1570s Upper Middle Class






This is the grey and silver costume that I made the week before
Bristol opened this year. (Apologies on the image quality – you can only expect
so much from a 50$ toy digital camera.) The costume itself is representative
of the particularly uppity segment of the Elizabethan middle class. It is made
of grey corduroy . If you look at the larger photos, you will see that the center
bodice pieces and alternating skirt pieces are cut on the bias and have silver
lame thread couched between the wales of the corduroy (every other wale for
the bodice pieces, and every 8th wale on the skirt pieces). There is also blue
velvet cording between all of the pieces of the bodice and the skirts. The hanging
sleeves are of blue velveteen, lined with silver windsor satin. The decoration
on the sleeves is made from blue satin ribbon with grey gimp on either side
of it. The doublet collar/center is edged in black fur, and lined in blue velveteen.
The forepart is also blue velveteen. The decoration on it is blue satin ribbon,
edged in a silver trim with small poofs of silver thread. The very bottom of
the forepart is done in silver twisted fringe. The hat is an escoffion, done
in the blue velveteen. it is decorated in the silver trim from the forepart,
and with some silver lace and blue sparklies on the flat back. The feathers
are antique burnt ostrich, with little spangles on the tips. They are very hard
to see in this photo.

The costume started with 8 yards of grey corduroy that I bought
from another costumer about two weeks before faire opened. I think he was a
little surprised when i wore the dress opening weekend. ;) There’s about 4 spools
of heavy silver lame thread in there – I used two threads together for each
line of couching so that it would show up better. It’s pretty spectacular in
sunlight.

The costume is officially upper middle class, and not lower
noble, for two reasons. The first is that I have sworn up and down that I would
never ever *ever* try to make a noble out of corduroy. (I know it existed, I
know it was obscenely expensive, but these days it generally just looks cheap.)
The second reason is that I have also sworn up and down that a noble gown cannot
be made in a week. Therefore, it is upper middle class. Trust me, it all works
out ok this way.

On a construction note, the bodice is made differently than
I normally make bodices. In order to get the bias cut panel in, I had to redraft
my bodice pattern to move the center seam a little more towards the center and
higher onto the shoulder. Essentially, I have redistributed the bustline curve
over two seams, instead of just one. I don’t recommend this at all. First off,
it’s kind of a pain. Second off, enough of the bodice is cut on the bias that
it does stretch and shift a bit. It’s probably not noticeable, but it really
annoys me.

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