Gold Noble, with Safeguard and Jerkin (2001)

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not a safeguard and jerkin in the original plans. It’s a long story. I did i
make the flanders gown, but due to, erm, technical difficulties, it ended up
in a pile, which basically made it a cat bed for a tabby who does not consider
herself spoiled, thank-you-very-much, and I didn’t feel like cleaning it off.)
The jerkin was rather a spur of the moment thing, because, um, well, it looked
like it would look cool, and there are far too many very dark colors in court.
Both dresses are very plain, comparatively. That was a choice made for a number
of reasons. First off, the character being portrayed (Magdalen Dacre, Viscountess
of Montague) is an older woman and a staunch catholic. I thought the more severe,
spanish style would help emphasize that. Also, there’s the fact that the underdress
is made from silk, and I did not want to detract from the fact that it’s *gorgeous*
fabric. (The silk had a not-entirely anticipated theatrical effect. Between
the dress and the gold (silk with patterning in metallic thread) veil I wore,
I ended up with a halo in direct sun. I think that’s pretty cool.) Lastly, as
always, I failed to finish quite precisely everything I had planned on. Originally,
the underdress was to have a little more fal-der-a between the lines of braid
on the skirt. I decided I actually liked the look with it more plain, so I left
it that way. The jerkin (red vesty looking thing) and the safeguard (red skirt
looking bit) were made as a sort of riding costume. They are made of grosgrain
(faille, unmarked moire, whatever you want to call it) in a cherry color. The
darker red on the bottom of the skirt and around the collar on the jerkin are
rust red leather. (The leather at the bottom of the skirt more than makes up
for the fact that the grosgrain lacks weight and body, and makes the skirt very
easy to clean.) There’s a little bit of color from a trim that is cornflower
blue gimp on either side of a dark gold center. I had meant to put gold (ish)
filigree medallions on the collar and around the bottom of the jerkin and safeguard,
and I still might at some point, assuming that I haven’t used them for something
else by the time I get around to feeling like it. (That’s always a problem,
isn’t it?)

I generally write up articles to tell how things were made and
share tips and tricks and design elements and things. This has a nice side effect
of being very good for my ego. I’m going to try something a little different
this time. I’m going to focus on specifically what makes this dress “work” and
what detracts from the overall effect. I liked the overall effect of the outfit,
and I liked the fact that it’s a very flexible look. I think it demonstrates
some crucial parts of the elizabethan “look” very well. It also fails in others.
There are a couple of crucial things to consider when looking at a garment that
attempts to recreate a specific era: line/silhouette, design, and execution.

As it goes, I think the general lines and silhouette turned
out rather well. The goal is to look like a portrait from the period you’ve
chosen to recreate. There are a number of key checkpoints for the silhouette
on an elizabethan gown (I’m focusing on english, roughly 1570-1580). From the
front, the sides of the bodice should be smooth, with no buckling seen. The
doublet does fairly well in that category, the jerkin does not do as well. One
of the key points of elizabethan clothing is that fitted pieces tend to be absolutely
fitted. Wrinkles along the sides of a bodice indicate a fitting problem. Wrinkles
along the side by the waist tend to indicate that the bodice is cut too long
at the sides, wrinkles that work from the center point of the bodice drop up
to the sides at or slightly above waist level indicate that the point is being
pulled oddly – possibly to far down, as is the case with my jerkin. Wrinkles
from the side that run diagonally upwards indicate a problem with the cutting/shaping
at the bust – it was cut either too height or two low. (This is one of the few
things that’s terribly difficult to pattern on a dummy, btw. Janey is a compressible
foam, so she can be corseted, but corseting a dummy tends to compress the foam
inwards, whereas a human will show a distinct ‘my cup runneth over’ effect.
