Friday, June 15, 2012

Renaissance Dress: Assessing the Damage

My Renaissance dress needs SO MUCH WORK! Losing ~30 lbs after making a costume tends to cause problems. I've been trying to avoid going to Jo-Ann's since I've been trying to stash bust but I definitely need to make a trip for notions and things and I thought it would be a good time to take a closer look at my costume (since it hasn't seen the light of day since October) and see what I might need to buy. So this is really more for me than you, but I'm ok with that.

The patterns I used.

If you want to see older posts on this costume, go here.

So, from the inside out:


When I made this, it was too small in the arms and I never got to wear it. Now it fits! Assuming the neckline isn't too high (since I never actually tried it on with the dress), no work needs done on this piece.


I need to start from scratch on this one.... It was always just a smidge big but now it's huge. I plan on reusing the busk and lacing but that's about it. Last time I made size 16 and this time I'm going with 12. Thankfully, the pattern was printed in such a way that I can cut out the 12 even though I already cut it as a 16 so no need to buy a new pattern.


My hoops have a drawstring waist so I don't need to adjust them at all.

I did, for some reason that has now escaped me, pry up the casings a bit all the way down one side so those will need tacked back down.

Bum roll:

Bum roll (aka butt poofer to my husband) is ok as is.

Under skirt:

I slipped the under skirt on with no foundational garments and the waist is too big so it'll definitely need taken in with a new corset.

This does not have a drawstring so I'll have to take the grosgrain waistband off and gather the skirt a few inches tighter.

The dress:

I was most worried about the dress because I couldn't remember how I finished the seams! Thankfully, I finished each side separately with bias binding.

The thing I'm dreading really is the cartridge pleats which I hand sewed on. They'll have to come off so I can take in the bodice and then be sewn back on again. I'm really hoping that the waist is where most of the adjustments will have to be. I won't know though until I get my new corset done.

I may try and drop the neckline a bit. Since it'll have trim, I can just pop the top open, shorten the boning and then just top stitch through all layers. Not sure about it yet, but I did think this area looked a bit funky last year.

I also want to remove the sleeves and make them interchangable. These sleeves were a bear to get on though. There are two yards of fabric in each of the bottom parts of the sleeves! I do have some extra red and gold fabric to make a simpler long sleeve.

I also want to kind of pump up the volume with some more trim. These are some I have in my stash but we'll see how my budget and time are looking closer to the end of the summer.

French Hood:

I also have a lot of faux pearls that never ended up on my French hood.

Other bits:

My husband bought me this FABULOUS hat from The Blonde Swan last year and I promised to make it work with my outfit. It definitely reads more Elizabethan than Tudor and ideally, I'd like to do the smooth sleeve plus a new underskirt in a green color to tie in the hat.

I also never got around to the foresleeves last year and there were actually some days that were cold enough for me to welcome them! I have the main fabric and I did have some white fabric but I think I used it for something else.... Will have to scour the stash if I get this far.

I'm also on the wait list for an Elizabethan wired cap class at Costume College so that'd be nice to add to my Renaissance wardrobe.

Phew! That's a lot! The original ensemble took me the entire month of August and that's all I did. I wasn't working so I probably put 40-50 hours a week on this dress not to mention about $500 so I'm so not going to give up on this dress!


  1. I'm glad you're not giving up on it, it's such a great dress! I think lowering the neckline and having interchangeable sleeves are really good ideas. Some days are too hot to wear the big sleeves and also sometimes they can be cumbersome, but sometimes the big fancy sleeves are what you want! Can't wait to see the finished dress!

  2. I just started thinking about Eric and I's costumes last week. I love your dress and glad you are going to be making it work for this year! Hopefully we will be able to meet up this time. Have you been to the Kentucky Faire? We are going to try to go to that one this year too.

    1. I really hope that we do get to meet up this year! We plan on going loads but we do have three weddings on faire weekends this year. I've never been to the Kentucky Faire. I didn't even know that there was one! And I lived in Kentucky for many years. lol.

  3. That hat is so immensely lovely - even more since it was a sweet gift from your husband. Good luck with revamping this beautiful dress, my dear, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it turns out fabulously.

    Wishing you a sunny, fantastic weekend!
    ♥ Jessica

  4. wow. congratulations on your weight loss!! I just started weight watchers and am excited but dreading all of the alterations that I will need to make to my wardrobe! Your gown and hats are beautiful. Well done!! Do post pics of that wired cap when you're finished. I love Elizabethan costume above all :)

    1. Yeah, alterations are just not quite as fun as sewing it up in the first place. Thankfully, Me Made May got me altering quite a bit so most of my favorite pieces are now wearable.

  5. I made this for my daughter a few months ago. I took apart my old Elizabethan dress, detaching the bodice from the skirt. I reused the skirt for the bodice of this gown. She really needed my help to get this costume on her, especially with all the sleeve doodads!
    I didn't put near the money into hers as you did. I guess I found a lot of sales. Sounds like you have a good plan.

    1. Yeah, I definitely can't get in or out of this alone! But that's ok because I've got my husband all trained up now. ;)