Monday, 10 September 2012

Queen of Hearts headdress and farthingale

The Headdress

Once the Queen of Heart gown was nearly finished, I moved onto the headdress.  I wanted to modify a Tudor French hood so that it was in the shape of a heart.  Above is a recreation of a French hood, which came into vogue in the 1540s.  Anne Boleyn was very partial to them, having grown up in the French court.

Here is a charming miniature by Hans Holbein the Younger of a woman wearing a French hood. They were usually decorated with jewels (pearls being particularly popular) and had a veil that hung down the back.

The Tudor Tailor had a pattern for three versions of the French hood.  I scaled up the pieces and cut them out in card, then stuck them together to see how they fitted.  The top piece is the base of the hood (the bit that goes round the head) and the bottom piece is where I've enlarged the top piece into a heart shape.

The next step was to cut the two pieces out of buckram and hand stitch millinery wire around all the edges to stiffen it.  I stretched some of the red curtain fabric over the pieces and stitched it on, turning the edges under as I went (upon reflection it would have been wise to cover the base while it was flat and then bend it into shape, but never mind).  I glued red felt to the back of the heart piece to cover the raw edges, and then very painfully stitched the pieces together.  This was extremely difficult, and made even more so by the fact that I was doing it about half an hour before we had to be at the party!

The finished hood.  If you look carefully you can see that in my haste I didn't line up the heart piece with the point of the base piece properly, which annoys me, but I don't thing anyone noticed.

Side view. I cheated and used a hot glue gun to attach the gold braid, but I stitched the string of pearls (an old necklace) on by hand.  The middle decoration is an earring!

The Farthingale

I started making the farthingale at the same time as I was making the dress.  The Tudor Tailor has a pattern for a Spanish farthingale, shown above, which I followed.  The pattern was fine, the problem was with the hoops.  The book mentions using canes (I presume willow cane) and soaking them and bending them into shape.  There are basically no instructions on how to do this.  

A little pressed for time, I thought briefly about other alternatives (pvc piping, hula hoops) before giving up and going to Bunnings (a hardware chain) to see if they had anything.  They didn't have willow canes, but they had bamboo garden stakes for $8 a packet.

A bit of internet searching later, I found that if I heated the bamboo over a flame, I could bend them.  So for about two hours, I stood in the kitchen heating sections of bamboo cane over the gas burner and slowly, slowly bending them by hand.  I could only do about 10cm at a time, and even though I wore gardening gloves, the bamboo heated up terribly and burnt my thumbs through the cloth.  Ouch!  Needless to say, by the time I'd bent six canes into half circles (to make three hoops) I was quite over the whole thing.

I cut the four panels for the farthingale out of calico, sewed it together and tore strips to use for the hoop channels.

Because each hoop was made from two pieces, it went a bit oval shaped as you can see in the photo above (top down view of the farthingale collapsed on the floor). This wasn't ideal but it was the best I could do with limited time.  I'm pretty sure I'm not going to use this farthingale again!

Here's the farthingale on. It was pretty rough but it did the trick, and made the skirt stand out nicely.

It was designed to be worn with a bum roll at the back as well, which would swing the whole thing backwards a bit, so I think with the right materials and some more time, it would work quite well.

Next:  the final dress and bonus caterpillar costume photos!

1 comment:

  1. That's quite a good idea, I mean those bamboos. It's really hard to find anything for the hoops, I've been trying to get something at the hardware store, but failed. Maybe I'll try out these.