The ongoing story of a new costume for King Henry VIII. Being made for the King in 2009 by Noel Payne

The Kings New Clothes take two.

Take one:
Even Kings can be duped into parting with money with false pretenders offering the services of Costume maker to the art world. This happened to me one year ago and I lost $1,000 in the fraud, thus last year I had to manage with a suit which is now two years old and had to endure 500 gigs. It is beginning to fray and shine in places where old comes to mind when you see it.

Now take two:
This year my new costume will be made by a respected company, recommended by my great friend in Las Vegas whom has had various dealings and has always been delighted with the outcome. I will not mention the pretenders until the end of this section, as that is where they belong, in the trash.

Here is my new supplier:
Noel Payne
www.noelcostumier.net

Noel will send us all updates to expand this section and you will be able to watch at first hand how a costume is made and how all the technical problems are solved by the expert. If you want to contact Noel, use her website information. noelpayne@comcast.net
Long may the honest reign.

After making a deposit of money to get the project on the road, Noel asked for pictures of how the costume should look. I must say I sent as little as possible because I want her design not a copy of a portrait but an expansion. I already have four suits and they are all different, Henry would never wear the same style more than once so expansion is the key. The colours must be within the Tudor technology so Pink is out, and basically keep to the reds, greens, browns, purples and blues. Enhance with silver and gold.
Noel sent me this set of samples for examination and for me to decide which trim to have.



The two pink ones are too modern, the orange one are not royal enough so I will choose the one with blue/red/purple to keep in with my own character. So the top left one.
What do you think? Send me your opinion to HenryTudor@Blueyonder.co.uk

HenryR, 4th March 2009.

Here is the first installment from the Designer herself.


Noel - Costumier

Chapter One - The Designer

My name is Noel C. Payne. I was born & raised in the northern suburbs of the Chicago, Illinois, area. Theatre has been my one main passion. I started my back stage carreer in high school in 1965 and my Apprenticeships in professional theatre in 1972. I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech/Performing Arts, English, and Secondary Education in 1979. And I always disliked "History".

Thirty years ago, if you worked in the theatre, you had to be a "Jack Of All Trades And Master Of None". So, I have done everything from Props to Producing. I worked professional theatre houses in Illinois (Pheasant Run Playhouse, Candlelight Theatre, The Forum Theatre, Little-Theatre-On-The-Square, plus a few more) and in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I lived for 23 years. (I moved back to Chicago in December, 2007.) While in Las Vegas, I had my own theatre company, Desert Theatre Arts Center, designing, directing & producing three children's plays and a Halloween one act play. When that didn't fare well, I returned to professional theatre: a stagehand at the Aladdin (as back-up in both the lighting and wardrobe departments), & then over to the Imperial Palace in Lighting, follow spot operator and back-up light board operator. Electrics paid 1/3rd more than Wardrobe.

November 18th, 1989, I started at the brand new Mirage Hotel - that was not open yet! - as an Electrician for the NEW state of the art production of Siegfried & Roy! I would be there for the next eleven and one half years. (No, I was not there when the tiger mauled Roy.) Being a Stage Electrician was fairly easy work (change burned out light bulbs 30 feet in the air, aim a very large follow spot at Siegfried,...) except when they went on vacation for two to four weeks. Then we had to install a new, temporary show, like Cher, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, Paul Anka,and others. Each performer came with at least 3 huge semi trucks that had to be unloaded, the gear unpacked, & hung. It would take a crew of 30 people12 hours to install a show and 8 hours to take it down, pack it up, & load the trucks. Now, mind you, about this time I am in my mid forties. Most of the people I worked with could almost be my own children! And 5 foot 2 inch Noel would have to help push boxes that were bigger than herself & lift lights that weighed 75 to 150 pounds!! I don't think any one that I worked with would expect THEIR Mother to do these things! It was getting to be time to move on - but what could I do? Don't get me wrong, the money was great! But my body was starting to scream at me after every "load in" & "load out".

