Saturday, October 27, 2012

Looking at lacings

I've been thinking about lacings quite a bit lately.  My first attempt at ladder lacing a bodice was my IRCC II gold dress and I looked around a bunch at dress diaries to see what other costumers did.  I adapted several ideas and ended up doing a lacing strip made from grommet tape.  It sits beautifully and the edges of the bodice are nice and crisp with no pulling since the lacing is fully supported by bones underneath and all the stress on the tape which is additionally stitched to the lining and interlinings.

It just seems a great deal of engineering to go to and to be counter-intuitive.  It also didn't seem particularly likely to be an historical solution.

Portraits don't show much, however, and the extant Italian gowns are not of this style.  And then I found this gorgeous close-up picture of the lacing on Fede Galizia's Judith.   It was taken at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota Florida by Cindy Lyon (sea95lion)/ Signora Ciana Leonardi di Firenze.  You can find it and several other amazing detail shots of this painting in her Flikr stream .  She was gracious enough to let me link to it (see the caption of the picture for the link.)  Take a look at that, huh?  Eyelets sitting behind heavy embroidery.  Distortion on the edge as they pull, and a slight intertwining of that looks to be a doubled lace.  How COOL is that?

Ian's shoelace site has a diagram of ladder lacing for shoelaces that creates crossed/intertwined center cords very like what I think I'm seeing here.  It puts the thick ridge on the outside, but it can be reversed and put on the inside.  There's also a simple bar lacing that gives the same look without the interlace.  I figured I'd put eyelets in my new brown dress and try both.  What I'm hoping will happen is the extra side ridges for the ladder lace will create a more stable and secure lacing with less pulling, but I'll have to experiment to see.

Cheesy trim + cheap fabric is shaping up to be a dress I adore

I still need to finish tacking the cartridge pleats for about half of the back of the skirt and do the lacing, but I'm closing in on finishing this sottana.  You'll notice I didn't end up using the bobbin lace.  I got it dyed a really fabulous teal blue.  I also dyed a yard of linen to match so I had some other fabric to make trim with.  It will have to wait for another project.  While I was waiting for the dye I was digging for something else and found 30 or so yards of this blue and gold metallic trim that I picked up for 10 cents a yard.  I got it for the price, obviously.  I thought it was a bit tacky-- which from me is saying something. 

I was worried that this brown dress would be a whole lot of plain.  I only had about 3 yards of bobbin lace in that pattern, which would have trimmed the bodice, but the skirt would be plain.  Wheels in my head started rolling and the fact that this is an underdress to be worn under a jacket where the bodice will be mostly obscured was a big factor in deciding to give the tacky trim a go.

As my motto is more is better and I had plenty of the trim, I just kept adding more.  It really worked.  One row was rather eh, but three looks good.  I still have about 16 yards of trim, so the plan is to be just as generous when I get to making the sleeves. I'm sure I'll have leftover and no ideas for what to do with it.  I am rather astonished at how much I like this dress.  The dark brown of the twill tones down the metallic of the trim and makes it look more opulent than tacky. The trim makes a plain brown cotton bottomweight I bought for $1.50 a yard look like something planned rather than a happy accident.  Putting it up against the silk, I think the whole outfit is going to look great.  Once again I'm breaking every rule with $40 a yard silk paired with clearance table materials.  Not sure how it happened that this seems to be working, but I'm doing a serious happy dance.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is this too weird of an idea?

I was going to wait and do trim for the brown later, but I had a brainstorm.  I have a bit of this vintage bobbin lace.  What would happen if I dyed it either blue or copper and layered it with ribbons over a base of either a contrasting or coordinating color?  Would it look like embroidery?

I'm really, really tempted to try.  Especially since I don't see myself actually spending the time to do real embroidered trim for this sottana.   Am I completely up in the night?  Too theatrical?  Just plain wrong?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I guess I should make this first-- blue silk jacket

I'm much more excited about projects for 12th Night and the Masked Ball, but I've got Collegium and Toys for Tots in the next couple of weeks, so I suppose I should pay attention to those.  I had planned to do the pink with green sleeves for Toys and finish my blue and gold loose gown and wear it with my blackwork coif for Collegium.  Neither project seems to have gone anywhere, however.  I've got a loose gown cut out of purple and yellow, and I keep staring at the never-ending-100-button-loose-gown.  I misplaced one of the pieces to the back yoke and am rethinking the entire back piece.  Not to mention not wanting to rush the trim.  I just found the yoke piece yesterday, but I'm just not inspired by it right now.  I was convinced I wanted to wear my blackwork coif, but I think I'm over the thought of that.  Especially since I'm teaching 3 very Italian classes.

