Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renaissance Noble Dress Project Part 3: Princess Dress Reveal!

I blogged about designing a new Elizabethan Nobility Dress to perform with Husband at Renaissance Festivals. This project was harder than any other costuming project I’ve done. I like the finished dress for the most part, but I don’t love it as much as I do the costume it replaces. There are a bunch of mistakes, and the bodice fit (among other things) needs tweaking which is why I haven’t shown you the finished project.

But I promised you a DIY renaissance festival princess dress and that you shall have, warts and all.
I started with a sketch after pouring over my favorite Elizabethan costuming books working backwards by buying the fabric first and coming up with a dress design second. I like to work the other way around.


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I started with the overskirt and underskirt (forepart) first. I attempted hand embroidering the brown velvet trim but didn’t liker my test pieces, not to mention  that kind of hand embroidery means an extra year for construction I didn’t have.


That was all the motivation I needed to buy the Brother sewing and embroidery machine I’ve had my eye on for quire awhile. It was a good choice because I machine embroidered the trim by modifying one of the built in embroidery patterns. I also used it to sew the dress and I’m happy to say it sews heavy fabrics very well.


I’m going to remove the green gems, because they look cheap and feel out of place since I’m not playing royalty. Although gems or no, if you wear a noble dress at a Ren Faire, patrons will always ask if you are the Queen. Truth.


I cheated on the underskirt o remove an extra layer of clothing in the summer heat. I beaded and hemmed the forepart (the pretty part that shows) and safety pinned it to my hoopskirt (safety pins are actually periods, BTW) instead of making it into a full underskirt. Unfortunately doing so let the rings of my hoop show through the forepart and I’m not fond of that. In the future I’ll tie it to petticoat worn over the hoop.


 The pink roll is a hip pad (also called a bum roll) and is worn under the skirts to create the illusion of large child bearing hips that were oh so fashionable in Queen Elizabeth’s day.


I used the Alteryears back lace bodice pattern I bought here for the bodice and modified the pattern to make it lace on sides instead of up the back because I wanted to dress myself as much as possible. Husband makes a good lady in waiting but modern me hates to wait for him to finish dressing so I can get Diva’ed up.


 This bodice is such a train wreck! I plan to remake it.

Unfortunately I screwed up the fit because I cut the bodice a size up and shouldn’t have. It’s too big in the shoulders and too loose in the torso.  Not to mention I had to rip and embroider the last embroidery design of the four on the insert four times because I couldn’t get it to line up properly. It is still a little bit off. I tried to camouflage it with a thrift stop broach.

I used Alteryears Easy Noblemans/Noblewoman's Shirt Pattern to build the chemise and added gold trim to the collar and cuffs.

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I hot glued new feathers to the top of my seen better days feather fan, and made the girdle (belt) by taking apart clearance rack statement necklaces and restring them with pearls. I’m not 100% happy with the result because I think the shiny gold looks cheap. Do you know how I can darken or antique it?

The easiest way to hide my hot pink hair was under a wig. This was an exercise in experimentation that worked. I used foam rollers to make hair pads and pinned costume jewelry into the wig as accents. As you can see the Elizabethans loved their pearls!

Like I said before, I’m not happy with the final costume because it makes me feel more like a Playtron than cast member even though it was approved for me to wear. Then again, this show has fantasy characters in the cast and they have a couple of theme weekends where patrons can wear whatever period, character, or cosplay they want (which is totally fine. You paid to get in and to have fun so rock on!)

I will use what I learned on this costuming project to make a new Elizabethan costume  from a gorgeous remnant I just bought at Old Time Pottery when shopping for fabric Husband's new noble costume.

Follow me @condoblues on Instagram to see my project progress in real time! 

Did I mention I have zero willpower when it comes to buying gorgeous costume fabric? Well I do.

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