SOME PEARLS, SOME SHIPS, A BIT OF A DO AT SEA….. AND A SPANISH KING’S BEARD IS SINGED!

SOME PEARLS, SOME SHIPS, A BIT OF A DO AT SEA….. AND A SPANISH KING’S BEARD IS SINGED!

THE MAKING OF ARMADA QUEEN ELIZABETH 1ST.

Queen Elizabeth 1st 'Armada' Portrait c.1588.

Queen Elizabeth 1st ‘Armada’ Portrait c.1588.

Queen Elizabeth 1st has long been my most favourite of the English monarchs, and her mother Anne Boleyn, my favourite of King Henry VIII’s wives.

Having seen a BBC docu-drama all about the Spanish Armada, with the wonderful Anita Dobson as an elderly Queen Elizabeth 1st, I felt a familiar urge grab me……anyone with an ‘artistic temperament’ will understand what I mean!

At the end of the TV program, Anita/Elizabeth appeared in this most marvellous costume, based on the one depicted in the portrait above, that the real Queen Elizabeth commissioned after her victory over the Spanish King. This has always been one of my most favourite costumes….to look at. But now….suddenly……I had the urge…the urge that cannot be ignored……I HAD to make it… in miniature.

Anita Dobson as Queen Elizabeth 1st in the Armada costume.

Anita Dobson as Queen Elizabeth 1st in the Armada costume.

Sometimes, I feel I need a challenge, something that will really push me, and this, I decided, was going to be it. Costume books were consulted, fabric stash was raided and more fabric, ribbon and lace ordered, plus a good stock up on mini faux pearls (and a lot were needed!) and other gems. The boxes of body parts came out (sounds dreadful I know, but that’s exactly how it works when you make dolls!) and suitable parts selected for the actual doll.

Then and only then, could the urge be purged!

 

Since Queen Elizabeth 1st was known for wearing white lead make-up, I chose body parts cast in a beautiful translucent white porcelain, normally used for ghosts (oh yes….I do make ghosts too, both headless and with head, after all, every dollshouse needs a ghost!).

The doll was then bodied, ready to start dressing and I also made the wig. Bearing in mind the skirt of this costume is quite wide, I made the wig on the wide side too, in order to balance the doll, top and bottom.

With the final choice of fabric and trims etc gathered together in one place (no mean feat in my house…..oh how I long for a proper workroom with storage!), it was time to make a start. I decided I would make all the pattern pieces as I went along so that I could get on with my favourite part….the dressing.

Silk, lace and ribbon gathered to make the costume.

Silk, lace and ribbon gathered to make the costume.

First to be applied was Elizabeth’s stockings, pure silk of course. As with all my miniature dolls, she had to have the lace-trimmed drawers to hide the join between the lower porcelain leg and the upper soft wired thigh and lower torso.

I liked the shape of some Elizabethan men’s shoes I’d seen in a costume book so, since women’s shoes were similar to those worn by men, I based my Elizabeth’s real leather slippers on these and added a little ‘bling’.

Elizabeth's real leather slippers with pearl and filigree detail.

Elizabeth’s real leather slippers with pearl and filigree detail.

Then I added a short length underskirt (which on a real human woman would have been a full shift). Over this and worn very low down on the hips, is a (modified for a miniature doll) farthingale (skirt support).

Petticoat and farthingale in place.

Underskirt and farthingale in place.

This in turn is supported underneath by a hip pad or ‘bum roll’. You can’t see this in the picture because it is worn at the back. This also helps to tilt the farthingale slightly up at the back and forwards, as was the fashion then, so I have included a separate picture so you can see what it looks like. It is basically just a crescent shaped pad.

Hip pad or 'bum roll' worn under the farthingale as support.

Hip pad or ‘bum roll’ worn under the farthingale as support.

Next to tackle was the ornate petticoat. On a miniature doll this is usually made as a centre front panel only, to avoid adding unnecessary bulk to such a small frame. The silvery grey silk I had chosen has a lovely diamond pattern woven into it, so I embroidered the gold and black star shapes into these, which worked quite well. It took a very long time to complete both the front panel and the matching sleeves, but was well worth the effort. Once the panel was in place on the doll, it was time to make the black silk over skirt.

Embroidery detail on skirt centre panel or false petticoat.

Embroidery detail on skirt centre panel or false petticoat.

During the costume research process, it became clear to me that during the late 1580s, the shape of the gown skirt in particular was quite different to that of the 1570’s and 1590’s. The opening at the front was held out over the richly decorated petticoat in a wide but very definite curve. You can see this clearly in the fashion plate below.

Picture from fashion book showing the wide curve of the open skirt.

Picture from fashion book showing the wide curve of the open skirt.

It took a while to work out exactly how to do this in miniature but I got there in the end.

The main over-skirt with its deep curve now held in place over the embroidered petticoat.

