First costume day of the summer holidays

Yesterday was an enjoyable costume day, relatively busy with steady numbers, and not too crazy. It was great to gave some new volunteers giving a hand and to be able to show them what we do. It's certainly true – the more the merrier – it's nice to be have time for a cuppa and keep up with demand from visitors. Hopefully we haven't scared them off!

Again, we had some lovely comments from visitors:

'Amazing. A real laugh and made me stand up taller…'

'Wonderful – great work to create the collection. Great fun had by all, many thanks!'

'I liked feeling like I'm really important.'

'…Thank you for volunteering your time for families to have a lovely experience making memories.'

We also used the occasion to showcase some of the work we've been doing in recent weeks, including the wall hanging inspired by the knot garden and Tudor-dressed rag dolls made from scraps, or cabbage, left over from making our full-sized outfits.

The doll in the blue and red uses up scraps from a similar outfit made for school groups, which is loosely based on a portrait of Mary FitzAlan, step-daughter of Mary Arundell of Lanherne.


The pattern for this doll comes from The Tudor Child, and the clothes are enlarged versions of patterns in the book. Each layer of clothing can be removed. The outfit is made up of a smock, petticoat, kirtle, gown, fore-sleeves, partlet, French hood and girdle.


The other two dolls were more informally made, more guess work than with a pattern. Each has various layers, which are also removable. The Elizabethan gent wears doublet and trunkhose, with a jerkin, ruff, cloak, shoes and a tall hat. Underneath he has hose and a shirt.

The Elizabethan lady wears a smock, stays, bum roll and farthingale, with a kirtle and partlet with a ruff over the top. On top of this is a gown with hanging sleeves. She has black velvet cap decorated with gold and pearl beads, and also has black velvet shoes over stockings tied up with ribbon garters. (She's gained facial features since this photo was taken)

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Nearly there!

Better not shout too loudly but we’re halfway through cutting out the last pattern for the schools’ project!! The last outfit is a late Tudor noble lady based on an already made pink kirtle, originally made for an old cream dress, now transformed into a new gold gown.

Here’s some of the outfits hot off the press (sewing machine!)

imageLate Tudor nobleman and late Tudor merchant’s wife

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Late Tudor nobleman

Late Tudor nobleman

 

 

Late Tudor merchant's wife

Late Tudor merchant’s wife

Mid Tudor nobleman

Just finished a Henry VIII/Edward VI style outfit for the schools’ project.
Here’s some of the stages to get to the final result.

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The grey doublet has slashes in the sleeves and on the front. Each slash was faced with another fabric, they could have been left because fraying edges could apparently have been part of the intended look, but I thought it best to limit excess wear and damage as much as possible. The puffs were made with a light-weight fabric pulled through and sewn to the edge of the slash to keep it in place.

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The same was done on the front of the body. The facing was made by sewing calico to the right side of the grey top fabric, cutting the calico into squares around the sewn slashes, then pulling each through the holes to the other side.

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The doublet is side opening (I thought it would be more interesting than the usual front opening, but it maybe a little trickier to do up…) which is worn under a black velvet u-front jerkin.

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The gown took a while to put together. Note to self – Must remember to take it slowly, follow instructions and not jump steps, otherwise chaos ensues!
The sleeves were faced with an interlining, then the trim was added, before attaching the lining and velvet facing.

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The body of the gown before the sleeves were attached. The trim was made from two different ones layered together.

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The gown, assembled before the velvet facings were added.

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The finished outfit.

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Jewelled decoration was added to the sleeves, to hold the openings together.

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Finally, a hat to complete the outfit. The brim was sewn together first, then the crown gathered to the right size and the edge bound before it was sewn to the brim.

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The finished hat with embellishments of braid, a jewel and a feather.

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The flurry of activity continues

What we’ve been up to – things recently finished:

*A miner’s coat in a heavy linen, so called because it was copied/inspired by a drawing of a mid Tudor miner – it needs lantern and tools to complete the look! It has 32 button holes and although they were done by machine patience was tested, especially when the practise ones using the automatic buttonhole function on scrap material were great but the first few on the garment wouldn’t play ball at all. Needless to say there’ll be some fake buttons at the bottom. but it was less time consuming than making 32 buttons by hand, which is left to someone else to do!

