Saturday, April 22, 2017

Brown Fitted Gown (v3.0) "1559 Gindertaelen Portrait"

Here is the second of my Mix n' Match posts featuring the re-styling of my brown fitted gown.
While I've incorporated several reoccurring elements and accessories from similar images, it's primarily an homage to the 1559 Gindertaelen family portrait.

I really love how this one turned out!
While I liked the colour palette of my original gown ensemble, I find I'm really enjoying my attempts at reproducing period images and much prefer the final results (and I think this might be my most successful version to date).

Working form the inside out, the outfit consists of a linen, low necked smock...

(Which is looking very wrinkly at the moment...)

...over which are worn my new wool petticoat bodies.

This is followed by a small bum roll...

...and then a black linen petticoat. The petticoat is 180" around and cartridge pleated to a waistband, leaving the front section unpleated. The small, tightly packed pleats additional volume to the hips and the really nice curve when worn under the gown...which you can really see in the finished photos at the bottom of the post.  However (as will all my petticoats) I intend to swap it out for a slightly narrower wool one later.

Then comes a pair of red wool half sleeves, lined in cream linen and bound with black wool tape.

I'm also wearing my small 1.5" ruff which is pinned to a linen partlet (all of which are worn over the petticoat bodies).

I also made a small pair of wrist ruffles, which I had intended to set into ruffs...but it just seemed like more trouble than it was worth for such small sets.
(Read: I am lazy)

Finally, on goes the gown and a black wool partlet lined in black linen.
This was made to replace my original wool partlet which met with a sad end some time ago.  Initially I had wanted to make the partlet out of velvet (as many would be), but thought it might look oddly high status given the fact that all the trim for the gown is wool tape.
So instead I found a happy compromise with a beautiful wool cashmere, which looked very spiffy without being too fancy.  This is actually placed on the gown first (I could never get it on over those sleeves otherwise), which is then slipped on and the partlet pinned at the front.

The headwear (which doesn't quite match the portrait since it's missing those crazy, spiked barbels) consists of a simple coif, worn over ear irons and topped with a rectangular linen veil.

The veil measures 20"x28" of which the first six inches or so are starched, folded to create the desired shape and pinned into place.

And then the only thing left to do is to add some jewelry!  
As in the portrait I opt for a gold chain girdle (with gold filigree pendent) and a pair of rings. Mine are set with red stones to match the sleeves. They aren't prefect period analogs, but they'll work in a pinch.

Finally, a linen cutwork handkerchief edged in lace.  
This doesn't appear in the Gindertaelen portrait, but it often features in images of similar gowns from the period and it was too pretty not to add!
Mine is a 19th century piece to which I've added reproduction 16th century lace from The Tudor Tailor.

Hopefully I'll be able to get some more pictures soon...but for now I'm dead chuffed with the final look!



Friday, April 21, 2017

Brown Fitted Gown: Mix 'n Match

It's been a bit of a quiet year on the blog.
But I promise more has been going on behind the scenes.
(Well, slightly more...)

Since finishing the brown fitted gown last summer I've been assembling various accessories (sleeves, petticoats, jewelry etc) in the hopes of eventually doing an epic 16th century "Mix 'n Match" photoshoot!
After all, I'd been planning on making a fitted gown for so many years...and now that I finally had one I wanted to show how functional and versatile it could be as a piece of clothing, and how many different looks could be achieved by just swapping out a few key accessories.
However, like all things (when it comes to me and sewing) it hasn't quite gone according to plan...

It's taken longer than I'd anticipated to put everything together.  And even though I've had quite a lot of the accessories finished for a while now (5 pairs of sleeves and counting!) there always seems to be something missing to complete the look.
Add to that the fact that getting dressed in just one outfit can take up the better part of an afternoon and the prospect of photographing everything in a single day quickly becomes impractical.
So instead of doing one grand post I think I'll have to roll out the different looks as opportunities present themselves.

