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In line with the massive tidying of my digital collection of inspiration, I’m dealing with my stack of printed works that are a bit.. much. I’m doing this so I can get both my Kunstlischbuch and Modular Frock systems back online. I took down my free patterns to make them over into a seamless series. I got kicked out of a group for sharing my very free work as apparently you can’t self promote. I have had my patterns uplifted before so the huge watermark was to at least limit that to someone who has the patience to digitally trace 😉


I spent the time in hospital writing instructions that work for both, as it’s about how to manipulate fabric. So it works for each era by pointing to the style and where more tension is needed etc.

But I’m also making a statement about how patterns systems fail people not the other way around. If you have ever used a dressmaking/tailoring book you would be lucky to find any stating that drafting is limited and so alterations are always needed. No matter your size or shape. Fabric just is not paper, and human bodies are not footless handless rigid mannequins.

This is more pronounced the more fitted a garment is as your fabric starts acting as support even over a supportive layer. You can see this effect in photographs of people from the 19thC. The outer layer isn’t fully supportive but you need tension as body heat does work through underlayers to outer to make them a little looser shortly after putting them on.

But I’m having trouble as I did not buy enough folders so I might have to use an enormous folder for all the drafting systems I have. They are separate to extant garment patterns. But it means putting a few hundred pages into protective sheets. Okay. I will. It’s for my own pattern book after all.

Oh and this brings me back to my personal patterns.

I am redrawing these in a graphics program so that I can share them. My hand drawn 1/10 patterns just don’t look great once you scan them and make them zoomable.

And I am very excited for my 19thC Modular Frock for bodices as my digital and physical collection of drafting systems show exactly what I see in photos. People who can afford to keep up with fashion every year tend to also have access to dressmakers who can afford the latest patterning systems. Those who cannot afford new clothes each year tend to be able to afford local dressmakers who don’t seem to be able to afford the very latest systems. And there is a definite market for reprinted patterns up to a decade after the height of fashion for the specific cut and fit.

So my collections of systems include patents to really help anchor these changes.

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Doing, maybe.

I have started and discarded so many posts because life has been hard. Not as hard as for many, but it’s been hard to find the focus and peace I need to work on projects. That peace might be to just be free of external sounds even if I’m playing music.

But I have genuinely finally managed to get the majority of my research and developed patterns sorted. It’s is an entire 500G drive not counting many other forms of research.

It’s proving hard to turn that into making though. But I have taken a totally new approach to my Elsa gown that should allow me the very delicate fade into illusion but be durable to pull on under stressful situations.

And I also realised what I need to be able to make my hoops for my Bubble gown and Marie Antoinette as they are the same shape. I need the ability to drill through the steels so might find out if that’s doable or needs rather more safety and power than I have.

I also think my cunning plan for my bubble gown is good. I’ve finally decided on getting the lightness of my idea, which requires some care and a heck of a lot of netting.

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This is what I called myself due to not sticking to any costume or art genre. Today? I was infused with chimeric monoclonal antibodies at my local hospital. I’ve had them for years, but it’s still something I have to prepare for emotionally.

All of us in day stay are there because we need to be. And all the support we have in in light of this. The atmosphere is not at all what fiction tells us. I can honestly say this very high risk high cost (to all of us) to benefit ward is community oriented.

I think that’s why I want both of my i-Chimaera gowns made and made well. I want to use them as a way to give justice and respect to every single person, whether I meet them or not. To give hope maybe? I know how hard it is to ask for care when you need it. I want to say please ask. And to offer shortcuts through jargon. Or to at least say easy read information is freely available- please ask for it.

My first few hours were hard. This was my own emotional and fatigue state. I was able to sort my art, I couldn’t create.

But my regular nurse M.R. was interested in my art and so lovely that my instinct to hide from my own work slowly abated and ideas formed in the background.

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Of all kinds! The first patterns are learning my own sleep, rest, physical activity, and cognitive activity. The second is the patterns of fashion that change and emerge in the timeframe of my niche area, and the last are my own patterns that I’ve developed that work almost perfectly within the tailoring manuals of the time.