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*An early Tudor gentleman, with doublet, coat, hood and hat. We haven’t figured out the best way of doing one-size-fits-all hose, especially the early Tudor styles, so we’re leaving that for another time. Boys might be a bit reluctant to wear tights?!

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*A mid to late Tudor gentleman’s coat is finished and just needs a hat to complete the look.

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*Our version of the Aldersey girl’s gown with a roll underneath, because the skirt seems a bit long by itself for a 10 year old; we tried it with a farthingale as well but it appeared to make little difference to the length.

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*Two earlyTudor gentlewomen’s gowns are now finished, but we may add a tassel to the end of the girdles.

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We only have two outfits left from our initial cutting out, so we will have to have another cutting out session soon. There’s about 10 more to cut out. In the mean time each outfit made so far needs an appropriate shirt or smock and accessories…

Still busy

The school outfits continue:

An early-mid merchant’s wife dress, before embellishment was added.

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The same dress with about 12 metres of ribbon added. The trim echoes the design of an existing German mid 16th century bourgeois dress.

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For some reason there was a spare of puffed sleeves lying about, so to not waste them we added a doublet body.

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The school boy’s outfit is finished and just needs some accessories to complete it fully. (Something to add to the shopping list!)

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You can never have enough hats! Black versions of a round bonnet and a great bonnet to supplement the brown ones.

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A version of The Tudor Tailor’s Aldersey gown in The Tudor Child has been started. This is one of the sleeves of the gown during assembly. Yet again I have discovered the ‘joys’ of working with velvet – black is particularly disconcerting because the bits it sheds, which get everywhere, look like mouse droppings! Luckily there was enough velvet ribbon to use for the panes on the sleeves, which saved a fiddly job and extra mess.

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The finished sleeves attached to the bodice.

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Gowns, Coats and Headwear

It’s been a while since the last post, but we’ve been quite busy. We had another successful costume day at the beginning of the month and we’ve been continuing with the schools’ project.

We’ve made quite a dent in the patterns created during our marathon cutting out session – might have to get round to cutting out the last ones soon! We’ve got a mixture of recreated children’s clothes and scaled down adult style ones so that groups can see what different ranks and professions wore: they are based on pictures in the Herbert Norris book, Tudor Costume and Fashion, as well as patterns from the ever useful The Tudor Tailor, The Tudor Child, The Queen’s Servants, and The King’s Servants.

New additions to the schools’ project include:
An early Tudor farmer, with doublet and coat – reminiscent of those worn on the Tudor Monastery Farm TV programme. This will be worn, eventually, with the brown small bonnet made earlier.

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A villager – the kirtle was one from our old collection that never really gets worn, but just discovered it’s about 5-6 inches too short – it looks a bit silly with the jacket – so it will need to have a bit added on to the bottom.

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Some early Tudor bonnets for girls including a pointed one, possibly to go with the early Tudor gentlewoman’s dress.

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The round bonnet can be worn as it is or looks quite effective with a paste to make a gable shaped hood.

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This one is to go with the early Tudor noblewoman’s outfit, which is almost finished, and just needs some side lacing in the kirtle.

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A schoolboy’s coat is done, and is awaiting it’s yellow petticoat to go underneath. Also under way are a miner’s coat, a merchant’s gown, a merchant wife’s dress as well as the early gentlewoman’s dress.

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So the work continues and we have another costume day this coming Monday!

The elves have been active…

After several weeks of industry we’ve got some more garments finished; two child-sized cloaks, one with a hood, and the late Elizabethan dress is done and just needs accessorising with a ruff and headwear, and maybe some jewellery.

Our husband and wife team have produced an outfit for him – so we have a Tudor tailor! – next up is one for her.

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Our resident embroidress has been busy too, one cuff of a glove is well underway. Still to go is the edging, the lace and the lining before attaching it to the hand part of the glove (and the other hand!)

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The kirtle of the Breugel gown is in progress and is going to be in green wool with the outer layer in brown wool lined in creamy beige.

Our newest costume maker has finished her outfit, and has already worn it helping Tudor Father Christmas this month.

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Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Next…

It’s been a while since the last post – quite a lot’s been happening.

The DIY dress up clothes in the Hayloft seem to have gone down well, although whenever I go up there it looks like a tornado’s gone through and totally disorganised.

