The United Provinces of the Royal Court of Wenchlandia

Um, what?  I imagine that is what anyone reading that title would think.

This was Year Two of the Wench Posse Five Year Plan for our yearly outing to MNRF (which included Pre-Plan:  Six Wives of Henry VIII, Year 1:  Courtesan Invasion, Year 3 (2012):  Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, Year 4 (2013):  The Year We Go Medieval on Your Ass and Year 5 (2014):  The Year of Make Believe).  We decided we wanted to be as fancy as possible, with bling on top of our bling.  As such we needed to be some sort of nobility.  Originally we thought that our little Island of Wenchlandia (I always think of this song when I hear that word:  would have a Royal Queen and we could all be silly folk on the court.  Then our elected Queen (who couldn’t come out to play this year due to his college getting in the way) said that we really were all equal, and thus should be United Provinces.  And so the name got rather complicated.

To show you how crazy long the name is, we were to walk the length of the joust before it began and wave at the public, and as such we needed to be introduced.  We told the announcer our name and she looked horrifed at remembering it all.  However, it would seem that “wench” cannot actually be said out loud by an announcer because there are children present.  Even though the “Washing Well Wenches” show is not even 20 feet away…. So instead we were the Royal Court of the Basement Salon.  Yep.

The idea was that we would all have tiaras, lots of jewelry and just generally be as flashy as possible.  Originally we were just going to be plain old Lady Laura and Countess Cheap Chick and all that, and then DangerKitty went and got creative.  She decided she was Patricia Peppermint, Duchess of York, recently returned from the Andes.  So then I had to be Godiva Ghiardhelli, the Countess of Cadbury.  And the Cheap Chick was Imelda Marquessa de los Zapatos, and Georgie was Jacqueline Verde of Taekwondonia and RedHeadJess was Lady Martha of Clan Stewart….

Well, it just all got very silly.

Then DrummerBoy and his lovely girlfriend HookahGirl were able to join us from Bristol and they were our Gypsy King and Queen, or “The Mass Date of the Gypsy King and his Multiple Girlfriends.”  Heh.  All in all we had 19 folks there including the two Jr. Posse members, and an additional WP member (Princess) playing sword-fighter.  We would have had more folks, but the plague struck one, someone else’s mother broke her back, etc.  Life interrupts when you are trying to have fun.

Since I had chosen chocolate as my costume inspiration (rather ironically since I had given it up for this year – which has since been rectified) I decided my costume should be brown.  I also love Robin’s Egg Blue (REBlue), so that was my secondary color.  I found a rather detailed heavy woven cotton fabric last year and decided it would be my front panel and I would bead it.  I started out with a very ambitious beading plan and discovered that it was going to take me months.  Which it did.  I was delayed by several months after I broke my shoulder, but the final result was heavy and VERY sparkly.

The beading of the front panel kind of influenced the entire gown.  I knew I wanted it to be Elizabethan in style, and I knew I wanted it to have lots of trim and beadwork, etc.  I looked through portraits of Elizabeth I and found several that seemed to evoke the sheer Over-The-Topness that I was going for.

I loved the hand painted front panel and pearls all over this one.

This one also had the heavily beaded underpanel and overskirt/bodice combo, but there didn’t seem to be enough trimmed pieces.

Consequently I decided I would just trim out my guard on the overskirt.  I got a REBlue quilted decorator fabric and put pearls at the joins.  I cut up some heavy chenille upholstery fabric that ran in strips and beaded that and made that a second border.  My buddy Countess Ang put on hotfix rhinestones around the beadwork.  I sewed two multicolored braids on top and bottom of the thinner band.

I went back and forth on what the outer fabric should be.  I looked at pre-pintucked and pre-beaded fabrics, but the weave on all of them seemed too tight and I was concerned about overheating.  Then when I was in Mankato on my pilgrimage to the Betsy Tacy Houses, I found a large brown pintuck fabric with an almost linen like weave to it.  It is definitely polyester and did in fact melt a bit when the iron hit the edge of it, but darned if it doesn’t also breathe.  I put large REBlue pearls at all the joins.

For the front edges I had found an embroidered, beaded and sequined brown/copper trim at Hobby Lobby that coordinated with the other fabrics.  I put gold braided piping on the sides and that became the edges of the overskirt, the top of my stomacher, and the bottom edge of the underskirt.

I decided to have a doublet style gown as it was comfortable last year and flattering.  Probably the only thing I would change about it is to eliminate the gold piping over the bust.  I don’t think that ended up being even remotely flattering.  I used Margo’s doublet pattern and it was fast and easy to put together.  I piped the edges and beaded all the joins in smaller REBlue pearls.  The lining on the inside was a piece of brown silk dupioni that I had had sitting around.

