Wednesday, January 30, 2013

'Lost' da Vinci Portrait

From - October 16, 2011

"Christie's auction house may have sold a priceless piece of art by Leonardo da Vinci for a little more than $21,000, according to researchers who claim to have identified the origins of the hotly debated painting.

The painting appears to have come from a 500-year-old book containing the family history of the Duke of Milan. Art historian Martin Kemp, of the University of Oxford, believes the mystery painting, which appeared in 1998, is a portrait of the duke's daughter, created by da Vinci for her wedding book."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Early Modern Clothes in the GNM

An interesting site showing early modern clothes at the German National Museum

Images from the site are below:

Sleeveless Frauenwams
Dark brown silk velvet doublet, c. 1600

Portrait of Clara Praun (1565-1638) by Lorenz Strauch

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wedding Dress of Mary of Hungary

The Tonya Mayberry website has posted detailed pictures of the wedding garments of Lajos IV and Mary of Hungary (1526). Check them out at

One of the fantastic photos on the site. This is a close up view of the shirt cuff embroidery.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Late-period portrait at Sotheby's

Here is another interesting late-period portrait from the Sotheby's site

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tintoretto at Sotheby's

Posted to Facebook by the lovely and talented Hastings Sanderson, here is a link to a portrait attributed to Tintoretto

(In full screen mode, notice that the sitter has a front laced dress over a dark panel. Interesting......)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Decorated coat ideas

I recently saw some photos of myself in garb at an event and decided that I want another outer coat. The hard part is deciding what style. At this stage, I am thinking loose and 3/4 length; possibly with hanging sleeves, and heavy on the decoration. It also needs to work with Elizabethan and Italian styles.

I put together some pictures that have inspirational trim/decoration:



Eleanor of Toledo by Allesandro Allori, c.1560, image provided by Jon.


Mary Martyn from A Who's Who of Tudor Women

Titian's La Bella from


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Excess dye problems

Last week, I took advantage of a great 50% off sale on cotton fabrics. I purchased enough cotton drill for the dresses that I hope to make this year, plus some lighter cotton for linings. The only trouble is that the drill and cottons that I have tried to pre-wash just will not stop leaking dye. I have tried very hot water, soaking in a salt bath, detergent, vinegar, you name it - and no success. All I am doing is wasting water and dyeing the scratches in the bath surface purple! It is very frustrating. I want to take advantage of the hot weather here at the moment and have everything washed, dried and put away before it gets cold.

The maroon cotton after ten washes.

The black drill after 12 washes in hot water, 24 hours in a salt bath and a vinegar soak. This is actually a great improvement, as the water was like black oil for the first 7 washes.

I have been searching on the internet for possible solutions. A lot of the US suppliers seems to have products that might be suitable, but will not ship to Australia.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mouse Guard Pouch

This week I have finished another Mouse Guard Pouch. It is made of and lined with red linen, and the mouse is made of wool felt. He has a black bead eye, and is edged in chain stitch. The tassels are made from red crochet cotton. The lucet cords were made by Heather.

The Mouse Guard Pouches are SCA tokens  given to those amongst those very young subjects of Lochac that Their Majesties find have been of help to others and otherwise worthy of recognition. More information and sewing guidelines can be found here:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dosso Dossi Paintings

Like so many historical re-creationists who are interested in Renaissance costuming I spend a lot of time looking at Renaissance portraits and paintings. These days, it is not very often that I come across a painting that I have never seen before, but I am so excited when I do! Today I cam across the Portrait of a Roman Woman (below) by Dosso Dossi.

My brief research suggests that Dosso Dossi was born in a village in Mantua in about 1490. His father worked for the Dukes of Ferrara, and by 1512 Dosso Dossi (real name Giovanni di Niccolò de Luteri) was in Mantua. He became a court painter to Duke Ercole II d'Este and Duke Alfonso I. He often worked with his brother Battista Dossi, who was trained in Raphael's workshop. Dosso Dossi died in 1542.

More information can be found at

Here are some of his portraits:

Portrait of a Woman with a White Hairnet
by Dosso Dossi

Portrait of a Man in Half-Length 
by a Follower of Dosso Dossi

File:Dossi dossi, lucrezia borgia, 1518 circa02.jpg
Portrait of a Youth (Lucrezia Borgia) 1514-1516
by Dosso Dossi

Portrait of a Roman Woman - Dosso Dossi (Giovanni di Niccolo Luteri)

Portrait of a Warrior (1530's)
by Dosso Dossi

'A Female Saint' (after 1600)
in the style of Dosso Dossi

Possibly Lucrezia Borgia
Attributed to Dosso Dossi

and one from brother Battista:

Portrait by Battista Dossi

Friday, January 11, 2013

Linen collar and cuffs in blue

Recently I have been working on some projects for friends, one of which is a set of collar and cuffs for a linen shirt.

The pattern was adapted from a design in the sixteenth century publication Modelbuch aller art.

I traced the design out on tracing paper and traced it onto the linen with water soluble pen. Ink would have been used to draw or trace out designs in the sixteenth century, but I find that many of the old patterns have inconsistencies in them (probably due to the woodcutting and printing techniques) and so water soluble pen allows for a certain amount of adjustment during the embroidery process.

I did a couple of 'test' motifs on the linen that I had to work on. The one on the left is done with two threads of DMC floss worked in a double running stitch, and the one on the right is two threads of DMC floss worked in chain stitch.

I wasn't happy with either, so I compromised with three strands of DMC floss worked in double running stitch. The centre of the flowers is satin stitch in gold DMC floss.

The back of the finished pieces

Knots are usually avoided on the back of embroideries, but I do knot on pieces that are likely to be subjected to vigorous or machine washing.

The completed panel. You may notice that the blue of the flowers is slightly darker than the blue of the vine

The completed pieces after ironing

After completion, I passed the work onto a friend who used them to complete a linen shirt.

The shirt was made by Toni Abrahams, and photos of the finished shirt are courtesy of Phil Abrahams.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Motivated for 2013

I hope that you all have a great year in 2013. I got some excellent books for Christmas, so I am feeling very enthusiastic and motivated about a new year of sewing and costuming!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Trim dyeing

Recently I had another try at pot-dyeing. After the last time, my second-hand dye pot sprung a leak (while filled with dye, which was inconvenient to say the least) and I had to search around for a replacement. I found a nice one at a thrift shop at an excellent price.

I had some pink bobble trim which I wanted to turn black, and some ribbon trim that I just wanted to take the 'sharpness' off.

The bobble trim pre-dye

The ribbon trim pre-dye

This time I used some dry powder dye that I found in my stash.

The ribbon and trim bubbling away

The finished ribbon trim. A subtle difference, but an improvement.

The finished bobble trim. Perfect for neo-Victorian costuming.

The next step is untangling the mass of ribbon and trim that came out of the pot!