Saturday, 16 January 2016

Golden Partlet

The Historic Sew Monthly challenge for January is Procrastination. Though I've no plans to do any more Italian sewing at the moment, I did need to get one last thing made to finish off the look of my court gown, and it was something that was half the reason I modified my dress form in the first place; a decent partlet*.
Photo courtest of Rāshid al-Jallāb
Photo courtesy of Rāshid al-Jallāb
Since the partlet I made for the Realm of Venus competition, making up a partlet into a suitable shape has eluded me. I lost the pattern I used to draft the original piece, and my attempts to copy it to have for the Festival of Fools peacock competition didn't work out all too well (in fact, the fabric used in that attempt was so flimsy it ripped after its first wear). So I wanted to try draping a partlet instead, with my gown laced onto my dress form, so I could properly account for the shape it would need to be during wear, while also showing how much would be exposed at the dress neckline. I only started this partlet on the night before I was due to travel to the event, having draped the pattern the night before. And as is typical of a last minute, temporary, experimental, rush piece, I lost track of the number of people at 12th Night who complemented me on it.
Photo courtesy of Rāshid al-Jallāb

To make the partlet I used a lemon yellow chiffon as a base for some scraps of a heavy gold lace that I had, but never knew what to do with. The lace pieces were neither large or stable enough to create the partlet on their own, so I cut out the pattern pieces in the chiffon, joined them at the sides and hemmed as much as I could, then tacked the lace into place where I knew it would be on display, paying more attention to the edges to make sure it would be sewn down. The result was a gold lace partlet, enhanced by the chiffon base, which everyone agreed really lifted the final outfit. 

The Challenge: January –  Procrastination
Material: A base of crinkle lemon chiffon and gold lace
Pattern: Developed my own, based on late 16th century portraits
Year: Good for the later half of 16th century Venice
Notions: Thread, ribbon for ties
How historically accurate is it? Studying a garment from portraits makes it very hard to determine how something works where you can't see it. I've seen no extant partlets of this type, so I made something that I knew would be comfortable for me. Further, leaving the lace off where it couldn't be observed has no precedence that I'm aware of, though it copies the style of Tudor skirts that only used fashion fabric on the front and hem. So overall I'd say it's 50% accurate - good effort, but plenty of scope for further research and improvement.
Hours to complete: 5-6 hours approx, all hand sewn.
First worn: 12th Night
Total cost:  About €2 for the ribbon, the rest came from stash.

*For those of you not au fait with the Italian wardrobe, it's the blingy bit around my shoulders.


  1. I know the reason I complimented you on it was that it just made the entire outfit look so *finished*. It's the little things that mattered, and even though without it, I doubt I would've looked at it and thought "gosh, she really needs a partlet", having it just made it look so put together.

    1. That is exactly why I was so annoyed with myself for putting this off for so long. It's amazing how much the little touches like this just make an outfit look so *right*. And thank you for your compliment.