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The First Elizabethan and Its Remake

This costume was made using Margo Anderson's Historic Costume Patterns. The fabric of the overskirt and doublet is hunter green velveteen from Joann Fabrics. The fabric of the sleeves is an ivory tone-on-tone diamond patterned jacquard from Joann Fabrics. All the trim came from Joann Fabrics, also. The aiguillettes are from The Pillaged Village. The caul is from Chivalry Sports.

I started on the underpinnings for this in the spring of 2003. I finally got it to the wearable stage on the last weekend of MNRF in 2003. Here are some pictures of how it looked. (The hat was done but didn't get on the picture.)


Since I was rushing to get it finished to the wearable stage, I decided I would redo portions of it later after the MNRF season was over. Among the things I didn't like about it:

  1. The collar of the high necked smock was too tight. (I hate having tight things around my neck.)
  2. I used a fusible woven cotton interfacing in the collar and cuffs and it puckered after washing. (I knew better than to have used a fusible interfacing fused directly to the fashion fabric - I really did. Must have been an early senior moment.)
  3. The corset was too big. (See In Search of the Perfect Elizabethan Corset(Pair of Bodies))
  4. The farthingale was too long.
  5. The top hoop of the farthingale showed through the overskirt and it was not at the proper height to allow for optimum maneuverability of the skirts.
  6. The channels of the farthingale were too narrow to allow the polyethelene tubing I used as hooping to slip through easily.
  7. I decided I hate bumrolls, so I wanted to eliminate the thing by padding the pleats of the overskirt.
  8. The threads acting as stays of the cartridge pleats of the overskirt were ended with small gold beads. The threads were too tight and the beads cut through some of the threads. (This was no big deal but it gave me an added incentive to redo the cartridge pleating and pad the pleats while I was at it.)
  9. The overskirt was too long.
  10. The doublet was too short.
  11. The front princess seams of the doublet puckered and the trim, which was sewn on by machine, exacerbated the problem.
  12. The upper chest of the doublet was not stiff enough and collapsed into wrinkles.
  13. The collar did not lay quite right around the neckline.
  14. The area of attachment of the shoulder wings and sleeve points to the doublet was bulky and did not lay right.
  15. I was not happy with the closure at the bottom end of the sleeves.

Ya, so basically, I was going to end up redoing the whole thing. However, for the next few months after the end of the MNRF, other projects intervened.

When I was able to work on it again, the first thing I did was make a properly fitting corset. See In Search of the Perfect Elizabethan Corset (Payre of Bodies) and the final result here.

I redid the collar and cuffs of the high-necked smock using two layers of silk organza as interfacing. (I will need to redo the collar again because it is still too tight for me to tolerate.)

Then I stripped the farthingale down to the base fabric. I shortened the farthingale and redid the channels using two inch wide bias (the bias strip starts out at 3.75 inches before pressing.) The top channel was placed at about mid-palm height and the other five channels were evenly spaced down the farthingale from the top channel. I adjusted the size of each hoop until I achieved the right silhouette. This fixed the farthingale but the overskirt was still too long.

I padded the pleats of the overskirt using a strip of Warm and Natural quilt batting and redid the cartridge pleat stay threads. (These stay threads also hold the padding in the pleats.)

Then other projects intervened again, because, at this point, Pat insisted I make him some garb. So, I made him a shirt, doublet and Venetians. The doublet was finished just before we attended the MNRF for the first time in 2004. I whipped up some Venetians out of an old pair of pants and used a sash to cover the gap between the bottom of the doublet, which is at the natural waist, and the top of the pants, which are worn where Pat usually wears them. The following week, I had completed some proper Venetians. Pat's garb can be seen in the Gallery under The Elizabethan Gentleman.

To try and solve the problem of the too long overskirt, I made a larger diameter farthingale. I found the polyethelene tubing to be too lightweight and "floaty" in a larger diameter farthingale. The tubing would also deform temporarily after it had been twisted into a pretzel shape to get in small spaces, like the passenger side of a full size van. I added some plastic coated metal cable from Home Depot, which I inserted into the polyethelene tubing of the bottom hoop of the farthingale. This helped somewhat, but I now thought that cotton broadcloth is too light a fabric to make a larger diameter farthingale. So, I will be making a new larger diameter farthingale out of heavy weight linen. I plan to use spring steel boning-by-the-yard from Grannd Companies for hooping.

