves to the gown.

There are excellent instructions on how to make the sleeves to be found online, again, curtsey of The Tudor Tailor.

here...

 

I used the very same method to create mine – with ouches and pearls

Attach the ties to the sleeves, and to the inside of the gown’s sleeves.

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For a complete look you will also need cuffs.  Cuffs can be a part of a smock, but can also be made separately so that they can be changed and washed separately from the smock. They were often embroidered with blackwork or redwork.

They can close with buttons, hooks and eyes or can just be pinned together. These were embroidered with black silks by Embroidery Emporium.

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Embroidered cuff, open

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Cuff pinned close

 

Girdle

 All you need is a length of fabric- taffeta, velvet or satin.

Fold the fabric in half, lengthwise, right sides together, and sew.

Turn right sides out; secure the ends by folding them in and stitching.

You can tie a knot at the ends, sew tassels or hang a pomander.

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Add hose and shoes

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And a French or English hood and you are ready!

A gown in silk/linen brocade, worn on a farthingale, French hood. ( the whole outfit is entirely hand-stitched)

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Other gowns created using the same methods:

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Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard interpreters wearing French gowns, one in silk velvet, worn without a farthingale, the other is silk damask on a farthingale. Gable and French hoods. ( Black Knight Historical event)

 

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 The damask gown, side view, and the velvet gown side view below

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  Gown in cloth of silver, worn without a farthingale, and with a farthingale, below


 

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shamelessly flashing my layers – including a silk taffeta petticoat… love the woolen stockings from Sally Pointer btw…

Bibliography

 

Boucher, François. A History of Costume in the West, Thames & Hudson; Enlarged edition (23 Sep 1996)

Mikhaila, Ninya and Malcolm-Davies, Jane. The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing sixteenth–century dress. London: Batsford, 2006.

Caroline Johnson,  The Queen’s servants, Fat Goose Press, 2011

Hayward, Maria. Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII. Leeds: Maney, 2007.

The Renaissance Tailor: recreating the 16th and 17th century clothing : http://www.renaissancetailor.com [Accessed 27/01/2012]

Elizabethan Costume Page, http://www.elizabethancostume.net/  [Accessed29/01/2012]

 

 

Useful links to suppliers mentioned in the post, or providing decoration/fabric etc  used in the creation of the gowns

The Tudor Tailor

Sally Pointer ( lovely stockings!)

Gina Barrett ( spectacular tassels)

Embroidery Emporium

 Pilgrim shoes

jewellery Gemmeus

and my own page for the costumes shown here…. Prior Attire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mermaids shoots

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 You book a short holiday in Wales, on the Pembrokeshire coast – and within seconds of imagining the wild beaches and rocky formations you have an idea – the place is a perfect scenery for a mermaid themed shoot! And once the idea was hatched, there was no looking back. It might still be cold in mid April, but we have shot in colder conditions – and so the two months before saw me accumulating ideas and bits of fabric and props that could be useful.

 Out of that,  three different looks emerged, only 2 of which actually required my dressmaking skills. We came up with a regal mermaid, a warrior one, and a funky natural one….

 The location was sourced and agreed on – Freshwater West beach was perfect –  big, lots of places  suitable for shooting and facing west – so sunset light a bonus.

 In the end I only had a day to actually work on the mermaids proper, as was busy working on commissions, but the day was enough, and since i took my sewing machine with me (  did I mention at some point that it was a holiday?), I could finish things  in Wales.

  And the results – below….

 1. Regal mermaid….

 This one took the most work as i was making a corset from the scratch.

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basic design

 

The corset was made out of biscuit coutil with a gold net overlay and gold leather elements. The layers on the panels were roll pinned  first and then the leather was secured with a tape

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then the panels were stitched together.

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The corset was boned with spring and flat steels, flossed with a turquoise linen thread and then the fun began – i had to sew on the pre-prepaed shells and fins. the shells were drilled first and  painted with glitter glue; the fins were made from 2 layers of corsetry mesh, boned with artificial whalebone and painted as well.

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  The shells were also made into necklace and bracelet –  credit to my hubby who made them!

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making the fins for the corset, and other bits:-)

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The skirt was made out of a length of gold fabric – and we were all set for the first shoot. Since we visitied Pembroke castle on our way to the beach, to chat with a friend, it meant I had to apply the make up and do the hair on the location, which meant – in the car. not the best experience ever, I must say….

