The Love Letter – Part 2 of the Historical Masquerade Entry

Federico Andreotti, The Love Letter.

Federico Andreotti, The Love Letter.

My historical masquerade performance plan involved 2 people.  Lucky for me the Amazing Maven agreed to step in as my #2.  Maven is quite possibly one of the funniest people I know, and is game for almost anything.  She and I last costumed together when we were “seesters” at the last weekend of the Renaissance Festival in 2012.

Very fake Spanish Renaissance twin sisters, the daughters of Don Jesus Zaragosa.  Red silk dupioni from Hancock's for $1.50/yd.

Very fake Spanish Renaissance twin sisters, the daughters of Don Jesus Zaragosa. Red silk dupioni from Hancock’s for $1.50/yd.

I turned that costume into a “Steampunk Circus Animal Trainer” for Costume Con.  The lovely JessF arranged my bustle for me:

I think next time I will add an apron or decorative stomacher.  Not seen in photo:  riding crop.

I think next time I will add an apron or decorative stomacher. Not seen in photo: riding crop.

When Maven agreed to be my #2, we went through a number of portraits trying to find something that she might possibly be able to wear again, and that would be complementary to my portrait.  We found “The Love Letter”  by Federico Andreotti and she loved it.

Andreotti was a historical figurative painter and really liked to mix eras in his painting.  A lot of his portraits were people in clothing that had 18th century tops and Victorian bottoms, or vice versa.  They are all very fantasy-esque and very colorful.  He was big into women wearing corsets on the outside.

Consequently this was a rather unusual outfit to make.  The bodice was clearly Victorian in nature, but the skirt could have gone either way.  While looking at a website featuring Andreotti’s artwork, we discovered that he had painted the dress a second time:

I cannot find the name or location of this portrait to save my life.  Painted by Federico Andreotti.

“The Sisters.”  Painted by Federico Andreotti. Private Collection.

With this new portrait we felt the skirt was more 18th century.  It definitely has that pocket hoops look about it.

So we started by making another set of pocket hoops using the Jean Hunisett pattern.  We went to look for fabrics that matched the colors as best as possible rather than looking for silk, or other natural fibers in particular.  The blue fabric was a heavy blue poly satin, and was lined in heavy gold cotton.  The underskirt had a back panel of heavy cream satin that was also the lining for the front panel.  The front panel is a lightweight almost sheer poly satin that was VERY close to the fabric on the original painting, of which there was a very wee amount to go by.

Front view.

Front view.

The underskirt was made using the same method I mentioned in the previous post on Marie Antoinette.  It was pleated at the waistband and then had a small strip of lace sewn to the bottom front hem.  It is quite possibly the prettiest underskirt I have ever made.  Someone asked us at the masquerade if it was reproduction fabric, which was nice.

Side view.

Side view.

The overskirt was one large pleated rectangle that attached in front via safety pin because Maven, like me, fluctuates in weight when at a Con.  It was blind hemmed all the way around, and the front edges were gathered up and stitched into place to approximate the swags in the portrait.  The lovely Amy Sue stitched the flowers onto the swags for us using faux flowers from Michaels.

Copying the portrait, in reverse.

Copying the portrait, in reverse.

The bodice was made using my handy Truly Victorian Ball Gown Bodice pattern that I love, and it really looked very much like the portrait when done.  I boned the seams and the back closes with reproduction Victorian buttons.  The top is a layer of tulle that is gathered at the front, shoulders and back of the bodice.  Petals from some other faux flowers were sewn onto the tulle and a large red rose was attached at front and back.  Dark blue velvet bows were added at the shoulders as per the photo.  The sleeves are made of batiste and gathered with soutache.

She wore the bodice over her Corset Story Victorian corset.  The chemise was sacrificed due to time.

Close-up!

Close-up!

The hat was one we found at the last minute at Walgreens.  It was very hard to find something that had the same weave pattern as the portrait locally, and we didn’t have time to order anything.  It is similar in color and size, so we went with it.  Maven attached the flowers.

Because Maven has one wrist with some mobility issues we went with her reversing the pose in the portrait in order to not fatigue her wrist.  I reversed the photo of her to show how very close the look really is to the portrait, and she put the two together:

Pretty darn close!

Pretty darn close!

As stated in the other post, we had a blast doing the performance and Maven did a spectacular fall to the ground when shot with the water pistol.

Disco is back, you know.

Disco is back, you know.

We had a really good time and Maven looked like a princess in her costume.  The lesson we learned from the experience is to HAVE YOUR THINGS DONE IN ADVANCE.  Well in advance.  Really.

But I wouldn’t trade the experience because we really had a lot of fun.  I am sure Maven would agree.

A celebratory booty dance is always necessary.

A celebratory booty dance is always necessary.

A big thank you to Marti Potter and Bob for their voice-over work and to Sarah for mixing the audio and making it perfect.

3 thoughts on “The Love Letter – Part 2 of the Historical Masquerade Entry

  1. Pingback: So You Want to Enter the Challenge…. | Shear Madness!

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