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

the concept


the fabric

gold/burgundy silk damask
gold and burgundy silk damask

the pattern

custom draped based on the Eleonora of Toledo dress in Patterns of Fashion

the deadline

Heart of the Forest Faire (July 9, 2005)

the result

what's on the dvd player?

Dangerous Beauty

useful links

The Realm of Venus

A Festive Attyre

Bella Donna Venetian Courtesans

Jwlhyfer's courtesan gown (click on the 1570s links)


Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c1560-1620 . London: Macmillan, 1985.

Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1500-1800. London: Bell & Hyman, 1986.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

We're done! Well, except for some accessory-type items like a flag fan etc. But I'll worry about that later.

I wore this at Costume College. The drive down gave me a great excuse to finish the beading on the neckline and center front, although it took me longer than I expected. Luckily I had some stretches of down time which helped me get it done.

beadingCostume CollegeCostume CollegeCostume College

Then, in between moving, I got inspired to make my partlet. Back when I was originally planning this I bought 1/3 yard of a beautiful wide gold lace at Lacis with plans to make it into a partlet. It took a lot of head scratching to figure out what I'd do -- there wasn't enough lace to make a full partlet, only to cut in half and cover each shoulder area. I thought about trying to make a cotton base (worn under my bodice) to which I could attach the lace, but then had the brilliant idea -- hey, I can just sew it into my bodice! So I cut the lace in half, bound 3 edges, backed it with white silk organza (the edge that shows has the organza turned under and hand sewn to the lace), and then whip stitched it into my bodice.

partletAngelica da VenzoneAngelica da VenzoneAngelica da Venzone

There's a few more photos in my updated Heart of the Forest faire gallery.

posted by démodé 12:17 AM

Monday, July 25, 2005

There has been little activity around this here website lately because faire has just sucked a huge amount of my energy and time. It's been going really well, but I'm only slowly making progress on the last few things I need to do with this costume.

One funny anecdote is that two weekends ago I forgot my corset. Well, I can make a report that will be of use to the did-Venetians-wear-corsets debaters -- I was able to go with just my bodice, but because that sucker is only boned with two (on each side of the CF) 1/4" bones, things were barely contained. Plus it was UNcomfortable! I had no idea how much weight and strain is held up by the corset! No pictures were taken, thank god.

So all I've managed to do is to start putting pearls on the neckline. These will be interspersed with garnets, and go down the CF as well -- but I'm doing it in symmetrical stages so that it can be worn in mid-trimming. I'm hoping to finish this in the car on the way to Costume College, as I'm planning to wear this to the Sat. night gala. The partlet will have to happen later -- hopefully before faire is over, but as I'm now moving in early August, I'm not holding my breath.


I took more photos this past Saturday, and managed to document some of the gorgeous costumes worn by the St. George courtiers as well as more of Bella Donna. See the update in my Heart of the Forest Faire 2005 gallery.

posted by démodé 8:14 PM

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I always hate those wrap up posts where people tell you everything they did without the step-by-step, but I'm about to be guilty. This was partially because much of what I was doing was fiddly odds and ends (like putting hooks and bars to connect the bodice to the skirt, which had to be ripped out and resewn multiple times), which I just couldn't be bothered to document. Sorry!

The main big thing was the sleeves. I used the basic split sleeve pattern from Hunnisett's Period Costume for Stage & Screen to create my very Florentine sleeves. I sewed the back sleeve seams together, then flat lined each, hand sewing closed the wrist edge. Then I sat down on the couch with North and South (review forthcoming) and hand sewed the "joins" in the front seam. Then I accented each join with a pearl, and sewed rings to the bodice strap and the sleeve to tie each on. The rings are jewelry findings, and actually work quite well -- I sewed all the way through to the outer fabric on the little loop to take the strain, then just through the notches to keep the rings from moving around.