I do need to add these into my work, I have in part done so, I need to figure out what I need to keep and what to get rid of in my folder.

It’s also now very hot and muggy.

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data collection continues

My quest to get a single portrait in context has finally reached a point where my decades long collection of images and articles is manageable. Letting me find similar images using more crude tools like reverse image search and “similar images” type searches. But so far I think I have the ability to make some fairly bold claims.

It’s been a bit of a long stretch but I’m now able to attempt to sort my collection of extant items (I mean my digital files) as that too puts so much in context.

One of the things I have noticed is that if you redraw all the Spanish manuals according to the measurements you are left with very static pattern shapes that can be cut into (slashes and panes etc.) that can totally change the look of the final work.

There is quite a difference in how the hand drawn manuals seem to work, but that is mostly down to how well I can read printed Spanish over handwritten Northern texts. So I think I just need to take time to trace the patterns and use the excellent “Drei Schittbucher” to type out the measurements and then do the same redrawing I did with Alcega, Burguen, and Anduxar.

But the 1540 Swabian Schnittbuch looks like it might be a bit closer to the Spanish manuals in terms of having relatively easy to read measurements.

Row 1) a skirt that is very similar in structure to extant skirts such as in Patterns of Fashion, slight hem shaping, full widths at the waist with gores/extensions to add about one extra width in total to the waist but more than two widths at the hem. I am glad! I thought I was a bit enthusiastic in making my pink skirt this wide!

Row 2) a bodice with a high neck like a jubon in the Spanish manuals and what would be called manga juste- not full not tightly fitted. A low necked bodice and similar sleeve, full circle skirt with the waist about the size of the waist of the bodice. I can’t quite make out the text in the small box below but also can’t see a bodice back.

Row 3) Full circle skirt with the waist fuller than the low necked bodice that does have a back, similar sleeves to previous.

Row 4) Full circle skirt with an even larger waist to be pleated down to fit the waist of the low necked bodice- the front and back aligned to look like they are cut continuously but in fact the CB is aligned to the selvage and the CF is not. It is possible that where you cut the two apart could be part of the customisation process.

And this now has answered some of my questions which is fantastic!

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research breakthroughs

I started tidying my 10,00s of thousands of files (no exaggeration) for my Anne of Cleves research and it’s lead to two solutions! The first is I was able to stop thinking directly about my pearlwork as the two techniques I know can be proven do not work with my own layer of support.

The tension of the threads holding the pearls in place has tended to pull the curves into tighter curves so now there is an uneven amount of rigid support on each side leading to

I can’t clip and fold the silk under as it frays even with careful running and back stitch to gather it.

I thought about using heat n bond on the underside to clip and then quickly press the silk into it, but the risk is still the same for fraying as there are so many pieces. And they are all curly.

So I thought what about using fabric glue but am concerned about it staining.

So I went back through my written records to write up my Stickelchen essay, and I’m going well, got flow, then realised I needed to include information about styles outside the region, my files are a mess.

I wound up overwhelmed as I have to refamiliarise myself with multiple languages muitlple styles over 100 years and I got a bit lost as to why I was doing that. For my hat. I also organised all the modelbucher in my folders to track down patterns.

I collected enough images of pearlwork (paintings) though to percolate in the back of my mind and yes, I now have the solution. I’ll need to frame up the pieces again, will need some new needles but it will work for what I so desperately need it to do.

I’ll couch the gold I was gifted more than 14 years ago carefully and firmly and then clip each design then use a very dry brush with semi dry fabric glue right on the edge. I can use a nice filbert to deposit the least amount needed and without risk of gluing the couching threads.

I’m doing this as many close ups of pearlwork appear to show a ground fabric cut to shape and applied. In the Bernal portrait this is very obvious. There are two leaves that overlap from the crown of her benet to the brim (near thee overlap of the brim to our right.) Other elements of the design sit on the brim but those two leaves show that this work is applied.

