Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Tudor Tailor

For my Queen of Hearts costume, I'm going to use the Henrician Gown pattern from The Tudor Tailor.  I bought this book a couple of years ago for no other reason than that it had lovely photographs and was so interesting.  I felt a bit foolish afterwards, because I couldn't ever think of a reason to make myself a Tudor gown that called for 9 metres of fabric and a farthingale.  Hah, was I wrong!

Ninya and Jane with baby Holly at The International Living History Fair in 2010

The Tudor Tailor is the joint project of two very talented women.  Jane Malcolm-Davies has a doctorate in Heritage Interpretation from the University of Surrey, and is the director of JMD & Co, which (among other services) loans historically accurate reproduction costumes to schools and gives talks about their historical background. Ninya Mikhalia has a Higher National Diploma in Costume Interpretation (doesn't that sound like a fantastic course?) from the London College of Fashion and is the principle maker of costumes for JMD & Co.

The book contains 36 patterns for Tudor garments for men and women including hats and underwear. This is the 1540s Courtier's Suit from the cover of the book, isn't it sumptuous?

The pattern for this amazing 1590s gown complete with farthingale and ruff is included.  I would love to have a go at making it one day.

What I particularly like about the book is that it also provides an historical background for the costumes.  There are several chapters discussing the social and financial role that clothing played in people's lives, and the types of materials used, with emphasis on the clothing of the average person not just the wealthy.

Pattern for Henrician Lady's Kirtle

As you can see above, the patterns are shown at 1/8th scale (each square of the grid equals one inch) and have to be scaled up to be used.  This can be a bit of a pain if you don't have inch squared paper, but there are some instructions on the Tudor Tailor site.

The instructions suppose a prior familiarity with sewing and can be quite brief.  This is not a book for a beginner sewer! There is a glossary explaining some of the more unusual sewing terms, and detailed photos and line drawings of the finished costume, but no step-by-step instructions.  This is not at all a criticism, just an observation, and if you haven't sewn very much before, I doubt you'd be attempting these sorts of outfits.

Next post: the toile of the Henrician gown bodice.

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