And then there was Mr. Roy, himself. (Siegfried's the blond.) Roy would do all of the illusions that required folding himself up into small places & jumping out at the right times. Being in his mid fifties, his knees were getting bad. What if he fell off the stage and ripped up his knee? We ALL would be out of work. Which did happened in the Fall of 1994. Roy was rehearsing with a spotted leopard cub, turned the wrong way, and stepped off the stage with one leg and a 150 pound cat in his arms, tearing up a knee. The cast and crew got a two month vacation - with out pay. I had a mortgage and a child to support. I needed to do something on my own that I could earn a decent living at. I did not want to go through that again! And I was getting too old for the "grunt" work!

In 1997 my daughter, Melinda, was in 9th grade and had been to a few Renaissance Faires in Las Vegas. Her theatre teacher knew that I was a costumier - of sorts - and asked me if I would do the costumes for the Spring Musical, Once Upon A Mattress (a take off on The Princess And The Pea). Like a crazy lady, I said yes. Along with working Siegfried & Roy 48 hours a week, I designed & built (with the help of my Mother, Audrey) 41 costumes for the school over the course of 4 months. I got the fabrics donated by a local costume shop (the manager's son was in the musical - that helped!!) and the shop got the costumes at the end of the run. Which they have rented out 6 - 8 times a year ever since!

One month later I suffered a financial loss, so I went back to the costume shop and asked for 10 hours of work a week. Costumes I could do at home & if my work schedule changed at the Mirage, i.e., an extra rehearsal, I could just shut off the lights & walk away. So I set up a work room in my 3 car attached garage and got to work. (Mom called it "The Sweat Shop".) I was lucky enough to do repairs on three of Guinevere's gowns from Robert Goulet's tour of Camelot that had ended it's tour in Las Vegas. What a treat to study Broadway-made costumes! The head of our wardrobe department at Siegfried & Roy estimated that each of the gowns I had worked on would have cost $10,000.00 each, brand new! I was hooked on the Renaissance clothing! I started Noel - Costumier and did my first Renaissance Faire in October, 1997.

Since then I have built up to 118 costumes in a single year. I received a Certificate in Fashion Design and went on to teach classes on Pattern Drafting, Costuming, and Millinery at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas (UNLV) over the course of 3 years. I have a web site (which needs work at this point due to changing from .com to .net) that has brought me into contact with people from all over the United States, Austria, and the United Kingdom. (It would amaze me that a Bride would order all of her costumes for her Period wedding over the internet from me and I would not see the people until I received the wedding photographs!) I created the original "Living Statue" at the Venetian, created a white fur coat from a 1929 Erte print for "Broadway -Off B'way", a set of costumes for the barn dance scene from "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers", 5 jackets for Darren Lee who interprets Elvis at the Stratosphere including the gold & rhinestone jacket, and many others.

Now that I am back in Illinois, I am doing costumes from 1830 to 1910. I am a costumed volunteer at The Naper Settlement in Naperville, (www.napersettlement.org) where I am now living. I am expanding my knowledge and my pattern library. The buildings re-open April 1st and the new volunteers must be in the correct period costume for the building that they are representing. Last year I was in the Farm House of 1843, but furnished with things from the1890's, and I had a ball! This year I am training in the Martin-Mitchell Mansion, built in 1883. For myself, I have my eye on an 1898 Prommenade Suit pattern....

And then, there is a new Henry VIII outfit for a Mr. Ray Irving...


Next week: "The Dungeon" and The Design Process




Chapter 2. April 3rd 2009: The Dungeon

Part One: Machine Alley

At my house in Las Vegas, Nevada, my workroom was in the three car attached garage. There was a wall separating 2 stalls from the third. The single stall (14 foot by 20 foot) was fabric & patter storage, while the double stall (20 foot by 20 foot) was the actual work space. Racks were installed as needed in what space was available in the storage area & you had to walk sideways from the door of the house to the big garage door. The work space was a bit more open, but still crammed to the gills!

