The Realm of Venus
Costumer and Ren
A Florentine Gown
in the Style of the 1510s
it possible to create something that looks the part with little
knowledge, sparse time, and even less money?
I was willing to try.
allotted budget, $100. I
can hear you gasp now!
had little over 8 months to get a dress and all its trimmings together
in time for the Texas Renaissance Festival in south Texas mid October.
That may seem like an eternity to most of you.
I did run out of time on some items such as a petticoat and
drawers that fit correctly.
inspiration painting (see right) I had loved for many years, first
finding it on Jennifer Thompsonís website Festive
Attyre. Since this would be
my first attempt at anything even semi-historically accurate the dress
seemed basic enough not to become too terribly overwhelming.
It also didnít hurt that she made a similar dress complete
with extremely detailed description of the construction.
It seemed like a good match for a first dress.
of the details I took into consideration throughout the construction
was that in Texas the weather can be a gamble especially in October.
It could be cold but being south Texas it can also be very hot.
So hot is what I planned on, therefore a separate corset seemed like
an unnecessary layer.
chemise is made with cotton using the pattern
posted on Jennifer's site. I
smocked the front and back (see pic below, left) instead of hemming or
gathering. I secured the miniature pleats with a strip of fabric
attached from behind giving it an invisible gathered look.
made some simple drawers (below, right) but in the end I wasnít
satisfied with the fit and ended up running out of time to make another
the main color of the dress I found some unknown material in a deep
blue. I looked for more
paintings showing Florentine dresses similar to the one in the
inspiration painting. While
that color blue isnít a popular color for the body I found many
examples for it in the sleeves. I
found the same blue as the main body of the dress in periods before
and after this dress (see right).
Since the fabric was only $1 a yard and due to budget I figured
this was close enough.
corded the bodice as illustrated in the
article on Jenniferís site since I didnít have a separate corset. I also
added a small pocket in the skirt to carry items that I would need repeated
access to like the camera. It was
much easier than untying the purse and retying it all the time.
The pocket was purely a functional addition after having gone to a few
fairs. The purses look good and
function well but can be a pain when you are trying to hide non period items
frequently like a camera.
originally wanted to go with the belled sleeves of the other woman in the
inspiration painting. After several
mock-ups and research, I wasnít comfortable with those alone and would need a
separate set of under sleeves. I
didnít want to make the dress too hot with unnecessary layers so I ended up
using the pattern
for the large sleeves on Jenniferís site using a peachy/ orange brocade in
the hair I wanted to make the snood thing seen in many paintings.
My hair is very straight and the mock-ups seemed too flat and
pancake like so I changed course and went for the ponytail cover.
I opted not to wear the ribbon around my head to secure it
figuring it would be too uncomfortable and annoying all day at a fair,
same reason for not wearing my hair over my ears.
The end result (see below) I believe is close enough and was very
comfortable to wear. I
didnít have to redo my hair at any point in the day.
It worked wonderfully.
sash is made from salmon silk scraps from the belled sleeves that I
ended up not using. The little purse is from some deep orange brocade in my
stash, lined in the same blue fabric the dress is made from.
the time to work on the dress and I nearly forgot about jewelry.
Last minute I made a small cross with a red jewel (see
below, left) and
attached it onto a cord similar to another painting (below, middle and a
close-up below, right). However,
I didnít secure the little metal ring well enough and it broke.
Instead I made a small beaded necklace using little wooden beads I found at Wal-Mart of
all places. I have no idea if
they used wooden beads.
shoes are little Chinese Mary Janes that have a plastic sole that I have
had for a while. Ended up busting the strap on one but they were cheap and
they worked well.
The weather was beautiful. Mid
70ís and somewhat breezy in the shade. It
was rather hot while sitting in the arena watching the jousting with the sun
shinning on you.
now Iím sure you are wondering how the $100 budget held up.
See for yourself!
Ė 13yds blue mystery fabric (not sure how much I actually used, some was used for mock ups)
Ė 1yd salmon silk
- 1yd peachy brocade
Ė 15yds narrow cotton for dress lining
Ė 4yds cotton for chemise
Ė 3.5yd velveteen
- 2 6yd laces
- doz aiglets
- two tassels for sash
- trim for head wear
- beads for necklace
play by play of the construction of this and other items can be seen in my
Oh yummy! Isn't this colour combination just wonderful? I love it! It's a
gorgeous style and Christy has done a wonderful job of re-creating it, from
head-dress to hem. Brava Christy!
If you would like to
contact Christy you can do so at christymlee (at) gmail (dot) com
Would you like
to be Showcased? E-mail