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Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain, Portrait Interpretation

Margo's Patterns Group is having a contest. It's called the Portrait Contest 2004 and runs from October 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005. The garb/costume/garment/outfit must be based on portrait painted during the Renaissance period. Since this contest is hosted by Margo's Patterns Group, use of Margo Anderson's Historic Costume Patterns is encouraged.

I decided to enter this contest and this is my portrait choice. (Clicking on the thumbnail will provide a larger image.)

  Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain
Alonso Sanchez Coello, c. 1571
KunstHistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

The portrait
Closeup of head.

Background information on Anne of Austria.

Biography of Anne of Austria

Biography of Phillip II, King of Spain, husband of Anne of Austria

Biography of Don Carlos, son of Phillip II

October 30, 2004

All month I have be thinking about my fabric and trim choices for this project. This is what I have come up with so far. The doublet and skirt will be made of black cotton velvet. I will probably be ordering the fabric from SyFabrics.com and I am just waiting for my swatch to check the quality. The doublet will be flatlined with a heavy weight linen that I buy from Fabrics-Store.com. For interfacing, I either will use a fusible hair canvas called Acro or regular hair canvas (Hymo) that I will pad stitch to the flatlining. I will be making my own pattern for the interfacing, but it will be very similar in shape to that in Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Gentlemen's Pattern. In other words, the interfacing will cover the entire upper chest and back and completely surround the armcye. The doublet and skirt will be lined with a medium weight black linen.

Here are some pictures of the the different trims I am considering as the main trim.

Byzantine Garland
No picture for this one - just a link No picture for this one - just a link
Celtic knot 1 Celtic knot 2

I am having a hard time making up my mind.

Regardless of my choice, I will need to edge all the trim with some narrow gold metallic Chinese braid.

For the undersleeves, I am thinking of buying some white silk duchesse satin, because I think this fabric will lend itself well to pinking. If I buy an extra yard, I will have enough to make the bias strips for the ties and snipped piping that edges the tabs of the doublet.

Another area where I am having a hard time making up my mind is the lining for the great sleeves. I am considering either a white silk dupioni and couching gold metallic cord on the fabric in a scroll pattern like that in the portrait or something like this:

February 20, 2005

I'm back! After a long hiatus, I am finally getting back to this project. I have not been totally idle. I have my black cotton velvet and I did order it from SyFabrics. 20 yards worth - so that I will have enough for this project, plus a future project. I could not decide between the Byzantine trim and the Garland trim shown above, so I ordered both of them. I ordered some white silk/cotton satin from Denver Fabrics. I will be using this to do the undersleeves and line the great sleeves.

My sewing room was getting so full of stuff that I could barely reach the cutting table, which was also piled high with stuff. So, I reorganized the entire space. MUCH better.

I made a new farthingale out of heavy weight linen that will work well under this gown.

Farthingale pictures and details.


Pattern: Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns.

Size: 12/14

Fabric: 7.1 oz bleached linen from Fabrics-store.com.

Channels: one inch wide bias made of the 7.1 oz bleached linen..

Hoop boning: .5 inch wide white bone (spring steel) by-the-yard from Grannd Companies.


On my previous farthingales, I would tear the fabric trying to disconnect the poly tubing, so I could remove it and wash the farthingale. I have heard of several people using duck cloth to make farthingales, so I thought heavy weight linen would be a good choice. My sewing machine would rather sew heavy weight linen than duck cloth anyway.

The use of white bone by-the-yard was inspired by Mary Lou, a fellow member of Margo's Patterns Group, who uses this in her farthingales.

On this farthingale, rather than set the placement of the channels from the bottom up, I did it from the top down. I marked where the channels would go on the center of the front panel, then matched the placement on the center back pieces (where the seam would be sewn) and the two side seams (not the side front and side back seams.) I eyeballed the placement of the bias for the top channel using the marks I had made on the center front, center back, and side seams. After the top channel was sewn, I could measure a uniform distance down to the next channel. All the channels were sewn before I sewed up the center back seam. The whole process of marking where the channels go, pinning the channels into position and sewing them down seems to go much better this way because I could clearly see what I was doing and I had more room to maneuver.

