Elizabethan Zodiac Doll, Part II

Today I had a bunch of real-life work to do, but I was able to put a few hours into my Elizabethan doll. It’s going really well. I’m having no trouble at all with patterning, construction, etc. I haven’t made any horrible mistakes. I’m not even struggling much with the dexterity challenge of working with such tiny pieces. It’s making me nervous.

Today I made the forepart of the gown, which was black silk trimmed with black and gold trim. I didn’t have tiny gold trim, so I did tiny gold cross stitching. Originally I stitched the forepart to a petticoat, which I needed to mask the ridges from the farthingale. That’s not an issue for the doll, so I attached her forepart directly to the farthingale.

I didn’t have any black silk, but dark green silk and a sharpie solved that in short order. I wouldn’t recommend sharpie-dying for anything other than dolls, but in this particular application it worked beautifully.

This is about the shape I made the original forepart, although if I were to do this again I’d make a whole petticoat of the black silk with trim at least across the front half. As it was, it looked lovely standing but when I sat the edges of the overskirt fell back to reveal the white petticoat and every ounce of elegance was out the window.

Of course, every ounce of elegance was already out the window because the first time I tried to sit down my hoopskirt pushed the chair out from under me and I went ass over teakettle in the middle of the feast hall. This is why a lady wears bloomers even though they’re Victorian.

Anyway, my doll will not have these problems, as she has no joints, and will probably not be sitting much. So the original pattern stands.

The bodice is sharpied-black silk and some gold silk scrap. It’s actually a browner, mellower gold than what I used in the original, but not by much, and it has the same effect. The fabric I borrowed it from is embroidered but the margins are wide enough that I was able to find some blank space at the edges for this. I was very excited about this discovery, because I was drawing a blank on what to use.

I had a gold and pearl broach and strings of glass “pearls” attached to the original bodice, which I’ve represented with acrylic beads and a brass spacer. The latter I’m pretty proud of. I was considering last night how I was going to find or make a broach or button or piece of pretty small enough for this, and I ducked into JoAnn’s today to pick up a scrap of velvet and found a couple little baggies of spacers that were just perfect for this and button-and-loop closures for some of the other garments I’m planning.

I can’t remember for sure whether my sleeves originally were black or gold. I think I was planning to have them black, but then I ran out of fabric and ended up making them gold. I could be making that up though. Either way, it looks fine.

As with the original, the cuff was a pain in the ass, and included three needles and a lot of time. It’s a cheater cuff (just as it was in the original), stitched in its figure 8 and also stitched to the sleeve. Originally the cuffs were stitched in place but not actually attached to the garment, which was a huge pain in the ass, and if I were to ever do another Elizabethan even vaguely like this, I’d make them detachable but not actually detached. My biggest problem with that gown was that all the separate pieces kept wanting to separate from each other and me all night, and I chose some really dumb fasteners, so it was happening a lot.

Tomorrow I’m going to do the other cuff and sew it on, and add hook-and-eye closures to the back of the bodice. They’re not really appropriate, but it’s what I used in the original and I kind of think it will be funny to have giant hooks and eyes on this little tiny thing. I’m also going to make the Damned Filthy Partlet and the ruff. I’m not excited about either. I do not like partlets, Sam I Am, and I don’t want to make one for a doll, but I had one in really life and it’s period and I should probably go ahead and do it.

After that, all that’s left is the overskirt, which is the fun, exciting, embroidery-and-beads part of the project, and then I decide whether I should make tiny little canvas slippers for her, because I bought little canvas slippers at that event which I loved to death, and I bought them after I dressed (and of course I could not bend or move my arms a whole lot) so one of my companions had to shoe me a la Cinderella. I’m hesitant to do shoes because I don’t have period shoes or even really knowledge of period shoes for most of my outfits. Hm…

As far as total dolls, I can think of an outfit worth recreating about every second year in my SCA evolution, the end result of which is a fairly complete biography of my reenactment life in clothes. In AS 37ish I started doing the Viking thing. In AS 40 I wore the Elizabethan. In 41 I made a really cool fairy-themed outfit which I totally have the right fabrics to recreate. 40-42 I was doing mostly 13th century stuff, so I can throw in a cotehardie somewhere. I was working on a heraldic cotehardie, so maybe I make that kind of thing. I could do a particolor coffin star, which would look super awersome and it would be tiny and intricate, so it would give me something to be really pissed off about. After that I start getting into stuff I still have, although I’m thinking about doing my Roman as a doll anyway, because that doesn’t look like anything interesting when it’s not on a body, and I probably won’t want to wear it that day. I still have my first blackwork project, where I finished a whole cuff and then discovered that I’d marked the pattern with water soluble ink, staining the whole hand-sewn shirt forever in a sea of sadness and grey-green doom. I’ve got the beginnings of my apocalyptic box-pleat shirt too. It’s not finished, but the one skeleton that’s done is pretty badass.

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