Sunday, September 7, 2014

IRCC 4 Inspiration

One of the things I have always wanted to try was making a version of Elenora di Toledo's funeral dress as shown in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. The Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge 4, hosted by Bella at The Realm of Venus, provided me with an opportunity I could not beat. Below are some of my inspiration images. Citations will be edited in as they are found.

Unknown Florentine Lady, Agnolo Bronzino. 1540s San Diego Museum of Art

Eleonora di Toledo by Angolo Bronzino. 1540s

Bianca Ponzini Anguissola by Sfonisba Anguissola. 1557

Portrait of a Woman, Florentine School, Mid 16th Century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quick and Easy Buttons

While working on my projects for the Realm of Venus costume challenge, I decided I wanted to try a different way to make buttons for my new muff. Vecellio mentions gold and crystal buttons being used to keep them closed. My digging and research through the Elizabethan Costume Page on Facebook lead me to this lovely piece of documentation. 
6/30/14 Note: Katrine De Saint Brieuc was the original poster of this image to the Elixabethan Costume Page on Facebook. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

My next step was the bead store where I found decorative headpins and settled for gold plated beads. Rock crystal was not in stock and ordering it was starting to look expensive. After gathering tools I was able to produce something very similar to these buttons, but the holes in the beads did not allow me to insert the wire back in so deeply.

Beaded Buttons

- Decorative headpins for jewelry or non-decorative pins and fancy "caps"
- Large bead of your choice, round ones work well (demo is done with silver plated beads)
- Needle nose pliers
- Wire cutters

Step 1: Place bead (and cap if using on decorative pins) onto jewelry pin.

Step 2: Create a loop at the base of the bead using pliers.

Step 3: Wrap wire of pin around the base of this loop.

Step 4: Clip off any excess wire.

I hope you all feel inspired to make some beautiful buttons!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Phoenix Comic Con 2014

Earlier this month I presented research and pop culture surrounding Henry VIII and his court. This year included two panels; Dressing the Court of Henry VIII and The Tudor Project. I would like to thank Jo Stomel for all of the hard work she, and her staff, put into the costuming programming at Phoenix Comic Con. The whole event was topped off by the Silhouettes of History fashion show. If you saw our group at Phoenix Comic Con and would like to see us back to do more let the staff know. Here is to next year!

Fashion show slide by Rose Wood.
Photo during fashion show. Taken by Phoenix Comic Con staff. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

On to my next project....

As my two big, and most recent, projects draw to a close I have been looking for my next mountain. My heart has settled on competing in the Realm of Venus' 4th Annual Costume Challenge. As of tonight there are 37 competitors ready to pour thier blood, sweat, tears, and time into their entries. Over the next 4 month I will be constructing an outfit with at least 4 pieces:

  • A hand sewn linen camicia
  • A quilted skirt to add some stiffness to my silhouette without hoops
  • A gold silk gown in the Florentine style with sleeves
  • A silk chiffon partlet with goldwork
If time allows I am dreaming big with lots of items I would love to make for this competition:
  • Black velvet "doublet style" overgown
  • Another muff
  • Jewelry
  • Parasol
  • Saccotta (pocket)
  • Flag Fan
  • Linen Socks
  • Shoes
I will be posting an update once at least once a month as the competition goes on with my progress. For more information on the competition check out the competition's main page and track us as we send out progress reports to Bella!

4th Annual Italian Costume Challange

Monday, May 12, 2014

Silhouettes of History at Phoenix Comic Con 2014

Why have I been buckling down so much to restore my Anne Boleyn portrait ensemble? Many of us at have been invited to strut the catwalk at Phoenix Comic Con 2014.The goal of PHX Comic Con's Silhouettes of History is to show the inspirations of many popular historical dramas. Henry VIII and his court will be appearing to represent the Tudor court. I understand there will be many wonderfully talented people portraying other historical periods as well. 

The show is Sunday, June 8 at 2pm. For more details please visit the Phoenix Comic Con website or Facebook pages. As of now registration for models is closed. 