Sooooo.  Back to a project I was supposed to get done for IRCC II.  A jacket like the one in Lady and the Squirrel.  I bought this blue silk just before the start of IRCC II and it was supposed to be one of the first projects.  Yeah.  I get weird ideas about what I'm actually capable of getting done some times.  Anyway. I have two yards of this gorgeous thick blue and bronze silk.  Only issue is I need a sottana for underneath since I'm not wearing the big trained gold dress to teach and wrangle kids in.  The silk isn't the easiest thing to match.  I'm not really one to wear black, so I'm toying with the idea of this chocolate brown cotton bottomweight.  Seems sort of sacrilege to pair the silk with that rather than a silk or linen, but I have it in stash and I'm trying to not buy anything new right now.  Kind of blah, but the jacket is a casual piece worn with the camicia and what might be an apron. Not much of the under dress shows anyway.  At least that is what I keep trying to tell myself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Muse for a Masked Ball? Maybe

I'm seriously considering making this.  It is a costume sketch for a Muse by Bernardo Buontalenti from the spectacle that accompanied a comic play called "La Pellagrina performed at Ferdinando de Medici and Christine of Lorraine's wedding in 1589.

Complex set pieces with mythological subjects are accompanied by madrigals.  The video below is the first of 8 from a modern production if you feel like checking it out.  The music is gorgeous.

The dress is a heck of a lot of fun.  Not to mention the fact that it is orange (my favorite color.)  There's a Masked Ball up in the middle part of our Kingdom in January and I'm really tempted to go.  I don't dance much, but an excuse to make something silly is awfully tempting.  And there are tassels at the hem.  How can I resist tassels?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pink and sapphire zibellino

Not bad for a first try if I do say so myself.  I want to figure out how to give it a better polish and work with the ears a bit more so it isn't quite so "mouse looking" (as my 8 year old tells me.) On the whole, though, I'm pretty happy with it.

I still want to try doing some pewter casting of bits for the girdle and the drop to attach it, but I settled for a purchased finding for now since the month disappeared into carving and I just plain ran out of time.

The muzzle is made from bronze colored foil tape, and I wrapped some blue crystals in the tape to give it the look of actually being set.  I am really thrilled with the effect.  May have to do it to more beads for clothing decoration in the future.
I'm sorta kinda toying with the idea of seeing if I can get some jet and try carving that.  There are zibellinos in inventories made from that.  Most notable is an ermine with a jet head in Mary Queen of Scott's belongings.  Jet is apparently very soft to carve, but can be difficult to take detail since it can break.  It'd be an entirely different experience.  The black would certainly be a contrast to the soft pink of the rose quartz.  Also, and this is sort of rather nifty, jet is available to find in Utah.  It is not the highest quality of jet, but I'm not the greatest carver, so who knows if I'll notice.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Collecting squirrels

Have I mentioned before that I have a fascination with portraits with squirrels in them?  I've seen a few mentions that squirrels were popular pets in the 16th century and I've started digging for more information on that.  In the meantime, I just started a folder and have been shoving every squirrel portrait I find into it.  I think I'm up to about 8 so far.

I just found this one this morning.  Called alternately Double Portrait or Family Portrait, it is Lorenzo Lotto.  Dated 1523-24, it is currently in Russia in the Hermitage Museum. It is a little hard to see, but he is pointing to a squirrel at the center of the portrait. 
While squirrels were usually in portraits as either pets or as symbols of obedience and personal restraint, The Continum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art by Hope Werness, has this one as symbolizing infidelity.  As the dog is for faithfulness and the squirrel is the dark center of the portrait where the couple is basically miles apart, it is certainly an intriguing painting.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ericka's new dress

 I've been working on this dress for a friend to wear to a steampunk ball.  Just a couple of days squeezed between other projects, with minimal measurements, and no time to make the foundation layers, but since she had nothing whatsoever to wear and wouldn't have been able to go at all without it, it isn't the worst thing I ever made.  My biggest issue is the gap up front, but I'm hoping once the bones shape to her a bit and things move around, and maybe once she gets some real bodice laces in there it will close.  If not, I made a stomacher/placard of the stripe she can wear if she opens up the rest of the lacing a bit.  Wish I had time for more adjustments-- and to make a bustle petticoat.

