Making Dante's Dream come true.

2 Apr 2015

The Lady of the Lake

Last month I started cutting and sewing a houppelande. I had never made one and I thought it would be more complicated than it seemed. Pattern wise, it's not really complex, but the small details make it look correct. This was a project made out of 'already owned' materials, since I can't afford buying fabrics these days, so not everything is period correct as I would love. However, since I wanted to make this for a fantasy themed photo shoot, I'm not too bothered.

I really loved this kind of sleeves, but I didn't have enough fabric to line mine, so I had to finish them with bias tape made out of the same fabric. I made inner tight sleeves, a belt and a collar out of some golden taffeta I had though (would have loved lining the outer sleeves with the same taffeta too, but it wasn't enough). 

Since blue is a recurrent colour in Medieval depictions I chose some royal blue upholstery damask I had to make mine, of course, not a natural fabric, but as I said, all I used were materials I already owned. 

For the pictures, I left the hem unfinished. We (the boyfriend and me) went to the mountains where the terrain is rough and I got into a small waterfall! The place was perfect. So if the skirt was damaged with water and/or rocks, I had some spare centimetres to cut and sew the hem correctly. I just need to remember that for the next time I'm wearing it. 

As you can see my inspiration for this is the Lady of the Lake legend, I also had had this Medieval forged sword with me for some years and barely used it! So I simply had to use it for something. I also made the hairstyle myself, since it's not too complicated either... And put LOTS of glitter on my face to look more magical but it's completely unseen in the pictures *sigh*

This is one of the final shots I chose, which you can see on our Facebook page too (I will be uploading some more). I really like the result and this was such a fun little trip to make! Now, on to finish my next project... I'm really excited for that too! 

7 Mar 2015

The Red Shoes

I have always been fascinated by the 1948 film 'The Red Shoes', its very primitive special effects and the awesome colour used. But I never knew much about the original fairytale, so I read about it. Upon finding out it was published in the 1850s I wanted to adapt the image I had from the film to an historical Romantic-era ballet costume. I have always loved these early ballerina costumes so much!

I used this image as a source of inspiration, I love how the flowers are integrated into the design and I also like the butterfly/fairy wings so much (even though I wasn't thinking about including wings in this particular project, maybe in the future I will). So I used cotton voile to make my skirt and satin to make the bodice. I decided I would rip the skirt and the little puffed sleeves (made of organza) to show severe wear in the dress, because the red shoes would make the wearer dance non-stop, according to the fairytale.

As you can see I also added tiny paper flowers to add a more Victorian detail to the whole design. 

We walked into the mountains to take these pictures. It was a bit hard for me, because I had to be already wearing the costume while getting there and then I was soaking wet after a little while. I also lost the feeling in my hands and feet very quickly! I had to walk barefoot all the way back because my shoes had frozen and I couldn't put them on at all haha. But I think it was worth it, because the resulting pictures are quite impressive, I think photographer Miguel Arranz managed to capture the rich colours seen in the film. So thankful for him and his assistant to make this possible. 

As always feel free to take a look at our Facebook page for more updates: The Seamstress of Rohan.

26 Feb 2015

Effie Gray review

It's not every day that we can review Pre-Raphaelite related cultural products, and when I knew the release date of 'Effie Gray' (2014) after so many months waiting for it, I watched it as soon as I could! I have to say I had heard horrible things about the film, because it had been shown in theatres later last year in the UK mainly, I think, but the rest of the world couldn't contrast all these opinions. I must say I was excited and scared to watch this because of all the fuzz it had created between bad reviews and the lawsuit delaying its release. Anyway, here we go (this is fairly spoiler free).

I never understood this poster so much. While the connection of the arguably most famous Millais painting and the 'future' Mrs Millais is evident, I don't really see the importance of Ophelia here. I imagine they wanted to give some 'context' to the art Ruskin is writing about, but the Brotherhood is not really featured that much in the film. A general overview of what the movement aimed for is discussed while the main characters are dining (photo below). 

Stuff that I liked was Emma Thompson (what's not to like?) playing Lady Eastlake, which is someone we rarely see in biopics and such. Being the wife of the director of the criticised Royal Academy and an Art Historian herself, she should have been portrayed as more than Effie's confident, but I guess the focus here is Effie so I fear I'm asking too much. 