In the winter, the garage was quite comfortable. A small space heater and a sweat shirt was enough. But in the summer, when the out side temperatures reached 110 degrees to 116 degrees Fahrenheit it actually became a "sweat shop" and work had to cease by 5 P.M. With the lights on, the temperature in the shop could reach 97 F. My Mother delighted in calling the garage "Noel's Sweat Shop"!

Now that I am in Naperville, Illinois, my work room is in the basement. I figured that if Mom could call the garage "The Sweat Shop", I could call the basement "The Dungeon". The Dungeon is still in a process of being organized and I still have boxes to unpack. When I moved, my household goods along with my fabrics, trims, equipment, et al, it came on five - count them F I V E - trucks over a period of 6 months. (I have a lot of stuff! And I still do!) It is not pretty down in the Dungeon, but let's take the "nickle" tour:

Welcome To The Dungeon!

When you first come down the stairs you will face "Machine Alley" (photo: Machine Alley) with the main Fabric Rack at the far wall (facing east to west). Machine Alley is 12 feet wide and 20 feet long. I have a variety of machines, home use and industrial. The first machine is a White Serger or Overlock. (photo: White Serger) It uses 4 threads as it trims the fabric, binds the edge and puts in a seam all at the same time. It is a home use machine and one of my "work horses" as it is lighter & easier to work and the stitches are even. The next machine, Juki, (photo: Juki) is an industrial straight stitch machine. It only goes forward and backward. The Juki is set to stitch at a rate of 2,400 stitches a minute, but I never get up to that speed! It is a dependable machine that can go from 2 layers of velvet to 8 layers and back to 2 layers with out skipping a stitch and ALL of the stitches are the same length. All industrial machines only do one function: straight stitches, overlock, sew button holes, blind hem, stitch the elastic into shirred waist bands, and much more!



Take a moment to turn some of your clothing inside-out and look at the seams (where two pieces of fabric are stitched together). Most of your clothing is now being assembled on an Overlock industrial machine like the Seruba Overlock and the Monarch (photo: Industrial Serger & Straight Needle). The Seruba uses 5 threads: 3 to bind the cut edge and 2 threads to stitch a seam, like on a pair of jeans. That is the quality of stitching that I need to compete with when I make a garment! (Side Note: Do you know what the "Standard Allowable Minutes" are to cut, stitch, & finish a basic, plain t-shirt?...............3.5 minutes!)



At the far end of Machine Alley is my main Fabric Rack. (photo: Fabric Rack). This rack is 8 foot tall, 10 foot wide and 6 foot deep. The bolts of fabric are 6 feet side to side, the width of the loom they were made on. In the rack is an assortment of fabrics: cotton velvet, chiffon, crinkle gauze, Jacquard, linen, weaves, and more. There can be up to 100 yards of fabric on the fatter bolts. The fat bolts I purchased over the years at Trade Shows. They were fabrics that would suit a historical period and they were end runs or close-outs. I would not be able to purchase more of the same fabric. Most of the rack is what we would call "upholstery" fabrics: fabrics that we would cover a sofa or chair with. Most of these fabrics would sell at $25.00 to $50.00 a yard in a retail store. But, being close-outs I could purchase the fabrics for 1/4 of the price. The other part of the deal was you had to purchase what was on the bolt, or its "put up" amount. The yardage could vary from 10 yards to 70 yards to 100 yards a bolt. It is not like going into a store and buying just 10 yards to make an Elizabethan gown.



Next along the far west wall are two racks that are for costume, fabric, and pattern storage, and for projects in the making. (photo: Costume Storage) These racks are 8 feet long and 8 feet tall with rods on both sides. I used 3/4" electrical conduit pipe to mare the rods out of. The plywood shelf on top helps stabilize the rack. Then there is a 2 foot wide, 8 foot long 4 shelf unit that I made to hold plastic storage tubs for scraps, pieces & parts that are left over from previous projects, or finished inventory. One tub contains Cod Pieces and another has Muffin Caps.



