Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fair Maidens: Renaissance Costumes, Part II

Thank you all for your kind comments regarding how well organized I am to get these costumes done so early. To tell you the truth, however, these costumes may serve double duty, but they are specifically for the Renaissance Festival which we plan to attend in two days. AND I still haven't started on the boys' hats!

Regarding organization, though, I'm happy to say that this year my husband and I started using Google calendar. That's not a novel idea to most of you, I'm sure, but previously I'd been using the keeping-dates-in-my-head and slips-of-paper methods. Also, the nice thing about an online calendar is that it can't go anywhere. It's in internet limbo.

For our next installment of costumes, we have two fair maidens. Neither of them wanted to be Maid Marian, so they are generic medieval ladies.

The girls chose their fabrics from the upholstery section at our local shop. I decided to use upholstery fabric because:

1. It's extra wide.
2. It's sturdy.
3. It was on sale for 50% off.
4. You tend to find good (if a bit gaudy) Renaissance-esque designs in upholstery fabric.

It's important to check if the upholstery fabric has decent drape AND that the reverse side isn't scratchy or easily unraveled or snagged.

Sara chose the black/gold floral fabric since black is her favorite color. I bought only one yard, silly me, so I used some in-stash black broadcloth for the bodice. I like the contrast but I can see the weight of the upholstery is pulling on the lighter weight bodice.

I used gold crepe backed satin for the waistbands and plastrons (nowadays called modesty panels!).

I used velcro to fasten the backs. It's quick and easy for me when the kids come running for help getting their costumes on.

For the capes, I used another upholstery fabric - a very strange pool-table covering type stuff. The lining is burgundy crepe-backed satin and the edges are bias bound. The drawback to using satin to line the capes is that the capes don't catch on the shoulders at all and the full weight of the capes is pulling on the neck.

When I was buying all these fabrics, it seemed the burgundy fabric would match the dresses really well. I don't think it matches too well, after all.

A funny story (not so funny at the time):

It started out like any other fabric shopping trip. I was sifting through bolts; the kids were standing nearby offering helpful comments. "Will you make me a jacket?" "When are we leaving?" "I need to use the bathroom." "Where does fabric come from?" "Why isn't Pluto a planet anymore?"

I took my eyes from the bottomweights to see Alex leaning against the row of upholstery tubes, which are all standing on end. "Alex, don't lean on those. You'll knock them over."

I turned my attention back to the twills only to hear shrieking two seconds later. I looked to see a huge pile of upholstery tubes strewn on the floor and a pair of tiny feet sticking out. It was an interesting experience trying to wade through the tubes to extract Molly from under the pile AND get the kids to pick the scattered tubes up as quickly and quietly as possible.

New rule: don't touch the upholstery tubes!

Dress pattern: heavily modified Ottobre 4-2006-10.
Cape pattern: Ottobre 4-2004-30.


  1. They're so cute! I never thought of upholstery fabric for Ren Dest, but what a great idea!! Also, you're a rock star for taking the kids to the fabric store. It has to be a REALLY good sale for me to go with the monkeys in toe.

  2. Oh man, I have to stop commenting on the iPhone. Ren Fest, not Dest! And tow, not toe. Darn autocorrect!

  3. Love the costumes. You really should have left us all thinking that you are super mum you know ;-) I got a chuckle out of your shopping story. (come to think of it I haven't sewn anything since your last post....yes, you ARE super mum! :-D)

  4. OMG, that made me smile. Those are wonderful!

  5. These are gorgeous---as for your fabric-store adventures, AAGH! I can barely keep track of two at the fabric store (and rarely take more than one with me)... I can't believe you manage it with five. And mine are old enough to know not to touch stuff!

  6. Cute! I'm a sucker for Ren Faire-type costumes, and both of these look really nice. (And comfortable, which I'd imagine would be important for kids.) Nice story about the fabric store, too!

  7. Wow joy! Seriously wonderful sewing ! I'm so impressed you just "whip up". Fabulous clothes and these costumes for your childRen. You remind me of my mum, who made everything when wr were kids and even costumed up the whole school's country dancing class in medieval ( less complex & lighter weight) garb. They look great.

  8. Just unbelievably cute. So you are going to be maid marion?


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