Author Topic: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine  (Read 1633 times)

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Offline Orphena

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Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« on: March 09, 2015, 07:26:26 AM »
Hello Garbers!

For my work with Oxford Renaissance Festival (Woodstock Ontario), I play Queen Eleanor or Aquitaine for the Medieval Education Days, and I'm in the market for making a new gown. Although I have a Medieval gown, it is not as queenly as I would like. I'm having trouble finding fabric - I've been to about 40 different fabric stores, and only have one more area I can check out.

What I am looking for - Royal Blue or Purple. Something with some shine of some kind. More "Natural fibers" than not. I've had some good success with Cotton 60% / Poly 40% blend for  some of my renaissance gowns, but cannot find anything in these colors.

The event is in June - which can be warm, or could contain some rain. I have a 100% linen undergown to wear beneath it all.

I don't want to break the bank - I envision needing quite a lot of yardage, so if we could keep it to about $10 a meter or so, that would be fantastic. (I saw a gorgeous silk wool blend online, but the price was WAY WAY out of my budget!)

For this event, I don't think I need to worry about the fiber content police - of the cast, I'm the closest to Historical Accuracy in my clothes, and the faire management doesn't pay attention to things like that.

Suggestions? Ideas? Links to fabricy goodness?
Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
Enjoyer of Elegant Elizabethan Ensembles

Offline isabelladangelo

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2015, 12:36:18 PM »
Here's an image of her funerary monument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gisant_alienor_d_aquitaine_et_henri2.jpg

The average 12th C dress shouldn't take more than 5 yards - many taking only 3 or 4. I'd make a dress out of a medieval print cotton or linen (cotton was imported and only for the very rich.  As Eleanor was originally from the mainland, she might have brought some cotton with her) with a lightweight silk or tropical weight wool plain blue cloak (meant to be more of a train than an actual cloak).   I'm thinking for the dress something like this (you can easily dye it) or this and something like this for a lightweight shoulder cloak/train lined in a silk.   You can also go with plain fabrics for the dress (Joanns always has tons of linen) and just jazz it up with some woven trim around the neckline. 

You also might want to watch the Lion in Winter (either the new or the old) to get some inspiration.  Here's a good pinterest board on 12th c Garb. 

Offline Orphena

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2015, 12:48:12 PM »
So, I think I need some help choosing. I have 4 pieces of fabric, and none of them are perfect. Your votes are appreciated. I'm looking for a royal look, something that will work for indoors and out, in late June. 2 day event.



The light blue is my underdress. 100% linen. Crown will be silver.

Choice A



This is a shade of purple somewhere between plum and burgundy. Fibre content unknown, likely synthetic, but the colour and drape are decent.


Choice B


This is polyester, with a soft suede like texture. Colour is wedgwood blue, a little greyer than the royal blue I was looking for. Drape is softer than the purple.

Choice C



This is a dusty rose pink. Fibre content unknown, but again, likely synthetic. Feels like a very heave satin, nice sheen. Could possibly pass for silk. Of the fabrics, this is one of the heaviest. It is also double wide, so I have a LOT of it!

Choice D


This is a lightweight wool, pale grey. I would prefer to make this into an elizabethan for wet days, but will give it up if it gets enough support. I don't find it as queenly as the other fabrics, but could be convinced.

Ok, experts and rennies ... Help me pick one!



Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
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Offline isabelladangelo

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2015, 04:57:23 PM »
 I really like D for a lot of reasons.  It's a lightweight natural fabric which you'll be thankful for come June.   It can be dyed.  Even if you are just using RIT dye, you can do the washing machine method and dye it a nice purple shade.  (A little over $2 at most grocery stores for one packet of dye.  For a darker shade, get two and use salt.)  It can really be classed up with trim.  Some nice velvet or even just a silver cord around the neckline and cuffs really jazzes up an outfit.  I'd say, go with D and you won't have the issues you would with the others. 

Offline mollymishap

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 09:27:20 AM »
I like the color of choice A but I like the comfort factor of choice D.  You could do a burn test on the purple fabric to determine the synthetic fibre content so you can figure out just how warm it is likely to be to wear.  If you do as Isabella suggested and dye the grey wool, I'd cut off a little piece and test-dye it first before doing the whole thing.  Do you know if it's 100% wool?  Because if it turns out to be a blend, you might spare yourself the work of dyeing it and just go with one of the other options.

Now, from a theatrical perspective, Eleanor of Aquitaine is remembered for her strong personality, so in costuming her, you would want to pick strong colors that underline the choices you make for her as an actor.  I would definitely nix choice C.  It reads as too "soft" and "sweet" and "girly".  Unless you're setting out to debunk the myth, I'd stay away from anything too pastel-ly. 

Along the same lines, and since one of the options is to use dye, you could go with the purple in choice A and just dye the linen in a complementary (or contrasting) color.  Do some research on color associations/emotions to help you make the choice that best suits how you are playing her.

HTH & keep us posted on what you come up with!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 11:19:51 AM by mollymishap »

Offline Orphena

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2015, 04:41:49 PM »
Unfortunately I cannot dye the fabric... My laundromat would have a fit, and I cannot risk the bathtub.

Which is what makes the choice more difficult. Linen is $35 a meter at the store, so that is well outside my price range.

If I were to order, I would need to do so SOON, but am afraid that linen may not look rich enough.

