There are several things that are very clear from looking at this. First off, the front (below) looks almost exactly like a gore. I was especially awed by just how nice the waist curve is. It brought a little tear to my eye, actually. The back gore is weird. (I’ve based my piecing on Arnold’s diagram on pg 196 of Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d.)
The second thing I get out of this is that period tailors knew how to properly hem a gored skirt. It’s just sort of assumed here. Alcega has drawn surprisingly faithful curves for the waist and hem on the front panel, and the hem on the back panel, but the gores are basically left as an exercise for the reader.
In the interest of fairness, the only real information we have on the right way to arrange the pieces is Alcega’s instructions, and the only thing they really tell us about how the pieces go together is,
“Note that the front godets are to be joined straight edge with straight edge, whearas the back godets are to be joined bias edge with straight edge. Hence, there will be no bias edge on the sides of the farthingale, nor will it protrude on any side.”
There are, in fact, three layouts that join the front panel and gore (“godet” in the translation and cuchillos in the original folio) on the straight while joining a back panel to the bias side of a back gore.
The third possibility is the piecing arrangement used in The Tudor Tailor (Mikhaila and Malcolm-Davies, 2006), so I take no credit for original thinking here.
I have done a small amount of tweaking to provide a proper hem line, and smooth out some of the awkward angles that result from joining up the back pieces. Here are the resulting skirts:
I like the piecing and layout of the first mockup best, but the first and third both seem to work well straight out of the box (or off the page, as it were). The second seems critically flawed. It is worth noting that in any case, the top of the skirt should be pleated or gathered down – it is disproportionally large right now.
One particularly interesting trend that shows up in the first and third mockups is the difference in the distribution of fabric in the completed front and back panels at the waist compared the the hem. Oh, hey, wow, that sentence was a doosey… Sorry. Too much time in college. What I mean is this:
At the hem of the skirt, there’s roughly the same amount of fabric at the front and the back. At the waist of the skirt, there’s far more fabric in the back panel than the front – almost a 7:4 ratio. When pleated down, this will pull a lot of the farthingale to the back of the wearer. (Is it enough to compensate for the weight of skirts pushing the farthingale forward? I’ve no idea. I haven’t started those experiments yet!)
Next: How Accurate is the Alcega Drawing?