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Oh, LJ, how much I love thee...

Well, I'm back from the land of the semi-dead. More than a week with a nasty bronchitis took away all my will to post.

But I'm feeling better now.

(I feel happy!!!)

(I think I'll go for a walk.)

However, amidst the haze of medication and fatigue, I learned that spammers love blogs.

That is, blogs that are not LiveJournal.

Imagine that!

Currently, I have this journal, my costuming website (which includes a blogging section), and my photography/travel blog. The latter two are powered by WordPress, and I adore the platform.

Having said that, I have noticed that spammers loooove to leave stupid little messages in the hope that you think it's a real comment and not spam. Now, how stupid do you think that bloggers are? Geez!

Thank goodness for spam filters and Akismet!

So yeah, after we have bitched about the changes in LJ, I have a sense of community here that I don't have anywhere else. Plus, I have no spammers.

So yeah, the bulk of my blogging will remain firmly here, with my specialty stuff in the other two. (Plus, my costuming site was never intended to become a blog anyway.)

Yeah, that will work.

In other news, I am almost done with the infamous green doublet made out of remnant wool. I am really pleased with it. Why? Because every time I make one, I experiment with techniques in order to get it closer to reproduction quality.

I remember that early in my costuming "career," someone told me that doublets had never been intended to be worn by women. At the time, this made sense to me since my frame of mind was fixed on male fighting doublets. And fitting a doublet taking into account unbound boobs was an incredible challenge for me. (By unbound, I mean uncorseted. Modern bras don't count.)

As time went by, I realized (like many others have done before me), that doublets were indeed meant to be worn by women. It is simply that our minds are tuned to 21st Century's silhouettes and techniques. And you cannot fit a proper doublet utilizing that mindset.

For one thing, female doublets were very structured. This is true as well for men's. The main thing is that you would wear a corset or kirtle underneath. This flattens the girls and allows you to fit it better. Additionally, if you look at the extant pieces, like the famous women’s embroidered velvet doublet of c. 1585 – preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, you may notice that said doublet was both boned and laced.

What does this mean? Well, I had my theory that this particular type of doublet was self-supporting and that it would do away with the need of a pair of bodies (corset) underneath. Nowadays, I am not so sure.

At any rate, it might work as a self-supporting garment if you were extremely petite and no more than an A cup, but I still think that there's a good chance that you might have to wear a stiffened foundation underneath anyway. After all, Eleanora de Toledo was extremely petite (not to mention emanciated due to her last illness), and she still was buried with a bodice under her now famous gown. Granted, this is a doublet and Eleanora's was a gown, but the principle of cut and construction is quite similar.

Because Eleanora's red velvet bodice was so decayed, it was impossible to figure out how it was stiffened. But it would have had some stiff canvas interlining it at the very least.

EDIT: The Eleonora de Toledo bodice and gown deserves a much longer entry of its own. We don't know if it was stiffened or not, although it may have had padding. This could be for shaping of for warmth. I just don't want to give the wrong idea there. Like I said, this is a post from my lunch hour, and not meant as a full article.

Anywhoo, I decided to build my green doublet pretty much like the extant piece in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. Not identical, though. The end result looks more like the love child of the aforementioned doublet and the 1590's Andaluz doublet from the Museo del Traje in Madrid. It's coming along very nice.

A final word, this is a topic that deserves its own article and pics, but I am writing in my lunch hour and just sharing some concepts. I'll be wearing the entire ensemble, including the green doublet, this Saturday at KASF. And I won't make any promises, since I've been incredibly short of time, but I do intend to write a full article and post it on my costuming site at a later date.

And that's all she wrote.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
After all, Eleanora de Toledo was extremely petite (not to mention emanciated due to her last illness), and she still was buried with a bodice under her now famous gown. Granted, this is a doublet and Eleanora's was a gown, but the principle of cut and construction is quite similar.

Because Eleanora's red velvet bodice was so decayed, it was impossible to figure out how it was stiffened. But it would have had some stiff canvas interlining it at the very least.

I don't think Eleonora di Toledo should be considered an extremely petite woman. Based on the examination of her grave and remains, the skeleton revealed a lady ca. 1,58 m. tall, and she was musculous due to her active lifestyle. Unlike Tuscan ladies, she always accompanied her husband on hunts and travels, and spent a fair deal on the horseback. Based on modern standards she definitely weren't tall, but she was quite normal sized for her time, and in better shape.

The conservators working on her funeral attire remarked that the front-closed underbodice was not closed with the hooks and eyes on the corpse. Instead, the sides overlapped, as corroded metal hooks has left marks on the velvet. They have suggested the duchess, which was already thin due to her poor health, got even thinner due to the grief of loosing two sons in malaria, and in the end contracting the disease herself. So the corpse might have been clothed in the underbodice to fill out the too large dress bodice.

