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Re: What are the "little" things that make an Italian Ren gown really period?

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  • borderlands15213
    Wow. Italian Renaissance covers a lot of time and, because Italy was a peninsula and full of city-state-like entities, many of which were being influenced
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 28, 2005
      Wow. Italian Renaissance covers a lot of time and, because "Italy"
      was a peninsula and full of city-state-like entities, many of which
      were being influenced by what we would recognize today as "foreign"
      government in a sort of "Whose the land, his the religion" equivalent;
      and because these city-states, duchies, republics and kingdoms and
      papal state were quite distinct from one another they had their own
      local or regional styles of clothing, you're asking a very large
      question.

      But I'll answer you in a general way that applies to garb of other
      times and places, too.
      I do want to state, though, that these are things I think about when
      I'm doing a piece of garb, or an entire outfit, whether it's for me or
      for someone else. At events, I've learned to note whatever it is, and
      then let it go by, or not to notice at all: I'm not there in a
      policing capacity.

      *Cut: line and general silhouette is important.
      *Fit, which has to be correct.

      Other aspects have to belong to that quarter century or decade, and
      they have to belong *together* in a garment or outfit.

      *Colors: Not any and every color was "acceptable" from 1452 to 1600
      at all places on the Italian peninsula. You don't have to be able to
      recite book, chapter and verse, but gentles around you absorb a lot
      more than they realize they do, just be looking at artwork; this
      happens even when they're looking at art to confirm some non-clothing
      aspect of life at the time of the painting and believe they have next
      to no interest in accurate clothing (but they'll have some, if they're
      looking to confirm other life details.)

      *Textile design: If solid silks or solid wools, without brocading or
      even textural interest were favored, use those. If Milan was into
      deep, rich subdued colored brocades at the end of the century, and
      your garment is made of a pale ochre-y gold damask, it's going to look
      wrong to someone who specializes in Milanese clothing during the late
      Rinascimento (by the way, I don't know Milanese fashion, so no one
      should take this example as gospel.)
      Pay attention to *how* a textile design is formed. Sometimes a
      lattice-like pattern is achieved through the weave with a strong
      linear component marking off the diamonds; other times you'll find
      that the "lattice" is, for instance, the formation of botanicals, such
      as acanthus leaves, into a diamond-shape and the shape repeated in the
      weaving into a diamond lattice pattern.
      One of the things that bugs me is one of the things it's hardest to
      avoid, especially if you're on a budget, or have to find fabric and
      get a gown sewn up in nine days before an event, and that's fabric
      that is obviously modern. If we all had unlimited income, we could
      afford some of those fabulous, authentic Italian Ren patterns still or
      again being produced or reproduced.

      *How does this gown close? Front laced? Front hook-and-eye? Back
      lacing? Back side lacing? Hooked under the arm on a side closing?
      Is the closure invisible, as some of the hook-and-eye closures are?

      *Proportions. How deep are those pointed bodices, in a specific
      decade? How full or tight are the sleeves? How are the necklines
      cut? One set of sleeves, or two? How are they shaped? If there's a
      hanging sleeve, how long is it? How full? How stiff or soft?
      How full is the skirt, really? What about the underskirt if there is
      one?

      What sorts of embellishments are used? Embroidery? If so, are we
      talking about blackwork, white work, pulled work, polychrome?
      Jewels?

      *What accessories (neck ruffs, closed or standing; shoulder ruffs?;
      and wrist ruffles) are used? Kerchiefs? How often? By what class?
      What are they made of? Sheer fabrics? Lace? Opaque? If there's
      lace, is it linen or metallic? If you want to be very picky, how
      closely does it mimic reticella, punto-in-aria, bobbin lace, needle
      lace, take-your-pick.... Is it obviously machine made and modern?

