Black Printed Cotton Dress, c. 1790-5

Kirtle in brown linen. Dress in blue and gray linen. Smock and partlet in white cotton.
Dress Diary
Well, it's coming up on that time of year again: Faire time! Normally, my interest doesn't really go much further back than the 18th century, but at this time of year, I begin yearning for a new "something" to wear to faire, since presently, the only thing I have is horribly farby! Generally, I decide I clearly need to go in something fancy - fit for a queen - and so take on plans that are too big and too expensive for the short amount of time that I have to accomplish them.
I think it finally got through my head that I would be more successful if I chose a less ambitious adventure, because this year, what my whim settled on is absolutely working class, and involves not one scrap of silk taffeta!

That said, it does still involve pink, so rest assured that all is still well with the world! ;)

At right is a sketch of what I have in mind. The fabrics will all be linen, and I want to go with two shades of a lovely peachy pink - a medium depth shade with a paler shade on the reverse of the skirt - so I can do that neat effect where you turn up the skirt edge and tie it around the waist, creating a sort of apron. It seems to be the thing to do if you are working class in this era, based on the paintings I was looking at!
one of my two shades of linen in the mail, and now fear they are too close to being the same depth of color to give the dark and light effect I was going for. I need a back-up plan, and fast, since I am about to go on vacation, and need to have the fabric sitting here when I get back, ready to be sewn up into the dress!

I came up with the two ideas below. The first uses one of my peachy pinks (whichever one I like best of the two I ordered) but now I'm looking at a much deeper shade for the dress - really more of a red than a pink. The second completely ditches the pink idea entirely, and instead uses two complimentary shades of blue linen - and from the same source, so one can be reasonably sure that even if the pictures on the web site don't represent the fabrics exactly as they are in real life, hopefully they will at least look as well together as they do online!
I've decided to go with the blue. I got home from vacation and found my second peachy pink awaiting me, and it is indeed too close to the same depth of color as my other peachy one, but on top of that, it's also more of a coral while the first linen is more of a salmon - and they look awful together. I like the red-over-peach idea better than the blues, but I started getting worried that the red would turn up and not work well with either peach/coral/salmon. So, I decided to play it safe and go with the blues. But, there's nothing that says I can't eventually make the peachy version of the dress in the future! For next year, maybe?

Meanwhile, I'm making great progress on the smock and kirtle, and hope to have pictures very soon!
I had to try the smock on to mark the sleeve length, and the kirtle to make sure it fits (and it does - perfectly!!!) so I snapped a couple of quick pictures. . . I should be able to finish both of these items tonight, no problem! Now, let's just cross our fingers that the dress fabric really does arrive tomorrow so it's ready to go tomorrow night after work!
I didn't quite make it with the dress, so for this year, I just wore the smock and kirtle to Faire. It's perhaps a bit simple of an outfit, but I'm so happy with the fit, that I don't even mind!
This year, I was able to get the dress ready in time to be worn to our annual visit to King Richard's Faire! Huzzah!
I am really happy with it, however, I think I needed a petticoat or two to give the skirts more oomph. And for my next trip to Faire, I'll replace my cotton smock with a more period-correct linen one, and perhaps add more accessories. . . But for now, I'm calling this project done! :)
I was cutting another project out of some lightweight linen today, and I figured, while I have it out and ironed, why not cut out that new smock I wanted to upgrade my ensemble with? And before I knew it, I'd cut out that, as well as a cap and partlet. I don't know when I'll get around to sewing these, but at least they're all cut and ready to go! ;)
I've been working lately on a few enhancements for my c. 1560s-70s ensemble, with the hopes of making it to King Richard's Faire this year. First up, I finished a partlet:
I made this using two layers of handkerchief linen from (off-white color but I can't remember which of their "white" shades this is - both their optic and bleached white are more of a winter white, FYI), and the pattern is from The Tudor Tailor. I hand-sewed it just as the book describes, but when finished, I felt an urge to make tiny, perfect top-stitches around all the edges. . . So I did just that, and I think it made a difference because it seemed less flimsy and "slippery" after that.

Even though the collar is capable of standing somewhat on its own (even pre-starching!), I'm currently thinking of wearing it folded down, like this:
Partlet front
I also bought some cheap cotton shoes that are not period correct by any means, but are a bit better than the Sketchers I wore last time! At least these are just a plain woven cotton, dark in color, and should not stick out.
I'm working on a few more items to step up my 16th century game, but what I complete will all depend on when I end up going to the Faire!
Next up on my list of enhancements to my 16th century ensemble was an upgraded "smock." My previous smock was made in cotton, and partially machined to save time. I'd be longing for something a little more accurate, so this time around, I used handkerchief linen, and hand sewed it. I Frankenpatterned, using Kannik's Korner's 18th century shift to get basic proportions, as I already know and love that pattern. Then, I referenced The Tudor Tailor to see what I'd need to change to make it accurate for the 16th century.
16th Century Smock
I went with just a basic scooped neck because it's what suited the rest of my ensemble, but instead of just turning the raw edge under, I made a self-fabric bias binding to act as a casing. I did this because I made the mistake of buying cheap linen, and it frayed worse than any fabric - linen or otherwise - I have ever worked with! I would have preferred the turned-under edge finish, but the casing method worked out all right too. For the cuffs, I knew I wanted ties at the wrists. Tudor Tailor shows just one set of ties per cuff, but I went with two because I had this lovely narrow tape and I thought it would look delicate and pretty to have two sets of ties.
16th Century Smock, detail of cuff
So, with this new smock, I'm technically ready for the Faire! However, there's always room for more accessories. . . ;)
I finished one more accessory for my trip to King Richard's Faire this year. . . Though to be honest, while it's plausibly historically accurate, it's not the correct period for the rest of my faire garb! This pouch is medieval, while the rest of my ensemble is meant to be c. 1560s-70s. What can I say? When I saw a historic purse that involved cats, I could not resist. And I'm quite certain there will not be anyone at the faire secretly snarking about my mis-matched eras since I fully anticipate being surrounded by people in costumes spanning medieval through Victorian, plus modern day, and things that never existed at all! ;)
Finished medieval kitty bag
And then just one more shot, with the ties not drawn up. . .
Finished medieval kitty purse
This was such a quick, fun little project! Mine is quite small, as I used fingering weight yarn and size 1 1/2 needles, but just by altering your yarn/needle sizes, you can make this in all kinds of sizes. As it is, mine turned out so that it fits my phone and money perfectly, and really, what else do you need at Faire (assuming your phone is also your camera)? ;)

For more details (and a link to the pattern/charts), feel free to check out my Ravelry page for this project.
2014 was a spectacular year at Faire. . . I even met King Richard himself! Here's photographic proof of the meeting of King Richard, as well as the wearing of my new shift and accessories. . .
Jenni and King Richard at King Richard's Faire
This page © 2010 by Jennifer E. Lithgow