The main over-skirt with its deep curve now held in place over the embroidered petticoat.

The bodice was quite straightforward and so were the main sleeves with their lace cuffs. The long hanging false sleeves were also something that I had tackled before. It was difficult to see from the painting what they were lined with so I chose a darker shade of coral silk to tone with all the tiny coral pink bows. Once the two sets of sleeves were in place, I made the sleeve rolls but did not pad them (they would have been padded for a real human) as this would have added too much bulk to the doll. The last piece of the bodice was the elongated stomacher at the centre front.

Next to prepare was the wide lace and silk ruff which had to be pleated on the board.

The lace and silk ruff is drying on the pleater board.

The lace and silk ruff is drying on the pleater board.

Whilst this was drying, I set about making all the tiny silk bows from 4mm silk ribbon in shades of coral and dark coral which was a very popular colour at that time. I secured some of these to the middle of the stomacher before adding strings of tiny faux pearl beads.

Bodice decorated with jewelled silk bows and strings of pearls.

Bodice decorated with jewelled silk bows and strings of pearls.

Jewelled bows added to the skirt and crystals and pearls applied to the petticoat and sleeves.

Jewelled bows added to the skirt and crystals and pearls applied to the petticoat and sleeves.

Once all this decoration was in place I was finally able to attach the lace ruff, along with the wig which I decorated with yet more pearls. It was not really very clear from the painting what exactly Elizabeth was actually wearing on her head, so I decided to use a golden feathered ornament.

Ruff and hair decoration in place.

Ruff and hair decoration in place.

The very last part of the costume was completed with a little golden filigree feather fan, again using pearls as decoration.

Tiny jewelled feather fan to complete the outfit.

Tiny jewelled feather fan to complete the outfit.

You may have noticed that at the end of the bodice stomacher, there is a pale pink bow with jewelled centre and a drop pearl. (I had originally forgotten to add this pearl but have now done so!)

Note the tiny pearl drop below the pink bow.

Note the tiny pearl drop below the pink bow.

This holds an enormous amount of symbolic significance. The bow and pearl are placed in the area of the body where, if Elizabeth had been a King, the codpiece would have been worn to symbolise the King’s masculinity.

The pink bow makes a huge statement to the other (male) rulers of that time, especially to the King of Spain! Elizabeth’s statement to the world is saying ‘Look at me. I am as powerful and victorious as any King, but first and foremost I am a woman….and proud of it’.

The placing of the drop pearl symbolises the womb and denotes purity….she is the Virgin Queen and therefore not ruled or owned by any man. This is symbolically repeated all over the costume with the sheer amount of pearls….she is dripping in pearls….therefore she is telling the world that she is pure.

It is worth noting the sheer embarrassment, both political and personal that was caused to the King of Spain by this English victory. The Spanish ships were much bigger and far outnumbered the English. Spain by comparison was a much larger and more powerful country than England. King Philip of Spain had once technically been King of England when he was married to Elizabeth’s older sister Mary. He had also asked for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage when she was younger and she was being pressurised into looking for a husband…but she had refused him. Elizabeth was also Protestant, something that was not very popular for a monarch in Europe at that time.

Basically, little tiny England with its mere female ruler had fought off the might of Spain and had ‘singed the King of Spain’s beard.’ In our 21st century language, Philip had been beaten by a girl……the girl that nobody ever thought would be Queen…..the girl that was Queen of England for over 40 years…. and the girl whose reign became  known as England’s ‘Golden Age’.

Miniature Elizabeth 1st doll complete in room setting.

Miniature Elizabeth 1st doll complete in room setting.

Magna Carta, Lampreys and a Child Bride.

THE MAKING OF KING JOHN.

King John of England.

King John of England.

With the 8ooth anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta this month (June 2015) it was only natural that I would be drawn to creating a King John miniature doll.

I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about this king, only that he was the brother of King Richard 1st (The Lion Heart), wasn’t very popular with his people because of the high taxes he levied on them and was part of the legend of Robin Hood. I didn’t even know he was the son of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

So, in order to make a doll of him I started where I always start best….. I looked in my costume books for an idea of what he might have been wearing in 1215. Next I needed to know which doll would be best to use and so I found the picture of his tomb effigy. These were often a very good likeness of the person concerned.

King John's tomb at Worcester Catherdral and Queen Isabella's tomb at Fonterault.

King John’s tomb at Worcester Catherdral and Queen Isabella’s tomb at Fonterault.

Choosing fabrics was the next step so a quick check in the costume books again and away I went for a good rummage in my material stash (no mean feat!).

Fabrics chosen for King John.

Fabrics chosen for King John.

I don’t often get a chance to work on these early Medieval costumes so I was actually very excited. I particularly like Medieval costume although ALL costume is a joy to me.

With miniature dolls, one has to give an impression of most of the under clothing so some aspects of John’s costume look a little odd on their own.

