Elizabethan Zodiac Doll

Last night and today I put together the first bits of my doll recreation of my Elizabethan astrology gown. Last night I figured out my height, bust, waist, and hip measurements and reduced them to 1/10th. My hip measurement is slightly exaggerated because at 1/10th I ended up with 1/8th of an inch, and I didn’t feel like dealing with it. Vertical proportions are based on artistic ideal rather than measuring every inch of myself.

By which I mean, I was planning to measure every inch of myself, but I could not find a tape measure.

Anyway, I also managed, through late-night sewing magic, to make one of the legs significantly longer than the other. It’s ok though: limping is period.

The first thing I did was make my doll a smock. The smock was meant to be square-necked but ended up scoopier. Then I added some goldwork embroidery in a spot motif pattern in the bodice area. Sticking to the theme of the real gown (my gown did not have a proper Elizabethan smock), I used the symbols of the astrology as my embroidery.

Sadly, nobody will ever see my teeny embroidery under the teeny corset which perfectly covers it. In period corsets were typically light colored, and the surviving effigy corset was not strapless, but MY Elizabethan-shaped corset bought for this gown was shaped like this, and it was black. It was also really, really uncomfortable, but my doll is spared this torture because her boneless, squishy insides gladly conform to a corset without any boning.

My doll farthingale is also simpler than mine, held up not by wood or whalebone (or, as in the case of the real thing, PVC), but a bit of hemp cord. This is actually a thicker cord than the hemp I used to bone my 1670 corset, and seems to hold the shape of the skirt capably with only one circle of it.

The hair I’m actually rather pleased with, although it (somewhat appropriately) is a bit messier than intended. I arrived at the event with no earthly idea what to do with my hair and ended up putting it in a snood I bought onsite. Making a doll look like she was wearing a snood was exceptionally challenging and took two attempts, but is rather secure and I think gets its point across.

I’ve started to play with fabrics for the dress bodice but the jury is out on what I’m going to use here. I have some gold silk for the stomacher but no black silk nor black velvet for the rest of the bodice, sleeves, and skirts. I do have some dark green silk I might be able to stain black, but I’m still undecided what to do for my starry sky overskirt. So far all the materials that have gone into the doll were recycled, scraps, and crap I had stashed away. The doll stuffing is just poly-fil but I have two huge bags of the stuff sitting around and making dolls justifies still having it. I’m hoping not to HAVE to buy anything for my Flame Artisan dolls, but I might end up picking up a remnant of black velvet for the skirt. Maybe.

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2 thoughts on “Elizabethan Zodiac Doll

  1. I think I have bits of heavy black velvet floating around in the sewing room from when Lucia gave away the theater curtains from her old school, would that help you at all?

    • I think I would need a lighter velvet. I have to tailor the skirt and it’s really tiny. It occurred to me that I do have a velveteen top somewhere which I don’t wear, and that might be just the thing to clearly communicate velvet without being too stiff or heavy.

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