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Elizabethan Progress

The Elizabethan ensemble is moving ahead nicely, though everything is taking longer than I think it will (ergh.  New periods.  So much research to do.  So many mistakes to make, and then unmake, or decide you just can’t fix)

I have made the most important step though.  I have an inspiration image!

Isn’t it glorious and fabulous?  And doesn’t it look very like all the stuff I’ve already made?

I love the sleeves.  I think they are the best Elizabethan sleeves I’ve ever seen.  And the diagonal bodice decoration is just delicious.

So, with a real inspiration point, I have decorated the bodice with yet more has-to-be-hand-sewn-on lace:

Red Velvet Elizabethan

And installed grommets in my lining.

Red Velvet Elizabethan

I’m rather gutted about the grommets.  I’d already sewn eyelets to the lining months ago, and when I pulled it out of the UFO pile I assumed I’d made a stupid non-period mistake, and took them out and did the grommets.  Then I went back to Arnold, and realised that all of the 16th century gowns Arnold has patterned fasten with hooks at some point or another, so the hooks were accurate, and were based on that.

Still, I never had any hope that this would be 100% period accurate, and she does pattern a girls bodice with lacing under buttons, so it’s not too bad.

And at least my gold trim looks quite amazing:

Red Velvet Elizabethan

I did trial the slashing seen in the inspiration painting, but cotton velvet/velveteen does NOT play well with slashing, even with various edge finishes.  My lace is so much bolder than that in Death & the Maiden that it’s probably a good thing anyway.

The bodice is completely finished, as is the skirt, and they just need to be joined.

Red Velvet Elizabethan

After that there are just the sleeves to go, and the main body of the garment is finished!  I’m planning to sew on the sleeve rolls, but have the long open sleeves attach with lacing, so they are detachable (and I’ve totally given up hope that I’ll have them done by Wednesday).

So now I’m working on sleeve rolls, and trim for them, and ruffs.

Red Velvet Elizabethan I don’t think I’m going to have enough red velvet to make the hat (sniff sniff) so it may have to be black, or red silk.

Death and the Maiden, British (English) School, c.1570, Oil on panel, 65 x 49 cm, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Death and the Maiden, British (English) School, c.1570, Oil on panel, 65 x 49 cm, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Plus, there is the mystery of the rest of her headgear.  What do you think is going on behind the hat?  An elaborately trimmed snood?  The under-parts to a French hood?

For now, it’s back to work for Fiss & I:

Felicity the cat

Bayeux Tapestry skirt thedreamstress.com11

The ultimate textile historian skirt

I think it’s no secret that I love op-shopping.  I love op-shopping as much as I hate regular shopping (ugh.  crowds.  people.  poorly made stuff that doesn’t fit right).

The major exception to hating regular shopping is fabric, because I love fabric stores.  But I also love fabric shopping at op shops, because I find some amazing things.

Like this fabric:

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

Can you see what it is?

It’s the Bayeux tapestry!

(or at least selected parts of it)

I teach the Bayeux tapestry as an example of politics in textiles, and the use of textiles in propaganda, so when I found this fabric I*

* translation: I let out a tiny squeak and sat down with a thump.

The fabric is a screenprint by an Australian textile designer.  It’s on a viscose/rayon and probably dates to the ’70s or ’80s.

There wasn’t a lot of it, and it’s a very busy print, and not in the best colours for me, so I wanted to make something that really took advantage of the print with minimal cutting, and stayed away from my face.  Solution?  A super simple gathered skirt:

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

With pockets of course!  Because if pockets are at all a possibility, they should be included!

The skirt is simply two widths of the fabric, selvedge to selvedge, and it’s every scrap there was.  I even had to mend a tiny rip in the fabric at the hem to get the length I wanted.  To really maximise the length, I also used a bias turned hem (in sky blue, for a bit of fun contrast).

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

Luckily I was able to match the brown and white stripes as they ran around the fabric at the side seams, though there was a bit of colour chance across the width of the fabric, so if you look closely you can see two shades of brown on either side of the seams.

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

Because I used every extra scrap, my pockets are plain white fabric, and I had to do something a bit different for the waistband.  I thought of a coordinating or contrasting fabric waistband, but Made on Marion has this awesome gold elastic, and what could be easier and better than a gold elastic waistband?

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

I ADORED the skirt once it was finished, but it did turn out to be one of those annoying wardrobe orphans, as none of my tops looks quite right with it.

I’ve got a stack of projects that should fix that problem in my summer wardrobe sewing pile (come on Dec 4th!  Time for all the summer sewing!), but I quickly whipped up this blue faux-wrap top a few weekends ago, and it’s sort-of working with it.

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

Sort-of working is actually a good general descriptor for the top.  The fabric is a tissue-weight knit that was $1 a meter because it’s ridiculously off-grain.  I’d intended the top as a toile for an idea I’m playing with around pattern adapting, so more-or-less wearable is a bonus!

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

For the photos Mr D & I drove around the bays to the airport, because every spring there is an amazing display of orange flowers on the ocean-facing hill of the airport road, and I have always wanted to get photos with them.  Unfortunately we timed it wrong, as they had already shut for the day, so we got some photos with the bay behind us, and then continued on to the Massey Memorial.

We took the old path down to the sea on the other side of the memorial, which turned out to be a great choice, as the hillsides were covered in pea blossoms, and banana passionflower.

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

In Hawaii we call banana passionfruit ‘banana poka’.  It’s beautiful, but in both Hawaii and NZ it’s a noxious pest, so I felt almost virtuous picking handfuls of the flowers (less flowers means less fruit means less seeds to spread).

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

They made a nice display in a vase, and the skirt makes a nice display on me.

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

Happy summer sewing!

Bayeux Tapestry skirt

Rate the Dress: Anna of Austria by Anthonis Mor

Last week I showed you a rather plain 1890s dress with enormous puffed sleeves.  Thanks to some rather fabulous fabric and some very clever stripe-work, the dress was very popular.

Right up until my Mum showed up and pointed out that it looks like an elephant.  Thanks Mum!

Still, 1890s sexy librarian or elephant, it came in at a VERY impressive 9.2 out of 10.

Since I’m on a 1570s kick, this week’s Rate the Dress is on-theme.   Rather than staying with English Elizabethan styles, we’re travelling to continental Europe to discuss the fashion choices of the 21 year old Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain:

Anthonis Mor, Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain, 1570, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum Gemäldegalerie Inventory number GG_3053

Anthonis Mor, Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain, 1570, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum Gemäldegalerie Inventory number GG_3053

In typical late 16th century Spanish style, Anna’s clothes are quite severe, with large expanses of expensive black fabric.  Equally typically, the black is livened with copious amounts of precious metals and stones: her bonnet is circled with gold braid and jewelled ornaments, there are more jewelled pins in her hair, she wears an elaborate gold necklace with an enormous double-headed bird pendant, each head holding a ruby in its mouth, while a large pearl dangles below, and what is probably a diamond sets off the whole thing.  An equally elaborate and impressive belt highlights her slender waist and the fashionable pointed bodice of her dress.

Slightly less typically, the black is also relieved by a vivid yellow doublet, giving a bit of youthful zing to the ensemble.

Anthonis Mor, Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain, 1570, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum Gemäldegalerie Inventory number GG_3053

Anthonis Mor, Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain, 1570, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum Gemäldegalerie Inventory number GG_3053

Anna was, by all accounts, quite charming and personable.  She was known for being her father’s favourite daughter and her husband/uncle’s (yes, eww.  It’s the Hapsburgs.  We know what happened to them because of it) favourite wife.   Does this outfit do a good job of balancing youth, power, status, and personality?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.