(Bethan of Dismal
Modelled by M.
Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
loosely based on 1530s Venice
images are click-able for enlarging)
I am the daughter of a Sydney couturier and learned to sew as her ‘tailor's apprentice’. She taught me how to make clothes that fitted well and were fashionable.
I came to historical garb sewing first through the Society of Creative
Anachronism a few years back. I started with a T-Tunic but quickly moved on to
Cotehardies, Burgundians, and Bliauts. When I found the Italian Renaissance I found my home. I’ve always loved vintage and dress-up, but this was the first time I had made something exactly in period.
For me, making an historic gown is like time travel. I am taken back to a pre-industrial world, when a new gown couldn’t be bought in a shop; where creating something special was exciting and filled you with such anticipation; where you spent time on the embroidery and beading and couldn’t wait to finish your creation and wear it to the ball. I find combining period-correct hand stitching and historic construction methods with my 21st Century sewing machine combines the best aspects of past and present. It is amazingly satisfying.
As an authorised marriage celebrant I specialise in historical weddings, so having a wardrobe with appropriate garb is always useful.
I made this gown in 2009 for a good friend who teaches. She loves historical gowns and has longed passionately to have one in her wardrobe. She also wanted a piece of ‘living history’ to use with her students who were studying 12th Night. As Illyria is the setting of Twelfth Night, we could use creative licence and work on a late Italian gown.
My friend uses the gown with her students when working on the play, the boys love putting on the gown and playing the female parts in the traditional manner.
The gown has been used to demonstrate many other ‘living history’ historical points as well.
My friend worked with me the entire way and learnt skills as she went. She improved her seamstress abilities and gained insights into the lives of the women of the period. Making and mentoring the creation of this gown with my friend was another impetus in the creation of
The Tailor’s Apprentice.
The design brief was: velvet, green and
gold as a colour theme, places for embroidery, split sleeves, side-back lacing, split skirt, late Italian Renaissance.
It was loosely based on this image by Paris Bordone.
Gown construction was ably assisted by Artemisia Moltabocca’s Venetian Courtesan Gown blog post where she goes
step-by-step through the creation of her beautiful gown,
including video clips.
*I also blogged the process on my Blue Mountains Bliss
blog and you can follow the entire process here,
from Bella: My apologies for not including Lorna's full write-up here.
I normally insist on it as a condition of participation in the
Showcase, but with the sudden influx of people wishing to be Showcased
in a very short period of time I realised that breaking my own rule
just this once would save me some time putting the pages together to
get them online as soon as possible. I do hope this doesn't affect
your enjoyment of the Showcase too much.)
can contact Lorna at lornamckenzie
Would you like
to be Showcased? E-mail