Friday, May 14, 2010

Petunia is a Renaissance Woman...

It is almost the time of year to be thinking about the very special Shakespeare and Renaissance Faires that dot our country and the world during the summer season. Are you looking for the perfect fabric? Cottons, Muslins, Velvets and Tapestry style woven cloth. Wow, at Mary Jo's we have everything you may need for your authentic 1500-1600 costume. Remember we also carry all of the historic prints for your CWA costumes (1860's). Mary Jo has been supplying costume makers and fair participants with authentic styles of cloth for every costume need.
We recently received a note from a Gal who is wild for Mary Jo's and the selection of historic styled fabrics, read on.

Hi, my name is Kathleen Tronsor, and I have been working at Renaissance Faires as a performer since 1993. Last year I purchased 10 yards of 100% linen (upholstery), some dark green cotton, and some velvet from your store, and I thought you'd be interested in seeing how my project turned out.
I create a new costume every year for my character. And yes, I am one of those annoying folks who research every aspect of what a person in those times (I use 1533 as a base year) would have worn, what materials and colors they used, sewing techniques, accessories, etc.

At the North Carolina Renaissance Festival, our costumes have to be comfortable enough for a 21st century person who has to walk, run, dance, grovel and sing in our usual North Carolina weather -- changeable to say the least!
Add in the fact that "Petunia the Pink Pirate" is not exactly an historically-correct character, and you can see that I had both strict guidelines and vast amounts of lee-way when I designed this dress. Petunia would have "acquired" this dress from a wealthy woman, and she has discarded the petticoats, hoops and underskirt that the higher class lady would have worn.

This is a one-piece dress, based on a couple of designs from The Tudor Tailor, by Ninya Michaela and Jane Malcolm-Davies. The bodice is boned and laces up the front. The lacing is hidden by a boned panel that wraps across the front and buttons under the arm. In Tudor times, this would have been pinned with brass pins, but they also had maidservants who followed them around with extras, so I used buttons instead. This gives the bodice the smooth, laceless look, and also allows me to skip wearing a corset under the dress. Dark green velvet trims the front and the edges of the hanging sleeves, further accented with pearls and "gold" jewels. Pirate booty, of course!
The skirt is lined with dark green cotton, which is also turned up around the hem as a guard. Cotton is not an historic fabric, but was easier on the budget. The skirt is open down the front, and is cartridge pleated to the bottom of the bodice. There are three large inverted pleats at the center back. I also made several pairs of sleeves that tie over the hanging sleeves. These were all different patterns, stripes, brocades, etc., all with the same pink/green theme. Very easy to take off or slide on as the weather changed.

The hat is velvet, trimmed with jewels and feathers, and I wear black (cotton) bloomers, pink and green (cotton) stockings, and a pair of red (leather) boots under the skirt. The chemise is cut off short so as not to show under the split skirt, and is made from fine linen with redwork around all the seams and edges, done by hand.
The parts that show (hems, edges, applique, cartridge pleating, embroidery, etc.) were all sewn by hand. I used flexiboning in the bodice, and sewed them in using my 50+ year old machine. Long seams were also sewn using the machine.

The North Carolina Renaissance Festival runs on weekends from October 9th through November 21st, 2010. For more information, here's a link to their website
Kathleen Tronsor

Thank-you Kathleen for your inspiring story. You are a darling "Petunia the Pink Pirate". Readers, do you have some period costumes to share? Do you make costumes for others? We would love to feature you as a story on our blog. Please send photos and a few words today. Happy Spring and have fun creating!


Maria said...

This was a good article highlighting costuming. I too do the renaissance festival and I think it is named incorrectly in your article. The faire in Huntersville, NC is the Carolina Renaissance Festival not the North Carolina Renaissance Festival which is a completely different festival which is held outside of Raleigh, NC.

Anonymous said...

Very creative! smiles.