Costume detour continues

The collection of quick-try-on clothes is coming together. We’ve now got Tudor style dresses in a variety of sizes, some doublets and hose, hats, ruffs and collars, and some Stuart style dresses.

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Having some Stuart style clothes to accessorise provides an opportunity to have a go at some of the linen headwear and collars in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion book 4, and gives an excuse to use some of the lace that’s been donated to us, but hasn’t found a use yet – so far a hood, a coif, two lace-edged collars and a version of a supportasse or rebato.

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Coifs mk.2

I’ve been reading up about coifs this week, because I needed to make one for a volunteer to finish of her newly made outfit. The trouble we have quite a lot of the time is getting the things to stay put on people’s heads and getting the right fit so most of the hair is covered.

I came across an article on ‘How to wear an Elizabethan coif’ on the extremecostuming website, via http://www.elizabethancostume.net, which led to further research and articles – it can get a bit addictive chasing the leads you find! Anyway, the point was, that perhaps coifs were not made in 2 or 3 pieces as we had been used to making them, but were really one piece of material, like the surviving examples in museums, with a really long tie that wrapped around the back of the head to secure it, and made it look like the coif was in several pieces. A closer look at Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 4 and Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns (ed S.North and J.Tiramani) said similar, so I though I’d give it a go.

I made a coif like this ages ago, but it turned out with a pointy top, looking a bit like a smurf hat when worn. Turns out that the top seam was far too long and the bit that was gathered way too small. With these new ones I made the seam about 3 inches and gathered the rest- as far as I can tell so far, it sits much better, flatter, when worn. So next I’ll be altering the old one to make it less ridiculous!

One thing though, I don’t know yet if this ‘new’ style coif is completely reliant on being able to put your hair up in a bun or something, lots of the volunteers have short hair so no idea if this will work properly on everyone (if they wanted to try it).

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 …