tudor ensemble 1

Kimiko Sews

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Tudor Corset or Not to Corset...
tudor ensemble 1
(Cross posted from A Gentlewoman's Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/2014/04/tudor-corset-or-not-to-corset/)

The following was originally an article of the same name from June 2013 at HistoryUnstitched, a subscription only site for historical costumers. The site alone did not do as well as its sisters, so it is now a part of Your Wardrobe Unlock'd. This article is back in my hands, as they had an exclusive for six months, although that was up last fall. It is now here for your reading pleasure. It has some minor edits from the original.


Tudor Corset or Not to Corset...

Copyright 2013-14, Kimiko Small, All rights Reserved.

You have decided you will be making an English outfit for the 16th century (Henrician or Elizabethan). You are thinking about what all is involved in this decision. Maybe this is your first time, maybe you have made a few outfits before, but whatever your background, we all usually start at the same place, with the undergarments.

First is the smock, which is pretty simple, and there are many sources from web sites to books that describe what survived from the 16th century, and how to make a smock to fit you.

So then you turn to what comes next, and that is when most women decide you simply must have a corset (modern term for a separate fitted and boned bodice that supports the torso and especially the bosom) to wear under your new outfit. It is a modern assumption that women from all walks of life in the 16th century must have worn corsets. We see them all over today being worn at renaissance faires and other historical events. Costuming books of the past few decades talk about them, how to make them, what corsets that survived look like. Even historical costuming guru Janet Arnold discusses them in her books, so they had to exist back then, yes? And so if they existed then I must make and wear one today, yes? But... wait a second... Did the women of the 16th century actually wear this kind of a garment? What sort of garment actually did support the bosom? What exactly were the supportive garments made from and stiffened with? And do you really need a corset?

Well, the answer is not that simple. Let me explain what the supporting undergarments of the 16th century comes from, and provide a brief timeline of how those pairs of bodies eventually came to be.
(Click to read the full lengthy article, with images, on my main blog page here.)

(Cross posted from A Gentlewoman's Blog: http://kimiko1.com/blog/2014/04/tudor-corset-or-not-to-corset/. Comments can be posted here or there.)

High Necked Smock in Progress
Actually, I am almost done, but am waiting to finish it after dinner tonight, or maybe tomorrow morning as I'm feeling blah.

For the fabric, I am finally using the linen I bought in L.A. Garment District last year, after CoCo. This stuff is lovely, a nicer weave than the stuff found at fabrics-store.com, with far less slubs and finer threads. It is a light-medium weight, heavier than hankey weight, which also means I won't be showing off parts of me I don't want to. But not a full medium weight like I usually make my outer garments from. And it was only $7/yd since I bought 10 yards of it. I only used 2 yards, and have enough left over from that 2 yards to make another coif when I get my pattern back.

I ended up using the Smock Generator that other folks have used. This is my first time doing so. I had planned to use the pattern I had, but it is missing, so smock generator ended up faster than retracing all those pieces. Besides, I felt if I used it and it worked well, I could suggest it to my local Barony, since it creates a basic tunic like so many in the SCA use. What I found out is that it also offers a simple T-tunic pattern if you check an option for that instead. And you get directions on sewing it together, which I kinda ignored after understanding the basics - which is a modern method of sewing. more on the shirt...Collapse )

I was hoping to get the ruff done tomorrow, but the lace I ordered (from Dharma Trading #LH106) has not shown up. So I may have to borrow one again this year. The ruff will be a suit, with smaller ones at the wrists. I can make and starch one in one day, but it takes at least a day to dry in the sun (not baking them ever again) and then set. We leave Friday afternoon. I guess I'll see what happens.

And the hand blackwork pattern I mentioned before has been started. I'm starting with the collar slit area, in the bottom corner and the pattern looks lovely. I may even be able to add in a plaited braid stitch for the path as it is wide enough for one. If I do, I will practice the stitch to get it looking good first.

