The Diary of the 1530's Gown

The Embroidery

      I bought some navy blue cotton sheeting when I went home last and I am planning to make a petticoat out of it.  To stiffen the bottom so it stops the outer skirts from 'kicking' under the bottom hoop of the farthingale, I've decided to do some embroidery.  Bess suggested gold embroidery thread couched with red.  I got the pattern from Herbert Norris's 'Tudor Costume and Fashion' (see Research Books section).

      I've cut out strips of the navy blue fabric 10 cm wide, and sewn them together so they are long enough for the bottom hoop of the farthingale.  I've also flat lined it with calico to give it extra strength.  I hope you feel the same way as I do - this is too good for a petticoat!  I've decided to change my plan, and make this fabric into a kirtle with forepart.  I will embroider the rest of the forepart with small motifs.
Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 
The Plan(!)

      As I was away on holiday during August, I didn't get much done then, but I did manage to draw a design of what I want my final gown to look like.  It will be interesting to see how like it my final gown actually looks!

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Fabric

      I've bought the fabric for my main gown now.  My original draft has changed already!  The main fabric is a dark green brocade (instead of red), but the only pattern on it is small Fleur de Lys about 5 cm apart.  I bought a dark green lining to go with it and Bess has very, very kindly given me some dark green velvet for lining the sleeves with. 

      I also bought a metre of gold brocade to make a forepart and under-sleeves with so I can choose which forepart I wear.

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Embroidery

      I've started working the gold quatrefoils for the forepart on the navy blue underskirt:

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Gold Forepart

      Using the gold brocade fabric I bought, I've started to make a forepart.  (Excuse the shadows in the photo - a better one will replace it soon).  I will finish off the waistband when I have made the main gown.  This will make it easier to get the method of fastening right. 

      The forepart is basically made up of the gold brocade, a calico lining, and two layers of stiffening in between.  Although totally inauthentic, I have chosen to use iron-on buckram to stiffen it, to eliminate the potential problem of the lining (or the brocade) sagging at all.  As the buckram won't be seen at all, and it is nearly impossible to see that it is ironed on, it doesn't matter that it is inauthentic.

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Bodice

      The foundations of the bodice are now complete:  I made a fabric pattern (toile) out of an old sheet.  The four pattern pieces I created were then cut out of calico (x2), shirt collar stiffener and the outer fabric.  (Lining comes later!).  The pieces were then sewn together at the seams in the following order:- 
      calico; shirt collar stiffener; calico; outer fabric.

      That is as far as I've got.  The next thing will be to try it on, and pin the straps as tightly as possible, then sew them.  Next I will attach the lining - watch this space! 

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Jewellery

      While shopping in Worcester today, I managed to find a lovely cross on a chain that looks very Tudor.  I don't know much about Tudor jewellery yet, but as it was in the Cathedral shop for only £26, I couldn't resist it!  What do you all think? 

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Partlet

      At the moment, what I have done with my gown is only the bodice.  I wanted to get the sleeves done over Christmas, but I found out that I didn't have enough velvet.  So I've got to save up my pennies and take a trip to London to get some.  I've decided to use the velvet I have got to make a partlet to go with my gown.  I've got a few patterns to play with - Jean Hunnisetts from her book, 'Period Costume for Stage and Screen, 1500-1800' (see Research section), Drea Leed's (see Links section) and one from another brilliant site, The Renaissance Tailor (see Links section).

      I've also been looking for portraits to help me design my partlet, which is basically a very short cardigan with no sleeves!  It only covers the top of the chest that is left bare by the low cut gowns of the time.  Some of the portraits I've found are below.  I've decided that my partlet is not going to have a collar as I want to keep it quite simple.

      The lady in this portrait is wearing a partlet that has a standing, stiff collar although it is not a particularly high collar unlike some of the partlets worn by Queen Mary later on.        In this portrait of Lady Lister, you can see that the partlet lies flat against the chest with a small gap where it is held together in the centre.  It could be that the partlet in the portrait on the left is no larger than Lady Lister's, only that it is arranged to lie open rather than closed. 

