While we were on our honeymoon, we spent some time in the British National Gallery, where I spent about 20 minutes just staring at this painting.Joachim Beuckelaer's Fire from The Four Elements
This painting, as well as the rest of The Four Elements series, have been my primary sources (well, they're secondary sources, but you know what I mean) for my dress etc.
It was, well incredible, to stand there in front of these. They're huge. At least 6 feet tall, and more wide, the people in the paintings are life size, and the realism of their poses, clothing, skin everything is striking. I noticed several things, standing there watching. First of all that there really isn't enough color variation in my outfit. Second that I need way more lacing holes, and they need to be closer together, and finally, that the outfit is really, absolutely, totally impossible to wear without the partlet and coif.
Having never made a partlet before, this has been the most challenging. Although I've yet to start the coif, so maybe that will be harder.
I based the partlet off ones I've seen on people in real life, one I borrowed and was able to examine, and of course what I see in the paintings. There are two ways that the back of the partlet works. One is seen in the background of the painting above, near the center. You can also see it from the side in the painting to the left (Air). The back is more or less the same size and shape as the front. It covers the entire back, and curves under the arms a bit. This is the style I've chosen to do. I'm unsure as to whether tying or pinning is a better way to secure this. I will probably try both.
The second style isn't clearly seen in any of this series of paintings, but is easily seen in Bruegel's 'The Peasant Dance", on the woman off to the right (the partlet in question is black). This would need to be pinned or buttoned in place. At this time, I'm not doing this style.
In nearly all of the examples in Beuckelaer's series the partlet has a high collar with ruffle that is cartridge pleated, much like an Elizabethan style ruff. I personally haven't made a ruff before, although I did get to see the result of a class on them. I used what I gleamed from that, and my own eyes and logic to make the ruffle section itself. I'm not done stitching the ruffles in place yet, and I'm also not sure how I will attach the ruffle to the collar, to the partlet. I will try and do it the way one attaches a cartridge pleated skirt to a waistband.
The partlet itself I made out of an extremely light weight handkerchief weight linen. This is partially because I've had it laying around and had just enough to make a partlet, and partially because part of the purpose of this outfit is to have something to wear when it's HOT outside, that is still period and appropriate. Between the tropical weight wool, the light weight linen lining, and the short shift, it would seem silly to throw something heavy on top of that. The downside to this is that it doesn't have much substance. In order for the ruffle to keep it's shape (and also because I didn't have enough of the handkerchief weight), I made it out of a slightly heavier weight linen, doubled. I will use this same linen for the collar, however I'm worried that the partlet will be too flimsy to support the collar. In the pictures, none of the collars stand up properly, but they also don't droop completely. We shall have to see.
Either way, it was really exciting to stand in front of the actual painting and be inspired in ways I hadn't been before. A very cool experience.