An Arabesque Velvet Gown
Ok, so I'm a sucker for garb
contests, although somehow I did manage to avoid the recent
"Mary Queen of Scots portrait comp!) First it was the
inaugural Margo's Patterns "Iron Dress" competition,
now another contest organized by the members of Margo's mailing
list - the Portrait contest. I resisted. I really did. Truly. I
haven't even finished the last dress diary project due to a
prolonged attack of the SCA/sewing doldrums. All I've sewn since
the last contest is garb for other people. I've got to start
sewing for our Baronial Investiture/Divestiture in May, not to
mention four nobles court garb outfits for July (midwinter)
Coronation which is to be held in our Barony. What am I
thinking?!! I reasoned with myself that since the end date for
this contest is June 30 2005, this project could always become
the outfit for both the May Baronial Investiture and one of the
outfits (I've got others in the works!) for Midwinter Coronation
in July. Yeah right. But here I am. Hoping this project leads me
out of the fit of SCA blues which seems to have decided to hang
around for a while. At least I've now got a digital camera to
make the whole dress diary process easier. :-) The end result
does not have to be an exact copy, merely "inspired
by", but I love this gown so much - it's in my arms colours
of red and gold - that I would really love to make as close a
copy as possible.
This will be another fitted
Florentine over-gown. I'm going to try to make an under-gown too,
but if I run out of time it'll most likely end up as a pair of
sleeves and underskirt instead, just like last time.
For the top layer of the bodice,
and skirt trim, I have some 'cloth-of-gold', like that used on my
green Florentine over-gown, which I bought quite some time ago with this very
project in mind. I also have some red velveteen on hand, for the
skirt and appliquéd designs. I might use the same high-necked
linen smock I made last time too, since it's the right style. I
have some gold Thai silk, about 2 metres I think, that might do
for the sleeves, in lieu of white. I also have a gorgeous silver and yellow silk
brocade which might work for a forepart
on an underskirt. The only thing bugging me is the jeweled belt.
I know many others have been doing wonderful things with modeling clay, but I don't know if my skills run quite that far,
nor do I think I'm going to have enough time. I might have to
fudge it with something else.
October 27, 2004.
Ok, so I've decided to go with appliqué for the
design in red on the bodice/sleeves/skirt trim. Played around
with the design last night. Since the design is basically large
S-shapes with stylized tulips on the ends, I will use half the
design as a basis for a cardboard template which I can then use,
reversed where necessary, to draw on the shapes. The little extra
scroll-like flourishes emanating from each S-shape I will draw
in by hand where necessary. This should work well on the skirt
trim, where the regularity of size makes this simple, but I think
the bodice will need a couple of larger design templates - the
design will have to be somewhat flexible to accommodate the area
The initial "thinking out loud"
The graph paper divided into equal sections.
Originally I was going to draw the complete S-shape,
until it occurred to me that I'd get a more evenly
balanced design if I just drew out half the design and
flipped/reversed it when necessary to draw each
The design drawn out on the graph paper.
Here the finished motif has been cut from
the graph paper and traced onto stiff cardboard.
I've cut out the cardboard motif and
reversed and flipped it, and placed it next to the card
one to show how I'll use it to draw the complete motif on
November 3, 2004.
It just occurred to me that I forgot to give details of
the portrait I'm using! The above colour image is from La Couturière Parisienne Costume and Fashion Site , according to which this is a portrait of an
Unknown Lady by a follower of Tiziano (Vecellio). However, the
identical (monochrome) image is also located at the Bildarchiv
zur Kunst und Architektur in Deutschland, where it is listed as a portrait of Eleanora de Toledo
by the school of Bronzino.
Whatever the case, it is almost certainly a Florentine overgown.
The style is very similar to others in portraits by Bronzino.
The fabric used for the bodice
appears to be wrought velvet, the "Figurato veluto - figured
velvet, wrought or branched velvet" of Florio's A Worlde
of Words, an Italian/English dictionary of 1598. It is
essentially a cloth-of-gold backgound with red velvet pattern.
Obviously it would have been impossible, today, to obtain any
fabric woven in any way that would imitate the relief quality of
the patterned velvet on an opaque gold background, so the next
best thing was to try to duplicate it with applique. I'm glad
that I have velveteen of the right colour (or close to) on hand
for this project, as the longer piled cotton velvet would have
been very difficult to use to applique I think.
Ciao 'till next time,