September 9, 2014

A Renaissance Woman

Since I told you guys all about my fall sewing plans last week, I thought today I would give you another little tease of what I'm going to be working on in the form of my sketches. I love having dresses in my wardrobe; and now that I have a basic dress pattern I love and that fits like a glove, I plan on making a TON of dresses for this fall and winter season. As much as I love retro looks (from the 20's-50's), I would also like to infuse some serious historicism into my wardrobe. In this vein, I will be creating a whole run of Renaissance/Tudor inspired dresses!

These sketches are in no particular order (as far as which dresses I will be working on first) but give a good idea of the basic styles I will be going for. The main dress stays the same, though the sleeves and style lines may vary. I have decided to keep the dress pattern I used for my summer 50's dresses since I love the shape on me and the pattern goes together so quickly. The first dress above on the left will be made out of a circular motif black satin brocade. The neckline and slashed puff sleeves will be done in black velvet. I am not sure exactly how this style of renaissance sleeve is made but I plan on figuring it out with the assistance of the ever helpful internet!

The second dress on the right is more simple and will end up looking a bit more modern. The main body of the dress will be red wool with just the center front bodice panel done in red velvet. I plan on adding little tabs of red velvet along the shoulder seams to keep the Renaissance flair. I also already have a very Tudor style embellished red velvet belt that I think will look perfect with this dress.

The first dress of these two will be made from the olive and gold brocade seen pictured at the very top of this post. I plan on doing a geometric renaissance inspired velvet trim pattern on the bodice and also adding a thin pleated taffeta boarder to the square neckline in ivory. This is another of the more mildly historic dresses of the many I have planned.

The dress on the right will be made in dark forest green velvet and wool, both leftovers in my stash from past projects. The sleeves are directly inspired by The Borgias (btw I have started watching The Borgias, such beautiful costumes!). I have lots of gauzy ivory cottons to use for the undersleeves, though obviously figuring out how to make this style of sleeve will be challenging!

The first dress of this pair is directly inspired by the green gown Natalie Portman is wearing in the photo below from the film The Other Boleyn Girl. I found the exact same color of satin (only polyester) years ago and made a quazi-Elizabethian gown for a Renaissance themed choir performance my senior year of high school. I have decided to recycle that gorgeous fabric into a new dress more directly inspired by the Tudor gown below! I plan on adding the quintessentially Tudor neckline trimmings of gold and pearls along my neckline and also the at the sleeve cuffs. I wish I could get away with huge Tudor sleeves but some sacrifices have to be made for modernity!

The last sketch is of another dress to be made in velvet, this time in a russet red color. For the longest time my favorite local fabric shop (Denver Fabrics) kept getting these unusual and a-m-a-z-i-n-g colors of velvet in their cut yardage sale section, so I hoarded them all (naturally). Now I need to start using these velvets, starting with this Tudor inspired dress with sheer black sleeves!

I am super excited about starting these dresses, I basically just want to dress like a queen for no reason, but really who doesn't? I also want to create some partlets and snoods/hairnets to wear with these dresses when I am feeling super historical. I am a fashion history blogger, that is my excuse when people are inevitably going to look at me funny. I am *this* close to finishing my 18th century cotton jacket and black petticoat and am so excited to be done! I want to start sewing my new fall wardrobe! I'll have more updates on these dresses throughout the season, we'll see how the designs evolve from sketch to finished dress!


  1. Great idea! I love the Italian-esque trim in your third drawing. On any other dress, it would look fairly modern, but the little upswoop in the center of the neckline instantly makes it look 16th century and unique! The brocade will look so rich, but it would be beautiful in a solid, too. Can't wait to see how they turn out!

  2. Wanting to dress like a queen is reason enough to do so in my books. Go for it - I can already envision how dazzlingly gorgeous this project is going to look.

    ♥ Jessica

  3. Oh I can't wait to see how these turn out! I love modern interpretations of historic costume, and your sketches look very exciting.


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