I have started a new costume. It is a gown for the greatest Tudor Queen of all – Elizabeth the First. I have just completed a corset which is to be worn under the gown. My corset has been inspired by the corset found on the ‘effigy’ of Elizabeth the First. I have designed a tabbed waist corset, which is the type which is the easiest to wear. The tabs distribute pressure so the corset does not ‘dig in’ at the waist. The Elizabethan corset gave a period shape to the body and had straps to help lift the breasts. It was made of linen (I have constructed it in cotton twill as linen today is not always woven tightly enough to withstand the stresses of a corset). Spring steel boning has been inserted into channels to give strength. During the 16th century corsets were stiffened with whalebone, reeds, steel or rope.
I have used binding on the edges as Elizabeth’s corset was bound with leather. The lacing holes are reinforced with sturdy cotton thread and the corset is laced with cord.
I will construct the rest of the undergarments and then begin the gown.
The gown has been inspired by portraits of Elizabeth and films including ‘Elizabeth the Golden Age’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’. I have purchased 12 metres of exquisite gold silk beautifully embroidered with leaves and flowers in golden thread. Jewels, pearls and lace are to be used to embellish the costume. I have just bought some beautiful gold damask fabric – it will be used to make extravagant sleeves and a jewelled underskirt.
For the next stage of the design process please watch this space.