I made janey a pair of, well, falsies, basically, for the cutting and double
checked the pattern against myself. For the photos, I actually stuffed the top
of the doublet with plastic bags. Recycling at its finest….) Always always
make the patter with the corset you intend to wear for the finished product,
just like you should always wear the intended foundation garments when getting
a prom/wedding/etc dress fitted. Finishing up with wrinkles, the little bit
of bucking you see across the drop at the front of the bodice is caused by the
fact that the bodice and skirts are, essentially, arguing. The bulk of the skirts
pushes the bodice out. The problem here is that I did not add enough shaping
to the bodice at waist level to accommodate extra bulk, and while I’m perfectly
happy to accommodate the fact that janey’s foam does not behave like the squishy
parts of my bosom, I blissfully ignored the dreaded tummy fat (note: effigies
are buskless – anticipate this issue if you are similarly blessed with a rather
Aphrodite-esque soft belly).

Moving right along in the silhouette department…. I think
the skirt swell at the hips from the front, back, and sides is actually rather
perfect. There are two things at play in the draping of the top part of the
skirts: the stiffness/type of pleating and the size/position of the bumroll.
With only the gold dress on, the skirt goes over the bumroll and descends nicely.
The addition of the safeguard makes a more domed shape at the top of the hips.
The gold dress has very stiff cartridge pleats that are sewn in rows to about
2″ from the waistband. Hence, when the fall over the bumroll, they don’t bend
and droop. The safeguard is pleated with a series of stacked knife pleats (box
pleat only at the center back), and those pleats are separate from the second
they leave the waistband. As they fall, the drape and droop, and give a much
softer look. If you ever wanted a good showing of the difference between the
effect of cartridge pleats and the effect of stacked pleats, that’s it in a
nutshell. In either case, wearing a bumroll of the right size at the correct
position on the hips is essential. In this case, I am wearing a roll that is
about 4″ diameter at it’s widest. That’s it. It’s sitting along the top of the
hips at the sides, and the a little lower than that at the back. The bumroll
should not be worn at waist level.
I know it’s tempting. It feels more comfortable.
You can’t feel it on you butt all day. It just doesn’t belong there. You end
up with a drink tray behind you. While this might be great at a cocktail party,
I’ve seen no pictorial evidence that makes me believe this is the look you’re
going for. If I were wearing a skirt with less stiff pleating (either fewer
lines of stitch on the cartridge pleats, thinner fabric, or stacked pleats instead
of cartridge) I would probably want a somewhat larger roll. Stiffer pleats do
a lot towards holding themselves out, though. Looking at the overall hang of
the skirt from the side view, the fact that there is a lot more of an angle
at the back of the skirt than the front is correct, i my estimation. (There
aren’t enough portraits that show gowns from the sides, darn it.) What is incorrect
is the fact that the front is at as much of an angle as it is. I’m doing research
in this particular area right now, and I will try to have that posted soon.

The second major area to consider when looking at a gown is
its design. Beyond the obvious choice of period styles, design also includes
choices regarding color, trim, and fabric. The most important thing, i think,
with period recreation pieces is, ‘Does it look like something from the period
in question?’ This is where research, even if that just means ‘I looked at a
lot of pictures and I kinda liked these’, is important. (Please note: if you
follow the ‘I just looked at portraits’ school of research (which, frankly,
I often do), it’s extremely important to try to pick portraits from roughly
the same time and geographic local….) Things that I find particularly important
to look at with a critical eye are necklines, bodice drops (by which I mean
‘that weird thing the bodice does where it extends below the waist line), and
how the clothes relate to the probable anatomy of the wearer. (What? They’re