Row Number
Distance from Bottom of Waistband to Center of Boning Channel
Length of Boning in Channel -(plus 6 inches for overlap)-
13 inches
63 inches
19 inches
73.5 inches
25 inches
84 inches
31 inches
94.5 inches
37 inches
105 inches
41.5 inch
115.5 inches

I love this farthingale! In spite of having this "(" going on between the hoops, when I put an overskirt over the top, there is no hoop show through. When I sit in the farthingale, I do not feel the hoops and the skirt flows about me in a very nice manner. Woohoo! I am so happy!

Next up - a doublet.

March 12, 2005

I have been playing with muslin for a couple of weekends and this is what I have come up with:


Here is the toile on me. Looks like it should have been tugged down a bit on my right side, but I didn't notice this in those itty bitty pictures I was reviewing in the camera memory before downloading them to my computer. The toile is a little long in the torso with this skirt but that is an easy fix and the problem may go away entirely with the new skirt. But the fit of the shoulders and neckline are just fine. (This was a major problem with my last attempt at a doublet.)


The back pattern piece has the least amount of alterations. It is a size 12 with extra width added across the upper back from armcye to armcye. The front is a size 10 with extra length added in the upper chest area and the neckline cut as a size 12. The side piece is a merge of a size 10 side front and a size 12 side back. Extra length and extra width was added to the upper chest area of the side front and extra width at the waist of both side front and side back before the pieces were merged and the side seam eliminated. Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Lady's Wardrobe pattern, of course.

March 13, 2005

Since I now have a doublet pattern, I have been thinking about the skirt pattern. The skirt needs to be fairly flat (without gathers) in the front because other portraits I have seen of Spanish gowns from this time period are like this. Here a nice collection of portraits of Spanish gowns: Saya Espanola.

A lot of these gowns have trains. I debated whether I should have a train or not, but I will be wearing this at my local Renaissance faire and trains just aren't practical there.

Algeca's patterns were a likely choice because of their gored construction, but Algeca's patterns are intended more as a guide for efficient layout of a pattern on fabric to minimize waste of fabric than an actual pattern. By the way, the full title of this book is: Tailor's Pattern Book 1589 by Juan de Algeca. It is a facsimile and translation of the original Libro de Geometria, Pratica y Traca.

Nevertheless, I considered drafting a skirt pattern based on those in Algeca. Then the light bulb went on! I already had an Algeca skirt pattern! The farthingale pattern in Margo's Patterns is based on the Algeca farthingale. By eliminating the seam between the the front and side front pattern pieces, increasing the length to 49.50 inches and increasing the width at the hem to 33 inches, I would have the front pattern piece of my skirt - exactly like that in Algeca. Similar alterations to the back and side back pattern pieces of the farthingale will get me the back pattern piece.

I am so inspired, I am thinking of including that funny tuck in the front of the skirt.

March 27, 2005

On second thought, no tuck.

  I wanted black woven cotton fusible interfacing specifically for this picture. Joann's did not have any in stock and they didn't get any in for the 50% off sale of March 24-26, so I bought more of the white. This picture shows the interfacing pieces against the black linen lining for clarity but the pieces will be fused to the 7.1 oz bleached linen flatlining. The shapes of these interfacing pieces are inspired by the Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Gentlemen's Wardrobe pattern.

April 24, 2005

I have been continuing to work on this gown, although progress has been slow. Some mundane life issues have been interfering with my sewing time. Complete resolution of these issues will not happen for another two months, but at least there is an end in sight.

Anyhoo, on Friday, I went to Hancock Fabrics to buy some commercial belting for the waistband of this gown. I found they had rearranged most off the store and the belting was nowhere to be found. Joann's has never carried commercial belting and Greenberg & Hammer is out of stock. I needed to find a substitute. Margo of Margo Anderson's Historic Costuming Patterns suggested using 2-3 layers of canvas or duck and quilting them together with rows of stitches placed .25 inches apart. Works for me!

Joann's had some 50% off coupons for their Daffodil Dash Sale this weekend, so I bought out their stock, once again, of the old gold Chinese gimp. I think I have enough now to do the bodice and skirt. I will need to buy more to do the oversleeves. I also bought some trim I have been eyeballing for the undersleeves. Some trim? Heck, I bought the whole roll. Better to have too much, than not enough. Oh, how I love those 50% off coupons!

As soon as I figure out the best way to sew the trim on, I will take some pictures.

June 5, 2005


This is what I have been attempting to do for the last month or so. What was I thinking when I decided to do this gown? I hate sewing on trim!

