New year, new projects

We have some exciting plans in the pipeline for the coming year.

This year the property is having the theme of ‘Trerice in 10 objects’, one of which will be the embroidered nightcap we made a few years ago! This will be an opportunity to highlight what the various things the Costume Group does in the attempt to bring history to life. Part of this will be to make various hats through the ages from the Middle Ages to the mid 20th century. I’m looking forward to having a go at some of the really outlandish ones.

Elsewhere, we’ve been finishing more outfits for the Hayloft collection and started on a new adult-size late Elizabethan gown for the Costume Days. On top of this there is still the repair and upkeep of the existing clothes, including ruffs.

The ruffs have been washed since last summer, but some look a bit like they’ve been sat on.

To reshape them I soaked them in a mixture of water and pva glue. We’ve found this is more hard-wearing than traditional starch, with so many people wearing them during the season. I made the most of the very few sunny and dry days over Christmas to tackle them.

Depending on the size of the ruff sets bent straws or pieces of foam hair rollers were stuffed in the gaps to straighten and shape the ruffs. They look a bit odd but it helps to prevent them sticking together and keep the shape while they dry. In the past I’ve found curling tongs, which I thought might act like a poking iron, inconveniently have a safety bit of plastic at the tip and the heat doesn’t get to the fabric properly. So this is the best I’ve come up with at the moment – I originally tried balls of cotton wool and painted on the glue around the edges but that got very messy and fluffy!

The ruffs were left to dry tied into shape around old biscuit tins and bits of flowerpots, for about 24 hours.

They looked a lot better when the straws and rollers were removed.

That’s a bit more like it!

Now I’m just waiting for some more good weather before Easter to finish the rest!

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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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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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Hat wars…

The embroidered night cap is coming along, I think. (I missed the last session) I’ve done or started a panel with primroses. I thought it was going to be a lot lot trickier than it actually was (still a bit tricky though!) Maybe I had easy stitches to master though as each panel is different.

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I haven’t really done any embroidery since school, but the panel so far includes stem stitch, chain stitch, satin stitch and needle lace.

The real reason for the title of this entry is not because of the nightcap, but trying to replicate a hat worn in one of the Arundell brasses. Probably an over-exaggeration really.

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It’s just being a bit fiddly and I’m making it up as I go along because there’s no instructions to follow, just various pictures from portraits that look vaguely similar. I think I’ve sussed the style, not a French hood, but a cap type thing probably originally shaped by the wearer’s hair underneath, but because there’s no way of telling how visitors will have their hair, I’ve used a roll of fabric stuffed with wool fibre to give it the required height. My attempt so far is ok, it’s just getting the lining in that’s now proving tricky – staring at it for hours doesn’t help!

Tudor hairstyles and headwear

One of the volunteers at Trerice, who is nifty with woodwork, has made us a couple of wooden wig or hat stands. After some recent research, we thought it would be interesting for visitors to see how women in the sixteenth century wore their hair and what they covered it with – coif or hood. We only really realised quite recently how important the hair done up and pinned to the head was as the foundation for most headwear, and secured it in place.

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For the hair arrangement we copied the examples in Tudor Tailor and found online.

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The French hood is an experiment with the different pieces done separately – coif, paste, lower billament and veil.

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The coif follows the style in Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns and Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion, with the linen being one piece and the long tapes wrapped round the head, held in place by the hair braids underneath.

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