Monday, 23 January 2012

An Elizabethan Farthingale, part one

The boyf went this weekend, on very short notice, to Fort Collins, Colorado; leaving the dobe and I alone for a whole day and a half, until the 10yr old returned and we all went back to school/work.  It seemed the perfect time to start on the farthingale. 

I wanted to make a farthingale based on Juan Alcega's pattern (below) as I knew, as soon as I learnt that it was from 1589, that I couldn't turn down the chance to work with a pattern so old!

There is a great deal of study of the Alcega pattern available, from Janet Arnold's interpretation to more modern ones, including research of the instructions/measurements and their modern equivalent.  However, having now read the TT, and in looking closer at the pattern draft, I went with Drea Leed's instructions as they seemed to based on the most sensible interrpretation of Alcega's drafting.  Tudor tailors created and cut patterns which minimised wastage as best they could.  Alcega's pattern, whilst creating a design that uses bias to strengthen the garment, has very little wastage when made following Drea's instructions.  In my case, approximately a foot square from 2.6yds of 60" fabric. 

Photos of the cutting and construction, to date, seemed a little pointless as you would see nothing more than me wrestling with a huge amount of black cotton drill!  There is no pattern as you mark and cut the fabric directly.  What is of note is that I went with 60" wide fabric as Drea comments that the amount suggested by Alcega is more suited to a much shorter woman and, to maintain the desired shape, I would require more width in the pieces.  Once there is shape to pieces I may talk more about the detail, but for the moment I am faced with huge black panels that will not photograph well!  The great shame is that I do not have enough of the cream cotton twill left for bone casings, which sit on the outside of the farthingale and are often decorative, but I think I will either make then in drill to minimise their appearance altogether, or play, as the Tudor's loved to do, with tonal blacks and use a satin or gosgrain ribbon.

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