When I make a piece I usually use a previous pattern and tweak it to make it fit better, a new shape neckline or waistline. This usually is within months of each usage at the most. Today I have pulled out a pattern from five years ago to reuse. Suprisingly I had carefully stored most of the pieces so the only piece missing was the collar, an easy piece to replace. This was a pattern I made myself as I couldn’t find anything close to the portrait that I was interpreting.
The inspiration portrait for my original piece was the portrait of Livia Barbiano
I made my version in pale blue silk with gold trim and a blue and gold sottana and sleeves.
My new inspiration is from a number of portraits.
Isabella de Medici by Allesandro Allori
However I am unsure of the lower sleeves, I would like to do some purple silk cut work ones instead of her black,. I am infatuated with all the pearls against the black of the gown. I will be lining the bodice with purple silk.
The sottana underneath will be a previously made cream brocade that is very comfortable and fits quite well, also fits the purple black and white colour scheme.
I am also making new jewellery for the outfit because you know all the bling 🙂
Here is the pattern pinned over the sottana, seems to be going to fit fine
Anyways I will attempt to blog my progress on this, I have about a month for the overgown, but I am working on other pieces concurrently so we’ll see if I remember.
Yes I have finally gotten around to adding some more pictures to the vestiario page of more items I have made over the past years
Well I have been very naughty not updating this blog at all for ages! The Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge has come and gone for this year, you can see my completed peacock ensemble and how I did in the scoring this year, here.
I am quite pleased at even finishing the outfits as I was packing and moving from Perth, Western Australia, all the way to Christchurch, New Zealand, at the same time the challenge was running! I took a little time out from the packing, cleaning etc, to sew, it was my sanity break. I am not sure if I shall ever enter the challenge again as I think there are other avenues for me to pursue now.
So what now? well the SCA over here has some big events coming up in a while so I have to regarb my kids, who won’t stop growing! Also hopefully new outfits for myself and husband.
The move has also brought me to the same city to my laurel Mistress Isabel Maria del Aguila. I have been her apprentice for 3 years now, and the tyranny of distance has meant we only had a very limited time together but now hopefully we can spend more time sewing and stuff.
I have also been considering doing an ongoing review of my books I have collected, so I think I shall start on this very soon.
The first month of the IRCC has FLOWN by so very fast and I have so much going on right now I fell like I shouldn’t really be sewing at all, but I committed to the challenge so I HAVE got to finish it! I would never forgive myself if I were to withdraw!
Anyways here’s my first bits done.
This year I have selected two portraits by Francesco Montemezzano. The first is Portrait of a lady and the second Portrait of a lady with a Squirrel. Both portraits date approximately between 1575 and 1580, and the style of the sottana and chemise are very similar, however the differences between them show one as high court wear and the other as more daytime wear. I really like the idea of being able to take one sottana and chemise set, and dress them in two ways depending on the rest of the accessories and pieces worn with them. So my idea is to do just this. One basic chemise and one basic sottana, and then interchangeable pieces and accessories to make them into two very different looks.
The second inspiration for this outfit is the peacock. Without going into horrible details, a number of years ago I went through a not nice time in the SCA and a person said some unkind words to me that included the phrase “just a preening peacock.” Now I was upset at the is but I have worked through it and realised that peacocks are beautiful colours and I have formulated the idea of a peacock gown for about 3 years now. a while ago I bought some gorgeous blue green shot dupion silk and a small piece of blue dupion that toned in with it. This year they are to be the main materials of the sottana. I have also decided to include embroideries of peacocks as decoration on the sottana, and as my hands are difficult at the best of times, I have employed my fantastic embroidery machine to do these to save my hands for the necessary hand sewing parts and not inflict extra pain on myself.
The first layer I have completed for my outfit is a very simple chemise, or camicia.
It’s a very simple four piece design, one that I have used many times before. I used cotton tape to insert drawstrings around the neck and wrists.
I decided to also make a simple pleated underskirt for this outfit. The green fabric was agin selected from my fabric stash, I am not entirely sure of it’s composition but from burn testing it, I think it is most likely a cotton/rayon blend.
I simply cut a length three times my waist and pleated this onto a waist band. The hem has two horizontal tucks to help keep it out from under my feet and also a padded skirt guard to give it weight and protect it.
