Below are pictures and info on some costumes I have made over the years from Tudor to 1920s, from Highlanders to Showgirls.
Northern European Man’s Doublet and Plunderhose
This costume was made with a pattern in Janet Arnold’s Pattern of Fashion book. The original garment was black silk and velvet and was being worn by Svante Sture when he was murdered on 24 May 1567. He was murdered along with his two sons and some friends on orders of the Swedish King Erik XIV. I altered the pattern to fit my client, as well as to simplify a few things and in one case because the pattern piece for the codpiece just didn’t work. I also did not replicate the shoulder wings because there are some plans to make a leather over doublet.
This costume was made for the Seattle Costume Con 18th century Salon. It was styled to look like a drawing from Jean Hunnisette’s book “Period Costume for the Stage and Screen, Patterns for Women’s Dress 1500-1800.” The photos and Illustration on the construction of this costume were compiled for an article that appears in the ICG newsletter (to read a copy of the article click here).
Crimson and Burgundy 14th C Italian Gown
This gown was one of those quick and dirty gowns put together in a month, with is very rare. The metallic embroidered trim is amazingly an “iron on” trim. It worked well for this gown because a ribbon trim would not have been able to follow the shapes necessary without a lot of seams and easing. The bodice is based on the shape and decoration of a bodice featured in Janet Arnold’s “Patterns of Fashion”. It was the gown that Elinora of Toledo was buried in.
Man’s Elizabethan Costume
The pattern for this doublet came from Janet Arnold’s Pattern of Fashion. I developed the sleeve and pained slops pattern myself. I developed the sleeve and pained slops pattern myself and it’s one of the patterns for sale in my pattern section.
1560’s Late-Italian Renaissance Gown
This gown was very custom. I used the tee shirt and tape method to arrive at a Corset (really a boned under bodice). Then used the corset pattern to arrive at the bodice pattern. The same thing with the sleeves. I used muslin to make a bent arm two part pattern with center front and center back seams. I used this for the pattern for the sleeve lining then, I cut the muslin pattern apart to give all the extra width and height for the sleeve head. For the chemise I made one with a normal opening then, with the corset and bodice over it I marked a new neck opening, that’s where I added the starched lace. The lace was made up of several lace collars joined. It’s about 5-6″ high in the center back and about 1″ high at the ends. I did add some clear horse hair to help support the collar in the center back. I took some 4″ wide horsehair, folded along the center and cut it into a wedge shape. It starts at the side of the neck and gets about 1 1/2″ at the center back of the neckline and then gets narrow again. This was sewn into the neck opening along with the lace and a neckhole facing that was about 3″ wide. The short skirt is just a rectangle of the lighter velvet and the darker velvet that was cartridge pleated then wipstitched onto the bodice. The under skirt is a gored skirt that made of 4 gores three of them have faking.
Man’s Elizabethan Costume
This costume started with the cape. After the cape was completed it was bought for Nathan Robinson (A very nice Christmas gift, indeed). He commissioned me to make the rest of the costume. Nathan had some red silk Shantung and black cotton velvet fabric The red Shantung matched the red silk lining of the cape in color but not in texture. The texture reminded me of the doublet and canons in a portrait of Sir Walter Religh (The famous one with his son painted in late 1590’s or early 1600’s). So he drew this design sketch of a costume for him that used his fabrics and the design motifs and trims from the cape.
Woman’s Tudor Court Costume
This costume is a simple court dress; the bodice, turned-back sleeves, outer skirt and French hood are made of matching vintage fabric (1940’s German draperies). The field is red and the motif is slightly raised and rosy red. The foreskirt and false sleeves are a matching heavy cotton fabric that I dyed. The field is a light dusty rose (it does not photograph well) and the motif is cream. Originally it was all cream. The false chemise sleeves are cream silk with bobbin lace trim on the cuff (see; close up of false sleeves). The turned-back sleeves are lined in brown fake fur. Because the fake fur was lighter than real fur I added a line of drapery weights along the edge. This makes them hang very nicely but makes the bodice too heavy for all but the most sturdy hanger.
The gold and pearl medallions are inexpensive clip-on earrings with the clip part cut off for the French hood, necklaces and the cross on the girdle jewelry. The clip was left on for the false sleeves and the fur turned-back sleeves. If you look at a number of Tudor Portraits (1515-1560) you will see that the subjects often wore a necklace that had two strands and the lower one slipped down into the bodice. You will also notice that every piece of jewelry and embellishment to the gown most often matched. That is why I used eight pairs of matching earrings.
