Of sleeves and things…

Several posts ago I was discussing the debate that Margo and I were having in regards to Eleonora’s sleeves.  Was the top of the sleeve a separate puff?  Was it one continuous sleeve that was merely pushed up at the top?

Arte from Dress Diary of A Renaissance Seamstress suggested that it was the latter.  This was her thought:  “I think it is a continuation of the sleeve. The sleeves, to me, look like they are split all the way up. The splits look like they are close together or sewn shut at the top. There are two rows of cords and the “pouf” seems hollow at places.

It’s the effect you would get if you were to push your long sleeves up your arm.”

She made the following notations on the portrait:

She then pushed up the sleeves of her Venetian gown and pinned them in place:

She also took a second picture of the sleeves, and the cords look like they disappear into the hollow, as mentioned previously by Margo:

At that point in the discussion Margo was coming around to Arte’s way of thinking, and decided to make some mock-ups of her idea as well. 

This is her response:

“Here are photos of the sleeve mockups.

The Paned Sleeve is the standard 4-paned sleeve with the upper edges extended longer so that they can be folded back on themselves, forming loops. As you can see, when folded back, the loops flare out like petals, creating large spaces between the panes.  In the portrait, the double rows of twisted cords on the upper sleeve have no open space between them.  Therefore, I  don’t believe this is how Eleanora’s sleeves were cut.”

Here is her mock-up of the paned sleeve:

And her line drawing of what she imagines the pieces would look like:

She continued on with the following idea:  “The second example is what is called a beret sleeve, basically two doughnuts sewn together on the outer edge, sewn to the lower sleeve with one doughnuts’s inner edge sewn to the upper edge f the lower sleeve and the other doughnut attached a few inches lower.   I stuffed it lightly, but with a stiff fabric it probably wouldn’t need it.  I looped some yarn around it to  mock up the loops of cord and buttons on Eleanora’s.

This shape seems to me to be identical to Eleanora’s sleeves.”

Her mock-up version of the Beret sleeve:

And her line drawing of the Beret sleeve:

Margo finished up by saying the following:  “At this point, I’m greatly in favor of the beret sleeve.  There are a few portraits that support the idea:  on page 97 of Moda Firenze, the right hand lady’s sleeves could be this style, although may  have folded the outer edge of the beret inwards to form a double peak. 

(Tournament, tapestry on a cartoon by Lucas de Heere, Brussels, Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

 On page 101, the lady’s shoulder rolls continue under her arms, suggesting they are circular, not crescent shaped.  They are more stuffed than Eleanora’s, but the same pattern shape could be used for both.”

(Alessandro Allori, Portrait of  Woman, location unknown.)

At this point I have to say that I am torn.  I can see how both sleeves could be the way Eleonora’s were done.  I am inclined to go with the Beret sleeves, although when looking at the portraits of Eleonora it seems as though the pattern of the fabric continues up into the rolled over section as though all of one piece.  I don’t know how you would do the Beret sleeve and have this happen. 

In blowing up the sleeve to a very up close perspective, it also appears (on the sleeve on the right side at least) that there is a gap between the gold braid that is done in rows of 2 over the pouf:  http://www.haltadefinizione.com/magnifier.jsp?idopera=13  This leads me to believe that this is a pushed up sleeve.  And with the buttons closing the gaps on the braid that runs over the pouf, this could be the reason they are not gaping open like flower petals.

All things considered, I love the look of the Beret sleeve.  However, in terms of ease of consistency in design with the embroidery and what I think the sleeves look like up close in the portrait (as seen in the link above), I do think they are paned sleeves pushed up.  To achieve the roll seen in the portrait they may need to be tacked into place. 

Consequently, I think I will be making them paned sleeves.  I might get to the assembly stage after punch needlework is done and have to wind up making a Beret sleeve after all, but at this point I think this will be the best option for consistent design of pattern. 

And how much fun is it that we get to debate sleeves from the 1500’s?  Maybe not everyone’s idea of fun, but I am certainly enjoying it!

My plan is to do a punch needlework sample next week to see how the perle cotton and the gold braid work on the velvet.  I also have some gold braided crochet yarn, and am going to try that.  It has the benefit of being in much larger quantities and MUCH cheaper.  My outline of the pattern is also at Kinko’s, and they are going to blow it up to the size I had measured out based on the bodice pattern Margo drafted for me.  Then it is time to transfer the pattern and get this baby started!  Woot!

5 thoughts on “Of sleeves and things…

  1. Artemisia says:

    How about a combination of the two? You could do the beret sleeves, but with slashes in them to continue the slashes in the panned sleeves. You can’t stuff them if you want the right look.

    I still think the panned sleeves look right as long as the buttons are spaced close together, as her sleeves seem to be. I can count five buttons on the forearm of her right sleeve alone. This means the buttons are spaced…oh…every 1.25 or 1.5 inches apart.

    Here is a painting of Eleonora in 1543. Notice her sleeves. To me, they really look like pushed-up pannes. http://www.wga.hu/html/b/bronzino/1/eleonorb.html

    Then there is the Portrait of a Young Girl (1541-1545) http://www.wga.hu/html/b/bronzino/2/young_g.html. These sleeves do not look like pushed-up panned sleeves, but the sleeve design is much fancier than the prior Eleonora sleeves.

  2. Kim says:

    Thanks for sharing the debate. I will be making going with the paned sleeve idea because I think it will work better with the pattern.

    How much pearl cotton do you think you will need? I have gone through 2.5km of black cotton for the applique on the skirt so far. Really looking forward to seeing the punch needle embroidery.

    • Laura says:

      I think I am going to go through roughly one billion metres of perle cotton. I am trying not to think about the total cost….

      See, that is why I was thinking of going with the paned sleeves – it will be easier to keep a consistent pattern.

  3. MrsC says:

    Hi there, what a fabulous blog and what an amazing project! I am very inspired 🙂 I was looking at this intently trying to see if I could add any insights and tada!! I think I can. This is a painting, not a photo, even though it is deliciously clear. It was probably painted by a Man and we all know what to expect in terms of attention to detail there 😉 I wouldn’t expect it to be perfectly re-creational. In reality, Eleanore would have sat for him a couple of times and he’d have done sketches and made notes and maybe spent some time with the dress, making details and pattern sketches, but he would have been adding oojahs of artistic licence to it also. Like the reproportioning of her body to be more fashionable. The ultimate Photoshop really!
    So I suggest that you go for the approach that gives the same overall look and texture, as that is most likely to be the sleeve style that she had, and not assume that the painting is an exact photographic representation of the construction method. 🙂 I look forward to watching this grow!

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