As I noted in my last post, I needed to redo my false camicia front as it ended too short (it was high enough to cover my corset, but the line was too obvious). I recut and resewed a new one, high enough to come to the top lacing line. I found that I didn't need the snaps on the side to hold it in place -- just the tightness of lacing keeps everything organized, so I didn't sew on snaps and will rip off the snaps on the bodice.

false front

Over the July 4th weekend I took a day off, part of which was spent at the Alameda antiques fair -- and boy am I glad I did, because I cleaned up on cheap jewelry for this costume! I bought two rings, which I wore with one other that I already had. I found a hideous pin with gold grape leaves and pearls drops on it -- the pearls I cannibalized to make earrings (I'll be using others to accent my hair, but didn't get to that). I also found two different narrow gold chain belts which were the perfect length to hook together to form a girdle -- plus one had the added benefit of having faux pearls with gold filigree stuff on them at each end, one of which I used for my dangly-end-of-girdle jewel. For now, I'm simply putting the girdle under the CB point of my bodice to keep in down in front, but I'm wondering if there's some way I can add a hook or similar back there to keep it in place.


Still to do: add pearls and garnets to the neckline/CF trim, make gold lace partlet, fiddle a bit more with hair. It's wearable, though, and looks pretty darn good, so I'm planning to take my sweet time with all of that.

So here's my debut -- Venetian courtesan Angelica da Venzone, also known as La Tempesta. It was REALLY windy, so my skirt looks fuller than it is -- the sail effect, dontcha know.

Angelica da VenzoneAngelica da VenzoneAngelica da Venzone

I took a few more pictures -- there were lots of amazing costumes which I will have to document over the course of the faire -- but it was so hectic just figuring out what we were supposed to be doing, that I didn't have too much time with the camera. I've started a gallery here, which I'll be adding to over the course of the faire -- I'll post a notice when I've updated it.

posted by démodé 9:22 PM

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Why isn't there more time in the day? Saturday was dress rehearsal for faire (where I was, as you would guess, Not Dressed), Sunday I promised my husband we could actually have An Activity, Sunday night and all of Monday I sewed... and I need more time! I do think I'll get it done, but I was hoping to be further along -- I made a list of everything I have yet to do and it's still reallllllly long!

Okay, trying to remember in the blur of 5 million different things done:

1) I trimmed the bodice with gold lace, which will (probably not for first weekend) be embellished with pearls and garnets. Here's pics with flash (looks terrible) and in natural daylight (much better):


2) I made a new camicia. The fabric I used for my first one (the handkerchief weight linen from Denver Fabrics) wasn't approved. Luckily I hadn't finished it, and luckily I had some cotton batiste in my stash. It actually worked out well as my first attempt didn't have long enough sleeves, and I decided the red edging would be competing with everything else going on in my costume -- so on the second attempt I did the same satin stitch edging, but in white. These aren't the clearest pictures as they were taken by Arty Husband who can't standing doing the standard front/side/back photos.

with camiciawith camiciawith camicia

3) I made the false front to hide the corset and mock the camicia in the bodice center front. I used my bodice pattern to draft a stomacher, which I then cut out a mockup where I redrew the width. I cut out the backing from one layer of coutil -- for strength (didn't want to bone it) and for whiteness (my camicia fabric is really sheer). I then cut out the cover from my camicia fabric, same length, 3x as wide, which I gathered up and sewed to the backing (sewed inside out, turned right side out). I didn't do gathering lines across the false front, as I realized I would have to exactly match where the lacing is and that would be too fiddly. It works fine without -- there's plenty of tension to keep everything in place. I sewed down one side of the false front to the inside of my bodice, then used snaps (ha!) on the other side -- but when I tried it on, a few of the snaps kept popping open (I may not have had my bodice laced tightly enough, but then again it didn't seem like the false front was moving around on me). Will have to fiddle there.

I am now realizing that I should have cut the false front to go all the way up to the top lacing row -- it's very glaringly obvious that there's a difference between the false front and the real camicia.

Terrible picture, sorry.

false front

posted by démodé 10:24 AM

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I finished the second row of cartridge pleating stitches last night at rehearsal, so of course had to promptly come home to do another try on. The skirt looks MUCH better now that I've flattened out the front -- there's more fullness on the sides and a better sweep to the whole thing. I think it may still be a wee bit longer in front than in back -- will have to play with that.