First to be made were his pale green silk jersey stockings and a covering to hide the join between the end of his porcelain legs and the start of the padded wires of the upper legs. I feel this is absolutely necessary on most miniature dolls because people will ALWAYS (oh yes they do!) always turn the doll upside down to see what it has on underneath.  I like everything to be nice and tidy underneath. Next were his tan coloured leather pointed toe shoes, very fashionable at that time.

Stockings, garters and a covering for the top of the legs for modesty and tidyness!

Stockings, garters and a covering for the top of the legs for modesty and tidiness!

Leather pointed toed shoes.

Leather pointed toed shoes.

Then I made his under-tunic which, in order to avoid as much bulk as possible was made in three separate parts: the skirt, the top of the neck area and the lower sleeves. I chose a very fine dark blue silk for this.

False under garments in place.

False under garments in place.

Once these were in place, his top tunic could be dressed onto him. For this I used a beautiful fine gold patterned silk jacquard and trimmed it with a very tiny burgundy ‘fairy lace’ braid.

The sword was actually made from a curved sword that I straightened, painted the top and bound it in a leather ‘sheath’. Once the sword was secured in place I added a deep olive green leather belt with a fancy gold buckle.

The sword was originally curved like this one.

The sword was originally curved like this one.

Sword and belt detail.

Sword and belt detail.

For John’s cloak I chose a deep red wine coloured silk lined with a finer silk of a similar colour. This was fixed to his shoulders with a tiny leather strap and two jewelled filigree ‘brooches’. His crown is simply a gold braid band with the addition of gold filigrees and coloured crystals. Just for fun I fixed a rolled up scroll of parchment paper tied with a red ribbon into his hand………this may or may not signify the Magna Carta……I’ll leave that up to you to decide!

Crown and cloak detail.

Crown and cloak detail.

THE MAKING OF QUEEN ISABELLA.

So once King John was finished, well I couldn’t possibly leave him on his own now, could I? Of course not, so history books (and the internet) were consulted to see who his wife was. This was quite a surprise because I didn’t know he was married twice. The first wife before he became King, was Isabella of Gloucester, but it seems that once he became King he decided that he preferred somebody else and had the marriage annulled on the grounds that she was too closely related to him.

Strangely (said with tongue in cheek) he then married a much younger lady. He married another Isabella (handy!) a very young French maiden from Angouleme. This second wife was just 12 years old when they married in 1200 and apparently he was absolutely besotted with her and remained so until he died. Even more strange (but then maybe not!) was that the first Isabella remained living in her own apartments in the royal residence…..must have led to some rather awkward moments between the two women over the years!

So my next job was to see what a young woman in her twenties might be wearing in 1215 and have another rummage in my fabric stash.

As with her husband, I started with her silk stockings, some cotton drawers (yeah, yeah….I know they didn’t wear any then…. but read my previous blog post on Queen Anne Neville to see why) and some pointed toed slippers in fine leather. As with King John, only the skirt part of the under-gown is made, to avoid unnecessary bulk. I chose a gold silk for this.

Isabella's leather slippers.

Isabella’s leather slippers.

Isabella’s over-gown is made in a fine richly patterned deep red silk jacquard, trimmed with  red and gold patterned silk brocade at the neck, cuffs and hem, edged with flat gold braid. Like john, she has a leather belt around her waist with a fancy gold filigree buckle and the end of the belt hanging down. Around her shoulders is a floor length trained cloak in deep green silk lined with brown silk lining. The cloak is fixed like John’s, with a tiny leather strap and two fancy gold filigree ‘brooches’.

Queen Isabella.

Queen Isabella.

At this time, it was no longer as fashionable to have the hair on show as it had been back in the early 1200’s. By 1215 the hair was covered, along with the neck with a piece of fabric known as a wimple. On top of this was a circular veil held in place with either a band, or in the case of Queen Isabella, a crown. My Isabella’s crown is made from lace painted with metallic gold paint and decorated with tiny crystals.

Wimple, veil and crown detail.

Wimple, veil and crown detail.

Below are some pictures of my King John and Queen Isabella taken in a suitable room box scene along with some miniature food made especially for them by Mary Thornton Medieval Morsels. Mary makes the most accurate miniature food I have seen and she made a dish of lampreys and a lamprey pie (King John’s favourite food) for me. The miniature lampreys look wonderfully revolting (no offence meant to any lamprey lovers out there!).

King John is calling for his wife Queen Isabella. 'Isabella my love, come and see what we are having for dinner tonight.'

King John is calling for his wife Queen Isabella.
‘Isabella my love, come and see what we are having for dinner tonight.’

Queen Isabella looks at the two dishes: 'John mon cher, what on ers are zoze? Zay look 'orrible!'

Queen Isabella looks at the two dishes:
‘John mon cher, what on ers are zoze? Zay look ‘orrible!’

King John tries to explain: 'They are lampreys my love.... my favourite food.'

