I have this week finished my last costumes and accessories ,I am nolonger able to sew ,so while I will a add more of the cheats guides and the occasional new costuming research post and I still hope to answer any queries on the “cheats costuming guides “as quickly as possible.
After almost a decade of costume work I thought would add one final short post that covers my all time favourite costumes ,most have a cheats guide post on my blog elsewhere how to make them There are no dresses shown here that could not be made by absolutely anyone however inexperienced and they do not need anything other than a needle, cotton ,scissors ,a modern clubbing or evening boned bodice /corset top and some fabric .The only other essential is time and patience .
I am hard pressed to think of one complete favourite but from each era theres a gown I really loved ,from the Elizabethan ,late Renaissance its this gown as it was extremely comfortable and also very adaptable.It was made from faux silk damask which was washable and rarely creased .I made it using the cheats guide Tudor gown method but designed both front and back to be wearable as the front of the dress and also made the modesty panel under the lacing wide enough and long enough to be used as a stomacher under the lacing
The gown shown front laced over a under panel with wrist and neck ruffs,wide hoop bum roll and soft boned corset
The gown shown Venetian style Front laced over just a chemise and narrow hoop.
Below is the gowns first incarnation ,I originally had tie on sleeves ,something I can heartily recommend against,they are incredibly difficult to tie on without help ,they are incredibly hard to get the chemise to pouf out from without having a very full chemise sleeve and they are a pain in the neck to keep on,I also didnt like the gown back lacing.
The front lacing version was easy to get into without help ,its probably the only renaissance dress I was able to get into unaided
It uses 4 metres of red and gold faux silk damask ,but you could also use cotton damask .It has a wit and wisdom bodice which I used as a base for the dress bodice and recovered it using the procedure in my cheats Tudor gown guide.The skirt is just a long oblong of fabric stitched along one edge with a gap at the back then pleated and stitched onto the bodice ,the sleeves are also just oblongs of fabric stitched with little gaps left ,later I made the sleeves narrower at the cuff and added a lot of extra edging trims before stitching them onto the gown with puffs of white fabric to fake chemise stitched under them.
This dress doesnt really need any accessories such as a head dress and the gown will look ok without a hoop (as seen above) though it looks better with one .
Its also possible to make the gown into a Tudor gown very quickly by just sewing on sleeves and cutting the front of the skirt open so a petticoat can be worn under it
You can make a matching pair of very Elizabethan looking gloves by buying a pair of modern fake suede or suede gloves,vintage gloves give the best shape but very cheap modern gloves also work perfectly well .The glove can be quickly made into authentic looking renaissances ones by adding a panel of embroidered trim or rich looking fabric and trimming that with gold or pearl trim.
Making these gloves was one of my favourite costuming tasks ,as they were an essential for outside work but were a nice detail added to costumes and very quick to make
Or you could just add a fur panel ,the fur below is ermine but rabbit or faux fur would also work
Tudor gown favourite
By far my favourite Tudor gown was this red flocked taffeta gown and matching hood
The flocked taffeta fabric is very hard on the fingers to stitch ,but is easy to use as it doesnt fray and very easy to wear as it doesn’t crease and is also fully washable .I used the same recovered bodice method as for the Tudor and Elizabethan gown guide
The petticoat is made from Gold faux silk damask ,the hood using my cereal box method is covered in the same red flocked taffeta trimmed with a pearl necklace from primark
All my own costume French and other hoods were made using that method .The black velvet hood is the easiest to find fabric for and to make as black velvet skirts etc are usually easy to buy in charity shops and usually lined in black lining fabric that can be used for the back veil while pearl necklaces can be bought in many dress or accessory shops
My favourite french hood is probably the one below made with red and gold faux silk damask and trimmed with gold and seed pearls.
My favourite overall Tudor head dress to wear has to be the English intermediate or transitional hood as its easy to make easy to wear and easy to put on
My favourite Victorian gown style is probably the bustle gown ,though its the most complicated to wear and make .
This blue gown did admittedly take me several weeks and the back ruching took a great deal of reworking to get correct ,yet bustle dresses are basically just a straight skirt which can be made from a oblong of fabric(Using the cheats under layers guides ) with a plain boned bodice dress over it ,(using the dress guides ) .The skirt of which is stitched flat at the front but gathered at the back and which is either very long and gathered up to create the typical folds at the front then the excess gathered and draped to create a bustle .
has a very long back or a separate long piece of fabric for the bustle or train .
You can create a more impressive bustle by adding more pieces of contrasting fabric and stitching on frills.
But the gown construction is still basically the longer than normal overdress and a skirt
The red gown above and below is an old favourite,I was wearing it when I was first asked to give a lecture and also for my first work in Haworth.
,but it was also the only gown I probably wore more for pleasure than work as I made it to wear for some events we attended.
My overall favourite Hoop gown and the easiest to make is the Green gown which was for a long time my work gown
I made the same tiered style a few other times but the green one having curved edges cut with pinking shears rather than hemmed took much less time and was much easier
My favourite to wear is easily the gothic era style gowns which are a covered short front lacing bodice with a panel of fabric below the lacing and a fur collar over it,while the tall Henin head dresses are the hardest headdresses I have ever made so I will try to add a cheats guide post on making them.
Lastly my favourite 18thc gown and again by far the easiest to recreate ,,though the three foot tall hair is less simple .The dress is basicaly a Tudor gown and bodice with a frill added to the waist and a front panel added to lengthen the bodices front ,worn over a petticoat.The main difference is that the skirt is partly pleated edge to edge at the waist ,you allow the open front to have one normal pleat which will go onto the bodice ,then you la the skirt flat on the floor and stitch most of each side of the skirt to the other part its lying on leaving just enough fabric to stitch the skirt onto the bodice ,this makes two sides rather than onto the bodice directly
As always in costuming the detail is what makes the outfit look impressive not the skill that goes into the outfit,I added two pieces of purple velvet to each sleeve and edged it with gold braid .I also added gold and purple trim to the skirt faux Mantua panel.
Finally close ups of the detailing for an assortment of costumes ,the details and trims make much more of an impression than detailed tailoring and they are the difference between making a passable outfit and making something amazing.they dont take skill just time .
And the final and equaly important element stunning fabrics ,these dont need to be specially bought fabric ,just eye catching the cape below is made from an old fur coat to edge the hood and a satin duvet cover from a charity shop,if your fabric is eye catching enough you can get by with less detailing
Lastly I was trying to choose the photo I would most like to remember my costume work by and I think it must be this
It was an amazing day,I loved working at the Haworth Christmas events,I loved the mask and the umbrella was a present from a friend ,the gown was quite easy to make but looked amazing yet the outfit took several hours to put on mostly because my huge hair took up three hours of work .
Lastly because was working with a young friend who looked pretty in a polonaise gown and hat I had made
she was the princess to my Evil queen ,both with full accessories,carefully made gloves petticoats ,even lace edged handkerchiefs,but we also both had on thick lined wellies ,,snow ice and a temperature well into the minuses meant that was the only way to glide effortlessly up the main street and during the parades
I was working with friends for friends
And it was my last Haworth Christmas costumed outing .
I had a wonderful decade of costuming and hope my cheats costume guides will help others have a equally enjoyable time ,either at single events or at re enctments or even as costumers.
Best wishes to all my blog readers who are just starting out on their costuming journey,I wish you success and many happy hours both creating and wearing your outfits
Lyn Marie Cunliffe.