Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Black Linen Dress & Antenna Veil

In the early 15th century, while most of the upperclass (especially those of a *ahem* certain age) were wearing the houpplande and the padded roll atour headdress, the gentry and emerging middle class were wearing a fitted gown and a headdress that I call the "antenna veil". This style is seen primarily on Christine de Pizan, but is also seen in Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Barry. My favorite example of this gown/headdress combo is the black dress found on the August page (above).

Well, it wasn't my original intention, but my black linen dress ended up being pretty reminiscent of the August dress, so I decided (last minute) to give the antenna veil a shot. I love the result of the whole outfit!

That light line at the lacing on by lower belly is my site token (which I just looped into the lacing), but the lacing ends at about the bottom of that- plenty of room for expanding over my twin belly. It ended up a little short, so you can see my underdress at the bottom, but I really don't mind that. The light purple just under my elbows is the lavender lining (I just rolled the end of the sleeves up). The maroon sleeves are false sleeves pinned to my underdress.

The fit of the dress is absolutely perfect. It is very flattering (especially to my back side, according to my husband). It is a little heavier than I expected, though. The lavender lining is of a heavier mid-weight than the black, so it's almost the same as wearing one layer of wool.

The antenna veil was actually, in concept, pretty easy. There is a wire frame (16-gauge brass wire) that creates the antenna-horns and goes around the back of my head. It's wrapped in strips of linen that are stitched into place as needed. A small dollop of beeswax here and there acts as a glue to keep the linen on the wire (preventing it from unwrapping). I'm wearing my St. Birgitta's coif, then the antenna (which is attached to a linen headband that is pinned together at the back of my head), then my half-round veil is pinned into place (I used 5 pins to do that). The antenna is only on my head by way of the headband (only pinned at the back) and the wire frame is "locked" under the curve at the back of my head. It is very lightweight, completely sturdy, fairly authentic (I only used period materials), and, let's face it, really cool.
I need a smaller veil for it, but the half-round is the right shape. I had one problem when I wore it- the veil blocked my peripheral vision, and sometimes just got in my way. I think that a smaller veil and a different pinning technique will solve this, though. Also, when I wore it outside, the wind blew the veil all over the place, but it didn't blow anything off or out of whack. I think, again, a smaller veil would help make this an outdoor headdress.
I documented my progress on the headdress, so I'll be putting an article together to put on my website sometime.
The event itself was a good one. It was one of those small events where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. I taught a new class in the morning, "Hoods, Horns & Hennins", which was a look at 15th century women's headdress in terms of class. I have the notes to put on the website for that as well. Then, after lunch and after taking a class, I went and judged in the A&S. It was my first time judging on my own, and I think I did a pretty good job with it. I didn't get to judge the item I wanted to, but it was still a great experience. Then I took another class and, at that point, I was pretty much done. It's hard work walking around for 3 people all day!
We'll be attending Unicorn the second weekend of April, but I'm not planning to teach. I think I'll get an embroidery pattern together and work on that all day. I also need to come up with some new garb for Owen before then. They grow up so quickly....