Simplicity's Tudor Pattern set - a commentary
tudor ensemble 1
I know it has been too long. I've not been doing much of anything creative, but now I've a couple of projects, and some other topics I want to delve into, so more soon.

For now, I just wanted to post a reply I put on a mailing list, on the topic of Tudor patterns from Simplicity, and why they are not historically accurate patterns. Yeah, I do know I am biased, but you be the judge for your own needs.

On May 22, 2012, at 9:13 PM, J. C. wrote:
Simplicity has several patterns out right now that are very good and only need slight changes! http://www.simplicity.com/p-1547-costumes.aspx and http://www.simplicity.com/p-1576-costumes.aspx are both almost identical to patterns found in the Tudor Tailor. ... snip

If I may discuss a bit about the Tudor costume patterns linked here. Yes, they are decent patterns. I've even suggested them to folks who are looking to make a Tudor looking outfit, who would prefer to purchase the cheaper patterns easily available in their area at the local fabric store and are not interested in an actual historical garment - they just want the look of things in a generic way. I get that a lot for the renfaires in my area, and that's ok. No one says you have to be fully historical for every occasion.

They are, however, not exactly historical. Why not? Because the patterns put together use a boned corset and farthingale, which for the time frame of Henry VIII would for the most part not be appropriate for anytime until 1545 when the farthingale was finally brought into use in England (Spain had them since the late 1400s, not sure when France got them). Henry VIII died in 1547, so that's only 2 years of viable Henrician use, compared to the earlier parts of his 38 year reign, give or take. The boned corset as seen in this pattern most likely was not in use until sometime in the second half of the century - no records for their use in England until the 1570s. A bumroll is suspect for the general look of this period, and is not known to be used until the latter quarter of the 16th century. I know, lots of ladies use them, doesn't mean they were used this early in the period.

What was used during the time period was a fitted, supportive kirtle (closely fitted bodies and skirt all attached), that may or may not be boned (still a discussion area). Such a kirtle is NOT found among the pattern set. And while someone who wanted one could play around with the boned corset pattern and some skirt pattern to make one, they would have to know what they are doing in order to do so. A beginner wanting an historical garment would be lost, unless they asked a lot of questions or had a mentor who knew what to adjust for.

Looking at the gown set, they replaced the kirtle with only a petticoat with forepart. The under-sleeves are nice, but big, which fits fine with the 1545+ timeline of the farthingale. They really did make this to look fairly close to the Princess Elizabeth portrait, and that's good. What wasn't good was the mix and match non-historical nature of the chosen pieces, and a beginner would not know that.

This is a good costume pattern, but it is not an authentic historical pattern. If someone wanted to start off with it, hey it is a far better starting pattern than they used to have (I've some of those older Tudor ones that were ick). But, if they came to me asking for an authentic historical pattern I would advise them to either look elsewhere, or if they insisted on starting with this set - how to change it for a more authentic look, especially with the need to add in a fitted kirtle instead of the not-appropriate corset and separate skirt. I'd also tell them to start a mockup possibly a size or two smaller, since the Big3 companies are notorious for adding in too much fitting ease.

The other thing I do want to note, is that the model is wearing chenille fabrics for the dress. This is really heavy fabric. I know, I've got some in my stash that I wanted to make an Italian ren dress out of, until I realized just how heavy that fabric really would be in multiple yards - it will become drapes for my bedroom instead. Yes, I was a newbie to court clothing when I bought that chenille. I've other patterns & colors that will be made into foreparts someday.

Phyllis Writing, mostly complete.
tudor ensemble 1
Oye, I know, I know... it's been a long time since I lasted posted about my projects, and I am sorry.

I did finish the Phyllis Writing outfit, completely done, by the start of the Kingdom of Caid's Black Rose Ball's Fashion Show. Ok, most of it was machine sewn by 1am of the night before, with hand sewing of the hem and hook & bars after I got to L.A., but before the Fashion Show started. I had to forego sewing in the eyelets, and just had my lovely assistant chartreusekitty poke holes and put in cords so I could wear the sleeves. I will do the eyelets in the near future, before I wear the outfit again. rest under the cut, including a photo.Collapse )

Petticoat bodies pics and start on the kirtle pattern
tudor ensemble 1
I am taking a break from the petticoat, which at this point is mostly hand sewing, which I plan on doing tonight and tomorrow night while watching tv or something.