King John tries to explain:
‘They are lampreys my love…. my favourite food.’

But Isabella is not impressed and rushes out. 'My muzzer told me about zee awful Eenglish food.....and she was right!'

But Isabella is not impressed and rushes out.
‘My muzzer told me about zee awful Eenglish food…..and she was right!’

Later at dinner a relaxed King John is looking forward to his lampreys and tries to persuade Isabella to try some. 'Honestly my darling, they are lovely.'

Later at dinner a relaxed King John is looking forward to his lampreys and tries to persuade Isabella to try some.
‘Honestly my darling, they are lovely.’

But the Queen is not convinced: 'Mais non, mon cher....I sink I weel just 'ave a bit of zee pastry...zoze sings look all slimy!'

But the Queen is not convinced:
‘Mais non, mon cher….I sink I weel just ‘ave a bit of zee pastry…zoze sings look all slimy!’

If you are in need of some miniature food for your dollshouse, it is worth taking a look at Mary’s work. She also has a blog about King John and the lampreys that can be found here.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog about the making of my King John and Queen Isabella miniature dolls. Both dolls are for sale. Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing them.

KING JOHN & QUEEN ISABELLA IN SCENE 1

THE MAKING OF QUEEN ANNE NEVILLE.

THE MAKING OF QUEEN ANNE NEVILLE.

King Richard III and his wife Queen Anne Neville depicted in a stained glass window.

King Richard III and his wife Queen Anne Neville depicted in a stained glass window.

I found King Richard III’s wife Anne Neville, a really enjoyable character doll to create. It is rare that I get the chance to work on costumes from this particular historical era. Late medieval female costume is so elegant, with long sweeping lines and very feminine.

Once again the costume books were consulted for the most popular styles worn in the early to mid 1480s. To keep this doll as feminine as possible I decided to take the lighter shades from Richard’s colour scheme and use these for the main colours for Anne, accenting them with darker tones. Richard’s doublet and the lining of his robe were pale gold so I used a similar coloured silk jacquard for Anne’s main gown and teamed it with another rich dark red silk for her under-gown.

ANNE NEVILLE FABRICS

Silk fabrics chosen for Anne’s costume.

Firstly, I put some silk stockings on her… and then some pantaloons. Now before the historians amongst you start shouting at me, I know they were not invented then…….but I have my reasons for doing this.

Although ladies of these times did not wear pantaloons, I always put them on my miniature lady dolls. The reason for this is very simple: Firstly, people ALWAYS turn dolls upside down to see what they are wearing underneath! Secondly, most of my dolls are quite poseable and, with this kind of doll, there is usually a join where the lower porcelain part of the leg meets the upper wired and padded section of the leg and hips. Pantaloons cover this join so that the doll looks nicer when she is inevitably turned upside down!

Silk stockings and the (illegal) pantaloons.

Silk stockings and the (illegal) pantaloons.

Leather shoes with slightly pointed toes were then added to complete her under garments.

Anne's leather slippers have slightly pointed toes and filigree decoration.

Anne’s leather slippers have slightly pointed toes and filigree decoration.

The under-gown was then fitted in two parts, a tight close-fitting strapless bodice that represented the corset and the skirt which was often worn longer than the wearer for a woman of this class. To avoid bulk, I attached the skirt around the doll’s waist as I knew I would need to keep the area below her bust as smooth as possible to accommodate the skirt of the main gown. The doll was then placed on a cork board where her skirt was draped and pinned into folds.

Anne's silk underskirt is pinned to the board to set the folds.

Anne’s silk underskirt is pinned to the board to set the folds.

Over-gowns of this time were often voluminous with trains and skirts fell from just under the bust like an Empire line. Although V necked bodices had been popular, these did give way to a wide round necked version where the top of the corset could just be seen. Sleeves could be narrow and fitted and I felt that this style would suit the doll best.

All Anne's top clothing is now in place.

All Anne’s top clothing is now in place.

As far as fashion goes, in my opinion, the 15th century had some of the most ridiculous headdresses for women that history has ever seen. Size and shape became quite huge and outlandish and must have been quite a hazard for anyone standing too close! By the mid 1480s the ‘butterfly’ headdress had become the thing to be seen in for all fashionistas of this time. Basically it was an adaptation of the popular Burgundy headdress (like a tall fez) with the addition of wire frames to support a gauze veil.

Here is a good example of the Butterfly headdress from the TV drama 'The White Queen'.

Here is a good example of the Butterfly headdress from the TV drama ‘The White Queen’.

The fez part was worn quite far back on the head rather than on the top. Wires that looked like the antennae of a butterfly protruded from the back and another V shaped wire frame was attached at the front. The veil was then draped over the wires in a variety of different ways, depending on the wearer. At this time, it was still fashionable to pluck the front of the hairline to give the appearance of a high forehead, the rest of the hair being pulled back tightly and pinned up underneath the headdress, often in a linen under-cap. I had not made one of these ‘butterfly’ monstrosities before in miniature but was quite surprised that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

Close up of the wire supports and veil.

