When I found this red and gold damask, I didn’t immediately know what to make with it. I’d lusted after this fabric for at least a year. It’s from the Christopher Lowell home dec collection at Jo-Ann’s, it’s 100% polyester, and it’s usually $19.99/yard. Now, I am not a fiber snob — I’ll use anything that looks pretty. But I am a cheapskate, and I almost never buy anything over $10/yard. And I certainly was not going to pay double that for poly! Home dec fabrics regularly go on sale for 40% off at Jo-Ann’s, but that still didn’t do it for me. Until a Columbus Day sale, when they were 50% off. Bam! I had to buy the stuff!
But what to make with it? This coloring and pattern is popular among costumers for Venetian courtesan gowns, but I have a bunch of fabric already that I planned to use for that type of gown. What else? I started looking around for styles that used a dramatic damask pattern…
And I stumbled upon the image (left) of Louise de Lorraine and her sister, from the Valois Tapestries. So I did quick search and found some background info and more images about the tapestries on Wikipedia.
The tapestries were commissioned by Catherine de Medici and depict scenes from the French court of the 1570s. Several of the gowns shown are in beautiful, elaborate damasks or brocades. Perfect! See, in the SCA, my persona is lowland Scots, and like much of the gentry of the era, she has French family connections. And my favourite era is 1570s to 1610s.
I like the wide band trim / guards on the bodice and skirt of the image (left) of Marguerite de Valois with her brother François, Duke of Anjou. Her sleeves are probably the style I’d like to do too. But I don’t want a split skirt because I want to show off the lovely damask pattern and center it on both the bodice and skirt.
The image below has two more gowns that I love. The back of the gown on the left is my very favourite, although you can’t tell much from just the back. So I get to make up my own front, yay!