I think I am going to have to sew up the front of the skirt, to prevent gapping between the ties.

June 6, 2005


After I calmed down, I started playing with knots. What you see to the left is not the period way to tie these bows but it looks identical. Both ties are treated as one. The knot is kind of an overhand knot with the loop of fabric poked through the knot. Tying the knot in this way eliminates the gapping between the ties. Works for me.

June 19, 2005

Peggy called me a Geek because I save pictures that are posted to Margo's Patterns group or the Margo's Patterns Picture group onto my computer. Ya, I'm a Geek all right. But my picture file does come in handy when the picture quota on the groups has been exceeded and nobody can access any of the pictures or when the picture quota is near to being exceeded and members are asked to deleted some of their older photos to make more space for new ones. Just ask Audrey, Sara, and Malissa. :D

Not only am I a Geek, but I am also obsessively AR (Anal Rententive) about my sewing. Case in point. I recently discovered that when I sewed the front edge facing on one of the front edges, the nap of the facing went the wrong way. (I made a separate front edge facing because:

  1. I wanted the front edge to be as stiff as possible.
  2. Since I was lining this skirt rather than flatlining it, like I did with the hunter green Elizabethan, I wanted someplace to sew the lining to.
  3. I briefly considered sewing the ties into this front edge.)

Now, no one would ever notice that the nap ran the wrong way on the facing, but it bugged the crap out of me. Eventually, I redid the facing piece. I worked very carefully because I only had a .25 inch seam allowance to work with and it was ravelling like crazy once I removed the serged stitches. I seriously risked damaging the front gore of the skirt and if I messed up, I would have had to recut the front gore of the skirt, remove all the trim applied to the old front gore, and then resew all the trim on the new front gore. Fortunately, it all ended well. How? It's a mystery... No, really, I worked very carefully, resisted the urge to get impatient and force the stitch removal, and as soon as I possibly could, I reserged the edges.

End of confession.

To recap the work on the skirt.

The main pieces of the skirt consist of four gores. I cut four gores of the black linen for lining and four gores of the black velvet for the skirt, itself. I also cut two front facing pieces that started out at 5 inches wide by the length of the front edge of the skirt. Two pieces of woven cotton fusible interfacing that was 4.375 inches wide by the length of the front edge of the skirt. Four top facing pieces that match the curve of the top edges of the skirt gores and are 2.625 inches wide. Two pieces of Warm and Natural quilt batting cut to the curve of the top edge of the two back gores when sewn together and 4 inches wide. Four pieces of the main trim cut to the length of front skirt gore and meant to match the pattern from piece to piece across the front of the skirt when sewn on. Eight pieces of Chinese braid with each piece approx. 3.25 yards long 16 white silk/cotton satin ties. Oh ya, and the waistband of black velvet with the stiffening for the waistband as mentioned on a previous entry to this diary.

The silk/cotton satin ties were cut across the grain at 3.5 inches wide. The long edges were folded together and surged. Then each strip was cut into 12 inch lengths and one short edge was serged. An extra line of stitching with a short stitch length was sewn along the inside edge of the serged stitching line about an inch from either side of each corner. The ties were clipped on the corners, turned, pressed, and the remaining raw short edge was serged.

The four gores of the black linen linen were sewn together, the seams were pressed open, and the seams were topstitched .25 inches from the seam to hold down the seam allowances for when the skirt is washed in the future. The two pieces of fusible woven cotton interfacing were applied the wrong side of the linen lining at the front edge. The front edge of the skirt lining was trimmed and serged to leave a .25 inch seam allowance. (Actually, one step with the serger.)

Unless otherwise mentioned, I used a walking foot on my sewing machine from here on out to sew anything with velvet.

The main trim was sewn on the front gores. The first row of trim was sewn 1 inch from the serged front edge and the second row of trim was sewn .75 inches from the first row of trim. I used lots of pins to hold the trim in place and a long stitch to sew the trim down. Either the trim would shift on the velvet or the pattern on the trim wasn't exactly even, but it took a little redoing to get the pattern to line up pretty well across the front of the skirt.

The front facing was sewn on the front gore pieces. The seam was trimmed and serged.

The finished short edge of the ties was butted up next to the main trim and this edge was zig-zagged into place. Placement of the ties was 6.5 inches from the top edge and 3 inches between ties.

