adjective:old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].

the concept

Venetian ball
Venetian Ball by Goltzius, 1584

the fabric

silk damask
Scalamandre silk damask - "Lovebirds"

the pattern

draped by me

the deadline

whenever I get around to it!

the result

12th night

useful links

The Realm of Venus

Milanese Tailor's Handbook

Bella Donna: Venetian Courtesans


Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, c. 1560-1620. New York: Drama Book, 1985.

Landini, Roberta Orsi. Moda a Firenze, 1540-1580: Lo Stile di Eleonora di Toledo e la Sua Influenza. Firenze: Pagliali Polistampa, 2005.

Mikhaila, Ninya and Jane Malcolm-Davies. The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing 16th Century Dress. Hollywood, Calif.: Costume and Fashion Press, 2006.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Attending the SCA West Kingdom's 12th Night last weekend finally gave me the excuse (and deadline) to finish the last two elements of this costume that I wanted to make: a new partlet and girdle. I can now say this sucker is officially Done!

The partlet is actually doing double duty for my Florentine gown, as I've lusted after the partlet in this 1543 Bronzino portrait of Eleonora di Toledo for a very long time. I had never gotten around to making that partlet for that costume, so decided to create something that would work for both. While most Venetian partlets do not have collars, I did find a few examples from late in the century (like this one from 1592 at the Realm of Venus); they were worn more open than the Florentine style, so I followed that line to make the partlet more Venetian (since I'll get more wear out of it that way). I used the gold metallic net that is discussed in an earlier post, which I lined with white silk organza for support. Then I sewed pearls at the joins, spacing them out enough to suit their scale (and to avoid having to sew 100 pearls, I'll admit!).


For the girdle, I searched high and low for gold beads that were large enough to match the scale of the Goltzius engraving. Shockingly, beads that large are expensive, especially when you need a lot of them! So I was thrilled to find a big bag of large gold beads in an antique store for only a few dollars. In order to liven up the girdle, I made bead wraps using two pearls on either side of a square gold bead on gold wire.


Later in the day, I did a bit of shopping and found some (fake) Big Honkin' Pearl Drops, which I added to my earrings and center girdle jewel - yay! You can see them in this pic of me, Sarah, and Janos at the ball, courtesy of Trystan.

A few photos from 12th night!

12th night12th night12th night

posted by démodé 11:17 AM 0 comments

Monday, October 20, 2008

We have achieved finished dress! Even more exciting, I FINALLY have a new Venetian gown after wearing the same one for FOUR YEARS. Yay!!!

Everything came together perfectly in the end -- had to move a snap, and I popped off a lacing ring the first day and had to resew it, but there were no crises and I had a great time wearing it.

And I got new hair -- Linda and I were eating lunch before heading for site to help with build, and we spotted a wig shop. We thought we'd just pop in, and were really happy we did as we both walked out with "new hay-air" as we called it (there was lots of talk of "getting our bouffant on").

blahVenetian gownVenetian gownVenetian gown
Venetian gownVenetian gown
Courtesy of RenaissanceFaire.Net, © 2008 Richard G Lowe Jr
Venetian gown

There are a few more pictures up on the Bella Donna site.

posted by démodé 10:29 PM 13 comments

Thursday, October 16, 2008

After my life getting sucked by various work crises, and typically overscheduling myself, I got back to work on this as Folsom Faire (the last faire of the season) approached. I am going to have a new dress!!!

Two small things I did included sewing the gold Venetian lace to the neckline (I love how it stands up!), and making a new camicia (my old one, which I've worn since 2004, was sad, sad, sad!):


As I last posted, I thought I had a pretty good sleeve pattern. I cut it out, fray checked it all (as this fabric is super fray-y), then worked on the slashes in the puff. First I did a teeny tiny zigzag stitch all along the edges, then I hand sewed a really narrow velvet ribbon to the edges.

I hadn't thought about using velvet ribbon on the edges until Cynthia and I were shopping at Piedmont fabrics, where I picked up something I thought would work -- only to get it home and realize that duh, I have velvet ribbon on the hem of my skirt, so using a forest green-ish color on the sleeves would be really random. So I ordered the same color ribbon in a narrow width from MJ Trim, and thought all was fun until my order didn't show up. I double checked, and they'd mailed it to my old address. So I ended up on at 9pm on a Friday night in Richmond (about 45 min. from my house) trying to get my ribbon from UPS -- I was successful, but man, did I suffer for this ribbon! Last weekend was my last chance to really work on this, though, so I needed it THEN.


Then I put the sleeve together, starting with the white underpuff, which I sewed to the sleeve lining:


I thought I was doing fabulously working on the sleeves, and was all optimistic that I'd have them done in a few hours -- only to CONTINUALLY sew wrong sides to right sides and get it all screwed up. I finally figured out that I had sewn the white puff to the wrong side of the sleeve lining, so every time I sewed the sleeve cap together and then turned the sleeve, the white puff was against my arm instead of showing through the slashed outer sleeve. I spent HOURS unpicking, resewing, etc. etc. and finally got it all put together...