Machine Alley is 12 foot wide. And since there was a support post there (located 12 feet from the south wall and 14 feet from the east wall), I surrounded the post with shelves to hold my bead collection (photo:Bead Rack) and drawer units that hold items like grommets, belt buckles, larger gem stones, nail heads & studs, snaps, labels, and more.



Chapter 3: Research

When making costumes you need to be familiar with the different eras of human history. Each time period is affected by a variety things, from the weather, the locale or country, economics, technology, the Industrial Revolution, morals, and customs to name a few. The Romans wore Togas in Italy but Victorian women wore large bustle skirts. The hoop slip has made an appearance in history: in Tudor times (1500's) it was called a Farthingale, in the 1700's it was called a Hoop, and the same during the American War Between The States (1860 - 65), and now under wedding dresses. Good general fashion history books will help to determine the silhouette of the clothing, what fabric and trims are appropriate, and the cut of the cloth.

Look at the back of men's suit jackets from the 1700's through the 1800's and compare them to the modern jacket. One major difference in cut is the shoulder seam. The earlier jackets have the seam slanting from the side of the neck to the back of the sleeve opening, or Arm's Eye. Our modern jackets have the seam running straight along the top of the shoulder. What other differences can you find?

The Client:

Ray Irving contacted me two months ago about making him a costume for his Henry VIII presentations. I need to know several things from him before I even start:

1) Is this for a one might stand, like a Halloween costume?

2) Is this for the stage? Theatrical costumes must be built for durability and for "quick changes" - a complete change in clothing in seconds or minutes. Quick changes would need closures of heavy jacket zippers, Velcro, and large snaps. The fabrics would be different, flashy, and not period authentic. (I can use the cartwheel hoop from Elizabeth's reign 1580's but cut the cloth in flat, solid colours to represent a cartoon figure from a comic book.) There are a lot of things the "blind man in the second row" will not see on a stage costume.

3) Is this for a re-enactor? Here I must be more accurate on period fabrics, closures, and the cut of the cloth. This costume will be seen up close by people, and they can scrutinize every detail and seam. The costume must be durable to last from year to year.

Ray replies that he portrays King Henry VIII of England. So, he is a re-enactor and a specific person. I try to get photos or pictures from the client so that we are on the "same page" so to speak. The client may have something totally different in his/her mind's eye than what it is in reality. (A costume store manager called me one time to order "that opening dress from 'Hello Dolly' - the orange one." I finally had to pull a photo off of the TV & take it into the store to show him it was burgundy.) Since Henry lived from 1485 to1547, we have to narrow down the time span of the clothing. What Henry wore when he was first crowned king & what he wore late in life are decades apart. After several requests, I finally got a photo of a Hans Holbein painting that Ray had in mind.

4) Colours and fabric types? Ray definitely wants a brown velvet Surcoat with black or black/brown fur for the collar. He also liked the mint green that was in the painting.

5) There are several measurements (chest, waist, hips, etc.) that I will need to make sure that the finished garments fit. I will probably never meet Ray in person, much less be able to fit him personally, so accurate measurements are a must. (That little pond called the "Atlantic" separates us.)

Now, I can go to my Reference Library (photo: Reference Library) in the Dungeon and find as much information on Henry in 1542 that I can scrape together. Paintings are very important in your research. They are the number one reference for you, BUT they MUST be done by an artist that lived at the same time as the subject. There is a beautiful portrait of "Elizabeth I" but it was painted 100 years after she died. Whereas, Hans Holbein actually painted for Henry VIII's Court. His paintings will be a more reliable representation of Henry. I will collect a pile of period specific books and start reading, putting my notes together, & photo copy the prints for my file. (photos: Fashion Book Henry, Encyclopedia Henry, Period Specific Books, Period Specific Books pages, Henry VIII Book, Book Cover: Six Wives.)

Because Ray is portraying an actual person from history, I will want to get as close as possible to what I see in the paintings. That is my "creative challenge"! The actual paintings are out in the Public Domain and are known by the general populous and other re-enactors. I want to get as close to that portrait as I possibly can. I have found that Herbert Norris' book, Tudor Costume And Fashion, to be an wealth of information on the Tudor Period.

