Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drooling over fabric gives me crazy ideas

I was up late last night drooling over Fortuny style block printed velvets from Venice. Usually about $600, they're on sale for $119 a yard. I so terribly wish that that with the 15 yard minimum wasn't still in Wonderland for me. Never going to happen. BUT. I found this. A tutorial on stenciling your own Fortuny style velvet. I'm rather bouncy about it. Dharma has white cotton velveteen for $9-11. THAT is doable.
I could totally make that.

I'd already been thinking about doing some blockprinted fabric for my Russian and have done some research into primary sources on it. While the fabrics in the gowns I'm looking at were probably woven, painted and block printed fabrics were made and I think its a nice compromise. Hand printing or stenciling a fabric with a correct pattern seems a step up from buying whatever JoAnn's happens to have. Cennino Cennini wrote The Craftsman's Handbook or Il Libro dell' Arte in the early 14th Century. It has sections on painting banners, designing brocade patterns and block printing fabrics. Its a very fun book and gets all sorts of ideas fermenting. I have the Dover publication, but the previous link will take you to an online version.

Fiametta has been talking about doing "The Seashell Dress," otherwise known as Caliari's "Portrait of a Woman holding gloves." I have been drooling over her plans. The partlet in particular intrigues me with its three dimensional flowers and butterflies. I've been doing some research into ganutell and klosterbeiten as possible means of manufacture of them. They're both construction of artificial flowers using wire and silk threads.

There was some discussion of changing out the stomacher that stands behind the ladder laces for an embroidered one. I keep looking at those seashell tabs and seeing needlelace samplers. I'm drooling over her plans and am sorta thinking about pushing into the 1550's and making something like the Moroni portrait at the top. Maybe some ganutell flowers mixed in to the head piece and a gorgeous printed velvet. Maybe something like "Lady with heron" with an embroidered stomacher behind ladder laces. I think I could integrate the printed fabric into that one too.

Anyway, I'm considering another dress. This one with some super special flourishes in the dress rather than everything concentrated in the accessories. A very slow, rather extreme project. I plan to follow Laura Mellon's suggestions in her article "Extreme Costuming: or how do you make the "impossible" clothing you've always wanted." Lots of planning and all the fussy details. My reward, if I follow my own arbitrary rules and make it correctly is going to be a Savonorola style chair. Not sure yet if I'm buying it, commissioning it or building it myself, but that's the carrot.

How is it that I went from, "hey, I'll make a pretty dress" to planning my third major Italian ensemble?


  1. What a great idea! I know it's likely to take a while but I can hardly wait to see it!

  2. Well, I'm totally planning to rip off you ideas too and do a trapunto petticoat. That thing is just so, so very beautiful. I talked Fia into sharing her inspiration and we're going to make twinner seashell dresses. Its going to be an epic gown.

  3. Ooooo! We've got to get pictures of the two (or perhaps three or more) of us in our fancy petticoats. It would be stunning!

    If I win the hgtv dream house 2012 I'll set up a photo shoot, deal?


  4. You;re moving to Utah if you win, huh? :)

  5. Yep! I'll have a great big house in Midway, Utah.

    Providing I win, of course...