Also, last night I got to pick out garnets and pearls to add to my gold neckline/CF trim.... yummy!

posted by démodé 10:00 AM

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

There's been no news on the sewing front because there's been practically no sewing -- last week I worked on putting the skirt together, which necessitated lots of ripping out and resewing to get the lining to match (mismeasuring, adding width to the skirt, etc. etc.). Today I was finally able to level the skirt, which I'd already hemmed -- terrifying, because if I screwed it up that would be it (no more fabric). I got my husband to mark the length of the skirt at the sides, CF and CB, then got out a ruler and basted in the fold line. I measured it to basically be floor length, figuring the cartride pleats (which I'm slightly padding with a strip of some relatively lightweight wool) will stand out a bit, making me lose length. The worst thing that happens is I have to rehem the skirt, and if it's too short I can lengthen it with the velvet ribbon I'm planning to put around the skirt hem for protection -- what would be really, really bad is if the skirt hem wasn't level.

I've hemmed and hawed about the skirt opening, and finally decided to go with a separate skirt with shaped waistband -- this allows me to have a side opening skirt, side pocket, and no center front seam. I drafted the husband to help me drape a waistband that fit the line of the bodice bottom, which I'll wear under the bodice. I'll probably need to put some hooks and bars on the bodice/waistband to keep everything in position -- keep your fingers crossed that this works.

Then I sewed in the first row of cartridge pleating gathering stitches, and not being able to wait to check the fit, pinned it (really badly) to the waistband to try on. Luckily the skirt IS level all the way around -- HUGE sigh of relief. It's a tiny bit too long, but the waistband is riding a bit lower than I want so hopefully if I raise that this will fix the length issue (given the pins holding the skirt to the waistband, I wasn't able to really fiddle with the fit under the bodice).

These pictures are at a pretty crappy angle and the bodice isn't laced all the way closed, but here's a rough of idea of what it's going to look like. I think I'm going to make the flat center front portion wider -- it's too bunchy right around there. Remember the cartridge pleating is just roughly gathered up and haphazardly pinned to the waistband.


posted by démodé 11:00 PM

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Whew! Lots of fiddling and measuring, I've got the sleeves pretty firmly mocked up. I was able to add the extra panel to the skirt, which has been assembled and lined. The damask frays like there's no tomorrow, so I'm traipsing around the house with lots of long gold strings attached to my shoes. Next up will be leveling the skirt and then attaching it to the bodice, which brings me to...

There's no way I can close the skirt anywhere other than the CF if I sew it to the bodice, which seems to be how it was done in the period. I can't decide if I should then have a seam up the CF, which may spoil the appearance of the skirt front -- or if I should put the seams on the sides and then cut a slit in the CF skirt panel, which sounds scary, but would allow me to put in a pocket in the side seam (no, not period, but soooo functional out at faire). Hello run on sentence!

posted by démodé 11:24 PM

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Okay, did all the hand finishing and the official try on. All looks good. I sewed down one side of the CF and it does indeed keep the lining from pulling forward (left side is sewn down, right side unsewn) but you can see the stitching line and the edge of the boning now. Oh well, that's what trim is for, right? It's pulling a little bit wonky at the very bottom of the V opening, but I'm not sure what I can do -- I can't add another small piece of boning because there are lacing openings there. Hmmm. Maybe if I lace that row separately it'll take some of the tension off?


Now I'm tackling the sleeves, as how I cut those out will dictate whether or not I can add a 30" panel to my currently only 105"-ish wide skirt. I'm doing a front opening sleeve (which patternwise is coming along swimmingly), with a seam down the front and back. It looks like I can get both outsides cut from the same motif, but I don't have enough (if I add the skirt panel) to make the undersides match along the front seam. Given that the underside won't really show, I'm hoping this won't matter.

posted by démodé 5:23 PM

Friday, June 17, 2005



(Inappropriately green lacing ribbon draped up to avoid cat zone)

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

The bad news is my fabric is only 55" wide. And I only have two skirt panels. Which means my skirt will only be 108" wide. I may be able to eke out another 25" panel, but it totally depends on how cutting out the sleeves go, and I'm not hopeful. I emailed the ebay seller who sold me the fabric months ago to see if he randomly has any more lying around, but again not hopeful.

