The Lady in Green

My school has us do odd projects, called “Inter-Disciplinary Unit” (IDU) projects, but they’re really fun. My most recent project was on Middle Ages fashion (not middle-age fashion). We had the option of drawing outfits, making a doll’s dress, or (drum roll), a life-size costume. I did the full costume so I could have my Halloween costume done early. I only had 10 days and a really busy schedule; my parents called me crazy.

costume-sewingI decided to make a full costume of Maid Marian. Maid Marian was related to King Richard the Lionheart. She probably dressed as a lady while in a castle or around other people, but she dressed more appropriately when she was in the forest with Robin Hood. She would dress in green and sometimes brown in a style like a peasant, but with more style, to blend in with her surroundings.

I wanted to make a historically accurate costume, but I did not dye my dress the same way medieval people did. They would use turmeric for yellow and then use human urine for the fermentation of weld (some odd type of plant) for blue. Yuck. Then they would mix the two dyes together to make green [http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/intro/blues3.html].

I did not want to use urine for my tunic/dress, so we just used green linen. The dress is more like a female peasant’s tunic, shorter than a gown with tighter clinging sleeves. I hand-sewed my dress and used an embroidery chain stitch to hem the sleeves and the bottom with gold thread. We used upholstery trim for the belt and around the neck because it’s similar to the trim styles they had back in medieval times.

Me dressed up as Maid Marian. Ta-da!

Me dressed up as Maid Marian. Ta-da! (And, no, the watch isn’t period-specific–neither is the horse.)

We also made a bow and a quiver of arrows, since she lived in the forest for a bit like/with Robin Hood. For the arrows, I used dowel rods, feathers, and rounded an edge for the “tip.” The quiver was the sleeve of a suede shirt. The belt for the quiver was an old braided rope belt. For the bow, I used twine for the bowstring and a piece of oak wood for the frame. We would’ve used a mulberry branch for the frame but it split, and we would have used hemp for the string but it broke when we tried to string it.

I was really happy with the way it turned out, but it was a lot of work. When I presented it to my class, they were very… shocked. They kept shouting out, “You have a bow?!” and wanting to know if they could shoot someone with it {sigh}.