My First Noble's Costume


For years I've had a passing interest in costume. Originally this started out as simply enjoying the costume contest/masquerade at the various role playing conventions that I go to.  This pretty soon developed into a "I want to do that", and from there I started researching.

Between "Black Adder" and movies like "Shakespeare in Love" I was inspired to work towards an Elizabethan costume, preferably something noble.  I didn't really know what I was getting into, but I figured that unless it was cool, I risked losing interest and never finishing it.  Lo and behold, I'm having a great time, lots of work, but very rewarding.

Right now I'm working on said Elizabethan noble's costume.  Various web searches led to quite a few references, one in particular stood out. Lynn McMasters' pages on her costumes are stunning; her 1590's Man's Elizabethan Court Costume is particularly relevant. Firstly because the pictures are so cool, and secondly because there is just enough detail to start figuring out how the stuff is put together.  Finally a couple of very good book references sent me scurrying off to Powells :-)

Both the doublet and the cannions use patterns derived from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion, the cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620". Needless to say, mocking them up in muslin was a must.  I used a combination of an embroidered silk and plain dupion silk, using the embroidered silk for the front panel and the outer edge of the sleeves. Everywhere else uses a plain version of the same silk. The cannions were quite a bit simpler than the doublet, not least because I didn't have to fuss with the embroidered silk - removing the embroidery from everywhere you're going to sew a seam is unbelievably time consuming.

The slops were fun, a lot of time spent researching and designing a suitable embroidery pattern for the panes, and then quite a lot of time spent actually embroidering them. Assembly was pretty straight forward after all of that (I was still a bit surprised just how long they took. I did a pretty credible muslin for the slops in a long Saturday. it must have taken me almost a month to get the slops done).

The cape used a variation of the same embroidery design, I learnt all sorts of interesting things about trying to manage six feet of velvet whilst attempting to get part of it in an embroidery hoop. Oh well, you live and learn :-)

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A pretty good view of the doublet, pansied slops and cannions.


Doublet front showing the embroidery (as well as possible given the flattening effect of the flash :-( ).


Back view showing the plain silk.


Shoulder.  You can see the lacing and tabbing that adorn the shoulder (and the waist).


A huge closeup of the shoulder (a fairly large picture I'm afraid, 164K).


Three quarter view.


Close up of the slops.  No cod piece yet, I've not decided whether to do one or not, the costume period is a little late so they were less fashionable, but not quite so late as to make it completely unreasonable.


A couple of decent closeups of the embroidery design on the slops.

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Tyring to get tight looking pants made out of a non-stretch fabric is pretty tricky, but I don't think that these came out too badly.


And a side view.


Detail of the combined cloak design. This is a variation of the design that I used for the slops, I really wanted a design that didn't just trail around the edge of the cape. Having the design be a sort of "T" shape broke up the line nicely.


The three quarter cape, showing the overall shape and arrangement of the embroidery designs. When the cape is laid out like this, the straightness of the design looks pretty stark , but when it's worn it seems to flow quite nicely.


Detail of the front edge, showing part of the lining folded underneath.


For a while I was planning on buttoning the front of the doublet, but in the end I decided that this was going to be too busy.  I ended out using hooks and eyes, which are period after all.


Carefully tacked together so that I can get a better look at it.


OK, so I've finished the embroidery and decided that I can bear to cut holes in the velvet (a much harder decision than I'd anticipated).  Here's the first view of it with the red silk placed behind it :-)


A closer look at the shoulder decoration.


Yours truly.


Part way through making the slops.  Now they just need stuffing and sewing into the waistband.


Me hard at work sewing the slops.


Another one.


Stuffing them with polyfill.


My duct tape double.


Click on the images to go to larger more detailed versions.

The photos also show another useful tip that I found on the web.   Check out the Duct Tape Double site, I don't know how I'd have managed without it. Simply put, Leah Crain has put together very detailed documentation of how you can make you own tailors form - I think that in total mine probably cost me about $35 and that's only because my dummy goes part way down my thighs and so I used more Polyfill.


More later.