Depending upon what I am making, I do refer to movies. (photo: DVDs, Musicals DVD) I have collected a rather large DVD collection as I might get a call like I did for the "Hello Dolly" dress or just to get a general starting point for a period piece. Some times it is hard to take a flat, two dimensional painting and turn it into a finished piece of clothing. In a movie I can see the seams of a jacket, or how a gown flows. BUT! I must remember that the movies are Hollywood, filmed for excitement & drama! Those costume designers can shop all over the world for that "perfect" piece of fabric for a garment. They have large budgets. They can get fabrics custom dyed, woven, or replicated. I have to use what is available. And being a small shop, there is not much that I can get my hands on for a reasonable price. Remember my Fabric Rack & having to purchase the "put up" yardage on the bolts?

After I gather my research, I head to the Pattern Rack or file drawers and select the patterns that I will need to create the "look" I want to achieve. (photo: The Patterns) Then I head to the Fabric Rack and the Ribbons to pull the pieces together. I photographed two fabric combinations , which I e-mail to Ray plus I send him samples of the fabrics and trims that I had chosen. In the photos he liked Combination #2. But, when the fabric samples arrived, he agreed with my first choices.



So, now I have my research, my patterns , Mr. Irving's measurements, fabrics, & trims. It is time to get cutting!


Chapter 4: From The Skin Out

When making costumes you need to start with the first garment that is the closest to the skin and work your way outward. Each layer adds to your base measurement of the body. A thin chemise may add 1/4" (6mm) total all the way around the body, but a fully lined velvet Doublet can add 1"(25mm) to the measurements! If you use the same measurements as the starting point for each layer, the outer most garment might be too tight to wear! Henry wears at least four layers, in order:

1) Shirt or "Linens" - closest to the body, similar to a nightshirt that a man would wear to bed, with full sleeves and decorated collar and matching cuffs. Sometimes the edges were embroidered with "Black Work" along the edges. Henry preferred pleating on the edges of his collar & cuffs. As he grew older - and larger - the collar became a short, stand up band. Some paintings show a "Mandarin" shaped band covered in gold embroidery and others show a collar with two small points sticking out from under his chin.

2) Doublet - basically a long vest with paned sleeves. The body of the Doublet starts at the collar bone, or to a few inches down from the collar bone, to the hips. Doublets of this time had "slashing" on the fronts, slits to pull the shirt through. "Slash & Puffs" were made popular by the German mercenary soldiers, The Landsknechten. These soldiers would kill their opponent and, if they liked what the dead man was wearing, would strip that garment off the body to wear. If the garment did not fit, the Landesknecten would slash it with his knife to make it larger.

A pane is a strip of fabric that could be decorated. Several panes are stitched together at the sleeve head & cuff and tacked together at different spacing to puff the shirt sleeves through. The paned sleeves can be sewn to the Doublet or tied on with "Points", or laces. Later, during Elizabeth's reign, men would wear knee length pants with panes: "Pansied Sloppes" or "Pumpkin Pants".

3) Jerkin - a low cut vest without sleeves but with a knee length skirt, or "Bases". The Bases was generally cartridge pleated to the waist of the vest front of the Jerkin.

4) Surcoat or Gown - Henry wore large cape-like gown with very large decorated puffed sleeves and a large fur collar.


Since Ray will have to do some quick costume changes, and without any assistance, I am going to use some theatrical short cuts. For example, I am going to combine the front of the Jerkin with the Doublet so that it is one garment, not two separate pieces. I am also going to make "collar bands" similar to the shirts from the turn of the 20th century: a band that attaches to the shirt body. If I make a stand up band colour & cover it with gold embroidery, the embroidery will fall apart after a few washings. With a detachable collar, the shirt gets washed & the embroidery is spared.

