Author Archives: m d b

Overlapping research

I’m not happy how long this is taking to rewrite my patterning book, but what I have done in the meantime has been very rewarding. It’s definitely paying off, and my hope is that it will be of benefit.

I’m still doing my virtual art tour, and occasionally dipping into the written parts of costume history books. And am remined of just why I started this “fix my errors” tour in the first place!

My “system” is very modular, so you can swap modern elements for historic. That won’t change, what I am working on doing is explaining the engineering behind each element.

My hands however are just not on board this train. I can’t write or draw, and typing this post has taken longer than it should, even fully splinted. It’s so frustrating to be at this point and have to wait. My thoughts don’t rest so I get very impatient and stressed. Especially as everything else in my life is also put on hold so I get behind in everything. Including health, and so that makes me even more impatient and stressed.

I might be able to at least wash my hair now that’s it’s shorter again.

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I’ve actually sewn

OMG. Over the last few days I have eased myself into Doing even a very little. So I managed to recut a panel of velveteen for my Anne of Cleves skirt so I can turn the front into the back and vice versa.

So far I have basted then sewn the panel into the new back layer, and have pinned the CB of the panel to make it into a width closer to the reality of the 16thC.

The calico underlining would ideally be linen, but the velveteen is a silk velvet substitute anyway (a pretty good one actually) and an underlay that moves with the velveteen is better than using what linen is available.

This is to prepare the panels for sewing the very fiddly metal woven trim.

I need to cut the trim on the bias as that’s the evidence we have of the Moritz von Saschen schaube. I’m not sure I can find a gold cord to cover the raw edge so I need to stabilise the whole lot on heat n bond then I can turn back a couple of mm that I can then stitch through. I love the effect of my other Anne of Cleves frock:

The gold bands are from the same weight metal I’m using so I am confident I can pin, bond, stitch the ground needed.

I’ve also been re-hemming my underskirts. One might need to be sacrificed for the yellow silk to line my new sleeves and hat, but I have my green silk to replace it for a stealth laurel kind of deal.

Ooooh. Actually I like that.

My first venture into this style is still appropriate and I am so happy to have it back. I traded an unfinished 1860s frock for her return. I think we both were better off in the end ūüôā

To turn this into a blue version of the Holbein portrait will be a “breeze” if I can get another proper metallic saree. The direction of grain is about all I’m concerned with but I think I can safely ignore it.

The cut of the bodice means I can easily change it.

The curve lower edge of the sleeves I cannot prove. At all.

But it really does match a few portraits more easily than what I can prove.

All in all, I’ve not wasted my time by devoting it to research.

It’s all given me more confidence in my Doing.

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underestimating myself

One of the hardest part in my Anne of Cleves research is to go against so much popular opinion while having nice cold data that supports what I have been following, and what other lesser known scholars also have shared.

Where I am truly struggling is in definitions and borders. I can put Anna specific books and articles in a folder but everything else sort of… blurs.

But I have my few examples of art and extant items and a nice trail of leads.

I really just need time to read a couple of hundred documents to work out where they go.

It’s not so bad with OCR, I can search within a document >500 pages to work out why I saved it.

But two really important threads have popped up so I’m excited enough that I recut my Anne of Cleves skirt based on solidifying information.


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Research, again?

Yes I have managed to get a really nice work flow going. Except my North Rhine specific files.

Fortunately it’s looking like I can go straight into sorting by administrative region given the overlapping cultural expression. It’s still a bit of a kicker when I also have found my cut fabric for my Anne of Cleves dress is probably about 20cm too small each quarter. Maybe not if I take a heavily Empirical approach, but I think the Saxon and Swabian influence is much greater than might be expected.

So I’ve got enough calico to flat/underline a new cut skirt CF front set. I have the fabric for the sleeves set aside so hopefully….

The extra velveteen I have is to trim my other Juelich and Saxon frocks in vibrant fuchsia. If I really mess up it’s possible to buy some more velveteen and tint the entire lot with dye. It is so much work to stabilise home dye that I have avoided it as much as possible.

That I have done so much custom dyeing is a reflection on how hard it is to get a specific shade at all.

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Actual project working now

I have finally, finally, got through my 20 years of digital photos sorted. Massive task as not all had “date taken” data. But these include my costume and research photos so now I feel like yes, yes I can use some of my short window of Able to get my pearl hat actually worked on, as I have also finally got enough research to be sure I won’t need to take it apart ever again to be more accurate.

The design is mine, but the techniques have historic analogs.

My hands are not very happy today, not sure how well I’ll be able to cut the pieces off to re stitch them, but I’m finally satisfied with what I have.

So it’s time to gather those pieces.

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Try July

I’ve decided my version of Dry July has got to be about finding joy again in my projects. I used to make costumes even when I had no where to wear them. It’s working. So far I’ve found in my mix of resources some patterns for mum and I to make clothes for my childhood dolls (and baby Morden) and I found all the historic doll costuming books I used in my teens and so they are all tidy.

I found the designer of a gorgeous soft bodied “wooden” doll. I make my own patterns generally but I wanted to support her as I think she deserves credit for inspiration which led me to new solutions.

