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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Autumn for Trerice Costume Group

Since the summer costume days ended the group has been cleaning and mending clothes. Some of the outfits have been completely remodelled, such as a red English gown which was covered in snags and frayed ends and looked rather a mess. Using material from another pair of red curtains, the old gown was used as pattern to make a new one. The lining and puffed sleeves have been reused in the new version too. 

Our version of Tudor Tailor’s Mary Feilding which has been very popular has also shown signs of wear on the lining, which has become holey, and on the buttons. These have now been replaced and the garment has been given a new lease of life.

The front of the academic gown was looking very bobbly by the end of the summer. On closer inspection the front panels were inside out compared to the back and sleeves, so it was taken apart, turned around and rehemmed before putting it back together.

We discovered that ruffs can survive the washing machine. Some got quite grubby over the summer and after much debate on the best method of cleaning, it was decided to use a gentle wash with a lot of Vanish. We used some thin hair rollers to shape the ruffs as they dried, and don’t seem to have lost much of their stiffness.

In addition to repairs we have been making preparations for Halloween and revamping some of the Tudor banqueting costumes.

Remodelled dress

    The original dress

The waist of the original dress was ridiculously high for a 1570s outfit so the material of the original dress has become a skirt, stomacher, paned sleeves and headdress, combined with a new gown from donated curtains.

Now off to watch Tudor week on Bake Off! 

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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Will we really all be wearing ruffs by Christmas?

There was an article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that caught my eye, entitled ‘How to tell your farthingales from a kirtle’. Apparently aspects of 16th century Elizabethan fashion are ‘the next big thing’ and being worn on the catwalk of designers like Alexander McQueen. Ruffs will be a feature of the autumn/winter 2013 season (?!) Perhaps we’ll have a little sideline to our ongoing project? Anyway, thought it amusing and had to share…
http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/columns/luke-leitch/TMG10043635/How-to-tell-your-farthingales-from-a-kirtle.html