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Playing Dress-Up

With the help of my lovely assistant, Janey (currently seen
modeling my absolutely excellent “Henchwoman” shirt (thanks, lynn!)), this article
will fulfill a need that does not exist (because drea already wrote the article
on it, but I was having fun with my parent’s digital camera, and am now trying
to use most of the resulting pictures), which is to say, it’s all about what
goes on under all the stuff you can see.

Picture one is just janey hanging out and being casual before
the shoot. (Note: I am not drinking now, nor was I when I took the pictures.
I’m actually like this without help.) Picture two shows the basics of Elizabethan
underthings: A chemise, corset, and overskirt. This is suitable as your sum
total of underthings for lower classes (more than enough for the lowest of the
low, in fact). Underpinnings get a little more complicated for the nobility.
Picture three has the addition of a farthingale. (Yes, that’s the one I wore
last year, and the year before. And Yes, I am aware that the fabric is not period.
In fact, I can think of few fabrics that would be less period. I suppose it
would be worse if it was, say, nylon instead of cotton, but that wouldn’t holdup
nearly as well. I hate making farthignales. It’s mind numbingly dull. I hate
making tucks in a-line skirts, which is technically what making farthingales
is all about. (Or is it? Alcega says make tucks, and that’s been accepted as
canonical truth, but the wardrobe warrants in QEWU mention bents being held
down under ribbon. That’s exactly what I did in this one, not out of any inherent
sense of authenticity (I didn’t have a copy of QEWU when i made it, and I thought
the tuck thing was how it was done because that’s what I was told by people
who sounded very convinced about the whole thing), but because it’s *just*bloody*easier*.
Never underestimate the power of laziness.)

Anyway, picts 4 and 5 are petticoats. The first is a red to
peacock blue changeable silk with trim in pepto-abysmal pink satin ribbon, edged
with gold cord. (Why is that color called peacock blue, any way? I peacocks
are not predominantly blue.) The second is made from highly synthetic (but extremely
lovely, in a period kinda way) fabric from jo-ann’s…. There was apparently
an extreme trend for sari-wannabe fabrics this spring, which I thought was great
because they were great costume fabrics. Not sure I would ever wear them normally,
though. Since this petticoat fits over a bumroll, I had to make the back longer
than the front (which is par), but since the fabric had two distinct stripes
(one at the top and one at the bottom of the skirt), and I wanted it to look
nice all around, I shortened the front by taking a tuck right above the band,
which is hidden by trim. There’s more trim at the bottom of the band, and a
row of fringe. (Highly period, but not recommended if leaves are a part of your
venue. Will I ever learn?). the bumroll was put on under the petticoats. Someone
described these as ‘pretentious petticoats’. I rather like that. Nothing says
‘too rich for my own good’ like pretentious petticoats… Well, except maybe
for being an open catholic at court, which the character was.

After the underthings, the skirt then bodice of the underdress
are put on (picts 6&7), then the safeguard (that the red skirt lookin’ thang),
then the jerkin. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s hot in there. I mean, if
it’s hot *outside* the dress, of course it’s hot *inside* the dress……


  1. Trish
    Trish October 28, 2009

    OMG I ADORE your farthingale!!! Mine’s so boring and needs to be re-made anyway, I must find fun fabric and make a new one now.
    And I love the multiple petticoats. I hate seeing farthingale bones sticking out of court garb. It’s like seeing an underfed dinosaur.
    Thanks for the visual! I like seeing other people’s period underwear…and it’s so much easier than going up to them at fair and rifling around under each other’s skirts. :0

    • admin
      admin October 28, 2009

      *snort* I will never get the “underfed dinosaur” image out of my head…..

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