Will you be able to spot some of the other "quick change" short cuts that I will be employing?
FINALLY found the phone number of my button manufacturer - and he is no longer in business! BUMMER!!(Oh! Dear in American). He was good, too! We found him on Facebook, so we are hoping that he will reply. I could pick out the shape of the button, the colour of the metal, the colour of the stone, and what I wanted the attachment to be (buckle, button shank, etc.). Oh, well... Back to the drawing board!
Here’s a collage of the making so far, so many pieces all have to have allowances and must fit so the pattern lines up. This perfect King needs a perfect outfit.



Chapter 5

Modifying A Pattern Piece

One of the challenges of making a Henry VIII garment for Ray is that I need to be Period authentic, yet I need to design the garment so that he can dress himself quickly. This requires some theatrical costume construction techniques. The Paned sleeves of the Doublet presented a major design challenge: how to attach the puffs between the Panes so that he did not have to fish out each puff from his shirt - 16 per sleeve - a tedious job that would require a Butler to dress him. (The sleeves will look like the photo of the Doublet with the white sticking out in 3 lines down the front.)

Answer: create a pattern from the finished Panes for the same fabric as the shirt. There are 4 Panes with 4 points where the Panes are attached to one another with buttons. This pattern needed to include 4" in length for each puff (16" total) and 2" in width (8"). The extra fabric will be gathered top to bottom & side to side where each puff needs to be pulled through the Panes, and then hand-tacked in to place. Another consideration was the underarm seam. I had to off-set the seam to one side or I would have a seam running through the middle of the puffs. This pattern piece took almost 2 hours to create & proof. (A pattern must be "proofed", or corrected, i.e., the side seams are equal, marked for the gather lines, the center line, etc.)

Photos:
4 Panes - Sleeve: The 4 Panes of a sleeve attached and flat.
1 - Shirt Sleeve With Panes: The Panes are laid on top of the finished pattern. Notice the difference in size, but similar shaped. The pattern was created on one half of the paper and then transposed to the other half as all of the vertical lines & the cross lines with a "G" on them need to be marked on the fabric for the gathering stitch lines.
Pattern Details: A closer look at the details of the pattern.
Top View of Pattern: Looking down on the cutting table with the finished pattern & Panes. The blue squares on the table top create a 1" grid, 4 foot wide & 8 foot long.

Because the shirt fabric does not have "body" - it is soft & flowing - each "puff" sleeve will be backed with netting to give it the slight stiffness that the puffs need to stand up. A second sleeve pattern the size of the finished sleeve was created for a layer of shirt fabric to line the sleeve, hiding the netting and hand work on the puffs. Both shirt sleeve layers will be caught up in the shoulder seams & the band cuffs with the Panes to finish the sleeves.




Chapter 6: Buttons For The Doublet

In Hans Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII, the buttons that tie the sleeve panes together & that decorate the front of the Doublet are squares or rectangles, approximately 1" to 1 1/2" in size. The buttons are of a bright gold and the centres of them are set with gem stones, such as emeralds & rubies. An interesting note about the gems that I found in Herbert Norris' book, Tudor Costumes and Fashions, was that the gems were a "cabochon", or curved, shape. The "table" cut, like our present day "diamond" cut was not developed until very late in Henry's life. For durability, I wanted metal buttons and crystal "gems".
I used to have a man in New York City that had beautiful button molds that went back to the 1920's. Many of them could be used for the Tudor times. He could make metal buttons in any finish that you needed: silver, antiqued silver, BRIGHT GOLD.... And he could set what ever colour crystal rhinestone or pearls that you requested in the sockets. He was fantastic!!! But now I can not find him. The economy must have forced him to close. I couldn't even find him on Face-book. I have lost an incredible resource!!
So, I have spent HOURS on the internet searching for square or rectangular buttons! I found ONE small square button! No one is making square metal buttons! AAHHRRGGG!!! Ray did say that he wanted a "Tudor Rose" some where on the costume. I did have a source that had metal buttons that look like the Tudor Rose, but they only came in antiqued silver & antiqued brass. And they are on the small side: 7/8" in diameter. I decided to purchase the metal roses & change their colour.
I went to the craft store & bought a bottle of Liquid Gold Leaf. I set up a work space on the kitchen table & went to work. I wanted to just high light the edges of the petals, using the darker depths of the petals to give the buttons more dimension. It would help to accentuate the buttons from a distance, especially if Ray were on a theatrical stage. I waited 24 hours & then sprayed them with a clear acrylic to seal the gold leaf. And the next morning, lo & behold!, the acrylic turned my bright gold into a coppery gold! So, I re-leafed all of them, BUT I did not spray them this time. With all of the layers I did loose some of the details. Emerald acrylic rhinestones were set into the centers of each button. TAH- DAHH!!