And there's already been an unofficial kickoff of sorts to the Mix 'n Match series: the Lucas de Heere outfit I wore for last year's Nottingham Faire!

Granted, it wasn't 100% finished at the time...which is why the official kickoff is happening right now with the updated and complete version!

I know, it's pretty similar and therefore perhaps a bit of an anticlimax...but there are some notable differences.

While the huik and apron are the same, the linen petticoat has been swapped out for my new wool petticoat bodies (which have the same black trim pattern at the hem as the orignial de Heere image).
This has the added benefit of supporting the bust and smoothing out the bodice, as well as improving the overall silhouette.
I've also made a new pair of half sleeves that are a little closer to the inspiration image.

I tried to mimic the horizontal pattern in the original with narrow rows of slashing.  The wool/cotton sateen is also more in keeping with the de Heere pallet, being closer to cream than white. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out! I will definitely be playing with more slashing techniques in the future...

So now this look is now officially done!
(or at least until I decide to tackle a more period correct construction method for the huik)


And that's it!
Hopefully I'll have more looks to show in the near future.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

1590s Gown, Resurrected...

So after a 2 year hiatus I'm returning to my 1590s gown, and if you've read the early posts it should come as no surprise that I've waffled again and resurrected my original plan for a loose gown.

However, this time I've decided to (temporarily) put the Esther Inglis gown to one side and focus on the similarly styled Elizabeth Field instead.

Esther Inglis, 1595

 John Dunch and his nurse, Elizabeth Field, 1588-89

However, this also means I'm finally going to have to figure out what is going on with that white pleated front piece...
Is it some sort of stomacher? Is it attached at the neck like a partlet? Or is it just the smock?

Some have suggested that based on the size of the ruff the Elizabeth Field/John Dunch portait may be slightly later in date, which would be in keeping with many images I've found of a similar short-lived style which was popular in the mid 1590s through the very early 1600s (especially on tomb brasses).

The most similar image I've been able to find is this 1590s miniature by Issac Olivier.

Unknown Lady, 1590s

Unfortunately both the neckline and waist are obscured so this doesn't tell us much...apart from the fact that the opening is fairly wide and the fabric seems very full (which is why I've taken to calling this the "Pigeon Breast" style).

This leads me to suspect that this is not simply an exposed smock.  Another image (also by Oliver) seems to confirm this, since in shows two ladies in similar gowns with pleated white fronts which extend well past the waistline.

Detail: A Party in the Open Air (Allegory on Conjugal Love) 1590-95

To me the structured silhouette of these gowns suggests some sort of front piece worn over a foundation garment.
But is it just a stomacher or is it attached to a collar?
This is a difficult question to answer since necklines are often hidden by ruffs, though there are some images which suggest a separate stomacher.

Print from "Royal, millinery and court costumes during the reign of James I, 1603-1625"

However, many tomb brasses show the pleating continuing at least as high as the collar.

Wife of Arthur Pennyng, 1593

Unknown Lady, 1590

Margeri Browne, 1594

John Brudenell and wife Elizabeth, 1606 & an Unknown Lady, 1590s

Thomas Gage and wife Elizabeth, 1595  

John Gage and his wives (Elizabeth & Margaret), 1595

Sylvester Browne, 1593

Is the front piece integral to the collar or separate? And if it is attached, is the collar also pleated? It's difficult to tell with some images the collar also looks pleated, but that could just be the effects of cross hatching.

Then there is the portrait and subsequent tomb monument of Elizabeth Cooke, Lady Russel (died


I'm not sure when the original painting dates to, but as she's wearing widow's white we can assume it's after the death of Lord Russel in 1584 (though the styling probably pushes it at least into the 1590s).
While the details in the portrait are a bit harder to make out, the effigy is interesting in that it clearly shows a pleated front with some sort of structural elements (based on the detailing around the bodice point) and a front detail which continues past a pleated collar...suggesting the two might be a single garment.

