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.
This is an excerpt from a research paper I did a while back. The paper itself is 40 pages and covers 4 centuries of support skirts and corsetry. I figure it’s more digestible in smaller chunks. Please note: my regularly scheduled writing style has been suspended in favor of something more palatable to the hardcore academia types. Special thanks go to Stephanie for her proof-reading skills.
And now for Everything I Know About 16th Century Support Skirts…
I noticed a while back that most of the bodices in Alcega’s
book and several other period tailor’s books show a slight backwards S curve
at the front edge. That seemed like it would accommodate the bust and belly
a little, and I was feeling …