I completed an underskirt and forepart, which I had cut out several months earlier. The forepart is made of the same fabric as the sleeves. I did not get a chance to embellish the forepart and wore it plain.

I added skirting to the bottom of the doublet, but, eventually, I will be making a new doublet because the fitting problems of the current doublet cannot be corrected.

Here are some pictures.

These are just the sleeves from my high-necked smock. It was too hot to wear the oversleeves.
This picture was taken by fellow MNRF playtron and online costuming buddy Peggy Lushine. Peggy is co-owner of an event and wedding consultant business: Uncommon Gatherings. Peggy's personal costuming website can be found here.

September 11, 2005

I have been working on this outfit off and on over the last couple of weeks.

The previous attempt to fix the length of the overskirt by making a larger diameter farthingale was not successful. The overskirt was just too long, particularly, at the very front of the overskirt. So, I rehemmed the overskirt and the forepart section of the underskirt. No more tripping over the skirt!

I finally remade the collar of the high neck smock with a finished length of 16.25 inches. It is, at last, comfortable to wear.

I decided to make a front opening low necked bodice out of some of the hunter green velveteen. I cannibalized the shoulder wings and the hook and eye tape from the old doublet.

I used Margo Anderson's Historic Costume Patterns for this bodice. The front is a size 10 with a bit of extra length added to the shoulder straps and the back is a size 12. The shape of side back piece was obtained via draping and the side seam between the front pattern piece and the side back pattern piece was eliminated. The completed alterations to the pattern were checked against the pattern created by Custom Corset Pattern Generator on the The Elizabethan Costuming Page. (I have added one inch wide strip of paper to the back lacing edge of the corset pattern to compensate for the lacing gap in the corset which one cannot have in the bodice.)

I used a double layer of 7.1 oz bleached linen to flatline the bodice. Since this double layer of linen can get rather bulky at the seams and piped edges, I tried to eliminate as much bulk as possible. To do this, I cut off .75 inch all the way around one of the back pattern pieces cut out of the linen. I did the same to a set of the front pattern pieces cut out of the linen and also cut off the shoulder straps. I serged all round these pieces and then laid them into position on the other set of linen flatlining pieces. I zig-zaged the two layers together all except the area where the boning channels would go because I only had enough boning tape in my stash to do the boning on the front opening edges. The other boning channels were created by sewing the boning channels into the two layers of flatlining. The bodice is boned with .25 inch plastic walebone from Grannd Companies & Grannd Garb.

The bodice is piped all the way around, except for the front opening edges. I made bias of Silk Essence (made of poly - not silk - but the color was a perfect match to the hunter green velveteen) from Joann Fabrics and used rattail as filler cord for the piping. The seam allowance on the front opening edges was not trimmed, but folded over the boning and whip stitched to the flatlining.

I recycled the hook and eye tape from the old doublet. I placed the edge of hook and eye tape .25 inch from the folded opening edge of the front. After whip stitching the hook and eye tape into position, I did a stab stitch through all layers down the middle of the hook and eye tape. The stab stitch is practically invisible on the outside of the bodice, but even if it wasn't, it is a period solution judging from some Venetian portraits I have seen. This stab stitch through all layers kept the hook and eye tape firmly in place and prevented the tape from rolling past the opening edge, causing gapping, and the hook/eyes from showing.

I re-used the shoulder wings from the old doublet, but I decided that I would not use the skirting unless I absolutely had too. To prevent gapping between the bodice and skirt, I added strategically placed hooks to the bodice. There were already little thread bars on the skirt. These thread bars had not worked with hooks on the old doublet because the old doublet was too short in the torso.

I only test fitted this bodice once and that was before sewing the shoulder straps and before adding the boning, piping, and front fastening. I finished the bodice at 1:00 am Saturday morning and put the completed bodice on, for the first time, 6 hours later. The bodice fit perfectly and there was absolutely no gapping in the front hooked opening. Whew!

Here is a picture of me in my new bodice:

I am thinking of adding some trim to the bodice but I like the look of just the pearls, too. Maybe I will just tack the pearls into position on the front of the bodice. (The pearls will need to be easily removed/unhooked on at least one side of the neckline because this is a front closing bodice.) Oh, and I plan to make some new pouches to match this outfit in the next week.