      *What about jewelry? How is it fashioned and of what? Do most ladies
      appear in portraits at this time and place, wearing earrings, for
      instance, or do we see them without? And are earrings appropriate to
      the station of the gown you're creating? What sort of belt, sash or
      girdle? What about other jewels? Religious articles such as pilgrim
      badges, prayer beads, and so on? Did you remember to remove your
      modern wrist watch and either put it away in a safe place, or have it
      concealed on your person in such a way that you can retrieve it and
      look at it without causing a sensation?

      *How do elements combine according to the evidence we have? (I kept
      envisioning an Italian Ren for myself, very mid-sixteenth century
      Florentine, and I kept SEEING, in my mind's eye, the full, ruched
      upper sleeve, and a paned undersleeve. Haven't made it, yet. And I
      haven't found any evidence of a fully paned undersleeve.
      Longitudinally slashed undersleeves worn under the full, ruched or
      balloon upper sleeve, yes. And paned sleeves which form a puff or
      roll at the shoulder seam/armscye. But not the two together. Very
      disappointing, as I had two wonderful fabrics for the paned
      undersleeve but that isn't going to happen.)

      *Incorrect hair styles; no attempt at period hair-dressing or a
      failure to put a period headdress such as a balzo on the head and
      cover up the hair when that was what was done; no hat for men. I know
      this isn't *Gown* but it's an incongruity that gives me the feeling
      the subject is attending a costume party because she or he is "into
      wearing funky clothes." It's as if they're self-conscious and rather
      flippant at the same time; it looks careless.

      *In the same vein, whole outfit needs to be pulled together; congruity
      or the lack of it makes a big difference. Having a "foreign" element
      in there makes an unpleasant "clang." As an example, to have either a
      German element in an early sixteenth century Florentine gown, or a
      late sixteenth century element used in an early sixteenth century
      Florentine gown, just sort of grinds.
      Is it "Generic Italian Ren" you're making, or are you going for
      Parman? Milanese? Florentine? Roman? Venetian (which some folks
      consider to be entirely separate and in a class all its own?)

      *Just a note: The most easily ignored or forgiven detail is shoes,
      which for most re-enactors are the hardest thing to duplicate, and
      often quite costly, too. Since you had asked about a *gown,* I can
      say that for most upper class ladies' clothing, shoes won't be much
      seen, and as long as they are modest, simple, a solid color and
      unobtrusive they oughtn't be an issue.

      <Whew.>
      Yseult the Gentle

      -- In Italian_Rennaissance_Costuming@yahoogroups.com, "Vicki"
      <reldnips@v...> wrote:
      > The stuff people take for granted or the stuff that makes people
      > think "it is pretty, but it needs..." Or for that matter what are
      > things people do wrong in making Italian Ren gowns that keep it from
      > being more period?
      >
      > I'm looking for things/ideas that take garb to the next level or
      your
      > peeves when looking at someone else's garb.
    • Diana Habra
      ... The main thing that makes an outfit for me is correct fitting. You can have the perfect material, the perfect trim, or the perfect head gear but if the
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 28, 2005
        > The stuff people take for granted or the stuff that makes people
        > think "it is pretty, but it needs..." Or for that matter what
        > are
        > things people do wrong in making Italian Ren gowns that keep it from
        > being more period?
        >
        > I'm looking for things/ideas that take garb to the next level or your
        > peeves when looking at someone else's garb.

        The main thing that makes an outfit for me is correct fitting. You can
        have the perfect material, the perfect trim, or the perfect head gear but
        if the dress or doublet doesn't fit correctly, then it looks like a
        *costume*.

        I see many examples of great attempts.......but the bodice is wrinkled
        (not enough fitting and/or stiffening), or the bodice gapes or doesn't
        give enough support (incorrect fitting), or the shoulder strap is falling
        off or it is in the wrong place (incorrect fitting), etc.

        Clothes from this time period should look like they were made for you
        (because they would have been) and if you have a poorly fitting outfit,
        your outfit will not look correct.