Close up of the wire supports and veil.

Although fiddly, I was pleased with the final result. (Some of you may have noticed that I used the same fabric to cover the fez as I used for Richard’s stomacher).

Showing the top of Anne's Butterfly headdress.

Showing the top of Anne’s Butterfly headdress.

Anne Neville in medieval room box scene.

Anne Neville in medieval room box scene.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the making of my Queen Anne Neville doll. She is available for sale. So if you are interested in buying her please do contact me either through this blog, Twitter, Face Book or my main website

If you would like to read about my Richard III doll please scroll down to the post before.

Richard looks like he is deep in conversation with Anne.....I wonder what they might be talking about.

Richard looks like he is deep in conversation with Anne…..I wonder what they might be talking about.

THE MAKING OF KING RICHARD III

THE MAKING OF KING RICHARD III

RICHARD III OF ENGLAND

With all the publicity about the reburial of King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral this year, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to the urge to make a miniature doll of this English monarch.

I have always felt that this particular era was one of elegance regarding costume. It is the very end of the typical medieval fashions yet one can definitely see the beginnings of the more well-known Tudor styles.

King Richard III died at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 so, with several historical costume books open at the mid 1480s, I made my decision regarding what exactly my Richard was going to wear. I had made a young King Henry VIII a few years ago, based on the fashions from the very early 1500s and it was quite noticeable that men’s fashions hadn’t really changed that much during those few years. Any changes that had taken place were very subtle so I was able to use the patterns I had made for young Henry to make those I needed for Richard.

I wanted a complete change in colour scheme from Henry’s light, fresh palette so I decided to go with a richer, darker look, partly to reflect the darker mood of the times but without overpowering a miniature doll of only six inches tall. Eventually (it always takes me ages!) I settled on deep wine red and gold silks along with accents in black.

Silk fabrics chosen for Richard's costume.

Silk fabrics chosen for Richard’s costume.

First to be made were his black hosen (similar to tights). These are extremely difficult and time-consuming to do on a miniature doll but are worth the effort once finished. The cod piece is always a bit of a challenge, but having successfully mastered this with the young Henry doll, fore-warned was definitely fore-armed. The contents of the codpiece were in place and looking fine (and not ridiculous!) in just a few minutes…..unlike young Henry. (Click here if you would like to see what happened with Henry).

Hosen with cod-piece, shoes ans shirt front.

Hosen with cod-piece, shoes ans shirt front.

Richard’s footwear was quite different to Henry’s square-toed shoes, being more like an ankle boot than a true shoe. Although the fashion had been for very pointy-toed footwear, by 1485 the look was more rounded than it had been. There was also a flap or lip at the back and front of the ankle that could be worn turned up or turned down.

Shirts of this time were fairly low necked and as always with a miniature doll, my Richard’s shirt is simply a false panel of very fine silk secured in place to look like a shirt.

The doublet of this time was short and not always worn with the skirted vest so I chose to show off my Richard’s legs by omitting the vest. This also helped reduce bulk in such a small doll. You may have noticed that behind the gold thread lacing on his doublet, there is a small panel of dark red and gold fabric. This is known as a stomacher and was a stiff section that was inserted into the centre front of a corset or other garment to help shape the top clothing and also aid good posture. Most people have heard of this in female costume but it is not so well known that men also wore them at this time…… although they had disappeared in men’s costume by the mid 1500s……wonder why! (In female costume they lasted right into the 19th century).

False doublet with gold thread lacing and cord tie belt. See the stomacher (panel) behind the doublet.

False doublet with gold thread lacing and cord tie belt. See the stomacher (panel) behind the doublet.

Once Richard’s doublet was in place, the robe could be dressed onto him. At this time, the robe could be worn long or short. It had long lined sleeves that were slashed at the front to allow the lower part of the sleeve to hang down freely. In a miniature doll, the main body of the robe is dressed onto the doll first, then the long robe sleeves are added. The last part was to add the doublet sleeves. These were often slashed to reveal the shirt and with a miniature doll, false slashing is made using silk ribbon carefully hand stitched in place. Since Richard was a king, I decided to add a decorative heavily jewelled chain around his shoulders. This fashion lasted into the early 1600s for nobles and royalty.

Richard's robe is in place along with the false sleeves of his doublet.

Richard’s robe is in place along with the false sleeves of his doublet.

Here you can see the mock slashing on the doublet sleeves.

Here you can see the mock slashing on the doublet sleeves.

