Endless ramblings about costuming - and a few how-tos
copyright V. Dye, 2003
This page is the starting point for the articles on clothing and accessories that I have written/taught over the years. Some of the articles appeared first in the Fencers Dancers and Bearbaiters Quarterly, the newsletter of the Trayn'd Bandes, or were taught as classes for the University of Atlantia.
For the re-enactor, the exploration of historical costume takes on special significance; we are not just studying the past, we're hoping to bring it to life again. All aspects of the age we choose to recreate are important, but the first part of "persona" is the clothing we make to become the people of a past age. To be successful in our recreation, the clothes we make should be thought of as clothes, not costume. When we take this attitude leap, we learn why and how these garments fit and work. If we do not adjust our thinking, we will simply create a costume - a poor approximation, adulterated by modern sewing bias.
We learn a lot about the lives of the people we portray by using their techniques instead of the ones we use today. The choice of fabric and pattern, the methods of decoration and fastening, and even the stitches we use to put a garment together tell us about the past. At the Victoria & Albert museum in London, the curators work with stage actors and re-enactors to discover how the clothes in their archives were actually worn. When we take the time to sew period clothes correctly, we contribute in a small way to the dissemination of that research.
These pages were created with the somewhat grandiose idea of aiding people in making informed choices about the clothing of the Elizabethan age. Studying this period has been a large part of my life for the last twelve years, and a significant part of that study has been directed towards clothing. However, studying something in depth is more fun when one has people with whom one can share that information, so here we are.