The Spanish Farthingale is a stiffened underskirt that gives Tudor and early Elizabethan skirts their characteristic conical shape. You can make a very passable one with a full length gored skirt pattern (either a commercial A-line skirt pattern, or one you draft yourself), a lot of ribbon or bias tape, and boning.
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I’m totally obsessed with the Alcega farthingale. I mean, I’m always a little obsessed with it, because it’s sort of the great rock candy mountain for costumers, right? But I’ve been working on an eBook about drafting gored skirts for period costumes, and I thought I’d throw in a little bit of a redraft for the Alcega farthingale. Oh, silly me… I went back through some of my old notes (mostly questions, like “Why aren’t the gores at the same angle?!”), and I’m struck by how much there is to know about the darn thing. So I’ve been in obsessive research mode since yesterday evening, and I’ve learned some new things….
I wrote this a little while back. It’s simply a chart of hoop sizes to mimic the shape and angle of the Alcega farthingale. The chart is indexed by waist size and waist to ground measurement. The full story of all the maths used to create this chart is available here.
The surviving pattern published in Juan de Alcega’s ‘Libro de Geometria, Practica y Traca’(1589) represents almost everything we know about the farthingale. Most articles on recreating the Alcega farthingale focus on faithfully reproducing the pattern based on fabric widths. Honestly, though, calling this a “pattern” is a bit of an overstatement: the book was more intended as a series of cutting diagrams to help tailors avoid waste. The problem is, Alcega included some rather sharp commentary on on what he considered the proper size for the bottom hoop of the farthingale, but no real information on the size of the intended wearer. Complicating things further, modern bodies aren’t build quite like the popular model of the 16th century. So what’s a costumer to do? How about some trigonometry!
Trust me, this won’t hurt.
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….
I’ve been playing a lot with the Pfalzgrafin corset lately. One of the things I said in the original post was that this type of corset is rather uncomfortably on bodies that aren’t relatively straight, and is a total failure on more extreme hourglass shapes. But I wanted to make it work on Tyler, so I started thinking about two basic assumptions we make about corsetry: that the corset supports the bust, and that the corset has negative ease which allows it to reshape the body and make it smaller. What happens with the Pfalzgrafin block if we throw those assumptions out the window?
I’ve spent the last two days crawling through the inner workings of the site, trying to make it work better…. Half this post will read as “blah blah blah techno-blither blahdedattadee.” and I won’t be sad if you skip it. It’s mostly here to document some technical issues and how I resolved them, in case anyone is asking Google similar questions. ;)
Vicksie is a 16″ cloth doll who has been designed to work with the dolly historical patterns I’ve been working on. Since she doesn’t have legs, she’s pretty easy to sew up. Also, if you fill her with sand, she makes a dandy door-stop!
I was scouring the web, looking for information on period boots, and I stumbled across Francis Classe’s excellent page. This is a picture that I have never seen anywhere else before. It’s charming, but it’s quite odd. I wish I had far more information on it, but Google doesn’t seem to know anything about it!
Sewing and hemming gored skirts is a skill needed for almost all periods of western fashion since the late 1400s. This demo shows how to make a gored skirt with a simple side-seam pocket, mounted on a waistband. We’re going to gather the fullness of this skirt to the back, making it very suitable as an underskirt to be worn over a support skirt (hoops or farthingale).