I put caps on the shoulders with piping and matching trim.  I elected to go with shiny brass grommets for the back side closures because the entire rest of the outfit was way shiny.  I had some large gold/brass clasps that I used to close the doublet at the bottom front.  I took in extra width under the armpits and need to take in more, as I have lost some weight since I wore this corset last, and with the added cinching the doublet was actually roomy.

I wanted some form of sleeve that wouldn’t be warm, so I made a modified scalloped sleeve based off of another portrait I had seen where the sleeves curve over the top of the shoulder and hang in back.  I used the brown pintuck on the outside and a tiny REBlue taffeta pintuck on the inside.  Rather than bead all those joins I glued on rhinestones in a diamond pattern along the insides.

I made a square-necked chemise to go underneath my corset, and added the heavily embroidered sleeves that DJRenee had made for me several years ago that had not yet been used.  They had a strong stabilizer in them that made for Anne Shirley-worthy puffs on my shoulder.  The design was really lovely, and actually copied from a historical embroidery pattern.  The buttons were roses that were actually made from the same polymer that was used by the Historical Games folks out at fest.  They would take their leftover polymer and pour it into button molds.  My buttons are Tudor Roses.

I attempted a large lace collar with supportasse, but it was beyond me.  I left the supportasse till the last day and gave myself 1 1/2 hours to see if I could make it work.  After that I abandoned the idea and moved onto something else.  No point in spending more hours on something that most likely would not have worked.  I always try to have a deadline for experimental stuff otherwise I get completely wrapped up in it and nothing else gets done.  I also make myself a final To Do list and tick it off as I go to make sure I stay on task.  It is VERY helpful.

I completed the outfit with crazy jewelry.  I gave Rhinestone Jenna a bunch of stuff in a bag and she made a girdle out of it.  She “threw everything on there but the kitchen sink” which made the front dangly bit very elaborate.  I wore coordinating brown jeweled earrings, an elaborate jeweled necklace I got at a store in Duluth and I borrowed the crown that Princess wore out at Fest.  It was the first time I have genuinely done my own updo and it came out more Elizabeth II than Elizabeth I.  Ah well – this was a fantasy outfit, and I was very happy with my hair.  And it stayed up ALL DAY.  That is some powerful hairspray.

Posing with The Cheap Chick’s “pimp stick,” aka the curtain rod and finial.  She took great glee in wandering in front of us and stamping the stick down into the dirt and yelling things like, “Make a hole and make it wide!  Fabulousness coming through! My dress is prettier than you!  Make way for the big stick!”  I informed her that the Power of the Stick was going to her head.  She didn’t seem to care.  Heh.

We had a wonderful time and some small child actually thought I was the Queen for about 5 seconds.  It was very fun.  We sang to children, wandered about and tried not to choke on the dust that was everywhere.  I have decided I need to wear the shoes with a slightly higher heel next time and to hem the bottom guard about 1.5 inches.  Otherwise everything turned out so much better than I had hoped.  The beaded front panel was a big hit.  And I already have folks lined up to take the outfit off my hands if I should decide to sell it.  Which I am not allowed to under penalty of death at the hands of the Cheap Chick.

Her crown came from Party City and has been rubbed and buffed and sprayed and bedazzled.  And then placed upon a fur hunting cap.  As they do in Russia, she says.

I really am looking forward to wearing this again.  I even have my Royal Wave perfected.

Next up is my final Eleonora mock-up and prepping for Teslacon!

9 thoughts on “The United Provinces of the Royal Court of Wenchlandia

  1. isasempstress says:

    OH! Love love LOVE the dress! It’s gorgeous! Love the colors, love the bodice style, love the skirt guard – general state of love. 🙂 (Also quite diggin’ on the chick’s tiara-on-fur-hat approach to royalty!)

  2. Rogie says:

    I found this page when I was looking for ideas for “supportasse” – LOVE the sparkly, mindblowingly amazing beadwork. Was further impressed that you were creating something for the beloved Teslacon (all hail Lord Bobbins!). I know this was posted a while ago, but I hope you have made your way to Military History Fest (ReenactorFest). This work should be showcased!

    • Laura says:

      Thank you for the lovely comments! I have neglected the blog for awhile and just saw this. I was supposed to attend Teslacon but herniated a disc in my back and was forced to miss it. Am very much looking forward to next year! I am planning on hitting Reenactor Fest in 2015. Carnevale is currently taking up most of my time these days!

      And I love your store. When I am in/near Chicago I always make a point of stopping in. You have a great choice of fabrics and trims!

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