Inspiration: “Mum Can you Make Me this One”?


When my daughter came out with a picture book about Elizabeth I and showed me the iconic portrait of Princess Elizabeth c1547 attributed to William Scrots, and asked me to make it for her, my initial reaction was negative. A year or so past and she grew out of all her medieval costume, the idea resurfaced, and I was intrigued by the challenge of making my first Tudor gown. Susannah was now the same age as Elizabeth in the portrait.






The fabrics.







I knew that it would be virtually impossible to find exactly the same fabrics at a price that I could afford, so I set out to find convincing fabrics to give a similar effect.

I looked at numerous images of Tudor portraits on the web in an effort to establish what patterns and fabrics were used, then set about sourcing the fabric. It quickly became obvious that I could not source the fabrics needed in Australia, so I searched the internet for stores overseas.

 I found a web store in India that had appropriate silk brocade for the kirtle and an interior decorator in America that had some rusty burgundy figured velvet similar to that worn by Elizabeth in the Dynastic Portrait of Henry VIII and his children.

Whenever possible I tried to use natural fibers.







Given that to my knowledge no Tudor gowns of this period have survived, I used Ninya Mikhaila & Jane Malcolm- Davies book “The Tudor Tailor” as my primary resource, augmented by Janet Arnold’s, “Patterns of Fashion”, Books 3 & 4, and her book “Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d”. I also consulted illustrations of 16th century tapestries for some extra information on seam-lines.

            All the appropriate layers of clothing were constructed to complete the ensemble, these include a shift, kirtle and gown. Patterns were drafted from “The Tudor Tailor” as this book seems to show the most accurate period cut. A combination of period and modern construction techniques were used to assemble the garments.

The brocade under sleeves were a challenge because Mikhaila only gives a straight pattern for these, but the portrait clearly shows them more rounded. I altered the pattern so that the sleeve pattern was semi circular in shape giving it a more rounded effect.





Pattern for kirtle (reduced) from “The Tudor Tailor”, by Ninya Mikhaila & Jane Malcolm- Davies pages 108 & 109.





The Jewelry. 

Finding the jewelry ready made was always going to be a problem so I resolved to make them closely resemble the portrait but not copy it exactly. I was fortunate to find some items such as the brooch and pendant that only needed some augmentation to make them look right, but other items such as the twenty brooches on the under-sleeves were made from findings and loose gems. 

The small medallions that augment the kirtle neckline and girdle were made from vintage metal buttons that I set with black stones.





Left: Original portrait belonging to Her Majesty The Queen and hung at Windsor Castle.  Above: Susannah’s jewels







Right: Susannah’s under-sleeve showing some of the broaches made from findings and loose stones.








The girdle end was another problem because, the portrait is only ¾ length so it is not shown. Tudor women hung numerous items from their girdles including pomanders, books, tassels and occasionally watches. I decided to use a large disk like circular locket similar to the one worn by Jane Seymour in the Dynastic Portrait.








Susannah’s jeweled girdle end.


Susannah’s jeweled girdle end.





Susannah Inverarity


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You had to be very rich to afford a black garment such as the one above,
because the black die was extremely expensive
Kay with her daughter.
Both gowns are c1547 reproductions by Kay.




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Arnold Janet, Patterns of Fashion, The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620, Macmillan, London, 1985, pp.7-10,102-104 .


Arnold Janet, Patterns of Fashion, 4, The cut & construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women, c1540-1660, Macmillan, London, 2008, pp. 18,19, 54-58, 110-115.


Arnold Janet, Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe unlock’d, W.S. Maney & Son, Leeds, 1988, pp.18, 54-57, 254.


The Hermitage, Leningrad: Gothic & Renaissance Tapestries, Paul Hamlyn, London, 1965. PP.48-100.


Ninya Mikhaila & Jane Malcolm- Davis, The Tudor Tailor, Costume & Fashion Press, B. T Batsford, 2006, PP. 57, 105-115.


Ribeiro Aileen, The Gallery Of Fashion, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2000, pp.30-38, 46 & 47.


Turnbull Stephanie, Elizabeth I, Usborne Press, English Heritage, p.7.






Princess Elizabeth, portrait C1547 attributed to William Scrots, http://tudorhistory.org/elizabeth/gallery.html accessed 6th February 2011.


Princess Elizabeth cropped from the Dynastic Portrait of Henry VIII & Children. Http://marileecody.com/elizI.images.html  accessed 22 February 2011.


Jane Seymour from the Dynastic painting of Henry VIII and children, http://tudorhistory.org/elizabeth/gallery.html accessed 6th February 2011.


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You had to be very rich to afford a black garment such as the one above,
because the black die was extremely expensive
Kay with her daughter.
Both gowns are 1545 reproductions by Kay.


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