I still plan on eventually making another doublet of hunter green velveteen. This doublet will have looped tabs at the shoulders and waist. I also have some tapestry chenille that looks really nice with the hunter green velveteen. I plan of making a doublet of that with some shoulder rolls. I have enough of the tapestry chenille to make sleeves and a forepart to match. Speaking of sleeves, as I mentioned on my original to do list, I was not happy with the closure on the sleeves that match the cream colored forepart, so I was planning on re-doing those.

December 4, 2005

These pictures are for the benefit of the members of Margo's Patterns Group and show the lacing strips for the sleeve points.

Left front shoulder
Right front shoulder

To attach my sleeves to this bodice, I made a lacing strip about 1.125 inches wide when finished. The strip started as a 4.5 inch wide by 12.5 inch on-grain piece of cotton broadcloth that was double folded and serged all around. I stitched .375 inch wide grosgrain ribbon down the center of this lacing strip, leaving 1 inch wide spaces for my points. (The points are .875 inch wide and made of more of the hunter green velveteen.) I stitched all around the lacing strip with upholstery thread.

February 12, 2006

Finally, some pictures of the latest version as worn by Lady Margaret.

Bodice front
Bodice side
Bodice back

I added some trim to the bodice. This required me to remove and re-attach the hook and eye closure. I now see a gap at the front of the bodice. This may not be there when I wear the bodice because my corseted boobs do not provide the same tension on the front of the bodice that Lady Margaret's corseted boobs do. In any case, I will be making a little placket to fit in the center opening between the hooks and eyes and in front of them to hide them.

I also added some fringe as a hem guard.

Hem guard from the outside
Hem guard from the inside

The forepart still needs trim and the sleeves need to be redone but I am going to leave this project alone for now and work on something else.

October 15, 2006

The fringe hem guard might be a good idea for indoor SCA events but not so much for an outfit worn to dirty, dusty Ren Fest. Yuk!

I removed the fringe and aiglettes and washed the skirt today. Note how this is two weeks after MNRF has ended. I am so lazy.

July 3, 2007

I decided to dust off this project and add a few of the pieces that I always intended to make to go with this outfit. So, remember this fabric?

10 yds - 60 inches wide

It has shown up in a number of places on the website. First, in The First Mid 16th Century Flemish Peasant and Its Remake. Then, in the Getting Medieval section. But the color is a near perfect match for some golden tan damask that I have been saving for a forepart and sleeves to go with the hunter green velveteen gown. AND, it also matches the background color of some Oriental-rug-looking chenille that I have been saving for a doublet, sleeves, and forepart which is also to go with the hunter green velveteen. Hmmm... two underskirts to mount those foreparts on and sleeve linings. The First Elizabethan won out.

To begin with, I needed to buy some cotton duck cloth to use as flatlining for the foreparts. So, I went to JoAnns and bought a yard and 1/2. I thought this would be enough to flatline two foreparts. However, after serging the cut edges and washing, I was barely able to cut the two forepart patterns out of the fabric. It's a good thing I had made a previous forepart, so I knew exactly how little I could get away with.

I had 4 yards of the golden tan damask. After serging the cut edges and washing, I cut one forepart, a pair of narrow curved sleeves, the lining for a pair of hanging sleeves, a circle of fabric and a bias band for a caul. There was some waste caused by trying to position the fabric motifs to the best advantage but I still have almost a yard to use to make a hat or something.

I have 5 yards of the Oriental-rug-looking chenille. I did a test wash of a 6 inch x 6 inch sample. It shrunk to 5 and 1/2 inches x 5 and 1/2 inches, but otherwise washed up just fine. I set this fabric aside for now because I want to get all the golden tan damask sewed up before Bristol.

Could I get two underskirts and at least one set of sleeve linings out of the 10 yards of gold linen? Well, not quite. I got 8 full panels. The two panels that will be under the foreparts will be pieced, but no one will know this but me and whoever reads this. And I have enough leftovers that I think I can line both sets of sleeves. I will finish up the cutting tomorrow.

July 28, 2007

I managed to finish the forepart and sleeves to wear to Bristol during our visit on July 21-22, 2007, although I was sewing the last of the aglets on the sleeves in the van on the way to Bristol. Here are some pictures of the old faithful hunter green velveteen with the new forepart and sleeves. For those that like details, here is a close up of the sleeves. Clicky on the thumbnail for the big picture.


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