Who knows it just might fit!

Much discussion about French Hoods this week, we have found various opinions as to whether they are in several different parts which are pinned together on the head (maybe not ideal for us) or whether joined together in hat form. We need to protect our various styles of hats and keep them as clean as possible and we understand coifs were worn underneath these fancier styles but in portraits they aren’t always obvious.

It wasn’t all talk however and our volunteer with the loose kirtle and gown now has a very smart black linen french hood with bag and white forehead cloth to keep her luxurious hair under suitable C16th control!

I am trying a bit of Tudor knitting – thanks to Sally Pointer’s Tudor Flat Cap pattern. I just happened to have the right amount of Aran cream wool to have a go knitting and then felting the cap. If it doesn’t fit me there is always someone else …

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Things to do when you have a cold…

After the recent costume day I finally succumbed to a cold that’s been threatening for weeks. I decided to take the opportunity to make a pair of bodies. As you do. Obviously! It was half term, the printer at work was broken and the weather was rubbish, so with things conspiring against any proper work I decided to put my feet up with a series of The West Wing and sew.

For my first attempt I decided to use the pattern generator on http://www.elizabethancostume.net. The front is about 12 inches long, not too extreme, and hopefully in keeping with the 1560s and 1570s. I used a remnant of blue material with some tailor’s canvas as an interlining and an old sheet for the lining, in case it went wrong. The boning came from clothing found in a cupboard at Trerice (not anything historically important though!) After a few attempts to get the bones in the right order – the diagrams were proving too much for my cold-addled brain – it finally came together.

Sunday evening I ran out of black thread for the first pair, so to fill in time I decided to have a go at another pair of bodies, this time from ‘The Tudor Tailor’. I used pelmet buckram for stiffening, which I read somewhere was the sort of thing used before boning was used. I think I might have caught more than a cold bug, as I’m thinking of doing some more, maybe back lacing, or with a longer front in the later Elizabethan style, or with other boning materials like bents, or maybe even cable ties, so that visitors can see the difference.

A Very Successful Day

It takes two!

Yes, I finished the doublet and it fits and our volunteer said he enjoyed wearing his tudor clothes. So that’s most of the volunteers dressed to match the house (Trerice), now for our guests. Despite the warm weather we dressed whole families from shift to hat and splendid fun was had by all.We are thinking of collecting props for people to hold while posing for photographs in our lovely frame. Fans and gloves or baskets and brooms possibly for the lower sort.

News from the last two weeks

The new costumes for volunteers are coming together. Our small band of volunteers have been doing stirling work. Two shirts have almost been completed, and another started, possibly with blackwork embroidery. The red doublet is nearing completion, with mainly the buttons still to sort out. The loose kirtle is also getting there, just doing the lacing holes before hemming the bottom; work has also started on the loose gown to go with it.

We’ve cut out a pair of mock up hose for our willing volunteer from an old bed sheet to see if the fit will be ok – waiting to hear the outcome of the fitting on Saturday. Likewise another kirtle was awaiting a fitting on Sunday before being completed with lacing holes and a finished hem. Hopefully they will both be ok.

Haven’t forgotten the visitors’ clothes either and a loose gown and kirtle have been started similar to the one for the volunteer. Cutting out the kirtle was quite tricky, and might be a bit more time consuming to assemble because it is from an old curtain and the back pieces have been pieced together from the remaining scraps after the front was cut out tidily in one piece. The design is based on the brasses of Juliana Erisey and Mary Bevill, so we’ll have to work out the embellishments and decorative bits in the near future.

There’s also another ruff under way and I don’t think I’ve seen so many pins in one garment! (mapping out the folds and joins to the neck band)

Things we have discovered…

1. that no matter how much you take measurements and have practise runs something is likely to go wrong! The tomato red doublet has caused some grief revealing itself to be too big in the shoulders and not big enough around the neck when the original pattern was fine. A blue kirtle, modelled on a bodice, tried and tested, turned out to be 4 inches too big in the top, thought it might have been a big task to alter it, with the boning etc but not too bad in the end.

2. hemming is no fun! It has taken the best part of a day to pin up the hem of the loose gown and kirtle – one has either been too short, too long or wonky. Just when it seems to be ok, it actually turns out to be lopsided! Fingers crossed that they are ok now

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Will I meet the deadline?

Have spent all week sewing one thing or another. The first fitting of the red doublet did not go well, the shoulders were too low and the sleeves too long. I have decided to make the sleeves laced in. We have altered it and I tacked it altogether so that the wearer can have another fitting tomorrow – 2 days before he wants to wear it! Have done all the buttonholes and sewn on the buttons. Fingers crossed! Have also finished the neckline of the smock to go under the green loose gown. We decided to give her a small frill collar partlet to go in the neckline.

Finally my own pale blue linen kirtle – attaching the skirt with all it’s cartridge pleating. First I sewed the blue sections together then oversewed the pleats across the top edges and then joined the lining pieces. I hung it up for hemming and i think it looks the part.

Sew much Sewing