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Fitting in

I blame everyone who is panicking over Pennsic for my panic attack this morning.

I have nothing that isn't under control, but I keep getting madly anxious every time I read my f'list, dammit. So you all need to stop panicking - Pennsic will happen, and you will all be fine.

Mind you, I have tons of outfits. *smirky smirk* You may smack me now.

I do have to sew 16 pairs of garters up - the painting and ironing is done, and -blech - I need to do the machine stuff. I'm also halfway (or so) through trimming one of Bob's doublets - I'll be taking pictures of the finished product and posting it in the "Dozen Doublets" article as a real-life example of what you can do with basic ribbon. I will also be finding out how many yards of ribbon this design will take. I'm up to ten so far, but I haven't even started on the peplum tabs.

That's the thing about most Elizabethan (and late period in general) outfits - it's not the basic construction that takes forever (no, not even with hand sewing), it's the finish details that seem to take forever. It's also the part you can't skimp on; this is why Gardiner's company sticks to the middle classes when it comes to persona - while the outfits are still decorated (more so than most people think), they're just not set up to the outrageous level of the really aristocratic clothing. The reasons for this are the well-known one - it's better to do a middle class outfit well than an upper class one poorly, and my personal one - most people's attempts at really upper-class clothing suck. To be brutally honest, I've seen less than 10 really high-end reproduction outfits that were brilliantly pulled off in all the time I've been in the SCA.

No, I'm not naming names. Someone will get hurt. Pretend it's yours, and be happy.

I've seen some (lots of!) amazing middle and upper-middle stuff, but very little at the really top-end level.

(We're not even talking movies, though they're no better.)

To look truly rich, an upper-end Elizabethan outfit not only has to be made of the real things, but it has to have the dense level of decoration so emblematic of that age. A bunch of base metal and glass stones doesn't make an outfit look rich, it makes an outfit look cheap and shiny. Lace everywhere doesn't work if you don't get the right stuff. Plastic pearls are...plastic-looking (and I say this as someone who has happily used them myself). Many glass pearls aren't much better (though fake pearls are period - you just have to pick the good ones). Fake gold thread and lace and trim looks fake - gold looks completely different from that cheap filigree stuff people use on costumes.

Fit matters just as much - how many pictures of costumes have you looked at that made you uncomfortable just looking at them? Yes, the 16th century outfits were fitted, structured, and framed within an inch of their lives, but they fit - the bodice was neither too low nor too high, the shoulders stayed on, the skirts moved properly, the bodies didn't shift funny, and there was no gappage. The biggest problem with most costumes is that something sits badly, so the whole thing looks like it was made for someone else. And let's not even start on undergarments and the proper making and fitting thereof, except to say that the shinier and more outrageous the costume, the less the likelihood of the undergarments being correct. Renfaire sofa dress, ahoy.

Wrinkles are different - a two-dimensional thing (fabric) on the three-dimensional thing (a body) will wrinkle as the 3-D thing moves about. Anyone who wants to argue with me on this one needs to study the 1541 portrait of Christopher Fugger by Christopher Amberger,the portrait of Ludovico Capponi (Bronzino 1551), and my personal favourite, a miniature of William Hawtree (from the 1570s) at length. Wrinkles happen, even on a perfectly fitted outfit. The stylized nature of English portraiture doesn't give us the real story, so we have to look at contemporary Dutch and Italian artists to see what the aristocracy really looked like in their clothes - a wrinkle here, an open collar there, a delicate droop - these are all things that happen. A dress with shoulders that sit three inches higher than your body is just silly.

All of this doesn't even touch on the general public's idea of what aristocratic Elizabethan clothing entails.

It is so hard to make a really kickin' aristocratic outfit - hard enough that I have never tried. The closest I've ever come is the applique doublet (scroll down to the bottom of the page) that I made for Bob - and even that one isn't that high-end. Truth is, I don't think I could do an aristo outfit justice - sure, I've made some pretty flashy SCA stuff (Havordh and Mary-Grace's coronation outfits, Bob and my green Elizabethans), but even those, though reasonably period in shape and execution, if not in materials, don't have the "oomph" of the real thing.

And I'm not sure I'd even want to try - I'd rather have a simple (but shiny - I loves me my silk) respectable Londoner's outfit than a fancy outfit that badly misses the mark. Maybe someday I'll take the time to really bead and embroider a true aristocratic Elizabethan gown, and cast the settings for the buttons and necklace links, construct the lace and embroider/couch motifs on the fabric, but not now. I'm still happy in my middle class splendour.

Though I'm still toying with taking apart the embroidered jacket and sewing spangles all over it - it needs to be taken in a little anyway. Or I could just make a new one.

Or both. Hey, the middle classes liked shiny things, too - and spangles are cheap.

...ish.

(portrait links are to the amazing Tudor Portraits site.)

Comments

( 58 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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victoriapringle
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Ok, no more reading your posts until after Pennsic! I need to be packing not looking at pictures and planning out more projects. I can't believe we leave for Pennsic in less than 48 hours, see you there.
attack_laurel
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
BTW, do you know anything about Atlantia's plans for Opening ceremonies processional on Sunday? I've been trying to contact people for info (we volunteered to do a pike block for their Majs), but no luck so far.

email me at elsworthyAtnetzeroDOTcom if you know anything. Thanks!
(no subject) - victoriapringle - Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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spikywheel
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
That's what has really kept me from doing a Saxon Princess.