        My two lira,

        Diana/Roseline

        www.RenaissanceFabrics.net
        "Everything for the Costumer"
      • Alex Doyle
        Enough fabric and fabric with the right hand to it. I ve seen one that while it was silk, the girl either didn t know to line it so it had more body or she
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 28, 2005
          Enough fabric and fabric with the right "hand" to it. I've seen one
          that while it was silk, the girl either didn't know to line it so it
          had more body or she just wasn't using enough fabric. Other wise the
          cut and fit looked okay

          alex

          --- Diana Habra <dch@...> wrote:

          >
          > > The stuff people take for granted or the stuff that makes
          > people
          > > think "it is pretty, but it needs..." Or for that matter
          > what
          > > are
          > > things people do wrong in making Italian Ren gowns that keep it
          > from
          > > being more period?
          > >
          > > I'm looking for things/ideas that take garb to the next level or
          > your
          > > peeves when looking at someone else's garb.
          >
        • Oblique Red
          Do you have any suggestions for sources where someone who is a self-taught sewer might be able to find information on that sort of thing? I know that I ve had
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 29, 2005
            Do you have any suggestions for sources where someone who is a self-taught
            sewer might be able to find information on that sort of thing? I know that
            I've had a lot of trouble finding something that explains what purpose
            linings serve and explains them rather than just saying you need one... if
            you don't know why you're supposed to have one, then that's a bunch of
            fabric that you don't see the point of spending money to buy.
            I would love to find a really good book that explained the theory and
            purpose as well as the techniques of things like linings and facings and
            interfacing and seam finishes and edge-binding and thread shanks on buttons-
            all those little technical things that make such a difference in the
            appearance of a garment but that are difficult to figure out on your own if
            you don't have an experienced sewer to ask about.

            On 9/28/05, Alex Doyle <dubghaille@...> wrote:
            >
            > Enough fabric and fabric with the right "hand" to it. I've seen one
            > that while it was silk, the girl either didn't know to line it so it
            > had more body or she just wasn't using enough fabric. Other wise the
            > cut and fit looked okay
            >
            > alex
            >
            >


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Jessica Maxson
            Salve! Honestly, the best sources I have found are mailing lists like this one. There are lots of knowledgeable people who are willing and happy to share their
            Message 5 of 7 , Sep 29, 2005
              Salve!

              Honestly, the best sources I have found are mailing lists
              like this one. There are lots of knowledgeable people who
              are willing and happy to share their collected learning. I
              learned a lot more from folks on mailing lists than I ever
              did from books (for the most part), especially since when
              you're a beginniner and/or self-taught sewer, it's hard to
              know what information applies to modern techniques and what
              applies to period stuff. So feel free to ask questions here!
              If you can handle a lot of email traffic, the h-costume list
              is also a great place to learn new things. I haven't been on
              it in a while, but I got so much out of it when I was.

              As far as linings, there are a lot of reasons why you might
              want a lining in a garment. It reinforces and supports the
              outer layer of fashion fabric, makes it look neater and more
              finished on the inside, and can even add warmth to the
              garment. It also makes the garment more durable, by cutting
              down on wear and tear on the seams. Frequently, you can just
              line the bodice and/or sleeves and get those benefits
              without having to line the whole garment, which doesn't
              require as much extra fabric. In period, upper class people
              would line the whole garment with a contrasting fabric or
              fur to show off their wealth (as well as for the other
              reasons I mentioned).

              We had a discussion not too long ago about facings and
              interfacings and whether or not they were used in period. I
              think the general consensus was that they were not usually
              used in period, though a rare example here or there might be
              found (I don't recall exactly, I blame pregnancy brain).

              Seam finishes are used for durability. There are a number of
              different types of seam finishes, and I won't go into them
              all here, but they are generally to keep the seam allowances
              from unraveling over time, or to make a stronger seam. Keep
              in mind that people in period did not have sergers or sewing
              machines to do a zig-zag over raw edges, so they had to find
              various ways to secure those edges. The Museum of London
              Clothing and Textiles book has a lot of details about
              techniques for hand-finishing seams. Ditto for edge bindings.