Comment from Ray: Can you all see why I have this Lady to make my clothes? She has a great eye for detail and patience to match.

Chapter 7: The (Almost) Never Ending Story Of The Doublet Sleeves

Remember in Chapter 5 how I had gloriously planned to make real Paned sleeves for the Doublet with the long inner shirt sleeve tacked into place so that Ray did not have to pull the shirt through each of the 32 slashes? I had worked through the whole process in my head & it sounded good - in theory. So, after making the Panes & the shirt sleeves, hand-tacking the Panes together and all that fabric and netting into place, the sleeves were ready for the lining and to be set into the Doublet's arm holes.

But first I slid my arm down the sleeve to admire my handy work. And lo and behold! The sleeve was TOO SMALL! If I could not get my arm comfortably down the sleeve, then neither could Ray! (Believe it or not, our biceps are about the same size.) Well, at least I had not sewn the buttons on yet. Back to the drawing board!

Next I created a new sleeve pattern that was one piece & I would "slash" like I had on the front of the Doublet: stitching a piece of fabric into place on the front, cutting out the centre of the slash, and turn the scrap through the hole to the back of the sleeve. O.K. That works. I got 24 patches on both sleeves stitched, slashed, turned & tacked into place. Now, to attach the shirt fabric... That's when I discovered that I had cut the sleeves up side down! The fabric has only one direction. If I used this set of sleeves, the fabric's pattern would run two directions! It would visually conflict with the direction of the Doublet.

Back to the cutting table & glad that I had a whole bolt of this fabric.....



Sleeve Set #3 is finally complete & stitched into the arm holes of the Doublet. Now where did I put the pattern for the Cod Piece?....

The moral of this story: Measure twice, cut once.

Note from Ray. Whilst it is true the King always wore a cod piece, in todays world of PC I cannot wear such a garment in a primary school. Can I hear the sound of giggling? You try and stand in front of 300 children in assembly with a cod piece, they stare y'know!


Chapter 8: The Cod Piece

The "Cod Piece" was a very important part of King Henry's ensemble and it had a relatively short life span. "Short" in that it was worn for less than 150 years. Through out the Medieval & Renaissance times, the cut of clothing did not change very often. Some things remained "in style" for several centuries. The tall, pointed hat, or "Princess hat" as we call it today, was originally called a "Hennen" and was only worn from 1430 to 1470. It was modified a bit here & there through it's life time but it was still worn for 40 years. Today the clothing fashions change almost by the week. Could you imagine wearing the same cut of dress suit from World War II (the early 1940's Zoot Suit) every year until 2010?

The "Cod Piece" came about during the Italian High Renaissance, the mid to late 1400's. Men had been wearing long gowns down to their ankles with huge, flowing sleeves. These were called Houppelandes. Both men and women wore these gowns. The men's Houppelande had to be buttoned up to the neck, while a woman, depending upon whether she was married or not, would have a V neck front or be buttoned up to the neck. Only a maiden could have her gown open at the neck and her hair loose & flowing. Once she married, only her husband could view those "attributes".

