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.