Monday, October 17, 2016

A Homespun Year...Anne Boleyn Costume....

My daughter has choreographed a Dance routine based on the life of Anne Boleyn.
As I mentioned here, Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII, sadly beheaded for not producing a male heir. The assessment piece was to be based upon a famous (or infamous) woman in history, so my daughter chose poor Queen Anne. We'd recently watched the film The Other Boleyn Girl, so I guess for her, this was a natural choice.
She specifically requested a costume based upon one that Natalie Portman wears in the film, that is a deep sapphire blue. Of course the famous B (for Boleyn) necklace worn in portraits by Queen Anne, had to be a major feature of the costume, as did the French Hood worn in the film, and fashionable in the day.
Additionally, this couldn't be the sort of costume that one just stands around in. It had to withstand the rigours of a Contemporary dance routine, one of the more athletic styles of dance.
Sheesh. She's lucky I'm the creative type!
First stop last week (with a whole three days notice for this costume!) was the local upmarket thrift store, where I sourced a sapphire blue bustier, and a skirt in a similar shade, both lace and very pretty, seen at the top of my post.
 I had wondered how the heck I was going to construct this French Hood, and had in mind a sun visor, or a cereal box trimmed to the appropriate shape, as recommended by bloggers featured on Pinterest. But in the car on the way to the thrift shop, I had realised (thinking laterally) that the jewelled front of the French Hood, similar in shape to a semi-circular tiara, was also reminiscent of the shape of a shirt collar. See, if I let these things tick over in my brain, sometimes something worthwhile pops out!
So I was wandering around, looking at mens shirts, when this bejewelled chiffon blouse caught my eye. Not only did it have a diamante studded collar, but the collar was attached to a midnight blue chiffon blouse, perfect to cut up for the veil of the French Hood! Thankyou thrift store...$4.50...

I removed one side of the collar...see how it already resembles Annes hood shown here in Emerald green...

I painted this liberally on the reverse side with fabric stiffener. Now remember that I regularly make costumes, including headpieces for Dancers, so I had all of this stuff on hand. I acknowledge that it's not as easy, nor as inexpensive, if you have to buy it all. However, I'm trying to show what you can achieve with a little imagination, and a few basic materials.
I then set it out in the sunshine to let it dry and harden, and then stitched it to a lacework headband I already had. See here, I've cut up the back of the chiffon blouse to form the veil of the French Hood...
...then I positioned the stiffened blouse collar, now dried, on the headband, and anchored it at either end. This wasn't easy as the stiffened fabric is like leather, but I managed.
Now the B necklace and the accompanying pearl droplets.
This necklace features heavily in any information on Anne Boleyn, although there is conjecture about whether, as Queen Anne, she would have continued to wear it. However, as a costuming piece, it's a must-have, so here is how I did ours.
I shared here, how I formed the B initial, and the pearl shaped drops, from air drying clay. This took no more than 15 minutes, but then I had to wait for them to dry.

Again, I already had this faux pearl necklace on elastic, sourced for a previous costume. Thift stores ALWAYS have faux pearl necklaces for under $5, so that's your best bet. Another alternative would be pearl Christmas trim, or fabric trim.
I painted the B with gold acrylic paint. Yes, I had that too. If nothing else, by my age, you accumulate an astounding array of crafting tools!
Then as seen above, I poked my pearl shaped clay beads onto the end of skewers, and dunked them into my sample pot of pearly paint, purchased last Christmas to fancy up some gifts. I then left the skewers suspended across a jar, to dry.
To attach the B and the pearl shapes to the pearl necklace, I simply threaded a double strand of sewing cotton through each bead, threaded on a tiny bugle bead off another costume onto the thread, and then rethreaded it back through the clay 'pearl'. This gave me a way of tying the beads to the pearl necklace, and worked admirably. If I'd had more time, I would have bought some little jewellery jump rings, which would have been sturdier, but they aren't something I had on hand. I know. Laugh if you will.


I'm really pleased with how it turned out!
The skirt was cut off at hip level, and white gauzy leftovers from a lonely unused IKEA curtain, were added as a floaty feature for my girl to dance in. One cannot dance without a floaty skirt.

I trimmed her peasant blouse so it fits under the bustier, and there was a section of the lace panel from the front of it left over, just large enough to stitch to the front of the I did...just for a bit of embellishment...
Here is the idea, mocked up for my original photo...

....and here it is finished. She will wear her Peasant blouse under the bustier as shown here. This is a more authentic and modest look, than the bustier alone.

For a small outlay, and a little time and effort, I think we have done Anne Boleyn proud.
I'll let you know what mark my darling girl achieves for her assessment.
Have you ever had to magic up a complicated, close-to-historically-correct costume? What did you do? I'm always keen for a costuming story!

Five Star Frou-Frou is now a neverending linkup, with a featured blogger each and every time I post.

Todays featured blogger is...

Helen at 3 Winks Writes, who shared a super cute DIY owl projects. Just right for  inclusion in a DIY post!

Thanks for sharing Helen! And thankyou to everyone who continues to link and share!



  1. Mimi, you are amazing! I started ballet at 4 and was in my first concert at that age as Little Miss Muffet. My mother made all my costumes some of which were quite difficult to sew I would imagine. I hope your girl appreciates what a talented mum she has.

    1. Thanks Chel. Yes I think she does. The teacher sent me a text giving me an A+++ for 'my'! Mimi xxx

  2. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me Mimi! A simply stunning costume!

  3. Fabulous Mimi. I can remember my mother sewing my sisters ballet costumes when I was a pre-schooler. But no I have never made any costumes of the sort you show. Though I have been a Witch, Prince Charming, Miss Sophie (Dinner for One), Gretel, an Irish "riverdancer", a nun, Elizabeth (Keeping up appearances), Magic Mirror (Snow White) and others at our end of year christmas concerts at work, - I am more of a throw a costume together type.

    1. Thanks Sherri. Sometimes those throw a costume together ideas really work well! Mimi xxx

  4. Wow, I am truly impressed by how lucky you were with those op-shop finds! They all came together to make a beautiful costume.

    1. Grace, I know, right? Sometimes things just come together. On another day, it would have been different pieces, and I still would have made it work. As it was, it was my lucky day! Mimi xxx

  5. Wonderful! You are such a resourceful woman!

  6. Wow! What beautiful work. Thank you for featuring my little owl. I am honored.

  7. Wonderful and so creative! I love the how you created the necklace and hood! Great representation! I would love to see a photo of her in the costume.

    1. Lynn, she flatly refused to be photographed. Teenagers. Sheesh ;-) Mimi xxx

  8. Mimi, that costume is wonderful!! I love your creativity. She's going to look great.

    Helen, your owl is darling!

  9. Very clever costume and lovely! I hope your daughter has better luck in life than Anne did though! I love many things from the romantic old days but the brutality is a nightmare!
    Saying that I rathe love the Royal Family and the history! xxx

    1. Thanks Annabel. Yes you're right. People think Game of Thrones is brutal, but real life was far more so! I love the history too. Mimi xxx

  10. Ah, I'm reading your links backward, so now I understand a bit better where the necklace fits in. It's a lovely costume, and you did a great job! Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week!

    1. Thanks Teresa. Tricky when you have to do that, so I appreciate you making the effort! Mimi xxx

  11. This turned out so pretty!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx