Katherine of Aragon gown 2014



Since I was to be back in Peterborough this June, representing this much beloved queen, I needed a new frock.  I have been their Katherine for the last 3 years or so ( more of that here), and my kit needed an upgrade. the upgrade had been planned from the  last year or so anyway ( and fund were being assigned from the project over that year too) – but alas our garage fire changed the plans a bit. 18 metres of black silk velvet I had secured from the gown was damaged in the fire – bits were still usable but not good enough for the gown – but ok for a kirtle 🙂

Below  find a short pictorial story of piecing the outfit together, as well as links to the providers – and since I am always asked how much the outfit would cost –  I specified the cost of individual items as well – the raw materials and labour-)


1. Smock- in linen, hand stitched.  Each piece was hemmed first , then the pieces were assembled using silk yarn and openwork seams shown in Patterns Of Fashion 4.

linen – 1.5m, Material cost – £30, labour – £100


pieces of the smock hemmed and prepared for assembly




Kirtle  ( I already had a good silk petticoat, so could skip that step 🙂

fabrics – silk velvet ( 6m – around  £120), silk satin – left over; buckram – 1m ( £10);silk taffeta for lining – 6m – £150 ( I used 2 different colours – making use of odds and pieces i had available),calico for intelining – 5m, £20 pearls and braid for decoration – £40; reed – £5

labour cost – £200


kirtle bodice insides – ready for boning with reed


bodice bones, covering the outside with silk satin


bodice covered , decorative bands of velvet attached, eyelets worked with silk thread


pearls attached, metallic braid next…



the skirts are interlined with calico, lined and bound with velvet…


kirtle worn – here at the end of a long, sweaty day – pray excuse my hair escaping the headgear…



fabrics – royal purple metallic damask , 10m – I was lucky to get it second hand, at £50 per metre – normally the price is about double, if not treble that ( Watts&co)

lining – silk taffeta  8m ( James Hare, @ £25 a metre) – I used 2 remnant lots, peacock blue and gold

purple silk taffeta for forebodice and binding – 1m – £25

calico for interlining – 6m – £25

rabbit pelt for the cuffs – £150

labour – £350


bodice pieces cut of, paired with interlining – yellow silk for lining


adjusting the fit…



the shell ready – eyelets worked, all ready for setting in the sleeves



preparing the fur – cutting it outside to avoid the mess inside! 🙂



sleeve ready…


sleeve showing off the turn back


innards – all ready for attaching the skirts.


binding the skirts with silk taffeta


skirts pleated – in front knife pleats, at the back 8 large cartridge pleats. here ready to be attached to the bodice



the cartridge pleats are stuffed with long ‘sausages’ made out of the velvet remnants – here stitched at the top, read to be secured in place. they fill in the cartridge pleats nicely, giving a nice shape – and make sitting on harder surfaces pleasant – like carrying your own cushion with you!


all ready, the forbodies lace under the placard ( pinned on)

3.  forseleeves

fabric –  gold metallic brocade ( 1m), silk taffeta lining – 1m, calico interlining,  decoration – estimated – £60

labour – £80


half way there….





girdle –  brocade fabric, tassels from Gina Barret. material cost – £130, labour – £20





Partlet – linen, with blackwork worked by Embroidery Emporium – £150




cuffs – also blackwork by EE – £150

bonnet – made on the paste I have used before, with a silk velvet veil, and a variety of frontlets – I have made 2 frontlets for this gown, the gold brocade ( and left it unpinned, in the earlier style)l and one in 2 brocades, purple and gold, and pinned the lappets to the side of the bonnet – an early  rendition of the gable hood.

material cost – £60,

labour – £100


shoes – by Pilgrim Shoes, slashed, with silk pulling outs – £70



hose/stockings – I had 2 pairs, one by Quartemasterie, one by Sally Pointer – approx £20


a lovely Piece by Gemmeus  £300,

other pearl necklaces and rings – £80


and the end product….


Peterborough Heritage





chilling out with my lady in waiting ( wearing a my previous Katherine outfit)




Peterborough Heritage

Peterborough Heritage

and with the hubby ( well, Thomas More)…


Peterborough Heritage

and the royal hubby – Ian from Black Knight Historical


Peterborough Heritage


and a funky one – look, am hovering! 🙂



the final costing…


smock  – 130; kirtle – £550; gown £1200; sleeves – £160; girdle – £160; cuffs and partlet – £300; shoes – £70; bonnet – £160; bling – £380, hose – £20; brass pins for pinning things – £30


total – £3230…  ouch…

Admittedly,  I don’t charge myself labour – but  obviously if I am working on my own stuff, i am not working on commissions that bring the revenue – so still counts as it creates a dent in my budget – making this outfit took about 10 days.   The materials were collected and saved for  over the last year – I am not a particularly wealthy person, so there is no way I would be able to afford such a frock all at once… I doubt I would be able to afford it now, if it weren’t a part of my job….

Needless to say, I do not plan another Tudor frock for myself in the next few years….. or a decade maybe…


photography of the finished product – Pitcheresque Imagery and John D.Grant.  More photos of the even itself soon!




12 thoughts on “Katherine of Aragon gown 2014

  1. Astounding. I’m only just starting out and people like you make the road so interesting. One of the most impressive posts I’ve seen. Full stop.

  2. That’s rather lovely. I love seeing work from people who’re willing to invest in the Right Materials to get a look.

    I’m a shoe geek, not a frock geek, though, and it seems like an awful shame (to my shoe geek eyes, at least) to add such modern looking shoes with their exposed machine stitching to such a lovely outfit.

    I have no association with her, but Sarah Juniper’s shoes (sarahjuniper.co.uk) would be much more in tune with the quality of the clothing. It’s not cheap – a pair would cost a significant fraction of the cost of the outfit – but they’re as close to perfect as you can get.

    Francis Classe also does top-end work aands.org/raisedheels/ is his site.

    • hello there and thanks for your comment – and yep, the shoes were the cheapest item here – mostly because my commissioned hand stitched pair was delayed and couldn’t arrive on time. These were fast, by a lady who lives nearby – a good stand by pair ( comfy too) until the proper bits arrive. I have dealt with Sarah before, and yes, her work is exquisite – however her customer service is not, so if necessary I tend to avoid. I usually go for NP Historical shoes now – fantastic work, but, as expected, a long waiting list… 😦

  3. I’m not certain how this came into my news feed on Facebook but I am glad it did! Your work is lovely, and I appreciate the process shown. You seem to make a beautiful and more accurate portrayal of the queen, as many people presume she was “Spanish looking”, i.e., dark haired with brown eyes. We Basques know she was fair like yourself! I wish you gran success and no more fired.
    I did the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Agoura, and in Novato, California for eighteen years, and my best costumes were made by Lois DeArmond, who went on to win an Emmy Award (Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for her work on a Disney show.
    I think you are equally talented.
    Lucia D’Angelo

    • thank you so much! indeed I am naturally fair haired ( though have been dark haired for the last 15 years or so), but the headdress hides the hair so my complexion and eyes can still look the part:-) really glad you liked the kit – it was a pleasure to make – and a pleasure to wear too, despite the heat….

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