Sunday, September 25, 2016

Renaissance Noble Dress Part 1: The Design

I need to replace my current Elizabethan noble costume with a new one.

Unfortunately I am my own worst client because the only thing I know that I want in my new princess type dress is this list of vague demands:
  1. Make it different than what other women will most likely we wearing.
  2. Use massive amounts of embroidery to help with Number 1 and give me a Sofa Time With Lacey project.
  3. Use as much of my beading, trim, and costuming stash as possible. It should also help with number 1 but really I just want to put some of the weird amounts of stuff in my studio to good use.
  4. Bling that sucker out to be a pretty, pretty princess of more is more epic proportions – as one does as an Elizabethan noblewoman. I realize this is not in line with being a simplistic budget minded green DIY blogger. But it is totally in line with being a person who spends most of her workdays covered in paint and sawdust while wearing yoga pants and a ratty t-shirt.

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I let the fabric I found decide my costume’s color scheme since many of the accessories I have will work with almost any color. The color specific items I have  need to be replaced anyway.  I was hoped I could find a green brocade or damask because I look smashing in green.


My first fabric shopping stop was Old Time Pottery. This isn’t an ad or sponsored post or anything like that. It’s my secret weapon for buying upholstery fabric remnants (very green practice by the way) for just under $6 a yard instead of full price at $39 a yard. Most of the time, I only find a piece that works for trim like the blue dress shown here.


This dress was influenced by The Seal of the Goldsmiths with the exception of the blue damask fabric. I fell for it immediately and had to have it.

Other times I luck out and find enough fabric to reupholster my sofa or something similar.



As luck would have it I found green and gold brocade remnant just itching to be outlined in gold beads! It would make a gorgeous dress, not to mention it is the color I want!

Unfortunately the piece was three yards long and I need at least 5. So it looks like I found my underskirt (forepart) fabric first. I got lucky. Would I find dress or trim fabric too?

After searching further I found two matching pieces of period appropriate small print green and brown fabric to create the yardage I needed. It’s pretty, it will go with the forepart fabric, but I don’t love it. I was really hoping to find more of the green fabric I adore.

When it comes to shopping for Renaissance noble clothing fabric for Husband and I. I have a bad habit of forgetting I only pretend to be a rich shopaholic who buys her heart’s desire in every color. I forget that real life Lisa blogs about budget and money saving tips here and on Lazy Budget Chef (although truthfully this high - low, save now to spend later thing I do is how I can go all out on these projects without guilt.) Truth hurts. This is mine.

A quick calculation of what 5 + yards of $39 a yard upholstery fabric would cost elsewhere verses the $6 a yard Old Time Pottery remnants in my cart made it the winner.

Plus, with the savings difference of going with the OTP fabric I had almost enough money to buy my first ever new sewing and embroidery machine which I was going to buy anyway. Win – win!



The fabric and trims for the new renaissance princess noble dress project. I scored the brown velvet on a later visit to Old Time Pottery and the trims on the Joanna Fabrics and Michael’s clearance racks. It helps that I spread the shopping out over several months due to finishing other projects that were higher on my punch list.

Not to mention I’m almost surely going to blow the budget on some other I –can’t-live-without-it part of the project. Because I know me.

Now that I had the fabrics, I had to design my renaissance princess dress. This is the most fun part of designing a renaissance festival costume because it means I have an excuse to:




Please excuse my rough chicken scratch sketch. I hate the way I draw.

I am going with a late(ish) Elizabethan triangle bodice inset and square neckline since most of the kids I’m going to be hanging out with are going with a rectangular bodice inset and scoop neckline.

Split cap sleeves can look sloppy when you move but I went with them anyway. For one, the Alteryears back lace bodice pattern I bought here has them as an option and the patterns the other actors are using do not. But most importantly I was running too low on fabric to cut full cap or puff sleeves.

So here’s the initial design. Come back to Condo Blues to read the next part of the product!

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