• Mae

Renaissance Dress Photos

The last shoot I did with my DX camera! Though this is not a part of the Taiga, I love shooting in Nature. As of this weekend, I’m now working with a Nikon D610, and laying to rest the smaller DSLR I learned on, which feels like a big step, and will really step up the Taiga series.

I moved recently, back in July into an apartment with a small sewing area, after having all my crafting stuff in my bedroom for years, what a relief! I was looking for a small project that could stand alone that would be a fun way to get started sewing again. I was checking out Jonathan Van Ness’s podcast, an episode about the Italian Renaissance, which reminded me of all of the beautiful Italian Renaissance clothing inside paintings from my art history classes in college. So I got a book called “Vecellio's Renaissance Costume Book” which is a book of woodcut illustrations of Renaissance era costumes based on paintings and other historical documentation of fashion of that time.

While I’m not really interested in creating perfectly “historically accurate” clothing, I like to look at references of historical clothes. There’s so much detail working and interesting or forgotten little pieces of historical garments to be borrowed. A lot of learning to sew for me was learning to re-create some historical pieces, lots of little details and weird patterns that I would have never learned had I just sewn modern day ready-to-wear, so I’m very grateful for books like this!

So I started looking for a pale pink, but all the pink silk available in local stores was too bright or dark, so I ended up just getting white fabric, and dyeing it using my favorite method - tea. I dyed all of the Ophelia costume for my Hamlet series using pink tea, and am obsessed with the really subtle colors you can achieve with this method.

I also was hoping to find a fabric with some sort of criss-cross pintucks but, again, was not able to, so I did them all myself! About halfway through I almost stopped the whole project - what a ridiculous and tedious way to get back into sewing after months! But I got through it, hand-sewed all the little pearls on, ect. I also had to made a corset with a flat front using TONS of steel boning to achieve that flat-front look!

Next, I worked on patterning and making the poof sleeves! Here’s a photo of the inside of the sleeves in process. I ended up having to take out and re-make all of those support ribbons to fit the under-sleeve fabric in properly, but it was a learning process. I was going to use eyelets on the sleeves and back of this garment, but opted for the ribbons for an even more delicate look!

I ended up wearing this costume myself to King Richard’s Faire - a fall staple for a lot of Boston locals. It was very fun!

My friend Gail has been a big part of Marilla Designs since the beginning, she has modeled for my countless times before and has assisted at runway shows, photoshoots, and is generally one of my favorite people, and this costume was unintentionally the perfect size for her! We went to the Fells in Medford with her friend Jackie on a beautiful fall day! I love how these photos ended up looking so ominous and dark, even though they were shot in broad daylight! The cover of trees made the shadows and the dramatic New England forest made the photos feel like a Brothers Grimm fairytale brought to life!


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