Before the main season ended at Trerice, we helped with the spooky Trerice by Night for Halloween. Some of the dummies were dressed up in costume and put in dark corners, one was made up as a man in a large black hat echoing a poem written by one of the volunteers which was given to visitors about ghosts around the house. We also made some people for the stocks, one of which was headless with a pool of blood made from red velvet! There was also a Miss Haversham style wedding cake complete with rat and spiders for the Hall table – one volunteer dressed up as Miss Haversham and sat really still for most of the night, only occasionally moving and scaring visitors silly.

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This year’s property raffle raised money for costumes for school visits as well as general visits. It was originally thought to do a set of Tudor clothes similar to what’s already been done but based on different roles and professions that might have been connected to an Elizabethan manor. However, the government have kindly changed the history curriculum for 2014 for primary age kids, so the Tudors possibly/probably no longer feature. We’ll have to somehow check what will happen and maybe alter our plans a bit.

In the meantime we’ve started on extra clothes for next spring/summer including an adult cloak in a rusty red, a small boy’s doublet in left over rusty red with yellow slashes and decoration, the old cream and pink gown is in the process of being remodelled because the cream was damaged with age- it is transforming into a goldish colour gown with cream kirtle underneath. There was a rather misshapen wired farthingale used under the old dress, that through some genius thought of one costume member, has been re-stiffened and now looks pretty good and will stand up so much better to mass usage than willow or normal wire – we used curtain wire! We’re taking a step into the 1590s after several requests from younger girls to wear our 10 year olds dress, which is far too big for them, a posh dress for 6-7 year olds is under way complete with French farthingale and a pair of bodies (slight cheating here too, because used cable ties for the boning).

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I had a trip to London as well a couple of weeks ago and picked up some ideas which we might be able to use… visited the ‘Elizabeth I and her people’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which was brilliant. There were some flat caps there which were tiny, smaller than I expected, and loads of lovely pictures which I’ve seen several times in costume books. I also stayed for the late night opening entitled ‘Elizabethans undressed’ which was amazing; I took some photos but unfortunately they came out rubbish.

Birds and more

We’ve created some birds for a new kids trail around Trerice, from left over scraps of black material used for clothes (Tudors called the scraps cabbage). They’re supposed to be swallows, based on the Arundell coat of arms, but it proved a bit tricky to put the detail onto so we simplified them. The swallows were originally intended for the flag making we did recently, but realising the Arundell badge should be white or silver swallows on black not the other way around (of course this happened after cutting out 12 birds in black!) I had to start again. Luckily it was then suggested we create something to replace the Trusty the Hedgehog trail around the house, so the youngest visitors to the house will have something new to look for – the black birds will not be wasted. We now have a flock of 24 and some wit did mention a pie!

Been experimenting, after the trip to London, with some craft foam. Thought it might be a neat idea to make some ruffs and hats that could be tried on in the Hayloft when we don’t have the costumes out. Being made of foam, although not Tudor, it won’t matter so much if they get damaged or go missing.

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We have another adult doublet finished, and an Elizabethan bonnet. Both are looking splendid.

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Also been experimenting with an academic square cap made from felt with a biggin underneath to get the ear flaps, rather than making it an all-in-one hat (which at the moment is beyond me).

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Almost finished an outfit for our lace-making volunteer, though she hasn’t seen it yet and still needs to be hemmed.

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Happy New Year!

We may have been quiet on the blog over Christmas and New Year but everyone’s been busy. So far we’ve got 2 new doublets finished, one for a boy in green with tabs on the shoulders that looked like a stegosaurus initially.

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Another is to go with a kirtle which has shoulder rolls that were sewn and unpicked about 5 times to get them right. Turned out well in the end though!

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There’s also a blackwork embroidered ruff under way and one volunteer spent last season making handmade lace, which another volunteer is now turning into a ruff for people to try on – will need something special for it to be worn with.

Our first costume day of 2013 is on Easter Monday, 1 April – also April Fool’s Day so thought it might be quite good to have a jester’s costume for people to try on and currently putting something together based on various pictures of late medieval and sixteenth century jesters I’ve found.

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Several volunteers have made a start on an embroidered night cap, using various Tudor embroidery techniques, which hopefully will be on display at Trerice during the coming season. Can’t wait to see how it’s going, as I was unable to get in because of unexpected snow (there was enough to sledge on!).