by Anne Barnhill
I'm as excited as a school girl! Why? Because my Tudor dress, the outer garment, is finished. Well, almost finished. The miraculous seamstress, my dear friend from high school, Becky Thacker, must make sure the length is right. My skirts will not be quite as long as the pattern indicated because I don't want to fall and break a hip while giving readings in my ensemble. Besides, if I tripped, I might ruin the dress!
When my first book came out in January 2012, (At the Mercy of the Queen) Becky had completed the undergarments and I wore those to promote the book. It was like that nightmare where you appear in front of people in just your skivvies--let's just say I lived the dream.
Here I am in shift, petticoat, bum roll:
After putting all that stuff on, I definitely see why one might need a lady-in-waiting. I asked the lucky bookstore person to help (assuming this was a female) if Ms. Thacker couldn't attend me. Often, there was great entertainment in the 'dressing room' as we struggled to get everything in place.
I expect the dress with be just as challenging. Plus, I'll have all that underwear on, too.
Thus far, I have not tried the dress on, but over a year ago, I fell in love with the materials Becky, her sewing advisor, Lisa, and I selected. I had no idea the dress would be heavy, but I'm told the sleeves alone weigh a ton.
While the outer dress may not be as spot-on, historically speaking, as re-enactors might wish, it will serve my purposes well. I want to bring listeners back to the 16th century and I believe visual aids help. I've devised a little talk about the importance of clothing at Court; how, in those days, clothes really did 'make the man.' Courtiers invested in silks and satins to impress the monarch, the way we might invest in real estate in the hopes of filling our portfolios. If a courtier could catch the king's (or queen's) eye, establish a relationship and come into royal favor, that courtier would find his purse growing fatter and his future looking brighter.
I'm convinced my new dress would definitely be met with approval. I used a color chart from The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies to select my cloth and tried to get materials that would have been used in the 1500's by a noblewoman. I also took into consideration the extremely hot North Carolina summer: no heavy velvets or damasks for me.
When my second novel, Queen Elizabeth's Daughter, is released next March, I hope to keep cool over the summer, dress and all.
Here's the final product:
I can't wait to try it on!