I also appreciated that Ruskin wasn't depicted as the typical pedantic fop we have seen in screen other times (see Mr.Turner, although I enjoyed that film anyway). The way he is shown here doesn't allow for much sympathy but at least some reasons are given for his dislike developed towards his wife. This has always been a difficult subject because it was a huge scandal at the time too but this film doesn't fall into the caricature genre as many others have. We always have to remember this man shaped how we see Art criticism today and that we'll probably never know the actual reasons that prevented him to get intimate with his wife. The way 'the main issue' was handled was of much better taste that we are used to. 

Definitely not one of my favourite costumes

It was a pleasant surprise that the film explored female sexuality too. Not only having children is discussed but also the viewer sees how different Effie feels towards Millais. Nowadays, female sexuality is basically erased from media and what we mainly see is subjected to the male gaze. Sure, nothing got too explicit here but it was a fresh breath of air to get that on screen. 

On the contrary, the lack of a 'romantic' climax let me down. I honestly didn't know the film was ending right there when it did and when the credits rolled I was shocked. I was expecting a bit more development on Effie's life after she filed for annulment, maybe that she had a ton of children and such?

The costuming was a bit off in my opinion, Emma Thompson totally looked Edwardian and I couldn't understand Effie wearing her hair down all the time (but that is asking too much again I guess). It got slightly better when they were in Scotland, while Millais painted the so famous portrait of Ruskin. She wore more hats and it felt more accurate than what was seen in the first half of the film. As always, men's costumes are way better than women's where more 'artistic licence' is allowed, which is something quite annoying.

Reproduction of the Millais painting by Alexander Newley

Dakota Fanning (Effie) played her part really well and Greg Wise (Ruskin) was so good at not falling into satire as I said before, but oh my, he is around 27 years her senior! In real life they married when she was around 20 and he was about 29 (not that a crazy age difference, even for today). In fact, that is the exact age difference between Dakota and Tom Sturridge (playing Millais) when actually they were about the same age. So yeah, acting was cool but casting in the age department wasn't that much on point. 

Aah! This dress is way prettier!

So what's my point? Could've been better but could've been WAY worse. As an avid period drama consumer I was sufficiently entertained but this is not going to be one of my favourite films. 

PS. I noticed Millais was always called Everett, never John, I suppose that was done to avoid confusing people with so many Johns? I always imagined close people would call him John, does anyone know? 

21 Feb 2015

A totally unexpected post.

Wow, I was browsing through Google Images (I'm doing research for my degree thesis, I'm writing about the Pre-Raphaelites, lol what a surprise) and a pic from this blog popped up and I remembered: blimey, I used to write on here. And one day I stopped, I was working at the time and then I joined my friend's page on Facebook and started updating there more often until I forgot about this. What a shame. So I'm considering writing posts again, that is, if I have interesting stuff to write about. I'm still sewing and everything and could blog about my research paper too... so we'll see. For now, I'm leaving here a link to our page on Facebook just in case you're interested in seeing what I've been up to lately:

The Seamstress of Rohan

We mainly do historical costume stuff, some fantasy, some stuff is inspired by paintings or films and series so it's good fun. It's mainly very similar to what this blog used to be, but with prettier pictures and costumes (I've improved my skills ahah) and less writing.

At the end of 2014 I travelled to northern Spain, Catalonia (to a region very close to the Pyrenees) to work with a new friend and photographer from there. We are waiting for the developed images since she works with traditional cameras so when I have stuff I will try to post it here. We shot in an old semi-abandoned house creating a witch-lair like room inspired by the character of Geillis Duncan in the Outlander series. It was an awesome experience, here's a phone picture:

The costume is an 18th century jacket + skirt combo, in linen. I also made the mitts and I'm wearing a very pretty quilted petticoat underneath, made from a dark red bed quilt (but it looks the part!). My shoes and stockings are American Duchess, shoes are hand dyed. I really loved how this outfit came together and I hope I can wear it more.

On the Pre-Raphaelite front, we also shot a pretty little thing. Yes, if you look closer, I'm holding a crystal ball:

This is also a phone picture, but I want to point you out to the photographer's web page, where you can find the rest of her art and other collaborations we have done with her. She's Helena Aguilar Mayans. There are some Jane Eyre inspired pictures with a dress I made (and we shot more of that when I was there) and other pics with my Regency dresses and a lovely cloak my friend Emerita from The Seamstress of Rohan made.

So, for those of you who asked, yes, I'm very much well, thanks for your concern. We have worked so hard these past years and there's still lots of things to do! I'm working on more historical things and a cosplay from The Hobbit... I hope I can show you soon! Thanks for reading, as always.