The last part of my Richard’s costume was his hair and his hat. Much has been made about the possible colour of this king’s hair. I decided to stick with a darker colour, since in all probability (and we will never really know for certain anyway) his hair was more than likely fair as a child but darkened as he became an adult. Men’s hair at this time was often on the long side and worn in a page boy style with a hat that became known as a ‘pork pie’ hat. This was simply a close-fitting hat with a round turned up brim, often notched and decorated with lacing and a brooch.

Richard's hair is in place along with his hat.

Richard’s hair is in place along with his hat.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the making of my King Richard III doll. He is available for sale. So if you are interested in buying him please do contact me either through this blog, Twitter, Face Book or my main website 

King Richard III.

King Richard III.

Next time, I will be talking about the making of Richard’s beloved wife, Anne Neville.

King Richard with his wife Queen Anne Neville.

King Richard with his wife Queen Anne Neville.

CELEBRATING THE 5OOTH ANNIVERSARY OF HAMPTON COURT PALACE.

The fantastic Tudor entrance at Hampton Court Palace.

The fantastic Tudor entrance at Hampton Court Palace.

This year sees the 5ooth anniversary of Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, United Kingdom. This palace has been home to several kings and queens over the centuries but, perhaps the most famous resident (or maybe that should read ‘infamous’) was King Henry VIII.

King Henry VIII in all his finery.

King Henry VIII in all his finery.

Since this beautiful palace is only about ten minutes drive from where I live and the Tudor period is one of my favourite eras, I was delighted to be asked by Dollshouse and Miniature Scene Magazine (DHMS) to provide three miniature doll-dressing ‘How To’ projects for them.

Of course King Henry himself was an obvious choice and an absolute must for one of the projects, but which of his six wives to choose for the other two? Well, I decided that the most well known had to be Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife and the first to lose her head! She would provide a good project for the most typical of Tudor ladies fashions.

One of the most well-known pictures of Anne Boleyn.

One of the most well-known pictures of Anne Boleyn.

For the third project I decided that in order to give a good but manageable alternative Tudor female costume, Henry’s last wife, Catherine Parr, would be a good choice. Subtle changes in fashion over the few years between this lady and Anne Boleyn would make for an interesting project for DHMS readers to try.

Catherine Parr wearing a different style of  costume to that of Anne Boleyn.

Catherine Parr wearing a different style of costume to that of Anne Boleyn.

When I write ‘How To ‘ projects, I have to make the process of dressing a miniature doll accessible to as many people who want to try doll dressing as possible. This caused me a few problems when I was asked for a Henry VIII project. The typical Henry VIII as per the picture at the top of the page is actually quite an advanced costume to make….especially in miniature. Below are some pictures of my top-of-the-range and recently revised Henry VIII miniature doll.

My recently updated version of King Henry VIII

My recently updated version of King Henry VIII

Close up of my recently updated King Henry VIII's  costume detail.

Close up of my recently updated King Henry VIII’s costume detail.

 

So, after a lot of thinking I put together a set of patterns and instructions and created the following version of this magnificent monarch. It is very similar to the more advanced version but much easier for readers to make and there is scope for the more confident and experienced reader to embellish the doll further if they wish to.

The Henry VIII doll made for the DHMS 'How to Dress' project.

The Henry VIII doll made for the DHMS ‘How to Dress’ project.

A similar problem arose with Anne Boleyn, but again, with some thought, the right look was achieved. Regarding the colour scheme for this doll, since most people associate the song ‘Greensleeves’ with this lady, I decided to dress her in green. The gold letter ‘B’ was created by painting straight onto the doll and then forming the rest of the choker with tiny individually applied faux pearls and crystals.

One of my more advanced Anne Boleyn dolls.

One of my more advanced Anne Boleyn dolls.

 

The Anne Boleyn doll made for DHMS 'How to Dress' project.

The Anne Boleyn doll made for DHMS ‘How to Dress’ project.

 

Close up of jewellery detail on DHMS Anne Boleyn doll.

Close up of jewellery detail on DHMS Anne Boleyn doll.

I chose a slightly different dress design and colour for Catherine Parr, than the one in the original painting but stayed with the same headdress. Again, this is an attainable design for readers to make, with scope to embellish as richly as they would like to. All her jewellery plus the edging on her cap is made up of individually applied crystals, tiny filligrees and faux pearls.

Catherine Parr doll made for the DHMS 'How to Dress' project.

Catherine Parr doll made for the DHMS ‘How to Dress’ project.

 

Close up of the headdress on the DHMS Catherine Parr doll.

Close up of the headdress on the DHMS Catherine Parr doll.

All three of these projects are due to be published in DHMS magazine this coming spring, starting with King Henry. Follow me on Twitter for updates.

If you enjoyed reading this post,  you might like to see some of my previous blog posts about Henry and his wives:

Young King Henry VIII

The young Henry VIII. The eighteen year old fashionable dandy of his time.

The young Henry VIII. The eighteen year old fashionable dandy of his time.

Young Katherine of Aragon

Young Katherine of Aragon, dressed circa 1509/10.