Basting tape was applied to the edges of the main trim from the top to just below the last tie. The paper was stripped off the basting tape and the Chinese braid was centered over the basting tape. A twin needle 4.0 mm/90 and a "clear-view" foot (like an clear plastic open toe foot but had a clear bar with markings in front of the needle) were used to sew the Chinese braid into place to the point where the basting tape ends. Unfortunately, the basting tape gummed up the needles and I had to remove the needles, clean them with alcohol, re-insert the needles, and rethread the needles with every trip down the skirt. The automatic needle threader does not work on twin needles.

It was after this was done that I discovered my front edge facing had the nap going the wrong way. To resew the the facing into place and to later sew the lining into place I used an adjustable zipper/piping foot. To make sure the facing stayed put and things were lining up like they should, I hand basted the facing to the gore before sewing on the machine.

Then, I sewed all the gores of the skirt together and catch stitched the seam allowances down. The little bitty stitches do not show on the face of the velvet. I sewed the the double layer of Warm and Natural to the wrong side of the top of the back skirt gores. I sewed all the facing pieces together.

With wrong sides together, I sewed the lining to the skirt fabric along the front edges with the afore mentioned adjustable zipper/piping foot and a .25 inch seam allowance. I matched the top edges of the lining and the skirt and sewed them, wrong sides together, with a .625 inch seam allowance. Then I put the top skirt edge facing right side and the top of the skirt right side together, matched the top edges of everything, and stitched everything together with a .625 inch seam allowance. This seam was trimmed and serged. The facing was flipped to the wrong side of the skirt, pressed, and tacked at the vertical seams of the skirt. The front edge facing was treated as in Margo's directions and partially sewn down.

Only the back gores were cartidge pleated because there was to be no fullness at the front. I used pen marks on tear away stablizer to make my cartridge pleat markings. (I wrote this before I actually did it. In truth, I used strips of Tru-Grid pinned into position on the right side of the velvet.)

After sewing on the waistband and the closure hooks, the skirt is hanging on Lady Margaret to let the bias seams drop and to determine the final hem length. Then I can sew on the trim near the hem. Pictures will be coming soon...

July 4, 2005

On June 19, I officially withdrew from the portrait contest. Even though I had known for some time that I would not finish this gown by the end of the contest, I stayed in the contest for as long as I did, just to force myself to keep working on it.

Here are some pictures of the, as yet, unfinished skirt.




Close up of the front of the skirt with the aiguillettes pinned onto the ends of the two top sets of ties. The unfinished bodice shows up in this picture, too.

Since I am still debating with myself about redoing the waistband and moving the side seams a little farther forward, the skirt remains unhemmed and without the trim sewn on the bottom.

In the mean time, I am working on the tabs for the doublet.

July 9, 2005

ARness (Anal Retentiveness) strikes again! I removed and re-attached the waistband. I ever so slightly gathered the front of the skirt to the waistband - the ratio was .375 inch of waistband to .5 inch of skirt and, yes, I am that AR to calculate, measure and mark the skirt and the waistband. The skirt doesn't look much different than it does in the pictures above but the side seam is located where it should be. I am happy with the result.

I am really glad I used two layers of the Warm and Natural to stuff the cartridge pleats. Without much fullness at the top of the back of the skirt, it needed the bulk of a double layer of Warm and Natural. I don't think one layer would have been enough. For once, I had the foresight to do it right the first time.

I pinned up the hem but I will let the skirt hang on Lady Margaret for a while to let those bias side seams drop.

More tabs to sew...

October 22, 2006

When last I worked on this project, I had sewn the trim on the bottom of the skirt. Well, I was lazy, taking too many shortcuts and the trim ended up walking over the surface of the velvet as I sewed and looked yukky. (I was stupid enough to sew on both bands of the main trim and the half of the metallic braid on the bottom band of trim before taking a good look at it and realizing just how yukky it looked.) The notion of removing all that trim was so daunting that I have been procrastinating on removing the trim ever since.

This weekend, some of my friends from the R/F Forum got together and we had a Stitch n' Bit** at MG's house. Since I couldn't decide which project to take, I took a variety of projects with me to work on. One of them was this skirt. I am happy to report that the trim has been removed and the skirt once again looks pretty much like the pictures above. I tried the skirt on Lady Margaret when I got home and I can see there is a little shortening that I need to do to the hem in front.

But first I will be finishing at least the pink version of the Venetian.

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