Sunday, September 16, 2012

Venetian-Hungarian update

So it has been a very busy week around here, and with only 2 weeks left the tempo can not slow down if I am to finish everything before I depart for the event.

Since my last update I have finished the last of the 40 thread covered buttons for my husband's Hungarian coat. I also patterned to body and sleeves of the coat. There are a few more adjustments to make after the last fitting but by the end of the day i should have the body assembled. I am even using my lucet to make cording when i am on the treadmil.

I continue to practice wearing my new corset. The fabric has stretched slightly but everything seems to fit together well. I am now on the 4th row of embroidery on the front of my camicia. I need a total of 5 rows down the front and back panels, 4 down each side panel, the sleeves and my neckline. In order to make my portrait complete I will need to focus on the front and neckline for now, and I can address the rest of the blackwork after the event.

40 completed thread covered buttons for the Hungarian Coat. Made with wooden beads and embroidery floss .

To do List (mostly so I can print this and stay on track)

  • camicia blackwork
  • camicia construction
  • small shift construction
  • goldwork gorgiera (partlet)
  • More lucet cord for lacings, button loops and Venetian sleeve ties 
  • Venetian bodice
  • Venetian sleeves
  • Venetian skirts
  • String pearls for hair jewelry 
  • Hungarian coat body and sleeves
  • Hungarian coat skirts
  • Hungarian coat cuffs
  • Attaching buttons and loops to Hungarian coat. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tudor Tailor French Gown Foresleeves

While I am doing blackwork for 8 hours at a time, my Venetian camicia is not ready to be posted about yet. Instead I want to share some important information for anyone trying to make a French gown with accessories from The Tudor Tailor. I love this book but there were a few problems with the publication. The woman's foresleeves do in fact have a pattern included with the gown and kirtle, but the instructions were omitted at the time of publication. The wonderful women at The Tudor Tailor have since realized their mistake and will provide anyone with a pdf version of the instructions on their website.

Detail of  Elizabeth I from The Family of Henry VII, Hampton Court Palace.  These sleeves are similar in size and style to the instructions given on The Tudor Tailor website. 
 I have observed that is is just one kind of foresleeve. I am working on a extensive handout on these accessories because of all of the variations available. Because it takes so little fabric to make foresleeves it is a great place to try out new embellishment techniques like couching or other forms of embroidery. These compact accessories are also a good place to display expensive fabrics. you still get the image of being incredible posh, but you do not have to buy enough of that fabric to make an entire gown. Sometimes foresleeves match the underkirtle's decorative forepart, but not always. When making foresleeves for your gowns remember that the closer you get to 1550 the larger these foresleeves get and the more likely they will be to have additional fabric pullouts. 

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland in 1520's. Her foresleeves are narrow compared to later versions of foresleeves. This pleated look can be achieved using box pleats.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wearing your Corsets well

I have been told so many times that corsets are uncomfortable and awful to wear. My response to this is simply- you must not be doing it right. Here is a quick checklist for all of you inclined to try wearing corsets.

  • Always wear something under your corset! Historical corsets (as far as my research has shown me) were NEVER worn next to the skin. There are many reasons for this but the two best ones are that its really uncomfortable for long periods of time and the corset would need to be washed more often.
  • Hand wash your corsets! I know we put lots of tension on a well built corset some times, but modern washing machines will degrade the fabric faster. Depending on the style of boning you have it may degrade over time as well. The biggest problem with doing this is that usually the ends of the boning channels will wear down and the stays/busks/boning may poke through while you are wearing it. Lay your corset flat to dry on a towel. Electric driers may shrink fabric and hang-drying corsets may stretch the fabric.
  • Use good lacing! I know this sounds obvious, but I do know people who try and use silky rayon cords to lace corsets. The problem with that is how well the cord will stay tied. There are few things less comfortable than a corset lace undoing itself while you are being active.
  • Practice Wearing It! Most of us do not wear garments like this on a daily basis, and are not used to how it sits or shapes the body. I make it a point to wear a new corset around the house for about a week- maybe only a few hours at a time-  before I plan to wear it. All of these corsets are going to make you stand up straighter. This is the number one reason people give me for not liking corsets. I would remind you though that over time you grow accustomed to the way you have to carry yourself when you wear one (no slouching). Corsets over time begin to compress the waist more and more which can be a legitimate source of soreness or pain. I do not wear 19th century corsets for this reason.
  • Not all Corsets are Equal! Do not wear a corset from Victoria's Secret under an Elizabethan gown. Corsets from different eras may not shape you in the way you need it to. I swear I did it once and had to go in for a professional massage because my back was so sore.
  • Modern Corsets- Modern corsets have two functions really. Some will smooth out your body for a formal gown. Other corsets are designed to be worn in the bedroom. Usually, modern lingerie models are where the public sees women wearing corsets without anything under the restrictive garment.. Neither of these styles work well under period gowns. Please make or buy a corset of your own.
  • Get one Custom Made! For all of you who tell me that corsets are evil, try getting one made to YOUR measurements. Many people do not fit an "off-the-rack" size chart. A poorly made, or ill fitting corset will cause hours of grief. If you can not get a corset made for you get a professional to size you in person. Try on different styles because they all fit a bit differently on different people. 
That's all for now. Good Night :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Venetian Challenge

Inspired by an Italian Masquerade event that I will be attending at the end of September, my projects are taking a brief vacation to the shining city on the lagoon, Venice. Starting in at the beginning of August I had 8 weeks to build a Venetian Ensemble from the skin out, and a Hungarian Ensemble for my husband.  So far here is my progress:

  • Week 1: Research and order supplies I could not find locally. Start 40 thread covered buttons for husband's coat.
  • Week 2: While waiting for supplies research how gowns were made. Draft corset pattern, discuss construction details with those who have made them before. Prep supplies as they arrive. Build and embroider husband's 16th century shirt. Look to my post on a Man's Tudor Shirt.
  • Week 3: Construct Corset. Look to my post on Effigy Corsets with Reeds. Begin drafting camicia pattern based on the instructions at The Realm of Venus Camicia Page
  • Week 4-5: Mock up/patterning Hungarian coat. Embroidery the camicia in red using a Holbein stitch and patterns based on a sampler in the V&A museum. Drafting was done by  Katla Jarnkona from Also making yards of lucet cording for button loops, lacing, and ties. 
More updates will be posted as the project progresses. 

Italian embroidery pattern worked in red, single ply embroidery cotton for camicia.