Elizabeth I’s dress from the Rainbow Portrait is recreated

We’re recreating the gown worn by
Elizabeth I in the Rainbow Portrait to coincide with the exhibition
at Hampton Court Palace which also features the Bacton Altar Cloth The first thing that we would do when we’re creating something like this is to work
out all of the items, what we needed to make and how we would go about starting that so the layers would be built up right from the skin upwards as they
would have done traditionally We have a team of five people who do the research and the making and all of the elements The various layers: you’d have a shift which would be the closest to the skin then a set of stays which I’m currently working
on at the moment and a bum pad which would create the silhouette along with all of the details as well We’ve decided to embroider the bodice for this
one as that’s what we believe it would have potentially been, and to link it to
the back turn using embroidery techniques The flowers are tricky to
work out what they are and so we have had a look at all of the flowers that
would have existed at the time Elizabeth I in England and researched those in
original and contemporary Elizabethan embroidery We’re planning to use some
gold gold work on the bodice just to lift and make it a little bit lighter
and a bit more sparkly and we will be using a type of passing thread that’s
got a silk core and then some metal wrapped around it In the portrait you can see an orange mantle which is draped over Elizabeth’s shoulder We have chosen
to recreate this in an orange shot taffeta which has been painted and
screen printed with the eyes and the ears that you see in the picture There are a few theories about the symbolism of the eyes and the ears that you can see on the
mantle the most common one being that she the Queen was all-seeing and all-hearing We believe that they would have been potentially painted on by the artist so
the garment may have just been a plain mantle in real life so we’ve tried to
sort of paint them on so that when the folds are created they will
look like the portrait so they’re all in different places We’ve made a variety of Tudor
costumes from the early Henrician period to the late Elizabethan era. They vary
from low states of servants clothing to court attire for the monarchs, very
elaborate dress Each one has its individual challenges and everything no
matter what status it is can really help us to understand an individual’s place
in society and history So when we’re recreating costume we have to think
about the best way to achieve the look that we want without compromising too
much on the historical accuracy most of the items that are part of this ensemble
are machine stitched for durability but then all of the top stitching in the
hand finishing is done by hand to kind to accurately recreate how it would have
been done at the time We’ll never know if Elizabeth actually wore the ensemble and as the portrait shows Elizabeth wearing a combination of fashionable
dress and the more theatrical type of mask dress It is possible that some of
the items might have been worn by Elizabeth on other occasions the snake jewel worn on sleeve appear to be listed among Elizabeth’s belongings in the
Stowe inventory so we do think that at least some of the items did belong to
the Queen The discovery of artefacts like the Bacton is really important for
our work as it means we were able to draw on the information from
those sources to accurately represent what it would have been like
at the time it’s really difficult to be able to see items from this time period
because there aren’t very many around and just being able to look at the colors
and how bright the original threads would have been is fascinating you


  1. How exciting to be able to recreate such a sumptuous dress as worn by Elizabeth 1. Bearing in mind that the original was totally made by hand!

  2. I'm an American. I'm a manly man from a family of manly men going back as far as my genealogy research has led. I've no interest in women's fashion whatsoever other than that which appeals to my eye. Yet, I find the discovery and history of this dress fascinating. Thanks.

  3. Will you provide another upcoming video showing your work completed for your global viewers who can't make it to Hampton Court? I would love to see it in detail, completed!

  4. So very fascinating! This could have gone into an entire documentary from start to finish but I understand the time constraints. Beautifully done video!

  5. I have heard so many comments from friends, wondering how the dress could have become an alter cloth. I sew and have some knowledge of how these "historical" dresses differ from modern garb. The costume gowns I have created are mostly one piece, for ease of creation, use and storeage. When explaining the creation of actual, multi-pieced, Elizabethan gowns, it is necessary to go all the way back to the creation of fiber and fabric. People are amazed at that entire process and the limitations of basic materials. It makes these treasures even more amazing.

  6. Awesome, I know that some of the speakers talked about making other dresses some of lower status and higher up, I'd love to see them in a video or something.

  7. Only now in a brain dead society is it amazing to People that somebody can actually do something creative, you couldn't right it, i can't stand phones, my kids always make jokes to me about not being able to use an app, yeh right, because i'd never be able to work that out !

  8. Did she just say "machine stitched for durability?" Since when it machine stitching more durable than hand backstitching?

  9. I have been a fan of Elizabeth I since I was a child….this is fabulous!!! Wish I could see the completed Fairie Queen’s dress.

  10. Absolutely breathtaking! The fine delicate detailing in this recreation is superb. One really has to appreciate the time and patience that goes into creating a such a work of art!

  11. I’m going to echo others here in asking for a video of the dress completed as well as being put on and worn by the re-enacter for those of us that can’t come to Hampton Court.