Only to find that somehow I had screwed up my sleeve pattern, and the angle of the top and bottom seams were off-kilter by about 1.5" from the elbow to the wrist. ARGH. At this point, there was no WAY I was going to recut the sleeve and start over (if I hadn't done all the handsewing of the velvet ribbon I might have, but after that, no way). So I fixed the top seam by taking 1.5" off of one side of the sleeve -- it took out most of my ease, but there is just enough left that it's acceptable. The back seam is still off kilter, but I decided I would live with that. Bastards. You can't see the screwed up seam in this pic, but you can see it in some of the later ones.


Then I sewed on the jewels. I bought some topaz stones in settings from MJ trim. Looking at the engraving, the jewels are in a diamond pattern, so I used pearls to fill out the arrangement. The jewels were great, as I could use that to tack the sleeve to the lining, making sure that you can't see the raw edge of the white underpuff. I had originally planned to copy the engraving with jewels at the top of the slash, but I couldn't see where I could sew them unless I sewed the slash together for about 1" at the sleeve head, which I didn't want to do. And I didn't want to just sew a topaz without the pearls, as I thought that would look dorky. I also put more of the gold Venetian lace as cuff.


The final thing was sewing on all of the fiddly bits. Because I'm wearing this out to faire, I need it to be really functional, so I really wanted to avoid having to sew/pin anything together. I put hooks & bars on the waistband, hooks & bars connecting the bodice to skirt, hook & eye for the bodice's center point bottom closure (I've found that works better than trying to lace the point), and rings on the sleeves and armholes; I also put snaps on my partlet, as I finally got around to putting the gold lace into an actual partlet shape using white cotton muslin to build out the shape, but I found the first time I wore it, the low shoulder straps on the bodice meant that the partlet kept pulling out. I fixed it with safety pins, but snaps were a much more functional approach.

The last crisis came when I tried on the bodice and skirt hooked together; in back, the skirt waistband is really showing! I realized this is because that *SAF#(*#N$ waistband that I spent all that time fixing because it was too small? Is now too big by about 1".


So I took two tiny, 5" pleats at each of the side fronts, right where the cartridge pleating ends -- as I wanted to take the tucks somewhere where the skirt wouldn't show the tucks, and where it wouldn't screw up the hook & bar bodice/skirt placement. I'm hoping that fixes it!

So I still want to make a new partlet using that gold mesh I got, but obviously have no time before this weekend. So that'll happen early next year.

Final photos to come after this weekend!

posted by démodé 12:18 PM 2 comments

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wow, I finally have a moment to update! I have worked on this in bits and pieces over the last however many weeks, but have been SO INCREDIBLY BUSY in my job (typical fall busy-ness) and personal life that I really haven't had a moment to spare to update. But I have plugged along - I'm determined to get this done by Folsom Faire in mid-October!

First, I've done a bit more research on the engraving and (duh) realized that the artist was in Venice in the 1560s, so that's why the dress styles look so much more like that era. Name of dress diary has been updated accordingly. Really, this should be renamed "The Chicken Dress" as Jennifer in Bella Donna LOVES birds, which she calls chickens -- and everyone in BD calls this fabric my chicken fabric.

So let's see...

I made a skirt! Crappy, uncorseted photos with shoes-with-big-heels, but I wanted to prove it. It should have been far more straightforward, but first I cut out the waistband with the opening in the wrong place and had to cut another... which I somehow managed to lose 2" on when I retraced it. How the hell that happened, I don't know! I had already cartridge pleated the skirt to the waistband and had to unpick it all, so I was pretty irritated... which means that instead of cutting and making yet another waistband, I cut open the too-small one and inserted some width on one side (and redid the edges of the opening to bind instead of turn in). And re-pleated the whole sucker. Here it is, in all its glory! The main difference from my last Venetian skirt is this has pocket slits in the side fronts (one side has an opening in the seam, the other is open where the skirt closes) so that I can wear separate, hanging pockets with this -- many of the BD ladies are doing this and loving it, because of all the crap you can fit into hanging pockets. You can better see the shaped waistband in these pics (vs. those from my last Venetian).


In between, I have been working on what I am calling the "grump-inducing sleeves." If you look at the engraving, you'll see that it's a slashed puff at the top, but it doesn't have a seam below the puff the way some of the sleeves do -- so it's all in one. I had to FUTZ and futz and FUTZ and finally have arrived at something that I think will be nice, thanks to the good work of Lisa V., Diana, and Cynthia. It took about 4 mockups to get here, though! You can see the different iterations here, with obviously the last pair (the only ones to look decent!) are the final version:
sleeve mockupsleeve mockupsleeve mockupsleeve mockup
sleeve mockupsleeve mockup

And finally, I finally managed to upload photos of the gold net I found at Lacis (shockingly cheap, too!), that I'm hoping could be made into a partlet - I'm thinking of pearling the joins (not every one - something spaced).