I used a pattern from the book “Patterns for Theatrical Costumes” by Katherine Holkeboer (pg.175) for the bodice and false sleeves. The pattern for the turned-back sleeves did not work so I had to draft my own.
Child’s Wool, Linen & Raw Silk Highlander Costume
When I realized my 6 yr. old niece had no waist and could not keep a heavy Ren skirt up without suspenders this seemed to be the best idea for a costume, a one-piece bodice and skirt. The outfit has four layers: a course linen linae, an “A” line kirtle, a wool bodice and skirt and a wool plaid airsade.
Notice that the slolder seam on the linae and kirtle are longer that in modern dress and hang outside the bodice armhole opening. The body of the linae and kirtle are “A” line to give fullness below the bodice. the kirtle was cut “A” line but the linae has an A shaped inset a few inches below the armhole opening this makes sure that there is not too much fulliness under the bodice.
Boy’s Highlander Outfit
This is my nephew’s first Ren Faire costume. The costume is make up of a linea (Scots chemise), kilt, ionar (Scots doublet), tam (Scots knitted cap), Gillies (Scots lace up shoes), two handed great sword with a back sheath and a sporen (Scots fur bag). The wooden sword I made for him was modeled after a Scots Claymore.
Child’s Elizabethan Basic Closed Bodice Gown
Linsey, the youngest (8 yrs.) member of St. Rose Guild a natural born Noble, needed a costume. After some talk on its’ design with the guildmaster (Kaj N.) I remembered this red velvet. Before washing, it was a lovely patterned velvet but that washed away and it was gifted to me by a dear friend. In some light you can see the remains of the pattern.
Having never made a child’s Elizabethan costume I decided to begin by using the tape and tee shirt method of getting a pattern, first for the corset, then the bodice. It worked very well. There was very little alteration despite the fact that there is an extra side seam with 3″ seam allowances for growth. Linsey’s Aunt Pam and I picked out most of the remaining materials for the costume at a real old time fabric store in downtown Napa, CA and then set to work.
The corset is made from some machine embrodered white twill. It is boned with spiral boning and is very flexable and comfortable.
Show Girl Costume
I was asked to create the headdress and tail part of a show girl costume. The tail part was going to be attached to the back of a corset being made in the UK while I was making the other parts in the US. Also, the client was making her panties, gloves, and the rest of the costume. Below the first row of pictures of the finished costume are some of the photos in progress. The base of the skull cap is buckram that was shaped over a styrofoam head, then trimmed. The raised part of the skull cap is made from wired plastic canvas. The cut buckram was also wired. In the third row of pictures you can see an insert of elastic this gives a little extra room for the clients hair.The skull cap was then covered with Spandex fabric and beaded. The fourth row of pictures shows the tail section clipped (suspender clips) onto a corset. The last pictures show both the finished tail and headdress.
Feathered headdress and tailpiece by
Lynn McMasters, beaded panties, choker, and shoes made
or embellished by client, and model Michaela Grey. Photos taken near Santa Monica Beach, CA.
Michaela’s photos are copyright 2005 Jennie Livingston
The corset is a 20.5″ waist, dyed satin and rhinestone overbust by C&SConstructions.
Elizabethan Slashed Silk Man’s Costume
This was my first full costume, long distance projects. I have done hats and smaller things for remote clients but never a full costume. I learned many things one of early lessons was, insure everything. We started out the project on a good note. I had the client make a tape and tee shirt torso. You can see it below, I put it on one of my dress forms and padded the difference. I also had the client have someone that knew about sewing take measurements. Things started going bad when I mailed off the first muslin, it had all the pieces, including the cape, in yellow wool. The client called to say that it never got there. After checking the tracking, according to the post office, they had delivered it, the client checked all his local Post Offices, we both assumed that it was lost. I made a new muslin out of the brown wool and denim you see below.
