12th century coronation dress project for HRH Ysmay,  12th century projects,  Projects

To cloth a queen…

2017-10 - Racaire - Your Royal Highness Princess Ysme - SCA - Kingdom of Meridies
Their Royal Highnesses Timothy & Ysmay at the Crown Tournament

As some of you might have already realized, I didn’t post as often as I normally do during the past couple months. As sad this fact made me, I have a really good reason for it. I was working like crazy at a 12th century coronation dress as well as a 12th century coronation underdress for our future Queen, our beloved princess Ysmay.

But first things first. I was quite surprised but at the same time also tremendously happy when I got to know that our future King and Queen wanted to have a 12 th century themed coronation…

When princess Ysmay asked me to make her coronation dress, I felt deeply honored that she deemed me worthy of this task. From the beginning, the wish of her Highness was very clear, she wanted a fitted 12th century bliaut – just like the fitted red silk 12th century bliaut which I made for myself. 

Knowing that, the very first thought on my mind was that she not only needed a fitted overdress, she also needed a corresponding underdress to go with it. Well, in my opinion any kind of overdress, and especially a special form like an extremely form fitted 12th century bliaut, can only blossom to its complete beauty if it is worn with the right undergarment. If the underdress doesn’t have the right cut, even the most beautiful constructed overdress can’t completely make up for it.

Having just written that, I have to admit to my own shame that I do not always wear the appropriate 12th century garments and combinations myself. Often neglecting the proper overdress because of the high temperatures here in the southern United States, walking around in only my underdress. Or not always picking the right overlong underdress which should be worn with the knee-length overdress… But well, I got to a point in my life where I know what would be right and just pick a convenient way though I know that it is not completely right…

But back again to the 12th century fitted bliaut commission for the upcoming coronation. Knowing how much work it takes to make such a dress and knowing that I also already committed to another very important project, my biggest concern was if I could make an underdress as well as a fitted bliaut as well as fulfill my other commitment in time. Well, I was quite skeptical at first but I knew if someone could do it, it would be me. I definitely didn’t want to leave this task to someone also who had less knowledge and experience with it. Ok, I admit it, my pride and love for the 12th century simply demanded me to do it or to at least go down fighting…

Well, after the commitment was made, the next crucial step was to decide on a suitable fabric and to order it. When it comes to a bliaut, my very first choice concerning fabric was, and always will be, silk. Yeah, I know, silk isn’t cheap. But when you take a look at the prices for common polyester, cotton or blended fabrics, silk is actually not that much more expensive. The difference is well worth the price.

One of the favorable qualities of silk is that good quality silk fabric can be both very thin but also very robust at the same time. This is possible because of the length and strength of the single silk fiber. This can create (in combination with other long and strong natural silk fibers) a rather thin but also very strong fabric. But like always this strength in combination with the thinness of the fiber comes at a price. This certain price has to be paid when it comes to the care of the fabric. Just think of the silk care as you would think about the care of your own hair. Just one aggressive treatment and you strip the fiber of the natural oils which give the fiber its elasticity and prevent it from drying out and breaking. Therefore it is wise to avoid aggressive laundry detergents for delicate fibers and to spend a little bit more money on some detergent for delicate fibers or for wool and silk fibers where available. Not only that, please avoid the usage of any softener for silk. If you want to use something to soften your water, you can substitute with normal vinegar. And bevor you ask, line dry, drying garments on a cloth hanger or lay them out flat on a drying rack is my preferred way to dry my cloths which are made from natural fibers like silk, cotton, linen or wool.

Back to the project on hand; because of my 12th century wedding dress project for my husband and I, which is after all this year’s still an ongoing project, I immediately had a lovely medieval looking silk fabric in mind which was still rather affordable. I showed Ysmay the silk fabric which I ordered for my own 12th century wedding dress after my dearest sister and main 12th century inspiration, Mistress Ezabella, pointed me towards a great source for lovely silk fabric. It didn’t take long and Ysmay found a lovely black and red colored silk fabric on this page and ordered about 12 yards of it.

2017-10 - Racaire - Your Royal Highness Princess Ysmay - SCA - Kingdom of Meridies - silk fabric - silk brocade - vestment fabric - coronation bliaut - 12th century bliaut - fitted bliaut - romanesque fashion - 12th century dress

On the picture above you can see the lovely silk fabric Ysmay ordered for her 12th century silk bliaut.

Fabric source: http://www.puresilks.us
Category: silk brocade / vestment
Price: ca. $ 19 per yard +

And before you ask, yes, $19 per yard turns into quite a high sum of money when you order 12 yards of fabric. It’s definitely not a sum any one of us would spend easily. And like I, when I placed the order for the blue and black silk brocade fabric for my 12th century wedding garb project, Ysmay was quite hesitant to order it at first. But her hesitation was also based on a fundamental misconception concerning her coronation dress.

I would agree that if the coronation dress was like a wedding dress, this sum of money would be definitely too high for a dress which is only going to be used on one day for something most of us use to call a hobby. However, a coronation dress within the scope of the SCA is definitely not like a wedding dress. Though it is primarily made for the purpose of the coronation ceremony, she will be able to wear it not only at her coronation but also during their whole reign. And then – hopefully – for many more years to come. 

And when you look at it this way, the rather high sum of money turns into an investment for the future. An investment into a lovely 12th century silk bliaut made by me which should provide her with a lot of pleasure as well as some left over fabric after I finished the dress. And all this left over fabric can be used as embellishment for the garments for her husband and their kids… 

So far so good – a decision concerning the fabric for the 12th century bliaut was made but what about the underdress… ? I hope you enjoyed my first posting concerning the 12th century coronation dress project for Her Royal Highness, Princess Ysmay. Stay tunned my friends – more about this project is soon to come… 🙂

Best regards Racaire