Renaissance Faire Dress, pt. 1

Last year, our family went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire.  We hadn’t been to this particular renfaire before but we’d gone to others.  Let’s just say we aren’t addicts.  On the other hand, all our kids seem to be into it when the faire comes around, and our oldest son had been trying to get us to go to the Bristol one for a few years.  We had a good time last year, and so this year we’ve all decided that we’re making costumes to add to the overall enjoyment of the event.

Margo and Heather have both already started their costumes.  I’ll show some pics of those next week when they come over.  But me – I’ve been debating and thinking and not really coming to any decisions about what kind of dress I’m going to make.  The problem isn’t a lack of options, but too many of them.

So I decided to take stock of everything I’d kindof earmarked for possible renfaire costumes.  First though, I had to decide which class my costume would represent.  In those days, you were either nobility, merchant, or peasant.  Sumptary Laws decreed what kind of fabrics and colors you were allowed to use for your clothing.  I was debating whether to dress as nobility or merchant, so I pulled these fabrics out.  Traditionally, the richer outfits were made of brocade or damask silks, linens and velvets.  The more elaborate the pattern or decoration on the fabric, the higher the class you presented yourself to be.

As I was digging through a bunch of fabric, I ran across a wedding dress I bought at Goodwill for $10 to use as a Halloween costume.  It came with miles of lace train that was edged in imitation pearls.  The bodice and skirt are two separate pieces, and I was thinking this might be exactly what I needed.  Plus, the top just happens to be made from a bodice pattern very similar to a Renaissance bodice!  Heh heh.  I love it when stuff like that happens.

So I’m thinking I’ll go with this style of skirt.  The cream damask silk from the wedding dress will be the center panel.  All I’ll have to buy is a yard of a very fancy ribbon trim to go down the middle.  And because the pattern is cut the way it is, the center panel actually fits into the outer skirt in such a way that it’s all one skirt – thereby keeping me just a tad cooler in the July heat.

I really like all three of these bodices.  I’m leaning toward the one on the bottom left, but the others have parts I like, too.  I have a pattern for making a boned corset, but… sitting for four hours in a car with a corset under my clothes isn’t exactly my favorite form of torture.  So I might just skip that part.

The last decision I need to make before cutting my patterns is the color scheme.  I wouldn’t go cream-on-cream, because that really wasn’t fashionable back then.  So that leaves either the green faux suede, or either of the brocades.  I’m leaning toward the suede, because the color will go good with my red hair.  Another bonus is that it’s a lighter fabric than the brocades.

On the other hand, I could use the cream brocade on the bodice and overskirt, and use the green suede as the underskirt panel and detailing on the bodice.  Hmmmm!  Decisons, decsions….


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Charlene
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 09:35:38

    So yesterday afternoon, our son Will saw all the fabric on the table and asked what I was doing. After I told him, he said, “Well isn’t dad going as Irish gentry?” I affirmed that he was, and Will said that I should match him and go Irish too.

    Oh no! More and more ideas now, by adding plaids into the mix. I’ve got half a dozen plaid fabrics I could use… darn those fabric stores for putting on such great sales. 😉


  2. Kelly
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 10:58:04

    So what are you coming up with, my dear? I LOVE renfairs. I have several patterns here myself. I’m more of the bar wench type with a few ancestral hidden talents 😉


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