When I do it I want to do it RIGHT. And I just dont' have the time for that now.

But I really need to make a new Haus Frau dress...
maricelt
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Please pass the brain bleach. I looked at the "general public's idea" link. ::shudder::
peteyfrogboy
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
Why not use acetone instead and dissolve the dress? :)
(no subject) - maricelt - Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
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chargirlgenius
Jul. 23rd, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
When I made my first v-neck gown, I had it cut and sewn together within a few hours. I put it on, to tweak the fit before I started the finishing. Jeff saw me, and said "Hey, it's almost done!"

I laughed, and laughed, and laughed...
gwacie
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
This is why I'm so much better at -starting- projects than finishing them ;) That first bit where you're putting big pieces together is so satisfying! the endless hours of finishing... not so much ;) Ah, the last 5% is killer!

And I'm so glad the 15th century was more sensible than the Elizabethans on the amount of surface decoration ;) Ah, elegant lines, fine fabrics and fur trim...
(no subject) - peteyfrogboy - Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
pirategirleee
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
DOH! Sorry

*stands in corner*
ladygriele
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
I told myself this year I will not rush to sew anything for Pennsic. I have plenty of stuff even if it is not what I want it to be yet. I would rather have the stuff look really good and be right then to have it right now for Pennsic. I just don't need the stress right now.

I look forward to seeing you finished doublet.
kass_rants
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Every single time I've gotten "above myself" with regards to historic dress, I find that the result looks ghastly. The right materials are so important, and cheap fakes just won't do.
attack_laurel
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
So true - I look at things, I get grand ideas... and then I realize nope, not happening. My wallet is a lot healthier for it, I think. :)
not_justagirl
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
*snerk* I nearly snorted my coffee when you mentioned wrinkles... my LJ got hijacked after my statement of having to iron before an event... based on whether or not wrinkles were period... I'm okay with creases from wearing clothes or having had packed them... but wrinkles from being too lazy to iron are unacceptable... besides... *grins* I'm Norse, we had the technology!

I'd much rather have a few well made, fitted (my costuming goddess is 14th C... my Norse stuff looks distinctly un-sack-like), properly constructed, outfits than a whole pile of cheap stuff... I'm not getting rid of my sweatshirt material stuff yet... but I'm certainly not making anymore!

*sniffle sob* won't be at Pennsic... have a faboo time!!!
thatpotteryguy
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
Not panicking. Cursing and ranting, yes, but not panicking. Other than the issues with Third-World Utility companies, everything is pretty much under control.

OTOH, my in-laws are coming TOMORROW for a two-week visit (including watching Teh Boy while Mommy and Daddy are at Pennsic), and there's a whole house to be cleaned. While packing for Pennsic and doing the two-kiln shuffle.

Maybe I *should* start panicking.

_medb_
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
That's why I love Irish- all the extant garments are very simple in their details (okay, sewing the 23 foot circumference of skirt for a Shinrone wasn't fun, but at least it was all running stitch). ;>
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(no subject) - _medb_ - Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
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sarahbellem
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
I agree. With everything. The very reason you stated for not doing a REAL royal-type of 16th c. gown is the reason I stick to upper-middle myself. For all of the same reasons (better to do a middle class outfit well than to eff up an upper class outfit trying to make do with trims from Joann's).

That said, I'm going to say to hell with it and go for a true "make QEI want to box my ears" gown for 12th Night. I'm just relieved that this happens to coincide with my yearly trip down to the L.A. fabric district so there's some hope I might come across the right trims for maybe only one arm and half a leg. Wish me luck!
attack_laurel
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
oooooooooh.... luck, luck luck! 8)
(no subject) - sarahbellem - Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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akgnome
Jul. 23rd, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
any hints on where to get decent lookin fake pearls? i will be needing to re-pearl my black italian 16th c soon, and since it has to come all apart to be refit (lost weight, doesn't fit anymore) i might as well re-pearl the damned thing the right way....

no panic here. fnished shopping last night, organizing stuff today...if what i want to sew gets done, great, if not, oh well. i no longer panic for pennsic....
mjcan
Jul. 23rd, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
check fabric dragon at pennsic, she has real pearls for a great price
(no subject) - acanthusleaf - Jul. 23rd, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Jul. 24th, 2008 10:07 am (UTC) - Expand
trystbat
Jul. 23rd, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
Real pearls are pretty affordable in Hawaii. I mean, you have to go to Hawaii for them, but aw shucks, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make ;-)
mjcan
Jul. 23rd, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
my dear friend i have never met, please do not panic. since december i have been beating cancer, and as of tomorrow i will will have finished treatment. breathe deep. say "it is not cancer" and if it is it onlymenas you have to reschedule and prioritise your life for a while. there is not reason to pannic. ask yourself "and what if it does not happer..." death is never an option, people scream, may even get hot...but all will be fine tomorrow. the sun will come up nd the flowers will smell beautiful and the world will start anew.

i am leaving for pennsic when i get my act together, not a minute sooner. when it is time it will be good. i will see you there, i am camping with olwyn at hoard camp.

be safe, and at peace

raventhourne
Jul. 23rd, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
I was told this morning "Please do not panic. Please walk calmly towards Pennsic"

I'm only doing the freak out about minor things that I know I can get done (a few amour repairs) and getting things packed for airline travel (which is a pain in the ass right now).

Course the only thing I really wanted to finish for myself was a new light weight linen underdress to wear with my full russian for your party.
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