Monday, 7 March 2011

Of the late 15th century Armourer's wife...

With the sudden event of engagement to an armourer and passionate re-enactor like myself, the requirement for late fifteenth century dress for shows (suiting that of the rising merchant/craftsmen class) has arisen, and so here is my research and progress thus far.
I require something that is practical and warm, though bits of decoration/flourish are allowed. 

The image above was my initial source of inspiration, dated at roughly 1465-8. I love the lady on the right hand side with her brocade sleeves and very clear waist seam with gathered skirt. The way her belt hangs casually and the combination of a stunning green with pale pink lining.  And again below, the 1470's lady at the feet of Christ shows a side laced gown with a gathered skirt waistline.

A lady below, again in green, has a similar waistline with little or no gathering but a full skirt. Note the way her belt equally hangs loose.

This woman below has been important, for unlike any garment i've made before, this outfit will have side lacing using metal closed rings and so this image has been increasingly valuable to help me understand how to do it.

With the aid of Mary G.Houston's 'Medieval Costume in England and France', i've decided to use one of her excellent pattern illustrations to try and shape my costume. Here are some initial sketches of what i hope to achieve, pattern-wise they do not necessarily follow what i have now, but they should give an idea:

Front and side:


The first sketch above has a 'frill' thing along the bottom of the underdress, which until now i assumed was extra flair to keep the skirt out. However i've been informed that it is actually extra skirt length pinned up on the outside, which makes sense! So now i no longer will have a frill; there never should have been one! I intend to make a silk partlet to sit on top or lie underneath the neckline to keep off the sun.

The Under Dress

Thus far the Squiggle has entirely hand sewn her bodice section - it needs the lacing finishing on the right hand side and decorative gold thread edging, but once the skirt is added, it will be complete!

As you can see, the lacing on the top edge will possibly require some stiffening such as braid or cord to prevent it from wrinkling. It is my hope that the tension of the removeable sleeves will also help keep it flat to the skin. If all else fails, the two flaps will be joined. 

Here is the back of my bodice, it has limited shape on a hanger, but once on me hopefully will make more sense.

Latest Development:

Skirt has been added to the bodice, just needs the bottom hemming, the inside seams tidying and the removable sleeves added! Quite happy with the front, very little alteration needed.

The back as I thought needs some taking in at the centre seam to fit round the shoulders, for it's quite tricky to do the back all by one Squiggle!


muffin_nuffin said...

Vicky, that red dress is GORGEOUS. The bodice neckline is a lovely, and the back is similarly lovely :)

I wish I could sew this well...

Vix said...

Thanks Liz! :-D It needs some extra fitting really, but i'll get there - it's going to have black and gold silk damask or gold diamond silk sleeves.... then a green wool and pink linen overdress with short sleeves...

People always say 'you're so talented', but i say it's not a matter of pure talent, it just takes practice! :-) You're welcome to meet up with me for some sewing sessions if you want?