Thursday, April 26, 2012


I am tied between using linen or silk for the underskirt, both of which I have in my stash. It won’t show, at least not much, but I might want to use it when it would show. The linen is turquoise and the silk is a shiny gold. The former would sort of blend whereas the latter would go with the trim. Both would be cool, but the linen would probably hold up better….

Ok, after a lot of debate, I’ve cut the beautiful gold silk from my stash. I have been saving that material for so long it was tough to cut into it! I allowed 4 yards for the skirt. There is a decorative edging that I would like to preserve so I will need to be careful cutting the waistband.

This material is a fraying mess! I cut off one edge and set aside for the waistband. I sewed the ends together for the skirt seam, double it over to control the fraying.

left about 6” at the top for a closure, rolling the edges with a hem stitch. I think I will do a box pleat to attach to the waistband, but I need to hang it first.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Layer 4: Partlet

In the portrait, the partlet appears to be one of the more simple types, similar to a scarf, placed around the neck and tucked into the front of the neckline. The inner edge is trimmed with a gold gimp. The fabric is very sheer, white, with gold stripes about two inches apart. A bit of extra fabric from the partlet spills over the dress’ shoulders.

I have some very fine silk gauze with metallic stripes. The stripes are less than an inch apart, but it still has the feel of the partlet fabric in the portrait. I also have gold gimp, cotton from an older collection, which will do nicely. The fabric is only a 1/3 of a yard, so I may not be able to get the exact way the stripes run in the painting, but they should look right from the front, and since we can’t see the back, the issue is moot.

I used waxed cotton thread to trim the partlet and roll the hem. The fineness of the fabric is a bit scary! While very soft, the silk has a bit of tooth, nice as it stays in place.

It looks good, but I won’t know if it works until I finish the dress.

Little Things

Finally a day off to work on my outfit! What do I do? I don’t work on any of the layers, but on the jewelry instead. I received the silver and gold findings that look the best. I had played with other pieces, but just didn’t work.

Using 34 ga silver wire, I pulled the findings together by wrapping and twisting. The wire is very fine, almost looking like cobweb when it catches the light. The pieces still flex, but they are firmly connected. Now, where the heck did I put those pearls?

Not too bad, eh?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Getting Started

I had to work this weekend, but I did manage to cut four yards for the skirt and sewed the seam (backstitch—all of this will be hand-sewn as my machine is under about a foot of dust. I didn’t want to destroy what seems to be a burgeoning ecosystem). Besides there is something soothing and friendly about hand-sewing. Now I need to decide on the gathering. I had contemplated trying cartridge pleats, but after some research, it sounds like knife and box pleats were favored during this period. I have enough of a natural bum roll to keep the skirt nice and full!

The fabric is beautiful, the color very rich. But—as a taffeta—it is very slippery, all those yards sliding around as I tried to work on the seam. I used a cotton thread that was similar in color to the fabric, waxed by running the thread through my beeswax. That stuff smells so nice! I’m even using a brass needle that I found through a sutler in the UK who specializes in historic repros.
I have to be careful—two of my enfants terribles—my cats—are sniffing around the fabric. I just don’t trust them! They are still kittens and don’t take direction very well still.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Italian Renaissance Costuming Mini-Challenge, 'Over and Above'

In February, I participated in another Italian Renaissance Costuming Mini-Challenge, 'Over and Above'. For this challenge, I made Martin a Great Coat--great coat great cape great surcoat—honestly I never could find a real name that fit. The inspiration came from early 16th century Italian portraits, including:

Tiziano Vecellio, c1511-12: Portrait of a Man in a Red Hat

You will note that some have sleeves while others don’t. We decided due to the heat in our area to go sleeveless. I can add some later if desired.

The fabrics are cotton brocade and faux lynx, all hand sewn with cotton thread. While cotton was not used in northern Europe much, it was used in the Mediterranean area. The faux was a financial choice, but I was pretty pleased with this fur in look and feel. The fur is facing rather than lining (again the heat issue), but both methods were used in the past.

I love this fabric. I originally chose it for the look and the light weight. I’ve cut the fabric into four pieces—two backs and two sides. I used a backstitch on all seams and a hem stitch along the long hem.

cut the fur from the back. That way the fur can be fluffed nicely. I cut three pieces, the back of the collar and long strips for the front. I used back stitching to attach the fur to the fabric, turning it inside out to hide the seams. I attached the collar to the body with box pleats. Pretty pleased with myself.