I decided I needed some simple head coverings to wear underneath a hat that I will make at a later date. I browsed through a lot of pictures and websites and came across a reference to the St Brigittas caps. It stated that they may have been worn as late as the 16th century, and the style seemed quite easy to make, and one that may actually stay put on my very slippery head. I took my inspiration from a number of sites but made some minor changes to suit my needs. http://www.medievalsilkwork.com/2008/11/womens-caps.html
I ended up making two, one with a lace insert and one without. I used plain white cotton and some lace, all again from my stash.
I have left the ties loose and not made them into a loop as per the patterns as I felt the need to be able to tie it as tight or loosely as I needed depending on how my hair is done underneath, of course the ties are way too long but this will allow me to trim them up as needed.
I am really happy with both of the cuffia have turned out, they seem quite comfortable, and I think they will do the job quite well.
The outfit will need its own set of jewellery, so I raided my beading stash and found some blue, green and gold beads to make something simple. I made a very quick necklace and some simple drop earrings. I really like how they turned out.
I chose some beautiful green/blue shot Dupioni silk from my fabric collection, I have hoarded it long enough, it needs to become the Peacock Gown now.
I began by using a bodice pattern I have from other gowns, I altered it become the open fronted Venetian style, I cut this out in cotton for the lining, 2 layers of denim for the internal structure, and the silk for the external layer.
The denim layers were sewn together to form pockets for the frontal boning I use when making this style of gown. I have used large cable ties for the bones, carefully melting each end of these so they are not left sharp and then cut through the fabric. Once the boning is in the bodice I have sewn both ends of the pockets shut so no boning can escape. I have also sewn a layer of felt wool over the area where the boning is so that these do not show through to the silk layer and gives a lumpy appearance. the wool smoothed the look really well.
I have to admit, I hate gathering, especially silk, and had thought about doing pleats instead but the portraits definitely show gathering. Sigh. They I had a sewing epiphany! I own a smocking pleater which does the cutest teeny tiny gathering. So I tried a small offcut through that machine and was really happy with how fast it was, and the resulting gathers! So I ran the whole skirt through it! Wow such nice gathers and oh so easy! No torturing my hands at all!
I have attached the skirt and am up to hand sewing the internal lining down and finishing around the arm holes. The edges of the bodice again feature slashed binding, I think I am addicted.
I have also started on the first of two placades, for want of a better term, that will be the front panels of this gown. This first one features a toning blue silk with a machine embroidered gold peacock. Like the bodice the placade is make of the four layers, with cable tie boning and the wool felt to hide the ridges. I wish my hands were able to do the embroidery but they can’t so I scoured the internet to find a nice peacock and a nice swirl position under to make the whole design more of a suitable shape for the front. I have also, while all the embroidery attachments were on my machine, found a set of nice peacocks for the sleeve cuffs, and stitched them out in the same gold thread.
I have spent quite some time selected trims for the gown bodice and after many tries have finally settled on the ones I will use, but you will get to see them next month.
I have been rather naughty and very lax at updating my blog, but it’s Italian renaissance Costume Challenge time again, and even though my life is very stressful and hectic I just could not refrain from entering again.
So this year it’s The Peacock Gown. I have had this gown formulating in my mind for about 3 years now, it has grown from a very negative start to a project I am going to have some fun with.
The negative start. A few years again at a major Baronial event in the SCA group I attend, a not so nice thing happened. A person who was obviously not being courteous and chivalric tried to insult me by calling me, “Just a preening peacock who does nothing but walk around as though she’s better than everyone else.”
This hurt me quite deeply at the time, luckily for me I have an awesome mentor whose advice in this situation was, the best revenge is looking awesome. Thus the peacock dress was born. I mean who doesn’t think peacocks are gorgeous!? All those pretty blues and greens!
I came across some blue and green shot silk on a bargain table and it has sat patiently in my fabric stash until I became brave enough to make the gown. This year I think I am brave enough to do it.
The gown will be based up on Portrait of a Lady (maybe Eleonora Gonzaga) by Francesco Montemezzano, ,circa 1590.
I am embellishing the front of the bodice and the sleeves with gold peacocks embroidered on my clever machine as my hands just aren’t up to doing embroidery right now, but beading will happen as it always does.
I have started construction of this outfit and will post again soon to update on it’s progress.
You can see my full write up and check ins for this years competition here.
I learned a lot this year, and really tried to stretch my abilities a lot.
I am really proud of the red over gown that I drafted from Fransico de la Rocha de Burguen’s Geometic y Traca Perteneciente. It was such a simple pattern that I was unsure if it would work but the result is so comfortable and the lines are just so nice I love it. I can see it being made again and again.