31 March 2010

Housebook dress: Inspiration

I was fortunate to be able to attend an event earlier in March where some VIPs (dear friends of mine) had a cultural theme of late 15th c. German. Now, about half of my wardrobe is passably late 15th c. Dutch/Flemish, and that's close enough, right? Well it could have been, but I decided I wanted at least one dress that really screamed German, and to me that meant a Housebook or Durer style dress. Those terms are a bit nebulous, covering a fair range of styles, but more specifically, I took my inspiration from these images at Myra's page for the Master of the Housebook. (I've linked directly to an internal frame there, the main site is here.)

The look I was shooting for is shown well in the first painting (Pair of Lovers), as well as several prints in the third section (Lady with owl and AN in her escutcheon, Lady with radishes in her escutcheon, Pair of Lovers, and the lady on the right in Young man and two girls). All of these are circa 1475-1485, and have several distinctive features. The dresses are fitted from shoulder to waist, have a wide-set neckline between V- and scoop-shape, and have vertical padded pleats or rolls at the centerline beneath the bust. The bottom of the gown is loose and fairly voluminous, as are the sleeves, which seem to have a slight flare or bell shape. The headdress features looped braids at the side of the face with most of the head covered by a veil arrangement, most of which have multiple pleats at the front edge. Some are clearly more extravagant in detail and embellishment that others, but I think this is a good sample to have a feel for the style.

The dress is finished at this point, and I didn't photograph enough of the process to really make a good dress diary, but there should be two more posts on this soon, covering the overall design and construction, and the finished product.

23 March 2010

Taymouth Hours gown

Taymouth hours gown
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
I first saw this particular illustration from the Taymouth Hours (ca. 1325-1350) a couple years ago, and I've wanted a dress in this style ever since. It's a woman, hunting a rabbit, and the dress she wears seems like it'd be very practical for shooting in the cooler parts of the year. It's short enough to not to get muddy, leaves the arms relatively free, and can be quite warm depending on materials. Mine is a somewhat light wool herringbone, fully lined with a moderately fulled wool flannel. (The originals probably would have been fur-lined, based both on artwork and written accounts, but that's above and beyond what I wanted to do in terms of work.) It's only slightly fitted, and pulls on over the head, so there's no laces or closures to be hidden. In the picture, I'm wearing it over my Moy gown recreation, which is a comfortable combination. (Please excuse the askew veil - that's the peril of forgetting to check a mirror!)

The cut of the outer fabric is quite sparing, just 2 yards of 60 inch fabric. The front and back main body panels were about 4 feet, and fit side by side, with the last 2 feet for side gores and sleeves. The lining actually required quite a bit more fabric, probably 3+ yards, for two reasons. First, after fulling the flannel it was no longer wide enough for two body panels, so those required separate lengths. Second, the turn back is fairly deep, so that had to be longer, plus it and the sleeves required a second interlining layer of the white flannel to be opaque over such a dark background.

01 March 2010

Moy gown: eyelets done, hemmed, and now for sleeves

Moy gown, fitting sleeves
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
I got some work on my Moy gown done while watching the Olympics, which means that it now has eyelets for the front opening (10 per side, 1 inch apart, arranged for spiral lacing). With the front closure done, I could check how it's hanging, so now the hem is also done. All that's left on the body is to turn under the neckline, and then it's time to finish the sleeves. The original has many tiny buttons for sleeve closures, and that's part of my plan for my version as well. That will have to wait though, because I want to wear this at Gulf Wars (about two weeks away), and that amount of handwork is just Not Going To Happen. So, as a temporary measure, the sleeves will be basted closed, with just some minimal finishing to prevent fraying, and I'll come back to the buttons at some point when I have more time.