{JennylaFleur: Dress Diaries}

Faire Garb: an Italian Renaissance costume

an Italian Renaissance costume

tweaked from my the Italian Purple Wool

linen/rayon, cotton (lining), grosgrain ribbon

My second attempt at the Italian Renaissance.
I needed some cool and comfortable for a summer Maryland Renaissance Faire.

I was so pleased with the way this outfit turned out. It was on the plain side, but it felt more like historic clothing than a costume which was fun.

Completed 2004.




The Results:


August 2004
At the Maryland Renaissance Faire.
More photos of this event can be found here.






The Dress Diary:

July 8 2004


Bridget and I have decided to go to the Renaissance Faire twice this year. That means one trip in August, (the same time we went last year) and one in October. The Rohan gown is too hot for August, especially as I get to wear it again in October. My original plan was to tweak the Italian Ren Purple Wool. It's too big now and the sleeves proved to be too hot last year for an August day.

Then I started thinking… (always a dangerous thing!) It would probably be the same amount work to just make a new Italian Ren gown. Something simple, (and more importantly) cool and comfortable.

On the whole, I'm trying not to do anything too wild and unfamiliar – that is where I get bogged down in projects and end up stressed and finishing the gown at 3am the day of. I think I can risk the side lacing though, it seems a simple enough "new thing".

I want something with simple decoration, few accessories and small sleeves. I also wanted to use the same pattern I used for the Purple Wool. That narrowed it down to the late 15th century.It's really my favorite anyway.

If I can be accused of modeling my gown after anything, it would be this yellow gown. It's so simple and pretty. I hate the cap (I'll have to come up with something else) but I like the little partlet. I don't know that I will have time to make one though.

I went through the fabric stash yesterday and found some fabric that would work. Nothing terribly historic but I'm going for comfortable and do-able in 4 weeks. I pulled out three options, a khaki twill, a green rayon twill and a rusty brown linen/rayon. At the moment I'm thinking the gown will be either khaki or rust. If the gown is khaki, then the sleeves will be rust. If rust, then the sleeves will be green. For a bit of embellishment, I will probably add some ribbon to the bodice and perhaps the skirt as well.

Yes I am crazy to do all this but, well, I'm feeling reckless at the moment. :>

July 9 2004

First up is the underpinnings so I started work on the new corded bodice today.

July 18 2004


Now that the corded bodice is in wearable condition I sewed up the gown's bodice toile and did a fitting. It fits perfectly. Sweet!

Now that the bodice toile is in good shape to go I need to decide what fabric to use. Any votes between the rusty brown linen/rayon and the khaki rayon twill? I am having a hard time deciding and I really should so I can cut the gown out. The rust makes my hair turn a gorgeous red and it looks like a period fabric even if it's a blend. The khaki is a lighter and therefore cooler color for summer and it would drape nicely.

July 19 2004

I was going to be good and get some everyday stuff done today, then sew on Wednesday but after seeing all the loveliness Casey is making these days I couldn't stand it and cut out my Faire Garb dress.

After much drooling over her frock, I decided to lengthen the bodice of my dress a bit. I really love the fitted, pointed waist of her gown. As I started looking at paintings again this morning, I noticed that some of the waists in the late 15th century (my "aim") were lower as well, if all rounded. A bit of length was an easy adjustment so I went for it. The waist is about 1.5 inches above the waist now, rather than the higher waist of the original pattern.

The rust overwhelmingly won the vote (thanks so much ladies - you are the best!) so that is what I cut. I'm excited to wear this color, I love it so! I especially love what it does for my complexion and hair. *wink*

Bridget and I had some shopping to do tonight so I only got as far as cutting the rust fabric before I had to stop. I left the skirt panels as rectangles but I'm thinking about shaping them. Still pondering that ... I still have the lining and sleeves to cut. For the lining I'm using a "tea" colored muslin I've had for years. I have tons of it, it's easily replaced if I need it someday and I'm ready to get it off the shelf.

I pulled out some options for the sleeves out of the fabric stash, notably a light purple polished cotton but I'm going to wait to cut them out until after my trip to G Streets tomorrow. Maybe I'll find something better on the bargain table ...

July 20 2004


I found some pretty rose linen at G Streets, which in the store I loved with the rust of the Faire Garb. However, now that I am home doubts have begun to creep in. Ummm ... .

I also found some pretty peach organdy. It's a poly I'm sure but it was the thickness I wanted for my partlet. Now I just have to figure out how to make one. I may use it for a hair caul too… at the moment I want to try hair taping so I may not need one.

I finished cutting the gown tonight and plan to start sewing tomorrow. I did angle the skirt panels a bit. I laid them out, measured 6" from one edge, angled it down to the bottom with a yard stick and cut away. I didn't want anything too complicated but I did want the bottom to flare a bit more than the last gown.