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 But in the end, I managed to get changed, and off we went shooting….

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2. The  Natural Mermaid.

This one was the simplest one – and a bit of an add -on.  while researching I came across places selling proper mermaid tails, with monofin etc – so usable.  and I just couldn’t  resist them…..  I suspect the tail and fin will be used at some point in an underwater shoot….. 🙂

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was so excited when the thing arrived, i simply had to pop it on…

 So here the bottom half was sorted, and for the upper one, I have recently purchased a swimsuit in matching colours ( Panache), to provide some decency in the majority of the shoot ( we did find a nice enclosed area for some more indecent ones, far from prying eyes…. 🙂 . the wig and the make up and we were ready to go.

 Or rather – to wriggle.  it turns out that this one was the most challenging  of the whole mermaids – mostly due to the constraints of the attire ( hopping across the beach with the tail cost me some bruises…) and difficulty of finding a pose that would look  natural, graceful, and most importantly, not show too much of my own blubber.  I am not your typical size 8 model shape, and although size 12 is not bad, it soon turned out that it was tricky to find flattering poses. As a result, the majority of the photos were marked as  ‘walrus’  and discarded ( I don’t really hold with the photoshoping tricks changing the shape of a body… wysiwyg philosophy here), still, a few survived the purge…..

 We were lucky in picking up the warmest day too – so I wasn’t cold, and even water was not too bad!

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3. The warrior mermaid.

 This one was the most fun, and the most in keeping with my own personality, as I do martial arts ( and have been doing one form or other of them since I was 17, including fencing, weapon sparring, kung fu, MMA etc). The styling was fun too –  not a lot of work involved with a great effect – my favourite!

  Here the most important pieces was the scale maile bits I had on loan from a friend – there were 2 bits that could form a skirt, and a few other ones, including a nice headgear/necklace. I simply mounted the skirt bits and the shoulder bit onto  leather strips – and that was it:-)

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 Corset – since I ran out of time, I used one of the corsets i already made and used in the Steampunk Amazones shoot.  And, once I put it on,  it turned out, oh joy! that I have dropped at least a size since I last wore it – in the autumn I had over 2 inches gap at the back  ( the corset was originally made to a different model measurements) – but now I could  lace it up close without any special effort ! :-). Kinky metallic leggings and a swathe of sequiny fabric made up the rest – and as an afterthought we  used  the fabric from the Regal mermaid as a mantle.   The weapons  – we had a knife but mostly used an Indian guard spear shaft with a harpoon kind of blade  ( probably Indonesian?) mounted on it.

 The results below…

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 and a few close up on the make up and talons…

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new style of make up for me – but loved it, especially the gold speckled lenses!

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using false nails, first time ever. loved the look, but found it impossible to function and perform the simplest activities… needless to say, the talons were removed first thing after the shoot….

 

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post shoot – just to show off the corset….

 

Well, there you have it – 3 different mermaid  themed looks.   Pleased with the photos, but it was hard work  shooting every evening- I think I need another holiday now…

 

credits:

Corsetry, skirts etc – obviously, Prior Attire;

Scale maille – Denise Piggin and Ruth Watkin

lovely dreads  – Magic Tribal Hair

photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

 

the inspiration board on Pinterest

 

And there is even a video on making the shoots on my youtube chanel  – here – the resluts as wel as details on making the costumes, make up etc.

 

and just to end this rather picture heavy post – a few outtakes….

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unexpected surge of tidal water… rather cold tidal water….

 

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de- mermaided – now i have proper legs!

 

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just plain scary……

 

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Lucas at work

1785 Riding Habit

 

 

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I have always admired the simple elegance of 18th and 19th century riding habits. They were practical, sturdy garments but with undeniable air of sophistication and grandeur.  Especially the 18th century ones- How can a girl resist one of these?

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sir Joshua Reynolds, Lady Worsley, 1776

 

or these…

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riding coat, Victoria and Albert muesum, around 1760

More habit pictures across the ages on the Pinterest board

So when I stared learning how to ride side-saddle, I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to make one. My heart was set on the later 18th century one, found in Victoria and Albert museum.

