Friday, 30 December 2011

The Elizabethan Costume Project

And so it's started.  A new project.

I do love the start of a new project!

This year's project; ok, technically next year's project, the 2012 project, is Elizabethan.  Actually, to be entirely accurate, it's a Tudor Costume, more Henry than Elizabeth.  Mid 1550s to be precise. That said, there is a beautiful picture of Elizabeth 1, from approx. 1546, in which she wears a gown just like the one I would like to make... though I doubt that I will manage to make anything anywhere near as beautiful!

If dated accurately, she's only 13 in the portrait and she is already magnificent; and, as it links my timeframe back to her, the project can still be called an Elizabethan Costume.

And so I've started one of my most favourite parts of any project, the research.  I love to research costume history, particularly to see how far and how well other people have pieced the past back together again.

There are some wonderful sources for Tudor costume recreation, particularly the Elizabethan Costume site, which has a wealth of information available.  Also of note, are the Margo Anderson patterns, one of which I have ultimately chosen to use.

I had started off thinking that I would use a Simplicity pattern, which looks rather like the dress above.  It is a simplistic (no pun intended!) version of the costume, but outwardly looked good enough.  This would be a far less intensive project than the Victorian one had been; less sewing, more other stuff... that sort of thing.  But, I couldn't quite bring myself to hit the buy button, it was too cheap a pattern (£4-odd), readily available on eBay.. just all too easy; I had one last Google.  One quick search later and there appeared Margo's site.  I have decided on the Tudor Lady's Wardrobe but it's taken a lot of self-persuasion to tear myself away from the Elizabethan patterns which are a wealth of bodice styles, sleeve options, multiple possibilities when it comes to my underpinnings... and all accompanied by 100+ page guides.  I am a good pattern junkie, and a total sucker for an accompanying guide!  It's ten times more expensive, not including postage, but you so know it will be worth every penny :)

My last decision is whether or not to also buy Margo's Underpinnings patterns, or whether I should instead delve deeper into the Elizabethan Costume website and make my own.  The Tudor Lady patterns include a smock, I would just need to make my own corset, bum roll (still makes me smile) and farthingale.  With option B, I can enter whole new worlds, including the myriad interpretations of the Alcega Farthingale pattern from 1589; more later no doubt.  The fact that it is even possible to access and interpret a pattern that is 422 (soon to be 423) years old is too good an experience to miss.  Just as the Simplicity pattern felt like a cop out, I think pre-drawn underpinnings will feel a little like one too.  I just have to make sure I can make sense of the instructions first!

For now, I'm going to continue reading; will more than likely buy a copy Janet Arnold's Vol.3 (quickly followed by Vols 1,2 and 4 no doubt!) as her books are mentioned on every site I've visited; buy my TLW pattern; and then wait impatiently for it's arrival!  As for colours, fabrics, trimmings... apart for thinking of greens and that textures might be good, I'm clueless.   I think I need to sort my patterns first.

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