This cropped image also shows what looks to be directly embroidered pearls on the back part of her support layer. As well as little flowers made from smaller pearls and a little gold set jewel in the centre.


So I’m now excited rather than nervous at the prospect of maybe finishing this project by the end of the year 🙂

Oh and the second breakthrough relates to being able to explain figures in a trachtenbuch as being highly likely to be based on reality.

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I’m still waiting on a dissertation to arrive, I totally understand why it’s taking a while! I have a summary that is still very useful, and finally a nice clear layout of where donor portraits were and to hopefully figure out a way to name each of the donors I’m interested in.

While that book works its way across the world, I’ve been putting all my historical costuming files in order.

I like to collect images but have had a habit of recollecting them later, and winding up with files in multiple places.

I usually search for very specific information. But if I come across something interesting that is not related I will collect and store that. That includes things like books of trades, and medicine, and recipes and extant clothing and textiles- usually not in English but increasingly easier to translate that’s to OCR scanning!

But I used to store my stash of portraits and figurative art by country, by artist.

What used to be my 1499-1620 folder is now my “Anne” folder with sub categories for regions, clothing elements and more. All my tailoring books are in there, as too are all my files on extant clothing.

It’s so much easier now.

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searching searching searching, keep those digits searching

I am finally in a position to include images from outside my North Rhine focus. It honestly covers so much of Europe. I need to be able to put Anne of Cleves ensembles in context in her own lands, but also within the power structures across Europe as there is a tendency to only compare Anne and her fellow wives.

I needed to at least have the ruling houses sorted so that now I can add in portraits that are of unnamed, or misidentified people.

So exciting though.

I also recently sorted through tapestries as they are a rich source of information given figures are of at least life size.

Oh! I can use shortcuts! I’ve been trying to work out how to work with those who married outside their homeland and changed their style. I can double up information files but separate the folders and add shortcuts.

Oh the whole though it’s not common for this to happen in adulthood.

SO EXCITING! This tapestry sadly is historical, but is so very contemporary.

I first found her in a print collection by Zimmerman who very definitely used 1st or 2nd or even 3rd hand physical depictions. In this print? I think her head gear is inspired by some illustrations of Anne of Hungary.

The original is a lovely apricot and silver, I’m giving serious thought to making this from my pale blue taffeta and silver and/or white velvet for an Elsa inspired gown.

I have enough true depictions of dress of the time and place this is grounded in.

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popping up from my archives

I’ve spent the last few months pretty stressed, it’s not going to get better but I’m trying to keep focused on the fact I am still able to work on my projects (as pain and fatigue permit) and it’s helping a bit. I also am able to finish work on my little photo area at the back of my studio and I have a very good DSLR with remote so I can get some good photos.

I’ve painted the back wall with a nice clear turquoise by mixing phthalo blue and green, as they are translucent and mix with wall paint nicely. And I have a nice rug, the two together will be great for some Bruyn inspired portraits.

I’ve been working on my Anne of Cleves research too. I’m finally confident in some aspects that I’m able to actually write in a fairly linear manner. It’s a lot though. All my images have to be cropped and edited and named in a format that makes them quick to find. The written information is so much harder. But I’ve finally managed to get most of that sorted. My unsorted 16thC folder is down from 1500 images to about 400, and 200pdfs down to 60. It’s much more impressive when you realise I had to skim read the contents of each and the topics range from extant textiles, to artists, to archival material from Denmark to Prague and across to Spain.

Luckily the main theme is words about clothes so I’ve got a few keywords to refer to.

But I really need to get each individual archival document formatted in a very similar way to my images. Date, region, artist/archive, person.

This is working well, as I have a few double ups that are now possible to spot.

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I have reached an impasse with my physical and mental health. But I have a path which is so important. One of my books has landed in the country and so I’m excited and motivated to be prepared to be told everything I’ve done is wrong or if it is right. It may also not do either and even then it’s going to be helpful.

But I need a break.

I’m in limbo in ways I have no control over. It’s going to be lifelong too.

So I’m trying to protect what and who I love.

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