Realm of Venus Presents....
Isabeau de l'Isle
A Venetian Gown in the style of the 1560/70s
have very little patience with shrinking eyelets"
I pursue my love for costuming in the SCA, so I'll introduce
myself in the SCA-dian. My name is Isabeau de l'Isle, and I'm a
costume-ista. I've tried pretty much everything from chitons to
cavalier gowns in my (roughly) 13 years of SCA sewing. For the
first several years my garb was pretty much, er, crap, then I got
better. Research is your friend. I've finally settled within the
confines of the 16th century, with the occasional foray into the
early 17th. I use natural fibers almost exclusively and keep my
Alšega on hand at all times. That said...
fabric and Italy had the advantage over all of Europe
when it came to fabric. Trade with the near and mid-east
gave those who could afford it nearly limitless access to
the best textiles available at the time. Much of my
design inspiration came from Cesare Vecellio's woodcuts
and Titian's portraiture, most especially his Lady With a
Fan.I especially like the clean lines of the 1560's
Mostly, I wanted a pretty, girlie silk gown that rustled
when I walked. :)
the obvious choice for the gown, as linen was for the
camicia. Nearly all of my linen comes from
I managed to get my greedy little paws on 3 different
silks in the same pale peach color at a local fabric
store - taffeta, heavy faille and shadow-striped dupioni
all in 54" width. For the skirt I used the taffeta,
faille for the bodice and sleeves and the dupioni for the
petticoat. The bodice was self-lined and the sleeves were
lined in the same taffeta as the skirt. The skirt is
flat-lined with a very light-weight unbleached cotton as
the taffeta was a bit light.
The bodice, sleeves and skirt are trimmed with a gold
bobbin-style lace from Europa trims.
the bodice pattern from my existing 16th century
English/Elizabethan sloper by dropping the back neckline,
rounding off the v-front point in the front and angling
the bodice straps out a bit more towards the point of the
shoulder. I did not add the v-back to the bodice. In my
*opinion*, the v-back was used on the ladder-laced gowns,
not the side-back closure. In Patterns of Fashion, there
is a small picture taken from a larger painting of a little girl with a side-back
laced gown. Everyone and their
Laurel uses it to illustrate that style of lacing.
For the sleeves I started with the Simplicity 8881 sleeve
pattern and modified it by making the elbow curve a bit
more pronounced, cutting off the upper part of the sleeve
and dividing the upper "poof" section into
panes. Unfortunately the faille shreds and I didn't serge
it soon enough. I lost nearly an inch off the length of
the sleeve and had to make it up with a small box-pleated
frill at the hem. Pooh.
The skirt is simply 3 panels, 45" in length .
I used Jen Thompson's camisia pattern. I shortened the sleeve length to about
30" and the width to about 25".
I apologize for the corset, at the time I wanted
something silly and girlie. I didn't realize that anyone
outside of the changing room would see it. Certainly not
here. I keep meaning to make a new one, but since this
one gives me the right shape, I keep putting it off.
The pattern is based on Elizabeth I's effigy corset
without straps. The corset is made up of two layers of
heavy cotton and boned through the tabs with 1/2"
is 3 layers-silk, linen and silk. The lining and
interlining were sewn as one and then right sided
together with the outer fabric. Armsye and waist were
left open for the sleeves and skirt. I used a center-back
lacing which is easier for me to get in and out of by
myself, although I've practiced more with the side-back
and can now manage. I poked holes on either side of the
back opening, inserted metal eyelets, crimped the eyelets
and sewed over them with DMC floss. I do this because my
hand sewn eyelets tend to shrink to nothing while I sew
them. I have very little patience with shrinking eyelets.
skirt I cut three lengths of the taffeta and the cotton,
sewed all seams (leaving an opening at center-back) and
attached the silk layer and the cotton layer wrong sides
together at the top, gathered it tightly and sewed it to
the bodice. I faced the hem with a 2" wide grosgrain
ribbon and the lace was top-stitched over the stitch
lines. I like the way the stiffness of the ribbon helps
to hold the hem out.
|The sleeves panes were made up individually of
the faille and the taffeta, the bottom of each pane was
sewn right sides together with the faille sleeve and the
taffeta was right sided with the faille at the cuff, with
the strip of box-pleated taffeta, and hand sewn over the
raw edges to make it neat and tidy. The sleeve was then
sewn into the armsye and the bodice lining hand sewn over
the raw edges.
|I made a
girdle out of a flea-market find. I added pearls on
eyepins and a large pearl and rhinestone pendant with a
tassel at the end. It usually gets lost in the folds of
my skirts, but it's there. For the pictures I wore a veil
that I pinned to a little bun on my head using brass pins
with pearl heads that a friend made me. I am wearing the
ubiquitous strand of pearls and my Laurel pin. Usually I
add a couple of gold rings and my coronet and call it a
I love my girlie gown. I do find, however, that the neckline is a
bit tight which can be remedied by letting out the shoulder seam.
Alas, that means removing the sleeve and re-attaching it. Pooh.
Some day I will finish the partlet. I swear.
I can 'feel' that silk taffeta and hear it rustle, can't you? I
love the combination of the muted, pale peach colour of the gown
contrasted with the richness of the gold braid edging. Everything
about this gown cries out 'elegant' and 'sumptuous', including
the gorgeous jewellery! Bravissima Isabeau!
You can contact Mistress Isabeau
by e-mailing rlgage (at) adelphia (dot) net
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