*on* the probably anatomy of the wearer! Like, duh, missa, that was so not rocket
surgery.) Ok, seriously, hear me out on this one. Elizabethan costuming is all
about illusion. While nutrition and lifestyle have made some distinct changes
in the human form in the last 500 years (largely in the last 150, really), it’s
not like we suddenly all grew extra ribs that make our waists way wider, or
suddenly got way shorter legs or something. The basic proportions of a human
figure that da vinci established way back in, er, like 14something still work
with modern bodies. A person is roughly 7 heads high (if I recall that correctly
– it’s a drawing proportion technique I never actually got around to using –
but I’m inclined to believe its one head for, well, your head, 2 more for torso,
one for waist to hips, and three for legs or something basically a lot like
that as a general guideline. Obviously, anyone who sews is aware that human
figure never actually deign to follow general guidelines and you will always
have to adjust the nape->waist measurement on any commercial patter, but the
idea here is to get a *general* idea of where the human is, and this is a good
way to sight it. There is a magic guideline for shoulder width, as well, but
I have absolutely forgotten it. Mind like a steel sieve, I tell ya… If only
I could retain facts as well as I’ve been retaining water lately.) Anyway, the
really important part, with most female portraits, is that the torso (bottom
of chin to waist, which I realize does technically include some neck, which
is not torso, but this is are analysis, not biology, so we can fudge that),
is naturally roughly twice the height of the head. If you look closely at a
lot of Elizabethan portraits, you will notice that the skirts are slightly above
waist height. (This is extraordinarily apparent from the back, which you almost
never get to see, so that prolly doesn’t help you much.) They eye naturally
picks the appropriate location for the waist. I dunno why. Humans are good like
that. Since the skirts are placed high, the waist you see is about 1-3″ down
on the bodice drop, where the bodice has started to narrow. In a large number
of portraits, this trick (combined with sleeve styles that put the sleeve right
off the edge of the shoulder, rather than mounted squarely on top of the shoulder
as modern sleeves are) creates a “waist” that looks significantly smaller than
it is. (Yes, yes, I know that there’s records of french women tightlacing as
far back as the 1570s, but like, they’re french, ok? I happen to like using
this trick instead of tight lacing because a) it works fabulously, b) I am terminally
addicted to breathing, and c) it works fabulously.) This illusion depends on
the bodice drop being cut correctly. If you look at portraits from the period,
you will find that the bodice drop is *wide* at the top. Making it skinny at
the top will not make your waist look thinner. it will completely ruin the illusion
you are trying to make. Depending on style, exact period, and geographic local,
the bodice may come to a sharp point or a rounded bottom. The style I used is
rounded, which is more typical of spanish styles. The neckline is also very
crucial the the illusion of an impossibly perfect figure. When the elizabethans
wore bodice style necklines (as opposed to doublet style), they wore them very
wide – shoulder tip to shoulder tip, practically. With a doublet neckline, the
shoulder should be smooth to the tip, and the collar should be as close to the
throat as possible. You want to create the widest possible line across the shoulders.
This creates the illusion of wide shoulders. The width of the shoulders is one
of the comparison points the mind uses when figuring out if a woman’s waist
is large or small. (Ever notice how football players always look like they have
nicer butts when they’re in uniform? It’s not just the spandex – it’s the huge
shoulder thingies.) At any rate, there’s an awful modern tendency to put the
straps of the bodice right at the edge of the trapezious (the muscle that makes
that odd angled bit on the shoulders from the lower neck to about mid-shoulder)
so that the straps wills stay nice and secure. This makes your waist look wider.
