Costumer Dopers - Ren Faire ideas needed.

Paging FearieBeth, Miss Purl McKnittington and all you other fantabulous SCAers and Rennies!

I need notions (hah! little costuming-geek pun there for ya!) on what to build for Bristol Ren Faire this year. The challenge? I’m breastfeeding. Can’t have anything too smooshy in the bust - the tight corsets I love are right out this year. Needs to be something I can open fairly quickly when WhyBaby gets a hankerin’.

Bristol’s a pretty period kinda place, so I’d prefer to do something accurate; anyone know what actual nursing moms wore? I’m willing to go fantasy and annoy the costume nazis, since I’m not working this year, but I’ve spent so many years being painstakingly accurate, I’m afraid I’m having trouble thinking “fun”! But an underbust corset is probably not an option, either, considering the 38 H’s* I’m lugging around these days.
Yes, you read that right. I look like a fing comic book character.

My Wife went Italian Renn when she was pregnant, with a chemise that had a shudder elasticised drawstring neckline, to make for easy pulling-down.
This Italian had no corset, and was side-laced.

Couldn’t you go as a nurse maid?

Here’s a page on the Italian solution mentioned above.

What about just a waist cincher? If you don’t cinch it very much. If you do, back to comic book character mode!

Nothing too smooshy is easy. All 12 Century Norman garb is loose and comfy. It consists of mainly an under tunic and over tunic, then belted at the waist (or not sometimes). My persona is a 12th Century Norman Lady, so I wear this stuff most of the time. The fancy court dress of the day would have been a Bliaut, but when you go there, you’re looking at something that fits tighter around the torso. Documented nursing clothing is going to be difficult, as noblewomen typically didn’t nurse their own children, but I will tell you what a friend of mine has done. She made an under tunic and lovely over tunic. She put a keyhole neckline in the under tunic, but cut it long (so the slit went to below her bust). She made the over tunic with the V-neck-looking straight slit (like a bliaut), but also to under the bust. She then used a very ornate pin to close the under tunic’s slit. When baby was hungry, she unpinned and nursed.

Here’s another excellent page on the Bliaut
Going with a modified Italian Ren is a possibility, too, as other posters have suggested. Plus, I CAN document nursing in that period!

Upon posting, I realized you’re going to a Renfaire, not an SCA event. Oops. Well, I don’t know how early in period the Renfaires go for costuming, so 12th century may be out. If so, go with the Italian!

Go as Lady Tudor Glitz.
You can be snippy, catty, have loads of fun, & your goods can be on display. :smiley:

Aah yes, the Simplicity “Ever After” dress. That’s basically my wife’s solution, with a ropa overdress from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion to kick it up a notch in the formality department.

Go as a Polynesian?

Hehehe. That would be impressive with WhyNot’s current assets :smiley:
She could try Spartan, too. :wink:

How about Lady Godiva?


What about a Spanish Elizabethan coat? While from my understanding they wore the whole corseted thing underneath, you wouldn’t have to. The 10 ft rule would apply, wear a skirt to approximate the underdress with a chemise (either with nursing slits or an elastic neckline) Button the coat over. I am sure if you have been wearing Elizabethan you have all of the other acoutrements to go with it, like a ruff and headwear. Sounds good to me.

I guess going as Janet Jackson is right out.

California Ren Faires tend to have more goofy characters. I’ve seen belly dancers, Xena types, chainmail bikinis, dark elves, even the occasional Vulcan. Once I saw a disabled woman who made her scooter look like a dragon, that was cool.

I was going to suggest the Spanish robe (ropa) also. It can be worn with skirt, bodice & chemise or just the chemise. I couldn’t find any really good pics of it in “informal” mode, but it would probably be a good choice since you can nurse under it.

If you haven’t ever checked it out, The Elizabethan Costuming Page is a wonderful site. I haven’t had time to scour it to see if it might be able to help you (since I’m home on lunch) but there could be some good links.

I understand there’s a ropa pattern in Janet Arnold, also.

Have fun!

My Google-fu is weak this morning and my sister’s coffee grinder just bit the dust. Le sigh. Bear with me.

There’s an image in Janet Arnold’s 16th/17th century Patterns of Fashion (try to get it through interlibrary loan; it’s absolutely wonderful for research), of a high-necked bodice/doublet that’s slashed from the shoulder to practically the waist. It’s held together in two points (I think), with brooches or buttons. She’s accompanied by a toddler-aged child. You can see the underbodice through the slashes, but I think it would look just as period with your chemise pulled through. You could slash the chemise in the appropriate place and hide the slashes in the gathers.

You could also do something simple like this. It would be easy enough to either slash your chemise strategically or to use the (shudder) elastic drawstring suggested by MrDibble. Or you could do a keyhole neckline and tie it shut. You could get away with wearing a nursing bra under this, I think. If anyone objects, use The Mom Look. You know, the one that lets grown men know they’re in timeout.

My next suggestion was going go be adhemar’s. shakes fist

If you want to go slightly fancier, you could go Landskenecht/German Ren. Here, here, and Hungarian version here and here. Most people pin or baste that highly decorated piece of fabric at the top of the bodice in place. You could cover slits in your chemise with it or take it off to pull your chemise down. Plus, this style calls for some seriously big hats, if that’s your thing.

My favorite option is this, Italian Ren, ca. 1520. It’s the same one that I pimped to FaerieBeth in the thread that brought us here. It ties shut, you could put boning/hemp cording in the bodice for support, and it’s a style that flatters big busts. And here’s the best part: the woman who made it has a rundown on it at her website. This would be my choice, definitely.

Just as a warning, I’ve never been pregnant or breastfed, so I’ve absolutely no experience with this sort of thing. This is all wild conjecture, that I hope helps you out. I’ve read the saga of WhyBaby, and it’s so amazing that she’s strong enough to take to RenFaire. I hope you both have a blast.

Miss Purl, thanks for the link to that Festive Attyre site–I know several ladies pictured there, and it’s nice to see their work on the web.

Yay! I found my link I was looking for this morning.

Elizabethan Loose Gown and Kirtle
I had been researching some garb for a friend who like Elizabethan and came across this. I thought it looked comfy so I saved the link. I think THIS would work great for a nursing mom!

Festive Attyre is quite possibly my favorite costuming website, maybe even ahead of Drea Leed’s Elizabethan Costuming Page. Whenever I get discouraged or need inspiration, I just visit the Featured Attyre and drool. I don’t know who your friends are, but I admire all the work there very much. Please tell them so.

WhyNot, here’s a few pages on construction for you to look at before or while you decide.

Boning with hemp cord – Incredibly comfortable and supportive with only light lacing.