Phoenix Comic Con Facebook Page

Phoenix Comic Con Website

 "Learn about historical inspirations for the costuming in such shows as The Tudors, The Borgias and Rome! Local re-enactors will present historically accurate costumes from all parts of history, from the Romans to the Renaissance. You can vote for your favorite costume and check them out up close!" - Phoenix Comic Con Facebook Page. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Baby Shoes

A dear friend of mine recently had another baby boy and loves to dress him in period clothing. I unfortunately missed her baby shower, but finished up these darling little shoes made of cotton for easy care and mailed them to her. When worn there is a ribbon that laces through the eyelets to help them stay on her son's feet, but if he is getting active I could see those being ignored completely.

These were inspired by several adult pairs of shoes and to give me some small scale practice before trying to make my own shoes later this year. Children were dressed as small adults during the 16th century, so it made perfect sense to me to use their shoes (and modern booties to some extent) when choosing styles and constructing this pair. I Keep your eyes open for test pieces on shoes in the coming months.

Extent Pieces:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Anne Boleyn's Gold Embellishments Update

Beads completed and sewn to kirtle
In August 2012 I started a project to replace the brass beads on my Anne Boleyn gown with wooden beads covered in metallic threads. Because I did not have a solid timeline I needed to finish these by the beads were put aside for other projects. Now I have the deadline that I needed I have been working steadily to finish covering the beads.

New research has also encouraged me to place all of the embellishment on the neckline of a supportive kirtle rather than the edge of my gown as I had done before. This kirtle will also replace the corset I had been wearing under my gown. The first kirtle had varied amounts of success. It was supportive improved the silhouette, but the "cups" of the kirtle were too small for my bust. This version is more accommodating. The kirtle also laces under the arm on both sides to allow for more flexibility and an unbroken neckline under my gown.
Progress of embellishing the kirtle. Kirtle bodice is made of linen canvas, reeds, and charcoal silk. 

Original post on Anne Bolyen's Gold Embelishments

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Real White Queen and her Rivals

If you really want to understand Henry VIII and his reign, you need to understand the world his parents were born into. The BBC has recently started a series based of Phillipa Gregory's Couins' War series called The White Queen. In order to help the public sort our the fact and fiction a two part documentary was created on the roles of three important women during the Wars of the Roses. If you don't have access to BBC4, the full documentary has been uploaded onto Youtube by someone else. I am posting links to these videos for educational purposes only, and I claim no rights to these videos. Alison Weir's book The Wars of the Roses is another great resource.

The Real White Queen and her Rivals part 1

The Real White Queen and her Rivals Part 2

Enjoy a little bit of the history that brings the Tudors to the throne!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Perfectly Period Muff

Its been a while since I posted any updates, but the stitching never stops I promise. Over the winter I participated in the Realm of Venus Fabulously Fashionable Fur Competition. While I didn't win, I gave the other extremely talented ladies a run for their money and I am very happy with my end results. Here are some brief snippets of my documentation. Please enjoy and go visit the competition page to see the work of the other talented costumers.

Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian, 1532–1625)
The Artist's Sister Minerva Anguissola, ca. 1564
Oil on canvas
Layton Art Collection, Gift of the Family of Mrs. Frederick Vogel, Jr. L1952.1

Description and History of Renaissance Muffs
The earliest documentation on muff comes from Italy around 1550. By the late sixteenth century, muffs were becoming a popular winter accessory in Europe. From Italy to England women of means were embracing these fur or silk lined envelopes to warm their dainty hands. We have wardrobe accounts for many notable women who owned muffs including Duchess Eleonora di Toledo and Queen Elizabeth I.