Well, now, if that don’t just beat all….. Doublets, I think, are primo if
you’re looking to make your waist looks smaller, since the line is absolutely
unbroken across the shoulders. They also make the torso look very long because
they do not break it basically in half like a bodice does. Unfortunately, they’re
warmer, and fred and alastair occasionally need air. (Yes, the two bald men
have names. I figured that if I was going to spend as much time in corsets as
I do, with the resultant attention being paid to my breasts, I should at least
be able to introduce them properly. It’s a long story. I almost went with statler
and waldorf….) The point here is that, when you’re looking to copy a style
from a portrait, the key points you have to get right to get “the look” are
the neckline (check the width of the longest unbroken line across the shoulders),
the bodice drop (width at top, length of drop, style of bottom) and the position
of the top of the skirt and the start of the bodice drop relative to the natural
waist of the wearer. In this, I think the gold dress and even the safeguard/jerkin
do rather well. The longest unbroken line across the shoulder actually follows
the topmost line of trim, which goes from shoulder point to shoulder point (check
the cover of Patterns of Fashion III for a reference). The skirt/bodice drop
are about 1.5″ above my natural waist (which is harder to judge on janey, who
inherently has no head, but trust me on this. Oddly, this is one of the reasons
that everything looks slightly better on a proper dummy – your brain has a harder
time checking the proportions). The bodice drop starts wide (it comes in about
an inch inside the normal line at the top), and drops at an angle to about 2″
above the pelvic floor. Check portraits of Anne of Austria to compare the skirt
height and bodice drop. Also, there is a quote from roughly 1580 that states
that the bodice is worn very low “… almost to the honor…” (If you have to
ask which part your honor is, you are not thinking in the terms of elizabethan
culture. And yes, I know I should dig up both portrait links and the exact quote
there. It’s on the to do list.)

The next issue to consider in design is the choice of colors,
trims, and fabrics. I’ll hit color and fabric first, since they directly impact
each other. Obviously, you want to stay with period colors. This is not always
something you can get from portraits. In many cases, original colors have changed
over the centuries due to pigment oxidation, poor cleaning techniques, yellowing
of varnishes, etc. I strongly recommend a book called “Dynstasties: Portraits
in Elizabethan and Jacobean England” for not only a more in depth analysis of
changes to the apparently colors of clothing in portraits, but also for a series
of stunning portraits accompanied by explanations of the context of the portrait
and the imagery intended to be evoked in the viewer. It’s stunning. There is
a particular example of a portrait with a heavily pearly forepart that appears
pale pink, but when the frame was removed for cleaning it was found to be rose
colored where the pigment had been protected from light (the forepart, that
is, not the frame – I have no idea what color the frame is, and I couldn’t care
less). Grave clothes are also not much of an indication. Let’s face it, most
things change color in the immediate presence of a rotting corpse. I certainly
would, although that’s rather a different phenomenon. You can read period accounts,
which will give you a good idea of what the elizabethans considered a smashing
color combination, however, a) some of the color names aren’t too normal, however
descriptive they might be, and I’m inclined to consider explanations of color
terms suspect because, really, it’s pretty hard to describe a color (I know
two women from court who each wore dresses they described as ‘gooseturd green’
– they were both different colors. They insisted that one was simply a grain
fed goose, while the other referred to a corn fed goose. It’s a point. Anyone
who has been forced to change diapers repeatedly knows the the exact color of
baby shit brown depends an awful lot on what originally went into the other
end of the baby. ‘Obvious’ color terms are maybe not so obvious. Take ‘camel
snot khaki’ – everyone tells me they know exactly what color I mean, but I have
to confess, I’ve never actually seen camel snot myself. It just sounded cool.
The elizabethans are pretty notorious for making up and combining words just
because they sounded really cool or seemed to work pretty well together.) So,
what does that leave us with? Well, we know the dyes and mordents used in the
period, so we could do a study of the dyes available, with the mordents available,
on the fibers available, and then we’d have something approaching a good answer
to the question, “Is this a good color to use?”. That sounds a lot like work
to me. I don’t like work. I do enough of it as it is. I have two thoughts when
it comes to judging color usage in a costume, with a nominal third whim. The
first thought is, “is it a screamingly fake color used in large amounts?” Is
the entire dress, say, neon anything? Is Crayola asking you for suggestions
of new and interesting colors that the world has never seen before? If look
at a dress and answer yes to either of these questions, odds are the color could
be described as ‘a bit off for the intended effect’. My second thought is, “Is
it ‘courtier camouflage’?” In other words, what are the odds that two or more
persons in the area where the dress is primarily worn are wearing the same color?
(The same color of the same fabric is even worse! The fear of showing up in
the exact same dress as another person is a modern byproduct of mass production.