Hmm. I could also make a 3D model now. But I like this doll so much so I’ll probably maker her in the meantime as I only need a few supplies.

I learned how to pattern from several dollmaking books, I learned how to make fabric bodies which helped me understand how historic garments fit, the fashion dolls also offered simplified patterns of highly complex fashion styles, so I got very familiar with construction of the 19thC too.

This is probably my favourite. Seriously beautiful dolls and recreated gowns.

The Paris collection
by Mac Neil, Sylvia
Publication date 1992

But if I want to make frocks for this Regency-Romantic shaped doll then I need to extend into the past and the dresses for these dolls can be remarkably closer to the shapes of full scale gowns.

But I also want to look at the old dolls as there were so very many attempts to both create a doll of idealised proportions, but also durability, and ways to allow them to move so lots of options to mix in.

It appears I’ve definitely rea this book in a local library as these dolls influenced my polymer clay doll in terms of features:

It’s why I want to mould her so I can cast her to make a ball jointed body for her. And that’s where you can get some amazing variations of body materials, leading back to this cloth doll.

These three fashion dolls have bisque heads, the middle and right hand dolls have wooden bodies, but the doll to the left is made of pressed leather! The joints are beautiful. I might try for something similar for my polymer doll.

And then you have twill over papier mache!

And finally yes, ball jointed dolls have been around for a long time, peg jointed even longer.

Ancient roman peg jointed figures.

The 16thC figures are very anatomically detailed, too detailed for a safe for work style blog, but they have some incredible range of movement, and are mostly for artists to use as models.

Gliederpuppenpaar, salzburgisch, Umkreis des Meisters I.P.(?), um 1525. Buchsbaumholz, H. 23 cm, Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Inv. Nr. P415, P416.

Weibliche Gliederpuppe, N√ľrnberg um 1520, Buchsbaumholz, Bodemuseum Berlin (Inv. 2167)

There are so many more, if you can get hold of this book it’s incredible:

Die Gliederpuppe: Kult ‚Äď Kunst ‚Äď Konzept
Markus Rath
Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 19/02/2018 – Art

So now I know my doll approach.

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Research phase technically over

My multiple sources are giving me some amazing clues the biggest step next is to make sure I have the dates correct. Especially to trace influences.

To be honest I’m exhausted by it.

I’m not sure how to sort out anymore.

I’ve got written evidence from multiple countries and eras.

I’ve got not just art but artists crossing countries.

And nearly every Power Woman lived in two countries. There are a lot fewer who stayed even in their own country.

So I can’t sort by any current method.

I might have a way. If I can find some older attempts I might have it.

But all of this is of course leading to an expansion of my pattern book. Just far too many images of construction.

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Finally getting through my tapestry folder
Series The History of David and Bathsheba
Location Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso

The figure to the left appears in a number of tapestries, different textile colours and patterns, but I think I have finally found a handful of images supporting this really nifty sleeve insertion. It’s a matter now though of pulling out the most important works from the huge number of them.

A handful loop back into what I’m looking at in manuscripts so that’s really cool.

There are a few links to stained glass window images.

But each medium uses different shorthand for different elements, some help understand contemporary dress some are really from carved elements.

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Why all this sorting

I’m partly in distraction mode, but I really do need all my sources carefully sorted so that I can finally start cropping images for my thesis. I’m calling it this to help my focus, and how to present it all.

A thesis is an idea or theory that is expressed as a statement and is discussed in a logical way.
A thesis is a long piece of writing based on your own ideas and research that you do as part of a university degree, especially a higher degree such as a PhD.

I’m using dissertations as well as using them for formatting.

But I’ve now got a really good way to explain the engineering evolution which also helps explain why the language is so difficult to unpick.

There is a solid 50 year gap in almost every artform and every archive that covers my thesis. So that is why I’m being extra careful about applying that a few documents/images suggest.

And there is also caution when using transcriptions that formalise spelling- it has already led me stray several times.

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My hair is doing A Thing that I don’t understand but am having fun playing with right now. I’m able to replicate the “Pheasant” do which appears in a number of manuscripts and tapestries of the early 16thC Lowlands. It’s very cute.

That was from before my hair fell out due to chemo (low dose but permanent, not many people know about how that works) but my hair is long enough to do a single pass each side (this was done where I crossed the braids at the back of my head.) So I’ve dyed my hair to a vibrant burgundy/pink again so I can play with my crimping iron (oh yes) to see if I can really reproduce some styles before enough hair falls out again to cut my hair short and use my braid for supplementary pieces.

I want to try the Hapsburg Puffs which have bit of an interesting evolutionary history.

I suspect the Titian portrait is wrong. I KNOW! But all the rest suggest hair wrapping from the back of the head to the front. It makes it easier, tbf. I tried both ways and that works best. I want to get crimping to really be able to sculpt my hair.

But my manuscript research is paying off dividends! A lot is French rather than Lowlands but I found a donor portrait in an Mss commissioned (calligraphy) in Cologne, miniatures from Bruges, but the two figures are in readily identified NR dress.

It’s taken a log time to find this single image that most readily follows the art style of stained glass.

But my hat research really has taken a wonderful turn ūüôā

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