For HSF #7 I made the partlet and necklace for my Italian peasant outfit. This outfit is based off a Campi painting of a fruit-seller. It is a bit fanciful, showing a necklace of red beads and a frilly and heavily embroidered/couched partlet. I think these accessories would be more appropriate for a middle-class woman, as the expense of the coral beads would probably be prohibitive for most working-class women. I suppose they could be stone or painted wood, and there do seem to be other paintings indicating peasants wearing large beaded necklaces, so maybe it’s not completely unrealistic. The partlet is still a bit fantastic. The rest of the outfit is pretty consistent with the other paintings of peasants by Campi and other italian painters in the late 1500s.
I made the necklace by stringing the coral onto waxed hemp cord. I wanted to use silk cord, but the size I had was too small and the beads slid right over the knots. I was about to give up but I remembered I had some multicolored hemp cord for macrame that I’d bought on sale for bracelets. The biggest problem was that I couldn’t use a needle because the cord just barely fit and it was hard to get the beads on sometimes. But I made it work!
The partlet is adapted from the downloadable pattern on Margo Anderson’s site. I felt bad downloading it without buying a pattern so I pledged some money for her kickstarter for her new Italian patterns without asking for a reward. Now I wish I had pledged more and gotten the pattern, because I loved how easily the partlet went together. I will definitely buy her pattern if I ever want to make an Elizabethan or Florentine dress. It was a bit wide and overlapped more in the front than I wanted, but I trimmed it until I was happy with it. I also didn’t use a collar but knife pleated the ruffle right onto the bodice pieces and used bias tape to finish the seam. I haven’t tried it on under the dress since I haven’t opened up the slits on the skirt yet, and it won’t fit over my head.
Fabric: Cotton voile
Pattern: Margo Anderson’s lower-class partlet pattern, somewhat modified to get the right shape.
Year: Roughly 1580s
Notions: Thread, bias tape, satin ribbon, dyed coral beads, waxed hemp cord, hook clasp
How historically accurate is it?: All machine sewn including the satin stitch edging. The bias tape and satin ribbon are synthetic, and the coral is probably dyed using a modern technique, but otherwise I think pretty accurate, at least if I can go by the painting.
Hours to complete: Maybe 2 for the necklace and 4-5 for the partlet.
First worn: not yet, planning for upcoming Renaissance Faire trip!
Total cost: Maybe $5 for the voile, a few dollars for thread, ribbon, and the hemp cord. The beads were the most expensive but I’ve had them for a while so I don’t remember quite how expensive. $10-15 probably. Overall less than $25.
And my info:
What I learned: It is surprisingly easy to do knotted bead necklaces using waxed hemp cords. Who knew? It’s so much harder with silk cord.
If you are going to edge finish a ruffle, do it before pleating the bottom, even if you think you don’t have to. I pleated the ruffle band to the partlet first because I wanted to be able to trim the ruffle on myself, as it were, but I should have basted it or pinned it and then finished the edge, and then sewn it to the rest of the partlet.
Coral beads are HEAVY! Seriously.
Satin stich edging on really light fabrics on the sewing machine is pretty tricky. You have to finish or fold over the edges, and even then it tends to stick in the feed dogs at the beginning if you are using a light fabric, and then stitch on the same place a bazillion times. It also looks thicker where there are more layers of fabric (because it doesn’t roll over as easily). I’ve done this stitch on a heavier fabric neckline and sleeves and it was a lot easier. I think it’s partly the fabric, so stabilizer might have helped. I also think that it’s easier to do on a continuous edge like a hem where there is no discrete beginning to catch in the feed dogs.
What I like: I love the way the edges ruffle on the partlet with the knife pleats and satin stitch!
Also I just adore the large beads on the necklace strung on the hemp cord. I bought a bunch of hemp cord in different colors and now I want to make more of these necklaces! I’m not usually a huge fan of large beads, but this really works for me.
Love it or leave it? Love it! I would use this pattern again.