Historic Intermediate · Historically Focused · Intermediate

Lady Lianor dos Cavelos

Location: Lochac

Category/Level: Historically Focused/Intermediate

About Lianor: I have been part of the SCA in Lochac for 5 years. I was originally drawn to Equestrian. And led me to an interest in 16th century Iberian culture. I love the aesthetics of the period. But my lack of Spanish language skills have made research harder. I have a good level of modern sewing skills, and one of things I’ve enjoyed in the SCA is translating this into historic skills. This project will be pushing me to improve my research skills and pattern drafting. I really enjoy hand sewing and detail, but I know I will have to comprise on my decisions to met the deadlines.

Her Project: My project is inspired by the portraits of Juana de Austria, Particularly the 1552/53 portraits by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz & Cristobal de Morales. Very much a royal portrait, it is assumed to be her wedding clothes. The third (outer) layer will be drawn from later portraits or images from the period. Mid to late 16th Century Iberian is a culture that I have researching for the last 2 years. And this challenge is giving me a reason to create this outfit that I have kept coming back to over the last 2 years.

Final Photos

Her final thoughts on her C3 experience:

I’m so pleased to have taken part in this challenge. It pushed me along to get something a bit special done, at a time when there wasn’t much motivation. I’ve so enjoyed the enthusiasm of fellow challengers, and loved seeing the range of things that were created and lessons learnt. I pushed myself to improve my pattern drafting and tailoring techniques. And I feel a lot more comfortable with the techniques now, and I can really see the value in the end result. Overall, I’m proud of what I produced.

Layer 1

My project is based on the portrait of Juana de Austria by Coello. Juana was daughter to Charles V of Spain, the portrait is thought to show her wedding clothes from 1552. The high status garment shows features typical of Iberian high status clothes, constructed of costly black silk velvet. Complex tailoring and structural under layers. Layer 1 is the base layer, and would have been similar to layers worn by most levels of society at the time in terms of construction and function. The difference would have been choice of fabric.

The Chemise is linen, and constructed using basic rectangles and squares for efficient use of fabric. Drafted myself from my measurement. As the chemise is unseen in this portrait, I have left it unembroidered. The unseen seams are machine sewn for speed, but seams and hems are hand finished so no machine stitching is visible.

Faldellin – half circle petticoat is worn over the top and is the first support layer for the skirts. The pattern is drafted using instructions from Matthew Gnagy – based on Alcega’s tailoring manual of the period and culture. The fabric is light weight wool blend, the slight wide pinstrip is not noticable in the made up garment. And it was choice for coolness and access – the right wool can be hard to source. The under hem is a heavy wool / synthetic blend felted fabric – similar to melton, that was in my stash. The trim is a tightly woven synthetic taffeta, silk taffeta would have been the ideal choice but I couldn’t find a really tightly woven silk in my budget in time.

This was the first time I had made one of these skirts and I’m really happy with the results. The hem treatment is really effective, adding a significant amount of structure to the garment. The bara tape draft was easy and being based on proportions it was a flattering cut. I also learnt to love my thimble and got a lot faster with my hand sewing. I think I got a better feel for the handsewing approach a tailor of the period would have taken.

Layer 2

My project is based on a portrait of Juana of Austria dated 1552/53. It reflects Spanish court fashion of the mid 16th Century.

This is a supportive structural layer, critical to achieving the correct shape for the outer layer. It includes a spanish farthingale – Verdugado de Seda & Pair of low necked bodies – Cuerpo Baxo. Both based on patterns found in period tailors manuals. And both patterns have been drafted using the barra tape method, which is the 16th C technique based on body proportions.

The farthingale base is synthetic silk for budget reasons, channels and tapes in linen, and natural cane which I bound together for strength. I had some problems getting the shape right for the farthingale. I had expected to get a very smooth skirt, but the draft required me to gather and adjust around the canes. Once I had decided to use my judgement to make the shape right, it worked better. Using cane was tricky and I had many experiments to get the right weight and joining shorter pieces together.

The low neck bodies have an internal structure of heavy and hair canvas, with additional layers of wool and hair canvas to the front. All layers were pad stitched together, which stiffened and gave it a curved shape. I then added linen lining and top layers. It is side back laced on both sides. Because the fit was critical, a lot of time was spent checking and fitting but this was worth the effort.

The end result is very supportive, but more comfortable than bodies with canes / reeds / bones. And is appropriate for the period of the portrait.

I’m happy with the end result, and think it has given me a good base for the next layer.

Layer 3

This was my outer bodice, skirt and sleeves for a 16th Century Spanish court gown. Based on a portrait of Juana of Austria 1552. Main fabric is a black cotton velveteen, with hair canvas and wool felt / melton for support and a black and gold brocade for trim. The shape of this outer layer is only possible with the support layers underneath. But still required tailoring techniques such as pad stitched and supported hems. The amount of machine stitching was minor compared to the hand stitching with all the tailoring, trims and hand finished hems.

This was the first time I have produced a separate skirt and bodice that is tied together. I was a bit unsure about it, but it works really well and I can see me doing this more often in the future.

The sleeves are layered, with a plain two pieced curved sleeve, and a paned short sleeve over the top, bound together at the top.

Construction didn’t cause me any particular problems, but it probably took longer than I anticipated.

I plan to make some additional items after the challenge to better mirror the original portrait.

Layer 4

My accessory is a painted heraldic banner. It includes my personal heraldry and motto, which reflects my interest in 16th Century Iberian culture. It also compliments the gown I’m constructing – so I figured it would work for the final composition. Its heavy cotton plain weave, painted with fabric paints, and bound in black bias.

I chose a gonfalon shape, as it is versatile for display. And the chevron of my heraldry could also be mirrored in the hem.

Bonus Points

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