Friday, August 14, 2015

Strawberry Hill Kirtle and Foresleeves

Anne Boleyn by Lucas Horenbout
Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000468

My pattern for the kirtle was based on the Henrician kirtle in The Tudor Tailor. I constructed it using 2 layers of linen canvas and on outer layer of white silk. As an experiment I did not stiffen this kirtle with reeds or boning as the Tudor Tailor originally suggested. Now that I have worn the kirtle a few times I may change my mind and add channels for reeds to be inserted and stiffen the bodice front. This bodice does not feel as supportive as my previous kirtles. I will give this style without boning a few more chances though before I stitch in all of the channels required to apply reeds or boning. I hand stitched the side seams of the bodice using white silk and I bound the bottom of the kirtle in scraps of white silk.

All of the eyelets were worked by hand using an awl and metal rings. I chose to use the button hole stitch for working the eyelets, in cotton embroidery floss. These rings can be purchased through sites selling historical costume notions, but some drapery shops may have something similar as well. You will be looking for a solid metal ring the size you wish to make your eyelets.The button hole stitch makes they look very even and pretty.  I used white cotton embroidery floss because I already had enough to finish the eyelets.Patterns of Fashion. They were spaced in for spiral lacing to make it easier to use shorter laces. In period these would have been sewing using linen or silk. Janet Arnold discusses this technique for Eleanora de Toledo's dress in

Queen Jane Seymour
Has Holbein the Younger
The neckline of the kirtle appears to be decorated with gold pieces and pearls. I recreated the look with freshwater pearls and brass beads sewing to a removable band of white silk.  The size of the painting limits my ability to know exactly what these gold pieces look like. Some of them seem round and others have squared edges. After more research I believe these may be quatrefoil like pieces called ouches. Ouches were popular among many of the Tudor nobility.Here are the ouchs worn by Jane Seymour in the famous painting done by Has Holbein the Younger. When funds allow I will replace these beads with ouches. Most retailers selling these jewelry pieces ask for$5-10 USD. Given the time it took them to research and reproduce the pieces I  feel that is fair, just not something I can jump into today. I have had it suggested I make ouches from fimo clay, so I may explore the idea further and post a separate entry about my results.

Cutting in progress and finished bodice
The kirtle skirt has a decorative front panel made of light blue and yellow upholstery fabric, I then cut out the matching foresleeves. I was free to use any fabric I wished because the miniature does not go any lower than the rib cage on Anne Boleyn. the piece I selected reminds me of damask and velvet pieces from the period I have seen online. I built the kirtle in this order so I could use all of the scrap from the dress to build bands of fabric around the back hem of the kirtle. When I finished all of my piecing there was only a small pile of scrap that I had not used. Based on the readings I have done on period tailoring techniques, I believe this was keeping with the wish not to waste any fabric if possible. I didn't feel it was necessary to create a train on the kirtle as well. The gown worn over this kirtle will have a train and when the train is hooked up using skirt hooks the lower decorative edge of the kirtle will be visible. I used a cotton twill for the non-fashion fabric. It is sturdy and gave the skirt a better drape than muslin alone.
Small pile of scrap left from cutting decorative kirtle forepart and foresleeves. 
The foresleeves are lined in linen. with false puffs made of handkerchief linen. the edges of the sleeves are connected using some gold plated points made in the same fashion as the buttons I have made previously. These half sleeves will tie into the gown using hand made laces. This pattern was inspired by The Tudor Tailor, but based on some of my own research into different styles of foresleeves popular in the Tudor court. I do not attach my decorative cuffs to my foresleeves. Based on my research into undergarments from the time, I believe it is more likely that the decorative cuffs seen in paintings are attached to the woman's smock. I have been known to drip things onto my cuffs and keeping these attached to my smock gives them a chance to be regularly cleaned.

Handmade aglets using gold plated beads and wire. 

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