Saturday, 16 March 2013

Unveiling a secret project- A wild man masquerade costume, anno 1778

Livrustkammaren in Stockholm have several masquerade costumes from 18th century. Some of them have belonged to the future Karl XIII, among them this one, "a wild man's dress" dated to 1778. I have always wanted to make it and this past month, or so,  it has been my very secret project. So secret that I haven't even told you that I was working on one. I was a bit afraid that it would turn out looking awful. But here is how J looked last night at a masked ball Gustafs Skål held and I think he looked great!

The original is in three parts, a close fitting jacket in white silk, a printed "leopard skin" kilt in silk and a "bear skin" in cotton flannel with claws made of tin. It is also decorated with leaves in silk. The lack of pattern, good pictures and written information made it impossible to truly copy the suit, so I opted for closely inspired. Instead of silk I made the jacket and leopard skin in the same cotton flannel as I used for the bear skin, I bought several yards of white  flannel and then died it brown and sandy brown yellow to suit.

Making claws out of tin was not an option, so instead I sculpted them out of paper clay, painting them silver. They each have a wire skeleton, ending with a little loop, making them easy to sew on. Having no real idea how the skin was shaped I drafted a, in my opinion, likely shape, directly on the fabric.

The original has a seam down the middle, but my fabric was wide enough for the whole skin. I then lined it with common red polyester lining- very unhistorical, but there was a time restraint so I couldn't hunt up a suitable silk lining. And last I attached all the claws. Even if paper clay is pretty lightweight, the combined claws gave the skin some weight. It was pinned discreetly into place to prevent slipping of J´s shoulders.

The jacket was drafted using Pattern Cutting Men's Costume by Elizabeth Friendship as a guide
and lined with plain white cotton. The original has no collar and invisible, and therefore unknown, closure. As I got the flu in a very untimely fashion I got rather behind on my schedule, so yesterday I just sewed the jacket shut. I plan to fix that.

I found a free pattern for a leopard spot stencil online and cut it out on a plastic sheet. Then, being possible mad, I spent quite some time printing the spots. Of course I could have bought faux leopard skin, but as the original is in fabric, I wanted the same. Unfortunately I bought too little of the brown fabric paint, so I had less fabric in making the kilt than I had anticipated. I don't know how much fabric that went into the original, but the skirt looks fuller. The hem is also cut uneven, making the red lining show. I did, however, add a tail, even if it doesn't look the same as the original. The kilt is lined with the same red fabric as the bear skin.

The leaves are cut from silk taffeta, green shot with red. The size of them was a guess and I think they got a bit bigger than the original leaves. Again because of lack of time, my wild man's suit doesn't have as many leaves attached as the original, but I have a lot of leaves left and will add more of them. I also attached several leaves to hair pins, to decorate J's wig.

As I liked the idea of going as a matching pair I used the scraps left over of the leopard skin and made a small skin for me, lined with red. There are a number of paintings of ladies dressed as Diana where they wear a white dress, a small leopard skin draped around their bodies and usually a half-moon decoration in their hair. There are a couple of them in the Pinterest album I made about 18th century masques and theatre costumes. As I was going as a wild woman I omitted the moon and just dressed my hair with a few leaves. I also made a sash from the same fabric as the leaves.The gown is the 1790's linen gown I made a couple of years back. I think we made for a nice couple, don't you?

My friend Marianne wearing the same type of dress and a leopard skin came as Diana, but I'm sure that everybody who saw us noticed her moon tiara and my leaves and spotted the difference... Well, perhaps not.

Lithia went as a Harlequina and I just love her waistcoat. The lattice pattern is made out of velvet ribbons and perfectly done. I should have got a better picture of her hair, because I put it up and I think it came out pretty well. Her hair is dark red and with white hair powder on it turned into a very pretty dark pink.She is also using the Spanish white I made. As she is very pale it was hard to say if it really made her whiter, but it gave her a lovely pale glow. I used my Marechale powder which you can't really tell, because the colour of the powder matches my own hair very well. it did get a nice powdered look though, and it smells divine.


superheidi said...

Pretty well done! :-)

Isis said...

superheidi: Thank you!

Barbee said...

Very cool! Neat idea well done.

Isis said...

Barbee: Thank you so much!

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