  12. I just love the creating of these wonderful clothing. I would give a lot just to be able to get near one or actually touch one. To see the stitching and Imagine the seamstress working on it. Beautiful video

  13. They managed to make it as offensive to the eye as the original. Obvious making it even uglier would have been a challenge and pointless.
    This is perfect.
    It clearly showes one reason why trying to make an honest woman oiut of her kept failing.
    Sure the dubious reputation of every Boleyn female before her wasn't helping, but can you imagine any ruling sovereign having to walk next to this? He'd be a joke!

  14. Amazing workmanship and attention to detail…I would expect nothing less from this group of talented and dedicated ladies.

  15. could have been made in silk as this would have been a good choice as the final version looks not as rich at it would have been…

  16. Hmmm. Just to say for thousands of years dresses were hand sewn and did not fall apart standing in a show case.
    People actually wore hand sewn clothing to do heavy work and to parade about. You chose to sew by machine for speed not durability.

  17. Not over impressed. Historical Gowns made for the cinema or Series. Look far more authentic . The White is too white, the embroidered flowers are set too far apart . I have made costumes and always use cloth as it was made in the period. YOURS LOOKS 21 CENTURY. NOT 16th.

  18. "Machine Stitching for durability" I am sorry but this is an outright misrepresentation. The hand sewing techniques used at the time would have surpassed anything a machine is capable of, other than time. A machine stitch is a different beast to the extreme artistry used in hand-stitching and in my opinion, drastically reduces the quality of this "reproduction" which is a shame. Anytime I hear historical garment manufacturers use that tired old line in defense of using a sewing machine, I can't help but think they are simply making excuses for their lack of commitment to the time-consuming authentic practice.

  19. What a tease! Where’s the finished version? A lot of us aren’t able to visit in person! Please showcase the finished outfit!!!

  20. I live in America now and miss all of the history and beauty of the needle work done and the artists who create this fabulous re creation of historical items. Maybe someday I will be able to come back home.

  21. Well I guess I'm crap out of luck for seeing the finished dress. I can barely afford the wifi I'm watching this video with, let alone travel expenses to England. Well what we did get to see was Stunning. Great job!

  22. Those eyes and ears represent Queen Elizabeths' surveillance over England. ^_^ Just in case anyone wonders. Also, I would love a dress like that. I want to make my own someday so getting ideas here. It would properly take me 5-8 years though, because I'm such a meticulous person and would love to be precise. ^_^~

  23. I just finished reading a very detailed book about Elizabeth I by Alison Weir. She was one very vain woman, and quite petty in many ways..and pretty much demanded that all men fawn over her….even when she was in her 60s.

    She loved bear baiting and watching deer being torn to bits by hunting dogs. In one of her gatherings one of the highlight entertainments were a bull baiting, a bear baiting and finally an ape baiting. I suppose someone got a hold of a chimpanzee for that. I know that is the world she grew up in and I try not to judge her for that, but I still find it sad that there was no empathy for the dogs killed and injured and the prey terrorized, and killed.

    She was a great leader though, and men of her day were in shock that a woman could actually have the brains to handle being a Prince. She called herself a Prince as often as she called herself a Queen. She also had over 3,000 dresses, most with gold, and jewels worked into the designs.

  24. Rumstation have bee a very exiting task….a dress with so many detailsalg.belive though that we are lucky,wearing such garments nowadays…show US,a picture of it when finished

  25. I just found out from The Sultan and the Queen that Elizabeth was actually allies and trading partners with the Ottoman Empire and was on good terms with Sultan Murad III, who she had a friendly correspondence with.

  26. What wonderful work. A Great team of craftswomen and a great piece of artwork. Yes, it is a shame not to have seen all that work completed. Well done ladies.

  27. This is great but I would say it's not really a recreation but an approximation if you aren't also embroidering the skirt and using a jaquard fabric to represent the embroidery detail instead. A recreation would be a full head to toe hand crafted garment after the fashion of the original to the best of your ability to be historically accurate. I know this would be difficult on the tight budget I'm sure you had so I'm not second guessing your choices but please be honest about it. I really had my hopes up to see a masterpiece come to life.

  28. Why are these so short? You don’t even begin to cover all the information. There’s enough there for hours of footage, but you give us less than 5 minutes!!

  29. I love discovering the meaning behind all the different patterns and symbols used on the dress. The Queen is all-hearing and all-seeing indeed! 🙂 x


  31. I saw the Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I at Hatfield House about 16 yrs. ago. So lovely, it was at the bottom of a staircase, above a table. I placed my Beige, Patent Leather Louis Vuitton Handbag on the table & snapped a photo, making her portrait look more modernly 2004-ish! : )

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