              I'm not sure what specifically you mean by thread shanks on
              buttons - whether they have a thread shank would depend on
              the type of button. Self-cloth buttons might have a thread
              shank, which would then be used to actually sew the button
              on the clothing (possibly the same for later-period thread-
              wrapped buttons, not sure). I actually don't do that, even
              when I make cloth buttons - I find that they sit too loosely
              on the garment, and I can get a tighter stitch with a
              separate piece of thread. Maybe I'm just weird that way. ;-)

              Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions about
              sewing techniques if you like. =)

              --Giuliana Salviati


              >
              >Do you have any suggestions for sources where someone who
              is a self-taught
              >sewer might be able to find information on that sort of
              thing? I know that
              >I've had a lot of trouble finding something that explains
              what purpose
              >linings serve and explains them rather than just saying you
              need one... if
              >you don't know why you're supposed to have one, then that's
              a bunch of
              >fabric that you don't see the point of spending money to
              buy.
              > I would love to find a really good book that explained the
              theory and
              >purpose as well as the techniques of things like linings
              and facings and
              >interfacing and seam finishes and edge-binding and thread
              shanks on buttons-
              >all those little technical things that make such a
              difference in the
              >appearance of a garment but that are difficult to figure
              out on your own if
              >you don't have an experienced sewer to ask about.
            • Alex Doyle
              Not off hand, a lot of sewing that I ve done has been self-taught. The I want to do that and what do I have to do to get there kind of mindset. There have
              Message 6 of 7 , Sep 29, 2005
                Not off hand, a lot of sewing that I've done has been self-taught. The
                "I want to do that and what do I have to do to get there" kind of
                mindset.

                There have been times when I've done commissions for friends who have
                requested certain seam finishes or such that previously I didn't think
                were needed. After using them I rarely not do them now.

                As to the lining or not to line question, I took that hint from a stage
                costume book. Where they were coming from was that cheap fabrics might
                have the right finish, but not enough weight to hang like the real
                thing. If you line said fabric it will then have the weight to hang
                right. I did this once with a dollar a yard print fabric that was SOOO
                Elizabethan. In fact I think I spent more on the lining than the
                outside fabric, and end up with a gown that looked and wore right. I
                have a friend who was really surprised when she came across a fabric
                scrap of the dress on just how thin it really was. And for a cheap
                fabric, it has worn really well- it's in good shape after having been
                worn a goodly portion of five years.

                Sometimes a lining isn't required to give the right weight either. I
                have one gown that is so lightweight you can see through the fabric if
                held up to the light. I added a six inch heavy velvet guard about the
                skirt and it not only looks right, it is a light layer that goes over
                another skirt.

                alex

                --- Oblique Red <obliquered@...> wrote:

                > Do you have any suggestions for sources where someone who is a
                > self-taught
                > sewer might be able to find information on that sort of thing? I know
                > that
                > I've had a lot of trouble finding something that explains what
                > purpose
                > linings serve and explains them rather than just saying you need
                > one... if
                > you don't know why you're supposed to have one, then that's a bunch
                > of
                > fabric that you don't see the point of spending money to buy.
                > I would love to find a really good book that explained the theory
                > and
                > purpose as well as the techniques of things like linings and facings
                > and
                > interfacing and seam finishes and edge-binding and thread shanks on
                > buttons-
                > all those little technical things that make such a difference in the
                > appearance of a garment but that are difficult to figure out on your
                > own if
                > you don't have an experienced sewer to ask about.
                >
                > On 9/28/05, Alex Doyle <dubghaille@...> wrote:
                > >
                > > Enough fabric and fabric with the right "hand" to it. I've seen one
                > > that while it was silk, the girl either didn't know to line it so
                > it
                > > had more body or she just wasn't using enough fabric. Other wise
                > the
                > > cut and fit looked okay
                > >
                > > alex
                > >
                > >
                >
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
                >
                >
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