Young Katherine of Aragon, dressed circa 1509/10.

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII and mother to his only legitimate son Edward.

Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII and mother to his only legitimate son Edward.

The Making of Queen Jane.

My new Queen Jane Seymour miniature doll.

Hello! As some of you might know, I have been gradually re-designing all the miniature dolls in my Henry VIII collection. I have also introduced two new dolls into this collection in the form of Young Henry VIII and Young Katherine of Aragon. Introduing new dolls or re-designing existing dolls can be a very slow process, as it has to be fitted around my every day doll orders and my order book is always very busy.

However, recently I was delighted to be given the chance to redesign Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, as an order. This was a wonderful chance to work on a character doll that tends to be far less popular than some of Henry’s other wives (such as Anne Boleyn for example!) 

My original miniature Jane Seymour doll.

When redesigning an existing character doll like Jane I had to take into consideration how close to my original doll she needed to look to be identifiable alongside the other wives. I needed to see how much I could improve her over-all look, how acurate I was able to make her costume with the skills I have improved over the years and also to make sure that she was still attractive as a doll. 

First of all, I wanted to make sure that I kept as close to the original colour scheme as I could, because in my mind, this was part of the doll’s identity. The original doll I made several years ago was based on a painting of the real Jane Seymour (below) and at the time, I decided to soften the main colour of the gown to make the doll less dark and more appealing as a doll.

Painting of Jane Seymour by Holbein.

Chosen fabrics and trims for Jane's dress.

As with the first version I made, I chose a doll with a pretty face. Many of the paintings of Henry’s wives are not the modern day idea of pretty or attractive. With a doll however, it is most important to have a face that will appeal to collectors……nobody wants to buy an unattractive doll! So I chose a doll with a pretty face and, very importantly for this costume, a lovely long neck to display that complicated head dress!Next was the choice of colour and fabric. The type of fabric was always going to be pure silk…..only the best is good enough for a Queen! With the colour, I decided that I would find a silk that as close as possible to the colour in the painting, without being ‘heavy’ or over-bearing on such a small doll. The use of contrasting fabric and trims would play a large part in the over-all look and success of this costume. In the end, I settled on a lovely two-tone silk in a pretty shade of pale brickdust teamed with and ivory and gold silk brocade, metallic gold net and a mixture of black and gold braids. 

Patterns and costume parts cut ready to make up.

Jane with underwear and totally armless!

Close up of Jane's leather slippers.

Once the underwear and shoes were on, I could move on to the skirt, false centre panel and bodice. At this stage, I had already constructed all the parts of the main costume and trimmed as much as I could.
You may have noticed that Jane has no arms at this stage. Sometimes with a miniature doll, the arms get in the way and it is easier to add them later.  As some of you may know, the costume of the miniature doll (as opposed to a larger scale doll) is often full of illusions. On such a small doll it is of great importance to avoid as much bulk as possible in order to keep the line of the costume smooth, without lumps and bumps! So, first of all I secured a narrow frill of lace around Jane’s neckline. This would eventually give the illusion that she was wearing a lace-triimed shift underneath the gown as a real Tudor lady would. Once the lace was secure, the centre panel was secured into place, followed by the main skirt and then the bodice fitted and stitched into place. Front and back plackets were secured to the bodice front and back to give an authentic Tudor look.

Jane with skirts, bodice and lace frill.

 Next came the intricate sleeves after giving Jane her arms at last! Lace cuffs were added to the doll’s wrists. These would look like the the frills from her (imaginary) shift.  Then the gown sleeves were added in three parts: the upper main sleeve, the lower main sleeve and the fancy false under sleeve. The lower main sleeves were lined with gold net and folded back to reveal the padded gold silk brocade false under sleeves with their mock slashing edge. Here is Jane with arms and sleeves:

Jane, almost fully dressed and no longer armless.

The next stage was to add her necklace and head dress. The necklace was made up of tiny faux pearls, filigrees and crystals, each individually applied. This is a very time-consuming (but enjoyable) job and requires much patience and precision to make sure each tiny item ends up in exactly the right place. Once the necklace was completely set, I could move on to the head dress.

Close up of Jane's necklace and jewelled billiments on the coif.

Jane wears a short English Gable Coif with pinned up lappets and split veil, pinned up on one side. The English Gable Coif was originally seen at the end of the 1400’s with the lappets worn down and a full veil at the back. It gradually became shorter until it eventually went out of fashion in favour of the smaller crescent shaped French Hood. Below is a  picture showing its longer form with Henry VIII’s mother Elizabeth of York.

Henry's mother Elizabeth of York.

Below is a picture of Henry’s first wife Katherine of Aragon in middle age wearing a slightly shorter version with the lappets pinned up but still a full veil at the back.

Henry's first wife Katherine of Aragon.

