My very first Elizabethan gown

Made in 2001 Remade in 2008

The original

 This is my very first Elizabethan dress. It is made of brownish yellow cotton fabric. The pattern is made with velvet pile and the areas around it are of a structured weave with small dots. It started out as four very long but only 60 cm wide curtains, that I bought at the Salvation army in 1994. The fabric on the forepart is a cotton/viscose brocade. The trim is a ca 6 cm vide velvet ribbon with stripes of gold woven into them. One could get 10 metres for a little more than the equivalent of 5 $, so I bought 30. I used ca 10 metres for this dress. As you can see it goes around the neckline, from the neckline and down and along the front split and the hem.
What you can’t see in the photos is that the tabs on the shoulders are double; the over layer made of the same fabric as the dress and the ones under that made of the same velvet ribbon. The ribbon is wholly synthetic so I just melted the edges on the tabs before sewing them in, which was very nice compared to hand-hemming the velvet tabs.

The black sleeves are made of a rather expensive cotton velvet. They are decorated with glass beads in gold, small glass pearls and large plastic pearls made from an old necklace that I bought at a flea market. They are made up of three separate pieces each, edged with gold cord and held together with pearls. These sleeves were made especially for a coronation in the medieval group Nordrike in 2002, where all the queen’s ladies in waiting should have black velvet sleeves with gold cord and pearls. The design was up to each one of us and it was fun to see that nobody hade done the same.

 The partlet is made of very thin silk that I bought it at a craft store and it’s intended to paint on. The fibres are quite short and not spun, which makes it a very delicate fabric. The only way to make anything out of it was to sew it entirely by hand. The front opening and the lover edge of the collar are edged with 4 mm plastic pearls. It’s tied together with white satin ribbons. On my head I have a large attifet. It might be a bit too big and I've yet to master the construction of this kind of hat, but I have this strange attraction for silly hats so I wore it anyway. It’s made form the same yellow fabric as the dress and lined with hand-woven linen (twill-weave, an old sheet). The lace which is edging it is made of metal wire and is sort of bronze-coloured. It also has a 1 cm black velvet ribbon around the edge and some brass beads and pearls. In the “dip” in the middle there’s a tear-shaped pearl.

 Under this I’m wearing a corset, farthingale and bumroll a silk chemise The corset is made of hand-woven linen tabby and has the same placement of the boning as the corset as the one worn by Pfalzgräfin Dorothea Sabina von Neuburg, but I used plastic boning (sometimes referred to as “german boning”) because it’s cheap and convenient. I’m also wearing linen stockings, but this you can and should not see.

The re-make:

Since I made this dress I learned that bodice and skirts were usually sewn together in period, the exception being doublets and jackets worn over petticoats. Since the bodice opened in the back and the skirt in the front I had to change one of them and it ended up being the bodice, because I couldn't find a painting where the type of sleeve that belonged to the gown originally was worn with a back-opening bodice. So after the re-make the gown is closed in the front with hooks and eyes and skirt and bodice are sewn together. Due to a change in body shape I also had to take it in a couple of inches in the waist and add 3 inches at the top.

Here I'm wearing the original sleeves, which are open round sleeves in the same fabric as the dress. They are decorated with the velvet ribbon along the opening and held together with large buttons in black velvet and gold (very expensive). They’re lined with red, let’s call it: “silk imitation” (another old curtain). Though it can be hard to make out in the photo I'm wearing white damask sleeves under them. The farthingale and petticoat are the same, though I've added some decoration to the forepart. I have also long ago stopped wearing a bumroll, I have a natural built-in one.

I didn't have the time to make new headwear for the event so I wore an old blackworked coif and a brown satin bonnet.

Here's another old photo, from 2002, where you can also see my friend Björn in clothes I made for him. It's the clothes of Don Garzia, now in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the first man's suit in Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion". You can also see my daughters, although Vendela makes a very funny face. Maybe you also notice that we're standing in a slope? I like to think that that's the reason for my girdle to hang oddly.

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