“One was made for Eleonora on 31 January 1550 in purplish violet velvet with a lining of miniver and complete with a ribbon, probably for hanging around the neck."
 (Landini 168-169). 
Elizabeth I owned several muffs which she paid her skinner, Peter Bland, to line with hare and sable furs (Arnold 193). Queen Elizabeth’s god-daughter, Eleanor Verney, was painted holding a heavily embroidered muff around 1590. The popularity of the muff was widespread among women of all ages.
  Design and Construction in PeriodCesare Vecellio gives insight into the construction of sixteenth century muffs in Habiti Antichi et Moderni
At that time of the year they also wear a muff lined with fur… the muff is of black velvet or some other silk fabric, fastened shut with buttons of oriental crystal or gold (Vecellio 130).” 
In addition to these texts and the related woodcuts we have some related extant pieces. 

The Museum of Fine Art in Boston, Massachusetts, has a muff which is dated to the sixteenth century. The extant muff is constructed of silk velvet, silk lining, and stuffed with what the museum describes as "cotton". Based on Vecellio’s description, extent items, and illustrations, it is possible to conclude muffs were made of rectangular pieces of fabric which are rolled into a tube and sewn shut or fastened with buttons.
Most account entries, paintings, and extent pieces are heavily embroidered with metal thread embroidery and pearls. Even buttons could be embroidered. There are two examples of buttons embroidered with metal threads at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

French Fashion Plate from 1595. LA County Museum.

Cotton Batting
Metal Thread
Rabbit fur
Rayon Velvet in place of Silk Velvet
Buttons made from metal thread and wooden beads.
Sewing threads
Freshwater Pearls

Step 1: Prepare the Velvet
Cut velvet to size and finish edges to avoid excess fraying. The velvet rectangle was cut to 17 by 25 inches. Then draw out the design to be couched in chalk. In period the design would have been pricked and pounced on the design. After the design is transferred to the fabric, it may be inked in place. Instead of inking I ensured the design did not disappear into the pile or rub off by taking some thread and basting over the design. 

Step 2: Embroidery
Couch the metal thread over the design using silk thread as the passing. Silk was much easier to use and the couching on the previously mentioned doublet at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art appears to have sections couched in silk. This design is based on one from a period embroidery book printed in 1534. After the couching was completed basting stitches were removed and small freshwater pearls were stitched into the design. 


Step 3: Buttons
Thread covered buttons were widely used in 16th century Europe. I cannot document these buttons being used specifically on muffs, but there are similar looking buttons in Vecellio’s woodcut of a Venetian noble woman. I used the directions given in the Tudor Tailor to make these buttons with DMC “gold” purl thread.


Step 4: Piece the Fur
This muff is lined in fur. There are extent examples of muffs which are lined in silk, but Cesare Vecellio says the many Venetian noble women would wear fur lined muffs during the winter. While Vecellio does not specifically state rabbit fur was used, it is listed in Elizabeth I of England’s wardrobe accounts for her muffs. To cut the fur to size I used a utility knife and cut into the underside of the fur. The trimmed rabbit furs were then sewn together with a modern leather needle and silk thread.

Step 5: Batting Insert
To create padding that would sit well inside the muff I pad stitched 6 layers of cotton quilt batting using linen thread. 
Step 6: Assemble muff
Assembling the muff began with basting a seam allowance in place around the edge of the velvet. I then basted the padding on the edges of the seam allowance and the button loops. Next I stitched the fur onto the velvet seam allowance and added the metal thread buttons. 

Anguissola, Sofonisba. The Artist’s Sister Minerva Anguissola. Milwaukee Art Museum. Number: L1952.1
Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d. Leeds: Maney Publishing. 2008.
“Blouse.” Italian, 16th century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Accession number 41.64
“Doublet.” European, 1580. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Accession number 1978.128
“Extent Muff.” Italian 1550-1600. Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Accession Number: 43.1827
Isis. “Meet Pandora the Fashion Doll.” 9/25/13. Accessed 1/10/14
Landi, Roberta Orsi and Bruna Niccoli. Moda a Firenze 1540-1580 Edizioni Polistampa: 2005.
Mikhaila, Ninya and Jane Malcolm-Davies. The Tudor Tailor. Hollywood: Quite Specific Media Group. 2006.
Schartzenberger, Johan. Patterns Book of Embroidery: 1534. Berkeley: Lacis Publications: 2003.
Vecellio, Cesare and Margaret F. Rosenthal. Habiti Antichi et Moderni: The Clothing of the Renaissance World. New York: Thames & Hudson: 2008.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Tied Ribbon Dress by Vecchio

