Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Elizabethan Fashion: Sources and Supplies

I've been obbessed with historical cosutming, specifically Elizabethan for awhile, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the great websites I discovered while doing research and shopping. Some of these I've used, and some I didn't need but were great sources for future costumes.


Corset Making Supplies: I can't talk up this website enough. I've been using it since I was in High School, and I don't feel as though it has every let me down. I mainly use it for grommets, busks (they have wooden busks!), boning (if I want to use metal, though I usually use industrial strength zip ties, because I feel they work just as well and are cheaper), and plastic covered metal hooping for farthingales. This website used to offer a less expensive grommet press (which you can still see on there but it's listed as "out of stock") which is the one I own, and I'm not sure why the new one is so much more expensive....but I can't live without this press. It is more historically accurate to sew your lacing holes, but I do prefer to use metal on my corsets and bodices. I also prefer the plastic covered hoopsteel, but they do have buckram covered if that is more your forte.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads: Suggested to me recently from some of my fellow seamstresses and tailors, while I was pulling my hair out trying to find a inexpensive source for Aglets/bolo tips. They carry a wide variety of ways to purchase them (in large and small amounts) and they have both gold and silver color. The website also has EVERYTHING ELSE, and you can really waste many o hours just ogling their selection.

Ebay: I know a lot of people don't like to use ebay, or purchase things on the internet, but I personally find all my best, hard to find things, on ebay. Finding things on Ebay is all about knowing the vocabulary, and then knowing what people might "mislabel" the things you are looking for. Example: I first tried to find aglets on ebay by searching for metal aglets, or aiglets, and then bolo tips. I didn't find the best and prettiest "aglets" until I was searching for something else under "filigree cone ends".
They are not actually made to go at the end of lacings or ties on the sleeves, but they work really well for that. Another great thing is odd fabrics. I have a great personal list of online fabric stores, with each one being great for certain fabrics, but I have not found another place where there was such a large selection of affordable silk brocades (I only wish I had discovered it before I purchased the fabrics I did. ah well, next dress). In particular, the Ebay store Pure Silk Fabrics.

Lamplight Feather, INC:  There are plenty of feather websites out there, but when you are looking for colored ostrich plumes in small amounts, it can be hard to not spend an arm and a leg. I've tried a few different websites that sell feathers in singles, but I prefer this website over all of them, because I find that the feathers are reasonably priced, they have a large selections, and their shipping is not horrible (though still on the expensive side to ship feathers, imo.)

Research and Construction:

Elizabethan Costuming: Most of my research comes from books and portraits, but this was a website I found early on, when I was just starting to make Elizabethan Costumes. It is not a website that you use exclusively, but I have on many occasions gone back to it. It is probably the best collection of Elizabethan references and research out there. There are many tutorials and instructions on creating your own patterns. She also links many other websites if she has found other information on the subject, including the Blackwork Archives.

Faire Photography: One of the many amazing photographers, Mark Meier, for the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI (My first and home Renaissance faire). I would not use this site as a mode of reference for serious documentation. However, the people that he photographs go through the same research to make their costumes that I do (since they taught me how). It is a really great place to get inspired.

Pinterest: A good place to find photos, especially portraits, but again, I would not recommend to rely on it for documentation. The descriptions of the pictures are not always correct, and sometimes it's best to find the picture, and then try to get the correct source for it, so you actually know what you are looking at.

As far as specific online sources, I mostly start out with Google image search...but when I want to really get the correct source and know that it is reliable, I always return to books, specifically Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, C.1560-1620, Patterns of Fashion 4, and Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd (though this one is hard to find and rather expensive).

If you have other great resources for shopping or research to share that I did not mention, please comment! I am ALWAYS looking for more!

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