A few thoughts on Saxon gown construction

When the beading on the BFoI (see previous post) is all finished, I will need to do the scary part, and start making the frock.....

So, some ideas on the actual construction. The question of the method for making one of these frocks seems to have been more hotly debated than the chicken or the egg. I have seen a number of these frocks which don't match some of the key features in the paintings, which has allowed me to see (without having to make a whole bunch of expensive mistakes myself) what they have been doing wrong.

Regardless of what method of construction you want to use, one thing is always apparent in the paintings. The stomacher/placket/white bit under the lacing in the front, is always (look at this rash use of the word always) flat and smooth.


This is one of the things that leads me to belive that this frock was NOT an open fronted dress that was worn over the top of a chemise. Part of my evidence for this comes from looking at this style of dress made by other costumers - often no boning or other stiffening has been used, and this panel has been open to the underwear layer. The effect of this, when the wearer sits or bends, is that the lacing all migrates to the point of least resistance, leaving it sort of bunched up. Also, on an unwise wearer, it can make ones stomach look like a trussed ham. Ew!
So, this could be a boned panel, which is a separate piece to the brustfleck (breastband) or the whole front could be one piece (there is some evidence that this could be the case - in at least one of the 472,863 versions of the suicide of Lucrecia - I'll have to come back and fix that spelling later - the whole front of her dress is folded down to bear her chest, and appears to be all one piece.)
I also have somewhere (and when I find it I will upload it) a picture that shows a woman in an open fronted gown in a similar style, that shows this open section as red. You can also see lines of what could be boning or cording. It's plausable that this is a corded or reed boned corset/underbodice that can be seen through the lacing on the front of the gown.

This was supposed to be a sewing blog.....

It occurred to me recently that the name of this blog would generally suggest that it's supposed to be about.......erm, well, garments. The last actual entry about clothing, however, was (hold on a moment while I check) oooohh, a really long time ago (hmm, you'd think I'd find something in the archives somewhere, wouldn't you?).

So, to fix that, and bring this blog back into the realms of actual costumey stuff, lets take a look at the frock I'm making. It's generally being known as the Beaded Frock of Insanity, but it hasn't driven me completely mad yet, so it may have to become the Beaded Frock of Moderate Foolishness.....

So this is the frock. Painting is by Lucas Cranach (the elder), The Virgin Glorified, 1520, or thereabouts. This is the only image I have found of this painting, so I don't know what colour it would be, although from viewing a great many other Cranach paintings, I would guess red and gold, or gold and black. The fabric I have, though, is teal, with a printed pattern in antique silver/gold. I dyed some white velveteen until I got as close to a complimentary teal as I could (and wasn't that a trial and a half). This velveteen is a brilliant backdrop for the pearl beading. The pearls are 3 and 3.5mm plastic ones from Photios Bros. I had intended to use glass ones, but the variety if sizes is very narrow, and they start getting really expensive really quickly. In period they most probably would have used seed pearls, although pearlised glass beads were available*. I started on the sleeve cuffs first, because once these bits were completed, I could make up the cuff. This could help serve as inspiration for the rest of it if I thought about giving the whole thing up as s bad joke.

Here's some of the beading in progress:
The velveteen guards are basted onto a plain weave white cotton, and the patterm was drawn on the back. I discovered, quite by accident, that if I used a fairly firm pressure when drawing out the pattern on the back of the velveteen, the design was kind of etched onto the front. This was perfect, and made it really easy for me to follow the pattern layout. The beads themselves are strung onto a linen thread (which will hopefully prove to be unbreakable) and then couched down. This means that the pattern was nice and straight, and didn't take anywhere near as long as sewing each individual bead down. That certainly would have been a short road to insanity......

Here are the rest of the cuff pieces.

And the completed items, sorry that the one that I'm actually wearing is a bit blurry - it's actually really hard to take of photo of your own arm.....

The bottom part of the upper sleeve is also completed, I'm now working on the guards for the bodice. Well, I would have been, except I'm now actually writin
g about it. Ah, procrastination!
*I don't really remember where this info came from. Like a great many things, I read it somewhere, and I also saw an SBS doco on the history of pearls which had info on pearlised glass beads. Unfortunately, "I remember seeing it somewhere" is not a good documentation tecnique. If I ever actually find some real info on this that I can use to back this statement up, you'll be the first to know.