 

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It was made in glazed red wool, lined with glazed linen and faced with wool.

Since I intend to use my habit for hunting, red wasn’t the best option – too similar to the pink coats of the hunt service folks!  Dark green was the second best choice.

 The materials I used were:

Thick wool for the jacket – 2 m- I chose to make the jacket thicker than the skirt mostly because of the temperatures one faces during winter hunting

2 metres of left over wool for toile

4 metres of regular wool for the skirt and waistcoat

6 metres of silk taffeta

0.5 metre of linen for the waistcoat

16 buttons for the waistcoat

35 buttons for the jacket

Gold metallic braid for the decoration ( I used up about 6 metres)

Gold metallic thread and some embroidery silks

Silk and linen threads for stitching.

 

The whole outfit was hand stitched – but obviously if you prefer modern techniques,  machine can be used to save up on time!

 

The skirt:

That was the easiest part. . I made mine out of a big rectangle of fabric, lined with silk and cartridge pleated to a narrow waistband.  You can fins detailed instructions in my article on the 17th cent banqueting gown – I used the very same techniques – though I made the hem folded deeper and lining is shorter.   (http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/historicalperiods/medievalrenaissance/417-a-banqueting-gown

 

 The waistcoat.

I could not actually see much of the waistcoat worn with the original habit, but I found images of a very similar one and used them as my inspiration. Apart from the collar, both waistcoats seem to be double breasted and the cut wouldn’t be that different.

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riding habit waistcoat around 1790 victoria and albert museum

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riding habit waistcoat back

It was relatively easy to work out the pattern from the pictures I cut toile first, experimented with it and amended it till I was satisfied with the fit.  I wanted mine to fit me with or without stays, which was a bit tricky. I decided to line the front layer with wool as well – as it can get quite cold on longer rides!  The back is made of two layers as well, though this time of linen .

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I started work on the back first –  stitched the top and lining layer together at centre back ( leaving about 4 inches undone – that’s when the two parts will be joined later) and bottom hem, turned over and pressed. Repeat on the other half of the back. Once ready, stitch them together at the top and worked the eyelets in linen thread.  Lace them together – it is easier to work with the bits being laced instead of flapping around.

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 Next, add the two fronts on each side – only the top layer first, on both sides. Try it on and make sure the front is flat and the lapels are even.

Add the collar – I interlined mine with buckram to make sure it looks and is as still as the original seems to be, and lined it with wool. Once the collar is in place, you can line the front with another wool layer. Finish off the inside seams and the hem, put it on and mark the position of the buttons and buttonholes.

Buttons are a story into itself.

I couldn’t find any decent metal buttons that would be correct for the period, so decided to cover and embroider my buttons for both the waistcoat and the jacket. In the hindsight, I should probably have allowed for a more time – they do take quite some time!

I used the same cloth I made the waistcoat and skirts from. I divided it into small squares, each big enough to cover the button plus some extra, and stretched it on a tapestry frame

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button making, cloth stretched on a tapestry frame

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button making, cloth stretched on a tapestry frame and divided into squares

I worked in stages

  1.  Make a loop using a thick gold thread – make several in one go. My loop was long enough to go around the button twice.
  2.  Couch the loop down with silk thread – took me ages!
  3.  Embroider the stems with green silk thread
  4. Embroider the  flower in yellow silk thread

I worked on several buttons at the same time – I would make around 6  or 7 and then start the process all again.

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looping the gold thread to form the outline of the button

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loops, couching and embroidery

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cloth taken off the frame

When the embroidery is finished, detach the fabric from the frame and cut the fabric along the lines. You now have lots of squares with embroidered bit on it. Put your button (I used flat wooden ones) on the left side of the square, covering the embroidered bit.   Trim the rest of the fabric so that there is enough left to cover the button. Now you have a circle of fabric – use it on other square pieces so that you do not need to measure things up every time. To cover the button, sew a running stitch near the edge, place the button inside and pull on the thread.  Stitch the edges together. More detailed instructions can be found here:

http://www.craftpudding.com/2007/06/covered-button-tutorial.html

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Work the buttonholes and sew the buttons, and the waistcoat is ready.

 

The jacket.

