Every woman of any class started with a linen shift, a knee-length loose gown with full sleeves. When you have to run into the yard, you throw on a robe and so did Elizabethan women.
Elizabethan underwear for the upper class. Melinda assured us that the corset was surprisingly comfortable. There was often one or more petticoats too. Melinda shared that some regions encouraged the hoop lines to show while others wanted the skirts to be perfectly smooth. Ah, the fickleness of fashion. Women of every class wore the same type of underpants: none. Just like Scotsmen with kilts, women of every class wore nothing under their skirts.
The only garments that were laundered regularly was the shift. The absorbent linen would collect body soils and perspiration and was actually more effective in keeping a person odor-free than bathing.
Melinda was very excited to tell us about ear irons. Historians have long wondered how women kept the caps firmly on their heads. The realization that ear irons kept the cap not only shaped but created a base for the cap to be firmly attached to the head only came about recently because they were so common that people didn't bother to write about them. How many things do we do today that are so common, so widely known and unquestioned, that we don't bother to record any details for posterity?
Melinda also had a costume for the merchant class. The woman would start with a shift, an overgarment, and then cover it with a kirtle. It's basically a dress with boning in it. There is no corset or petticoat because the kirtle contained the clothing's structure. Again, Melinda touted it's comfort.
Because women's bodies change over time because of pregnancy and aging, all these garments are highly adjustable. And there were no size tags!
This piece was covered with winning ribbons at the 2013 American Needlepoint Guild National Seminar. Goldwork with silk threads and lovely, lovely, lovely.
Here is a photo of the top. We haven't done a silk ribbon embroidery piece in several years. If you're interested, call Georgette (look at the newsletter page) and let her know so she'll reserve a kit for you. The cost should be about $7. Bring size 24 and/or size 26 chenille needles and a 5" or 6" hoop and scissors. We look forward to seeing you there.
We welcome new members of all levels of experience. Plus we are fun! See you on March 16 in Ontario, California.