The bodice is linen.  Actually, it is the bodice from my red camping dress remade.  I had put "I'm in a hurry" eyelets in the side lacing and they ripped out immediately.  I had also put minimal boning in it and it did this weird jutting out thing in the front due to fit problems.  Ericka was originally just going to borrow my red velvet from IRCC I and wear that as a Queen of Hearts outfit, but she was uncomfortable with the sleeves.  I needed to rehem it as well.  Since I hate to mend, I decided to just make something new so she'd get a dress at the end and I wouldn't have to put my red velvet back together once the ball was over.  Since the "Happy Meal Dress" was bugging me anyway, I pulled it to pieces and this thing just sorta grew.  I put a stripy panel in the side where I'd trimmed out the mess made by the eyelets and then closed it up, cut the center front and moved the central bone and put bones on either side of the new opening.  That sounds an awful lot like mending: extreme edition.  Ah well, I never claimed to make any sense.

The skirt is a hemp blend I've had kicking around for ages. I had a bolt of the striped cotton I'd purchased at Halloween from Walmart a few years back.  I followed Historic Sewing's 1870 Bustle skirt tutorial on YouTube.  Super simple, and I want to try doing another one soon.  My husband and I were supposed to go to this dance as well, but plans changed a few days ago.  Ah well, I didn't have the perfect dress anyway.  Since I keep wanting to do Steampunk things, I think I need to assemble the underpinnings and have them on hand so there isn't a scramble.  I'm thinking maybe I'll make them in February.  I've got Laughing Moon's Dore Corset pattern as well as the plus size add on (I've had it for 3 years or so and it is still uncut. . .)  I figure I should do that and probably Truly Victorian's Petticoat with Wire Bustle.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Persona questions

I've been plugging along on the rose quartz zibellino as well as doing the standard October activities for costumers in the US: Halloween costumes. I'm making my husband and myself Steampunk(ish) outfits as well as doing a corset and bustle skirt for a friend, and working on things for my kids.  The Steampunk stuff has to be done for this weekend to attend a masquerade ball.  I'll get some pictures posted once they're done.  My friend Davey (who has done my IRCC wrap up pictures the last 2 years) is attending, so hopefully he'll get some nice ones.

In the meantime, I've been trying to squeeze in some non-sewing projects to give my brain something to do.  Since I recently changed my name and persona to Italian, I think this is the perfect time to start some fun research (not that I ever need an excuse to research.)  To help give my delvings some structure, I joined the Midland's Persona Challenge (no I do not live in the Midlands, but they were willing to take out of area visitors.)  They plan to post a series of questions on a topic every 2 weeks.  The first topic and questions were posted yesterday:

Midlands Personna Project- Question Set 1: Topic Current Local
1 What country do you live in? What part of the country?
2 Are there any maps from your area (from your time)
3 What is your capital?
3b. How far is it to the capital city? (in units of measure your persona would have used?)
4 Have you ever been there?
5 How did you get here?
6 What is the climate like?
7 What is the terrain like?
8 Who are the people who live in this place?
9 Who are the people who travel to or through here?
10 What is the largest road and where does it go?
11 The nearest church or cathedral?
12 Nearest waterway? Is it navigable and how?
I'm still trying to settle on whether I've been in Bologna and moved to Venice or am still in Bologna, so I'm going to need a few more days to think on things before I start writing.  Should be fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A&S 50 class challenge update

Gentleman of the Trivulzio Family
I just realized I hadn't updated my class list for the A&S 50/50 challenge.  Last update was back in January.  I've taught quite a few since then and have made some progress towards my personal challenge of finishing the requirements to achieve a Fellowship in the University of Artemisia.  I'm also scheduled to teach at Kingdom Collegium in November with 4 more classes.

Here's the run down.