But, during the Italian High Renaissance, the hem lines on the men's gowns started crawling up the leg, being cut shorter & shorter until the hem was finally at the waist, a vest with sleeves and leggings (tights). (Think "Romeo & Juliette".) WELL! The Church (remember Catholicism was basically the only Christian religion at the time) was offended by those "unsightly bulges" of the male anatomy and ordered that men must wear a triangular piece of cloth over the offending bulges. Men, being Peacocks at the time (and they did strut their stuff just like the bird!), started to modify and shape and pad and decorate that triangle of cloth to the chagrin of the priests. It was almost like "false advertising".

Up to this point we do not have pockets set into our clothing. (Pockets will not catch on until the 1700's when a woman wore them strapped to her waist under her gown.) A man carried everything of value in a pouch on a belt around his waist where any thief could steal it! Someone got the bright idea to stuff everything into this decorated piece of clothing. After all, who would reach "down there" to steal from you??? It became known as a "Cod Piece" because the word "cod" was slang for bag. A man would carry everything of value in the Cod Piece: his coins, jewelry, even oranges were valuable. And that is where we get the phrase "protecting the family jewels".



Henry VIII wore Cod Pieces almost until the time of his death, when he gave up the Jerkin, Doublet, & Surcoat in favor of a large, loose fitting gown. It seemed that the older he got the larger & more decorated they became. I was told (and I have NOT confirmed the tale, but it seems plausible) that Henry had one Cod Piece that had a bud vase built into it. He would have roses in the vase and when he saw a young woman that caught his fancy, he would give her one of the roses.

Cod Pieces finally died out during Elizabeth I reign about 1580. The Pansied Slops, or Pumpkin Pants, were larger & stuck out farther from the body than the Cod Piece, hiding it from view. Like so many other pieces of clothing, Cod Pieces do reappear today, particularly at the ballet. (Every time I make a Cod Piece, I have my own personal giggle at the thought of being at a Renaissance Faire & some grandly dressed Lord has his cell phone ringing in his Cod Piece. Maybe "Night On Witch Mountain" or Bach's "Toccata"???)


Your first thought is that the Cod Piece is too large. Yes, it is. For two reasons: 1) it is worn by Henry VIII, who was very taken with his "manliness" and 2) the folds of the Bases, or "skirt", will cover up to one half of it's depth. Henry would have worn real gems & pearls while the lace & gimps would have been made from real gold. It was the way to display wealth. (By the way, only the king & queen were allowed to wear diamonds.) Here I have used glass pearls in 2mm, 4mm, & 6mm. The large green beads down the center are 8mm Czech Fire Polished Glass, and the 4mm & 6mm greens are Swarovski crystals to represent emeralds.

Now to drape & pleat the Bases. I intend to pleat it so that Ray can wear the Cod Piece or not. But I doubt that he will ever wear it. It still draws too much attention to that particular part of the male anatomy. And, yes, children and adults will look, laugh, and point to this weird, little piece of history.

Chapter 9.
Doublet Waist: 57 inches
Bases Width: 240 inches
Houston: We have a problem! How do we fit 240 inches to the 57 inches of the waist without cutting the material???
Solution: Pleats!!

The Early 1500's would have seen "cartridge" pleats - fabric pleated at one inch intervals but spaced out around the waist of the bodice or Jerkin. Kind of like an old Western gun belt with all of the loops to hold bullets. But, by the time of this Jerkin (1543), "box" pleats were used to highlight the vertical lines of the weave of the fabric.

Now where are my clothes pins?



For Henry's Shirt:
If the width of the loom is 44 inches,
And Ray's chest is over 50 inches around,
And Ray's arm length is 29 inches,
How many inches of fabric will I need to make one shirt?

It took 4 days for the two parcels to leave UPS in America and arrive at HM Customs in England. The the two parcels were separated, the first one took 6 more days to arrive 3 miles from my house and a further 2 days to notify and collect. The second parcel took a further 5 days to do the same as the first parcel. Maybe they had to change a horseshoe or something!

Anyhow, Noel's classic costume has finally arrived and it fits like a glove, the quality it superb as expected and if you want a perfect costume she is the lady to do it.
Here is a picture of the first ever fitting, minus the royal chain, dagger and white hose.