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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Nightcap and ruff on display at last!

The embroidered nightcap and lace ruff are now on display in the Musicians’ Gallery at Trerice! The display boxes arrived at the end of last week and some display stands were ingenuously created from a large cardboard tube, some hardboard and black material – very Blue Peter! – but looks really professional. Big thank you to the volunteers who made them in no time at all. (We’ll forget about the minor hiccough of one being a fraction too big and having to adjust it…)

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2014 season here we come!

Preparations for the new season at Trerice are underway. We have some new extra opportunities for trying on costumes in the summer holidays. As part of the Tudor fortnight being held in August we will have Costume Days on Wednesdays (6th and 13th) in addition to the usual Mondays.

We’ve started the project for making costumes for school visits, and are initially planning a variety of clothes from throughout the 16th century. Next step is to finish drawing up patterns and go shopping for fabric.

In the meantime we’ve all been busy making new things for the summer visitors to try on an academic gown, complete with hat, is well under way, as is the little girl’s Breugel inspired outfit and a version of the Mary Feilding dress from the Tudor Tailor’s Tudor Child book.

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The old cream gown that has been around for years, and was becoming very stained, has been revamped into a totally different dress. It now forms the petticoat to the new dress.

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The ‘dragon’ dress is also finished, with a ruff made from off cuts of the Great Chamber curtains and a wire supportasse, and just needs a willing 6-7 year old to try it on.

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Our embroideress has been very busy too, and has completed one glove, which took most of last season to do. This will be displayed with the embroidered nightcap and lace ruff in the House.

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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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Tidying up

Started on the repairs, cleaning and general tidy up after the costume day on Saturday. Nothing really major so far. The biggest task is washing all the shirts and smocks, which we’ve divided between us. Managed to get through two and half wardrobes today so only half a wardrobe to go, then we can start on some new items. Once all the clothes have been checked and cleaned we’ll pack them away in boxes and move them to the house. It’s surprising how much water has been collected in the dehumidifying pouches in a short time during the summer, so I’d hate to think what it would be like after the winter’s over!

One volunteer has been busy making a start on a pair of embroidered gloves, using a pattern from the Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns Book 1 by Jenny Tiramani and Susan North; it looks amazing already, and only part of one glove is done. Also under way is another hand-made lace edged ruff which will be left partially made up to show how it is put together (hopefully some photos will be possible soon). A start has been made to get display cases for the nightcap, gloves and ruffs, and to find the best place to put them.

A couple of our outfits have gone on tour to Tintagel Old Post Office as part of their fashion through time display, taking place from 16 to 30 September. Might be a good excuse to go visit as haven’t been there yet; trip to Killerton next week first though and hopefully a look at their costume collection.

Just for fun!

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Decided to have a laugh today with a hairdressing model head, the new lace ruff and a Marian-style hood – the bizarre things we get up to!
More seriously though we are considering a way of displaying the lace ruff in Trerice, possibly with a head of some kind, and it was useful to see how the hood works on a ‘proper’ head.

Creepy crawlies

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We’ve been continuing with the embroidered nightcap and have started embellishing panels with stumpwork insects. So far there’s a bee, a ladybird, a butterfly, a spider, two caterpillars and a snail. There’s also a snail and a hedgehog on part of the headband (not shown). So it’s coming on…

The lace ruff project is finally complete and looks fabulous! 5 metres of lace took one volunteer about 200 hours to make, and another made it into the ruff which took a further 12 hours. Thanks to both for their hard work!

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The embroidered nightcap continues

The embroidered nightcap is coming along nicely, mostly thanks to the volunteer who is patiently instructing us and I think making it appear easier than it actually is! Just reading the instructions gets me confused but being shown the techniques makes it a bit simpler. There will be six side panels and a headband around the bottom.

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The photos show the aquilegia panel, part of the headband with strawberries, the primrose panel and the foxglove panel.

Also, newly finished is a black worked ruff with a repeated clover design

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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!).