The good news is, I have a bodice! With (so far) no major crises! THAT was terrifying, let me tell you. Working with this gorgeous fabric, and having only a limited quantity, and having a tight deadline all made me terrified to work on this.

The bodice is bag lined, which is usual for me, but was necessitated because of using the two rows of ribbon for lacing holes that Jen Thompson came up with for her 1560s Venetian dress. Jen rocks. My lacing is aligned thanks to her! Anyway, I couldn't sew a facing on top of the lacing ribbons, so bag lining it was. Bag lining always freaks me out because everything has to match perfectly or you end up in Wonky Land. But all went well, I didn't have to use too much basting spray, and now all I have left is to hand sew the back hem and strap joins shut. I'm also going to stitch down the center front edges, because it's doing the thing I always hate with laced garments -- the lining is pulling over into view.

Here's a dumb question: what the heck do you lace these things with? Cord? Baby ribbon?

posted by démodé 11:23 PM

Monday, June 13, 2005

I was off the plane at 5:30pm Friday, by midday Saturday I was sewing. Yes, because I have a very looming deadline (faire starts July 9, although I may not be ready to go the first weekend) but also because I'm insane. That's what we costumers do!

First easiest thing to do was to deal with the skirt fabric. What with matching motifs and leaving enough fabric for bodice and sleeves, I only have enough for two 60" panels (making the skirt 120" in circumference). I'd really prefer to make it wider, but the repeat is long (around 34"), which doesn't match up well with my 50-55" skirt length (including hem and waist turnover). For those of you who have experimented with padding cartridge pleating, would you recommend it? If so, what works well to use as padding?

Next I decided to double check the fit of my bodice mockup over my corset and camicia, in order to be really really sure before I set scissors to cloth. All looked good so I cut out the bodice, being really picky about centering motifs and NOT ending up with big flowers on my boobs (such a bad look).

Then I needed to deal with the fact that I need to line this sucker -- the bodice in something other than my usual white muslin, as I'm not sure how I'm going to finish the edges (I usually pipe, which makes a facing); the skirt definitely needs to be fully lined to protect the fabric. I traipsed down to Joann's with my 40% coupon (nothing more depressing than an American mini-mall on a Sunday morning after you've spent four weeks in beautiful Europe) and came away with some plum colored heavier-than-broadcloth cotton (randomly 108" wide! Who makes fabric 108" wide?).

I'm being very scatterbrained, starting one thing and then another, but basically I managed to sew the skirt lining together and to start attaching the boning to the bodice back. I need to double check tonight whether I need a train on the skirt (I'm hoping no, as they are such a hassle) and then I'll be focusing on that -- need to wait for boning for the bodice front to arrive before I can get cracking on that.

posted by démodé 1:54 PM

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I'm trying desperately to get some work done on this outfit before I go.

The camicia is still in progress, although we're getting there! After sewing the main body and sleeves together, I realized after emailing with the St. George costume maven that leaving my camicia 60" wide (120" total) was an awful lot of fabric to bunch up under my corset. So I had to take it apart and resew the side seams -- easy enough in that I just cut off the previous seam, not easy in that I sewed the wrong sides together. Le sigh!

I really like the look of this camicia from the 1530s, with the colored edge and the ruffle (image courtesy of The Realm of Venus):


I wanted to change the edging stitch to a dark red, as that's a color we're emphasizing in our group. I initially thought about hand whip stitching the edge (hi I'm insane) with either embroidery floss or thread, but when I tried it it didn't seem to finish the edge really well. So intead I used a very narrow satin stitch on my machine to finish the edge. Then I sewed really wide gathering stitches, 1/2" away from the edge and then about 1cm away from that, to gather the neckline. I put on my bodice mockup to start to adjust the gathers, but because it needs to exactly match the neckline circumference, I won't be able to finalize this until I've made my bodice.

This picture has the camicia on inside out. Once I've finalized the neckline width, I'll hand sew the gathers in place.


