Apr 152011

In case you came here looking for the fabric that you can see on the skirt in the portrait:
I have made a reproduction of that fabric available here on Spoonflower.
And in case you’re generally interested in Tudor / Elizabethan reproduction fabrics, browse my Medieval / Renaissance / Tudor / Elizabethan design collection on Spoonflower.
Then again you could also browse all the fabric collections I’m offering on Spoonflower 😉

Here’s what I wrote about the gown when I had it on my list of ‘Interesting costumes‘:

The stained (=painted) forepart and bodice on the “Hardwick” portrait is just incredible.
I have so far only seen one reproduction of that gown, and while the shape was very good, I still disliked the coloring (the skirt was made of white material, and all colors of the staining were too bright, in my humble opinion).

So far… so good.

And now let me tell you how to estimate the required amounts of fabric from a portrait by using maths 🙂 This is at least how I’m doing it. It may not be the easiest method, requires basic skills in picture editing, maths and logic; but it works perfectly for me; and perhaps someone else is also interested in this method, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to publish it once 🙂

Alright, I take the original portrait and crop it down from about waist- to feet level.
Then I resize the image to 11.5cm, which is 1/10 of my own, natural waist to floor measurement.
Afterwards I overlay the picture with a 1cm grid, which would, if applied in reality, be a grid of 10x10cm – something one can work with 🙂
This is how it looks:

I’ll first estimate the required sizes for the farthingale like this…:

I’m drawing some basic lines and estimate their length by comparing them to the grid. If they run at an angle, I lay a pencil against the screen with its blunt end at one end of a line, press my fingernail in the place at the other end of the line, then put the pencil with my fingernail in place horizontally or vertically to the image, and can again quite exactly estimate the length of the line.
The basic lines are:
– front middle: Waist to skirt end (in this picture: blue; length: about 97 centimeters)
Length of pointed stomacher downwards: yellow (in this picture: 22cm)
radius =(1/2 diameter) of the top hoop (the one at waist level) *if* it was a perfect circle (I know it’s not, but I’ll get back to that later): 60cm
radius of the bottom hoop (same as above, if it was a perfect circle): 80cm

With those basic measures I can calculate, then estimate the size of the hoops with simple maths. As I hate calculating myself, I’m using an online calculating service, such as this:

And what does that bring me? well…

Top hoop radius, as written above: 60cm
Top hoop diameter therefore: 120cm
Calculated circumference, if perfectly round: 377cm

bottom hoop radius, as written above: 80cm
bottom hoop diameter therefore: 160cm
Calculated circumference, if perfectly round: 502cm

The only problem with this calculation is that, as already indicated, this is not a Victorian hoopskirt and therefore the hoops are not round.
It’s Elizabethan and has a flat front; this can be seen even by beginners by looking at the downwards pointing bodice which does in no way bend forwards.
If seen from above, the hoopskirt would look as following:

The black ‘dot’ represents my own human waist – the ‘top’ of the picture would be my own front side.
The red line is the top hoop – extending from a center point by 55cm; a bit smaller than the 60cm in the picture, but I have to take the additional bulk of the petticoat- and skirt fabrics over that farthingale into consideration.
Same for the blue line, which represents the bottom hoop.
If I now take a thread, lay it along my screen along the red- or blue line and then compare its length to the turquoise grid (which, you might already have guessed it – again represents a 10x10cm grid) then I get to the following results:
about 300cm for the top hoop and
and about 400cm for the bottom hoop.
So I’ve just calculated that I will need about 8 meters – 800cm – of cane for the two hoops, the overlaps to bind the canes included. I’ll better calculate 10 meters, as I’ll include a second, shorter cane into the top of the farthingale. to be sure it will be able to support the weight of the skirts that rests on it.

Note on the following pattern:
After drafting and uploading the pattern (the first shown ‘view from above’ as well as the pattern pieces in the picture below) have one serious problem; and that is that I had not taken into consideration that, while the farthingale’s hoop *is* very close to the body in the front, it’s definitely not running along the waist but runs much deeper.
This can be seen in this picture:when looking at the white line which indicates said top hoop.
The top hoop runs along the bottom end of the pointed bodice, and that means – as the drawing above also indicates – that the front pattern piece must have a waist-to-hoop length of at least 22cm; but mine, as I had accidentally only taken the ‘from above’ view into consideration, has just a length of 5cm, which would mean that it *is* running along the waist. This totally slipped from my attention, and I apologize for this. Of course, the other first two front side panels will also have to be redrafted; I will do that tomorrow.
So please don’t take that farthingale pattern *too* serious until this notice has vanished *g* 😉
I’m nevertheless happy that I discovered my own mistake all by myself… 🙂

And now to the pattern… here is, again, the above shown farthingale planning diagram, just with a few lines more…:

Those are the measures for the different pattern pieces for the farthingale.
The distance between top and bottom hoop is the same everywhere – 72cm, as measures from the original grid-overlaid painting.
So I’ll need to cut…:

  • for all the way from top to bottom farthingale; one strip of fabric, 410cm long / 72cm wide;
  • Several trapezoids for the ‘way’ from my waist to the top hoop based on the measurements of the (pink lines) and (red lines). I’m speaking of trapezoids because rectangles would result in a *lot* of bunching fabric around my waist.

So… this is the basic pattern I came up with.
Note that I tried to match each angled pattern piece with one that runs on the straight grain; this avoids straining at the seams. I didn’t manage this on all seams between the rectangles, but for the majority, I did.
The blue lines of the trapezoids which don’t have measures will later form the waistline. I’ll add a drawstring tunnel there; this way I will *still* have bunching fabric, but not as much as if I had cut rectangles 🙂
The big black square at the bottom is, of course, the half of the rectangle for the distance from bottom to top hoop. I’ll have to gather it at the top to be able to attach it to the rectangles’ bottom when sewn together (as, of course, the sumn of the rectangle’s bottom sumns up to half the circumfence of the top hoop, which is a Meter smaller than the bottom one); but that should not be a problem.

And this is the grid-overlaid painting which I will later use to calculate the required fabric amount and pattern for the petticoat and overskirt. As you should by now know my method of doing this: try if you can and look later if your results will be likely to mine 🙂

Stay tuned for updates, which I, of course will publish here as soon as I have some 🙂

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