Portfolio: 1570s Red Velvet Elizabethan gown

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

The Idea and Inspiration:

Elizabethan has never been my favourite period, but it’s certainly an incredibly popular one with historical costumers, thanks to the availability of Elizabethan themed events like Renaissance Fairs.  Elizabethan events are few and far between here in NZ, but I still thought I should make an Elizabethan gown, just to fill that particular gap in my historical costuming wardrobe.

I’m aiming to create a gown that a mid-level aristocratic lady might wear to court: her very best wear.

Like all of my first attempts at a new era, I’m not aiming for total historical accuracy, just to get the fit and look reasonably correct.

Inspiration Gallery

My primary inspiration piece is Death & The Maiden, as an excellent example of the type of garment I’m aiming for, with excellent and easily copied design features:

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

Fabric and Materials:

  • A set of large vintage cotton velvet curtains, a gift from the wonderful Lynne
  • Linen facings and under-bodice
  • Linen, cotton & silk thread to sew
  • Metallic gold lace for decoration

The Undergarments & Accessories:

The Dress Diary:

Research and helpful links:

  • Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut & Construction of Clothes for Men & Women c. 1560-1620. London: MacMillan, 1985
  • Malcolm Davies, Jane & Ninya Mikhaila. The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Dress.  London: Batsford, 2006