Our church hosts a Reformation Day celebration each year and, of course, we always use it as a perfect excuse to dress up! There is usually a different theme to each year, but since I like to re-wear my costumes as much as possible and don't have many other opportunities to wear renaissance clothing, I don't worry too much about fitting into a particular era or country. The theme this year is about ancient celtics, and really, I don't have any desire to wear a sack to Ref Day. ;-) Years ago, I came across the painting "Three Children with Dog" by Sofonisba Anguissola and was smitten! I love the idea of sister-dresses that are so similar, but with their own personalization. Gretel easily agreed to the plan, and volunteered to help with accessories and hand-sewing. We'll be making some adjustments, and while I have the inclination, I just don't have the time to make them perfectly historically accurate so we'll be cutting some corners there.
The first part of the project was making on my "pair of bodies" (corset). I'm not sure if I technically need to make a boned undergarment, or if it's more accurate to just bone or otherwise stiffen the dress. After my minimal research, I'm inclined to think that going the Pair of Bodies Route wasn't the most accurate, but given my frustrating prior experiences over the years, I really prefer the way everything behaves and the ease of adjusting the finished dress when there's a separate "corset" and dress. I got my mock-up successfully made and fitted but I was a little stumped by how exactly they're supposed to differ from 18th cen. stays, as they're remarkably similar in shape? I'm still not sure, but I decided to just go ahead and make them anyway. We've decided to save time by not making a pair of bodies for Gretel, since she has stays. Here is the completed pair of bodies- except for running out of cable ties halfway through, it was entirely a stash project! Yay! :-) It is made from 2 layers of duck, boned with heavy-duty cable ties, the busk was made from a paint stick, and the eyelets are done by hand. I used the Tudor Tailor Effigy pattern, except with a busk in front, and the lacing in back.
After spending so many years sewing 18th century, calling these a "pair of bodies" instead of "stays" feels so strange. Not to mention awkward when someone asks what you're working on... "oh, I'm just sewing a pair of bodies!" :-P