Appreciate the opinions, keep them coming!
Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
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Offline isabelladangelo

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2015, 05:16:52 PM »
Don't worry about the fabric content not looking rich enough - that's what trims are for!  Also, embroidery.   Instead, worry about fabric content because I honestly see more people in polyester pass out at Faire/Pennsic than people that are wearing natural fibers.  Since you are in Canada, have you tried Fabric.com?

Offline gem

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2015, 08:22:14 PM »
Can you order from Fabricmart? This week they're having one of their "alphabet sales;" fabrics in categories P-Z are on sale, which includes silk, wool, velvet, suiting:

http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Fabrics-P-Z?utm_content=elizabethcbunce%40gmail.com&utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=&utm_campaign=Ponte%2C%20Silk%2C%20Wool%2C%20%26%20More!content

Here, for example, is a light aqua 100% rayon suiting (will look like silk but behave like linen), for $3.50/yard:
http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/Light-Aqua-100-Rayon-Suiting-60W.html
(Chose that at random b/c I was looking at it earlier & it was there in the sidebar!)

I have never been disappointed with anything I've ordered from them (I think most of my wool is from FM).  :)
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 08:23:37 PM by gem »

Offline Orphena

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2015, 10:40:00 AM »
Thanks ladies, for your input. I think I'm going to order some linen.

I have drafted up a pattern for a bliaunt, and due to my height, I need just over 6 yards, the wider the better. I have narrowed my selections down to the following:

Option 1
http://www.fabrics-store.com/first.php?goto=big_fabric&menu=&fabric_id=1445
This is a shade lighter than Royal, but very pretty.

Option 2
http://www.fabrics-store.com/first.php?goto=big_fabric&menu=&fabric_id=1211
It seems to be a nice royal blue

Option 3
http://www.fabrics-store.com/first.php?goto=big_fabric&menu=&fabric_id=855
This colour looks fabulous on my screen, but looking at the projects of others seems to actually be a rather plain medium blue.

Option 4
https://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/p148585_37405-cobalt-blue-linen
No telling on how accurate the color is. Anyone ordered from this company?

Option 5
http://www.fabrics-store.com/first.php?goto=big_fabric&menu=&fabric_id=1087
Purple

Due to time constraints, I don't have time to order swatches. To get it done in time, I'll need to order by Friday! Thanks for your help!

Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
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Offline isabelladangelo

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2015, 11:52:53 AM »
Option 1 - LOVE!   I adore that color.  It looks like a nice woad, actually.

Option 2 - Too blah, really.  I think something "strong" and bright would be better. 

Option 3 - I rather like this one.  It's a nice bright color but I like Option 1 better.

Option 4- No.  Only because of the company. FFC is the same company that owns Denver Fabrics.  You can't trust what they say the fabric is *really* is that material until you get it and do a burn test yourself.  I've ordered wool from them and got poly/rayon/acetate/dead dino stuff instead - right colors, right length, not what they said it was at all.  I've discovered others have had similar issues. 

Option 5- Again, too blah.  However, it might make a nice accent piece.   I think it would rather fabulous as the trim around the edge of the sleeves and the neckline with Options 1 or 3.  Later on, if you have time, you could embroider the accent pieces with some simple gold embroidery to make it REALLY stand out. 


Offline mollymishap

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2015, 08:24:46 PM »
Orphena, have you read the reviews? 

Even though to my eye, on my monitor #3 or #1 look brightest, in actuality, #2 may be a better choice based on the comments if you're leaning towards blue. 

That being said, the pictures of the garments made from the royal purple (#5) look nice, though after you've washed the excess dye out, it may look too worn for a renn queen (patrons don't always get that what's closer to authentic may not *look* the part, if you know what I mean). 

What are you leaning towards?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2015, 08:29:53 PM by mollymishap »

Offline Orphena

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2015, 08:37:49 AM »
Thanks for your input Isabella - it does help to hear from a few people!

Molly - I think I am leaning towards #2 - I read all the reviews before making it an option, and took a close look at the pics of other people's completed work.

Option 1 is gorgeous, and while it may be historically a correct colour, it is not really what I think of when I think "royal blue".  It is also an extra $5 a meter, and I've probably spent more on fabric than I should have already. One of the pics suggests the tone may be closer to periwinkle, which, while pretty, isn't the look I am going for.

Option 3 - love the pic of the swatch, it looks purple/blue, but every completed project looks blue blue. not royal blue, but primary colour blue.

Option 4 - will trust not to order from them - thanks for the warning, Isabella!

Option 5 - while purple, is just not a rich enough purple. Again - the swatch looks nice, but the completed project (the horse caprison) looks less rich plum, and more girl toy purple.

I did have my thoughts set on blue - a nice royal blue.

Without swatching, it is difficult to tell.

I will wait a day more before I order to be sure.
Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
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Offline mollymishap

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2015, 07:35:01 PM »
So...what did you end up buying?

Offline Orphena

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2015, 08:43:57 AM »
I've been watching the sales, and although I LOVE the royal Blue, this is on sale today:

http://www.fabrics-store.com/first.php?goto=big_fabric&menu=f&menu=f&fabric_id=1215

Since my deadline is end of this week, I will ikely order this tonight!
Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
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Offline Orphena

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Re: Fabric Options - Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2015, 05:46:44 AM »
Finished this last week, event starts tomorrow, here is the end product!


« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 05:48:02 AM by Orphena »
Luxurious Lady ~ Statuesque Seamstress ~ Winsome Wayfarer
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