1.An introduction to making felted hats
2&3. Beginning naalbinding
4.Quilting IS period: an introduction to trapunto
5. 16th century Italian accessories (roundtable class, part of panel)
6. Gryphons and Giants and Dragons: Introduction to Geomythology
7. Bookplates, Bookcurses and Decorative bookbindin
 8. Pretties for keeping the plagues away: Apotropaic jewelry  
9. Perfectly Period Applique
10. Research techniques for working with period portraiture
 11. Poetry and Pageantry: The Renaissance Imprese
  12. Guzzle, Guzzle, Guzzle: an introduction to Medieval soft drinks

Those are the ones that have  already been taught.  I have the class notes as Google documents linked to a few of them and plan to clean them up and expand them to be real stand alone classes and post them on the blog.  I've been talking to a friend about helping me do a bit of changing and adding around here so I can have a tab to post class notes and tutorials in a spot that is easily found.  Hoping to have that done before Christmas. (I'd say earlier, but we're both costumers so Halloween time is crazy busy.)

The 4 classes I'm scheduled for at Kingdom Collegium next month will bring me up to 16, so I'll at least be past the quarter mark on the 50.  I'm excited by that. They should also finish my Fellowship requirements, but I haven't gotten any confirmation on that yet.

                   13. 16th century sumptuary law: comparing England, Italy, and the Low Countries
                   14. 16th century Italian female poets
                   15. Pomander balls using a recipe from Nostradamus
                   16. 16th century Italian proto-feminist writings

As I am the retiring bard at Toys for Tots the following weekend in November, I'm hoping to teach a class on storytelling and start in on my requirements for The College of Performing Arts as well as creep a bit closer to the halfway mark. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A woman is more than her dress

I've been working on the handout for the class I'm teaching on 16th century female poets at Kingdom Collegium in November.  One of the things I wanted to do was put some faces to voices, so to speak, and match up some portraits of women with their poems.  I've seen the Veronica Franco portraits and Tulia Aragona before, but I'd never connected Isotta Brembate with her poetry before.  This portrait is actually on my "must make this dress!" list.

Brembate was rather well known for writing poetry in Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian.  Unfortunately, very few of her poems survive.

One non-poem survival that I was really excited to see is her imprese.  It was published in 1565 in Le Imprese Illustri by Girolamo Ruscelli.  The text (in Spanish) translates to "I will guard them better."  The image is of a dozing dragon in front of the Garden of Hesperides from which Hercules stole the golden apples.  The entirety of Ruscelli is available online.  Some rather interesting imprese.  What I found most interesting was that the imprese of a non-royal woman was published in her lifetime.  Granted, she was interesting in her own right as well as being part of a powerful family that was involved in a giant family feud with intrigue and multiple murder going on at about this time (the family troubles came to a head in 1563.)  Regardless of the reason, I'm excited to see it.

It is sad that her poetry didn't survive as well.  There is a volume of poems dedicated to her with poems by 31 OTHER poets, but only 3 sonnets and one longer piece survive.  Of the 3 sonnets, two are pretty specific to particulat historic persons. This is the other one.
                                      Sublime thought always
                                    unburdens my heart of other thought
                                    like the brilliant sun lightens dark clouds
                                    shows me the true path to heaven.

                                    This alone rules my breast
                                 and creates desire, forms rose and violet words,
                                 as changing as April
                                 under the majestic sun

                                    Now, if Heaven and Nature
                                  wish that the sun be within me
                                  who is powerful enough then to take it away?

                                     However much cruel Fortune might oppose this
                                  she can never challenge 
                                  the mindful care of heaven.

Translation and most of the information is from Irma B. Jaffe's book Shining Eyes, Cruel Fortune: The lives and loves of Renaissance female poets.  I can't recommend it enough.  Besides being a scholarly work that is easy to read, it includes art of a variety of types to give more insight into the poets. On top of which, it comes with a cd of the poems being read aloud in both English and the original Italian.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with the month I'm supposed to be devoting to pink-- other than something to distract me from carving.  Ummmm.  Okay.  Here's something. The other portrait of Isotta has her in pink.  Moroni painted her with ribbons in  her hair and pinkish fuzzy embroidered guards on her dress as well as that fun redwork partlet/ruffle combo.  Even better, for lovers of pink, is her husband Gian Gerolamo Grumelli's portrait.  The seated portrait of Isotta is thought to have been commissioned by Grumelli after her death in order to make a matched set with the one of himself.  The backgrounds do coordinate. His is by Moroni and is usually known as "Gentleman in Pink."
In private collection of Count Antonio Moroni.Image via