Monday, 18 January 2010

The Long Awaited Sleeves

Finally, the photos of the complete dress with sleeves.

Of course, this dress is fantasy-Tudor (or to use a much hated word "Tudorbethan") and the sleeves in no way work the way real Tudor sleeves should. On the other hand, they are utterly, ridiculously, beautifully huge.

The dress was meant to be blue from the start and finding cool shades of blue that worked with each other wasn't the difficult part of the cloth adventure. There are a finite number of shades of silk velvet (as the sleeves were meant to be of that initially) so the colours all followed from that. There are, however, a bewilderingly large selection of fakes silks (the dress is to be worn at a pseudo-medieval Banquet, where cutlery and table manners are strictly optional) so finding the correct shade was simple. It was the underskirt and the matching lace turned out to be more tricky a challenge. Much of the inspiration (Anne's Teal and the Green gowns from The Other Boleyn Girl) had on the neckline "ouches" (read: jewels) but at the time, the Mercenary had yet to locate a supplier for relatively convincing gems and the soft faux silk would probably not take kindly to the weight without boning (which makes dancing, something of a prerequisite) slightly more difficult. In the end, we settled for the matching blue-and-silver trim, a compromise that (in retrospect) the Mercenary isn't entirely sure about.

The sleeves, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the expensive part of this dress. They used, between them, five metres of fabric. Even whilst constructed out of a synthetic velvet (there is no other practical option given how they'll inevitably drag on the floor - the Mercenary was worried they'd catch the sunlight badly, but it seems to have turned out tolerably well) they bear a not insignificant price tag. The dress can certainly be worn without the sleeves (as can be seen here) With the sleeves, the dress really veers into fantasy rather than Tudor, though I hope not unflatteringly so. The mechanism of sleeve attachment (buttons) has yet to be tested rigorously, but I suspect it needs improvement.

The commissioning of a dress like this one from the Mercenary would cost around £80-90, and the sleeves costing an extra £20.

More photos under the cut.

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