I got a little long winded (again), so the pics and kirtle details are behind a cut... Read more...Collapse )

A little more progress
tudor ensemble 1
Been slowly working on finishing the petticoat layer. I think I got the petticoat bodice fit well enough, and it has room in the chest as planned! Took 3 tries on the side seams, and I think it is good enough for what I need it to do. Pics were taken of the fit, but will be uploaded later. There are stress lines as the bodice isn't boned but I am not sure what to do other than add boning, and I don't want to add boning. But there is a nice curve in the chest area which is what I do want.

Also drafted the kirtle's multi-panel skirt patterns, but I am still trying to figure out how I will attach that to the bodice... cartridge pleats? Box pleats? Sadly, the inspiration image has the woman's arms in the way.

Also need to draw out the bodice pattern, but it will be mostly the same pattern as the petticoat bodice - just a little larger in certain areas. I want to overlap the center front a little for the hooks & eyes I plan on putting there instead of lacing - while the inspiration image is too small to tell what is going on, there are enough images from the time that show an overlap that this is what I will do. I also want it a little higher on the kirtle bodice.

And it is late, and time for bed. More sewing tomorrow.

The smock is done! (w/pics)
handsewing, tailor sewing
I did work little by little and finally pushed through the last of it a few days ago (Sunday). description and photos behind the cut...Collapse )

Next up... the red silk petticoat.

(no subject)
handsewing, tailor sewing
My, it has been awhile since I posted last. So much was done for prep for Costume College (great fun as usual) that I didn't get much costuming or other creative work done.

Now that CoCo is behind me, my next main push is the white & purple silk damask Tudor kirtle in the Italian fashion project, due in mid October for Black Rose Ball. Now for those folks of my renfaire guild or sister guilds reading this, no, I am not going to even begin to ponder wearing this for faire, tho the red supporting petticoat I will wear under another kirtle/gown, as there are no issues with that color for faire. I still think the violet silk would be very pretty to wear, but Carrie talked me out of wearing that in the future for faire. I will post pics of the pretty fabrics I bought later.

Anyway, back to the smock project which I started in July. Smock info under the cut to save space...Collapse )

Well, off to get my daughter from the school bus, and then back to housework.

Smock layout musings
tudor ensemble 1
I haven't done much more tonight, but enough to satisfy me until later... my brain at least, the brain that kept whirling even as I was swimming with the kids because I didn't know if I could fit the pattern pieces onto the yardage I've got.

So tonight I cut out all the pattern pieces, including the new sleeve pattern that is very very long (around 48" long and nearly the width of the fabric in half). I laid them out and nearly thought it wouldn't be enough, until I moved a few of the smaller pieces to the little extra that was left (and odd shaped on that end). I then realized that the body piece would barely go over my butt - however, if I pieced the body pieces, it would work. I had enough next to the gores that I could indeed make it knee length, but just barely. And we know from the extants thanks to Ms Arnold's work in PoF4 that some smocks were pieced - actually, I think we saw that in Drea Leed's site from her smock photos as well now that I think about it.

So, now the question remains, piece near the top or near the bottom of the body? It will affect the drape some if near the bottom, and it also will not be seen either way, except during Sunday Undies at CoCo - if I wear it there. But do I want it pieced just above the breast level? Too bad I'm not doing a full on blackworked late 16th century shirt where that piece could come from a different blackworked linen - but maybe someday I might just tackle such a project. Well, I guess my brain will continue to churn a little.

So folks, do you have a preference? If so, why?

And now, back to bed before the kiddies get up.

Phyllis Smock Beginning.
tudor ensemble 1
Finally, I'm starting on the Phyllis kirtle project, beginning with the smock itself. more under the cut...Collapse )

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