I'm not 100% percent about the sleeve hem -- I'd like to do the same red edging, but I think Jwlhyfer may want me to slap some lace on there.

posted by démodé 2:55 PM

Sunday, April 24, 2005

First, I had a request for photos showing the new-and-improved strapless corset. Here you go... (plus you can also see the Official Falsies I have made for my dress form - what fun!)


I tried on my bodice mockup and adjusted the front armhole (look for the little piece of white fabric) and the back strap/bodice top. Then I redrafted my bodice pattern, cutting out the V center front and adding 1/2" in length to the back waistline V.

bodice mockupbodice mockupbodice mockup

Then I cut out the bodice from my lining and interlining -- and to put off actually cutting my brocade, I turned my attention to the camicia. I'm using Jen Thompson's really clear and useful instructions for making an Italian chemise at A Festive Attyre. I'm using a full 60" width of fabric, which I realized when I was halfway done might not be the best idea (will it be too full?), but I'm hoping will work out. I've got it all put together except for the neckline finish (the time consuming part!) and the hem. I'd like to do one of the fancy neckline finishes outlined here at The Realm of Venus -- probably the gather pleating w/ integrated neckline frill.

This of course brings me back to The Big Debate in 16th c. Venetian costuming -- did they wear corsets? I know I said I was making theatrical decisions and so had decided not to enter this debate, but now I'm realizing this will have practical implications.

Some people seem to think that the smooth bodices, esp. with those really wide ladder laced bodices, indicate that corsets may have been worn -- see an overview of the debate at The Realm of Venus, and Oonaghs' ideas about smocks. But talking to Sarah of Mode Historique and looking at what other costumers have done (namely Sarah's Courtesan gown, Jen's 1560s Venetian gown, and Melissa's Italien courtesan gown) is making me question this theory -- all three heavily boned their bodices, and this was enough to keep things in place.

In short, if Venetian women did wear corsets (or separate boned bodices), then they would have to have worn their camicie OVER their corsets, which just doesn't make sense. It's my understanding that camicia were the equivalent of chemises. If a corset was developed, it just wouldn't be logical to think, "Hey, I should wear this UNDER my underwear!" Nor would it be logical to fake the obvious camicia shown under ladder laced bodices as in this image (courtesy of The Realm of Venus):


Why is this relevant for me? Well, A) because I'm a costume history geek, so whether or not I do what's period I'm interested in knowing what's authentic and what's not; but even more so because B) it seems really awkward to wear a faked camicia false front/stomacher thingie.

So what am I going to do? Well, thoughts on history and practical application are cheerfully appreciated as always. My idea so far is to continue on as planned -- I need my corseted figure anyway to figure out the shape for the bodice -- then when I've completed the bodice I will try it on over the camicia and without the corset to see how it looks. I'm planning a very narrow ladder lacing, so it just may work sans corset. If I feel I do need the corset, then I think I'll go ahead with the false front/stomacher idea, as I don't like the idea of a smock THEN corset THEN camicia.

posted by démodé 8:55 PM

Friday, April 22, 2005

The straps were SO not working, so I've been considering all day what to do. The issue is that I'm stuck by the corset straps and high back -- I need to cover these.

I have a hard time admitting when I've made a bad costuming decision, but I bit the bullet, got out the scissors, and presto, problem solved:

corset back

Not only was the high back and straps hemming me in terms of the bodice lines, but the high back part of the corset was pulling in towards each other too much (because of no resistance). I sort of solved this by using two laces, and ending the first one where the corset started to go around the sides and front, but I could tell it was just going to be a pain in the butt.

Moral is, don't do an on the shoulder strapped/high back corset.

So that freed me up to make the bodice straps look a whole lot more like period images, which really go from the shoulder point down into the armpit -- a really wide neckline. The right front and left back are the adjusted versions -- FYI there's a seam allowance on the hem but not on the neckline/straps/armhole now.

bodice mockupbodice mockupbodice mockup

I'm too tired to put the corset on myself, so I'll need to try the mockup on me tomorrow to be sure everything is okay. Then I'll transfer everything to the pattern (and possibly elongate the front and back Vs -- not sure).

