Elizabethan Zodiac Doll, Part III

The doll continues to progress nicely. I started today working on her partlet, which goes on over the corset but under the bodice. I had no idea how they were supposed to work when I made my gown, and I made mine very, very wrong. I toiled with broad historical accuracy versus personal historical accuracy and ended up making the doll partlet correctly rather than as an accurate recreation because quite honestly the way I did it worked so poorly that it would have been prohibitively difficult to make it at 1/10th scale.

The partlet is a short vest that provides modesty for the chest and back above the neckline of the gown (which was often quite low). They could be worn closed or open in an inverted V, as mine was. They attached a variety of different ways, frequently tying under each arm, but since my partlet is designed to be worn open and cannot be worn closed, I opted for a simple drawstring at the ribs to hold it in place, and a bead-and-loop closure at the neck. I have NO earthly memory of what I used for neck closures on the original, but it was probably hook and eye. I used a ton of hook and eyes.

That finished, I made the overskirt from my velvet remnant. I debated how I wanted to do this, but in the end I cut a half circle (since the modern velvet has no nap) and cut a smaller half circle out for the waist. I hemmed around all sides, and voila. Of course, the black velvet and black silk kind of fade into one another at low res, but in person there’s a subtle distinction in texture that looks really nice.

I’m now into working on the bead-and-embroidery section, which has morphed into knotwork-and-embroidery because the beads looked ridiculously huge on the tiny skirt. I used acrylic “pearls” for stars on the original, but this time I used white embroidery floss in french knots. I don’t remember much of the placement of the constellations originally, but I do recall that Scorpio was on my butt, which, if you know anything about astrology, is a bit of a joke. I’ve laid out a rough plan based kind of on the position of the constellations relative to each other, but with all of them right side up. Starting with Scorpio on the butt again, I sketched out a rough diagram that seems to be somewhat like what I did before. I’ve done Scorpio and Libra so far, and I’m in the early stages of Cancer. I hate to leave in the middle of a section, but I’m super, super sleepy.

There is one essential piece of Elizabethan wardrobe I skipped, both in the original and in the doll version, and that’s the bumroll. Typically Elizabethan overskirts were pleated, which allowed them to sit over a bumroll and then spread out again down the a-line. My skirt is not gathered so it will lay flat and show the embroidery better, which means it would be more difficult to tailor around a bumroll. So I didn’t wear one. I considered accommodating a bumroll here, but decided against it. I think it was because I was working for three hours on cuffs for a doll, and was getting a little agitated.


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