How to

the ul­ti­mate tu­dor fash­ion State­ment Eng­land, 1560-1620

All About History - - CONTENTS -

Make your own El­iz­a­bethan ruff

While some bish­ops still wear them on oc­ca­sion and Vivi­enne West­wood has dal­lied with them on the cat­walk, the ruff is most fa­mously as­so­ci­ated with El­iz­a­beth I. Emerg­ing in the early 16th cen­tury, the ruff be­gan life as a sim­ple col­lar on the edge of a shift but over the decade be­came ever more elab­o­rate as mul­ti­ple lay­ers, black­work em­broi­dery, dec­o­ra­tive edg­ing and lace be­came the fash­ion. Be­cause of its nat­u­ral springi­ness linen was the fab­ric of choice, much finer than the linens we can find to­day, and by the end of the decade elab­o­rate pleat­ing, starch­ing and even wax­ing and wire un­der-struc­tures had been utilised to cre­ate these frip­peries of fash­ion.

In­spi­ra­tion to make your ruff can be found in por­traits of high so­ci­ety of the age, and you can eas­ily chart their promi­nence and dec­o­ra­tion through the El­iz­a­bethan era.

01 Prep your fab­ric

Cut three strips of linen 7.6cm (3“) wide and the width of the linen. Sew to­gether with a flat fell seam to form one strip. Cut an­other piece of linen 41cm (16”) wide and 20cm (8”) deep for the neck band. Iron each short edge of the neck band in 1cm (0.5”), then in half length­ways. Fold each long edge in again to the mid­dle and iron again.

02 Hem and decorate

Use an over­lock stitch to neaten all edges of your com­bined linen strip – please note, you’re best us­ing a sewing ma­chine for this. Then, us­ing a run­ning stitch, hem the strip up 6cm (0.25”) then sew on your lace. Iron the un­hemmed edge as straight as pos­si­ble to give the fin­ished prod­uct a crisp look.

03 car­tridge Pleat­ing

Mark a se­ries of small dots 6.35mm (0.25”) in and par­al­lel to the un­hemmed edge and 6.35mm (0.25”) apart. Mark a sec­ond line of small dots (0.5”) in from the edge, 6.35mm (0.25”) apart and di­rectly above the first line. Us­ing a piece of thread ap­prox­i­mately 10cm (4”) longer than the linen strip, tie a knot in one end and sew in the first line of dots.

04 gather your ruff

Di­vide your neck band into quar­ters and mark them with a pin. Re­peat for your linen strip. Pull evenly on the gathering threads and gather up the each sec­tion of the linen strip to each size of each quar­ter of the neck band un­til the strip is the same size as the neck band. Take your time and ar­range the pleats as evenly as pos­si­ble as you work. Tie off.

05 at­tach the neck band

Fold out your neck back and with right sides to­gether, whip stitch onto the ruff above the first stitch­ing line of gathering. You do not need to sew through to the other side, just along the top of the pleats. Make your stitches about 6cm (0.25”) long. Re­peat for the back, then whip stitch the ends closed. Make an eye­let in each end above the ridge of the gathers.

06 ar­range your Setts

Fi­nally, wash the ruff and starch it – you can use a spray starch, but his­tor­i­cally they would have made a potato starch (brought back from the New World to El­iz­a­beth’s Eng­land in 1584). Then ar­range the pleats – or ‘setts’ as they were known – with your fin­gers so they are even and ap­prox­i­mately 4cm (1.5”) high. It’s ready to wear once dry!

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