Also, I would like to formally state that I am terrified of cutting my fabric.

posted by démodé 12:22 AM

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I have started draping the bodice (bodice before camicia because it appears I need to get the camicia neckline pretty exact).

This is a little weird to do because I'm not 100% sure where the lines should be. I'm guessing that I should just do a sideback seam (and no side seam)? The other one is how much higher I want the bodice to go vs. the corset (so the corset doesn't show) -- is 1/2" safe enough, given how things move around as you wear them?

Here's the first mockup, which had strap weirdness (the CF angle is just drawn in):

bodice mockupbodice mockup

And the second, which is close but I need to do one more version to check for corset showage and corset strap coverage:

bodice mockupbodice mockup

Also, how's the V looking in front and back in terms of length?

posted by démodé 11:33 PM

Monday, April 18, 2005

Almost done - the binding took much longer than necessary due to the fact that the only way I have found to make it look nice is to hand sew it. Only thing left is to make lacing holes in the straps (and get some matching ribbon for lacing).


Now I'm starting to fantasize about whipping out my camicia in time to wear my undies to Costume Con, but I'm trying to talk myself out of it.

Oh, and I found the perfect gold metallic lace for the neck edging at MJ Trim.

posted by démodé 12:10 AM

Friday, April 08, 2005

Boning is in, grommets are set, tabs are cut and the bottom is 1/4 way bound...

The boning came quickly from Janet at Lost Coast -- she doesn't have a HUGE stock, but if you're looking for patterns or corset making supplies, I highly recommend her shop. (She also has some great straw bonnets).

Setting the grommets was an oh-so-amusing experience. I bought a more-expensive-and-fancy-than-Dritz grommet setting kit at Lacis (but still one that you hammer). So I open the package, lay out all the tools, look at the directions on the back, and get my test swatch ready. First, their round metal thingie that supposed to cut a grommet-sized hole when you hammer it into the fabric didn't work, so I had to do the usual cut a T. Then, looking at the directions, you're supposed to put the grommet in from underneath, put the facing on top, and lay all this on top of the small piece of wood included. Then you take the Thingie(TM) that sticks in the grommet hole (go with me here!) and hammer it to push the grommet together with the facing. Okay. But the Thingie has a long pointy end, like an awl, and there's no way you're going to be able to get the flat-part-that-pushes-the-grommet-together down to where the grommet is! I look back at the directions. Yes, I appear to be doing this correctly. Okay, so I whack at with a hammer just to see what's going to happen (you can tell I never took shop, right?). It splits the flat wooden base in half.

I'm about to give up, when I look around and notice the metal cylinder with grommet sized depression and hole for the pointy awl end in it. Oh. Right. A) Might have been nice to include that in the instructions. B) I'm an IDIOT.


posted by démodé 9:37 AM

Friday, April 01, 2005

I *heart* garments that go together quickly!

It was SO luxurious to have a 95% finished corset pattern to start with -- it meant that I got to start sewing quickly. I love having things that fit perfectly, but I don't love the work involved in getting them there!

I also *heart* my temporary basting spray, which helped keep the various corset layers from moving around too much -- except the taffeta had a propensity to creep up, so I had to trim a bit off the bottom. Otherwise, everything went together relatively smoothly.

Because I am officially insane, I went to Britex to find the exact right shade of silk taffeta to bind the corset edges. I really like the contrast between the yellow/white changeable silk taffeta and the burgundy edging -- except because the yellow/white is changeable, at the right angle it's YELLOW. Which means I had a late night moment of, "Oh god, am I making a Ronald McDonald corset?"

I've got all the boning channels stitched down, the pieces sewn together, and the top bound. Tonight I'm going to put grommets in the back for lacing (yes, I've decided NOT to be insane by making hand sewn eyelets on something that won't be seen). I mismeasured when I bought some of my corset boning, so I've ordered replacement pieces from Lost Coast Historic Patterns. Once those arrive, I'll cut the slits to make tabs and bind the bottom edge.


posted by démodé 7:09 PM

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Okay, it looks like the straps are going to work so we're going with it! I put together my mockup, out of cotton twill and muslin, and it was definitely comfortable and the straps stayed up.

