So maybe it was Thanksgiving 2023? Eating dinner at my MIL's. My BIL's girlfriend mentioned this American Girl doll she had been given as a child. Said she had wanted to get rid of it, but then had a brilliant idea to put her in a Queen Elizabeth outfit. My BIL volunteered my services. My husband said I'd be thrilled. I was thinking: WTF? And that was even before I realized she didn't mean Elizabeth II but Elizabeth I, which is significantly more difficult. But I couldn't reveal my true thoughts and only said "sure."
A month or two later I had some time and figured I could at least take a look at it. I started researching clothes of the period and Elizabeth I's clothing in particular. I initially thought I'd pattern everything myself, which would have been a Disaster of Epic Proportions, but then I had an epiphany that people might actually make patterns for dolls that I could at least use to get the basics. Lo and behold there are actually patterns for Tudor doll clothes. Amazing.
I decided on the Lettice Knollys pattern by Swish and Swirl. I didn't know what "Lettice Knollys" meant at all but later learned who she was. It's pretty funny--according to Wikipedia, she was the wife of the only man whom Elizabeth I ever really loved.
Truthfully, that's not why I ended up making two outfits. The real reason is that I first tried to make the gown and petticoat using fabrics I had. I had some remnants from curtains with nice upholstery fabric that I could use for the petticoat and sleeves, and some lining fabric of the right color I thought I could use for the gown.
Here is the first outfit made with what I (mostly) had on hand. Trim was all new of course. I don't have that stuff sitting in my stash.
Notes about Issues I Ran Into
- Gown. The sleeves on the gowns are tight. They just baaaarely fit.
- Snoods. The snoods would not stay on the head without additional technology. The pattern includes a loop of string on the inside through which you'd thread a bobby pin to secure the snood to the hair. I put in 2, and it wasn't useful. I had to open the band and thread through elastic.
- Farthingale. My fault for not checking before sewing up the farthingale, but it was too long for the gowns. To shorten it, I rolled the top band down double and reinserted the elastic. It looks a wee bit wonky, but so it goes.
- Bonnet. My fault again, but you're supposed to sew a piece of twill tape around the inside seam to hide the seam and give the hat some structure. I didn't have 1/2" twill tape, but I had 1/2" twill trim. It did seem a bit flimsy, but I figured it would be okay. It's not. It's pretty droopy. So it goes.
- Lattice Pattern. I made the lattice pattern on the black petticoat, sleeves, and snood using metallic thread. I had trouble at first using regular weight bobbin thread and regular tension on the machine. I searched YouTube for help and learned to use very lightweight bobbin thread and looser tension and then it went smoothly. I did one very important thing differently than was indicated in the instructions. The pattern has separate pieces for the snood, petticoat front (a triangle shape), and the individual sleeves, each with their own lines for the lattice which you're supposed to follow. That means you cut out the pieces, and then sew the lattice on. That seemed pretty stupid to me. The instructions even warn you you're going to have smaller pieces once the lattice is sewn on, plus what a chore to work on the tiny pieces. I sewed rectangles of lattice and then cut the pieces out.