Fabrics for Two Little Tudor Princesses

Crazy things resembling Honest Work(tm) have put me a million years behind on posting stuff from the last week. I don’t know about anyone else, but stress makes me totally ADD, and I decided that what I really need is a project to take my mind off work, websites, and that other project. I had an idea while making little chemises and corset mockups for Tyler and Piggy that it would be really adorable to do them up as the young Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor. So, I went digging through my fabric bins….

…and determined that I don’t have precisely the right colors for either of them. But I think I can get the general aesthetic of the dresses I want, even if I do muck about with the colors a little.

portrait of the young Elizabeth

The portrait we all know and love: Princess Elizabeth, age 13 (1546), attrib. William Scrots. The Royal Collection. (Image taken from http://tudorhistory.org/ elizabeth/youngeliza.jpg )

I love that dress. Everybody loves that dress… It’s simple, it’s elegant, and frankly turdor lines look so much more graceful and lean on a barely-pubescent body. I’m planning to put something like this on Tyler, who is generously post-pubescent. I can get the basic body line corrected with a little clever illusion using the Pfalzgrafin corset:

Tyler in Pfalzgrafin mockup

How close is that to the silhouette of the young Elizabeth painting?

It’s not entirely the same – I would need to change the straps to place them at an angle so they barely kiss the shoulder, instead of setting on top of it. Unfortunately, that would expose Tyler’s shoulder joint and make the unnaturally round nature of her boobs a bit more obvious, and I’d rather not do that. I’m going to try playing with the placement of the jewelled neckline to disguise this a little better. Also, young Elizabeth’s dress definitely goes well above her bosomy-area. With Tyler’s imutable shape, doing that requires a dart to pull the very top of the neckline back in over her figure. I haven’t decided how I feel about that yet.

Another painting of the young Elizabeth, this time a detail from The Family of Henry VIII, c. 1545, attributed to Lucas De Heere:

another depiction of young Elizabeth

Is that the same french hood with different billaments? Weird. (Image taken from: http://tudorhistory.org/ elizabeth/elizawhitehall.jpg )

The two paintings are perhaps a year apart, but they were done for very different reasons. The Family of Henry VII is, essentially, a staged political statement. It features Mary and Elizabeth flanking their father and brother. The daughters are dressed nearly identically, right down to the bizarrely pink-toned french hoods that really don’t make sense with the rest of the colors they’re wearing. They’re dressed richly, but somberly.

The personal portrait, on the other hand, was a gift from Elizabeth to her brother Edward. I suspect she had more of a say in the wardrobe on that one. The style lacks the normal three part contrast of the typical Tudor gown, which is, I think, one of the biggest reasons for its simple elegance.

I decided to do the dress in greens, because Tyler (well, technically, Brenda, but she has a Tyler body sculpt) looks good in green. Also, I happen to have the most fabulous silk brocade, and I think I’ve got enough to eek out a dolly dress….

fabric selections

For Tyler's dress, clockwise from upper left, I have a fabulous brocade for the forepart and false sleeves, a nice velvet for the turnback, the most fantastic patterned silk ever for the dress, and a nice little dupioni for the lining.

That patterned silk is actually from a very old pair of pants. I found them in a resale shop years ago – they were absolutely horrid as a size 4 pleated, tapered pant, but they made me a lovely set of sleeves! I think now they will make a lovely dress. The velvet is cotton, the brocade is, erm, a blend of sorts, and the dupioni is (duh) silk.

fabric selections for underthings.

The brocade will be her farthingale, and the light green will be a corset. The peridot color will be the binding on the corset and the the casings on the farthingale.

I hate plain white underthings, especially for period costumes. It’s boring enough to sew your 49,264,003rd corset – at least it should have color, ja? I made myself a corset and farthingale in this combination years ago. It was pretty. :) The light green is a silk/linen blend, while the brocade and the tissue satin are silks.

For Miss Piggy, I really want to do Mary Tudor. (Mostly because I have visions of her playing off Kermit as Phillip II, and they entertain me greatly. Teehee….  Tell me you can’t see it to now…. Eh? Eehhhh?) So, the problem there is that Mary was a little dour, and Piggy is very cute. Her cuteness demands a few concessions on the color spectrum….

fabric choices for piggy's underthings

The fabrics for Piggy's underthings: the brocade will be her farthingale, the pink will be her corset and the casings on the farthingale, and the pewter will be the binding on the corset.

All three are silks, because Miss P deserves the best.

fabric selections for the dress

The dress itself will be in the velvet (right), with the sleeve turn-backs in the silk (top) and the forepart and undersleeves in this fabulous metallic brocade.

The velvet is cotton, and I might just dip it towards oxblood a little. Again, I haven’t decided yet. The brocade is a cotton/metallic blend. This is actually the wrong side of the brocade, which is much more subtle than the right side.

front and back of brocade

See what I mean? Sometimes, the front of a brocade is just harsher than you want.

This are the images I think of when I think of Mary Tudor:

portrait of Mary Tudor

Queen Mary, date unknown, Society of Antiquaries (Image taken from: http://www.tudorhistory.org/ mary/maryred.jpg )

another portrait of Mary Tudor

Mary in 1554 by Mor. (Image taken from: http://www.tudorhistory.org/ mary/queenmary2.jpg )

I tend to associate her with complex, sometimes geometrical patterns and a sort of boldness of style that maybe doesn’t always pull together. She often looks irked about it. (As the stouter, fashion-challenged older sister of a a girl who tends towards the willowy let’s-be-ballerinas type, I’ve always sort of sympathized….) Here is the “cutest” picture I can find of her:

portrait of Mary and Phillip

Mary and her husband Philip of Spain. Oil on canvas, English School, 17th century (Image taken from: http://tudorhistory.org/ groups/philipmary.jpg)

Oh, trick picture, done after the fact… It’s really hard to find a cute picture of Mary done during her lifetime. Unfortunate, really….

I’ve got two little corsets cut out and partially completed. (I have photos, too, but I’m not done with all the construction yet.) It took me weeks of wrestling with my conscience, but I finally decided that the dolls don’t technically need boned corsets if I make them with buckram interlinings, which might technically be more appropriate for this period anyway. Tyler’s will have a busk, because of the amount of negative space between her and her corset.

It will be the cuteness.  :)

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