While I worked I threw that linen in the wash. I'm thinking it may be a blend. Now that it's wet it does feel totally natural, if you know what I mean. No big. I still love the color.

July 21 2004

I started on the skirt today. I didn't get too far on it though, just got the cotton lining put together and pressed. I also machine basted the rust and muslin interlining bodice pieces together. I've experienced the slipping, stretching and overall naughtiness of linen/rayon in the past. Mounting the rotten stuff to an interlining seemed a prudent step.

July 22 2004


I have been waffling with myself all week about that rose linen. I've changed my mind about 10 times already. Yesterday I was all ready to use it and this morning I didn't like it anymore. I thought very seriously about using it, just as one side of a reversible sleeve. My thought was, if I decided I didn't like it with the rust I could always wear it with the purple wool. In the end, however I decided that I agreed with Casey comment that it was "just a little to 'eh'".

I wasn't sold on the green I had found the stash though. So I raided the scrap bin. Why I didn't think of that sooner, I really don't know! I found a green rayon I liked much better, as well as a light blue I thought would be a fun contrast. I have to line the sleeves anyway so I figure I might as well make some fun reversible sleeves. I then raided the ribbon stash and found some pretty green ribbon that goes with the green rayon perfectly. I tried going with more subdued, dark purples and black trims but they just looked drab. The effect of the greens, rust and blue is bright and fun and I'm happy. Bridget doesn't like it, but then again she hasn't said anything positive about the whole outfit yet so I'm ignoring her on it. Whatever.

I cut out the new sleeves, as well as the bodice lining, which I had forgotten. I also finished putting the skirt together today. Sewing the linen/rayon pieces was less traumatic than I feared it would be. That fabric really is a pain! I'm so glad that is the last piece of it in the house, as I don't plan on ever working with it again!

I was afraid the linen/rayon/cotton lined results might be too limp. Unfortunately I didn't have any felt or wool laying around (the two suggestions I'd read online) so I just used some iron-on interfacing. I actually used waist-band interfacing, cutting it in half and ironing it on. The skirt is hanging up now, all ready to be cartridge pleated. Fun, fun!

July 24 2004


I finally got around to pinning and attaching the ribbon to the bodice today. All of the trim was attached by hand. Ouch! I really need to learn to use a thimble!

The front was fun to piece and everything. I had some issues trying to match the curve in the back but eventually got it to work. The key was many pins, hand sewing and then lots of steam. Steam pressing really is a beautiful thing. It makes me look like I know what I'm doing more often than I actually do.


I need to look at some pics and see if I want to add trim to the sleeves. I'm thinking I may just leave them untrimmed. That way I can save the ribbon for tying on the sleeves, or maybe even to trim the bottom of the skirt.

July 29 2004

I sewed the front and back bodices to their respective linings this evening. I apparently made a mistake on the shoulder straps though, as they don't match (the front is wider than the back). So before I can join the shoulders, I'll have to redo the front, turning it inside-out again and trimming a little. No big. I also got the sleeves pinned so they are ready to be sewn.

August 4 2004


I have sleeves! Finally got those sewn up today. I just need to do something to attach them to the gown bodice. I think I'm going to just do some hand-bound eyelet holes, as the sleeves are supposed to be reversible. I'll have to do lacing rings on the shoulder strap, though, to avoid interfering with the ribbon trim.

I know the sleeves don't look like much on Narcissa, sorry about that. Unfortunately I can't really try them on until I can lace the bodice up, which I can't do until I make eyelets, which don't want to do until I attach the skirt, which must be pleated first… oy.

To-do list for the Faire Garb:
pleat & attach skirt
apply trim to skirt
hem skirt
mark & sew eyelets on bodice side
mark & attach lacing rings to shoulder straps (don't want to do eyelets because of the ribbon)
mark & sew eyelets on sleeves
buy/find ribbon to lace sleeves & bodice sides
cut and apply binding to corded bodice

fix feather fan/ make new one
make new camica?
make partlet?
make headdress?
experiment with hair
trim straw hat?

Umm…. Looks like I still have a bit to do. Mostly handwork… oy again! I'll have to wait for a finial decision on the camica question until I can actually try on the gown and sleeves. I suspect the camica sleeves will be too big for this, more middle class garb. A new camica would be nice, this one is still a little on the small side (see my Purple Wool diary). I just don't have any appropriate fabric and don't want to buy more if I don't have to. More spending money at the faire you know. *wink*

August 7 2004


My faire dress is now a dress! In other words, my bodice and skirt are attached. I started yesterday, getting the pleating and pining done. I sewed down all the pleats, with doubled thread so it's very sturdy. I finished up today with the sewing together part. I wish either cartridge pleating weren't so pretty or so monotonous!