The day before the second muslin arrived the first one show up. But, of course all this caused a two or three week of delay and of course, extra postage. A word about postage, true to form, I couldn’t be just a state or two away I had to be the other side of the country. I figured that postage would add on a few hundred to the project but, I under estimated it. Don’t try to guess what you think it might cost but, just stipulate that postage will be extra, no matter what that is. Not just postage but insurance as well, and know that as you get to the end of the project and it’s value gets high you might be forced to ship it the more expensively, two or three day, just to be able to insure it. Below is the doublet from the first muslin, which did come in useful in the end, as I had to have the client check something and take more pictures. Digital pictures where very important to the project, not just for me to send as I went along to show progress but, for the client to photograph the fitting of the muslins. It wasn’t quite the same as doing a fitting for yourself but, I did get to see most things very clearly. The muslin of the doublet is shown with the finished smock and Venetians. I liked this look so much that, I almost wished he was getting a yellow-gold doublet.
The next set back came when, I found out that the roll of trim I was going to use, the one I had based both the design and the pricing on, didn’t have enough trim on is. I needed 100 yards or more and I only had 35. To add insult to injury, Europa Trims had gone out of business (sigh). I had to find more trim and redesign the costume. So, we looked, on the web mostly, for something we both liked and I could use. I sent for samples, many didn’t look anywhere as good as their pictures (something a kin to on-line dating, I’m sure). I finally found something I liked but, of course, not as it came but after I added silk bias strips behind. That added many hours to the project. It turned out to be great trim to work with but, I’m lucky I have a wholesale # because the trim place dones’t sell to individuals.
Flag Fan for the Queen at Heart of the Forest Faire
I was asked to make a gift for the queen and I figured it would be nice to have a flag fan with reference to her mother and father, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn with a Tudor Rose to boot.
Silk Organze Partlet
I made this partlet for several clients and then into a pattern I sell on my pattern page.
Spanish Surcoat and Kirtle
This costume started with the purchase of a small remnant of machine-embroidered heavy linen with a very period motif. There was a slight problem, the color. It was 1960’s lime green and white. I figured, I could just dye it. The background fabric took the dye well it ended up an earthy rose color but the embroidery took none of the die. I discovered that the reverse looked very much better, it had a lot less of the bright green yarn. So I got some fabric markers and touch up the bright green with a rust colored pen and I think it is now a decent color, olive green. The Surcoat is some what modified from the pattern in Janet Arnold. Instead of frog closures it has metal buttons (JHB) over standard modern frogs. And the sleeves are somewhat different as well as the back, which has a yoke. The ruff is made from some vintage real metallic shell bobbin lace. It was made without a ruff board so that I could match up the shells.
Elizabethan Arming Doublet and Cap
This arming doublet was constructed for use as a real working arming doublet. It goes under a set of full plate armor. It was similar to an arming doublet in Janet Arnold (except for the high standing collar) however, it has been modified to suit its purpose. The skirting and sleeves were added after several wearings. It also became necessary to add extra padding to protect the sholders and collor bone. This is out of site. There are between two and nine layers of warm and natural in different places.
Italian Renaissance Gown
This is a very basic Italian Ren Women’s dress. You can’t tell in this photo but the black fabric has a motif. The lacings are all gold cord. The lacings on the sleeves have gold charm like beads for weight. The belt has two rows of gold flat braided trim. The chemise is cream silk. The trick to getting a good puffs on the chemise is to make the chemise sleeve wider and longer than a regular sleeve.
In these Photos you can see the two different trims used. The one for the belt and edge of the overdress has pink pearls, irregular garnets and two different metalic beads. The neckline trim has round garnet beads and two different metalic beads. In both cases the beads are sewn into depressions made by the trim. The belt trim is really made up to two trims a cream trim sewn over a light green trim. The belt clasp was from JHB. It was bright gold so, I darkened it with some black paint.
If you look closely at the mask you might notice that it is made from one complete motif of the overdress fabric. I bonded the green fabric to another fabric with a simple formed mask in between. This gave the mask shape and gave me a hint where to cut out the eyes.
Surcoat and Kirtle
This Surcoat was inspired by two of the surcoats in watercolors from the corners of a series on maps published in the 1572 called “Civitates Orbis Terrarum” by G. Braun et Hogenberg (Anvers and Barcelona) and a Titian painting. Also, of course the fabric.
1570’s Lady’s Elizabethan Court Costume
This costume started it all, it was my first Elizabethan Costume. It has seen better days and is very Faire worn. When I made this costume I did some research but I know so much more now. As my knowledge and skills grew the costume changed over the years, there were major changes to the trim, sleeves, foreskirt and jewelry. I have posted some of the early photos of the costume so that everyone can see that “costuming is a process”. Most of these photos were taken without the ruff, which is a very important part of Elizabethan dress but sorry, it has been torn apart for repairs.
