Children · Costuming · Renaissance

Upcycling Renaissance

The first year we attended the Northern California Renaissance Faire we had just relocated from Boston to the Bay Area. Most of my sewing things were still in storage and I found myself scrambling to put something together for my daughter. I hit up our local thrift shop and found a thin ivory cotton lady’s dress shirt shot through with gold threading and a size 5 burgundy velvet dress. I chopped up the shirt, ripping out seams and neckline and converted it into a chemise for my 2 year old daughter.


I then turned my attention to the dress. It was going to be to big, but I was pretty sure I could make it work. I found some lovely yellow-gold satin, a golden brocade, lace, and some matching ribbon, trim, and buttons. I split the skirt in two places up to the waist, and carved out a v detail in the front, which I then filled with lace and satin. Some lovely tie-ups for the arms were crafted from the gold brocade. These, joined together with the dress, would allow me to gather up the sleeves of the chemise and get a few years’ wear out of both the dress and the undergarment.

golden brocade arm bands

first year in the dress
Her first year in the dress

All in all, it’s worked out well for a quick refashion, and she got three years of wear out of it (It would have been four but we skipped a year).

second year in the dress
Her second year in the dress, with added underskirt and matching golden brocade horns
third (fourth) year in the dress
Her third (fourth) year in the dress, minus the chemise due to the heat.

Now I just have to figure out what we’re going to do for next year!

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