Great moments in radio

Heard the funniest thing on the radio on the way home yesterday. Triple J and Triple M linked up to play, in similcast, 20 seconds each of 2 songs - one from a band that Andy from Hamish and Andy (Triple M) is in, the other, a "song" by Scott Dooles Dooley from the J's, titled "Angry Panda". The title is important, because it should give some indication as to the quality of the track.....

If you heard it, I hope you laughed as much as I did (it's a good thing I was stuck in heavy traffic, or I would have crashed into someone. My stomach muscles (such as they are) are still hurting). If you didn't, I'm not even going to bother....... totally a "had to be there" kind of joke.

I have since found that I wasn't paying attention properly, and it was in fact 2Day that the link happened with. At least I know that I had the Triple J part right!! Oh well, it was a hoot, whoever it was! I don't quite know how this post went up twice, either. Sorry, JD, for deleting your comment!

What I did on my holidays. Part 1

Festival of course!!!

So, we packed up the car on Wednesday night, so we'd be ready to go nice and early on the Thusday. Most of this was achieved, however, despite the dreadful hayfever that I was suffering. But that was ok, I'd be feeling better in the morning, wouldn't I?


It wasn't hayfever, it was the most dreadful headcold, which tightened it's grip on me as the day deepended. By mid-afternoon I was about as miserable as it was possible for a person to be. Oh, and then we discovered that the brand new air mattress that I had bought (Ashfield K-Mart, don't trust them, bunch of shifty bastards) had no plug, which would make it very difficult for it to remain inflated..... I have to say, there were many moments of dispondancy, and Festival was starting to look like it was going to be ghastly. We did, however, manage to buy a new air mattress in Yass, which was a start, and an early night (on the new, and surprisingly comfortable, air mattress - the one with the plug - not the crap one from Ashfield K-Mart) made everything seem much better the next day.

So, did I enjoy my Festival? Yes, very much so. On Friday I was feeling so much better I went out and made myself unwell again...... yes, the lure of the wine bar was too much for me, and I made some fairly substantial inroads on the road to being a drunken disaster. But that's OK, because I had at least enough of a grip on my sobriety to make a new friend. I spent many hours in conversation with Master Charles, probably because I had spent so much time in his fine establishment. I don't think that we solved any of the world's woes, but we sure laughed a lot. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to read a wanky wine review again without reliving some of the finer moments. Actually, the more I think of it, the more I realise that many of my fine times came from the wine bar - and not all from the bottle, either!!!

Saturday afternoon saw us back there, us being Meg and Snerg, DV, Helen, Scruffy, and for a brief visit, Charlie. After Charlie and I dashed of to go to court (to see Mark the Armourer be laurelled - although we had to sit through quite a lot of court before it happened), I came back to the wine bar....well, I was already half tanked, so I figured I might as well continue. Unfortunately, all of my friends seemed to have disappeared, but that was OK, because Manfred (from Mainly Medieval) kept me company.......if that's what you want to call it!! He seemed to take a great deal of delight in being icky and perverse, and making me squirm. We both had a lot of fun though! Somebody was continuing to ply me with alcohol (it might even have been me), because by the time I eventually stumbled up the hill to have some dinner I was fairly stonkered. This served as fodder for the inevitable ridicule to which I was subjected. Obviously I need some new friends.

Sunday night saw me sober, because I refushed....er, refused to have 3 hangovers at one event. I had a really good chat with Asa and Portia (and another lady who's name I simply cannot remember). Asa now has be on her watch list for being a "hussy" who unashamedly appeared in public without a hat, in a place where members of the opposite sex were in attendance. According to her, I was lucky to make the 4 steps from the wine bar to the tavern without being "ravished". Hmm, I never knew the power of a hat!!

I spent a lot of time wandering about, talking to people that I don't normally see or socialise with. One thing I have come to realise is that the 2 years of doing Festival Merchant Co-ordinator has really given me the opportunity to come to know, and be known by, a whole new group of people. It's great! So, as a result I really don't spend a lot of time in my own campsite, or even talking to my own friends.... sorry guys.

Normally this would be the place where I would start inserting some of the photos that I took..... erm, I will be the first to admit - I'm crap. I didn't take a single photo until the Tuesday morning, and that was only because there was a really cool fog. Oh well, I will just have to preserve the good times in my memory (and given that a) my memory is garbage, and b) I spent a reasonable proportion of Festival in a mild alcoholic haze, I'm not terribly confidant that the preservation will be terribly successful. Good thing there will be another Festival next year to do it all again in!!!