 Below is a picture showing my new Jane’s Gable Coif. The main parts of the head dress was constructed in silk covered card. The lappets were made in silk brocade and secured to the top of the coif where they were then folded back onto the top of the coif and secured in place.

 

Close up from above showing the gold silk brocade lappets folded on the top of the coif.

Next to be applied were the black silk veils and box back of the coif. The jewelled billaments were secured at the front before one of the veils was  folded onto the top of the coif…….phew! Such a lot of work for such a tiny piece!

Back of the coif showing the two black veils (one folded up onto the top) and the box back.

All that remained was the finishing, first with crystals, filigrees and pearls added to the centre front of the gown to form the jewelled belt.

Close up of the jewelled hanging belt.

 

Further decoration was then added to the mock slashing on the false under sleeves plus rings were added to Jane’s fingers.

Detail of false under sleeves and rings on Jane's fingers.

Once everything was in place the last thing to do was to drape the front skirt and the back skirt train to make them look more realistic.

Back view of the costume.

Jane Seymour was finally finished and ready to go to her new home. This was a hugely enjoyable project even though it took a long time but miniature dolls simply cannot be rushed.

Full length side view of Jane.

Until next time.

Best wishes, Louise.

Some Of My Favourite Commissions of 2011 (part one).

Hello Everybody!

Doesn’t time fly? One minute I’m writing about young Henry and Katherine and Christmas is only just on the horizon and then, before I know it, we’re into February!

As some of you know, I write for one of the UK’s leading miniatures magazines ‘Dolls House And Miniature Scene’ (DHMS). I write ‘How To Dress’ miniature dolls articles. For this aspect of my job, I work closely with the editor who commissions me to provide articles on a specific costume theme. I then design and create a doll dressed appropriately for the given theme which will be photographed by the magazine as the finished article, so to speak. I also provide all the pattern pieces needed and the full making up instructions.

As you can imagine, this is no mean task as the doll on its own will take many hours of designing and creating, let alone all the instructions on how to do it!  But I regard this aspect of my work as most important because, for me, it is very satisfying to know that I am sharing my knowledge of this subject with others. It would be so easy to keep it all to oneself but in all honesty, what would that really achieve? Far better surely, to feel the pleasure of sharing.

I have always enjoyed the total doll creation process. But my favourite part has to be the actual costume creation. There is just something about working with fabric and turning it from a flat piece of material into a perfect miniature outfit. It tickles my senses!

My favourite commissions from DHMS last year were the Edwardian dolls based on styles from the popular TV series ‘Downton Abbey’. I was thrilled to be asked to provide articles for a lady and gent in day wear and a lady and gent in evening wear. The late Edwardian period was such an elegant era and, until recently, was nowhere near as popular as it should have been!

Lady and Gentleman in day wear. circa 1914.

 The year I chose was around 1914,  as I was commissioned before the second series began. At this time, ladies clothing was changing rapidly. Gone were the wide, full-legth trailing skirts of the early Edwardian era and the new fashion for slim-line skirts showing shoes and ankles was all the vogue! Bodices were also far more relaxed a less fitted, allowing the wearer much more freedom of movement.

For the lady’s costume, I chose to use a pretty mint green with toning stripe silk as I wanted to portray both youth and those wonderful heady Summer days just before the 1st World War was announced. Here are a few closer pictures of the lady:

1914 Lady on her own.

Close up of her matching shoes and lace stockings.

Close up of the purse.

Close up of the parasol (and lace mittens).

Hat, collar and dragonfly brooch detail.

 This lady’s gentleman friend is equally trendy in his tweed sports suit. Mens’ clothing was also changing to reflect the needs of the more sporty man. Clothing for him had to be comfortable enough to be able to go golfing, shooting or even driving the new motor cars!

The late Edwardian gent showing off his sports suit.

Close up of his real leather, laced shoes.

 Evening wear for gentlemen was still quite formal and hadn’t really changed since Victorian times. A full tail suit was still an absolute must for all formal dining and evening socialising.

Gentleman in full formal evening wear.

Close up of silk waistcoat and jewelled watch chain.

 Ladies evening wear was very elegant and echoed the simple Grecian lines of the Regency era. Skirts were drapy and soft, above ankle and often had tulle or chiffon over-dresses. Hair was dressed softly with fancy combs and feathered brooches and long evening gloves were always worn for formal occaisions.

1914 Lady in evening wear.

Close up of shoes.Close up of jewelled hanging belt.

Hair and necklace close up.
 
This was a wonderful project to work on and to be a part of and I expect you might be wondering what actually happens to the dolls that are created for the ‘How To’s’. Well, thay are kindly returned to me by the editor so that I can find them all new homes. I then put them into my E-bid store. They are all in absolutely pefect  condition but because they have been made for photographic purposes, I often list them at well below their normal retail price.
 
So if you think you would like any of them to come and live in your dolls house or display cabinet, you can see them in my store here.

 Until next time,

Best wishes,

Louise.