I had to be bit creative with the pattern. I did not have access to a detailed pattern for a habit from that period, so decided to adapt the slightly earlier one from Janet Arnold. I simply changed the front by adding lapels and adapting the shape of the skirt.

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I must add that originally, working strictly from the picture, I couldn’t see any waist seam – so I cut my jacket without one. However, 400 Years of Fashion, presenting the V&A collection states that there is a waist seam…  which means I will have to remodel the jacket.  Oh well…. If you want to make skirts separate, just follow the pattern from Janet Arnold!

The method.

As always, cut out the toile first. – I this instance it was even more important than usual, as I wasn’t using a pattern I was familiar with or a commercial pattern – I had to check if the fabric hung and fitted correctly.  That was why I decided to use a thicker fabric for the toile – calico toile would no doubt make it easy to see the fit, however it could not mimic the behaviour of heavy and stiff wool. To achieve that,  I used bits of older, low quality  wool I had. And it worked! I basted the pieces together – I included the sleeves since I wanted them to fit closely but somehow allow me quite a lot of freedom of movement – and checked the fit. It needed some adjustments, so I undid the relevant seams, corrected the cut and basted the seams again. I had to repeat the procedure twice before I was satisfied, and then I simply undid the basting and used it as a template for cutting out the top layer and the lining.

I started with top layer, stitching first the back and then the sides and the shoulder seams.  I left the skirts un-pleated – I will do the pleating once the lining is in place.

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hand sewn side seam detail

Lapels- you have a choice how you want your lapels and buttons done: you can either have real buttonholes on them and sew the buttons to the jacket, so that they do button back – or have a fake buttonhole/button arrangement and secure the lapels with hooks and eyes. Mine are the former.

I market the buttonholes and the line for the braid decoration. I cut the line – just enough to allow for the button – and worked around it to prevent fraying. Then I added the gold braid decoration. Having finished with the lapels, you can now sew on the buttons.

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The next step was to make and add the sleeves I stitched the two part sleeve together, right sides together, leaving the cuff part unstitched at that point. I turned the sleeve out, with right sides up, and then finished the cuff – so that when it is turned back, the good side of the seam shows.  Proceed to add the buttonholes/button decoration – again, you can have either false ones or the functional option and I opted for the functional way – real buttonholes and buttons on the main sleeve.  Repeat on the other sleeve and when finished, set it into the armhole.

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The pockets were next.  Start with the pocket itself – mines are from silk. Cut out and stitch the two layers together. (pic.26) Mark the position of the pocket on the skirts, and cut the opening matching the opening of the pocket. Turn the pocket out, so that the left side is out, and set it into the slit, carefully securing the silk to the wool

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Pocket flaps – cut them out, making sure they are a bit longer than the actual pocket slit, line them, it you want to, and add the buttonhole/ decoration.   Pin it in place and stitch them to the skirts with a strong linen thread.

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sewing the pocket in…

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pocket flaps

 

Lining – stitch all the lining together – back first, then front and sleeves and set into the jacket. Pin carefully and let it hang together for a while. Adjust the pining at the hem if necessary and sew it in – at the front, neck hem, the cuffs (or rather before the turn back cuffs start).

Collar was next – again, I made a mock up collar first and experimented with it until i was satisfied with the way it looked together with the lapels. I stitched it to the jacket, lined with another layer of wool and worked the buttonholes so that it buttons down to the jacket.

All that remains now is pleating the vents – I did it precisely as shown in Janet Arnold, and secured them with the buttons and then added buttons at the top, purely for decoration.

Your habit is now ready – all you need it the undergarments, boots, gloves and a tricorn – and a –hunting you can go!

Here pictured at End Audley Hall – it was rather frosty on the day, with minus temperatures, and yet the wool kept me warm and snug.

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This article was originally published in  Your Wardrobe Unlock’d over a two years ago –   and looking back at it from the time perspective I think i need to make another one, updated…. maybe the earlier version? still have enough of the green wool to make a 1760 jacket…. 🙂

 

 

Bibliography:

Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion, Macmillan,  New York, 1984

400 Years of Fashion, V&A Publishing, London,  2010

Craftpudding,  http://www.craftpudding.com/2007/06/covered-button-tutorial.html [accessed 28/01/11]

V&A museum online:  http://collections.vam.ac.uk/  [accessed 28/01/11]