My Perfect Gown
by Donna Scarfe (Mistress Felicity)
Donna's Gown Sketch
Alternate Design 1
Alternate Design 2
1. What time period and country is this gown from?
2. What pictures were your sources for inspiration?
Plus many pictures of various gowns at Renaissance Faires spotted on the Internet!
3. What colors did you choose to make this gown out of, and why?
Blue, rust & grey are the colors I have chosen for this gown. The colors come from the blue tapestry. My previous colors have been navy blue, burgundy and hunter green with brown, yellow and grey as an alternate color costume. Since I really wanted to use the tapestry, I followed what would relate well with it.
4. Which fabrics did you choose to make this gown out of, and why?
I found the blue tapestry first. It was just too beautiful not to use! However, I found I would not have enough to make a full doublet from it (not counting the sleeves) so I decided to piece it together with another fabric. Then, because I wanted to stay middle class I chose the grey brushed denim for the skirt and part of the doublet. At first I wasn't sure if I wanted the grey on top and the tapestry on the bottom, but after looking at several costumes on the Internet, I decided to have it the other way. The rust sleeves pick up on the hint of rust in the tapestry. It also provides a bit of color to brighten up the grey skirt. And gold trim because I wanted to elevate myself a little.
5. What accessories, if any, did you choose to compliment your costume? Why did you choose these particular accessories?
Although it is not on the drawing, I always wear a belt (girdle) with a purse and a few other things like keys hanging from it. Usually I make my own purse, but I wanted this gown to be very special so I bought a nice deep blue leather tooled pouch from the Faire last year (ouch!). I also carry a scissors sheath for my small and large scissors as I am always cutting threads while I work as a hatmaker. I will be making a lady's riding hat but not sure if it will be in the rust or grey material As I want to indicate my prosperous merchant status, I will be wearing a blue net caul (snood) with gold beads under my hat. I have a pair of black no-heeled shoes (like Mary Jane's) and blue or grey colored stockings.
6. Describe all the costume pieces involved in this outfit.
1.White high necked chemise with ruff pleated color and cuffs.
7. How are you planning to create the gown pattern? Are you drafting it yourself, or buying a commercial pattern to start from? What influenced your pattern decisions?
2. Tabbed corset
3. Bloomers (I'm sorry-for me it's essential!)
6. Bum Roll
8.Doublet with detachable Sleeves
9. Lady's Riding Hat with beaded caul
10. Girdle (belt) with purse (pouch), scissors sheath, and hanging keys attached
I started with two patterns - Alter Years Front Closing Men's Doublet, and Fantasy Fashions Dashing Doublets. I wanted to do a front closing doublet and I have worked (and know) the folk from Alter Years and like their patterns. However, I did want sleeves and their pattern did include any, hence getting the Dashing Doublets one as well. I took the smallest size (34) from the Alter Years pattern and had a friend help me scale it down to my size. I remade the muslin pattern and will use that to sew with. The sleeves may just take a minor adjustment in the length.
8. How did your level of sewing experience influence your design choices?
I consider myself an intermediate sewer, so I didn't want to do anything too complicated with trim or pattern design. I have made a side closing middle class bodice with skirt and overskirt so I was a bit familiar with this design process. In order to simplify things this go around, I opted for a single skirt, not the double one because I really wanted to concentrate on the doublet because I did want to include some gold piping along the tapestry. The rest shouldn't be too difficult. (Knock on wood!)
9. How did your budget/resources influence your costume, fabric & material choices?
I had stashed the material, buttons, thread, trim etc. away for two years now so I was working with on hand materials. Again, I wanted to stay middle class, so I wasn't looking for the velvets and really fancy trim to pile on. The cost remained reasonable as I found the six yards of brushed denim at a fabric warehouse for $3.00/yd!
10. Where will you be wearing this outfit? Will it be worn often? What will you be doing in this outfit? How did these factors influence your design?
I am a sign language interpreter for the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire (now in its 40th year!) and will be on stage with the actors. Thus, I must have a full range of arm movement in the sleeves. There are 8 weeks of performances. In addition, I will be wearing it as I sell my Renaissance hats in various Renaissance faires around California from April - November. While working in my booth, I only use the bumroll, not the full hoopskirt for my costume for convenience. Comfort is essential.
11. Describe any other factors which influenced you in designing this gown.
Back to the Perfect Gown