I've got the corset fabric all cut out and marked. The only thing I'm hesitating on is -- I want to bind the edges with a contrasting fabric, and then sew the boning channels with matching thread. A lot of people seem to prefer not to stitch the boning channels through the fashion fabric, but I like the look. Maybe it's my stripey thang?

corset mockupcorset mockupcorset mockup

posted by démodé 11:43 PM

Sunday, March 27, 2005

To strap or not to strap, that is the question!

I need a cone shaped corset for this costume. Yes yes, blah blah debate over whether or not Venetians wore corsets. It's a theatrical decision.

So I'm starting with the pattern I made for my slightly curved front German corset -- the main difference will be using spring steel bones in the front rather than spiral, which is what gave me that bust curve.

The big question I have, tho, is whether or not to use straps. Most Venetian gowns have straps that are on the shoulder point -- a much wider neckline than English/French/Spanish gowns of this time period. This can be accomplished in the dress bodice by cutting the back higher than you might for these other regions, which minimizes the straps falling off the shoulders.

Now, should I do the same for the corset? Part of me says yes -- I'm worried about a strapless corset riding up or fitting weirdly, plus straps are good for keep the proverbial "girls" in place. The other part of me says no -- it could be uncomfortable if it holds my arms or back in a weird position.

So tonight I started experimenting. After looking at later 1660s corsets in Corsets & Crinolines to confirm my high back/on the shoulder point strap theory, I put my German corset on my dress form and draped a new, higher back with angled sleeves. Then I cut out a mockup, pinned it to my German corset, and tried it on. After getting my husband to hold the CB top in place (to make up for the lack of boning), I moved my arms around and the straps are indeed staying on my shoulder point pretty well. But... am I going to be uncomfortable?

Any input more than cheerfully accepted!


posted by démodé 11:42 PM

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Thinking about supplies... Has anyone ordered the white handkerchief linen from Denver Fabrics? I'm considering using that for my camicia, but given the low price, I'm wondering about quality. I'm also considering this white handkerchief linen at Farmhouse Fabrics, but don't want to pay more than I have to.

As I contemplate the camicia, how have other costumers handled the over-camicia worn under ladder-laced bodices (as discussed on here at the Realm of Venus)? I'm thinking about basically making a stomacher with white linen gathered and sewn down to it (maybe gathering across where the lacing will cover?), but I haven't fully thought this through. How have others handled this?

posted by démodé 2:10 PM

Monday, March 21, 2005

You knew this was coming, didn't you? Okay, MUST FOCUS on finishing Wings of the Dove dress first, but the second that's done...

This year I shall be joining Bella Donna Venetian Courtesans, a group that performs at the Heart of the Forest Faire in Marin County, Calif. Ooompa doompa! I'll be playing both a courtesan and a household character -- of course, the courtesan character/costume is what I am most excited about. I went to my first rehearsal on Sunday and my mind is buzzing...

My costume will be a modified-for-theatricality version of a 1570s-ish Venetian gown. We are keeping the fabulous fabrics, low necklines, ladder laced bodices with V backed waistlines, and full skirts without hoops, but modifying them slightly (mostly in terms of sleeves).

I'm hoping my dress will be relatively Venetian, although I won't be copying a specific gown. My sleeves will be a slightly more Florentine design, mostly because A) I think it's prettier than the plain Venetian sleeves, B) I think it will be more flattering to my figure than the sleeves with the puffed cap, and C) it will tie my dress in with Jwlhyfer's, making our group look more cohesive.

Here are some of my image references, all courtesy of Bella's fabulous Realm of Venus site:

The general look that I'm going for: rich fabric, simple cut.
I like the narrow ladder-laced V front and the simple cut.The V back waistline.

The best part? I get to use my fabulous gold/burgundy silk damask that I bought on ebay for $15/yard. Happy dance!

gold/burgundy silk damaskgold/burgundy silk damask

The difficult part is going to be timing. Faire starts July 9th, and I'm going to be gone for four weeks from mid-May to mid-June, plus another weekend in late June, which means it's going to be a crunch to get both my courtesan and my household costumes done in time...

posted by démodé 10:21 PM

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