Sunday, 27 June 2010

Will Her Majesty please take a bow? PLEASE?!!

I've been going through the marvellous book pictured here, and also Janet Arnold's 'Patterns of Fashion' and it's no good- I just can't find enough specifics on Elizabethan ribbon. The Armada gown is bedecked with bows on the sleeves, shoulder rolls and bodice, and down the edges of the kirtle and the hanging sleeves. That's a lot of bows and I haven't time to procrastinate any longer. And boy, have I been procrastinating. It's taken at least three visits to every available haberdashery in Norfolk, and an awful lot of online searching. Nothing produced anything like the portraits.

But then it was pointed out to me by an interested party* that all the reproductions I've seen of the Armada portrait show the same bows in ribbons of completely different shades of orange, pink, brown and peach, and if I looked at the real painting there's no way of telling how much fading has occurred.
So I decided that nobody can truly know, and I've just gone out and bought the darn stuff. I've bought ribbons in orange and peach and I'm covering them in gauze to add a bit of shimmer. Each bow will have a 'jewel' in the centre so Queenie will be ribbony-tastic at the end of it all. Pretty as a picture, in fact.

*Male, 50, extremely fed up with being pressed to give an opinion on the suitability or otherwise of some peachy orangy shiny stuff or other in which he has absolutely no interest but wishes merely to reach swift conclusion upon in order to return to watching Top Gear at the earliest possible moment.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A Date with a Dragon, and a Dummy with a Tummy

I'm very excited for two reasons. The first is that I am delighted to have been given a booking to be Queenie at the gorgeous Dragon Hall in Norwich (see my bookings page for details)this summer.

My second reason to be cheerful is because my mum (the real one, not Anne Boleyn) has kindly given me a mannequin. It's a decorative brocade affair as opposed to a proper tailor's dummy so it will look lovely displaying whichever costume I'm not wearing. The idea is I'll compare and contrast the two dresses.

I can also use the mannequin for dressmaking purposes. Fortunately it's about the same size as me, which is excellent because it's not adjustable. Although if the truth be told I did have to wrap a scarf around the middle of it's hourglass form to replicate my slightly broader waistline. Ho hum- the Tudor ideal of a 14 inch waistline is clearly one of the reasons Queen Elizabeth never had children.

Yesterday it stood resplendent in my living room wearing the top half of the new costume (which now sports a collar and waist tabs). It caused havoc, because every time any of us walked into the room it made us jump or scream or both, thinking it was an intruder- we were nervous wrecks by the end of the day. It's now skulking in the darkest corner of the music room, naked. At least, I think its the mannequin...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Return to Pearly Queendom

And so, thankfully, my exam is over. This means I can once again start sewing my new costume without feeling guilty that I'm not studying! Life is goooooood. Now just the four gazillion pearls to sew on...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A picture tells a thousand words- and more

Yesterday I went to the National Portrait Gallery where I bought this CD, which I intend to play in the background during my Queenie sessions.

I was also lucky enough to get up close to the wonderful portraits of Her Maj held in the Tudor Gallery. The Armada portrait wasn't on display but a helpful lady gave me details of how one can arrange for a private viewing- much more in keeping with Queen Liz, I feel.

They are also currently showing an exhibition on images of Lady Jane Grey which tells us the various ways in which we don't know what she looked like, but it was very useful for me, with my Jane Grey/ Jane Seymour amnesia problem.

I finished off by having a play on their portrait image database and printed off a splendid copy of Elizabeths signature. And all for free! A super time had by all.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

What a picture, what a photograph...?

So this darn dress is well on the way to completion. I have yet to make and line the hanging sleeves, but all other components are individually finished and ready to be attached to each other, hopefully in the right places. In contrast to my last costume I have actually measured things properly this time, but that offers absolutely no guarantee that they will fit, because 9 times out of a hundred my ability to muddle numbers up is legendary (yes, I did that one on purpose).

I've attached a picture. None of the individual parts of the dress are joined to each other properly yet, I just laid them out so it looks about right for the photo. And of course, apart from the sleeves and the forepart, it has no decoration on it, which will soon be rectified. It's great once I get to the handstitching stage because I can sit and watch TV while I sew on endless pearls, rather than my usual early stages confinement to the conservatory. The conservatory doubles as a sewing room because it has a good large table, and I can be sealed in there so that the dual rackets of my swearing every time I mutilate my fingers (or my costume), and the sewing machine motor noise don't compete with the volume of whatever's on telly.

Now, dear Reader, please don't look too closely at my needlework. Although my costumes are authentically constructed, remember I'm not a Re-enactor, I'm a Live Interpreter and I refer you to my previous statements on the difference between the two.

If you want quality needlework, have a Google at the amazing work of Caroline Blake()or Gini Newton()or of course, the incredible 'Tudor Tailors', Nina and Jane. Needlewoman I am not -and I'll have no jokes from Terry Pratchett readers about being a Seamstress either! But my work is designed to bring the character of Elizabeth I to life in order to provoke reactions and interactions and to present historical facts in an accessible way, and the costumes are my material tool for doing it.

Three cheers for photos of half-finished costumes by slightly over defensive Live Interpreters!! Hip hip...

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Work on the new dress has been temporarily thwarted by a severe outbreak of revision for my exam on Global Heritage. You see, not only do I pretend to BE Queen Liz, I also study WHY I'm doing it. That's dedication for you.

Revision aside, I did manage to find some rather nice trimmings for the QE1 skirt today. My search for the correct colour of silk for the hanging sleeve lining continues, as does my constant pondering about what to use for the ribbony bows the whole thing is covered in. Can't find Grosgrain in the right colour. Gah. Suggestions on a postcard please...