This image got be thinking about about White Mourning in general and Barbes in particular, and whether this may be an evolution of the white chin veil (barbe literally translates to "beard").

Margaret of Austria, 1520s

Eleanor of Austria, 1550s

Mary Queen of Scots by François Clouet (1559-1560)

Print by Lucas De Heere, 1570s

Maria Gonzaga, post 1630

Then there are these sadly tiny images supposedly of Elizabeth I's funeral procession.

This begs another question, is this style a popular one for Tomb Brasses because it is related to mourning? (as in Lady Russel images)
Or is was it simply a very short lived but popular style? (as the Issac Oliver images suggest)
Or could it be both? (That the later barbes are falling into line with contemporary fashion)

Regardless, lets leave the barbes to one side since I'm not convinced the styling in the Dunch image relates to mourning (despite the suggestion that it may be a posthumous portrait).  At the very least the apron --which is more evident in this copy-- suggests a more everyday, practical outfit.

Outside the context or funerary images, there are a few other images I've come across which may or may not be related to this style but as they are often cropped it's difficult to tell.

Unknown Lady, 1595

Judith de Valera, 1590

There also some backwork examples which seem to show a more puffed and gathered look (rather than a rigid stomacher).

Anne Carew, Lady Throckmorton by Hieronymus Custodis, 1590

Lady Throckmorton, 1590

Then there are earlier styles from the 1570s which might be a precursor...

Katherine, Wife of Nicholas Eiffler, 1577

Lady with Puppy by Nicolas Neufchatel, 1550-75

Portrait of an Unknown Woman, 1568

Alice Brandon by Nicholas Hilliard, 1578

The reasons for posting the above images is that they clearly all have integral collars and are front fastening. Whereas the barbes do not have collars and close at the back (with the possible exception of the Russel Portrait).

In comparison, the Nurse portrait shows a high (un-pleated) collar to which the front piece appears to be gathered.

There is no visible front opening.  However, I don't know of many examples of back fastening collars for this assuming the collar is integral odds are good it's also front opening.

Which got me thinking about long Venetian partlets: 

Camilla Gonzaga by Parmigianino, 1523

Eleonora Averoldi Moretto da Brescia  by Alessandro Bonvicino, 1530

Pegasus and the Muses (Detail) by Girolamo Romani, 1540s 

Abbess Lucrezia Gagliardi Vertova by Giovanni Battista Moroni, 1556

 Veronese Woman with a Skull by Paolo Cagliari, 1574

Despite predating the 1590s English version (sometimes by quite a lot) they may provide a good starting point for reproducing the style.  
The one major difference appears to be the presence of a shoulder seam, with the fabric running vertically down the front and back. Whereas the in the English style the folds seem to radiate out from the collar.

So long story short, I'm still not sure what's going on here but for the sake of a passable reproduction I think the construction could be approached in a couple of different ways.
All of these may be theatrical cheats, but I think they will get me close to what I'm aiming for... 

Version one is essentially an elongated partlet which closes at the back. The front section is gathered at the neck to create a puffed out look.  This wouldn't achieve the front point shown in the Isaac Oliver images, but since the Nurse wears an apron this wouldn't be seen anyway.  This is probably the biggest cheat of the three but the construction would be simple.

Version two and three are essentially the same except for the location of the neck closure.  An un-pleated base would probably be made up first and then second pleated or gathered layer added on top (and then the edges bound all the way around).
In this case the question would be how to achieve the gathers?  Should they be loose and unstructured? Sharply pleated? Or perhaps even smocked?

I've also been looking at later examples for possible inspiration, including 18th riding costumes...


...and the Victorian/Edwardian inspired nightgown from "Crimson Peak".

Mostly because it reminds me of other (slightly later) tomb monuments.

Sir Toby Chauncy and his two wives (detail), 1607

Still lots of things to think about, but with any luck I'll have something to show before the end of this year's Faire Season!