Fabric supplies and dyelots were far less standardized in the elizabethan era,
for a number of reasons, not the least of which includes the fact that this
was significantly before the advent of fabric store chains.) Courtiers competed
for attention like mad, and color was just another way to set yourself apart.
The presence of largely homogenous color/style in some group portraits can confuse
this issue, but it occurs, to the best extend of my knowledge, only in family
groups. It seems to me that what we are seeing is the result of a family simply
buying an entire lot of a given fabric, then making use of it. I chose gold
for my dress because no one else wears the color, and there’s very little use
of cherry/rust combinations as well. Unfortunately, there are other people who
use these colors (separately). The ‘whim’ I referred to has to do with color
symbolism. A lot of people get as far as using black to indicate that yes, they
are a ‘bad guy’. I like to think that colors chosen should convey something,
should influence a first impression of the character. If I had to look at the
dress, the gold would probably say something about wealth, and I am at a loss
to find an obvious meaning in the red. It seems rather bold, I guess…. As
much as I like the colors, I confess that they fail to “speak”.

The other half of color is fabric choice. What? Here’s the deal:
you choice of fabric controls whether the color you have chosen has depth or
shine (velvet and satin are probably the opposite ends of that spectrum; velvet
absorbs light, satin reflects it), what kind of folds the skirt falls into (which
adds apparent texture (many small folds) or apparent smoothness/weight (stiffer
fabrics), and how “rich” the overall look is. You might have noticed that matching
a velvet and a satin (aside from plain white or plain black) is a trick affair
at best. You actually need a darker satin than your velvet. The depth of velvet
makes it look darker (because the pile absorbs light, and color is determined
by light absorption/ reflection) and richer (because light and shadow play more
softly on velvet, which does not have a flat surface). Satin, contrarily, looks
lighter and, well, chintzy a lot of the time. The smoother the satin, the lighter
it looks, and the taller the pile on the velvet, the darker it looks. Surfaces
with patterns give the eye more of a workout. Additionally, some kinds of shine
scream “synthetic” (rayon velvets and acetate satins are good examples) and
some types of weave will just never look as expensive as they are (ever seen
twill silk? Why bother paying so much for something that looks like cotton?)
The fact that a fabric is 100% silk does not mean that it doesn’t *look* like
a medium poly/cotton or cotton/linen blend. If you have to explain to me that
it might look like rayon velvet but it’s actually silk, then the really important
part is that it *looks* like rayon velvet. I don’t care what it’s made out of
(except for the obvious heat issues) – if it looks like a rayon velvet or a
medium weight cotton broadcloth, then it doesn’t look appropriate for a noble
of the elizabethan period. That’s just it. (I will acknowledge that occasionally,
you come across a portrait of an elizabethan noble wearing something that does
not look appropriate for an elizabethan noble. The little boy wearing what janet
arnold describes as ‘possibly ikat died silk’, which, for all the world, looks
vaguely like tie-dye springs to mind. The point here is that if you have to
keep explaining over and over that it’s not what it looks like, then something’s
wrong.) ps- chenille drapery weaves really don’t look like voided velvet. I’ve
seen both. Trust me. And yes, silk velvet does look a lot like rayon velvet.
(Always remember, rayon was originally created as a silk substitute, before
they figured out how to get the silk worm cocoons apart without having to unwind
them….) Why spend a lot of money on something that will just confuse people?
“It’s authentic” doesn’t really cut it as a persuasive reason in my mind. The
fabric choices for the gold gown aren’t perfect. The silk, in spite of being
a really good quality, is slubby (it’s got irregularities in the width of the
threads in the weave), which is far more popular now than it was 500 years ago.
The grosgrain is a very authentic weave of fabric, and I think very authentic
looking, in spite of an absurd lack of natural fibres. Leather hasn’t gone truly
out of fashion since the cavemen…. The stuff I used I feel is actually too
thick, though (it’s cowhide for leather upholstery – if you ever get around
to the Kane County flea market, there’s a guy there who does leather upholstery
and sells his offcuts. He’s usually in the last barn (dairy 1966, I think).