Taken from 'Tudor Dress: A Portfolio of Images' 
(see Links Section)

                   Taken from 'Tudor Dress: A Portfolio of Images' 
(see Links Section)

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Gown 19/02/01

      The partlet has been put on hold for a while now because I discovered this weekend that I do actually have enough velvet for my sleeves!  So, over the last three days I have been making the main part of my gown.  I'm quite worried that the train is too long for Kentwell, and that it won't be practical.  Below are a couple of pictures from Herbert Norris' book showing dresses with long trains, but I'm waiting for a verdict from Bess on the practicalities of a long train at Kentwell! 

  jfdsapjfojakfljdl
                                        Taken from 'Tudor Costume and Fashion' by                    Taken from 'Tudor Dress: A Portfolio of 
                                                      Herbert Norris (See Books section)                        Images'  (see Links Section)

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Gown 18/04/01

      Unfortunately, the pressure of my studies and my wedding in August have meant that I've had to decide not to participate in the Kentwell re-enactment this year.  The silver lining of not doing Kentwell is that I can keep my train (which would have been too long) and I can make my gown into a real Court gown with pearls in abundance!  Anyway, below are some photos of my gown at last.  In due course I will write some pages on how to make some of the aspects of my gown - watch the How To Make... section on the Welcome page.

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The French Hood

      My French Hood is made from the same fabric as the main gown.  It is based on Anne Boleyn's hood in this portrait on the right (as you might have guessed!).  The top half is lined with the same lining as the gown and the bottom half is lined with linen to help the hood grip onto the hair.  You can just about see this in the photograph below right.  The veil is black cotton velvet (below) lined, again, with the same fabric as the gown.  The upper and nether billiments are small pearls sewn on individually, and, although it's not very visible in these photos, there is also a pleated gauze ribbon sewn along the front edge.    A more detailed description will be posted in the How To Make... section in the near future.


Portrait taken from Fraser A (1992)
(See Books Section)

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Jewellery

      I haven't done much research into Jewellery making in the sixteenth century, but after I finished my gown, my old textiles teacher asked me to take it into one of her lessons to show her students so I thought I'd have a go at making a realistic girdle to go with the cross I bought. 

      I looked in all my books and found some descriptions of sixteenth century girdles, and Norris (see books section) had this:

'Surrounding the waist [Mary I's] is a girdle of two 
rows of pearls, three pearls in each row alternating with 
jewels set in rich gold mounts.'

      I had an old necklace made up of false rubies in gold mounts and also lots and lots of false pearl necklaces that didn't look too 'plasticy' so I pulled them apart and managed to come up with the girdle on the right.

     Below are close ups of the front and the back of the skirt and you can see how the girdle is worn.

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Sleeves

      The sleeves are my favourite part of the gown.  Below left is a picture of how the sleeves look from behind, I've sewn a set of three tear-drop pearls to wear the cuffs are caught up just above the elbows.  The turned back cuffs are lined with dark green velvet.  You can see the shape of the sleeves better in the picture below right.  I've also sewn a cluster of three tear-drop pearls to the undersleeve where the puffs of linen show, although you can't see this very well in the photo.  The undersleeves are of the same brocade as the forepart.  For a more detailed description, go to the How To Make My... section from the Welcome Page.

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.
 

The Bodice

      Inspiration from this portrait (right) of Jane Seymour, where you can see the pins holding her stomacher in place, made me decide to have a bodice like hers.  My bodice laces in the front and the lacing is hidden by a stomacher identical to the rest of the gown.  You can see this in the photo below left.

      I also had to decide what shape I wanted the back neckline of my gown to be and I thought that a relatively high, slightly angled shape would look best and would also help to hold the sleeves on my shoulder better.  You can see this shape in the photograph below right, you can also see the pearls sewn on individually around the bodice neckline.  I used the same pearls as were used for the girdle to maintain continuity.  

      Keep an eye on the How To Make... section for step-by-step instructions on how I made my bodice coming soon.  

Click to go back to Tudor Costumes Home page.