My previous blogging has fallen down due to attempts to make it about dress diaries. Every time I get involved in a project I lose my camera under the pile of fabric and get too busy sewing to write blog posts then when the project is over I feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing all the missing diary posts.
I have therefore decided to make this a rather more normal run of the mill blog that I use to document my thoughts and any finished projects.
Today’s blog post is, therefore, about some classes I attended over the weekend at the Politarchopolis A&S Collegium http://politcollegium.wordpress.com/.
There were two classes that really stood out for me and made me re-think topics that I thought I already knew.
The first was Mistress Rowan Perigrynne’s class on analysing a costume style. She has codified a series of questions to ask when looking at period sources in order to understand a costume style so that instead of copying one particular painting you can create something new that somebody from that period would recognise as within the spectrum of normal. The class notes are available via the Barony of St Florian’s website where this class has previously been run http://www.sca.org.au/st_florians/university/library/articles-howtos/analysing-a-style.htm Some of the additional suggestions not in the class notes like measuring the proportions of common features (the example she gave was skirt guards) in order to understand the range of normal really sounded helpful. I have been thinking about possibly experimenting with the French or Italian styles of clothing in the first half of the 16th century as a way to make court garb that doesn’t have the inconvenient sleeves of English court garb around this period and I know writing down the answers to these questions will speed up the process of becoming as familiar with this style as the process of just looking at portraits and absorbing information unconsciously that I did to become familiar with my current favourite style of English clothing in the first half of the 16th century.
The other class that also made me think again was Recipe Redaction by Mistress Kiriel du Papillon. This was another class on a topic that I thought I understood, I have cooked from period recipes before so I was confident that this would just be a refresher. However Kiriel’s approach was, again, to question everything about the recipe. The recipe she used as an example was ‘Tart in Ymbre day’ from Forme of Cury. Below is the original recipe:
Tart in Ymbre day
(Curye on Inglysch, Forme of Cury recipe # 173, page 136)
Take and perboile oynoun & erbis & presse out the water & hewe her smale. Take grene chese & bray it in a morter, and temper it up with ayren. Do therto butter, safroun & salt, & raisouns corouns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, and bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.
This is a recipe I have cooked before but I never actually analysed it. But taking it back to basics the questions start with what sort of onion, red, brown, or even spring onions are possibilities. Then comes the first mistake I have always made, running on automatic I have always cut up the onion and then boiled it where this clearly says to boil it before it says anything about cutting it up. Classes like this that make me open my eyes and make me question my assumptions are hugely valuable in my opinion.
So this post is actually about boy garb as I spent yesterday evening helping my Fiance to fit his wedding doublet.
First up I have photos to illustrate the concept of how the side fastening doublet works (as it may be clearer than my description in the lastpost).
Ignore the fact that it’s on my dummy over the top of a dress this is just an illustration of how it fastens. As you can see the sleeve is sewn into the armhole created by the back and side front peices then the full front piece is brought across to cover it up. Much better for men with broad shoulders than the method I was envisioning of pulling it on over the head and then fasten the side seams (which is how the ladies side lacing kirtle is done.
The other problem was the size of the sleeves, traced from the Tudor Tailor Henrician mens pattern pack the sleeves ere huge. The first step was to take the sleeve up by about 2 inches so it ends at his wrist, not his knuckles.
We liked the fullness in the top of the sleeve but it was getting in the way below elbow level so the second step was to taper it more below the elbow so that in the end the wrist opening was just big enough to fit his hand through comfortably. The next step is cutting silk.
So my updates took longer than the few weeks I was expecting I have made some real progress in the construction of my kirtle, the interlining is cut out as is the lining.
But before I cut the brocade out I need to work out the skirt length, and for that I need to work out my skirt supports.
I already have another Tudor gown and some underpinnings, however the farthingale will need replacing so I put on my old gown and tried all my underpinnings. I was hoping to get away with skipping a farthingale, but looking at a direct comparison using my old Tudor gown there’s no denying that the farthingale makes it look much better.
On a side note I’m also helping my Fiance make his garb for the wedding. He’s up to the doublet stage and I finally had a revelation on how the side fastening doublet goes together. I had initially assumed it was a simple case of front and back pieces with a fastening along the side seam, but then there was a ‘right front’ piece that didn’t make any sense. I finally worked out that it is actually supposed to work like an extreme version of a double breasted jacket. The back is only sewn to the front panel on one side on the other side it is attached to the ‘right front’ and then the front overlaps and is hooked or tied on to the right front.
Well I found that perhaps a blog isn’t any better at documenting my progress with a project than a regular website as I was so busy trying to get my outfit finished in time for College war that I didn’t get much internet time to update this as I went
The gown was finished enough to wear to the assassins feast on Friday night and it was entered into the A&S competition on Saturday morning. It is essentially finished except for seam finishing and hemming. I’m going to follow the book’s recommendation of binding the hem with velvet ribbon, it seems like a sensible solution and a period plausible one, (although I haven’t yet seen evidence one way or the other for it) as a binding can be removed and replaced when it wears out without any damage to the gown fabric and you can brush dirt off.
I like the way it fits the only issue I have with this construction is the way the kirtle shoulder straps are cut in one piece with the back bodice and come all the way over the shoulder to join the front of the bodice. I’ve only ever seen this in corsets (e.g. the effigy corset) and in those cases the shoulder strap ties on to the bodice. It didn’t occur to me before but one of the judges of the A&S comp (whose name I missed unfortunately) pointed out to me that this method puts a seam at the front in a relatively obvious place. I can’t really believe that an artist like Holbein would not show this seam when he shows other details of similar scale (e.g. you can’t see a seam there on this portrait of Elizabeth Widmerpole).
I would rather follow the Alcega pattern that Mistress Oonagh sent me last time I was making a Tudor Kirtle which shows the shoulder strap at the front cut on the bias, this would achieve a similar effect to a single strap cut on the bias but with a seam on top of the shoulder instead of at the front.
Photos will be forthcoming eventually but probably not for a while yet.
My current costuming project is a gown based on this 1544 portrait of Princess Mary, in blue and gold, the colours of my college (The College of St Aldhelm). Construction is mainly based on The Tudor Tailor but as I have less than a month to complete this outfit (My deadline is the second week in July) I am taking a couple of machine shortcuts instead of following the instructions exactly.
So far the kirtle bodice is about halfway finished. The main structure is essentially finished but the armholes need binding and I need to sew eyelets, (I know from experience that eyelets will be the most time consuming part of the process) after that will come the kirtle skirt before I can move on to the gown.
I decided to base my gown on this portrait because it shows sleeves lined with velvet rather than fur, using velvet means I can continue the gown’s blue and gold theme throughout the whole gown, which would have been broken up if I used the more typical Tudor option of fur (as I don’t know of any animal whose fur is naturally either blue or yellow).
The photos to the right show the kirtle bodice, the main fabric is a delustred satin and it is lined with a red canvas for added support. I will sew the eyelets before I start on the skirt as its much easier to sew eyelets when you don’t have an extra 3 or 4 metres of fabric to fight every time you turn the bodice.