However, you're right about the stiffening of these garments. There are a couple surviving Italian 16th century garbs. Many of the bodices shows signs of stiffening. The normal method was using linen hardened with glue/cardboard, combined with various padding. I've written a bit about it here:

The cardboard stiffening was described as being of "a typically Spanish system". I would not be surprised, though, that similar methods were used all over Europe.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
linen hardened with glue/cardboard

I meant cardboard, as in linen stiffened with glue. The way I've written it above makes it appear I suggest a linen stiffened with either glue or cardboard...
Feb. 2nd, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
Nice articles! Very nicely researched!
Feb. 2nd, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, what I meant is that she was very thin at the time of her death. You can see that the bodice was taken in. A lot. :-)
Feb. 3rd, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
What is also interesting though, is the burgundy bodice was let out at the waist with two tiny gores.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 06:36 am (UTC)
Glad you liked the articles.

What do you mean about the bodices being taken in a lot? I haven't read anything about that in the conservator reports on Eleonora's burial clothes. They've pointed out that the clothes she was buried in was not made especially for the funeral. It seems to have been one of her regular dresses, presumably one of the last made for her, and there were signs of wear at the hem. But I don't think it was remodeled at any point.

As fiberfettet pointed out, the underbodice has gores at the sides, but I think they were original to the garment. You can see them here:

Someone mentioned this bodice originally having a skirt. It was thought so in the 19th century, but newer research points towards it being an individual bodice. Eleonora di Toledo had several of them in her recorded guardaroba. The exact function of them is still debated - some consider them as stays, some as a means of keeping the rheumatic lady warm (similar function to her feather lined stomach bands). So...

I agree with you and kass_rants about the use of proper undergarmens. It really makes all the difference!
Feb. 3rd, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
My impression was that the front was overlapped, possibly because she had lost so much weight.
Feb. 4th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
Ah, I thought you meant actual alternations to the bodices. Yes, the velvet bodice did overlap with around 5 centimeters in front. The corpse was dressed in a hurry, with one sock put on inside-out, and with the (I think) right dress bodice side wrongly and sparsely laced up. As three Medici family members had died of malaria, it might be that the ladies preparing her for funeral was afraid of being infected and did everything in a hurry.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Something I've been contemplating (but haven't done anything about) - the double set of garments (assuming the red velvet bodice was attached to a skirt) means that you won't have any pesky "look, see the fabric of my shift!" moments, or "why'd I make a side-back laced kirtle when I can't guarantee I'll have help dressing?" moments.
And Eleanora was tiny - she may not have been terribly short, but her waist is the equivalent of a size 0 or 2, I think. It's terribly demoralizing to be adjusting patterns to fit, and not have to adjust anything beyond adding 4-6" to the waist :)
I'm looking forward to seeing pictures, and the eventual write-up, of your green doublet.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
If you are going to wear a doublet and skirt, you want to point them. :-)

I'll write something later. With pictures!
Feb. 2nd, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
How do you manage the skirt such that you don't have a gap where one side of the waistband meets the other? That was the "look here's my shift" problem - even when laced so that both sides of the bodice meet, if the kirtle is a dark color, then the shift will show just by contrast, unless you do something weird. Same thing with a stand-alone skirt, though in that case, it's much easier to have sufficient overlap.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... One of the problems that many people run into is not putting enough fabric in their skirts. If you put enough fabric, it will "close" automatically.

As for stand alone skirts, I don't wear them. Skirts should be pointed to something, whether a bodice or a doublet, but never alone.

Same with men's breeches. They pointed them too, which is important since belts were worn on top of the doublet and not a means to hold your pants. In the case of breeches, I don't point mine since as a girl a) it would pose a problem in order to go to the bathroom; and b) I am not built as a guy, so they stand in my waist. But I point Marcellus'. Guys do not have the bathroom issue, and their pants do fall down. :-)
Feb. 2nd, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
I've missed you. =)

I'm doing a lot of reading about Eleanor of Toledo's burial clothing right now, and it seems that current thought states that her bodice wasn't really stiffened. It was padded, presumably for warmth. It seems to be what we'd call a waistcoat in English terms, worn under another garment for warmth, not for shaping.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
Yup. But even padding would have stiffened it. It's difficult to tell, as it is very decayed, but the other theory is that it had at least some cardboard (linen stiffened with glue as pointed out by Operafantomnet), Spanish style. Eleanora was Spanish, not Florentine, so there is that theory there. :-)

The truth is, we shall never know, but my money is that it needed to be shaped.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
I forgot about the cardboard.

But I think we underestimate the shaping ability of multiple layers and padding. In other periods I've done, I found that people didn't wear the proper about of layers, and that's why they looked like they needed corsets. But with the proper amount of layers, they didn't need as much stiffening as you would have thought.

Like you said we'll never know for sure.
Feb. 2nd, 2011 10:25 pm (UTC)
Yeppers. It's all about the proper undergarments, baby. :-D
Feb. 3rd, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)
Even just the fabric looked stiff and thick when I saw it. Like the really heavy upholstery velvets. I think it would have provided decent support and shaping even without extra stiffining, especially as from the size and shape of the pieces she was not very curvy.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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