Saturday, May 16, 2015

Costumes for the Ren Fest..(Wherein our Heroine muses on costuming and the internet)

I am inordinately pleased to say that I actually accomplished one of my goals for the year:  costumes for Jay and I for the Georgia Renaissance Festival.  We went last weekend with our friends Robert and Bill.

Despite Jay having a leather jerkin and a leather doublet already, he decided it was too warm the day we went so he in just his shirt.(Georgia is an "authenticity lite" faire, so despite this huge sartorial faux pas, he was still one of the better dressed men there)  I'd been planning on doing him a doublet and a flat cap but I declared both of them out of scope 10 days before the faire and, sanity wise, I'm glad I did.  Not to mention the words we would have had if I rushed to finish a doublet and then he decided not to wear it!  Other than a minor disaster requiring a bit of hand sewing the morning we were getting dressed, I was done sewing the afternoon before.  No mad midnight frenzy of last minute sewing!

I plan to complete the doublet and cap this summer when we're not on a hard deadline and probably a pair of German style pluderhosen to go with his doublet flat cap

I thought Faire clothes would be a relatively comfortable project, since I'd done so much of this sort of sewing while I was in the SCA.  Unfortunately, I have none of the patterns I drafted during that period (I am still wondering where my sanity was when I gave them away rather than move them *sigh*) So when I started this whole project, I pulled out my previous go-to reference for Elizabethan costuming...

..and found it sadly wanting.  Which got me to thinking about how much costuming has changed with the Internet. When I started costuming in the SCA, other than the Period Patterns line (which you could only buy if you ran into Medieval Miscallanea at an SCA event) there were no patterns. I learned quickly to recognize the lines of the garment I wanted to make and to franken-pattern from commercial patterns available (assuming I could find one in my size) and fake the rest.  It wasn't a whole lot better for later time periods, either.  In 1989, I was over the moon to find the original Amazon Dry Goods catalog (I was even lucky enough to visit  the old store in Davenport, IA)  When I got my hands on a print copy of the Whole Costumer's Catalogue, I thought I'd died and went to heaven.

In 2015, it's such a different world! There are so many small press pattern companies  offering historical patterns now. Admittedly, some better than others but there are several pattern review sites I can read opinions from people that have used the pattern already. Major museums are putting their collections online so I can research in the middle of the night in my pajamas rather than having to fund a trip to go to the V&A. (or the Met, or the Kent State Museum.).  I can keep track of my research on Pintrest and access it anywhere I have access to the 'net. (like in the fabric store where I want to check a key detail)  If I get lazy, I can buy a finished piece from Etsy.

While I still desperately rue my lack of having a local "fitting buddy" I am still a bit in awe of the plethora of resources available for costuming these days.  And, I can't help thinking a bit wistfully, that I wish I was 20 years younger.  Maybe I wouldn't take that 20 year hiatus if I was making the decision now.

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