The Lord Mayor

This costume (and our Sheriff’s) was all about designing everything I ever wanted into a man’s Elizabethan costume (as well as putting the man in said costume) without going overboard.

The requirements were:

  1. that he be comfortable (or as comfortable as potentially 95+ degree weather can let someone fully costumed for a 16th century English day be)
  2. that he look great and accurately up to his station (middle class), but not above it
  3. that I not break his bank account
  4. that we did not make him wear “pumpkin pants” (pansied slops, which are worn over canions)

Tristana suggested linen for its breath-ability, look and durability. We settled on dupioni silk for the slashes as a way to notch up his look without the ostentation and inappropriateness of something like velvet. We chose the cobalt medium weight linen from Fabrics-store.com for it’s great period color (any blue that denim fades to is usually acceptable at a ren faire) and a tea green silk for – well, because the Rogues like those colors and our Lord Mayor looks very nice in them. We were plagued by a series of silk setbacks, substitutions and near panic-attacks, but finally substituted a sort of olive-green that went perfectly with the brass buttons we chose.

The process for this costume started with research in books of period costume, period paintings (particularly the ones Fabrics-store.com just posted on their blog), and sketching out different color combinations, designs and details. We finally settled on a design that kept things pretty simple with a yoked doublet, slashed chest and sleeves. The hat was to be of the silk until I came to the realization that the slubby texture in the weave of the fabric would require that it be placed on the hat in a scued fashion and, while that might look great on a modern hat, I didn’t like it for a period effect. The hat was changed to linen. A deconstruction of the hat will be forthcoming.

The next step was an initial mock-up constructed on a basic block pattern, followed by adjustments, another mock-up, slight changes and finally a clean pattern. Small adjustments were made on the lining and interlining and a mockup of the standing collar, skirting and epaulets were added. Then the fun began with the cutting out of the actual linen and silk.

The Lord Mayor’s Sleeves, one tacked and one just turned

Construction of the sleeves and slashes was pretty straightforward, with widths of silk pleated and sewn into the outer fabric, turned, the linen ironed to hide the seams, and the edges with their folds stitched onto the lining.  I have to say that once a sleeve was turned right side out it looked ridiculous until it was tacked closed at intervals  and the fill fabric pulled through each slash. The sleeves ties are hand-made cotton cording.

Lord Mayor’s doublet, in progress

The slashes on the chest were a little more of a challenge, as the spacing and dimensions had to be made to flatter the wearer’s body. It would have been easy for the slashes to appear awkward, instead of enhancing his shoulder to waist ratio. The big challenge with the chest was to get the slashes to meet up exactly where they embroidery ended, so the embroidery was left off a couple of inches up, just in case the angle had to change slightly. Luckily I was able to place the slashes right on. The gray-blue embroidery is a chained feather stitch, which may not be period, but is simple enough to add to the costume and give it a richer look. Each tacking slash on the chest has a single stag-thorn stitch in the same shade.

Doublet embroidery detail before the basting stitch was removed

The doublet’s epaulets and skirting were kept simple to enhance the design without adding complexity. Epaulets had a double purpose, to hide the sleeve tie-ins and the gap left between the sleeve and body, and to widen the shoulders. Skirting added interest, while enhancing the waist and helping to hold the double in place. Even without corseting, a man who was in relatively good shape could attain the ideal renaissance shape. Corseting and Peascod belly doublets are entirely different topics.

The pants (or Venetian breeches) were kept fairly simple to maintain the middle class persona. The fullness is pleated into a yoke, consistent with drawings of extant garments. For practicality, the closure is three buttons that match those on the doublet and 2 brass snaps. The shirt has a flat ruff at collar and cuffs with tie closures. The fabric is a slightly off white, in keeping with his station.

The hat is made of the same lovely linen, with a sloping brim to keep the sun out of the eyes, a hand-made cotton cording band and a gray-blue feather.

The doublet, sleeve and hat patterns are all Rogues of  Thread original designs. Inquiries are welcome: roguesofthread@gmail.com

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