Oh, and I'm thinking about how to trim this and wondering about using stones-in-settings surrounded by pearls -- except Cynthia (also in Bella Donna) used rectangular stones, so I'm wanting to use a different shape. Anyone know whether this shape is at all period? How about ovals, or squares?

posted by démodé 7:06 PM 5 comments

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

There is absolutely NOTHING like the joy of starting a project where you A) have undies long completed and B) a perfectly fitting bodice pattern. It was soooo fabulous to just haul out my pattern from my last gown and start cutting into my purdy fabric, and to have the bodice done in about 2 days!

These pics are from before doing the handsewing on the bodice (attaching the shoulder straps, turning in the center back hem, and stitching down the center front to prevent the lining pulling as it is in these photos):


I also worked on the sleeve pattern, but forgot to upload pics, so more on that tomorrow.

Now I'm starting to think about trimming. I'm using the gold lace for the cuffs and neckline (see my last post), and would like to do diamonds of pearls and something along the neckline and potentially center fronts -- maybe brown topaz, surrounded by four pearls? Any suggestions for what color gemstone would look good (but not too matchy)?

posted by démodé 10:22 AM 5 comments

Friday, May 30, 2008

I've been a bad, bad girl!

I've been needing a new Venetian dress for a LONG time -- I've been wearing my courtesan dress for FOUR YEARS. I hardly ever wear things twice! Wearing it to multiple faires over four years was making it REALLY boring for me (although I do love it and it's held up beautifully - my secret is No Red Wine!).

So I'd been scouring Ebay for a while to find new fabric, which needed to be in the red/gold family as that is the color scheme for Bella Donna. I found this fabric on ebay, which was one of those mystery buys ("What will it be when it shows up?"). It has a nice pattern to it, but it's actually a drapery sheer, although it doesn't look it unless you hold it up to the light. But I thought it would be fine so long as I lined it with something heavy to give it some weight.

silk damask

However, Bella Donna has been talking for a while about broadening up our color palette, and when we agreed that it would be okay to use non-red/gold colors so long as they incorporated gold, I knew immediately that I wanted a green gown. I'd loved the fabric Bess used for her Venetian gown the minute I saw it, and hey, I'm a redhead! I needs me my green!

Then came months of looking for fabric, only to find NOTHING that would work (either it wasn't silk -- and you know me and synthetic fabrics -- or it didn't have gold in it, or it was a teal/blueish green [and I can't stand blue or teal on me]) -- or it was hugely expensive. In other words, I found the perfect fabric on ebay (a hunter green and gold silk damask by Scalamandre) but it cost FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for five yards. First, that is an insane amount of money, and second, I need more than 5 yards to make a dress (okay, granted I did make my Florentine from four years, but it had a tiny repeat and obviously I used a lot of velvet. I thought maybe I could get the bodice and skirt out of 5 yards, but not sleeves too -- and I didn't want to do the same effect with velvet that I'd just done on my Florentine.

So I waited, and I looked elsewhere, and I waited, and finally I emailed the seller of the Perfect Fabric and asked if there was any way they'd take less, and if they had any more yardage. They were willing to knock it down to $85/yd and sell me 7 yards, but that would cost me $600. Wow. That's way too much. So I said no, and then the seller said they had a different fabric which was similar that they would sell for cheaper. Once I saw the photos, I was in love, so I took it! And spent $500 on 7 yards of fabric (see photo to the left). You can officially call me crazy, insane, and profligate (to quote Jane Austen).

Now that we've gotten THAT out of the way...

I had originally, with the red fabric, planned on making this gown:


...which is gorgeous, but I somehow can't picture it in green. Also, as the costume mistress for Bella Donna, I am trying to get our group to start using specifically Venetian sleeves, but I am worried that everyone will end up with these slashed/puffed sleeves (given that the few other options are more basic).

So I started looking around, and I remembered Goltzius's engraving The Venetian Ball, which I have always loved because of the variety of gowns AND because it's black & white, I can easily picture a number of different fabrics with it.

So I am particularly loving this lady, particularly the damask, the sleeves with jeweled accents, the pointy lace on the neckline and cuffs, and the standing ruff:

Venetian Ball

However, I am again wondering if the sleeves will end up too samey with other Bella Donnas (gotta double check -- although I think the jeweling on the slashes will be different)? I am also liking this lady's sleeves, which would provide some variation with the slashes at the elbow (could I incorporate that into the first lady's sleeve, do you think?):

Venetian Ball

I've already picked up the lace for the neckline and cuffs:


And I'm going to order some cotton sateen for lining. The last bit I'm thinking about right now is the girdle -- all of the ladies in the engraving wear similar girdles made of what I picture as large gold beads. Does anyone have any sources for such for cheap? I found things I liked at Fire Mountain Gems, but they are hugely expensive, and after the amount I spent on fabric, I don't think I can go spend hundreds on beads...

posted by démodé 3:11 PM 16 comments

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