Travels In Time: Where Has Lil’ Duchess Been?

Oh Dear Readers, if I have not lost you completely, I’m sure you’ve been wondering in an upset fashion why I haven’t posted anything in the past couple weeks or so. This is because I have been time travelling back to the 16th c. on account of being summoned to Court by Queen Elizabeth I.

Ok, that was silly, but really, I spent a couple frantic weeks finishing up my Elizabethan nobles to wear to the Valhalla Renaissance Faire this past weekend in South Lake Tahoe. I know this is an 18th century-centric blog, but would you like to see what other costumes I make?

The doublet was originally intended to be a mockup that then took on a life of its own and has now become my main digs for this season. There are between 10 and 12 yards of 5/8″ wide velvet ribbon on that thing, and it still needs a bit more.

The skirt is 3 yards of highly anachronistic but charmingly affordable black silk Dupioni, knife pleated and bound. The skirt is worn over a modestly corded cotton petticoat, to give it just enough flare at the bottom.

The sleeves are also black silk, what was left after trimming up the skirt (which wasn’t much), styled with trapunto decoration and slashing, after Festive Attyre’s beautiful silk satin doublet. I did not have enough silk to make a full sleeve, so I made them in two parts, with the velvet ribbons forming the puff at the elbow. They tie on at shoulder in 3 places, and button at the cuff.

For underthings, a blackworked shirt with a high standing ruff (made with horsehair braid) at the neck; a hemp-corded corset made from mattress ticking, the petticoat I mentioned earlier, longjohns, knee-high socks, and some halfway decent leather slippers from :::gasp::: Payless.

The curve in the front closing edges of the bodice was a bit large, and as a result I ended up with a “third boob” (it was dubbed that by someone else, not me!) that buckled rather unattractively. To fix it, I rolled up a thin tanktop and, well, stuffed myself. This gave a huge Victorianesque uni-boob, but I’d rather be falsely well-endowed than buckling and wrinkling.

Also, the collar for the doublet ended up too big, partially because I didn’t know how to draft the collar, and partially because my dressforms have bigger necks than I do. I fixed the problem by crossing over the collar, securing it by hook n’ bar, and pinning a pretty brooch. I actually like the curve of the trim more than if it had remained straight.

Other than those two minor fixed, the dress wore very well, even in the horrible drizzly RAIN we had all day Saturday. The silk did not spot, only soften a bit. I had very little discomfort the whole weekend, and the costume was so tolerable that I even drove the half hour back to our accomodations fully dressed.

My companion in the photos is Maggie of Serendiptious Stitchery. As is plain to see, she created a truly incredible, GORGEOUS gown of velveteen and jacquard, with at least 6 miles of trims on it. Check in with her at her blog.

So now you are wondering “when is she going to shut up about the Renaissance and get back to the good stuff?” Right….about…NOW! The first event to which I am to wear my 1795 robe mockup, voile gown, Hair Cloud, and Great Hat is THIS SUNDAY, and I’m nowhere near finished. Look for updates very soon!

One Comment

  • The Dreamstress

    June 9, 2009 at 4:28 AM

    Ooooh Lauren, it's so cute! Of course we want you to post all about all of your fantastic costumes, not just your 18th century ones! I'm so envious that you have costuming events to attend šŸ™

    I love the curved collar/neckline: I think it is very flattering and adds a lot of character to the gown. I noticed it even before you explained why it was there! About your skirt: I've been thinking about the "dupion silk is totally non-period" argument a lot lately, and I think that the current paradigm has it backwards. Look out for a rambling, philosophical post about it on my blog shortly.

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