I also did the math and marked the eyelets. I got all the holes started with my sharp awl but then decided to call it a night. So I have all the hard work on the eyelets to go before I get to try it on. Pics are of the skirt pinned (yesterday), then attached (today).

August 13 2004

I haven't done much sewing this week. Okay, so make that haven't done any sewing. Motivation issues mostly. I have been working on the Faire Garb eyelets tonight though. I'm proud of me. I've got almost half of the wretched things done already. I thought I would take a little break, by hopping on the computer, before I popped The Two Towers in. I love those movies! That's all for now I think ... yep. I'm ready to face more eyelets and TT. Or at least a few more eyelets and part of TT.

*trots off to carry on with eyelet fun*

August 15 2004


I finished up the gown eyelets today. Then, I tried on the whole outfit. It's looking good if I do say so myself. I marked where the sleeve eyelets need to go and am waiting for Mom to help me mark the hem. Yep wearing the dress as I type. :>

A few other fixes made themselves apparent as well. The camicia sleeves are definitely too long. At this point rather than make a new one, which I'm not real excited about doing, I think I am just going to hem the sleeves up a bit. Six inches should do it. I also need to sew a hook and eye below the gown lacing so the skirt doesn't gap there. One large hook one each side should do it.


The biggest thing is that the corded bodice is just not terribly comfortable. Good thing I haven't put the binding on huh?

August 23 2004

Life really needs to stop getting in the way - I have costuming deadlines here!!! I have 4 days to finish up the Faire Garb. I'm trying not to panic. Really it's not that bad, it's just a bunch of last minute little stuff.

I hemmed up the camica and finished the eyelets on the sleeves last night. That leaves the hems, hooks & eyes, trimming the hat and fixing the corded bodice. I'll have to forgo the partlet, cap, new fan and the other accessories I'd been thinking about. Oh well. The bodice is what I'm most worried about at this point.

August 23 2004

This week started out pretty good but it has quickly gone downhill. This afternoon I begin working on the Faire Garb. I sewed on the hook & eyes where the skirts meet. Then I tried lacing it up with the new ribbon I'd bought. Disaster struck.

When I had tried the gown on for the first time, the lacing wouldn't come out even for some reason. I didn't really worry about it as it was a quick try-on to mark the sleeves and hem. When I went to lace the new, I discovered why the lacing was not even. One side has 9 holes and one side has 8. I have NO idea how I did that. I'm not even going to go into how that discovery make me feel. Somewhere around the size of a seed bead I think.

So I have lovely lacing holes that are un-even. This means that they are neither lined up for spiral nor cross-lacing. Great. I looked at the costume, with the hem to do, the corded bodice uncomfortable and not fitting well ect… and only 3 days to go. Yeah. I began to consider looking for some matches. That is always a bad sign.

So I threw the garb in my closet, played some computer games and called Casey.We talked for a couple of hours and she helped calm me down. Sometimes it just helps to talk with someone who understands. Merci Dearest!

Towards the end of our conversation I had a moment of brilliance. I could cover the holes with ribbon and then sew lacing rings on the inside. If that does not work, there is always the Rohan gown. I will probably faint from the heat but I could wear it.

August 24 2004

Three days left to work on my costume so how did I spend my day? I picked up, dusted and vacuumed my bed/sewing room. Then I rearranged my bookshelves, went through and reorganized my hope chest, reorganized the boxes under my bed, organized my stationary, went through and rearranged my dresser drawers, went through recipes, cooked dinner… In short: nothing to do with sewing. Despite the time crunch I couldn't deal with sewing today.

I feel much better with my newly de-cluttered and organized room. I don't really regret taking the day off though I am pretty skeptical about getting the Faire Garb done in time. I've decided not to worry about it. If I get it done great, if not I'll wear the Rohan. Unless it rains and then I'm screwed. A big whopping oh well.

If I'm not enjoying the process and am just stressing myself out making these costumes, what is the point? This is a hobby that I supposedly do for fun. I just don't need self-induced stress this week, I have enough to handle thank you.

August 25 2004

So today I'm off to Hancock's for lacing rings and Jo-Ann's for Ridgeline. Then I'm planning to tackle the corded bodice. If I can't work out those issues there is no point in bothering with the dress tomorrow.

August 25 2004 - later that day

The corded bodice issues have been sorted out - yay! After the corded bodice was squared away I worked on the gown. I finished pining the hem so that is all ready to be hand-stitched. The lining hem I pinned and sewed on the machine. I also pinned the lacing rings in place so they are all ready to be sewn.

I could have done hooks and eyes as the gown fits perfectly but lacing rings are actually faster to sew for me. At this point speed is a good thing. I'm being a little extravagant with my time by hand stitching the gown hem but I think I will be a lot happier that way. Besides I think having more control with the linen/rayon will be better.

August 30 2004

Pics from the Faire are now in the gallery!


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