I wish I had had time to iron it as I believe it will fall better, particularly in the back, but I wanted to get this to you today and the pictures were taken in the middle of last night when Martin got home from work. Of course, it will probably look better over a fitting outfit rather than his work shirt!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Just a few days away from the start of IRCC II! Yikes! Am I ready? I have my fabric, my notions, my nerve? We shall see! This is my inspiration... Portrait of a Lady by Peter de Kempeneer, c. 1530, which hangs in Peter de Kempeneer (previously attr. to Girolamo da Carpi) c1530s: Portrait of a Woman, which hangs in Städel Museum, Frankfurt ,Germany.
This painting came from Kempeneer's period in Italy, in Ferrara. Kempenner was a Netherlandish painter, active mainly in Seville and known by the Spanish form of his name rather than the Flemish one, Pieter de Kempeneer. Before settling in Seville he had worked in Italy and he exercised a strong influence in Andalusia as a pioneer of Mannerism and the style of Raphael. Several of his paintings are in Seville Cathedral. In 1562 he left Spain to direct a tapestry factory at Brussels, his native city. (From the Web Gallery of Art).

Here's the plan:

Layer 1: camicia:
The camicia will be made out of white linen (stash), hand-stitched with cotton or linen thread, trimmed in linen or cotton lace, with a square neckline (the lace trimmed edge shows at the neckline of the dress) and gathered cuffs (very clearly shown at the cuff of the sleeves). I’ll make it a bit shorter than the dress for ease of movement. I am back and forth right now on how I will execute the trim...

Layer 2: petticoat: something fun out of my stash!

Layer 3: Dress:
The dress appears to have the sheen of silk, perhaps a taffeta. I have a gorgeous greenish teal shimmery taffeta in my stash. I think I have matching cotton thread, but I will have to check. The waistline is slightly higher than natural—de riguer for this date. The sleeves have a full puff at the top, fitting the lower arm with a pretty detail at the cuff. Hard to tell what pleating the skirt has, I’m not sure that it would be cartridge as it doesn’t seem to puff out immediately from the waist. I will probably use box or just a simple gathered pleat as the material isn’t too heavy. The trim on the dress looks like a narrow gold soutache braid, forming stripes on the sleeves and a simple geometric on the bodice.

Layer 4: partlet:
The partlet is very sheer, a simple one like a kerchief that seems to be tucked into the front of the dress, a little bit falling over the shoulders of the dress. The material would be a cotton, linen, or silk gauze with metallic gold thread stripes. Might be a challenge to find the material, but I will try for something close. The edges from the neck to the neckline look like they are trimmed with a gold gimp, which I do have in my stash.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I was lost, but found again. I've actually been working on quite a few projects and just about to start a big one for the summer.

In October 2011, I participated in the The Realm of Venus' first Mini-Challenge: the 'Idle Hands' challenge. I made a 16th century style fan flag, inspired by extant fans (image from Hartwood Castle website).

I chose to creat a flag fan--ventuolo--made of perforated parchment and gilded wood. I first researched flag fans, fairly easy due to the many wonderful sites with information about the Venetian 16th century accessories. It seems that flag fans could be made of fabric, parchment, or woven of ribbons or plant fibers. I chose parchment as I loved the perforated extant example. I wanted to do a finer perforation as I have a tool for that already. I thought the breeze created might be better without larger holes in the flag, too.

I acquired real parchment made of sheepskin. The pieces were lovely golden and had a texture that was unique unlike what you would find with faux paper parchment. The parchment was also thicker than paper, although still quite easy to punch through.

My perforation tool is very modern - as you can see in the picture - but fairly straight forward. Perhaps one day I will make one that might have been used in the 16th century. The design is created by pushing the pin through the parchment at regular intervals.

As you can see, the design is hard to photograph due to the small holes, but hopefully the lattice pattern comes out. The slightly blurry close-up, I took a picture without the flash so that backlight could (possibly) shine through some of the holes.

Here's the other side of the flag.

I used wooden molding for the handle, gluing the parchment edge in between two pieces. After sanding the wood, particularly where the pieces met and the ends, I used 18k gold paint to gild the handle. I used the same paint to decorate the parchment a little bit.

Perhaps not as fancy as some, definitely not as intricate as others, but it is my real parchment perforated flag fan!

Realm of Venus
The Anéa Costumes
Festive Attyre
Oonaghs' Own
Katerina’s Stuff
Lady Dianotto's Costume in Renaissance