So after twelve hours in it, what do I think? Did I learn anything?
Yes! I need new pins. My friend had some from At The Eastern Door (their website is down today, but you can find them on Facebook) and I’ll be placing an order pronto. The stomacher and the robings do not wish to stay married, they have irreconcilable differences and need space. Space to flash the bodice lining, from what I can tell. I am less and less convinced that working women put up with stomachers and pins on a daily basis, and more convinced that I need to spend time looking at images of working (i.e. moving around, bending, twisting and reaching) women. There must be clues to this. Also, the popularity of closed front gowns makes a lot of very real sense now.
What else? Bonnets are distracting. They’re disorienting, a bit, but hide your face nicely. I have not had the full-on experience described and cautioned about elsewhere, but I will aver that bonnets do disorient you and you must be cautious. Especially around horses and crowds.
Garters! I was warned about them falling down, and they did, each one, once. The first went down in a wet tunnel (It’s like walking into a whale, Brian said) as some British officers passed. My short-jacketed farm laborer may not be able to maintain my sartorial splendors, you know…but he recovered the garter and I re-tied it. The other slipped down at the National Heritage Museum; both, after retying, remained in place. The first one took 6 hours to come down, so I’d say we did alright.
The mitts worked out well, too, and now have nice grime and grass stains, so they’ll need a little hand washing. It’s time to go back into the stash for another, longer pair, but even the linen blocked the wind and kept me warmer.
From the soreness of my ribs, I’d say a new set of stays are in my future. I’m too tired to think about it now, but the soreness makes me realize the boning must not be running in the right direction in the right place now that the size isn’t right (they stretched). But that’s a winter’s project…for now, two paws lazy-way-up for good lessons learned and good, if long, day in Lexington.
Nancy N said:
I’d love to hear what you find out about the pins, and the working woman. I’m interested, (not that I’d costume anyone in a show with a bunch of pins running down the front. The actors would be horrified, and think I was losing my grip, sending them out unfinished.) It always sounded to me that pinning and unpinning your bodice every day would be so destructive to those fabric edges, and wouldn’t a hook and eye, or loop, be a better choice? Please let me know what you find out.
Also about the stays and their comfort. My actors will be wearing them this summer, and I’m wondering whether I should spring for spring steel (pardon the pun!), as I suspect that’s more comfy than cable ties? I’m also debating whether I should eliminate the corsets and just heavily bone their bodices (mid-Tudor) instead, to keep them cooler. some nights the temps are in the high 80s and sooooo humid!
I’d love any advice you offer! I still say the gown is smashing, and I love the way the stomacher and robings look next to the apron!
I don’t know anything about Tudor beyond liking the look! My stays are made with cane and not cable ties or featherlight boning; the cane came from Wm Booth Draper, but someone had a line on ash splints for basketmaking. It’s an annoying substance to sew with, I’ll admit, though the cat thought it good for her teeth.
What I’ve heard about heat is that cane is cooler than steel, which is cooler than plastic.
Hunnisett suggests that a boned bodice works well and that a corset could be skipped unless there were plenty of costume changes–at least for 1625 on (later than mid-Tudor, of course). The humidity is a killer with stays and layers; it might be worth trying out the boned bodice, though the blessing of shift and stay layers is the washability of the shift…then as now.