I found this portrait over a year ago and became fascinated with it. So because of my need for lightweight court clothing to wear at Pennsic I set out on making my own rendition on this gown.
Palma Vecchio, Woman in Blue
I have chosen to interpret this dress as the ancestor of the "ladder laced" dresses seen on many noble. Venetians later in the century. I would like to thank Melissa Jones and Anabella Wake for their insight into constructing this garment. The camicia was constructed using Anabella's instructions on The Realm of Venus.

The Materials:
5 yds of blue cotton damask (During the time period it was made with silk)
1/2 yd high quality blue velvet (Period material would have been made with silk)
2 yds green silk (sleeve linings)
6 yds of homemade cord (in place of silk ribbons)
1 yd of linen for bodice lining
2 metal bones
1 hook and eye

At this time an extent garment of this style has not been shared with the public. My construction is based on period paintings and extent pieced available to the public for study. When constructing any gown I always start with the cut of the bodice. If that doesn't fit well and flatter the individual, nothing will save the outfit. I chose to base my bodice cut on the burial dress of Eleanora di Toledo as described in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620. If I were to construct this garment in the future I would probably opt for a straight side seam under the arm instead as no related paintings from the 1520's or 1530's show angled side seams like those I have used. Both styles, when fit well, will produce a beautiful garment and have some basis in historical practice. After sewing and attaching front ties and not being unable to fit my garment well on my own and messaging others with pictures of my fitting woes a beautiful bodice was born. This bodice was edged in strips of cross-grain velvet similar to this portrait.

After many attempts to solve some fit issues which sprung up, I realized I needed to shorten the shoulder straps. 

My next feature was to make the sleeves. A fun detail in the painting is what appears to be a split sleeve which is tied together with ribbons. Similar cuts were popular on the Iberian peninsula and spread to other regions in Europe. Not every ribbon tied dress had this detail. After a bit of draping I discovered that rectangles roughly 28 inches by 33 inches created the correct drape and fullness. When I originally constructed the dress I still had not found the silk lining and bound the sleeve edges with velvet anyway. While at Pennsic I discovered a wonderful store called 98th Fabric District which carried many beautiful silks. Once the perfect fabric had been acquired I disassembled the sleeves to add it. 

The second sleeve, in this case gold with slashing to reveal red silk, will be the subject of its own blog as they are not yet completed. 

The skirt was simple as this dress is intended to be worn outdoors in the summer. I used the remaining yardage and created a large tube with panels. These panels were then box pleated into the bodice and sewn in place before the lining was attached over them to protect the raw edges. In period the bodice and skirts were probably finished separately and then hand sewn together. I did not wish for the extra bulk of lining in my skirt and opted to use finishing seams instead. The gown was hemmed by hand using a rolled hem.

After the skirts were attached I stitched a large hook and eye into the waistline at the center opening to keep the garment from accidentally becoming untied. I can not document this practice, but hooks and eyes were in use by the 16th century and it makes me feel more secure while wearing the dress. At first I tried to wear the gown without any stiffening in the bodice and the summer wear at the time does not have a stiff silhouette, but my larger bust is demanding more help than all of my fittings have allowed. As a result I have sewn one metal bone into the dress along where the lacing strips are to assist in my need for more support. I have also started practicing breast binding to see if it will provide a solution. 

This dress was a departure from my typical clothing, and I love how cool the dress is since I live in a desert that Henry VIII could only have imagined. I will continue to play with the dress and publish any helpful amendments I find as I wear the style more and become more comfortable with it. 

I wore this dress when being belted as an apprentice in the Society for Creative Anachronism after Pennsic.