Tell him you heard about him from one of those crazy chicks that buys leather
by the bundle for costumes…. He always remembers me and my friends… Very
nice guy, incredibly good prices. Just don’t buy him out before I get there!)

The remaining design consideration is the trimmings – all applied
elements, including “trim” (be it ribbon, gimp, contrasting fabrics, or what
have you), embroidery, lace, and sparkly bits (jewels, rhinestones, filigree
thingies, etc). Most period portraits show gowns with trimming at edges (closing
edges at the center front of the bodice or skirt, top neckline edges, shoulder
strap edges, edges of epaulettes, skirtings, and tabs, and grading around hem
bottoms), over possible seam locations (side back, sleeve join, etc), down the
center front of a backlaced bodice, center front of a skirt or forepart which
does not open at the center front, diagonally from the outside edge of the neckline
to the point of the bodice drop in bodices, and horizontally across the front
of a doublet, either in pieces of a constant size or on progressively sized
from small pieces at the point of the bodice to longer pieces at the shoulders.
It is important to note that this is not simply a guideline for ribbon placement,
but for almost any applied trim. Lace tends to occur at the outer edges of ruffs
and cuffs. Embroidery may follow normal trim locations, or may be all over the
dress. Sparkly bits tend to occur in the same location as trimmings, or follow
a pattern within the embroidery (especially if you count pearls as a ‘sparkly’
bit). What might properly be termed a jewel by virtue of size seems to be far
more common than the small rhinestones that are so common at ren faires. Small
sparkly bits include small metallic beads, seed beads (yes, that’s what I wrote,
and yes, I mean the little glass hummers, which came from venice), and seed
pearls, coral beads, and turquoise beads (none of which, admittedly, sparkle).
Clear stones, like diamonds, tended to be backed with black. The gold gown and
safeguard do not fall into the common ‘disco courtier’ trap. If anything, there
is not enough trim on them. While it was not impossible to see a courtier wearing
so little by way of embellishment, it became progressively less and less likely
towards the end of the reign. In 1574 (the year in which bristol is technically
set), embellishments seen in portraits are somewhat simpler than what you see
during the 1580s. (Note: I normally wear a fair amount of jewelry with this,
either a veil with metallic gold woven into it or black veil with silver and
gold metallic trims and laces, and decorated gloves. Often, accessories make
a huge difference with an outfit that is otherwise leaning towards under-embellished.)
I will say that I consider the brown ribbon I used as a bottom guard rather
disappointing. It just really doesn’t blend with the rest of the outfit. When
it’s covered in dust it’s not too bad, but it does not work with the rest of
the outfit when you can see the color. It draws attention to itself without
adding anything to the overall effect.

The last major thing I like to consider when looking at a gown
is the overall execution. Execution, to my mind, encompasses everything from
sewing technique to how the gown works with the person wearing it. (That last
might be hard to judge, since no dress looks the same on a human as it does
on a dummy. For one thing, dress dummies have unflinchingly perfect posture.
For another, humans have heads.) Concentrating on what we can concentrate on,
the first things I look at overall fit, trimming, and closures. A bodice or
doublet should fit smoothly, without gaping away from the wearer. There should
not be an obvious bulge where the corset ends (especially right by the arms
in front or back) – that means the corset is not cut right (it probably needs
to be continued an inch higher than it is, or it might need more or an angle
to make more room for the bust). Necklines should fit smoothly at the front,
rather than standing away from the wearer’s body. Also, the finished garment
should not set directly at the waist – it should be fitted as a dress in a portrait
is (see above). The skirt should be ground length. You get maybe 2″ leeway on
that rule. The skirt should not be ankle length. (Hint: it is very very important
to take all your measurements wearing the proper foundation garments and the
*shoes* you intend to wear with the costume. If you work with a dress dummy,
adjust the height to reflect your ground to waist in shoes!) Also, foreparts
should not arch up at the front – they should be cut with a slight downward
curve (ie, longer at the absolute center front) to avoid this. With the obvious
exception of the italien multi-layered skirt look, all you skirts should be
the same length. Trim that is straight, or curves smoothly, is a good sign.
