Apr 152011


The planning on this gown started with the programming of the embroidery.

This is how the embroidery looked in the preview of my embroidery programming software compared to the embroidery on the original bodice. Here’s a close-up of the bodice without any markings:

I am planning on doing the embroidery with ivory and silver threads. Here are the previews:

Upper embroidery on the bodice:

French lily on the bodice (will be enlarged for the forepart embroidery):

Borders / trim embroidery – can be endlessly lengthened & used on overskirt and hanging sleeves as well as the sides of the bodice:


Compared to other Elizabethan portraits Maria Stuart doesn’t wear much jewelry with the gown:

  • Three flowers, looking as if they were made of corals or were enameled, decorate the top of the bodice;
  • The same flowers decorate her hair,
  • a long necklace of five strands of alternating white/golden pearls;
  • small, leaf shaped golden/diamond earrings,

  • Left hand:
  • a golden armband which is either enameled in different colors or set with multicolored stones
  • a ring with small black stones

  • Right hand:
  • the same armband as on the left side,
  • a thumb ring with pearls and darker stones plus
  • either a fan (?) or bouquet of flowers, probably made of gemstones and gold

Other than that, Maria wears no jewelry – except, of course, that her gown is decorated with an almost insane amount of pearls.

Materials I’ll need (or already used) for this gown (constantly updated with further planning and making):
(This includes a price breakdown for the materials – I’ve made the experience that people are incredibly curious as to how much one would have to pay for the materials if they would make such a gown themselves.
Remember, however, that the below shown costs are *just* the plain material costs – so if you would have someone make you such a gown with the above listed jewelry, you’d have to pay their work as well.
Considering that I estimate this gown & jewelry to take roughly 200 hours of work, and considering that a *good* costume maker should earn at least $15 per hour (remember, she must pay taxes from that, *plus* make a living somehow!), *plus* adding some funds for research, shipping of materials and the finished gown, notions etc. – about $150 or so….
This means the price for a gown like this should have at least $3150 *added* to the below listed, plain material costs, if you would want a professional costume maker to make you this gown.)

Status Item Cost
Material for the gown – rayon/nylon damask – 10 yards ~ $ 200
Material to stiffen the gown – white linen – 10 yds. ~ $ 65
Interlining / lining for bodice ~ $ 10
Dye for the fabric ~ $ 15
Large amount of pearl trims for bodice, skirt, sleeves (~50 yards) ~ $ 75
Crinoline netting to reinforce bodice / stiffen skirt ~ $ 60
Corset steel boning to reinforce bodice ~ $ 10
Pewter to cast the jewelry from ~ $ 5
Corals to decorate the jewelry with ~ $ 30
Crystals etc. for the ‚fan‘ and other jewelry ~ $ 40
Clay / plaster to make the molds for the jewelry / belt ~ $ 5
Embroidery yarn for bodice / forepart ~ $ 30
Lace for sleeves & collar ~ $ 30
Some jewelry hooks etc. ~ $ 5
…so just the material will (did) cost: ~$ 580
…if you’d have this gown made, add the above explained ‚costume maker‘ costs of… ~$ 3150
…and get to a total price of… ~$ 3730
: already have that material
: ordered that material
: don’t have the material (yet)
Costs are calculated by the material price; no shipping/handling fees for those materials are included here.
The above listed ‚costume maker‘ calculation was made just to satisfy one of my biggest needs:
To show people that *good* costume makers are often underpaid or undervalue their work (or the amount of work that goes into a gown).
I’ve experienced that myself when I was still a professional costume maker and *still* heard often that my prices are ‚too high’… just because people don’t take into consideration (or are simply not aware) how much time, work, craftsmanship and research go into making such gowns. I myself often miscalculated the costs for a customer’s gown, in the sense of me thinking that I wouldn’t need so much material / so much time, ending up with doing very much for considerably little.
So – the calculation is for ‚those‘ people as well as for myself, so that I might know what exactly my spare time, in which I make these costumes, is worth (I wish I had made those very exact breakdowns when I was still professional – would have spared & gained me much at the same time)

  2 Responses to “Planning”

Comments (2)
  1. Hey!
    I am a fashion student in Holland and I have a question. Are you sure this is a portrait of Mary Stuart (Queen off Schotland)? I have to be certain, because I want to use her beautiful costume! It would be nice if you could answer my reply.

    Bye! Laura

    • Well, the portrait is *labeled* at Hamburg’s Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe as being a portrait of Maria Stuart; and I found no indication that it wouldn’t be of her. Except, of course, that this would have to be a very *late* portrait because of the hanging sleeves and the considerably large ruff, which had just come into fashion when she died. Then again of course this could also be a postmortem portrait.

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