At long last, after lots of research, lots of work, some triumphs, and a few setbacks, I’ve finished my first proper medieval garment.
I got it completely ready to wear, except for sewing four buttons on the cuffs, for a historical dinner on Saturday. I wore it for the dinner with cuffs unbuttoned, and then I finished the buttons on Monday.
On Thursday the weather was beautiful (if cold) and the gorgeous Elizabeth of Ills Winter and I spent the late afternoon hanging out at the Sir Truby King gardens, taking pictures and generally having fun.
I only ended up putting 11 buttons on the sleeves, because of buttonhole issues (more about that in a later post), but I could add more later if I wished.
I’m reasonably happy with the finished result. The neckline is a little too scooped, the sleeves a little too long, my buttonholes more than a little rubbish, but as a learning piece, it’s not bad at all! The next one will be much better!
I definitely feel I’ve got the right silhouette for the 1360s-70s – the quite androgynous, flattened chest, the dress beginning to tighten at the waist, but without the real waist emphasis of later decades. In a pinch it will do for anything from 1350s-90s. Not that I have many events to go to where real date-specific period accuracy for this period is called for! Still, I think looking at a very specific, narrow period, and trying to make it fit exactly that really helped me to think about period accuracy vs. modern interpretations of fit an attractiveness.
Side note: can we talk about my seriously impressive hemming job? I got a friend to pin the floor length at all the seam lines, but too many pins fell out before I was able to get to hemming it, so I ended up doing it almost entirely by myself, using a mirror propped on the floor, and carefully cutting away tiny bits where the fabric brushed the ground, until it was even all around. It almost makes up for the buttonholes!
The circlet, belt and veil are just quick costume jobs, but they were quite fun to do and are very effective. I’m almost done with a proper veil in very fine linen, but didn’t quite get the rolled hems done in time for the photoshoot.
Taking photos at the Sir Truby King gardens, or anywhere in NZ for that matter, pushed the medieval boundaries a bit. Everywhere I look there were trees that did not exist in Medieval Europe! Like that cabbage tree in the photo above.
Or this ringa ringa lily:
Or this camellia:
We finally settled on a pine wood as reasonably plausible. For those ones I unpinned my braids and took off the veil, for a more romantic Pre-Raphealite take on the Middle Ages.
And just to be totally a-historical, the final photo works best if you either make Jaws noises or sing ‘Little Bunny Frou Frou, creeping through the forest…’ in your spookiest voice to it.