Trim (including lines of fake pearls) that are “wobbly”, or rows of trim that
don’t maintain an even distance from each other, look ‘homemade’ (or, in more
period terms, “domestic” – they look like the work of someone who is not a professional
and maybe isn’t focused). Ideally, the stitches holding the trim down should
also be straight, and in a color that blends with the trim in question. Standard
flat gimp has a “channel” down the center (between the two lines of curly-q
thingies). Your goal is to get all of your stitches right in that channel. (This
can be done. This can be done quickly and without pins. I’m at a loss to explain
it. It’s kind of a zen thing. What I can tell you is that the trim is less squirrelly
when you stitch with the curly-qs than when you go against them, lead the trim
with one hand and the fabric with the other, and line up with the line in your
presser foot, not the needle. Trying to line things up with the needle will
make your eyes cross every time. In a pinch, a judicious amount of fabric glue
works well. (Ahem, and there is still some evidence of wax and seize being used
to seal edges and possibly as tacking on surviving garments, thankyouverymuch.))
Closures are an area where you un into some firm opinions. To my mind, the most
important thing is that the closure edge should be neat, and the close should
be precisely edge to edge. With internal hooks and eyes, or hook and eye tape,
the edge should not roll open to reveal the lining. Looking at the gold dress,
the closure is a complete failure. This would be far less obvious if I had ever
gotten around to the 30 second solution of making a placket (a 2″ rectangle
of fabric the length of the closure done in the outer fabric, which sits behind
the closure just in case the closure gaps. In this case, specifically what is
wrong is that I do not have any stiffening at the closing edges, and the doublet
is not lined with anything stiff enough to get it to hold a straight edge. Oddly,
it’s not an issue of the doublet being too tight, as there as about 3/4″ extra
fabric. But it pulls a little funky, and since the edge is not stiffened, it
pulls the closing end open in gaps.

Now, I have a personal theory that all costumes naturally look
better on a dummy. Dummies hold perfectly still, resist the temptation to ever
throw all their weight onto one hip (a decidedly modern stance that really messes
up skirt falls), don’t breathe, and never complain about the heat. Dresses that
people are moving in are rarely given such an optimum showing. Walking in a
skirt, for example, is the easiest way to make more of the skirt shift towards
the sides and back, which bows in the hoops, which in turn push up the front
of the farthingale. *grumble* This dress was prone to that, especially with
the slight pull-out train. Dresses on a human have to deal with the fact that
humans tend to move their shoulders. This doublet style is significantly less
affected by that than a bodice style would have been. My silk changes color
when faced with pH’s of a biological persuasion. I found that out when a cat,
who was very upset about the ordeal of moving, peed on the skirts. (“oh, my
goodness, do you mean to say my normal litter is clay, not silk? Ooooh, my bad.”)
This also became a problem with sweat. I was a little surprised. I don’t normally
sweat. I almost never sweat on my face (that normally takes a 2+ mile run).
This was the summer of the sweats. The perspiration fairies became my constant
companions. I was *not* amused. Fortunately, the color change is slight, and
silk is rather shifty in the color department anyway. But still…. Strike up
another in favor of dress dummies – they never sweat. They don’t even glisten.

All in all, I think it’s a fairly solid dress. The design and
patterning are solid. The colors are effective and stand out well. It could
do with a little additional trim, possibly. The execution is good except for
the closure, which really must be fixed. But I didn’t think it would be fair
to let that slide all season then fix it right before taking the pictures….
;) It was, as always, a learning experience.

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