The purse is a style worn by both men and women. It opens at the top. I used two silver bracelets that were “u” shaped in cross section, one for the bag and one for the top. I added the black silk embrodery on white silk to the bracelet with a metal (coat hanger) ring that was bent into a circle. It was just the right size to fit inside the “u” shaped channel in the bracelet and spring back tight enought to hold the silk. I used the same method for the bag. Something like an embroidery hoop.
Chemise of 13,000 Pearls
The collar of the chemise closed with gold cording that is wraped around four buttons. They were made by sewing an “X” with gold thread onto a piece of fabric. That was used to cover a padded “covered button”. If you will notice that one pearl is missing from the motif on the right of the buttons. I suppose that makes it 12,999 pearls. I never really counted the pearls. I just multiplied the number in each motif by the number of motifs. There are 95 pearls on one of the motif that is on the sleeve so, it adds up very fast. I did not sew each pearl on one at a time they were strung. I did stitch between each pearl with four strands of gold thread. I went through 4 spools of Coats and Clark gold metallic thread.
1570s Elizabethan Court Costume
Pictured below are different views of a cream colored mid Elizabethan costume. I made this for a client that wanted a gown similar to one made for Queen Elizabeth in the PBS series “Elizabeth R”. The gown in the series was made by Jean Hunnisette however it does not appear in her book “Period Costume for stage and screen”. After I finished the gown I did get a chance to hear Ms Hunnisette give a talk on the making of “Elizabeth R” and she said that the original inspiration for the gown came from a portrait of Elizabeth receiving guests in her inner chambers. The most difficult thing about making this gown was creating the pattern for the sleeves and making them work. The gown is not quite complete the client added more pearls to edge the strips of trim on the bodice and the sleeves after the pictures were taken.
Child’s Elizabethan Court Costume
This gown was made to fit my 9 year old niece, because girls of that age usually don’t have the kind of waist that will hold up a heavy Elizabethan skirt, I decided to attach the skirt to an underbodice. I also decided to add a built in petticoat to the underbodice, you can see that in one of the pictures. The underbodice laces down the center back and the overbodice laces down the side backs. I finally made a french hood with a matching beaded hair bag so, the hood shown in the first picture is a back up French hood.
Queen Elizabeth Fashion Doll’s Final Fitting
The History of Fashion Doll as tools for the dissemination of Fashion information begins before the period of this doll. It is a very interesting history. This doll’s gown was made from a pattern in Janet Arnold drafted to resemble the Phoenix portrait. Some of the pattern pieces came from Hunnisette’s book. Her hoop skirt pattern came from the 1589’s Spanish Tailor’s Pattern Book.
Elizabethan Upper Middle Class Wool Costume
This costume was made with three shades wool. The medium gray fabric is just extra light gray fabric dyed with a weak black dye. I used cotton for the chemise. Linen might have been a better choice (more period) but, linen is expensive. That is just reversed from how it was in the 1500’s. Cotton was imported and very expensive and linen was home grown and reasonable. It did come in different qualities from course and cheep to fine and more expensive. The wool sleeve opens down the front to allow it to be closed or open as the weather permits. The sleeve is also removable. This was the 1500’s answer to cold castles and the fact that Europe was going through a mini Ice Age. Temperatures were very changeable.
Elizabethan Pearled Riding Hat
This is what I wrote in 2004 “This pattern is a modification of both the Elizabethen tall hat and the riding hat. This hat is suitable for upper class women and is best worn with some sort of a bun in the back. The hat has rows of pearls sewn between padded ridges running down the crown sides. It has a small brim like the tall hat. The pattern will be avaliable in Sept.” Well I never turned it into a pattern I supposed I figured it was just a little to “soft sculpture”.
American Girl Calendar Year 2016
I had a wonderful year sewing a costume a month for Lexi my great niece’s American Girl Doll.
Stripped Regency Spenser
A UFO Fed. We all have them projects long unfinished. I finished this one. I cut out the pattern from Jean Hunnisette’s book “Period Costume for the Stage and Screen and there is sat for years. I revived the project and finished it this year 2017.